Money-saving Groupon hacks to keep your wallet happy

So, heres the deal — we love nice things A LOT, right? But what do we love more than that? Saving money! While for many of us it often seems extremely difficult to have both, occasionally we stumble upon something awesome that encourages us to get everything we want in life. In this case, that awesome thing were talking about is the website/app called Groupon.

Otherwise known as a global e-commerce marketplace offering activities, travel and more at a discounted price, Groupon has created quite a buzz in the lives of many, allowing them to find savings right in the comfort of their phone. While this is clearly incredible, the sad truth is, even thats not always enough. Its not that Groupon doesnt offer amazing money-saving deals, its just that (per usual) we want more. Anytime we can save extra money, were going for it. So today, were helping you save EVEN MORE money on Groupon with super easy hacks youll love.

Photo: Getty

1) Refer your friends

Any and all friends who love deals! For every friend referred, you get $10 in Groupon dollars once they make their first purchase. Cool, right?

2) Check for extra charges

Sadly, there are so many hidden charges on Groupon, such as shipping, flights, etc. Look close when buying!

3) Subscribe for the best savings

Its better than simply checking the website every now and then. This way youre alerted to the hottest deals.

4) Get social!

Tweeting about your favorite Groupon purchases means Groupon will personalize your offers.

5) Search through the best of Groupon

AKA: the best deals!

6) Read the fine print

Look here for slight things that may ruin the deal.

7) Get Groupon mobile

Its free and shows you deals applicable to the area youre currently in!

Click through below for more ways to save money this year:

Why Nielsen Has Nothing to Fear From Rentrak-comScore Merger

NEW YORK(TheStreet) — Nielsen (NLSN – Get Report) may be down but its not going anywhere.

Despite serving as a punching bag for media executives frustrated by mobile video, Nielsenis unlikely to be knocked from its perch as the industry standard for buying and selling advertising even as leading rivalsRentrak (RENT – Get Report) and comScore (SCOR – Get Report) plan to merge.

In a deal announced Tuesday, Rentrak and comScore said they plan to combine their companiesin a transaction valued at about $827 million,merging the formers strength in television with the latters specialty in digital. The combinedcompanies have an equity value of about $2.4 billion, based on the share price at the close of trading on Tuesday.

Even as Nielsen is likely to remain the industry benchmark, the Rentrak-comScore merger promises to make the heated race for an accurate and accepted means to measure mobile viewing much more interesting.

We believe the industry is looking for a better/best measurement solution to its audience crisis, said Bernstein Research media analyst Todd Juenger in an investor note on Comcast.We dont believe the industry will find that from comScore/Rentrak — not even close.

Nielsens strength remains its size and reach, Juenger said. Unlike Rentrak and comScore, Nielsen tracks media viewing nationally and also by individuals rather than devices. Importantly for its TV network clients, Nielsen is able to report overnight viewing numbers for most programming. Rentraks television data is largely from set-top boxes.

To be sure,Rentrak and comScore are likely to put more pressure on Nielsen.

The two companies have been working together for more than two years on an effort called Project Blueprint, which seeks to combine data from the two companies — Rentraks TV with comScores digital — along with Nielsens own Peoples Meter. The project, led by comScore, secured the participation of ESPN, ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and others, all of which are closely watching to see whether it can become a genuine alternative to Nielsen.

Some states take aim at ‘discriminatory’ auto insurance pricing

Be a safe driver. Don#x2019;t buy a flashy sports car. Pay the insurance premium on time.

These are maxims many drivers follow to keep their auto insurance costs in check. But they may not be enough for many low-income drivers, who consumer advocates say are routinely priced out of insurance coverage because they are judged not just by their driving records, but by their credit scores, occupation, education level or other factors.

It#x2019;s a discriminatory practice by insurance companies that disproportionately increases premium payments for low-income drivers, said J. Robert Hunter, a former Texas insurance commissioner and director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America. And some states are trying to stop it.

Three states #x2014; California, Hawaii and Massachusetts #x2014; prohibit insurers from using credit scores to determine how much drivers should pay. And legislation was introduced this year in almost a dozen others to prevent insurance companies from using credit scores, occupation, education level or other standards in factoring how much they should charge for car insurance, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In addition, California, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio and, most recently, Pennsylvania, have ruled that insurance companies cannot use #x201c;price optimization#x201d; #x2014; evaluating consumer data or competitors#x2019; prices to determine whether a customer is likely to shop around #x2014; to set prices for policies.

Doug Heller, a California-based consultant to the CFA, said low-income drivers often are less likely to shop around for competitive rates partly because of lower financial literacy. Insurance companies spot that, he said, and will raise premiums on those drivers because they think they#x2019;ll stick with them rather than go to a competitor.

#x201c;The insurance companies charge the most to the people who can afford it the least. That#x2019;s because auto insurance companies place such a large emphasis on their customers#x2019; occupation, level of education, credit history and other factors related to wealth, rather than driving safety,#x201d; Heller said.

But advocates for insurers say they use legitimate tools to set prices based on their financial risk. Price optimization has actually lowered insurance rates and is likely to create long-term price stabilization, said Robert Hartwig, president and economist at the Insurance Information Institute, a nonprofit communications group supported by the insurance industry. And, he said, auto insurance rates are declining for all drivers, including moderate- and low-income motorists.

By studying market factors, including competitor prices, rate-setting judgments become less subjective, Hartwig said, which could ultimately lead insurance companies to offer more discounts for longevity with a company.

His organization also opposes attempts by states to eliminate credit scores and other factors from rate setting, saying those evaluation techniques have proven to be legitimate measures of the financial risks associated with a driver.

DETERMINING INSURANCE RATES

All states, except New Hampshire, require drivers to buy at least a minimum amount of auto insurance in the event they cause property damage or injuries. For some low-income drivers facing high insurance rates, that presents a choice between driving illegally or not driving at all.

Insurance companies say they use a multitude of factors to determine how much each customer should pay. The factors can range from driving record and type of car to marital status, credit score, occupation, education and where the driver lives.

Consumer advocates say these rating tools hurt low-income drivers because they are more likely to receive negative marks for being single, having poor credit, having limited education, or living in a neighborhood where there is significant risk of vehicle vandalism or theft.

#x201c;It#x2019;s like a utility in that everybody needs it,#x201d; Heller said. #x201c;But it#x2019;s not like a utility in that pricing is wildly different from one consumer to the next.#x201d;

But Hartwig said the factors insurers use to set prices can be mathematically correlated to the risks associated with insuring a driver.

#x201c;Some insurers use education, not all.#x201d; Hartwig said. #x201c;They do that because they have found that the level of education is associated with losses. There#x2019;s no factor that any insurer uses that doesn#x2019;t have to do with loss.#x201d;

A recent Consumer Reports study of 2 billion insurance quotes at 700 companies found that insurers are less likely to assess motorists based on their driving habits, and more likely to do so based on their socioeconomic status.

The study found that in most states in which credit scores can be used to determine premiums, drivers who had been convicted of driving under the influence, but had excellent credit scores, still paid lower premiums than drivers who had good driving records, but poor credit scores.

#x201c;Not only are there pricing issues, but there are some fundamental fairness issues in the way that pricing results for good drivers,#x201d; said Norma Garcia, a senior attorney with Consumers Union, the policy and action division of Consumer Reports. #x201c;If you#x2019;ve had a drunk-driving conviction, chances are you#x2019;re a worse driver than someone out there who has a (low) credit score.#x201d;

Heller said that to improve fairness in rate setting, states should eliminate the socioeconomic factors and emphasize driver safety, strengthen oversight of prices charged by insurance companies and create low-cost insurance programs for qualifying drivers.

But setting prices solely based on a driver#x2019;s record can pose problems because records of crashes or moving violations are often missing from state databases, Hartwig said.

DECLINING PRICES?

While consumer advocates contend that the cost of auto insurance is out of reach for many poor people, insurance industry studies show that the cost of insurance is actually coming down, even for consumers in the lowest income brackets.

Hartwig attributes the decline in pricing to increased competition among insurance companies. He said policy options are available to most drivers regardless of risk associated with a vehicle or driving history, and coverage options are #x201c;generally affordable.#x201d;

#x201c;A big part of the reason is it#x2019;s a very competitive market and never before have there been more insurers competing for your business,#x201d; Hartwig said. #x201c;And never before have you been able to generate so many quotes so quickly from so many insurers.#x201d;

A new study from the Insurance Research Council points to data indicating auto insurance is becoming more affordable for drivers at all income levels, decreasing from 2 percent to less than 1.5 percent of an average consumer#x2019;s earnings since the 1990s. However, people with the lowest incomes are still spending more than 3.5 percent of their income on auto insurance. That number is down from more than 4 percent in the 1990s.

For the country#x2019;s highest earners, the share of income spent on insurance decreased from 2 percent to less than 1 percent in that time.

#x201c;You can say on average premiums have come down,#x201d; Heller said of studies that point to lower prices. #x201c;But that doesn#x2019;t mean affordability has increased. They#x2019;ve come down on average, but industry practices have come down hard on poor people.#x201d;

THE CALIFORNIA MODEL

While states have not issued many strict rate-setting reforms, California has the oldest and most comprehensive rating structure, advocates say.

Adopted in 1988 as a voter referendum, California#x2019;s Proposition 103 requires that insurance providers in the state prioritize three main factors #x2014; years of experience, driving record and number of miles driven each year #x2014; before they consider 16 other optional factors such as marital status, age, frequency of insurance claims or address. The optional factors cannot have more influence than the three mandatory elements in determining a driver#x2019;s rate quote.

#x201c;(In California) you need to provide the documentation and convince state experts that you#x2019;re not ripping your customers off,#x201d; Heller said. #x201c;Where, in most states, we#x2019;re not going to take a second look.#x201d;

California has also established a low-cost insurance program for low-income drivers.

A 2013 report by the CFA found that the California reforms had saved state drivers more than $100 billion over 25 years and that they were spending .3 percent less on insurance in 2010 than they had in 1989, while the country was spending 43.3 percent more.

#x201c;It#x2019;s interesting because a lot of things the auto insurance industry are claiming are impossible or unrealistic are already happening,#x201d; Garcia said. #x201c;They#x2019;re doing just fine in California.#x201d;

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

CuriosiD: Why is Detroit Auto Insurance SO Expensive?

This weeks installment of CuriosiD looks at one of the citys most popular questions.Click on the audio player above oruse this link to hear theaudiostory.

Why is auto insurance in Detroit so much more expensive than thesuburbs?

– Rodney Kirk,Detroit

Get rid of clothes purses shoes and other accessories in return for cash

Everyones closets are usually full of cutter that can induce stress and confusion, not joy at all. So now is the time to clean house and get rid of stuff for the back to school season and the fall, and make room for gifts over holidays. Since everyone can use the extra money for back to school or to update a fall wardrobe, it would be so wonderful to earn some extra spending money in return for things that are no longer in use. Thats where eBay’s new Valet service comes into play.

eBay Valet is great when it comes to selling stuff and its just like the old saying, One mans trash is another mans treasure. Its super easy to use and convenient to sell things in return for extra spending money. Simply gather new or gently used items that are in good condition and no longer being used such as clothing, handbags, shoes, electronics, smartphones, or tablets. Put them all in a box, print out an eBay shipping label, send it to eBay who will sell the items at competitive rates. In return, sellers will receive up to 80 percent of the sale price, and unsold items are returned back to sellers for free. Go ahead and give it a try by going to eBay.com/sellitnow to download Marie Kondos exclusive guide. Then determine for yourself if her special guide is useful to declutter, and earn extra money in return.

Jacques: College scorecard ignores conservative schools

Students would be wise not to put too much faith in what the federal government deems an A+ school.

The Obama administration just cant get enough of higher education. Its latest is a college scorecard released earlier this month to help guide students in their college search.

President Barack Obama says he wants students to get the biggest bang for their buck, and its a follow-up to his call for datapalooza two years ago.

In an economy where some higher education is still the surest ticket to the middle class, the choices that Americans make when searching for and selecting a college have never been more important, according to a statement from the White House.

The scorecard highlights lots of information, including tuition cost, debt load, graduation rates and average graduate income. But the list falls short on numerous levels.

In his weekly address on Sept. 12, Obama said, Americans will now have access to reliable data on every institution of higher education.

Well, not every institution.

The scorecard is far from complete, and blatantly leaves out conservative colleges — and ones that take pride in refusing federal dollars. On that list is Michigans Hillsdale College, a private liberal arts institution — and my alma mater. The college doesnt even accept federal money in the form of student grants or loans. Pennsylvanias Grove City College, which also doesnt take federal funding, was left out, too.

Hillsdale rightly took issue with its absence from the list, and asked the federal Department of Education for its rationale. The answer, given to the colleges student newspaper The Collegian, was bizarre. A department spokeswoman claimed the college was left out because the plurality of degrees it awards are certificates rather than four-year degrees.

Thats not true whatsoever, as the college only awards four-year undergraduate degrees and masters degrees. In addition, as Hillsdale notes in a press release, the college is frequently ranked by independent organizations like US News amp; World Report, Forbes Magazine, The Princeton Review and Kiplingers as one of the best liberal arts schools in the country.

The federal government should at least be honest about its motives. It left out any college that doesnt participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs — and ones that dont track and report racial demographics.

In addition, the scorecard is clearly advertising federal student aid; on the main page, students can click on a link that shows them an array of government-issued loans and aid available to them. The feds now issue and service 93 percent of student loans.

So its in the governments best interest only to include colleges that accept federal aid.

In addition to leaving out some excellent institutions, the scorecard has other flaws. Lindsey Burke, education policy expert at the Heritage Foundation, says the Obama administration is offering a limited view of what aspects students may want to get out of their college experience.

Its a blunt instrument, she says. The federal government is putting its seal of approval on what it values in higher education.

By focusing on the earning average of graduates after 10 years, the scorecard unfairly ranks quality schools, including womens colleges. Many graduates may choose to stay home with their children, but that doesnt mean they didnt receive a good education — or a good value.

And rather than expanding access to information, the scorecard could constrict data, as independent entities like Kiplingers and Forbes may not want to compete with the federal government.

The scorecard is the latest federal interference in the college realm. And much like its other efforts — such as in the area of student loans — the unintended consequences are often harmful for students, rather than helpful.

This administration has really grown the federal fingerprint on higher education, says Burke.

ijacques@detroitnews.com

First BanCorp. Short Interest Update

First Bancorp has dropped 44.82% during the last 3-month period . Year-to-Date the stock performance stands at -39.18%. First Bancorp has dropped 2.72% in the last five trading days, however, the shares have posted positive gains of 13.33% in the last 4 weeks.

First BanCorp. (NYSE:FBP): 2 analysts have set the short term price target of First BanCorp. (NYSE:FBP) at $6.38. The standard deviation of short term price target has been estimated at $1.94, implying that the actual price may fluctuate by this value. The higher and the lower price estimates are $ 8 and $5 respectively.

First Bancorp is a bank holding company. The Company is a service provider of financial services and products with operations in Puerto Rico, the United States and the United States and British Virgin Islands. The Company has six segments: Consumer (Retail) Banking; Commercial and Corporate Banking; Mortgage Banking; Treasury and Investments; United States Operations, and Virgin Islands Operations. The Company specializes in commercial banking, residential mortgage loan originations, finance leases, personal loans, small loans, auto loans, insurance agency and broker-dealer activities. As of December 31, 2011, it controlled two wholly owned subsidiaries: FirstBank and FirstBank Insurance Agency, Inc. (FirstBank Insurance Agency). Effective May 31, 2011, the Company purchased FirstBank-branded consumer credit card portfolio from FIA Card Services, NA and an affiliate.

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Congratulates Mature Driver Safety Class …

SCRANTON, Pa., Sept. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller today presented certificates to approximately 25 Pennsylvanians who successfully completed a mature driver safety class in Lackawanna County at the North Penn AAA. Commissioner Miller also reminded participants that state law requires a minimum five percent discount for drivers age 55 and older who complete PennDOT-approved motor vehicle driver improvement courses.

I congratulate everyone who made the commitment to take this course for becoming safer drivers and contributing to the safety of everyone on our roads, Commissioner Miller told the participants in the mature driver safety class. Governor Wolf has made consumer protection a top priority of his administration, and my department is working to ensure that all drivers who qualify for this safe driver discount receive it from their insurance company.

State law mandates a premium discount of no less than five percent for each motor vehicle on a policy under which all named insureds are 55 years of age or older and have successfully completed a motor vehicle driver improvement course that meets the standards of the PA Department of Transportation. These discounts are good for three years beginning with the next policy period following the successful completion of the course.

As important as the premium reduction is, what is more important is that everyone who completes a safe driver course is becoming a better driver, Commissioner Miller said. I commend those completing this course and AAA for providing these classes for mature drivers.

Commissioner Miller also advised those participants who are parents to talk to their insurance professional about discounts for teens who complete safe driver courses. She noted that safe driver courses are often available through schools and other organizations for teen drivers. While state law does not mandate auto insurance reductions for teens who have successfully completed these courses, many companies do offer discounts.

Click here to find a list of PennDOT-approved mature driver improvement courses.

MEDIA CONTACT: Ron Ruman, Insurance Department, 717-787-3289

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Insurance

RELATED LINKS
http://www.state.pa.us

Angiulo: Promises Made in Auto Insurance Applications May Stick

For many people, driving is a daily activity and owning a car is a necessity. You may use your car to get to and from work, to perform duties while at work, or to deliver the kids to their various activites. Whatever the reason, if you own your car in Massachusetts you also pay for auto insurance. This certainty is based on the fact that the Commonwealth is a compulsory motor vehicle liability insurance state. This is a long way of saying you have to get car insurance in Massachusetts. A recent case from the Supreme Judicial Court reminds us not to be complacent with our policies.

It can be easy to forget how important auto insurance is. We get in our car every day, traveling dozens or hundreds of miles at speeds exceeding sixty or seventy miles per hour and emerge without breaking a sweat. Keep in mind that these vehicles weigh thousands of pounds and have sufficient force to destroy buildings and kill, maim, or severely injur any living creature that stands in their way. All of a sudden that morning commute has a bit more significance.

As the case of Commerce Insurance v. Gentilepoints out that the relationship between you, as the insured, and the insurance company, as the insurer, is a contractual one. Like any contract, the terms of the agreement will define the nature and scope of the responsibilities and benefits. Of course, at the heart of auto insurance contracts is the insureds promise to pay their premiums and the insurers promise to pay for damages up to an agreed upon amount if a covered event occurs.

Most readers will understand that the better the driving history of the policy holder and other covered members of the household, the smaller the auto insurance premiums. This is based on the idea that past behavior is a fair predictor of future acts. Some people, like the insured in Gentile, can promise that a member of their household will not drive the vehicle subject to a policy and will get in exchange a lower premium.

In Gentile, the Supreme Judicial Court addressed the question what happens if an accident occurs and that excluded person was the operator. In coming to their answer, they focused on one of the basic principles of these contracts: insurers will not have to pay out if the insured makes material misrepresentations when applying for or renewing their policy. This idea is found within common law tradition and, more particularly, in statutory authority. It makes sense because permitting lies to secure a lower premium would mean the insurance company was taking on more risk than they had bargained for. While no one wants to pay more than they have to, insurance companies do not go into this line of work to lose money.

The court, correspondingly, found that the insureds policy in the Gentile case did not cover the personal injury suffered as a result of the excluded operators negligent operation. In the abstract, this is a perfectly reasonable conclusion. You get what you bargain for in this world.

If we humanize this set of facts, however, there are some important lessons for the insured parties out in the world. First, consider that if you find yourself responsible for personal injuries not covered by insurance policies you may be facing some signficant financial burdens. In addition, if you are the injured party realize that not everyone else on the road is as diligent about their responsibilities as you may be. Even if you operate your multi-thousand pound automobile at a reasonable speed, there are situations that may arise causing signficant injury and cost that are outside of your control. What is in your power, however, is avoiding complacency with your auto insurance policy.

4 in 10 Gen Yers plan to cover kids’ college costs

Millennial parents want to lighten the student loan debt burden for their children.

Young parents, many of whom are paying off their own student loan debt, plan to cover, on average, 74 percent of their childrens college costs, compared with 64 percent for Generation X parents and 60 percent for baby boomer parents, according to a new study on college savings from Fidelity Investments. And a whopping 43 percent of millennials aim to pay for the full cost of their childrens college education compared to only 32 percent of Gen X and 27 percent of boomers.

I was surprised by the degree of millennial optimism, said Keith Bernhardt, Fidelitys vice president of retirement and college products.