Customer Review

33 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of Laughs, September 17, 2008
This review is from: Gotcha Capitalism: How Hidden Fees Rip You Off Every Day-and What You Can Do About It (Paperback)
I'm always surprised by what little attention people pay to their money and where it's going. This book is for those people.

Cell phones. I know people who pay $85 a month for their cell phones. My husband and I pay $6.66 a month. You buy a $20 cell phone. Then every three months you buy a "top-up" card for $20. This $20 is a deposit from which you draw to pay for your cell-phone calls as you make them. When the $20 is used up or at the end of three months, whichever comes first, you buy another $20 "top-up" card. Simple, no? Sullivan doesn't mention this type of cell phone.

401(K). I have all my 401(K) money in a fund called "stable value." I have wondered why I'm getting a return of only 2.6 percent when I'm getting 3.5 to 5 percent on CDs at several banks. Sullivan tells me the program administrator is skimming a good chunk of what I could be earning. So don't listen to people who say you should contribute the maximum possible (10 percent where I work) to your 401(K). Contribute only as much as you must to get the company match.

Landline phone. It used to be that if I made a long-distance call, the charge would show up on my next bill, and I would pay it. Once or twice a year I might call my sister, talk for an hour or so, and pay $25 to $30. That was fine with me. Along came a month when I had made no ld calls, and a $5 ld charge shows up on the bill. I called the company. The $5 would be applied to any ld calls I made during the month, but for ten or eleven months out of the year, I was making no ld calls. That was $50 a year I was paying for NOTHING! I hate paying for nothing. I could have had a new pair of shoes or a decent handbag. So I cancelled my ld service and bought an ld calling card. I am much happier.

Grocery stores. I eat a lot of Hershey's Special Dark chocolate bars. Yesterday at Kroger's, the 6.8-ounce size was on sale for $1.50. The 4.25-ounce size is $1.69. Guess what? The store is out of the 6.8-ounce size.

Social Security. Sullivan doesn't mention this topic, but I have talked to several people who didn't know that at full retirement age, you can begin collecting your full social security benefit and continue working. Each year you continue to work, your SS benefit will increase. You may be able to live on your SS check and bank your salary, boosting your retirement funds. And as long as you're getting company health benefits, you don't have to sign up and pay for Medicare A or B or prescription drug benefits.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 9, 2009 8:36:10 PM PST
Joseph says:
I'd love to hear more about the cell-phone service you're talking about, Please!

Posted on Apr 1, 2009 6:52:09 AM PDT
I can't tell from this review that you even read the book. You say an awful lot about what Sullivan "doesn't" mention, like Social Security, but I can't see that Social Security has anything to do with "hidden fees <that> rip you off every day - and what you can do about it".

Posted on Jun 8, 2009 6:16:39 AM PDT
S. Marshall says:
I'm pretty sure Kroger issues rain checks for products that are out of stock, most grocery stores do.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 7, 2010 2:09:07 PM PDT
K. Morton says:
This sounds like Virgin Mobile. If so, if you link to a credit card then it's $15 every 3 months or $5/month (or at least it was).

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 8, 2010 5:35:32 PM PDT
E. Fidler says:
Long distance phone: we spend only $10 to $20 a *year* for long distance (and local toll calls), because we use OneSuite, from any phone. I'm amazed at how few books and websites mention this tip: http://www.onesuite.com/

401K: First, not all plans skim as much off the top as yours.
Second, your advice could have many people seriously underfunding their retirement, because the IRA max is only $5000/yr. (or $6000 if you're over 50), vs. $16,500 for 401k.

Social Security: as I understand it, you can only collect your full SS benefit while working *if* your earned income is less than a certain amount; otherwise, your monthly SS check is cut by $1 for every $2 you earn over the limit.

Posted on Dec 3, 2010 12:33:02 PM PST
Gesualdo says:
Don't you know your phone company can charge you for NOT having long distance service as well? No? Maybe yours doesn't, but mine sure did. I dumped it.
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Location: Westerville, OH USA

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