Month: October 2013

Penny Auction Sites Cost More Than a Penny

You’ve seen the commercials for companies like Quibids and Beezid: Win an iPad 3 for just $36.43.  That’s more than 90% off!  With deals that good, who wouldn’t try?

Penny Auction Sites have become very popular in the past ten years.  The concept is fascinating and addicting as well.

Every time you bid, the item you are bidding for goes up one cent.  Each item has a different timer from five to thirty seconds.  Every time someone else bids on the item, the timer will be reset to the original time.  When everyone stops bidding for the item, the timer expires, and the person with the last bid wins the prize.

For example:  Tim is interested in a Macbook Air.  The timer is set at 15 seconds so every time he or someone else bids on the item, the timer resets to 15 seconds.  Being very patient, Tim is able to win the brand new Macbook Air for $124.88.  What a deal, right?  Not necessarily.

What penny auction sites fail to acknowledge is the bidder must purchase ‘bid packs’, certain amounts of bids for a specified price.  For example, 100 bids might cost you a heart-breaking $50.  From our example, let’s say Tim purchased 1,000 bids for a discounted $400 (the more you buy at one time, the cheaper it is).  To win that item, Tim used 900 of his purchased 1,000 bids.  At 40 cents a bid, Tim spent an additional $360.   In total Tim spent $484.88 for his Macbook Air.  In this venture, Tim came out on top since Macbook Air’s currently retail around $1,200.

Not everyone is as lucky as Tim, though.  What about those bidders that lost to Tim?  If they used as many bids, they just spent a hefty $360 and now have nothing to show for it.  Realize there are on average seven to twenty different people fighting for the same item depending on how expensive that item is.  Your chances of winning are greatly decreased because of it.

I have personally tried penny auction bidding.  It was a very exciting and addicting experience.  With $60 worth of bids, I was able to win a paper towel holder, a $10 Walmart gift card, and two $15 Subway gift cards.  The total value of all my wins?  About $50.  Even with all my ‘loot’, I still didn’t come out on top, losing ten dollars in the ordeal.

If you currently do penny auction sites or are interested, please be very careful.  Before you know it, you will have spent hundreds of dollars on a product you won’t even get to take home.  9 times out of 10, it is cheaper to simply buy the product at a retail store.


Saving Money For The Holidays

It’s the Most…..Expensive Time of the Year!

By Vincent Mortensen

Summer has come and gone.  The heat has transitioned into the cool, crisp weather of autumn.  With the changing weather brings the changing of the seasons and all the fun holiday’s attached to them.  In a three month span, we dress up and get candy, gorge ourselves on delicious foods and top it off with giving and receiving presents.  Even the holiday season can cause stress.  In this sense, it can harm us financially.

Chances are you’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year for all your closest family and friends.  If you’re not cooking, you’re probably traveling to get to said meal.  With the steady rise of gas prices, long distance car trips or flying can cause a financial squeeze.  This is why we must start saving now instead of later.

Let’s do an example.  A family of four needs to travel to Denver, Colorado from Salt Lake City, Utah to reach grandma’s house for Thanksgiving dinner.  Even booking in September will cost each person on average $200 for round trip.  $800 is considered by many a major purchase and should be saved for.

Now for driving.  Let’s say gas prices are averaged out to $3.70 a gallon throughout the road trip.  Your car receives 25 mph on the highway for the 550 mile trip.  This will round out to about $162.50 round trip.  This is a much better deal but still on the expensive side.  There may be additional costs including hotel as well.

Imagine if you had to travel even further than the next state over.  Things could become even more expensive than $160 to $800.

If you don’t have to travel far for Thanksgiving, enjoy your meal and be merry!  But, if you have to spend a significant amount to see your loved ones, it’s never too early to start saving for your upcoming adventure.  Good luck!

How to Save a Ton of $ on a Fall Break Vacation!

BeachFall break is only two weeks away and if you still haven’t planned your vacation, now is this time to do it! Follow our tips and you will have a fun, frugal vacation and stretch your budget.

Airplane1. If you plan to fly, look into last minute flights like Southwest’s low priced “Wanna Get Away” Fares. Southwest Airlines is doing a promotion where they offer flights as low as $69. You can find airfare to Los Angeles from $117 and flights to Chicago from $198. JetBlue is offering airfare from $59 but the choices out of Salt Lake are limited. Consider the cost of driving to a nearby airport to get a better deal. If you drive to Las Vegas, you can catch a $59 flight to Long Beach California. Frontier Airlines is doing a promotion right now with flights as low as $49. You can fly to Orlando for $144 or to New York for $132. When booking with Frontier, use code

car2. If you plan to drive, consider purchasing gift cards for your trip from Smiths before you leave. You can earn 4x the fuel rewards on the purchase of gift cards which can help you save up to $1 per gallon on gas when you stop to fill up at a Smiths fuel pump. You can find gift cards at Smiths for anything from food to hotels to clothing stores and 100 points=10 cents off per gallon. A $100 gift card purchase would give you 40 cents off per gallon! Also consider a fuel rewards card. Maverick has a gas debit card called the “Black Debit Card” which offers a $.06 cent discount on gas every day, 2x the fuel rewards points, and offers a gas price match program.

3. hotelTo find deals on hotels, you can use and combine savings from and (for more information on this, see the Smart Shop U tab on our website), and for every ten stays, you get one night free. There are lots of other reward programs like Marriot and Wyndham and you can search for promo codes at to save even more money when booking online. After calculating the best deal you can find online, call the hotel you want to stay at directly and see if they can beat the price. Hotels often lose money when other sites refer customers and they may be willing to give you the best price if you book through them.

4. For deals on everything, search Groupon andcoupon LivingSocial. You can find discounts on restaurants, hotels, entertainment, spa services, and more! The way these sites work is you pay a set amount like $10 for a coupon that is worth $20 at a certain business. You could also pay a set amount for the listed service like a hotel stay. These need to be redeemed within a set time, usually within a few months. You can search the cities you plan to travel to and don’t forget to search for cities along the way if you plan to stop and eat. These websites have mobile apps and you can even buy the deal while on the road and show the coupon from your phone. Another option is to purchase the Entertainment Book for the city you plan to travel. These books have tons of great coupons for restaurants and entertainment.  The savings are usually in the form of buy-one-get-one coupons which is like two people getting 50% off!

Staycations5. If you can’t afford a vacation, have a Staycation. A Staycation involves doing activities, going to restaurants, and even staying in a hotel, but all within a short driving distance of your home. You may be able to find overnight bed and breakfast and hotel stays in your city for $100 or less. Even an overnight excursion can give you the relaxation of a vacation that you need without the big price tag. You can purchase a Seven Peaks “Pass of all Passes” for around $20 and enjoy tons of free activities like using the water park, Rocky Mountain Raceway, REAL and Bees games, Tracy Aviary and more. Another great option is the Salt Lake Connect Pass for $28-$75 (1 year membership currently available on Groupon), which provide free access to museums, the Hogle Zoo, Thanksgiving Point, This is the Place Heritage Park, the Olympic Park, Discovery Gateway and the list goes on. And finally, use KSL Deals and The City Weekly Store to find discounts on Utah getaways and entertainment and never have to leave Salt Lake.