breaking news

breaking news


Death of a stockboy? Walmart introduces shelf-scanning robots

Published: Thursday, October 26, 2017 @ 12:01 PM

Don’t you just hate walking down long grocery aisles to grab your favorite products only to find they’re out of stock?

Walmart wants to eliminate that disappointment with the help of shelf-scanning robots.

RELATED: Vegetables sold at Aldi, Walmart, Trader Joe’s recalled

Walmart’s new push to improve inventory control

After a pilot program in a few Arkansas, Pennsylvania and California stores, the nation’s largest retailer will put a fleet of 50 robots in select locations across the country to help reduce inventory-related labor costs.

These new robots on wheels are outfitted with cameras to scan several shelves of items at a time as they roll up and down the aisles.

The robots will help check stock, identify missing items, sleuth out incorrect prices and reportedly will even determine if someone abandoned an item on a shelf where it shouldn’t be.

A Reuters report says that the robots are about two feet tall, but an official Walmart video clearly shows they’re easily two or three times that size.

Walmart Chief Technology Officer Jeremy King tells Reuters that the robots will likely help improve employee job satisfaction and allow workers to deliver better service for customers.

“If you are running up and down the aisle, and you want to decide if we are out of Cheerios or not, a human doesn’t do that job very well and they don’t like it,” King notes.

Because of time constraints, human employees are only able to scan shelves about twice a week. The robots, however, will work three times faster while maintaining a high level of accuracy.

That alone should translate to a 50% increase in productivity when it comes to keeping shelves stocked and customers happy, King told Reuters.

The roll-out to all 50 stores should be complete by late January. Among the 50 markets on tap to get the robots are Jacksonville, FL, Ft. Worth, TX. and El Paso, TX.

Meanwhile, you’ve no doubt heard a lot about artificial intelligence and how robots could replace workers in some industries.

But the real story is that having more robots in the future means having more opportunities for a high-paying career fixing them.

As money expert Clark Howard notes, the job market is always flexing and you’ve got to flex with it!

It doesn’t cost a penny to learn a new skill that could benefit you as our economy tilts more heavily toward artificial intelligence. We’ve got a list of free resources for you here!

9 more things to not buy at Walmart

5 ways to get the most out of your health insurance plan

Published: Tuesday, November 14, 2017 @ 3:15 PM

Here are five ways to ensure you're getting the most out of your health insurance Choose your plan carefully Take advantage of preventative care benefits Work within your formulary Utilize HSAs and FSAs Watch out for surprise out-of-network charges

Health insurance has a large impact on your finances, so it pays to get the most out of your plan.

Understanding its ins and outs can be confusing, but it's worth your time to check on benefits you could be losing out on or mistakes that could cost you money.

Here are five ways to ensure you're getting the most out of your health insurance:

Choose your plan carefully.

When it's time to renew your health care coverage, consumer adviser Clark Howard recommends not just blindly signing up for your current plan, even if you've been happy with it.

Your plan – as well as other options you may be able to sign up for – may have changed. Take a close look at the co-pays, deductibles, in-network providers and other specifics to make sure you're making the best possible choice.

Take advantage of preventative care benefits.

Almost every plan, according to healthcare.gov, offers preventative care benefits that are free. You won't have to pay a co-pay or meet your deductible to get these services at no charge.

Services for adults include age-appropriate vaccinations and colorectal cancer screenings for patients over 50.

RELATED: 8 ways to get the cheapest car insurance possible

Work within your formulary.

Health care plans typically have a formulary, which is a list of medications that they're willing to pay part of or the entire cost of. It may include a list of preferred medications, for which it will pay the highest percentage of the cost.

It pays to be familiar with your formulary before you get an unpleasant surprise at the pharmacy, according to NerdWallet. Print out a copy of the document from your health insurance company's website, or call up an online copy at your doctor's office. Your doctor can work with you to make sure you get an effective medication that you can afford.

Utilize HSAs and FSAs.

If your health insurance plans allow you to put aside tax-free dollars in a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA), you should learn how they can help you. Consumer advisor Clark Howard's website, Clark.com, has a chart that explains the pros and cons of each.

An HSA is usually associated with high-deductible plans, and like an FSA, it helps you save money to pay for health care expenses. These can include everything from prescription eyeglasses to medication.

Watch out for surprise out-of-network charges.

Your insurance plan has a list of network providers, and when you can, you should stay in-network. That's easy enough if you're visiting a single doctor, but if you need to have surgery, things can get more complicated.

For pre-planned surgery, Consumer Reports recommends talking with your doctor's billing department to get a list of everyone who will provide your care, including radiologists and anesthesiologists. Call your health care company to see if they're in-network, and if not, ask your doctor if in-network providers can be used.

Related

5 ways to ensure you're getting the best mortgage rate

Published: Thursday, November 09, 2017 @ 5:11 PM

The following are five ways to ensure that you're getting the best mortgage rate possible Look beyond a 30-year fixed rate Improve your credit score if it's low Beef up your down payment Get more than one quote Consider paying points

When you're buying a home, getting the best possible mortgage rate can have a positive effect on your finances for years to come.

RELATED: 7 clever ways to cut the costs of buying your first home

Depending on how large your mortgage is and how long you stay in your home, it can save you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

The following are five ways to ensure that you're getting the best mortgage rate possible:

Look beyond a 30-year fixed rate.

A 30-year fixed rate is the standard loan, but it's not the only option. If you can handle a higher monthly payment, you can save a significant amount over time by getting a 15-year mortgage.

Although you'll pay more each month, you'll get a lower interest rate and be able to pay off your home much quicker. In addition, more of your early payments go toward paying down the principal, according to The Motley Fool.

Improve your credit score if it's low.

It's important to keep your credit score in good shape because it helps determine how many loan options you'll have as well as the interest rate you'll pay. Check your score with each agency – EquifaxExperian and TransUnion – and correct any mistakes. If needed, delay getting a loan until you can improve your score by paying off debt and paying every bill on time.

The Simple Dollar looked at mortgage interest rates based on three different credit rates. The lowest credit score used (620) would cost the borrower more than $99,000 over the life of the loan when compared to a higher score (over 760).

Beef up your down payment.

Most lenders like to see at least a 20 percent down payment in order to get the best mortgage loan rate, according to Forbes. If you pay less, you may have a higher rate since the lender will consider you to be at higher risk of defaulting.

You'll also have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI), which protects the lender's interests in case you default on the loan.

Get more than one quote.

Most people get just one mortgage quote, consumer adviser Clark Howard says. He recommends shopping around and getting quotes from multiple lenders, including a local bank, a credit union and a few online lenders.

Each inquiry will be recorded on your credit report, so you should get your quotes within a two-week period. That way, it doesn't look like you're applying for multiple loans.

Consider paying points.

Lenders will often give you the option of paying for discount points up front in exchange for lowering your interest rate. These fees are paid directly to the lender, and one point costs 1 percent of your mortgage amount.

The reduction in interest depends on the lender, and you'll need to run the numbers to determine when you'll break even by consulting a mortgage point calculator. If you plan to live in your home for a long time, paying points may make sense, according to Money.

Related

Piggy bank vs. savings account: Which is the best way to save?

Published: Wednesday, November 08, 2017 @ 2:33 PM

The following are some advantages of piggy banks versus savings accounts, so you can choose the one that works best for you A piggy bank can help break your goal down into manageable amounts A piggy bank lets you literally see your savings grow You can make a game of it With a savings account, you can put your savings on autopilot Money in a member Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation bank is insured You'll earn interest on your money

If you're trying to build up your savings, you may be wondering where it's best to stash your cash – in a piggy bank or in a savings account.

The best choice depends on what works for you. Do you need to keep your money harder to access, or does seeing it accumulate give you an incentive to keep saving?

RELATED: 7 clever ways to cut the costs of buying your first home

The following are some advantages of piggy banks versus savings accounts, so you can choose the one that works best for you:

Piggy bank

It allows you to save a little at a time.

A piggy bank can help break your goal down into manageable amounts, according to a financial planner writing for USA Today. He says it's a good reminder of the value of saving consistently. When broken down into small daily goals, even a large purchase, trip or other expense seems much more achievable, he says.

It reinforces the idea of saving.

A piggy bank lets you literally see your savings grow. This is not only a good lesson for kids, but it also helps remind adults to "always be saving," according to Great Midwest Bank.

It's painless and simple.

Clark.com's Michael Timmerman touts the "$5 and change savings challenge" that encourages participants to stash their $5 bills and change in a piggy bank. He likes its simplicity and the fact that you can easily customize it, saving $1 bills if you'd prefer.

You can make a game of it.

An editor at Get Rich Slowly started saving coins at home, and soon it became a game to see how much could be accumulated. The editor began altering purchases in order to get more change back, and in seven months, without any deprivation, the coins added up to $723.

Savings account

You can put your savings on autopilot.

You can pay yourself before you ever see your paycheck if you sign up to have a small percentage of each check diverted to your savings account. Bankrate says this "out of sight, out of mind" strategy works for many people.

Your money is safe.

A stash of money at home could be stolen or destroyed in a fire or other disaster. Money in a member Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation bank is insured, according to Ally.

You'll earn interest on your money.

Savings account interest rates are at historic lows, Forbes says, but online banks tend to offer rates that are a little bit better than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. The site also says that several online banks have raised their rates in recent months.

It's harder to spend.

Money stashed at home is easy to raid, and even small amounts of cash for a pizza or coffee shop run can deplete your savings over time, according to Wise Bread. Since it takes a little more effort to access a savings account, and you're not as tempted to withdraw small amounts, it tends to accumulate faster.

Related

6 ways to teach your children the value of money

Published: Tuesday, November 07, 2017 @ 2:46 PM

Start with these six ideas on teaching your kids a lesson on money that will help them beyond their childhood Plan a family project to help others in need Many banks and credit unions have no-fee accounts for children and offer educational materials Let your children help you pay the bills Encourage your children to earn their own money Once they've started earning money, encourage your children to shop with their own money Board games that involve keeping track of money can be an engaging way for childre

If you're a parent, you're probably used to your children's pleas to buy them something, whether it's toys, candy or bigger ticket items. 

Instead of feeling like a callous parent for not giving in to their begging, consider a way to turn their requests into a teachable moment.

RELATED: 5 surefire ways to get to retire earlier than you thought

Children need steady guidance from their parents to lead them on solid paths to secure financial futures. So, it's never too early to begin teaching your children the value of money.

Start with these six ideas on teaching your kids a lesson on money that will help them beyond their childhood:

Giving

Plan a family project to help others in need. All year round, there are food pantries and thrift stores in every community in need of donations. Consumer expert Clark Howard hosts many charity endeavors throughout the year through Clark Cares. Many families pack shoeboxes for donation to Operation Christmas Child, which are distributed to children in need around the world. Parents and children can shop for items together or donate gently used clothing. 

Saving account passbook, book bank and piggy bank on white background

Saving

Take your children to the bank or credit union with you, according to BabyCenter.com. Many banks and credit unions have no-fee accounts for children and offer educational materials and online activities.

Paying

Let your children help you pay the bills. You can explain how each one pays for the water, lights, mortgage or rent and computer. Once your children know the cost of electricity, they may be more cooperative about turning out the light when they leave a room. 

Earning

Encourage your children to earn their own money. They can help sell clothes and toys they've outgrown at a family yard sale or do extra chores around the house. And, of course, there's the tried-and-true lemonade stand.

Shopping

Once they've started earning money, encourage your children to shop with their own money (while still saving some, of course). Yard sales, thrift shops and consignment stores are great places for your children to find books, toys and clothes at lower costs than retail stores and can also teach them the value of reusing and recycling. The Childhood Development Institute recommends using larger purchases to teach them joys of delayed gratification.

Playing games

Board games that involve keeping track of money, like Monopoly or Life, can be an engaging way for children to learn about money. The Money Matters game from the late financial expert Larry Burkett is still a valuable tool for children. MyCreditUnon.gov offers several educational games. Other online game sites include Money and StuffFat Cat and The Great Piggy Bank Adventure, developed by Walt Disney Imagineering and T. Rowe Price, a global financial management firm.

Related