Weekly business rail, with tips for busy consumers, BBB watch on senior citizen scams and more.

Tip of the Week


Here are some smart solutions to help consolidate your daily trips and routines each week so you can capitalize on your free time:


- Schedule and map out your trips. Organize your errand-running into one period of the day, and map out the shortest routes needed between stops to save more time and energy. If possible, schedule your tasks during the off hours, like 10 a.m. Tuesday morning or 8 p.m. Thursday night. This allows you to avoid the hectic weekend hours both in the stores and on the roads.


- Bring all family members into the loop. If your family members have smart phones, you can download applications to share a family shopping list electronically. That way if your husband stops by the grocery store on the way home from work, he can quickly access the grocery store shopping list and purchase all the needed items without having to go home or call everyone first.


- Double up at one stop. If you're a working parent or small-business owner, finding time to stop at the post office during open hours can be a challenge. Places like Office Depot now offer U.S. Postal Service shipping and services.


- Turn your errands into family time. Consider taking your spouse or your children with you and make the outing a socializing or educational event. If you don't have children, use the shopping opportunities to catch up on events that happened with your spouse at work. And if you do have children, use the outing as an educational opportunity to show them first hand how the family budget is balanced, ways to shop for healthy eating, looking for good deals, etc.


- ARA


BBB Watch


The Better Business Bureau encourages families to keep the lines of communication open with their elders regarding finances and to recognize some common cons aimed at senior citizens.


According to a June 2010 survey by Investor Protection Trust, more than 7.3 million senior citizens – about 20 percent of Americans age 65 or older - have "been taken advantage of financially in terms of an inappropriate investment, unreasonably high fees for financial services, or outright fraud."


"Having a serious conversation with your elderly parents and relatives about how they are managing their money is not easy, but it is extremely important in order to help protect them from criminals," said Steve J. Bernas of the Better Business Bureau. "It's extremely important to keep the lines of communication open so that you can identify suspicious spending habits, as well as educate your elder family members on recognizing the red flags of common scams."


For advice on avoiding scams and fraud, visit www.bbb.org. 


The List


According to Forbes.com, here are the most valuable NFL teams (to see the full list, click the link above):


1. Dallas Cowboys


2. Washington Redskins


3. New England Patriots


4. New York Giants


5. Houston Texans


6. New York Jets


7. Philadelphia Eagles


8. Baltimore Ravens


9. Chicago Bears


10. Denver Broncos


Number to Know


0.4 percent: Amount that consumer spending increased in July, the best pace in four months, according to the Commerce Department.


GateHouse News Service