Archive for January, 2009
The feds rolled out TARP as a way to protect America’s financial institutions by supplying them with sufficient funding to defrost credit access and to shore up their bottom lines. While banks have received access to these funds, credit unions and cooperatives have not.
There’s nothing in the letter of the law to prevent the feds from giving CUs some of the TARP money, but some feel as though the “banks only” bias displayed thus far through the distribution process is problematic.
As you might guess, for instance, it hasn’t sit well with those who operate credit unions. A leading spokesman for the credit unions recently said:
“Although I can understand the initial actions that the Treasury Department has taken to help the large banks, insurance companies, and other major financial institutions that have faltered or failed, I am concerned about the second-place status into which credit unions and other smaller financial institutions have been placed.”
Larry Sharp, the CEO of Arrowhead Credit Union, argues that TARP was designed to help “hard-hit” areas but that the application of the policy has given banks an “unfair competitive advantage”. Sharp’s CU is located in an area, the Inland Empire region of California, that has been suffering through the recession. Yet Arrowhead, at least thus far, lacks access to TARP money.
Sharp has become one of the most notable critics of TARP’s “bank-only” approach. His Arrowhead CU is valuated as “well capitalized” and he maintains that they’ve had to make some very tough decisions to maintain that standing–decisions that banks who have access to TARP funds don’t have to make.
In a statement published on the Arrowhead Credit Union website, Sharp pointedly states:
“As a consequence of the economic challenges we face here in the Inland Empire and of the inequitable distribution of funds, Arrowhead Credit Union is proactively making across-the-board cost cutting measures to ensure we continue to maintain our ‘well capitalized’ rating. Some of these difficult but necessary decisions will directly affect our members.”
Those “difficult but necessary decisions” led to the closure of four Arrowhead locations. They’re also looking at cutting twenty employees from their payroll in light of current and pending economic challenges.
Sharp claims that these moves are a direct byproduct of being placed in a position that they banks can avoid. While banks are insulated by the receipt of TARP money, the CUs need to be proactive to prevent difficulties. They don’t have a federal security blanket upon which they can rely.
The Arrowhead Credit Union CEO sees the situation in stark terms. His argument for fairness is compelling:
“It’s upsetting that while we are wisely reducing our costs, banks, including healthy ones, are collecting billions in taxpayer dollars from TARP to beef-up their balance sheets instead of stimulating the economy.”
There are a number of good arguments against the very idea of a banking bailout. You can craft a position that maintains we’d be better off if TARP didn’t exist in the first place and it might be pretty persuasive.
However, it does seem that if we plan on having TARP, financial institutions of all sizes should have access to the funding as a matter of competitive fairness.
Although we don’t always think about it, all of our hometown banks and credit unions are in competition with one another and the larger national/international institutions. When billions are given to one part of that competitive group and not to others, it certainly does seem a bit unjust.
Until we either give up on the TARP program or start to administer it with a greater level of equity, institutions like the Arrowhead Credit Union will need to continue to work a little harder than some banks to stay sound.
In 1951, an eleven-member credit union kept all of its assets in a shoebox. The members of the newly formed Redstone Federal Credit Union each chipped in five bucks. A shoebox must’ve seemed like a reasonable place to keep fifty five dollars. They could’ve managed with something even smaller. They must have been optimists.
If that’s the case, the optimism was well-placed. Over fifty years have passed and Redstone is well beyond using shoe boxes. The Huntsville, Alabama-based credit union is the biggest in the state and its membership stretches out over the whole of the U.S. and around the world. The little CU from Huntsville has gone big-time.
Redstone may have started with eleven people, but its membership is now well over a quarter of a million and (at 292,307) is butting up against the 300K mark. Instead of tracking a measly fifty five dollars, the assets of Redstone Federal Credit Union now sit around $2.4 billion.
It probably didn’t take a lot of manpower to handle RFCU in ’51, but today the credit union cuts paychecks to over seven hundred full-time employees. They also have a higher-than-average employee to member ratio. The resulting service undoubtedly plays into Redstone’s success.
But Redstone isn’t just big. It’s good. Very good. It’s a member of the exclusive “Exceptional Performance Credit Unions” club. That doesn’t happen because you stuff a few shoe boxes. Wikipedia sheds a little light on how the financial industry views the Alabama credit union:
“RFCU has a 5-Star rating by BauerFinancial Inc., the highest rating by the company, noting the Credit Union is safe, financially sound, and operating well above its regulatory capital requirements. By achieving this rating for 44 consecutive quarters, RFCU is one of the safest credit unions in the country. Having earned this distinction for 10 years or more, RFCU has earned a spot in an even more exclusive category of Exceptional Performance Credit Unions.”
Joseph H. Newberry is the guy sitting at the head of the Redstone table. He’s the President and CEO, having returned to RFCU after a stint as the head of the Achieva Credit Union in Florida. Newberry’s been in the business for over thirty years, including an earlier thirteen-year run at Redstone in a variety of executive capacities.
As you might expect coming from a guy who’s running a successful CU, Newberry sounds optimistic about the coming year. While other institutions are in full “duck and cover” mode, Redstone Federal Credit Union’s CEO says:
“We have a long history of providing the membership of this Credit Union with excellent financial services and financial education, and that is why we are among the top leaders in the credit union industry. In these times of economic uncertainty, we have the resources available to help you in these challenging times.”
It’s sort of nice to run into a place like Redstone at a time like this. They’ve managed their assets well and seem well-positioned for continued success. It’s impossible to predict how the next fifty years will play out for RFCU, but everything appears to be on an upward trajectory, just like the rocket in their logo.
NOTE: Speaking of the logo… RFCU has one of the best logos in the financial world. While some companies go with pastels and gradients and most make a point of finding a logo that merely hints at some other symbol, RFCU offers an old-school line drawing of a rocket piercing the clouds.
The Rocket is a nod to Huntsville’s Marshall Space Flight Center, which has been a key NASA site since 1960.
The straightforward presentation and regional tie-in make the RFCU logo one of the best around.
When I was a wee Lampsen, few publications were more anticipated than the annual Sears Christmas catalog. Page after page of glossy plastic toys shared space with photos of people in plain white underwear striking poses. We salivated over the toys, laughed at the underwear models and marveled at how many different tools one could order for his father.
The photo attached to this post is from a Sears catalog, circa 1976. I had a nifty little Star Trek Enterprise playset just like the one in picture and it probably came from Sears.
It’s also possible that my mom used a coupon to save a few bucks on Kirk and the Gang. Though not a penny-pincher, Mama Lampsen believed in bargain shopping.
Today, no one gets excited at the idea of Christmas catalog. They buy online. And if they’re interested in shaving a few bucks they don’t grab the scissors to remove a Sears coupon from the paper, they use a Sears coupon code at the department store’s website.
Although coupon codes (entered at checkout from Sears’ site) are the most common way to cut a little off your bill, Sears does occasionally kick it old-school with paper coupons. Check your reliable Sunday circular for those. If you get a paper coupon from Sears in the mail, read the fine print. At least one person has found that their coupons are laden with some rather annoying conditions.
Sears coupon codes are easy to find. A simple Google search will quickly put you in touch with codes for all sorts of products. The savings are usually substantial enough to warrant attention, though they’re rarely the kind of thing that’s going to make a massive dent in your spending. RetailMeNot, DealsPlus, and Dealigg all seem to have nice assortments of Sears codes.
There’s also a hybrid of sorts. Sears will issue printable coupons online. Sears Hardware, for instance, was actually giving away free padlocks to those who took the time to print their coupon.
The text across the top of that coupon should give you a good hint about how to get the best deals from the venerable department store and catalog seller. It says, “Special Savings for Sears Hardware E-Mail Subscribers Only”. One can deduce from that headline that they might want to consider heading over to Sears’ website and putting their name on the mailing list in order to get coupon offers.
As is so often the case, it seems, retailers are far happier to hand out news about good deals to their subscriber and past customer base than they are to those who just happen to wake up one morning with the desire to visit the Sears website in search of a new socket set. Get on the list, get the better deals.
I miss the Sears Christmas catalog and memories those little glossy plastic toys that never lived up to expectations make me smile. I still think the weird pictures of guys carefully posed in phony snow wearing a-frames and tidy whities are weird, too.
All things considered, though, we’re probably better off today than we were back then. We can access the full Sears inventory any day of the week and ordering is merely a matter of an Internet connection and a few mouseclicks. To make things even more attractive, we can carve a little off our Sears bills by using some of the readily available Sears coupons and coupon codes out there.
Cheap Super Bowl tickets.
It’s an oxymoron.
The face value (original issue price) of Super Bowl tickets is sky high. That’s what the lucky initial buyer paid for them. Unless that buyer is either mentally incapacitated or has been living in a mountain cave without media access, there’s no way they’re letting them go for less than that.
It’s simple supply and demand. The Super Bowl has become the event–demand is almost incalcuably massive. Meanwhile, the game is held at a stadium with a limited seating capacity that can handle only a small fraction of potential interested attendees. What happens when you have serious demand like that and a limited, finite supply? Prices go up. Period. End of story.
That does not, however, mean that you have to liquidate all of your assets to score a few tickets to watch the Steelers and Cardinals next Sunday. You’re not going to get a truly “cheap” ticket, but you can minimize the damage by being a smart shopper.
After a multi-year stretch in the ticket industry, I can assure you that I know the nuts and bolts of buying and selling Super Bowl tickets. This is my best advice to those who just can’t resist the urge of being there to see if that critical Kurt Warner rainbow comes down in the hands of Larry Fitzgerald or Troy Polamalu…
Buy from a broker. Seriously. If you want the best shot at getting bang from your buck, buy your ticket from a reputable broker. Yes, you’ll find some yahoo willing to beat broker prices on Craigslist. Yes, there will be some mystery guy in Idaho who’s willing to sell tickets for a few hundred bucks under the going professional rate. Some people will get a good deal that way. Others will get completely ripped off. It happens every year.
I can’t tell you the percentage of phony tickets that end up resulting in people being turned away at the gate or the exact odds of losing your cash to some scammer who doesn’t even come through with a delivery, but I can tell you that it’s high enough to justify the insurance policy that comes from using a professional, established ticket broker.
If you get screwed by some random guy on Craigslist, what are you going to do when your trip to the big game is reduced to listening to the second half on an a.m. radio from the back of a paddy wagon? Are you going to hunt the guy down? Even if you could find him, would you get your money back? Would you get the equivalent of your damages back out of him? Of course not. That guy is history after he pockets your money. It’s a faith-based move on your part and we all know the odds on a Hail Mary actually working out.
If you buy a ticket from a pro and something goes wrong, you have recourse. You know where to go to get satisfaction. You also have a very, very good chance of having the problem corrected on the spot. A quick cell call to the seller stating that you have an issue may very well lead to someone running toward you with replacement tickets in hand within miutes. The pros know how to take care of their customers and they’re not in the business of handing out bad tickets. They want you to pony up when the NBA All-Star Game rolls around or next year when your favorite baseball team finally shores up the back end of their starting rotation and ends up in the World Series.
Now, when you do buy from a good broker, find out when and where you’re getting the tickets. The prospect of getting your Super Bowl tickets on-site the day before the game isn’t as creepy and risky as it once was, but it’s still not quite as secure as having those babies in your hand before you get on the plane. There are a lot of brokers who’ll advertise cheaper prices who don’t have the tickets yet. They’re banking on their ability to secure them at the last minute to fill your order at a profit. Usually it works out. Sometimes, it doesn’t. You don’t want t be part of the “sometimes” crowd. Unless you’re buying at the last second and local pick-up is the only way to get things done, it’s always nicer to have those tickets in your hands early.
As is so often the case, timing is everything when it comes to finding “cheap” Super Bowl tickets. Pricing generally goes through a bell curve pattern. You can lock in a good deal early–just understand that it will be an advance order and you probably won’t be able to get an exact seat location. As the game approaches, you can expect the prices to hop upwards for awhile. Then, usually during the week of the game, you’ll see prices slide as buyers try to move their inventory before the clock runs out. If you can buy on that downward slope, you’ll come as close as you can to finding cheap Super Bowl tickets. The trick, however, is finding the kind of seats you want. The longer you wait, the less selection you’re going to have. It also takes the nerve of a serious chicken player. The sane and natural inclination is to have tickets as soon as reasonably possible. Trying to wait out a good deal can be fairly stressful.
There’s also the risk that the waiting game will backfire. There are many variables at play in these situations and sometimes you just don’t see that normal price decline. Sometimes, prices hold steady. They could even go up.
You should also understand that waiting for a good deal might give you a shot at good seats at a cheaper than usual price, but that you still might’ve been able to spend less by buying a lower quality seat earlier. When the selling frenzy kicks in, the cheaper seats tend to go first.
Some people will tell you amazing tales about how they found dirt cheap tickets right before the game in the parking lot of the stadium. There’s a pretty good chance they’re just trying to impress you with a tall tale unless they were part of a very small minority of mega-lucky attendees. The deals in the lot might save you a few bucks, but who really wants to travel and make all of those plans on the chance of getting a ticket? It’s insane. Especially when you factor in the chance of getting a phony ticket and the nature of the chance you’re taking by wandering around a parking lot with gobs of cash stuffed in your pockets.
Not everyone will agree with my assessment. Some people are going to complain that ticket brokers are nasty, devilish thieves. That’s a yawn-inducing debate that, from a pragmatic point of view, has no meaning whatsoever. There’s always going to be a secondary market for valuable commodities, like it or not. Some people are going to swear on their copy of Brian’s Song that they always get cheap Super Bowl tickets because they know how to work the parking lot, wait people out, etc. Believe them if you’d like. They might be telling the truth. What they don’t realize is that they either have anomolous powers of negotiation or they’ve just had damn good luck.
The only exceptions to all of this are the few lucky fans who get their tickets at cost and those who happen to know someone who has or gets Super Bowl tickets who just so happens to really like them. Everyone else pays.
Oh, and just for the sake of setting myself up for a little humiliation later, I might as well toss my prediction out there…
Pittsburgh 24, Arizona 21.
Bruce Springsteen will not suffer a wardrobe malfunction at half-time. I’m not so sure about Clarence Clemons, however.
If you don’t live in Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, West Virginia or Michigan, you might not be familiar with Huntington Bank.
Huntington is a regional bank with more than 200 locations scattered over the above-mentioned states (and a few in neighboring areas). Huntington does offer some services on a more national level, in addition to supplying national online retail services.
When you add it all up, Huntington is near the 600 slot of the Fortune 1000 and is the 29th largest bank in the United States.
Huntington appears to have a strong commitment to small business lending. A recent press release published at MarketWatch trumpets Huntington’s performance in the area of Small Business Administration lending. According to the release:
Huntington ranked first in both loan dollar volume and number of loans among all SBA lenders in Ohio with 791 loans for a total of $73.7 million. In Indiana and Kentucky, Huntington ranked first in loan dollar volume with a total of $23.6 and $6.6 million, respectively. Huntington also ranked No. 1 for the number of SBA loans in the state of West Virginia with a total of 44 loans.
Huntington moved up from its 2007 ranking to now become 11th in the nation for number of SBA loans and 15th in the nation for total 7(a) loans, the most common type of loan used by small businesses.
Huntington’s National Director of SBA Lending, Craigh Street, noted that the bank is “committed to helping helping business owners identify solutions so they can achieve their goals.”
That interest in small business lending is evident in some of Huntington’s outreach, too. For instance, the bank recently issued a series of tips and recommendations to assist small business owners in dealing with medical coverage costs.
Huntington might be doing well with its business lending practices, but it’s had a little trouble with respect to mortgage lending. Like so many U.S. banks, Huntington Bank suffered some serious blowback from the sub-prime mortgage market collapse.
When Franklin Credit Management was getting smacked around in the meltdown, Huntington was watching carefully. That’s because Franklin owed Huntington over a billion dollars. During the darkest days of subprime chaos, Huntington saw its stock value drop considerably–down 13% in a single day on one occasion.
The aftermath is still being felt at Huntington today. A Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article entitled “Stressed Banks Suspend Dividends” specifically mentioned HB as one of the institutions who are still feeling some pain in the wake of the subprime ugliness.
According to Columnist Thomas Olson, “For instance, the parent of Huntington Bank, which has 41 branches in this region, cut its quarterly dividend in half to about 13 cents a share, on April 15.”
There’s no reason to think that this large bank is in any real trouble. It’s one of the biggest in the country and appears to be solid and solvent. Even so, it was unable to escape taking a few punches during tough national economic times.
In terms of Huntington’s services, they do offer a full range of banking options. They’re part of a large bank company that’s running a series of “neighborhood” banks, as those who live in the area serviced by HB undoubtedly know. Initial research indicates that they offer a full slate of products to their clients and that they operate a robust Internet banking system.
Here are the Blog Carnivals that we participated in over the last week. Enjoy!
I once heard someone refer to those under 30 as being in their stage of acquisitions. Throughout our late teens and twenties is when we incur the most amount of debt.
Think about it…
- You get your first credit card when you are 18,
- You graduate college with a butt load of student loans,
- When you get your first real job, you buy yourself a shiny new car,
- After working a few years buy a home.
- All that equates to is debt, debt and more debt.
Also after getting a real job, it’s time start saving and investing. So when do you pay off debts?
If you ask just about any financially savvy person, they’ll tell you, pay yourself first… save, invest, build an emergency fund… you know the story. But if you ask me, I’d tell you to pay your debts first, then start saving.
I’ll explain my reasoning in a minute, but first I want to make two points of clarification:
1 – When I say pay off your debt first, I am only talking about bad debts… not all debts. Bad debts are things such as credit cards debts, auto loans or any other depreciable assets for which you are paying interest.
2 – Regardless of how much bad debt you have… if given the option to either pay off debt or invest in matching 401K, you should always chose to contribute to the 401K. I am a huge advocate of maxing out 401K matching contributions. It’s like someone giving you money… with no strings attached. In spite of of how the stock market is performing… you make a guaranteed 25… 50… 100 percent return for just signing up. (By the way, I have a girlfriend whose employer offers a 200% 401K match. Shouldn’t we all be that lucky?)
Anyway now that that’s cleared up… we can get back to the pay yourself second, pay your debts first. I know I may be going against the grain on this one… but just hear me out.
I want to give you an example of why this makes sense…
Alright, say you have a $2,000 American Express bill. And now that you are rolling in the dough thanks to your first real job, you’ve got an extra $200 per month that you can use to either pay American Express or to sock away in a savings account. If it were my decision, I’d say pay the debt. Why? Well, let’s look at the math:
If you pay $200 a month on your AMEX bill, at a APR of 14.99%… you’d be finished paying the bill in 10.5 months… total interest paid $149.95.
In contrast, let’s say you only pay the minimum of $50 dollars a month… it’ll take 10.5.years to pay the bill in full … and total interest paid $1,435.89.
So in essence, you save $1,285.94 in interest by applying the extra $200 to the AMEX debt.
But let’s see how much interest you would have earned if you had put the $200 in a savings account. If you put $200 a month in your savings account which is paying 2% interest, after 10 months, you would have earned $15.07.
I don’t know about you, but I would much rather forgo the $15.07 in interest earnings in order to save $1,285.94.
See why it makes more sense to pay your debt first? In the long run, it saves you money, lot of money.
TCF Bank started as Twin Cities Federal Bank in 1923. The Minnesota-based bank now operates locations spread across the central United States.
TCF has a place in the public consciousness for two primary reasons.
First, TCF has made a point of emphasizing banking convenience. It’s known for setting up small branch locations in grocery stores, for instance, and has a relatively unique policy with respect to operating hours. TCF Bank is one of the only banks that makes a point of being open seven days a week.
Need to make a withdrawl or deposit on a Sunday morning? No problem if you’re a TCF customer!
TCF is also in the limelight because of a multi-million dollar deal that secured the naming rights to the Universityof Minnesota’s new football stadium. TCF Bank Stadium, future home of the Minnesota Gophers, will open in time to kick off the 2009 NCAA football season. It’s an impressive, on-campus stadium and TCF was willing to do what it took to put its name on the facility.
And getting the TCF name on the stadium wasn’t cheap. TCF is in the process of shelling out $35 million as part of a multi-year deal regarding the facility.
Recently, however, TCF has found its way into the papers for a few less pleasant reasons. Like so many other banks, TCF has been experiencing rougher than expected times.
On January 22, 2009, TCF announced profits that fell short of analysts’ earlier projections. That shortfall appears to be the direct result of a rough end of the year. Minnesota’s Pioneer Press summarized, noting that profit “fell 60% in the fourth quarter of 2008″. It is worth noting, however, that unlike many other banks, TCF is still turning a profit.
You might think that TCF’s struggles are an outgrowth of the same policies that have damaged other institutions. According to TCF Bank officials, that’s not the case. TCF has been outspoken in defense of its operation, maintaining that they’re suffering at the hands of bad decision-making on the part of other banks.
TCF wrote off more bad loans than expected last year, which cut into its bottom line. Chief Executive William Cooper argued that wasn’t TCF’s fault, stating that “[h]igher charge-offs at TCF have been primarily due to the imprudent behavior of our competitors and an ill-advised monetary policy that created the unprecedented rise and fall of the housing markets.”
In other words, TCF is arguing that they’re an innocent bystander in this recession and that they did not engage in the questionable lending practices that many blames as the precursor to the subprime mortgage crisis. Unlike other banks who have issued statements critical of past lending and who are announcing plans to change their business model, TCF remains steadfast in their position that they comported themselves appropriately.
TCF argued its position clearly. According to Cooper:
TCF has not made subprime, broker purchased, Option ARM, teaser rate, out of market, low doc or other risky mortgage loans. TCF kept on its balance sheet all the loans it originated. TCF has no auto or credit card portfolios or asset backed commercial paper. We have never owned Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac preferreds, trust preferred securities or bank owned life insurance (BOLI). TCF does not have any derivative contracts.
He concludes that, “TCF remains profitable, solidly capitalized and ready to take advantage of prudent growth opportunities.”
The last few weeks have udoubtedly been frustrating for TCF bank, but they make a strong case for themselves. That’s why most of the conversation about TCF will probably continue to revolve around Gophers’ football and seven-day-a-week bank access.
If you enroll at Southwestern College in Kansas, they’ll hand you a laptop on your first day on campus.
It’s the same story at West Liberty College in West Virginia, where the school’s President said, “We decided to put technology in the hands of the students instead of locking them up in a computer lab”.
PC Mag lists nearly 50 colleges that will “rent” a free laptop. For students, it’s a great way to get tech into their hands without spending out of pocket.
In England, “Universities hope to attract an estimated 130,000 students with a baffling range of enticements, including free laptops, subsidised accommodation, vouchers for bicycles, fee waivers and cash incentives.”
Handing out a free laptop for students undoubtedly has some educational merits. We all know that computers are one of the best learning tools available and the idea of trying to make it through a half-decent college education without using the Internet is nothing short of laughable.
And making it “free” seems like a nice thing to do in light of that. Consider this opinion:
A free laptop for students could make the difference between completing graduation or dropping out of college within the first year. As educational systems change the demands upon students and the methods in which students are expected to learn, those seeking to complete secondary educations need to have the tools to meet these demands without extreme financial hardships.
It’s also a nice inducement to new students. I’m sure that the colleges offering a free laptop for students made that decision with pedagogical concerns in the forefront of their eggheads, but you can bet your bottom tuition dollar that someone from the marketing department told them that it wouldn’t hurt in terms of new student recruitment.
But is the free laptop really a great idea? There are some reasons to wonder.
First, we all know that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. That’s particularly true at colleges, where new students are often compelled to buy a cafeteria “meal plan”. It’s also true when you wander over to the computer lab. Those laptops weren’t provided by manufacturers out of the goodness of their corporate hearts. The school had to fork over cash and at least some of that cash is coming back in the form of tuition hikes. Get it? The “free” laptop is just an expense bundled into the standard “tuition and fees” bill.
So, if you’re a college-bound person with your own laptop, it seems a little strange to be contributing to the underwriting of free portables for your classmates, don’t you think?
Second, you have to wonder if the colleges who are doing this are supplying students with the laptops that best match their personal needs. If you’re a graphics design student at a college who’s handing out bare-bones PCs, does that really help you out or are you going to need your tricked out Apple, anyway?
Again, even if you never crack the seal on your low-end HP because you’re spending your nights tapping away on your Apple, you’re still paying for the laptop Billy the freshman is using to find new World of Warcraft cheats. It just doesn’t seem all that fair.
A free laptop for students? Well, it isn’t free. And it isn’t necessarily the right laptop for each individual student. There are some great reasons to support the idea of increasing access to technology, but there are some good reasons to worry about whether bundling a laptop along with other student fees is the best way to get the job done.
Anyone who’s keen on saving money has an eBay account. It’s a great place to buy stuff at cut-rates, whether it’s used material being peddled from guy in Oshkosh or “new in the box” items straight from the manufacturer.
If you’re a serious comparison shopper, you undoubtedly check eBay regularly and probably purchase via the online auction megasite with some regularity.
But did you know it was possible to save even more money than usual when making your eBay purchases? It can be done. All it takes is an eBay coupon.
I’d like to differentiate a true eBay coupon from what you might find if you go Googling for “eBay coupon”. Many people will refer to any coupon offered for resale on eBay as an “eBay coupon”. That really isn’t accurate. If you decide to list a coupon to buy a new Dell computer for sale on eBay, it’s a Dell coupon. Period. The coupon doesn’t suddenly become part of eBay because it’s sold there. And you sure as heck can’t use that coupon if you decide to buy a Dell from Marsha in Hoboken via eBay.
I don’t think people intentionally confuse the use of the term, but search engines (being the imperfect tools that they are) will often return results for coupons offered on eBay when one is actually looking for real eBay coupons.
Real eBay coupons are issued by eBay and they generally don’t have any kind of product purchase restrictions on them. Usually, they’ll offer a flat percentage discount off of any purchase made on eBay. The photo accompanying this post is of an actual eBay coupon.
That’s right, eBay will actually print ‘em up sometimes! They send them out to site members every once in awhile. Of course, you don’t actually have to turn over the paper coupon. It’s all just a matter of typing the code into the right spot as you check out while making a purchase.
Which brings us to the issue of eBay coupon codes. According to the site, coupons are mailed or emailed to people. That doesn’t mean that you have to be on the lucky receiving end of eBay’s largesse to actually use a coupon, though. The web is a hotbed of people sharing coupon codes, enabling anyone to save some serious money on a virtual shopping spree.
For awhile, they weren’t hard find. eBay went hog wild with coupons in the weeks running up to the holidays. Now that things have settled down again, it’ll take a bit of work to get the coupons/codes.
Some smart Googling, combined with a willingness to sort through the aforementioned “eBay coupons” that are really just regular coupons being sold by eBay is a great way to dig ‘em up. Another good trick is to keep an eye on a few of the more highly-trafficked online forums focusing on frugal living. Those penny pinchers (and I use that as a term of endearment) are really generous when it comes to sharing coupon codes. If you’d like to learn more about finding eBay discount coupons, eBay Habit has some good information.
If you’re an eBay shopper, you might as well save some extra money, right? That makes finding and taking advantage of coupon offers from the big dog of online auctions a no-brainer. If you’re going to buy something either way, you might as well do it with a coupon so you can keep a little extra dough in your pockets!
Oh, there is one restriction that should be mentioned. You can only use eBay coupon codes when you’re making your purchase with your PayPal account. If you use a different method of payment you won’t have access to the savings. If you need a little explanation of how to actually use the codes, eBay has a nifty graphics-rich breakdown of the process that you might want to see.
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