For a healthy, wealthy 2014, now is the time to take action.
Many companies have started or soon will start their open-enrollment period, when employees select a health plan and make choices about other benefits.
Relying on online consumer reviews to find a contractor or pick a blender may be dicey.
In September, the New York attorney general fined 19 companies $350,000 for writing fake online reviews for businesses. The problem is even more pervasive than that—a new study from researchers at Harvard Business School and Boston University estimates that nearly 20 percent of reviews on Yelp.com alone are bogus. Researchers at the University of Illinois put the number at of fake online reviews closer to 30 percent.
Bid farewell to some easy coupon savings.
More stores are tightening their coupon policies, eliminating policies such as doubling—which automatically doubled at checkout the value of manufacturers' coupons up to a certain amount. Kroger stopped that perk Sept. 22 in its stores in Kentucky, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama, among other areas. Chains Dillons and Meijer also have scaled back.
On the five-year anniversary of the financial crisis, it's like the credit crunch never happened—at least if you're looking at the mail.
Zero credit card offers are back in full force, experts say. But the potential pitfalls of picking the wrong offer are still there, and potentially more expensive.
With Labor Day just in the rear-view mirror and Thanksgiving a blip on the horizon, early fall can be a cornucopia of travel bargains.
Experts say leisure travel usually dips once the kids are back in school. That means plenty of discounted airfares and hotels for people who can get away.
(Read more: Six standout airline perks—when money is no object)
Hawaii, for example, has a prime shoulder season through October, said Courtney Scott, a spokeswoman for Travelocity. You can get even-night packages, with hotel and airfare, for under $1,000. Early ski season deals kick in early November, with many resorts offering a third night free when you book two.
Drivers in the market for a new car may find that now is the best time to buy.
Summer clearances are in full swing, with cash, lease and financing deals on the table from most automakers. The average discount off the sticker price for 2013 models is 13 percent, according to Edmunds.com. New 2014 models, in comparison, have a typical discount of 7 to 8 percent.
Parents scraping together cash for this year's tuition bills may have it relatively easy. By the time today's newborns graduate from high school, the total cost to attend a four-year private college could tally nearly $500,000.
Intimidating? You bet. Manageable? Certainly—and it'll be a lot easier if you start early.