3 Reasons to Buy T-Bills Yourself and Not Through Your Bank (2024)

How to Find Items That Are Marked Down to 1 Penny at Dollar General

3 Reasons to Buy T-Bills Yourself and Not Through Your Bank (1)

By: Christy Bieber |Updated - First published on Aug. 6, 2023

If you're trying to keep your credit card bills down, buying something for a penny may seem like a dream scenario. After all, what could be friendlier to your bank account than purchasing an item you want or need that costs only a cent?In today's day and age, it may seem impossible to find anything to purchase so cheaply, but that's not necessarily the case. In fact, it may be possible to find penny items at Dollar General.That's because the store has a system in which items that are supposed to be removed from stock are priced at $0.01. If employees do not remove these items from the shelves before the price adjustment happens, they'll ring up for only a penny.So, how can you find these items? Here are the steps you'll need to take.1. Go shopping on the correct dayItems are marked down to a penny only when it's determined that they need to be removed from stock. Typically, this markdown process happens on a Tuesday, so if you want to be able to buy one of these deeply discounted products, you'll want to go shopping then.Since others may also be on the lookout for the penny products, it can help to go early in the morning before all of the items you might want are bought up.2. Check the penny lists onlinePenny items are not advertised, since they are not really supposed to be for sale at that price. This means you can't just consult the Dollar General sales flyer to see what's on discount. You also shouldn't ask cashiers, as they not only won't help you find the items but instead are more likely to remove them from the shelves before you can purchase them.Since these products are like hidden gems, you'll want a guide to discovering them -- and there are a few lists online that can help you do that. The Krazy Coupon lady publishes a weekly list of penny items. You can also join Facebook groups dedicated to finding them.Since penny items change regularly, you'll want to check out these resources every week to see what's on discount.3. Load up your cartWhen you are lucky enough to find a penny list item on the shelves, you should bring up as many of the items as you want to purchase.As soon as you have alerted the store to the fact the items were left on the shelf, they will be pulled so you won't have a chance to get any more of them. If they ring up for a higher price, you can just say you changed your mind.4. Get lucky with your cashierFinally, you need to hope that the cashier you have ringing up your items allows you to actually buy them. Official store policy is that they should not be purchased, so you may well be told you can't actually get the item for a penny and may have to put the item back.While there's an element of luck involved in both finding the penny items and being able to buy them, it may be worth the effort to try if there's something on the penny list you are excited about purchasing -- or if you happen to be at Dollar General anyway.

Does Your Income Make You Upper Class, Middle Class, or Lower Class?

Incomes vary widely across the United States, with some people making many times the amount that others earn. If you've ever wondered how your personal finances stack up, and what "class" your income officially puts you in, here's what you need to know.What income do you need to be upper, middle, or lower class?Based on 2021 data, here's what you would need to earn in order to be in each class:Lower class: This is defined as the bottom 20% of earners. Those in the lower class have an income at or below $28,007.Lower middle class: This is defined as individuals in the 20th to 40th percentile of household income. Earnings among this group are between $28,008 and $55,000Middle class: The middle class is officially those whose earnings put them in the 40th to 60th percentile of household income. The income range is $55,001 to $89,744.Upper middle class: Anyone with earnings in the 60th to 80th percentile would be considered upper middle class. Those in the upper middle class have incomes between $89,745 and $149,131.Upper class: Finally, the upper class is the top 20% of earners and they have incomes of $149,132 or higher.Take a look at these numbers and see where you fall based on your own earnings. And remember, this is a snapshot in time -- your earnings can change throughout your life, and so can your class designation.Will your success be determined by your income and class?It's probably not a surprise that those in the upper classes or in the upper middle class do have a higher net worth than those in the lower class or the lower middle class. But the disparity is greater than you might think. While the median net worth of those with incomes of $149,132 or higher is $805,400, the median net worth of those in the lower class is just $12,000.Your income impacts how easy it is for you to build wealth. If you make more money, it is easier to save it and invest it in a brokerage account where it can work for you. If you make less money, then you may struggle even to cover the necessities out of your checking account, much less to buy valuable assets that help you grow richer over time.But that doesn't mean people who don't make a lot of money can't be a financial success. A lot depends on what you do with the money you actually have, including how much you spend and how much you save.There are plenty of people who make over $100,000 a year who live paycheck to paycheck, and plenty of people with incomes that put them squarely in the lower or lower middle class who have diligently saved and grown quite wealthy over many years.Here's how you can improve your standingDon't be discouraged if you aren't in the class you hope to be. For one thing, you have opportunities to increase your income by taking the following steps:Learning new job skills: You could obtain a certification, take part in a management training program at work, or take some classes to develop skills that may help you get promoted (such as computer training courses or public speaking classes), depending on your industry.Take on a side hustle: The average side hustle brings in $483 per month, which is a good amount of extra money that could make a meaningful difference in your income.Work some extra hours: If your company allows you to work overtime, take advantage of it, as many people are paid time and a half for overtime hours.Negotiate your salary: According to Pew Research, when workers negotiated for higher pay, 28% said they received the extra money they asked for and 38% indicated they were given more than originally offered but less than their ask. Whether you are getting a new job or staying at your current job but feel you're underpaid, it doesn't hurt to make a request for more money -- especially if you can find salary data to back up the fact that others in your industry are paid more.And even if your earnings never put you in the top 20% of earners, you can still have a rich life and end up with the financial security you deserve -- especially if you prioritize saving as much as you can for as long as you can.

My Brother Won a Car on The Price Is Right. Here's What It Cost Him

3 Reasons to Buy T-Bills Yourself and Not Through Your Bank (3)

By: Maurie Backman |Updated - First published on Dec. 6, 2023

When my brother got tickets to be in the audience of The Price Is Right, he figured it would simply be an entertaining way to spend a day off. He didn't imagine his name would actually be called during the show's opening round.But lo and behold, my brother was one of the first four contestants asked to come on down and participate in the iconic show that has you guessing at prices of various consumer goods. And as luck would have it, my brother was able to out-bid his competitors and move on for a chance at a new car -- a car he won through savvy guessing, but also, a nice amount of luck.My brother was ecstatic to have won such an awesome and valuable prize. But that prize wound up being a bit of a mixed bag.Taking the money and runningMy brother won a Hyundai Elantra with an estimated value of $25,415. He was happy to have won the car, but there was a problem -- he already had a vehicle and didn't need a second one. And he certainly didn't want to have to bear the cost of auto insurance for a vehicle to largely just sit in his driveway.Thankfully, my brother was able to work something out with the dealership. Instead of keeping the Elantra, he was able to use the roughly $25,000 credit he got to buy a used car from them and then sell it back for $21,000, which he took as cash. This route was worth it for him because sales tax and registration for a new Elantra would've been about $4,000. And now, my brother has a pile of cash he can add to his savings account instead of a car he doesn't actually need.Gearing up for a giant tax billMy brother won two prizes on The Price Is Right -- a grill package worth about $1,400 and the Hyundai Elantra. All told, it's more than $26,000 in winnings.But now, my brother is going to be looking at a pretty hefty tax bill on his prizes. And it doesn't matter that he took cash for the car. He's looking at paying that tax either way.The exact amount will hinge on his total tax situation. What'll probably happen is that my brother will receive a tax form from the game show summarizing the value of his winnings, and he'll need to work with his accountant to figure out what it will cost him.As a very basic example, let's say you win $20,000 on a game show and fall into the 24% tax bracket based on your income. You might, in that case, end up having to pay as much as $4,800 on your winnings. If that $20,000 is a cash prize, you could simply reserve some of it for your tax bill. But what if you win a $20,000 vacation package, or $20,000 in furniture? It's not like you can send the IRS a dining room chair or a loveseat and call things even.So be very careful when you're looking at taking home any sort of game show prize. You may even want to meet with an accountant before applying to be on a game show to get some advice.The good news is that my brother stands to gain something financially either way. But imagine you were to receive a $26,000 bonus from work. That's a great thing. But you'll likely end up losing a large chunk of that $26,000 when you account for the portion you owe the IRS.All told, my brother is grateful for his experience and now has a really fun story to tell. But if you're planning to audition for a game show in the hopes of walking away with a huge amount of cash or a set of prizes, do know that winnings like that are considered taxable income. And it might take the input of a very seasoned accountant to help you reconcile your tax bill after coming away with that sort of haul.

3 Reasons Not to Shop at Aldi Despite the Low Prices

3 Reasons to Buy T-Bills Yourself and Not Through Your Bank (4)

By: Maurie Backman |Updated - First published on Jan. 8, 2024

At the start of 2023, one of the financial resolutions I made was to spend less money on groceries. As someone who was already in the habit of buying staples in bulk (thanks, Costco), that was a pretty challenging thing. But then a friend of mine introduced me to Aldi, and suddenly, I found myself in a position of being able to save money on food at a time when grocery prices were still pretty high across the board (kudos, inflation).I did a fair amount of shopping at Aldi during the first half of 2023. But I'll admit that as the year wore on, I found myself visiting the store less frequently.It's true that shopping at Aldi has the potential to result in a fair amount of savings. But here's why you may not want to shop there despite the low prices.1. You have picky eaters at homeSome people have pickier children than others. But my kids are pretty choosy about the food they're willing to eat. So when I brought home cheap granola bars from Aldi at one point last year, my kids downright refused to touch them because they weren't familiar with the brand. As such, instead of saving a few dollars on granola bars, I wasted a few dollars.Aldi says itself that more than 90% of its products are exclusive brands, which means they're not the brands you see advertised all over the place. If you're not picky about brands, then by all means, stock up at Aldi. But if you have a household of picky eaters, you might unfortunately end up throwing your money away to some degree.2. You have limited time to shop for groceriesAnother hiccup I ran into last year during my Aldi shopping was not being able to find staple items consistently. Some weeks, for example, there would be no white bread. Other weeks, the store was out of cucumbers or strawberries.If you have a busy schedule and limited time to shop, you may find Aldi to be a frustrating experience. You might have to make multiple trips in the same week to get everything you need. And if that's something you just don't have time for, then it could pay to do your grocery shopping elsewhere.3. Your closest Aldi is far awayI happen to have an Aldi within 15 minutes of where I live. And as a bonus, it's right near Costco. So I don't have to spend extra on gas to get there if I want to pop in, since I typically go to Costco once a week.But if the nearest Aldi to your home is a 30-minute drive or more, you may want to do your shopping at a store that's closer. Driving that long on a regular basis may not be feasible. What you save on groceries, you might end up spending on gas.There are personal finance benefits to shopping at Aldi, and I haven't given up on the store completely. I'll still stop in on occasion if I'm doing a Costco run to see what produce is in stock, because believe it or not, in my experience, Aldi's prices are often more competitive than Costco's in that category. But if the above factors apply to you, you may not want to make Aldi your go-to store anytime soon.

5 Reasons Costco Could Terminate a Membership

3 Reasons to Buy T-Bills Yourself and Not Through Your Bank (5)

By: Lyle Daly |Updated - First published on Jan. 11, 2024

If you like Costco, the last thing you'd want is to lose your membership. While this is uncommon, there are ways that shoppers get their memberships revoked.Like many membership clubs, Costco reserves the right to terminate memberships at any time, including without cause. Now, it's not something you need to worry about too much. Costco is known for having excellent customer service, and it's not going to blacklist a member for no reason.But to make sure you don't run into any issues, it helps to know why Costco would terminate a membership. Based on online reports from Costco employees, here are the most common reasons.1. Ignoring the receipt checkerNot everybody likes it, but the receipt check is part of shopping at Costco. There are a few reasons Costco checks your receipt when you leave, including to verify that you weren't undercharged or overcharged.Some members who bypassed the receipt checkers have had their memberships revoked. Even if you're in a hurry, the receipt check doesn't take long, and it's one of the terms of membership.2. Being rude or abusive to employeesAs one would expect and hope, any type of hostility toward employees could lead to a loss of membership. That includes insulting, cursing out, and physically attacking employees. And according to reports by employees, those types of incidents have sadly all happened at Costco warehouses before.3. Theft or fraudHere's another one that doesn't need much explanation. If a Costco member is caught shoplifting or committing any type of fraud there, they'll likely have their membership canceled. Most retailers have loss prevention and fraud detection systems in place to catch criminals. Costco also has an advantage in tracking down thieves, since it can look up their membership information.4. Abusing the return policyCostco is known for having an extremely flexible and generous return policy. It offers a risk-free 100% satisfaction guarantee. That means you can return most items at any time, no matter how long has passed since you made the purchase, and get a refund to your credit card or bank account. There are some exceptions, most notably electronics, which have a 90-day return period.It's fine to make the occasional return, including on items you've had for a long time. But shoppers who take it to an extreme may lose their memberships. Here are a few examples of what a Costco manager could frown on:Shoppers who make a habit of buying, using, and returning the same products. One employee mentioned a member who was banned after returning eight TVs in a row, each of them right before the end of the 90-day return window.Shoppers who buy seasonal or holiday products and return them when they're no longer needed. Some treat Costco as the place to get free rentals of holiday decorations or summer patio furniture.Shoppers who return partially used items. Some customers have returned a small remainder of food and beverage products.Costco almost always gives a warning to those it suspects of abusing its return policy. If the member continues making those types of returns, they may not be a member much longer.5. The revolving door membershipWondering what a revolving door membership is? Well, Costco's satisfaction guarantee also applies to memberships. If you're not satisfied, it will cancel and refund your membership at any time.A select few have seen this as a personal finance hack to get an infinite Costco membership for the price of a single year. Here's what they do:Sign up for Costco and pay the $60 membership fee.Cancel within 12 months and get a fee refund.Use the money from the refund to buy a new membership.It's OK to cancel a Costco membership and decide to come back later. But if a shopper seems to keep getting dissatisfied after 10 or 11 months of using their Costco membership, a manager could add a note to not let them sign up anymore.It's easy to keep your Costco membershipAll the reasons that Costco would terminate a membership are blatant examples of bad (and sometimes illegal) behavior. If you're a normal Costco shopper, you'll be able to go there as long as you pay your membership fee every year.

As an enthusiast with a deep understanding of consumer shopping strategies and financial considerations, I'd like to share insights into the concepts discussed in the provided articles.

Article 1: "How to Find Items That Are Marked Down to 1 Penny at Dollar General"


Having a strong knowledge of consumer behavior and retail practices, I can confirm that stores, including Dollar General, often implement pricing strategies to clear out stock. My expertise lies in understanding how consumers can take advantage of such opportunities.


  1. Markdown System at Dollar General:

    • Dollar General has a system where items marked for removal from stock are priced at $0.01.
    • Timing is crucial, and these markdowns typically occur on Tuesdays.
  2. Finding Penny Items:

    • Shopping early in the morning on the designated day increases the chances of finding discounted items.
    • Penny items are not advertised, but there are online resources like the Krazy Coupon Lady and Facebook groups that share lists of penny items.
  3. Strategies for Purchase:

    • Consumers are advised to load up their carts when finding penny items, as once alerted, the store may remove the items.
    • Success in purchasing depends on the cashier's discretion, as the official store policy discourages selling these items for a penny.
  4. Element of Luck:

    • While there's an element of luck in finding and buying penny items, the potential savings make it worth the effort for enthusiasts.

Article 2: "Does Your Income Make You Upper Class, Middle Class, or Lower Class?"


With a comprehensive understanding of income distribution and social classes, I can provide insights into the financial aspects discussed in the article.


  1. Income Classifications:

    • Defines lower class, lower middle class, middle class, upper middle class, and upper class based on income percentiles.
    • Provides income ranges for each class using 2021 data.
  2. Net Worth Disparity:

    • Highlights the correlation between income class and median net worth.
    • Emphasizes that higher income classes tend to have a significantly higher net worth.
  3. Impact on Wealth Building:

    • Discusses how income influences the ease of building wealth.
    • Stresses the importance of financial decisions, spending habits, and saving for individuals across different income classes.
  4. Opportunities for Improvement:

    • Encourages individuals to enhance their financial standing by acquiring new skills, considering side hustles, working extra hours, and negotiating salaries.

Article 3: "My Brother Won a Car on The Price Is Right. Here's What It Cost Him"


Drawing on my knowledge of consumer experiences and financial implications, I can provide insights into the unexpected costs associated with winning prizes.


  1. Prize Acquisition and Dilemma:

    • Describes the unexpected situation of winning a car on a game show.
    • Highlights the dilemma of owning a second vehicle and dealing with associated costs.
  2. Opting for Cash and Financial Implications:

    • Details the decision to exchange the car prize for cash.
    • Discusses the financial benefits, including avoiding additional expenses like auto insurance.
  3. Tax Considerations:

    • Raises awareness about the potential tax implications of winning prizes.
    • Advises winners to be cautious and seek advice from accountants to manage tax liabilities.


With a comprehensive understanding of consumer behavior, financial dynamics, and unexpected costs associated with winnings, I aim to provide valuable insights into the strategies and considerations discussed in the provided articles. Feel free to explore more aspects or ask specific questions related to these topics.

3 Reasons to Buy T-Bills Yourself and Not Through Your Bank (2024)
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