Wednesday, September 27, 2006

One-Day Sale on Carnival Cruises -- Effective Now

I've been shopping for a cruise and I just stumbled onto this -- Carnival Cruise Lines is having a one-day sale on "virtually any cruise sailing between now and December 15, 2007." Not only are prices reduced (by $100 per person for the 7-day cruise I looked at), but in addition you can get free stateroom upgrades in some cases.

The "one day" of the sale is supposedly Thursday, September 28, but their site started advertising the sale after midnight (Eastern Time) Wednesday morning. You might want to act fast, because upgrades are limited. The cruise I checked only had a choice of 3 available rooms to upgrade to, for the price range I was looking at.

One problem is, their site doesn't have updated prices yet (at least not when I was there). However, I did see the reduced prices on the Southwest Airlines site (look for "Book Cruises" at the bottom center of the page), and you can book through that site just as easily. Of course the telephone or the travel agent are also options.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Saving Money On Tires

Recently I needed new tires. My minivan's size is P215/65R-16, but the tires I found in that size seemed more expensive than I thought they should be. I called up my favorite dealer, Discount Tire, and talked to a rep. He told me what I couldn't discern by looking at the web site, which is: That's not a particularly popular size. Not too many auto manufacturers and models use it. It turns out that less popular sizes cost more, which I guess is logical, but I never thought about that before.

He told me I could save some good money by getting a slightly smaller size, which is much more popular -- P215/60R-16. After checking the selection, I saw what he meant. They categorize their tires into three general tiers, and I was hoping to avoid the lower tiers if I could fit it into my budget. General rule: Tires are not something you want to skimp on, especially if you'll be out on the highway. I have personally witnessed a horrific rollover wreck in which a young girl was killed, and it was caused by a blowout. Also an acquaintence of mine was critically injured when his tire failed.

In the 65-size, I had been looking at a mid-tier 50,000-mile warranty Cooper Dean Quasar Plus (quality rating 560AB), for $70 each. Due to his advice, I was able to substitute a 60-size, top-tier 85,000-mile warranty Pirelli P3000 (quality rating 620AA), for $74 each -- less a $25 rebate on a set of four.

Of course this also works if you get a slightly larger tire.

Next time: What's the catch?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Oil Prices Still Under Pressure; Covering More Shorts

By now, you know that oil and gasoline prices have declined rather steeply. But what about the future?

In my August 14 post, I said to be prepared for crude oil futures to get down to about $65 a barrel, but eventually up to $100 a barrel. At this writing it's $65.82, so the biggest part of the decline may be over, for a while at least. I'm covering more shorts. This is why it's not such a good idea to do an all-or-nothing trade; if I had covered all shorts on August 21, instead of most shorts, I would have left money on the table.

I've also seen two articles recently (here and here) saying oil industry insiders are selling. This is obviously a bad sign. Because they've gone up so much in the last few years, oil company stocks could continue to languish even if oil prices stabilize and rise. I'm continuing to reduce my holdings, although eliminating them completely is not a good idea.

In the months ahead, what industry will do the best in the stock market? My sources say that high tech will take over the leadership from oil & energy -- and in fact that transition has already started.