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This Week In Your Wallet: Rates On The Rise

Higher deposit rates coming soon to a bank account near you? Maybe. The Federal Reserve is expected to raise short-term rates again this week (in fact, if you opened and are reading this newsletter right as it arrives, the meeting is going on now), reports The Wall Street Journal. But while the last half dozen rate increases have produced a big yawn as far as increases in savings rates are concerned, we may finally be seeing some movement. According to Bankrate.com, the average rate on a one-year certificate of deposit (CD), rose to 0.49 percent last week — the highest in more than seven years. So what does this mean for you? Well, if The Fed raises the rate of interest paid on deposits of bank customers, that would mean more money in our pockets. Banks don’t want to pay us more than they have to for keeping our money with them, but they also don’t want to keep deposit rates so low that we take our money elsewhere. As always, if you’re willing to do even a little bit of searching, you can find rates that are triple or more the average, and not just on CDs, but on savings and money market accounts, too.

Flying Through Loopholes

Not all heroes wear capes. DoNotPay.com — which to this point has specialized in helping us appeal parking tickets — is now turning its magic to helping us reduce the cost of flying. Here’s how it works: DoNotPay finds travel confirmations from past bookings in your email inbox, then tries to take advantage of legal loopholes to get you partial refunds or rebook you if prices drop. For example, if you booked a ticket from New York to Florida for $300 and then the price drops to $200, DoNotPay will try and get you that extra $100.

Amazing? Yes. But there is one caveat — you have to allow the service to infiltrate the messages in your inbox. But founder Joshua Browder assured me that DoNotPay only accesses messages from airline domains like United.com or Expedia.com. “We don’t have your passwords, just a connection through Google that has been approved by Google,” said Browder. Still concerned? Browder suggests making a separate email account just for booking flights. 

And I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet — there are no fees to use their service. You get to keep every cent of what you save if they find you a cheaper flight. Browder, a student at Stanford University, says that he has done all of the coding for the lawyer bots himself and isn’t looking to make a lot of money. He may be interested in partnerships and commissions down the line, but right now his main purpose for DoNotPay.com is “fighting injustice with technology.” 

How Not To Let Bad Customer Service Ruin Your Day

“Please hold until a representative is available.” Those words sound like nails on a chalkboard to me, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Calling customer service can be annoying even before you pick up the phone, particularly if you feel like you’re spinning in circles or not being heard. But, as Dana McMahan wrote for NBC News Better, letting customer service ruin your day is not going to fix your problem.

First, she suggests, try to see the scenario from the perspective of the person in the call center. You may not be the only one whose car broke down on the way to work or who is otherwise having a bad day. Then, if you’re getting no resolution over the phone, look to communicate your frustration in another way. Try asking for the manager or — in 2018 parlance — the “escalator” who has the job of managing problems that require taking it up a notch. Or go ahead and take advantage of those 280 characters at your fingertips and tweet. Many companies aim to be good about replying on social media, but remember to remain respectful when posting that your experience was unsatisfactory. And if that doesn’t do the job — check out the photos of Sunny, Today’s new puppy with a purpose, or any other cute puppy. I met him in the studio this morning when I was there to talk taxes.

Mother Knows Best

Moms seem to have all the answers — they know why you should dump your boyfriend, what you should make for dinner on Sunday night and how to get that stain out of your brand new carpeting. Why wouldn’t they have the answers when it comes to running your business and managing your money? That’s the recent question asked by Hannah Sullivan on Medium. My favorite is tip #6: You gotta spend money to make money. Sullivan writes, “You buy a new pair of shoes, they’re cute and stylish, but pretty cheap. Let’s say they’re $70. They end up falling apart, but because you love them so much, you get another pair. Now you’ve invested $140 in a pair of poorly made shoes that will surely need to be replaced again. Instead, you could have invested in a nicer pair of shoes that would have lasted longer. A little more upfront sometimes saves you in the long run. Without making decent investments — whether it’s time, money, energy, or whatever — you’ll end up making smaller deposits that oftentimes add up to even more.”

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