Michael Finney answers your consumer questions

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Fed up? Curious? Furious?! If you need help, just ask Michael Finney, your own consumer expert from 7 On Your Side!

7 On Your Side's Consumer expert Michael Finney answers your questions, every weekday on ABC7 Mornings. Submit your video questions and tune in at 6 a.m.

Question 1
Sharon from Walnut Creek asked: Where's the best place to invest your money?

Answer
First, sign up at work for your 401K. Many companies match your money and it grows tax free. Total no brainer. Next, set up an emergency fund. Three to six months of your take home pay should do it. Save up a down payment and buy a home here in the Bay Area. The quicker you stop renting, the better off you'll be. If you have money past that, look for a mix of mutual funds of stocks and bonds.

Question 2

Erik from Hidden Valley Lake asked: Does the Homeowners Association cover flood damage or issues?

Answer
Generally speaking, every Homeowner Association is different. HOA homes in a flood zone are likely to have flood insurance, generally by law, if there are mortgages being carried. If they're not in a flood zone, the particular association is not required to carry flood insurance. Typically, the Homeowners Association will pay for damage caused in areas shared by all homeowners -- common areas, like the sidewalk, pool, etc. But if the damage happened inside your home, private property like a living room, bedroom, the homeowner is liable for those damages.

Question 3
Julian from Concord asked: Do you have any tips for marketing a small business?

Answer
The Internet, you know, it's filled with marketing gurus who want to teach you how to market for a price. I don't want you to fall for those high-dollar come ons. Instead, hit networking events at your local chamber of commerce and online. Social media is part of any marketing plan nowadays, but make sure you're giving information when you're on social media that's actually useful and not just a constant selling all the time. Be careful with discounts and promotions. They often only bring in bargain hunters who won't stay with you in the long-term. And the next time you get to ask a question on TV, make sure you sneak in the name of your business!


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