When to buy a new car
Timing is everything if you're shopping for a new car, says Adam Lew at The Motley Fool. "If you're patient, you can score a great deal." Waiting to buy until the last two weeks of December is a great way to get an edge. That's when car dealers need to clear old inventory to make room for new models and are keen to hit their annual sales quotas. The prospect of earning bonuses is "sometimes incentive enough for dealers to knock off up to $3,000 from the price." If you just can't wait that long, at least try to buy near the end of a month or quarter. The worst time to shop is "in the spring when the weather is starting to warm up and people just received their tax refunds." And go in with a clear head: Know "exactly what you want, and more importantly, what you won't pay extra for."
Psyching up for retirement
Readying yourself for retirement isn't easy, says Nanci Hellmich at USA Today. But it takes more than just financial planning. It's important to also prepare yourself "psychologically for this transition," since leaving a job can lead to many life changes. Structure and meaning are important, even in retirement, so take care "to define a post-retirement identity." It's key to have a sense of purpose, and to figure out "what gets you going in the morning." Leaving work might mean losing touch "with people who were once a part of your everyday life," so start forming new relationships. And "negotiate some new ground rules" with your spouse or partner. "You'll probably be spending a lot more time together."
Don't put up with bad service
There's nothing worse than bad customer service, says Catey Hill at MarketWatch. A new survey found that 51 percent of U.S. consumers have been so fed up with poor service this year that they've ditched consumer goods retailers, cable and satellite providers, banks, and phone companies. It's not easy to switch from companies that hold you to a long-term contract, such as utilities and cable and telecom companies. But "while some companies aren't going to significantly change their customer service policies anytime soon, there are ways that consumers can get better service." Start with a polite and positive attitude, and "be as specific as possible with your expectations." And "when kindness and clarity don't work," escalate your complaint by asking for a supervisor.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
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