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New report details how large banks finance the payday loan industry.

By Karen Datko Sep 17, 2010 2:40PM

This post comes from James R. Hood at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

The weak economy is making it harder for big banks to lend money, and that's driving cash-poor consumers into the arms of unscrupulous payday lenders, right?

Well, not quite, says a report that finds big banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America are only too eager to lend billions of dollars to some industries like, oh, the payday lenders.

 

"While small businesses and individuals have struggled to get affordable loans in the wake of the taxpayer bailouts, payday lenders have received new and amended credit agreements from Wall Street," says the report.

 

Great American Dine Out includes coupons; plus deals for free museum admission and BOGO smoothies.

By Teresa Mears Sep 17, 2010 1:35PM

Next week is the Great American Dine Out, a restaurant fundraiser to help fight childhood hunger in America. As part of the promotion, which is Sept. 19-25, restaurants nationwide are offering discounts, coupons or other incentives to encourage donations to Share Our Strength.

 

Among this year's participants are Joe's Crabshack, Corner Bakery Cafe, McAlister's Deli, Boston Market, T.G.I. Friday's, Buffalo Wild Wings, Taco Bueno, The Palm Restaurants, Legal Seafoods, P.F. Chang's and First Watch. You can search for participating restaurants in your area here.

If you have a great idea to combat childhood hunger or contribute to your community in another way, you might be able to get $100,000 from Ikea for a sabbatical to turn your plan into action.

 

If you don't use your credit card number while shopping online, no one can steal it. That's the idea behind virtual credit cards.

By Stacy Johnson Sep 17, 2010 1:11PM

This post comes from Brandon Ballenger at partner site Money Talks News.

 

The best way to protect your credit card number online might be to use a fake one.

 

Well, it's not actually fake -- it's "virtual." Yes, it's legal. It's also smart, and may be free depending on your bank.

Virtual credit cards have been around for a while now, and the idea is simple. You can use the financial backing of your real credit card -- or debit card, or checking account -- to make all the purchases you normally would on a computer, but without using the card itself. Instead, you use an alternate, virtual credit card number, which is linked to your real one, but protected by computer encryption and other state-of-the-art security measures.

 

What can this 'luxury snack' teach us about hype and value?

By Karen Datko Sep 17, 2010 9:38AM

This guest post comes from Len Penzo at Len Penzo dot Com.

 

Last week, Britain's Daily Mail reported that celebrity chef Martin Blunos had created a very unique sandwich with a menu price of £110. For those of you here in America, based on current exchange rates, that comes out to approximately $168.80.

According to Blunos, who happens to be a Michelin-starred chef, "We Brits are known to love our cheese sandwiches, and here's one that not only comes with a royal price tag but is fit for the banqueting table."

 

I know what you're thinking. Did he really say cheese sandwich?

 

I don't know about you, but if I'm going to pay $168.80 for lunch -- not counting my beer, plus tax and tip -- I want something a bit more substantial than a cheese sandwich. In fact, I would demand that my sandwich be loaded up with a couple pounds of thinly sliced Kobe beef. I'd also want a bag of chips and a lobster tail on the side with drawn butter.

 

And a pickle spear.

 

Should McDonald's share the blame for obesity and bad heart health, or are individuals solely at fault?

By Karen Datko Sep 16, 2010 7:18PM

When public health advocates want to take aim at unhealthy fast food, McDonald's has become the target of choice. McDonald's is to fast food what Wal-Mart is to a retail industry that pays rotten wages and offers negligible benefits.

 

It's far from being the only offender, but it's the one that's singled out as a purveyor of too many unhealthful, fattening foods and not enough nutritious choices.

 

The latest group to take on Mickey D's is the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which is airing TV ads showing a pudgy dead guy on a gurney -- the victim of a heart attack, no doubt -- gripping a partially eaten burger.

 

You can give to others even when you're broke. Here's how.

By Karen Datko Sep 16, 2010 4:30PM

This post comes from Trent Hamm at partner blog The Simple Dollar.

 

For some people, charity and philanthropy can seem like stretching an already-tight budget even further. "If I donated $100 to the soup kitchen, I'd have to start using the soup kitchen," the thinking goes.

Money can be a very tight resource, but it's far from the only resource you have. We all have many things we can share with others. It only takes a moment of thought or effort to make a real difference in someone else's life.

 

Here are 20 things you can donate to make the world a better place without blowing up your budget. Even better, many of these ideas will help you clean out your closets and de-clutter your home a bit.

 

Customers spend more on wine at restaurants offering computerized wine advice.

By Teresa Mears Sep 16, 2010 2:55PM

You sit down to dinner at a nice restaurant, and the server hands you your menu. Instead of a book-like wine list, you're instead handed an iPad -- with an interactive wine list.

The new iPad tablets are being used for wine lists at a handful of high-end restaurants, The New York Times reports, allowing customers to search for wines by type and read ratings by wine experts.

 

Much to the dismay of sommeliers who have spent their lives learning about wine, customers not only like the iPad wine lists, they find them more trustworthy. Though no one has done a scientific survey, restaurants using the iPad wine lists are seeing their customers spend more on wine.

 

How the Obama administration's new consumer protection adviser will help consumers.

By Money Staff Sep 16, 2010 2:53PM

This post comes from Kimberly Palmer at partner site US News.

 

Soon after word got out that the White House appointed Elizabeth Warren to serve as special adviser and help set up the new consumer protection bureau, Twitter and Facebook erupted with shouts of excitement from personal finance and consumer experts: "Yahoo!" exclaimed Beth Kobliner, author of "Get a Financial Life." "Elizabeth Warren's appointment is a huge victory for consumers!"

Warren, a Harvard law professor who has headed the Congressional Oversight Panel, is celebrated as a force of good in the consumer world. Before taking on public roles, she was best known for her book, "The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents are Going Broke," which explains why so many middle-class Americans feel so squeezed. She's also not afraid to stand up for "the little people." Last year, her congressional oversight panel criticized the Treasury Department for not doing more to help struggling families and called for greater transparency in the use of the bailout funds.

 

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