The 2011 Courage Cards for the holidays from Courage Center are a good cause and a good deal with Lunds, Byerly's and the Courage Center store in Golden Valley discounting the cards 40 percent. The card collections are regularly $13 for a set of 12 cards.
The Courage Card Program, which began in 1958, has been a way to support the center's cause--helping people with disabilities realize their full potential. To date, the card program has raised more than $6 million for the Courage Center.
Kudos to Lunds, Byerly's, Gerten's and Bachmans for selling the cards to help the center and generously giving back 100 percent of the proceeds to Courage Center.
The cards are made in the U.S. and produced of high quality card stock from managed forests. Some recycled acid and clorine-free paper is also used.
Today (Dec. 21) is the last day to buy the cards at the Courage Center gift shop (3915 Golden Valley Rd., Golden Valley). Hours are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 763-520-0270.
Courage Center is a nonprofit rehabilitation and resource center that advances the lives of children and adults experiencing barriers to health and independence. The center specializes in treating brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, chronic pain, autism, and disabilities experienced since birth. Founded in 1928, Minneapolis-based Courage Center offers advanced technologies and innovation provided in part through the efforts of thousands of volunteers and donors.
Starting at 8 a.m. Saturday, Wal-Mart and Walmart.com bring back echoes of Black Friday with some deals worthy of waiting bargain hunters.
It's the annual Free Shipping Day today (Dec. 16) where more than 2,500 sites offer free shipping. But save even more by checking the list of retailers at the Freeshippingday site that offer additional discounts today. Hare are some samples, but you have to to the Free Shipping site to get the discount code. Some sites require a minimum purchase amount to get the discounts.
Kohl's: Free shipping plus an additional 15 percent off sitewide.
J Crew: Free shipping plus 30 percent off sitewide.
Ann Taylor: Free shipping plus 40 percent off sitewide.
Eddie Bauer: Free shipping plus 40 percent off sitewide.
Banana Republic: Free shipping plus 30 percent off sitewide.
Perry Ellis: Free shipping plus 30 percent off sitewide.
Tommy Hilfiger: Free shipping plus 40 percent off sitewide except watches and fragrances.
Gap: Free shipping plus 20 percent off sitewide.
Old Navy: Free shipping plus 20 percent off sitewide.
Several years ago I was shocked by Honda's "Happy Honda Days" TV ads as being too commercial at Christmas-time. I'm over it now but I am still amused that anyone except our 1% friends gets or gives a new car for Christmas.
The truth is that hardly anyone is gifting or getting a new car, but manufacturers advertise heavily this time of year because it's a slooooow time for them, said Remar Sutton, chairman of Foolproofme.com, a financial literacy website. The ads are nothing more than a way to get you in the door.
"December is a fabulous time to buy a car," said Sutton. "Just make sure that you don't give a Christmas present to the dealer." Dealers ARE more likely to offer deals in Deccember, but remember some basic tips.
Shop late at night when salespeople are worn out and more likely to bargain to close the deal.
Keep your enthusiasm for the car you like bundled up. Excitement lowers your bargaining power.
Check the dealer's low-interest financing against a credit union. Only buyers with excellent credit will qualify for the 1.9 percent rate or something similar. Plan ahead by getting pre-approved at a credit union so that you know what interest rate you qualify for. Also, since almost anyone can join a credit union these days, call around for the lowest rate. Just as banks' rates vary, so do credit unions. In fact, even though conventional wisdom says credit unions offer lower rates, I would still include banks, big and small.
Now on to my tips for new car buying. Last month I helped a friend buy a 2011 CRV EX-L 4WD with leather seats. His best price was about $28,000 but I was able to find a lower price of $26,940 at Buerkle Honda in St. Paul.
I was hoping to get an even lower price of about $26,100. That was the "best local price" according to the Consumer Reports new car price service report for which I paid $14. I found CR's price service to be more helpful than Truecar.com, which a lot of consumers like. Truecar said the best target price was $27,270.
So how did I negotiate? By phone. I took advice from the non-profit consumer organization Checkbook, which offers free advice on how to get a good price on a new car. According to Checkbook, start by calling a dealership and asking to speak to a sales manager.
After I reached a manager, I said the following: "I'm in the market for a 2011 CRV EX-L-4WD. I'm calling a number of dealers in the Twin Cities to see what price you can give me from the factory invoice. I'm only calling once. Please include advertising, doc prep and other services in your quote."
Checkbook has an even longer script but I simplified it. According to CarBargains, the price I got was pretty good for the Twin Cities, but I could have gotten the CRV for hundreds less in a more competitive Honda market like in Chicago.
If you'd like more information about CarBargains service that does the negotiating for you for a fee, click here.
The best days to shop in December for a car? Most experts say Dec. 26, but the 24th, 28th and 31st are also good, according to Truecar.com. Just make sure you research a good target price before you start wheeling and dealing.
is discounting nearly everything 20 percent in stores or online through Monday. Sale merchandise, such as the faux fur throws, are excluded. Whether you like the revamped RH or not, at least its assortment of stocking stuffers is back for Christmas. The discount code appears on the home page if you're shopping online.
Roam, the modern home furnishings store, is now open in its new location in Uptown at 2914 Hennepin Ave. Everything in the store, including Blu Dot merch, is 15 percent off Thursday, Dec. 8. Special orders are excluded, but free champagne and snacks are served until 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8.
Roam is one of several home furnishings stores in Uptown offering modern, contemporary styling. Also try Design Within Reach, Go Home and opening Saturday, the new CB2 store, a more modern, less expensive sibling to Crate & Barrel. DWR, Go Home and CB2 aren't doing storewide sales today--but if you're in Uptown checking out the new
For more info about CB2, check out my article in today's paper.
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