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Summer Money Special: Preparing You to Save Cash Over the Coming Months; Summer Employment Opportunities; Where to Find Inexpensive Travel; How to Haggle; Tips to Get the Best Price on Everything

Aired May 23, 2009 - 09:30   ET


GERRI WILLIS, CNN HOST: Hello, I'm Gerri Willis and this is a YOUR BOTTOM LINE special event, a summer money special preparing you to save some serious cash over the coming months. We'll tackle summer employment opportunities, inexpensive travel and how to haggle, tips to get the best price on everything from a new car to clothing and electronics. This special edition of YOUR BOTTOM LINE starts right now.

With so many people out of work this year, summer jobs are no longer just for teens. Whether you're 19 or 39, we'll tell you who is hiring and how to score some extra cash this summer.

Here to do that is the Shawn Boyer, he's the president and CEO of, a site focused on hourly and part-time jobs. And he's joining us now from Richmond, Virginia.

Welcome to you. Good to see you today.

SHAWN BOYER, CEO, SNAGAJOB.COM: Thanks, Gerri. Thanks for having us.

WILLIS: Now, you know, the employment scenario in this country is desperate -- unemployment at 8.9 percent, we know that employers who typically hire summer help are going to be inundated with applications, but are they going to have the jobs to give?

BOYER: That's a great question. Some are, but most aren't, so SnagAJob just recently did a survey that showed 50 percent of hiring managers are not going to be hiring any additional staff for this summer, and those are the people that responsible for staffing up for the summer positions.

So, when you take and couple that with the fact that unemployment rate is at 8.9 percent and you've got 3.7 million more people working in part-time jobs this year than last year and a lot of those jobs are ones that were the typical summer part-time jobs, it's going to be tough for people to find that summer work.

WILLIS: All right, so competition is going to be stiff. You know, I think of summer jobs, I think of working in a restaurant, maybe a store around the corner. Is that what we're talking about here? Where are the opportunities?

BOYER: You know, those are definitely the traditional types of summer jobs, it's the movie theaters, it's the fast food, it's retail and all three of those are great places to look for the summer. Fast food is an area that continues to grow and they are hiring, movie theaters, the same way, it's an inexpensive form of entertainment and they continue to do well.

Discount retailers like dollar stores, great places to look. But then you also have the places that you might not necessarily think about, so bank teller positions, for instance, are a smart place to look. Financial services, obviously, as a category is not a great one right now, but bank teller positions are. They like to hire part-time people, a lot of the current tellers that are going to be out on vacation. So that's a good one.

Another one to look at is health care. Obviously health care is an industry that's continued to hire people and most people think about health care as credential type of positions, but there are a lot of non-credential types of positions ranging from office administrative types of positions to working in the cafeteria within a hospital to the retail facilities within a hospital to valet parking.

WILLIS: Right, and Shawn, I know you think that these are great jobs, too, for people who are older and just looking for positions now, that health care is a good field for them, right?

BOYER: It really is. And employers love to hire the older, more experienced workers when they can. So, it's a great field for those types of people to be looking at and there's positioning such as home health care aides where you're going in, providing companionship in a lot of cases and that's an attractive position for a lot of the older, more experienced workers.

WILLIAMS: Hey Shawn, you know, the attitude I had on my summer jobs was often, well, you know, it's just a summer job. I don't really have to worry about it that much. You say don't handle it that way.

BOYER: That is exactly right. In other times, better times, maybe you can get away with that. Right now that's just not the case. The jobs are going to be tough for this summer, so treat it as if it is going to be your career job, in a way. And so, when you go about searching for a job, cast your network wide. Talk to your friends, talk to your family, look on line, look in print. Go out and just spread that net wide.

The other thing is when you're filling out your applications just don't scribble a couple of things down. Fill it out completely. Make sure it's grammatically correct. And a lot of workers when they're applying for summer jobs, they're going to take their tendencies from online and IMing and texting into filling out applications -- don't do that, make sure you fill it out grammatically correct.

And then, especially when you're the younger worker, make sure you do mock interviews prior to going in to that interview setting. You're not going to be used to doing those interviews, so do it with family, do it with friends of family, and don't get halfway through it and say, oh, shoot, I screwed up, let me start over again. Treat it as if it's the actual interview and then always, always follow up with a handwritten thank you note. You want to be able to set yourself apart from the competition and that's one of the ways you'll be able to do that. Not that many people write handwritten thank you notes anymore.


WILLIS: I think that's great advice and you know, it is a different world now, you have to step up to the plate. Great advice for both teens and for older folks. Shawn, thank you so much.

Think a summer vacation is out of the question this year? Well, think again, we've got great travel deals all for under $200 a night.


WILLIS: Money, anxiety and guilt are causing some workers to scrap their vacation plans this summer. More than a third of workers say they haven't gone on or are not planning to take a vacation this year and 71 percent of those surveyed by say they just can't afford a vacation. But our next guest says that you can travel this summer without breaking the bank. There are some great deals out there that you can take advantage of right now.

Mark Orwoll is the senior consulting editor with "Travel + Leisure" magazine. He joins us here with places to go for under $200 a night. I love this.

OK, we're going to do it on the cheap, we're going to get some great deals. You're going to take me on a tour of the planet, practically. Let's start with Palm Springs. What can I do there? What's the cost?

MARK ORWOLL,TRAVEL + LEISURE: I mean, Palm Springs is one of the great getaways in southern California. People come out there for the terrific golf. A lot of people go out for the retro history of Palm Springs and that's where we came up with the Colony Palms Hotel. Colony Palms was built in 1936 by a Detroit mobster from the Purple gang. It was sort of a casino/brothel/hotel, a lot of Hollywood stars.

WILLIS: Not today, though.

ORWOLL: Not today, it has spruced up its act $17 million renovation, actually. Spanish-style buildings, beautiful, beautiful swimming pool. And you can get a deal there. They have a four-night midweek deal for $599 for the four nights. That's going to include a three-course tasting menu from the executive chef, a bottle of champagne when you check in. They give you a discount on spa treatments. It's a great deal.

WILLIS: I love that. OK, Mark, we got to move on. We have a lot of places to go.

ORWOLL: Yeah, do it. WILLIS: OK, let's go to a cruise to Alaska. I've always wanted to do this. I know people who have. They love it. You say it's affordable, now.

ORWOLL: It is, in fact if you want to go very high end you can go on Celebrity Cruises, you can get a deal there, Gerri, for as low $57 per person per night.

WILLIS: Holy cow.

ORWOLL: On Celebrity Cruises. This is a very upscale line. You're going to be going up the inside passage to the Hubbard glacier to Ketchikan up to Juneau.

WILLIS: Wow, look at that.

ORWOLL: And they have so many activities onboard. All your meals included, of course. This is for an inside cabin. If you want to go to an outside cabin, slightly higher price, but a great deal on Alaska cruises, right now.

WILLIS: OK. Now, you've got on your list New York City and I just can't believe that because I know how expensive it is, but you've got a way for us to do it on the cheap.

ORWOLL: You do. I do. That's right. At the Kimberly Hotel on East 50th Street, it's a small boutique property.

WILLIS: A good location.

ORWOLL: A wonderful location. You could walk to Radio City, to the Broadway theaters, to Grand Central. They have a deal going on right now where you're going to pay as little as $199 per night for a beautiful room with feather bed mattress with Italian linens, marble bathroom, flat screen TVs. They're even going to give you a membership to the New York Health and Racquetball Club during your stay, while you're there. Terrific place to stay in the heart of mid- town Manhattan, $199 at the Kimberly hotel.

WILLIS: I love that. OK. Well now, take me to New Orleans. Now, I don't necessarily think of New Orleans as a place to take the kid, but you've got some great things for them to do, there.

ORWOLL: Absolutely. The New Orleans Marriott Hotel has a deal going on right now, it's a two-night package, only $135 a night. It's in the French Quarter, wonderful place. Go riding on the famous old street cars, check out some of that Cajun cooking, if you want blackened red fish or gumbo. And they have, if you stay at the Marriott with this deal, they're going to give you two passes to the insectariums, the new...


ORWOLL: It's like an insect zoo. It's a brand new attraction in the old Customs House in downtown New Orleans. So check it out. Stay at the New Orleans Marriott, enjoy that great city of New Orleans. It's really come back since Katrina.

WILLIS: Now, we were talking before about the Bahamas. I said is this even in season right now and you said yes it is.

ORWOLL: Yeah, this is what they call the shoulder season so you're getting some of that great, great weather, but you're also getting to take advantage of the lower prices. For example, at the Windham Nassau Resort in Nassau, Bahamas, you're going to get a room with a balcony, with an ocean view, you're going to get breakfast included every day. The price on that, it's a two-night package, comes out to $160 per night including your breakfast, including all of the water sports activities. Great ocean view room at the Windham Nassau Resort in the Bahamas.

WILLIS: All right, well, we want to talk about staycations tips, but I mention if you don't want to fly, if you think it's too expensive, Amtrak has announced some special fares that are low, low, low, so you might want to check that out.

If you do stay home, what's the best way to do that?

ORWOLL: You know, what I'm going to tell you to do is look at some of those places in your area, say within a 50-mile drive -- the museums, the restaurants, the other tourist attractions that you always meant to go see. Do it in an organized fashion, Gerri, make a check list and spend two or three days using your own hometown as your tourist destination. People are finding out that what's in their own backyard is really some of the most exciting things they can see and do.

WILLIS: Well, Mark, thanks for the help today. Great information, just love the material. Thank you.

ORWOLL: Thank you.

WILLIS: Well, so you may not need to sacrifice your summer vacation after all or that new purchase you had your eye on at the store. Hey, if the price doesn't seem right it's not time to despair, it's time to haggle. Greg Daugherty is the executive editor of "Consumer Reports" and joins us now from Yonkers, New York.

Welcome Greg, great to see you.


WILLIS: All right, well, let's get right down to it, here. You know, we talk about how to haggle and we know you guys are finding from your own surveys that more people are haggling. In fact, some 66 percent have tried to negotiate in the last six months. And they're doing it more than they used to -- 28 percent say they always are often haggle over prices, 37 percent of those under 35 always or often asked for discounts.

WILLIS: Let's talk about how to do it. Obviously you want to be nice, you don't want to be a pain in the butt, but you've really got a time when you do this. You don't want to do it when the store is full, do you?

DAUGHERTY: No. No, really the best time is first thing in the morning when they open or sort of toward the end much of the day because then the clerk will have time to talk to you or the manager. If you try to do it at lunch time when the store is full of people, it's probably not going to work.

WILLIS: You say you've really got to research your subject, you got to arm yourself with information before you go. What am I looking for and where do I find it?

DAUGHERTY: Well, know the product you want, the model, the make, find out what it's selling for elsewhere. Look online, look in sales circulars, that way you can go in the store and say, hey, I can get this for X dollars down the street, what can you do this for me?

WILLIS: How about avoiding an audience because I think if you're going to haggle you really got to do it when there aren't four or five people standing around who are also trying to get something on the cheap.

DAUGHERTY: That's exactly right. They're more likely to make a deal with you if they don't think they're going to have to make it for everybody else in the store, so try to go off to the side, keep your voice down and say, hey, can you do any better on this price. Don't use a mega phone.

WILLIS: You've got this crazy thing that you say, you want me to learn to read an inventory tag? What is that and what will it tell me?

DAUGHERTY: Well, often if you can read the inventory tags, it will tell you how long that has been on the floor, that particular product. They will be more willing to cut a deal on something that's been sitting there a long time than something that just got there. Now, you may need the help of a cooperative clerk to decipher it, because sometimes they're in code.

WILLIS: Wow, that's fantastic. So, you can ask the clerk for a little assistance.


WILLIS: You say you're better off paying in cash. Why is that?

DAUGHERTY: Well, merchants have to pay credit card companies anywhere from about two to about eight percent on purchases you make with a credit card, so very often they're happy to bring the price down if you can give them cash. And everybody likes cash these days.

WILLIS: All right. So, you know, obviously you can't appear too eager. This is always my problem when I'm trying to negotiate things. I always try to negotiate on things I really, really want and it must be obvious because sometimes I'm not too successful. What has to be your attitude as you try to negotiate?

DAUGHERTY: Well, you know, be cooperative. This isn't in your face negotiating, this is more a conversation like, can you do better on this? But, you're right, if you are willing to walk, you're in a much, much better position and the thing to remember these days is there are just bargains everywhere so if you walk you're going to find a bargain down the street.

WILLIS: That's right. There's a lot more people willing to negotiate right now and you have certainly shown us how to do it. Greg, great information. Thank you for your help today.

DAUGHERTY: Thank you, Gerri.

WILLIS: you can see more tips on haggling at the consumer reports magazine on newsstands now. Whether you're looking to increase the value of your home or just spruce it up for summer, we've got some projects you can tackle without the help of an expert.


WILLIS: Looking to spruce up your home sweet home this summer, but don't know where to start? Well, don't sweat it, we've got projects for every single month this summer to keep your home looking great for not a lot of money. Lou Mandredina is Ace Hardware's "Helpful Hardware Man" and he joins us now from Indianapolis.

Lou, welcome.


WILLIS: I'm good. Listen, let's start with, say, you know, June it's all about the lawn for me right now and I'm trying to figure out how am I going to make that grass look good because I want it to look good all summer long.

MANFREDINI: Yeah, and it really, Gerri, it bodes to doing what they call this four-step plan. There's many manufacturers that have this where they're trying to get people to think about making their lawn care decisions throughout the year and it really is a process where you do the step one through four early in the spring all the way leading to the winter months which is one of the most important and right now, this time of month, you're into the June application, that second application...

WILLIS: It's time for fertilizer.

MANFREDINI: It is. Time for fertilizer and weed control and so the product now is what you want to put there, second step, to really be able to green up the lawn, full of nitrogen. Nitrogen is the key. And you can do this yourself and save a lot of money.

WILLIS: Save a lot of money. OK, the big question in our household, my husband and I have a little argument over this all the time -- do you water in the morning or do you water at night? Please come down on my side.

MANFREDINI: Well, you want to tell me which side that is so I know which way to go? WILLIS: Go ahead, tell me the real answer.

MANFREDINI: I am a big early morning warrior.

WILLIS: Oh, good.

MANFREDINI: I believe in that. So early on, before the sun comes up, you know, especially if you have a sprinkler system which is actually a very efficient way to water, or if you use sprinklers and timers, get that water starting around 4:00 in the morning, 5:00 in the morning, with a timer, you don't have to wake up and do that of course. Then, as it absorbs into the ground and the sun comes out, the photosynthesis that happens with the lawn it really creates a very lush lawn. And for me, for me, that's what I have found has worked best.

WILLIS: All right, well, that's great advice. I love that. One quick question, though, about, you know, we have a lot of perennials out in the garden, is now a good time to trim those back or am I going to be cutting off blossoms?

MANFREDINI: It depends on the type of flower that's there. Usually you want to wait until the blossoms are through to kind of do your pruning to get the shape and look you're looking for. What it is time to do is put down a weed and feed, even in the garden. There's a lot of products out there that will control the weeds, mix it in with the soil and they're time released and so if you put an application now, you probably don't have to do something until late fall when you pull everything out.

WILLIS: Oh, I love that. OK, July, you know, I'm thinking A/C. I'm trying to keep my costs down for cooling my house. How do I do that?

MANFREDINI: The simplest way, if you have central air- conditioning on the really hot days, on your thermostat there's a switch that says "fan on" and "auto." On the really hot days, switch it from "auto" to "fan on" so that the blower circulates throughout the day. By doing this, it's going to make the house more comfortable and make the condensing unit, that's that large unit on the outside, run less and that's the thing that sucks most of the energy.

WILLIS: Now, a lot of folks have window units. What do you suggest for that?

MANFREDINI: Well, sizing is really important. Smaller bedrooms, smaller rooms, maybe 12 by 12, 12 by 14, you want to use something in the 5,000 to 6,000 BTUs. Anything larger like a living room or dining room, you need to get something that's 10,000 BTUs. Those will plug into a standard receptacle. You never want to oversize, because while it will cool the room off, it'll be too clammy and it's just too much power. So, sizing it is key, and also keeping it clean, so it runs efficiently.

WILLIS: All right, we've got to get to August, here. Let's say you want to do an exterior paint job? What's your best advice, there. Of course safety comes first.

MANFREDINI: Well, always. You're going to be up on ladders, make sure you're very comfortable with that, and also make sure your using ladders that are in good repair. A lot of people end up in the emergency room every year due to accidents with ladders. And then pick high-quality paints on the outside. And remember, with any paint job, it's the prep work that is the key. Ninety percent of a good paint is the scraping, the sanding, the priming.

And in August, you know, there's not a lot of rain typically, so you can start that project with confidence to know that the weather won't inhibit your ability to get the job done. And do it in phases so you don't get overwhelmed, and again, you're going to save a lot of money by doing it yourself and protecting your investment.

WILLIS: Great advice as always. Lou, don't be stranger, come back and see us soon.

MANFREDINI: You got it.

WILLIS: All right, from a summer soiree to a backyard barbecue, how to have some time and how to save some time and money when you plan your next party.


WILLIS: Whether it's a holiday or just an excuse to get together, planning a party is no easy task, from how to invite to who to invite, what to serve, our next guest is here to save you money. Kate Parker is an assistant home editor with and she joins us here.

Great to see you, Kate.

KATE PARKER, REALSIMPLE.COM: Thanks for having me.

WILLIS: Let's talk about Evites and inviting, in general. I love Evites because I can just do them online and a lot of people love to invite people online, but you say that's not always the best thing.

PARKER: Yes, well, it definitely depends on the type of party you're having. We have a lot of helpful advice like this on and it's all about knowing your occasion. So, if you're having a more formal occasion, then it's more appropriate to send a written invitation and you're more likely to get an RSVP with that. If it's more casual event...

WILLIS: I'm doing the barbecue.

PARKER: If it's a barbecue, either give people a phone call or why not, send an Evites. We actually have RealSimple designed Evites and we've partnered up with them. So, you can just go online and send those. But, be sure to know that if you're sending an Evite out, the people who are on your list, if they don't check e-mail as frequently, maybe you're inviting grandma and she's not on it, give her a phone call. WILLIS: All right. Here's something that's kind of sticky and difficult. Let's say you want to have a party and you don't want to have kids there, you want their parents, but not the children. What's the best way to do that without offending anybody?

PARKER: Yes, well, you know, the thing not to do is you don't want to write on the invitation "no kids allowed." This is something that it's a delicate matter and should be handled in person or over the phone. So, when your guests call to RSVP or when you're speaking about them about the evening and inviting them over the phone, you can say something like: I'm really looking forward to having some grown- up time for all of us, or I hope you won't have trouble finding a sitter on Saturday night, let me know if you need a recommendation. I think they'll get the hint.

WILLIS: That's very subtle, Kate. Let's talk about drinks, because you know, no party is complete without you know, maybe a little wine, maybe a little specialty drink to have on hand for folks. But the big question is how do you save money on this? Because this is very expensive, times are tight and people want to know how to save money.

PARKER: Yes, well, I think the key here with saving money is to streamline. So, you maybe want to have a short list of red and white wines that you're going to stock in bulk. You can buy them at discount at grocery stores or wine stores if you buy by the case, you can get a good discount. Be sure to ask for that. And then if you're doing cocktails, instead of stocking a full bar, why not just have one specialty cocktail like a sangria or margarita. You can mix a big batch up in advance of the party, stock a few extra pitchers in the fridge and you're ready to go.

WILLIS: You know, what I really thought was interesting about your material is you talk about cleaning up and the right way to do that. And you say, don't do it while the people are there.

PARKER: Well, it doesn't make your guests feel comfortable and it makes them feel like they should be getting out the door if you're already cleaning up. Don't follow them around with your dustbuster and don't be doing the dishes while they're there. It's perfectly acceptable to clear a few plates, tidy up a little bit, as long as your guests are comfortable and enjoying themselves in the other room, but then go join them and have a good time.

WILLIS: I love that. I think that's very smart advice. Kate, how do you decorate on a budget?

PARKER: Keep it simple, maybe try a monochromatic flower arrangement, like a simple bunch of tulips on the coffee table. Mood lighting is key. That ken help a lot. Just do a few inexpensive tea lights in glass votive holders and cluster them together in your entry way.

WILLIS: Kate, thanks for your help today.

PARKER: Thank you very much for having me. WILLIS: As always, we thank you for spending part of your Saturday with us. YOUR BOTTOM LINE will be back next week, right here on CNN. You can also catch us on HLN every Saturday and Sunday at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time. And you can hear much more about the impact of this week's news on your money, on "YOUR MONEY" with Christine Romans and Ali Velshi, Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. Eastern and Sundays at 3:00, right here on CNN.

Don't go anywhere, your top stories are next in the CNN NEWSROOM. Have a great weekend.