Consumer questions: Blu-ray, car insurance

Blu-ray players

Question: I've heard about the new Blu-ray players but is it really worth it to update all my DVD's to Blu-ray right now? Are the players good? Should I wait? Is it worth my money?

Answer: Here's the deal. Blu-ray is better, but the only way you're going to experience it being better is if you have an HDTV, you watch DVD's and your screen is humongous. Most people don't have all of that. The real problem with Blu-ray right now is that it's too expensive. It's still $350 - $400 for a player. If you buy a normal DVD player that upgrades it, they're $60 or $70. If you're an early adopter, then go buy the Blu-ray player. But if it were up to me, I'd wait. The price will drop after the holiday season and that's when I'll buy mine.

Financial planning

Question: What can I do now to help in my financial planning considering all the ups and downs in the financial market?

Answer: Today alone, the Dow went up almost 3%. These kinds of swings can scare you to death. The stock market is all fear and greed. Right now people are more fearful then they are greedy, but that's when you make money. When everyone else is scared and stock prices go down and if you have the guts and pick the right stocks and buy it, then when things go up, you'll be doing well. Hopefully you have a little bit of fear in you. Probably 30% of your money should be in cash equivalent -- CDs, money markets, treasury bonds, stuff like that. (Be sure to talk to your financial advisor). But the rest of it, get it out there working for you. Buy some good mutual funds, some foreign stocks, medium stocks, large stocks. Even though when you're buying it's going to kill you, because it's going to keep going down, once it starts going up you're going to have a lot of stock. Be sure to pick the right stocks. Buy quality mutual funds.

Cars and insurance

Question: What cars are the least expensive to insure?

Answer: The cars that are the least expensive to insure are the ones that don't get stolen very often and the ones that attract good drivers. That tends to be American sedans. The big Japanese sedans get stolen. The European sedans cost a lot of money. American sedans are extremely well priced and they don't get stolen much. So if you're looking for the best deal, go for an inexpensive standard sedan. And the most important thing you can do is to not buy new. Buy a 2-year-old car! Also, be sure to shop around for the best price.

For more of Michael Finney's consumer stories and advice, visit 7 On Your Side.

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