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In the never-ending debate over buying vs. leasing cars, leasing still loses. Here's why buying is usually better, some exceptions, and my ideal solution.

By Stacy Johnson Feb 7, 2011 5:41PM

Car leasing remains a popular option for Americans, but for most people, it doesn't make much financial sense.


Consider a hypothetical car with a sticker price of $27,000. If you buy with $1,000 down, and finance it over three years at today's average rate (per of 5.7%, your payments will be about $780 per month. After three years, you'll have paid a total of about $29,350 and own a car that should be -- if it's depreciated by 50% -- still worth about $14,000. Net cost if you choose to sell: $15,350.

Compare that to the cost of a typical lease: Let's say you put the same $1,000 down, then lease it for the same three years. According to this calculator at, if your car has the same $14,000 residual value and the same interest rate (known as the "money factor" in lease lingo) you'll pay $567 per month. Three years later, your final cost will be $20,412 -- about $5,000 more -- and you'll be car shopping again.


What are his income prospects? Does she shop too much? This couple should look at the serious financial issues before they decide whether to reunite.

By Teresa Mears Feb 7, 2011 5:06PM

Perhaps you've been preoccupied lately with the Super Bowl and haven't yet focused on the most important question to be decided this Valentine's Day.

No, it isn't whether you should buy your sweetie flowers or chocolate. The burning question facing Americans this Valentine's Day is: Will Barbie and Ken get back together?


The will she or won't she take him back social media campaign was organized by Mattel to mark Ken's 50th birthday. (Instead of joining AARP, the ever-young Ken sports a Justin Bieber look.)


Ken is buying flowers and chocolate and even billboards declaring his love.


Get on Twitter and make sure you're following these five types of people who tweet about retirement.

By Money Staff Feb 7, 2011 3:21PM

This post comes from Emily Brandon at partner site U.S. News & World Report.


 U.S. News & World Report on MSN MoneyThe fastest growing group of Twitter users isn't 20-somethings -- it's 50-somethings. Some 11% of Internet users between ages 50 and 64 used Twitter in 2010, more than double the 5% who did in 2009, according to a Pew Research Center survey. And one of the major topics of conversation among 50- and early 60-somethings on Twitter is retirement.

Depending on who you follow, Twitter can help you keep up with the latest retirement research and ask the company that administers your 401k questions. The social networking website can also be a place to interact with financial advisers and advocate for better retirement benefits. Here's how to tweet your way to better retirement preparedness.


Are higher-cost dating websites worth the money? And how much do men and women actually spend on dating and for Valentine's Day?

By Karen Datko Feb 7, 2011 1:01PM

This post comes from April Dykman at partner blog Get Rich Slowly.


Have you ever noticed all of the song lyrics about love and money?

  • "No romance without finance …. "
  • "My love don't cost a thing …."
  • "Only boys who save their pennies make my rainy day …."
  • "Can't buy me love …."

Whether you side with Madonna or the Beatles on the issue of love and money, courtship can be costly.

When you imagine your ideal partner, you probably think of general characteristics you find desirable, not the financial implications of starting a new relationship. (So unromantic!) But there are usually a lot of dinners, movie tickets, gifts and flowers involved in the journey from single to happily committed.


To quantify the cost of love, let's look at the typical expenses associated with dating over a one-year period, along with lower-cost ways to woo your sweetheart.


Even with all those cheap, empty homes for sale, credit is very tight. Here's what it takes to get financing.

By Karen Datko Feb 7, 2011 10:50AM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.


At bargain prices these days, why aren't more people buying homes?


Is it because everyone is scared? For sure, plenty of people are watching the dropping home values and imploding mortgages, saying, "Buy a house? Heck no. I'm safe and happy being a renter, thank you."


And they're probably right. For them.


As we all know by this point, the decision to buy a home is a highly individual thing. For a big chunk of the population, renting makes more sense. The boom made everyone feel like a fool not to buy, regardless of whether you were employed, had savings, intended to stay in town, stay married or had the slightest interest in home maintenance.

Like Jonestown converts around the vat of Kool-Aid, we did what everyone else did.


So, the newly sane are sitting this one out. Good for them.


Still, that leaves what must be a fair number of people with stable jobs and savings, and who intend to stay put for five or 10 years. You need as little as 3.5% down for an FHA loan. Why aren't more of these people buying?


A new report finds that many for-profits make unaffordable loans to students to order to keep federal money flowing to the schools.

By Karen Datko Feb 4, 2011 4:49PM

This post comes from Truman Lewis at partner site


Many for-profit schools have begun making costly private student loans, knowing in many cases that more than half of those loans will never be repaid, a report (.pdf file) from the National Consumer Law Center finds.

Most of the schools started the institutional loan programs when third-party private student lenders began terminating their partnerships with for-profit schools following the credit crash.


The NCLC says the report shows the urgent need to regulate lending by for-profit schools and provide relief for vulnerable borrowers, many of whom attend for-profit schools that fail to deliver quality educations as promised.


Coupons this week will save on shopping, ice cream, bagels, BOGOs and brownie sundaes.

By Teresa Mears Feb 4, 2011 12:58PM

With the kind of weather we're having in much of the country, it's definitely a good weekend for indoor activities, such as visiting museums and shopping.


Bank of America has expanded its Museums On Us program. The promotion now gives you free admission to more than 150 museums nationwide with your Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card the first weekend of every month.

Macy's is offering an extra 20% off online and in stores through Sunday, Feb. 6, as part of the American Heart Association "Go Red for Women" day fighting heart disease in women. To get the deal in stores, you'll need to wear red or buy a pin for $2.


Dollar General has a coupon on its Facebook page for $5 off a $25 purchase good Saturday, Feb. 5, only.


I hear there is a big football game this weekend, which means deals on snacks and deals on 55-inch TVs.


She cannot get a bank account, and her application for a secured credit card was turned down.

By Karen Datko Feb 4, 2011 12:42PM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.


A reader recently left a comment about her credit score that I thought was worth sharing. Here's what she asked:

What can I do to build my credit if:
1. I cannot get a "real bank account" due to ChexSystems.
2. I got denied for Orchard Bank secured credit card.
3. I currently do now own any credit cards.
It seems impossible at this point to raise my credit score. I've tried numerous things, and I keep getting rejected. Is there anything I can do to raise my FICO score?


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