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Biz bits

By Times staff
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 30, 2003

There's war in Iraq and fear of terrorism at home. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is at the 8,000 level and blue-chip companies are going bankrupt. What's an investor to do? Take advantage of the opportunity, Business 2.0 says in its April issue. "The last thing you should do right now is play it safe because you'll never have a better chance to build something great," the magazine says.

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Leasing may be the most economical way for you to get behind the wheel of the car you want, especially if it's a luxury car. says one current deal is a three-year lease on a $44,000 Cadillac DeVille. Including discounts, leasing the sedan for three years would cost less than $20,000. By comparison, estimates that owning the car for three years would cost $28,674.

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Bigger isn't always better. After carpeting the country with supercenters, retailers are noticing that time-pressed Americans at times find the stores too large and inconvenient. Wal-Mart, for one, is responding by aggressively opening scaled-down versions of its supercenters, called Neighborhood Markets. Several other retailers are retrofitting existing stores to make them smaller and more intimate.

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As tuition and fees soar, college students increasingly are turning to private loans to finance their education. To find a good deal, Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine suggests asking your school for a list of lenders it recommends. Then ask your bank if it can make a better offer. Popular lenders Nellie Mae, Sallie Mae and the Education Resources Institute are offering private loans starting at 4.25 percent, Kiplinger's says in its April issue.

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Extended warranties on new cars often are better deals for the dealer than the customer. points out that most maintenance and repairs typically needed in a car's first seven years aren't covered by warranties. And, it says, those that are covered are subject to a deductible, and in some cases could be denied.

-- Compiled from Web sites and Times wires

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