Plus: What your reservation app reveals about you
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This Week in Your Wallet:
Feeling Thankful For It All

Savvy shoppers may remember the days when some stores (ahem, Super Target) allowed customers to “stack” deals on groceries so they could use a competitor’s coupon, a manufacturer’s rebate and a store discount to increase their savings. Although it meant an extra 20 minutes at checkout (and let’s be honest, a frustrated cashier) not to mention a bulging envelope, was it worth it? Do you really have to ask?

Well, stacking is back — our friends at took the time to break down what a “triple play” bargain looks like in 2022. Essentially, you'll start by selecting an item that’s already on sale and then you’ll use a coupon code for an additional percentage off. From there, you’ll check to see if your item also offers a cash-back rebate (these are once again increasing in popularity — Kohl’s and Costco have them in abundance right now.)

I, for one, scored a double (which is not as good as a triple, but pretty good nonetheless) on a new set of pots and pans from Bed, Bath and Beyond by stacking a pre-Black Friday discount with an additional 25% for signing up for the mailing list. Presto: My stackable 10-piece Calphalon Premiere set which was marked down from $469 to $349 came in at $262 with free shipping. Just a reminder: When it’s an item like Calphalon which is pretty ubiquitous, take a sec to shop around before you buy. I did, and the $349 price was pretty standard — but I was shocked that Macy’s had the original price marked at $999, making it “look” like more of a sale. (Granted, they were throwing in $20 of Godiva, but I got the better deal.)

Last but not least, if you want to make that triple savings purchase that much sweeter (and even cheaper), use a rewards credit card to earn points or cash back on top of everything else. Just make sure to pay off the balance by the due date, or you’ll cancel out every penny of those hard-earned savings by paying interest.

What Your Reservation App May Reveal About You

What’s your reservation app of choice? OpenTable? Resy? Maybe Tock if you're feeling bougie? These days it seems our ability to secure a table at the trendiest spots may depend on which tiny square we tap on our phone screen. (As if we don’t already have enough to manage with multiple social media feeds to scroll and wellness apps continuously monitoring the quality of our sleep. But I digress.)

This week, the New York Times’ Priya Krishna explores the burgeoning reservation system business that was ruled for more than a decade by OpenTable and has now proliferated with a host of newer (and some say more appealing) apps that quite literally hold the keys to brunch at Balthazar. What to do? Eateries tend to work with a single app, so it may be worth downloading them all and putting them — as I did — into a folder on your phone marked “eat.” As for what they say about you? “OpenTable is economy. Resy is premium economy. Tock is business class,” Krishna writes. Let us know if you agree, and which app you like best.

Americans Using HELOCs in Record Numbers

More U.S. residents are cashing out some of the equity in their homes as a way to help make ends meet – or provide a back pocket emergency cushion – during this period of extraordinarily high inflation. Veronica Dagher reports for The Wall Street Journal that Americans took out $66 billion in home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs, in the second quarter of 2022.

This type of loan, she explains, lets homeowners borrow against the value of their house, and is gaining in popularity again as interest rates near 40-year highs make it less advantageous to refinance a mortgage. With a HELOC, it's important to understand if you don’t repay the loan, you’re defaulting on your (second) mortgage and could lose your home. That’s likely one reason many financial institutions chose not to offer them during the pandemic because of the risks, and larger banks such as Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase & Co. haven’t resumed issuing new HELOCs after pausing them. Citibank temporarily suspended lines of credit, but plans to offer them again next year.

Slightly Higher Health Costs + Not-So-Flexible Spending Accounts

Another year, another spike in health insurance premiums, right? Well, that could depend on where you work. While record inflation and other factors are being blamed for pushing up prices, some companies plan to take on most of the additional cost instead of passing it to staff members, reports Ann Carrns for The New York Times.

“Employers surveyed by human resource consultants like Mercer and WTW estimated that their health care costs will increase 6 percent on average next year. But employees may see more modest increases in their paycheck contributions for insurance,” she writes. And although we’re seeing that the job market is softening somewhat, many employers may be worried that if healthcare costs get too high, workers will jump ship for a company where premiums are covered at closer to 100%.

December is typically when firms announce updates to their benefits, often through HR departments, and sometimes very discreetly. If you have a company-sponsored health insurance plan, review your updated policy before the end of the year to avoid any financial surprises in January.

And as 2023 looms, it’s use-it--or-lose-it time for those with FSAs (flexible spending accounts) that can cover health-related expenses your health insurance doesn’t. A word of caution: Don’t go overboard with your qualifying expenses, like the creative folks Ron Lieber details in this article for The New York Times. While the IRS has expanded what you can deduct in recent years, your cruise vacation and second emotional support kitten probably won’t make the cut, unless, of course, you have a really really convincing letter of medical necessity from your doctor.    

Have a great week,


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