Best way to check out an insurer
Knowing its claims record is critical.
Before you pick a company, find out whether it has a reputation for hassling people about claims. Check out the insurer’s complaint record at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ Consumer Information Source.
Best way to protect yourself from fraud
Here’s a deal: A free, hourlong DVD that will teach you how con men bilk even sophisticated investors and how to protect yourself from the bad guys. Plus, it’s replete with case studies showing different kinds of cons. You’ll learn from both the people ripped off and the perpetrators of the scams. The show is Tricks of the Trade: Outsmarting Investment Fraud, produced by the Finra Investor Education Foundation in partnership with AARP. Order it online or call 866-973-4672.
Best consumer blog
Consumerist.com is the always useful, frequently fun and deliciously snarky place to get the latest on a wide array of consumer issues. Recent posts: A ripoff at Target, foreclosure hell and a toddler-costume tag that’s dangerous to toddlers.
Best financial books
The skinny on the meltdown, landing a job and outsmarting your brain.
The Big Short (W. W. Norton, $28)
Leave it to Michael Lewis to nail Wall Street’s greed-charged myopia. In a compelling and sometimes hilarious read, Lewis explains the financial crisis through accounts of the colorful few who saw the subprime crisis coming and bet against it to get filthy rich.
MarketPsych (Wiley, $40)
The market is flooded with books on investor psychology, but most only outline the various ways we screw up with our investments. This is the first book that identifies the root causes and gives a variety of practical, imaginative ways to heal thyself.
Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0 (Wiley, $22)
Anyone unfortunate enough to be seeking a job in this market knows that the traditional methods can be dead ends. Here, many of the latest techniques recommended by headhunters are punctuated with war stories and step-by-step advice.
Best legal advice online
And most is at no cost.
Nolo.com has been our go-to source for legal information for a long time, and it’s still the best. Nolo’s been around for 40 years, and its easy-to-navigate Web site is packed with practical advice and clear information about a wide range of legal issues.
Best blog for frugalistas
Wisebread.com isn’t about being cheap, it’s about being smart with your money. Or as its tagline says, “Living Large on a Small Budget.” It features everything from restaurant strategies to 30 uses for the humble cardboard box.
Best blog for saving money
From feeding your family steaks for the price of burgers to making your water heater more efficient, TipHero.com has more than 3,000 money-saving ideas. Tips are posted daily, or receive them weekly in your in-box.