Use Twitter and other social media to complain and get
results -- fast.
The Kip Tips iPad App
Have a beef with a business? A public conversation about your
complaint on Twitter may yield more satisfying results than a phone
call to the company. Use these tips to make the most of the
to find out whether the company has a Twitter presence, and direct
your tweets to its account, preferably a customer-service
Be firm but not combative.
Employ many of the same tactics you'd use in a phone call --
include specific information, such as dates and times, and have a
clear goal in mind (a full refund, for example).
Don't send sensitive information,
such as credit card account numbers, on Twitter. Switch to a phone
Get ideas from other customers.
Searching the business's name on Twitter may turn up phone numbers
of helpful representatives or other useful information.
Throw your social media weight around.
For example, some businesses check customers' Klout scores, which
measure online influence (see yours at
). High scorers can try to get perks -- say, a free hotel-room
upgrade -- just by asking.
Newspaper fliers are fine, but you can customize your coupons
online, on Twitter and in your e-mail in-box. Using online coupon
sites can easily slash $10 off each drugstore bill and $20 off
clothing purchases, says Coupon Sherpa CEO Luke Knowles.
Check out Scoutmob,
which adds a little twist to daily-deal sites. No payment is
necessary until you present the coupon (displayed on your phone as
a text, e-mail or on Scoutmob's app) at checkout, so there's no
risk that you will buy a coupon and never cash it in.
Sign up for daily deals
at Google Deals, Groupon and LivingSocial. They offer about 50% off
everything from pizza to Pilates classes (for caveats to consider
before you sign up, see
6 Things to Know About Daily Deals
Get coupon codes
at CouponCabin, Coupon Sherpa and RetailMeNot. Find the best deals
by following those sites on Twitter or signing up for their e-mail
Register for e-mail or Twitter alerts
at your favorite stores to receive insider-only promotions.
Many gadget-lovers have plunked down big bucks on a
first-generation -- or next-gen -- product only to see a better,
cheaper version come down the pipeline. If you rushed out to buy a
big-screen TV, your wallet certainly suffered from "early-adopter
Back in 2008, the average price of a 32-inch LCD TV was $867; by
last year, the price had dropped by $330, according to iSuppli, a
market-research firm. The first Kindle, introduced in 2007, cost
$400; the latest version sells for as little as $110 without ads,
is lighter and has way more memory and battery life. And you can
snag a third-generation iPhone for as little as $50 (down from $600
at its 2007 introduction). Prices don't always fall, but even newer
models that cost the same will have enhancements, and the early
kinks will be ironed out. For even better deals, look for
refurbished tech products, which often come with warranties.
$199 brand-new, $145 refurbished
$200 brand-new, $150 refurbished
Apple MacBook Air:
$1,100 brand-new, $800 refurbished
Western Digital My Passport 1TB Hard Drive:
$172 brand-new, $152 refurbished
It's all in the timing and location (and by location, we also
mean where in the restaurant you happen to sit down).
Opt for the bar menu.
The portions are smaller, but so are the prices. For instance, at
Morton's the Steakhouse, you'll pay $15 for four petite filet
mignon sandwiches as opposed to $49 for the New York strip steak
off the dinner menu.
Buy lunch, not dinner.
Eat off the same basic menu minus the extra-large portions (a
10-ounce meat entree rather than a 14-ouncer) and fancy side dishes
(say, potato chips instead of fingerling potatoes), for about
two-thirds the price.
Stand in line to order at upscale chains such as Vapiano's
(Italian) and La Madeleine (French). You'll get the food and
atmosphere of fancier, full-service restaurants while saving on
price and tip.
Pick the prix-fixe.
Land a deal on the fixed-price menu even at high-end restaurants.
At Manhattan's Gotham Bar and Grill, you can get a roasted-beet
salad and the Scottish salmon entree for a fixed price of $25.
Choose from the a la carte menu and a comparable selection -- a
green salad and the pan-seared skate entree -- runs $34.
Find the best happy hour.
to find the happy-hour specials -- usually offered between 4 p.m.
and 7 p.m. -- at bars near you. Typical deals: beer for a buck,
cocktails for $4, and half-price appetizers.
Let the kids eat for free.
to find the restaurants near you where the kids score a freebie
(usually on a particular night of the week and with the purchase of
an adult entree). In Evanston, Ill., that would be Chili's Grill
& Bar, on Tuesday nights; in Elkridge, Md., it's Mamma Lucia's,
where the freebies flow all day Sunday.
Kia Sorento, Sticker price: $25,750 (LX V6)
Kia's midsize SUV switched from truck to crossover construction
last year and now features more agile, carlike handling. A
four-cylinder engine graces the lineup and gets 29 miles per gallon
on the highway, versus 26 mpg for the V6. Second-row legroom is a
roomy 38 inches, and cargo space behind the second row is 37 cubic
feet -- enough to fit the family and all your gear. The third row
of seats (optional on four-cylinder models and standard on V6
models) is perfect for little ones, but not unbearable for adults.
The Sorento rates a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for
Hyundai Sonata $21,455 (2.4L GLS)
It's elegant as well as utilitarian, with generous legroom and
cargo space, and a thrifty four-cylinder engine.
Honda Odyssey $29,035 (LX)
The bold exterior, improved driving dynamics and functional
interior set it apart from its minivan peers.
Nissan Leaf, Sticker price: $36,050 (SV)
The first mass-market electric vehicle to hit the streets, the Leaf
boasts serious amenities in addition to zero tailpipe emissions and
a "fueling" cost of less than $700 a year. A heated steering wheel
and heated seats and mirrors are standard features for 2012, as is
a 7-inch information display with navigation (to help you find the
nearest charging station), Bluetooth, and a USB connection for
music. A full charge takes about eight hours on a 220-volt dock and
will carry you 73 miles, according to the Environmental Protection
Agency. The price tag is steep, but a $7,500 federal tax credit
Ford Focus $19,095 (SE hatchback)
Redesigned for 2012, it has plenty of legroom, high resale value
and gets 36 miles per gallon on the highway.
Hyundai Elantra, $15,955 (GLS)
A nice price and 40 mpg on the highway make it easy on your budget.
It has an ample 15 cubic feet of cargo room.
Subaru Outback, Sticker price: $25,070 (2.5i
named the Outback Best in Class Wagon for the third year in a row,
based on its fuel economy, stellar resale values and bragging
rights as an IIHS Top Safety Pick. Subaru's Symmetrical All-Wheel
Drive comes in three different versions (all standard) on Outback
models, depending on the transmission and engine. On the 2.5i
automatic, power is distributed to the wheels depending on
acceleration, deceleration and available traction. For trail-rated
accessories such as splash guards and all-weather floor mats, check
out the Popular Package ($772).
Ford Explorer, $34,920 (XLT AWD)
Explorer is now a crossover, with carlike handling and better fuel
economy, but it's still rugged enough for adventure.
Jeep Grand Cherokee, $29,820 (Laredo 4WD)
This Jeep has off-road cred, lots of interior space and highway
fuel economy of 23 mpg.
Porsche Boxster, Sticker price: $62,750 (Spyder)
Many celebrities have driven Porsches over the years, but few were
cooler than 1950s film star James Dean -- whose love of Porsches
became legendary after his death at the age of 24 while driving a
550 Spyder. Questions of your demise aside, if you desire two seats
and the feel of the wind tousling your hair, then the Porsche
Boxster is a good choice. It corners and brakes like a dream, and
the engine is placed mid car, so there's storage fore and aft. The
Spyder has a larger engine and more horsepower. If money is tight
and you can sacrifice some speed, consider the base Boxster, for
Chevrolet Corvette, $50,500 (base)
The 6.2-liter V8 packs 430 horsepower and propels the 'Vette (which
turns 60 next year) from 0 to 60 in 4.2 seconds.
Mazda Miata, $26,245 (Sport)
Inspired by roadsters such as the MGB, the Miata is stripped to the
essentials so you feel connected to the road.
Chrysler 300C, Sticker price: $41,145
Chrysler's restyled 300C is evocative of the 1957 model, with a
wide front grille and fins. But there's more to the C than
nostalgia. The doors open wide for easy entry, and the dashboard is
clean, with big, easy-to-use controls. Heated seats (front and
rear) and a rearview camera are standard, and the pedals and
steering wheel adjust at the touch of a button. Add the Safetytec
package ($2,420) for adaptive cruise control, which uses radar to
maintain a safe distance from the car in front of you on the
highway. The package includes forward-collision and blind-spot
warning and cross-path detection.
Mazda5, $20,140 (Sport)
This mini minivan offers easy access, seating for six and easy-stow
seats for when you need more space.
Toyota Avalon, $33,955 (base)
Check out the eight-way power driver's seat, easy-to-use dash
controls and standard backup monitor.
2009 Honda Civic, Sticker price: $16,708 (EX-L
If you'd rather spring for a new car for your teen, consider the
Kia Soul or Ford Focus. But if you're looking to spend less,
consider a three-year-old Civic. Its 1.8-liter, four-cylinder
engine produces 140 horsepower and gets 36 mpg on the highway. The
EX-L model has safety features not available on lower trims --
standard stability and traction control plus brake assist (to apply
maximum braking force in an emergency). Other standard perks
include heated leather seats, USB connectivity and a 60/40 split
folding rear seat to expand the car's 12 cubic feet of cargo
2008 Chevy Malibu, $11,831 (LT)
The Malibu drives well, plus it comes with a slew of standard
safety features and a wallet-friendly price.
2009 Scion xB, $12,323 (base)
The xB has a capacious 22 cubic feet of cargo space and, as a
Toyota product, a history of reliability.
For the best prices, be flexible, and be ready to pounce on
special promotions and time-sensitive "flash sales." Check the
travel search engines (such as Kayak, Orbitz and Travelocity) for
package deals on airfare, lodging and car rentals. Or sign up for
the Gate1 newsletter, which sends out deals on all-inclusive
vacations and tours.
Scout out fares on major travel sites, then plug a few itineraries
into Bing Travel's handy "price predictor," which forecasts whether
prices are headed up or down. Next, sign up for e-mail alerts from
airfare-alert sites or follow them on Twitter. We like
to get the scoop on sales and promotions. (Skip blind booking
sites, such as Hotwire and Priceline, which often place you on
roundabout routes at inconvenient times.)
Flexible travelers should follow LivingSocial Escapes and Groupon
Getaways for discounted offers at romantic villas and
bed-and-breakfasts. Don't forget local tourism sites and guidebooks
when looking for lodging. Places that choose not to register with
travel search engines can be a great deal and have more local
flavor than the chain hotels.
is a good way to snag a bargain on a rental -- the vehicles in
rental fleets don't vary much (see
Put the Brakes on Rental Car Fees
Look for cruises on
. If your dates are flexible, book during "wave season," from
January through March, when you can find deals of 50% to 60% off,
says Mark Murphy, CEO of Travalliance.com.
A few weeks before takeoff, sign up for Groupon, LivingSocial and
Scoutmob in your destination city and pay special attention to
restaurant coupons. Check online reviews on
Vacation rentals aren't just for summer beach getaways.
Vacation rental homes are pigeonholed as the classic lodging for
families or large groups on beach vacations. But they can also suit
singles and couples, not to mention families, looking for more
space away from the tourist meccas in U.S. cities or abroad.
Besides offering more square feet per dollar, rentals usually have
a kitchen to help keep down food costs and a laundry room so you
can pack lighter.
The financials work differently for vacation rentals than for
hotels. You'll likely pay a cleaning fee ($100 to $250) and may
have to put down a security deposit or nonrefundable reservation
deposit. Booking for a week can land you a reduced rate.
Be sure to book through a trustworthy site, such as
. These sites include thousands of listings, both domestic and
international, with the owner's contact information, photos,
reviews and pricing details. We also found a couple of smaller
focuses on Paris and Provence as well as London and Tuscany.
lists properties worldwide.
On HomeAway.com, a two-bedroom Craftsman-style house, within
walking distance of the Walk of Fame and Sunset Strip, was renting
for $250 per night.
In the trendy Marais neighborhood, an airy apartment runs from $300
to $375 per night (depending on the season). The apartment, listed
on Haveninparis.com, sleeps four and offers cable and free calls to
A three-bedroom villa near Sorrento, Italy, starts at about $190
nightly on Roomorama.com (the price can triple during summer
season), with a one-week minimum stay. It has an infinity pool and
can sleep up to eight people.
A two-bedroom luxury apartment listed on VRBO.com recently rented
for between $165 and $340 per night (more during the August
Edinburgh International Festival). Amenities include two
fireplaces, a bathroom with heated floors and views of Edinburgh's
How to keep sensitive information out of the clutches of ID
Secure government IDs.
Keep your passport, birth certificate and Social Security card in a
safe-deposit box or other secure place; never carry your Social
Security card in your wallet. Don't reveal personal details over
the phone or enter them online unless it's absolutely necessary.
Before you divulge information, ask why it's needed.
Hide the paper (and online) trail.
Shred loan applications, bank statements and insurance forms before
you toss them. To avoid high-tech identity thieves, never bank
online using a public computer or public Wi-Fi over an unsecured
network. When you are entering information online, look for "https"
at the beginning of the URL. That means the site is secure. Make
your passwords hard to crack by using symbols, uppercase and
lowercase letters, and jumbled words (see
Foil the Hackers With Unique Passwords
Monitor your credit report.
Look for bogus transactions or errors in your credit report by
routinely checking your report at
. You're entitled to receive one free copy from each of the three
major credit bureaus every year. Stagger your requests and you can
check your report every four months. Also pay close attention to
credit card bills so you can spot any unauthorized charges. If
you've been a victim of ID theft, contact one of the credit bureaus
(Experian.com, Equifax.com or Trans Union.com) to file a fraud
alert, which will require lenders to attempt to verify your
identity before issuing any new credit in your name.
Get all 100 of our top money-saving tips by
downloading the new iPad app
purchasing the PDF version