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A new survey indicates parents are already thinking about September supplies. Here's how to keep costs low.

By Donna_Freedman Jun 25, 2010 11:39AM

According to a new survey by PriceGrabber.com, 26% of parents will start their back-to-school shopping before June 30.

(Cue the groans of kids from all over the country. Back to school?!? We just got OUT of school!)

But there's a reason for parents to think about it now:

 

Replacing some things is expensive. Replacing others is complicated. Replacing an iPhone is both.

By Stacy Johnson Jun 25, 2010 10:44AM

This post comes from Stacy Johnson at partner site Money Talks News.

 

If you're participating in the hoopla surrounding the much-heralded release of the iPhone 4, here's something to contemplate while waiting in line: If your new iPhone gets lost or stolen, it's going to cost you up to $700 to replace it --  more than the price of many new home or laptop computers.

 

FICO calls them 'damage points,' and, boy, can they pull down your credit score.

By Karen Datko Jun 25, 2010 9:31AM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.

 

Have you ever wondered how paying a bill late would affect your credit score? Or how many points your score would lose in the event of a foreclosure or bankruptcy?

 

Because the exact details of how a FICO score is calculated are kept secret, there is a certain mystery that surrounds this three-digit number and how it can affect your ability to get credit and even the auto insurance premiums you pay.

Fortunately, FICO has shed a little light on just how such financial events affect your credit rating. FICO calls them "damage points," and, boy, can they pull down your credit score. The following chart from Fair Isaac reveals some of the most common damage points and their effect on credit scores:

 

Alerted to the problem, Gov. Schwarzenegger said he'll put a stop to it.

By Karen Datko Jun 24, 2010 5:54PM

Intrepid newspaper reporting in California -- the state with the $19 billion budget gap -- has found that state-issued welfare debit cards can withdraw cash from ATMs in half the casinos in the state.

State officials, who were clueless, are scrambling to block the cards' use on gaming floors. They're also trying to calculate how much cash was withdrawn from casino ATMs by welfare recipients. Likely not very much, but you know that, if it can be done, some people will do it.

 

The Los Angeles Times, which brought this to light, reported:

 

At 25% interest, a store card doesn't compute if you don't pay it off every month. A check card might be a better choice.

By Teresa Mears Jun 24, 2010 4:02PM

Target plans to give customers a 5% discount on all purchases starting this fall if they use a Target credit card or check card.

 

Call us underwhelmed. We like Target, but we'd have to get more than 5% back to apply for a store credit card. We'd look more seriously at the debit card if we shopped often at Target.

 

As store credit cards go, the Target card sounds better than many. You'll get your discount immediately, rather than be rewarded with coupons that require you to come in later and buy something else. But if you don't pay your bill on time every month, the card could cost you more in fees and interest than you save.

 

The flight is exempt from paying the new fine for excessive flight delays.

By Karen Datko Jun 24, 2010 1:05PM

This post comes from Mark Huffman at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

Passengers aboard a Virgin Atlantic flight from London sat on the tarmac for more than four hours Tuesday in sweltering heat after the plane was diverted from Newark, N.J., to a Connecticut airport.

A new federal law requires airlines to deplane passengers within three hours of landing or face a fine of $27,000 per passenger. But Virgin Atlantic will not pay the $8.1 million fine for its 300 passengers because the law applies only to domestic flights, not international ones.

 

But economic uncertainty is keeping many Americans from taking advantage of the best loan rates in their lifetimes.

By Teresa Mears Jun 24, 2010 12:07PM

Mortgage rates hit their lowest point in more than 54 years this week, with the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 4.69%.

 

The rate is the lowest since Freddie Mac started keeping records in 1971. The previous low in the agency's weekly mortgage market survey was 4.71% in December 2009.

For most Americans, 4.69% is the lowest rate they've seen in their lifetimes. To have purchased a house at a lower interest rate with a conventional 30-year mortgage, you'd have to be at least 75 years old.

 

The last time we saw lower rates was March 1956, according to National Bureau of Economic Research statistics, when rates were 4.68%. The bureau's earliest statistics are from 1949, when the rate was 4.35%.

 

Dish Network, DirecTV drop prices. What to consider before quitting cable.

By Karen Datko Jun 24, 2010 11:51AM

This Deal of the Day comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site SmartMoney.

 

Consumers looking to cut cable bills have an added incentive to cut the cable altogether.

 

Earlier this month, satellite providers Dish Network and DirecTV eliminated their fees for HD service, lowering prices by roughly $10. New Dish subscribers, for example, can get service for as little as $25 per month for the first year -- rising to about $40 a month for the second year -- including access to the company's more than 200 HD channels. (To get the deal, they must also agree to automatic bill pay and e-mailed statements.)

 

The aim behind the new promotions is simple: entice more customers away from cable competitors. "Satellite has always had a relatively good price point," says Schwark Satyavolu, co-founder and chief executive of comparison site BillShrink.com. The new price points sweeten the deal for consumers looking for HD content to watch on their screens.

 

While the price change may be enough to lure new subscribers, those debating cable versus satellite should consider five things before making the switch:

 

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