Awesome Return Policies, State Stimmy Checks & Why Gas Prices Are So High ⛽️

July 5, 2022

Happy Tuesday, money nerds!! Hope you had a great 4th of July holiday! 🥳

And now the best part about a 3 day weekend… A 4 day work week!

We know you’ve got lots to do and less time to do it, so let’s get straight on to the money news and highlights this week! 👇👇👇


TO DO

Save 75 bucks. Somewhere, somehow.

First up, this week’s money challenge: To save 75 bucks!

Why $75? Because 50 is a bit too easy and 100 seemed too high. Also I read somewhere that the average American spent ~$75 this 4th of July on food and booze, so it’ll be fun to try and save that same amount of money this week.

Ideas to save a quick $75:

  • Home make a few meals this week, instead of eating out
  • Don’t buy something you typically would and can live without
  • Cancel a subscription, renegotiate your cell/insurance/internet bills
  • Sell a couple things around the house
  • Hack your grocery list (eg. skip or substitute expensive meats)

$75 might not seem like a lot, but every little dollar saved helps build wealth. Also little challenges like this can be fun and lead to bigger saving ideas and habits in the future!

**We’ve got a prize for the best savings story, if you dare to share yours with us 😉**


RETAIL

Awesome Return Policies… 🛒

Last week’s Friday Flight episode we mentioned some retailers are starting to pay you *not* to return items you have purchased.

Due to being overstocked and expensive/timely return processes, stores like Walmart and Target are considering refunding your money *and letting you just keep the stuff you don’t want*! (Amazon has been doing this for years already)

Anyway, this got us thinking about all the other killer return policies that retailers have out there. We wanted to call out some of the good ones:

  • ALDI twice as nice” guarantee: They’ll replace the product AND refund your money if you’re not satisfied.
  • Trader Joes return policy: You can bring anything back for a refund, with or without a receipt.
  • Costco “no questions asked“: Return almost anything, anytime.
  • Kohl’s return policy: Accept most returns within 180 days, with or without receipt.
  • IKEA return policy: 365 days to return unopened items, and 180 days for opened stuff.
  • REI satisfaction guarantee: Replacement or refund within 365 days (if you are a member) or 90 days (not a member)
  • Zappos return policy: Free returns within 365 (unworn, in original package)
  • Chewy satisfaction guarantee: 365 days to return anything. Oh BTW they also have free shipping on returns.
  • MORE: Home DepotLowesTargetWalmartBed Bath & Beyond all accept returns within 90 days.

OK, ok… you get the point.

Don’t be afraid to ask for your money back if you’re not 100% satisfied with the stuff you buy. (Or if you go a little crazy shopping and come to your senses when you get home!) These refund policies are in place for good reason — use them 😎


AUTO

Why are gas prices so high?… ⛽️

It’s impossible to explain ALL the factors that affect the price you pay at the pump. But, here are some of the bigger challenges in the industry right now, and some gas saving tips.

First, check out the breakdown below showing what our dollars at the pump actually pay for 👇👇👇

As you can see, Crude Oil and Refining have the biggest sway on prices we pay.

Supply and demand issues: 
Although USA is the biggest producer of petroleum in the world, we import a lot from other countries to meet our consumption demand. (We also export a lot out to other countries, because some of the oil we produce isn’t usable here)

Russia is the world’s second largest producer of oil, and is responsible for like ~10% of all oil on the global market (in 2021, ~8% of the USA’s imported oil came from Russia). So when the Ukraine war began, and many countries stopped buying from Russia, this lowered the global supply and increased demand for all remaining sources.

Covid “Hangover”:
Another thing that messed with our supply-demand gap is a drastic downsizing of operations during Covid, then an immediate increase in travel demand afterwards.

It’s extremely costly to re-boot oil operations and ramp up production levels back to where they were. Oil companies (and big investors) are reluctant to dump new money into fossil fuels and “legacy” technologies, because they’d rather invest in alternative energy and renewable technology that will serve us all longer into the future (that’s been the goal for decades now).

Interesting reads:

Gas saving tips:
We don’t have much influence on the gas prices, but there are a few things we can do to help reduce consumption or lower the amount we pay…

  • Don’t drive if you can walk/bike somewhere (obvi!)
  • WFH whenever possible, take meetings remotely if you can
  • Carpool or split rides if possible
  • Use apps like GasBuddy, FuelRewards, BPme, or whatever credit card incentives you can use for gas purchases.
  • Drive better! Oops, I mean drive more consciously… Don’t sit idling for no reason, rev the engine or speed unnecessarily, etc.
  • Look into Carvertize and Wrapify to see if you can wrap your car with advertisements and get paid for your driving time
  • Consider upgrading your car to a more fuel efficient, hybrid, or electric vehicle. Might cost more in the short term but save you in the long run.

🎙 Pod Episode 530 is all about fighting against gas price insanity, check it out!


ICYMI

Noteworthy headlines…

More Stimmies 💵
13 x US states have approved new stimulus checks or tax credits for select residents to help deal with rising inflation and gas prices. (And another 5 states are pending approval of similar programs). Each state has different qualifications and payment amounts — here are all the deets.

Social Security 📈
Anyone receiving Social Security benefits is in for a big cost of living adjustment early next year. (SS benefits increase every year to keep pace with inflation)New estimates suggest the increase will be between 8-11%, taking effect in January 2023.

Tax Filings ⛔️
The IRS announced they still have a backlog of 21.3 million unprocessed tax returns. If you’re still waiting for yours, rather than calling the IRS you can visit their “Where’s My Refund?” site to check the status of your return.

Cash Stuffing? 📩
It’s a new phrase being thrown around on TikTok recently… For those of you not in the loop (like me 🙋‍♂️), cash stuffing is basically the same as the old “envelope system” for budgeting.

Cardless ATMs 💳
BofA, Chase, PNC and Wells Fargo are continuing to roll out “cardless ATMs” within their network. Just add your debit card to the Wallet App on your cell phone, tap your phone on the Contactless pad at the ATM, then get cash out as usual. Yay technology! 🙌

Flipping 🏠
A new report found that house “flippers” now represent a whopping 10% of all home sales! 🤯 Some areas are worse than others (Phoenix wins — 18.7% of all home sales were flips this past qtr) and the number keeps rising despite decreasing profit margins.

Prime Day 🙉
Yep, it’s that time of year again… Amazon Prime Day is July 12th-13th. BUT, please remember the best way to save 100% on all purchases —> is to not buy anything in the first place.


COMMUNITY

Mileage High Club 🚘

Woot woot! Congrats to Victoria who crossed 100k miles in her 2014 Toyota Camry!

Also, great to see everyone’s replies and comments on the FB forum… some peeps are getting close to 200k miles. Nice!


Welp, that’s it for this week! Cheers for reading and we’ll catch you next Tuesday!

Best friends out 🍻

PS. If an airline offers you $10,000 to give up your seat on a domestic flight… take it!!!

*****

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