TA Plays Live: Another Case of the Mondays

Discountp>It’s Monday, and I feel like I’m going to die because I accidentally drank caffeinated coffee after being caffeine free for close to four months now… But death, or close to it, won’t stop me from streaming on Twitch. That’s my level of dedication to this dog and pony show we’re running here. That, and I finally have a captive audience to discuss True Detective with.

Anyway, if you haven’t yet, please follow us as it’s the best way to get notified when we’re streaming.

To tune into the TA Plays Live stream you’ve got three options:

  • The easiest is to just scroll down to see the embedded video stream and chat below. Make sure to turn the volume slider up if you want to hear game audio and commentary.
  • Visit the TouchArcade channel on Twitch directly and watch over there.
  • Download the Twitch.TV app [Free] and either hit this link on your device or simply search for the channel TouchArcade.

I usually stream until 6:00 PM Central, at which point (today especially) I’m getting out of here to go play some Titanfall with friends. That’s coming out tonight, if you’re in to the whole PC/console gaming thing and I hear it’s pretty cool.

Super Salep> Urban Outfitters Inc. wants to be a Model S and not a Hyundai, a Venti latte, not just a large coffee with milk.

The specialty retailer has no plans to take on Tesla Motors Inc. or Starbucks Corp. in their respective fields. But it juxtaposed those products in a recent investor presentation to highlight its aspirations and appears to be achieving premium status in some of its brands.

During a lackluster holiday season for many…

Smart ways to save on your grocery bill

Data forecasts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture predict that beef and veal prices are expected to increase three to four percent over prices from 2013.

Why? Mother Nature appears to be to blame. Many ranchers blame the drought, saying no green grass means it’s hard to feed the cows.

That shortage of grass also means farmers are buying more corn for feed which is why corn prices are also up.

The USDA predicts if the drought in California continues, prices of other vegetables, fruit, dairy and eggs could also rise because we get a lot of what we eat from that part of the country.

However, later this year prices are expected to get back to normal. Until that happens, there are ways to save.

We found ways you can save up to 50 percent without a lot of stress.

First, money management experts suggest meal planning to eliminate impulse shopping and also wasteful items. Consider this: experts estimate most families throw away 15 percent of the food they buy and that’s a lot of money. They also suggest planning a night to dedicate to the use of leftovers.

Next, with that planning, buy the fruits and vegetables that are in season. You still eat healthy and save on the out-of-season items that will cost more. For instance, in February and early March, shoppers will find broccoli and carrots at a better price than tomatoes and peppers.

Many also suggest buying in bulk, but not everything. Top items: meat to freeze and toiletries to stock. You can also save by purchasing generic items: many of the ingredients from household goods to grocery items are nearly identical.

For coupon lovers, you can also save big bucks to get started. First, pick a source like the Sunday paper or your favorite store’s site. Then, get organized. You can do that with simply a binder or a system to separate different sections of the store.

Only clip coupons for what you need. Don’t just throw away more money because you have a coupon in hand.

For more advanced coupon clippers, when you know what you’re after, google that item, and type in the name of the product or store and then the words ‘Review coupon’.

You can also make sure you know store policies.

Finally, sometimes bulk is good but with coupons buying less can save you more. For instance, a dollar off on something at the smallest size allowed by the product will stretch farther.

If no size is specified you might actually get that product free! With coupons it can happen according to some store policies.

Many coupon apps are also popular. Some feature a certain store’s ads and cashiers can scan the coupon or type in a code.

Copyright 2014 KFVS. All rights reserved.
Promotional Codep>All of us look for bargains but searching, clipping and matching the right discount for best deal can be exhausting.

Erwin Levy with Verizon Wireless shows us how technology can help us find the best price with the least amount of effort.

Coupons are great, but they can be time consuming and sometimes you have to go out of your way to get a good deal.

When you use technology to find the best bargain, the savings are at your finger tips. You can compare prices and you don’t have to worry about forgetting your paper coupons. Plus, all of these apps are FREE.

Shopkick App (Free, Apple and Android - 83,000 downloads and 4.3 rating)

QBOT lets local businesses reward you immediately (Free, Apple and Android)

Smart Rewards

Viggle App (Free, Apple and Android - 24,000 downloads and 3.7 rating)

Favado App (Free, Apple and Android - 3,500 downloads and 4.3 rating)

SpiceJet super-sale: up to 75% discount on offer

Here is another reason to plan your summer vacation now. SpiceJet has announced a three-day ‘Promo Code Summer Offer’ under which the airline is offering up to 75 per cent discount on travel between April 1, 2014 and June 30, 2014.

According to SpiceJet the offer is available on all domestic flights. The SpiceJet’s super-sale offer is available on bookings done between today (February 24, 2014) and Wednesday (February 26, 2014).

According to SpiceJet, the lowest sale fare from Delhi to Mumbai under the dicount offer is Rs 3,186 as compared to the last-minute fare of Rs 10,098.

The SpiceJet discount offer is not available on international and connecting flights. The discount is available on base fare and fuel surcharge only.

This is the third time in the last one month that the Kalanithi Maran promoted carrier has slashed fares to avail early summer bookings.

SpiceJet says normal change and cancellation policy applies on the discount offer.

SpiceJet shares ended 0.75 per cent higher at Rs 13.70 on the BSE. (With agency inputs)

Maine patients urged to compare prices of tests, treatments

One Gardiner couple’s experience is instructive on why it pays to ask, ‘What does it cost?’ and compare outpatient versus hospital services.

By Betty Adams
Kennebec Journal

When Michael Gove had an echocardiogram 14 months ago at a doctor’s office in the Northpark Professional Building in Augusta, the bill was $658. His insurance policy paid it all.

Susan and Michael Gove of Gardiner want medical consumers to know that shopping to find cheaper medical tests can save money.

Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Some 14 months later, another echocardiogram done at MaineGeneral Medical Center after the doctor’s office moved there cost $2,319 and carried a $220.35 coinsurance bill for Gove and his wife, Susan.

The Goves, who live in Gardiner, were astonished at the difference in cost.

"I started asking questions," Susan Gove said. "It was the exact same procedure that was done in the office." In fact, she said, it was the same technician. "I was extremely upset."

Gove, who works in a doctor’s office, understands medical billing and expected a hospital-based procedure to cost more, but not that much more.

Now she’s a poorer but wiser consumer. If another echocardiogram is ordered, the Goves will talk to their doctor and office staff and see if it can be performed at a nonhospital site where the cost will be less, likely only a $40 co-pay. “We will go to either Lewiston or Portland. Then I won’t get hit with a large bill,” Susan Gove said.

That practice of shopping around and comparing costs, which is second nature to most people when buying big-ticket items, is being encouraged by consumer and professional groups, medical professionals among them.

"The issue of cost can’t be ignored anymore," said Dr. Lisa Letourneau, executive director of Maine Quality Counts, an independent health care collaborative that encompasses hospitals, physicians, outpatient care and hospice providers, nursing organizations, insurers, governmental groups, consumers and the like.

The mission is to improve “health and healthcare for the people of Maine,” according to its website.

"We are trying to get involved in a way that’s helpful to driving quality," Letourneau said. Her organization and others promote a "Choosing Wisely" initiative that offers a list of "5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor Before You Get any Test, Treatment, or Procedure." The list, developed by Consumer Reports Health and the Advancing Medical Professionalism to Improve Health Care Foundation, asks:

* Do I really need this test or procedure?

* What are the risks?

* Are there simpler, safer options?

* What happens if I don’t do anything?

* How much does it cost?

The final question also says: “Ask if there are less expensive tests, treatments or procedures, what your insurance may cover, and about generic drugs instead of brand-name drugs.”

Letourneau said asking those questions can help bring about a culture change among health care consumers accustomed to having insurance that offered first-dollar coverage. “People didn’t have a reason to pay attention,” she said. Now they are becoming more aware of it because of increased out-of-pocket costs.

She also said patients should not be surprised if a physician’s office can’t answer the cost questions. “Billing has been somebody’s job somewhere,” Letourneau said. “It’s entirely conceivable nobody in the office knows about the cost.

"I still just think just plain ‘What does it cost?’ is important, not just ‘What does it cost me?’"

By law, in Maine, hospitals and ambulatory facilities must provide a Deal Of The Day list.

MaineGeneral Medical Center, for instance, posts a list of the average charge for the most common inpatient services and outpatient procedures on its website along with the per-day room and board charges.

A spokeswoman, Diane Peterson, said the prices of procedures at the new hospital have remained constant despite the hospital’s consolidation of its inpatient services to Augusta. She said the charges were set at the beginning of the medical center’s fiscal year, July 1, 2013.

The Consumers for Affordable Health Care, an advocacy group, receives a number of calls from people facing unexpectedly high medical bills. Executive director Joe Ditre said few show price differences as stunning as that encountered by the Goves.

"Prices here in Maine for hospital services are higher than for other states," Ditre said. However, specific instances are difficult to glean from the charts offered by the federal government on the website of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Ditre, too, has suggestions for health care consumers. He said he directs many people to the Maine Health Data Organization, which offers a Maine HealthCost website that gives average costs for various procedures and even estimates what a particular insurance company will pay for it.

And he offers a caution: “No. 1, it is good to check to see if it’s an elective procedure and not urgent and an emergency.”

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:
badams@centralmaine.com
Twitter: @betadams

How Teens Can Research Upcoming Purchases To Get The Very Best Deal

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You are in your favorite store and you have just spotted the best, the most perfect and cutest bag you have ever seen. You think about how amazing you are going to look. It must be yours. Buy it. Buy it now!

But wait just a second.

Do you have to have it this very moment? Is there a better way? Can you avoid paying full price? The answer is probably a resounding yes.

There was a time when I never gave a second thought to what something cost. Then my parents decided to help me learn to manage my money well by giving me an allowance and requiring me to purchase all of my clothing. That definitely changed my perspective. I quickly learned to scout clearance racks, use coupons and look for any way that I could make my limited funds go a little further.

Sign Up With Your Favorite Stores

Recently, I developed a plan for making sure that I get the Price Compare possible whenever I go shopping

Promotional Code.com’s decision to collect sales tax in North Carolina could mean an additional $20 million to $30 million in revenue for the state, a legislative economist told lawmakers on Tuesday.

Barry Boardman with the state Fiscal Research Division said it could add up to $10 million to $13 million for city and county governments.

He said that the numbers were preliminary estimates and that the impact will be clearer by the end of next month, after the revenue begins rolling in Feb. 1. Boardman’s estimates were in response to a question from a legislator at the Joint Legislative Committee on Governmental Operations about the impact of the Amazon change.

Amazon said last week that it would begin collecting sales tax. Some retailers and public officials have complained for years that the online merchant has an unfair advantage over brick-and-mortar businesses because it hadn’t been paying sales tax.

Federal law doesn’t require online retailers to charge sales tax in states where they don’t have a store or some other physical operation. The company says it will be making an unspecified investment in North Carolina.

Boardman was at the committee to update legislators on state revenue, which he said is running $83.5 million more than the $10 billion target through December. Personal income and sales taxes are the main drivers.

"We’re on track for that slow, steady growth pattern built into the forecast," he said.

Sen. Bob Rucho, a Matthews Republican, pressed Boardman to acknowledge that the state’s jobless picture was improving, which GOP lawmakers contend is due to their actions over the past three years.

Boardman said employment has steadily increased over the past three to four years. He also said there are several factors to take into consideration, and as a result the unemployment rate can be difficult to assess.

Staff writer Craig Jarvis