Negotiate a better real estate deal; meet baseball players on the cheap; protect your PDA.
(MONEY Magazine) - 3 tips from the March issue of MONEY Magazine
TIP 1 Let's make a deal
Bidding wars are so 2004. Home buyers are regaining the upper hand in some spots. The new rules for negotiating:
LOWBALL In an overheated market, offering the asking price--or even above the asking price--became the norm. These days, according to Robert Irwin, author of Tips and Traps When Negotiating Real Estate, you can aim as much as 15% below that for houses that seem way overpriced.
ASK FOR EXTRAS Some sellers are now willing to throw in closing costs, repairs or even your first utility bills.
STAY CALM Sellers know the market is shifting. So don't give them an advantage by showing too much enthusiasm. When you go to an open house, wear your poker face.
DON'T BE PUT OFF BY OLD LISTINGS Ask your agent how long homes usually stay on the market in your town. "Last year, if a house was on the market for longer than average time, something was wrong," says Ron Phipps, a realtor in Warwick, R.I. "Now even the nice houses in great locations are taking longer to find a buyer."
TIP 2 Meet baseball players!
The average trip to a major league ball game for a family of four cost $164.43 last year, according to Team Marketing Report. Fortunately, every March all 30 teams head to Florida or Arizona for spring training. The weather's warm, the players sign autographs and tickets are $5 to $24.
HOW TO SCORE Baseball nuts aren't the only ones escaping winter. To get a deal (and a room), book a tickets-hotel-car package. Weekend games sell out early, but you can get seats from tour operators who reserve in bulk--check Springtraining.travel and SpringTrainingTours.com. Also visit SpringTrainingMagazine.com for tips on hotels and player hangouts. And try to get to the games two hours early. Batting practice is always the best time for autographs.
TIP 3 Protect your PDA
Isn't it great that you can fit all your personal data--e-mails, credit-card info, banking details--into a tiny personal digital assistant? Yes, but the small size may explain why 25% of PDA users have lost one, exposing themselves to ID theft.
STAY SAFE Use the built-in password protection, but also store all sensitive data in one encrypted application. The best we tried: Ilium Software's eWallet for Palm and Windows Mobile devices ($20) and SplashData's SplashID for PDAs and smart phones ($30). BlackBerrys have a built-in Password Keeper that does the trick.