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Making money: What the experts say

Smart savings at the pump; Stock shopping on the shelves; Dems beat GOP for returns

Smart savings at the pumpWith gas prices hitting record seasonal highs, we all need smart ways to “keep high gas prices from eating a hole” in our budgets, said Martha C. White in Time.com. Consumers looking for savings should consider membership at stores like Costco and Sam’s Club—where annual memberships run $55 or less—to purchase discounted gas. Supermarket chains like Price Chopper, Kroger, and Ralphs also offer gas savings with their loyalty programs. If you have a smartphone, apps like GasBuddy and Cheap Gas point to the stations with the lowest prices nearest you. And consider how you pay: Both plastic and cash offer their own rewards. Several cards affiliated with gas-station chains offer rebates, and some general-purpose cards offer cash back for gas purchases. But inquire inside first. Some stations will “knock 10 cents or so per gallon off the price if you pay cash.”

Stock shopping on the shelvesEver seen a smart product and thought, “That company is going places”? asked Matt Krantz in USA Today. A new smartphone app will let you invest on the spot. Brokerage firm TD Ameritrade has upgraded its app to allow investors to scan UPC bar codes on any product and instantly get stock information for the company that makes it—as well as the option to buy shares. That means an investor who sees a product flying off the shelves at a retail store can instantly get in on the action. Some of the best-performing companies make “products that people on Main Street consume every day,” says Nicole Sherrod of TD Ameritrade.

Dems beat GOP for returns“Stock investors do better when Democrats occupy the White House,” said Bob Drummond in Bloomberg.com. An analysis by Bloomberg Government Barometer shows that if you invested $1,000 in a hypothetical fund tracking the S&P 500 in 1961, when John F. Kennedy took office, and kept it there only during the 23 years that a Democrat has held the presidency, you’d have $10,920 as of Feb. 21. But if you invested the same amount at Richard Nixon’s 1969 inaugural and let it grow under 28 years of Republican administrations, you’d end up with just $2,087 on the day that George W. Bush left the White House. The difference reflects the fact that seven of the eight recessions since 1960 began when Republicans were in the Oval Office.

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