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Writer evaluates successes and failures of her two-year attempt to be gentler to the environment. But did she save any money?

By Teresa Mears Oct 25, 2010 11:36AM

We hear a lot about expensive houses that incorporate the latest "green" technology and people so dedicated to the environment that they will recycle 400,000 cans to pay for their wedding or will grow all their own food.

But how do the costs and benefits compute for your average busy homeowner living in a small house, with limited DIY skills? Do environmental moves such as reusing "gray water" and installing solar panels really pay off?

 

Susan Carpenter of the Los Angeles Times, who cares enough about the environment to spend thousands of dollars over two years retrofitting the small bungalow she shares with her 7-year-old son, decided to do the math, or at least some of it. The results weren't pretty.

 

'Minimalism' is not a synonym for 'frugality.'

By Donna_Freedman Oct 25, 2010 10:54AM

One of my earliest articles for MSN Money was called "Living 'poor' and loving it." In the essay I noted that there's real joy in knowing that you have everything you need and some of what you want.

But what if your goal is to have more than one of everything you need, and a whole bunch of what you want?

 

The Internet is humming over a Wall Street Journal article implying they did.

By Karen Datko Oct 25, 2010 9:39AM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.

 

You may have asked yourself: How real is the big foreclosure document flap? That very question is getting a passionate airing online in response to a Wall Street Journal article, "Niche lawyers spawned housing fracas."

 

The article gives quite a bit of weight to banks' contentions that at the heart of the problem is a lot of noise over technicalities.

Journal readers, bloggers and a legion of others around the Internet are jumping on the debate about whether the scandal is really a tempest in a teapot or evidence of banks playing fast and loose with the legal system. 

 

The list of most-ticketed vehicles includes just two American-made cars.

By Karen Datko Oct 25, 2010 8:34AM

This post comes from Fred Yager at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

You may not believe the concept of "you are what you drive," but the police who hand out traffic tickets apparently do. A new study found that certain makes and models of cars were ticketed more than others -- and some of the results might surprise you.

It's no shock that the survey found that younger drivers in flashy sport utility vehicles or sports cars attracted their share of tickets. But would you be astonished to learn the car that attracted the most tickets was a $100,000 Mercedes SL convertible?

 

Imagine a stranger serving you foreclosure papers as you stand in your front yard -- even though you've never missed a payment.

By Stacy Johnson Oct 22, 2010 2:42PM

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

 

According to RealtyTrac, about one in every four home sales in the second quarter this year was a foreclosure.

 

In former bubble markets like Florida, Nevada, and parts of California and Arizona, the numbers are even higher: 56% of home sales in Nevada were foreclosures. RealtyTrac also reports that the sale price of a foreclosed home is about 26% below the average home's market price, thus depressing the price of all homes in the market.

But while foreclosures have a negative impact on those losing their houses and those living nearby, not everyone is a loser in the foreclosure process. Some of the firms that produce and process the paperwork necessary to kick a homeowner out are making money -- a ton of it. 

 

Some are more difficult to overcome than others, but first things first: Take the initiative to look into it.

By Karen Datko Oct 22, 2010 2:04PM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.

 

With mortgage rates at historic lows, refinancing your home loan can be a really easy way to save a bundle of money. Unfortunately, there are a number of obstacles that can prevent many homeowners from refinancing.

We put together a list of seven of the most common problems, along with some suggestions on how to overcome them:

 

Dress like a 'horrifying processed food product' to get $2 burritos, or dine in Halloween garb and score free appetizers.

By Teresa Mears Oct 22, 2010 11:50AM

If you want to get food deals next week, you're going to have to dress up -- in Halloween costumes.

Chipotle Mexican Grill has teamed up with TV chef Jamie Oliver to promote Chipotle's natural ingredients. If you dress up like "a horrifying processed food product," you can get a burrito, bowl, salad or order of tacos for $2. Proceeds go to Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. You can watch a video on the Chipotle site. Don't let Target see your homemade Halloween costume.

 

T.G.I. Friday's is offering a free appetizer (fried mozzarella, pot stickers or crispy green beans) to customers who come in costume Oct. 29-30. On Oct. 31, kids in costume eat free, with a limit of one free meal from the kids' menu for each adult entrée purchased.

 

Kids 12 and under can get a free Scary Face pancake on Oct. 29 at IHOP, no costume required.

 

Is the official estimate for real? Some parents say it's not.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 22, 2010 10:47AM
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced that it costs about $222,360 to raise a child in this country.


Miranda Marquit, a staff writer at Moolanomy, doesn't believe that. She ran some numbers of her own for a post called "Does my son really cost me $26,000 a year?" Marquit figures it's costing less than $15,000 per year to raise her little guy.

Maybe a lot less.

 

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