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Part of me says 'yes.' Part of me had to do it.

By Donna_Freedman Jan 31, 2011 8:55AM

Recently a friend contacted me in a panic. She needed $586 immediately or her vehicle would be repossessed.


When I called, she also said she needed something to get her family through until payday. Could I loan her as much as $800?

I hesitated for a moment. Then I stopped what I was doing, moved some money from one account to the other, and got myself over to Western Union (which thoughtfully tacked on a $44 wire fee).


Before you call me a sucker, hear me out. Then call me a sucker.

 

'What's your sign?' is more than just a cheesy pickup line -- it might be an insight into your driving record.

By Money Staff Jan 28, 2011 6:23PM

This guest post comes from Barbara Marquand at CarInsurance.com.

 

CarInsurance.com on MSN MoneyIn the wake of recent news that the zodiac calendar requires updating, Allstate Insurance has taken a look at who's most likely to get in an accident based on their signs.

 

Virgos, watch out! People born under the sign were almost seven times more likely to be in a car accident last year when compared with Scorpios, according to Allstate claims data.

 

Many are fine to use as guidance, as long as you understand the inherent limitations.

By Stacy Johnson Jan 28, 2011 5:11PM

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

 

Bankrate.com is a company that generates millions in revenue every year, so it's a good bet they've done the research to find out exactly what people want to see on their website.

And what occupies some of the most valuable (upper left corner) real estate on the Bankrate home page? Financial calculators. And not just a few -- 12 different categories of calculators.

 

This tells me that people who are interested in personal finance really like calculators. Who can blame them? Finding a quick yes or no to life's complex money questions is compelling stuff. But while one-minute solutions to all your financial dilemmas may sound attractive, in many cases the answers may not be as clear-cut.

 

Here are five reasons some financial calculators don't add up.

 

President Obama's top economist fields questions from MSN Money readers.

By Amey Stone Jan 28, 2011 3:56PM

On Thursday, MSN Money readers' questions about President Barack Obama's plans to strengthen the economy were answered by the administration's top economist, Austan Goolsbee, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.


Hundreds of questions had been submitted in the two days after Obama's State of the Union address, which focused on how to create jobs, spur innovation and create more efficiency in the federal government. I got to ask Goolsbee three reader questions during the 40-minute round-table discussion (see video below).

  • What are the president's plans for tax reform?

This question combines two from readers about tax reform. Matthew from Reading, PA, wrote: "Mr. Goolsbee, during the State of the Union speech, President Obama spoke of reforming our tax code to both simplify it and close loopholes. What kind of reform is he looking at and would he entertain a serious investigation of a flat tax arrangement?"

 

Free sausage, free Firecracker Chicken and free ice cream are among this week's food deals.

By Teresa Mears Jan 28, 2011 1:07PM

One way to save money while eating out is to go during happy hour, when many restaurants and bars offer special deals. If you like appetizers, you can make a meal from discount small plates.

 

P.F. Chang's has just introduced new happy hour deals, with drinks and small bites available for $6 or less from 3 to 6 p.m. every day. Beer starts at $3 and dumplings start at $3.25. Katy at Palm Beach on the Cheap has details.

 

Going out for lunch instead of dinner is another way to experience restaurant meals on the cheap. Chili's has a new lunch menu, with build your own lunch combos for $6 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

 

No deal beats free, and Dickey’s Barbecue Pit is offering free samples of its new spicy cheddar sausage from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today (Jan. 28), while supplies last.

 

Panda Express will give you a free order of Firecracker Chicken Breast on Feb. 3 with this coupon.

 

The sticker price of somebody's car can never be considered a reliable indicator of their financial success.

By Karen Datko Jan 28, 2011 12:32PM

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

 

Jennifer from Live Richly commented on a post I had written entitled "8 big reasons why you're getting an F in Personal Finance 101." She was lamenting the sense of entitlement she sees in many people. Here is an excerpt:

I know a woman who is a single mother and hit up her friends for money to replace the engine in her SUV. I declined to participate because even though I have a lot more money than her, I have a 9-year-old car that's worth maybe $2,000, and hers is worth about $30K. Her engine costs more than my whole car…. I will admit that peer pressure is real, though. I've had many people mock my car, and if I cared, I would run out and get a fancier one.

Ah, Jennifer. Let them mock you all they want because those people clearly have a misguided view of how the world really works.

 

Want to get fit? It doesn't have to cost much, or anything at all.

By Donna_Freedman Jan 28, 2011 10:01AM

Remember your New Year's resolution to get fit? I had one of those. It was slowed down by an early-January fall that led to a period of limited mobility. Sitting around for two weeks can really take the starch out of you.

Thus my new resolution is to rebuild stamina. I'm up to two-plus miles of walking a day, but my foot is still tender and a bit swollen. The eventual goal is to become stronger and more flexible and, yeah, to lose some weight.

On a budget, of course. So I started poking around online for tips.

 

A debt collector is dinging customers' credit over unpaid late fees, which many say they don't owe. Montana has sued, and Kansas calls the effort a 'possible scam.'

By Teresa Mears Jan 27, 2011 5:30PM

It's hard to believe that returning videos late could hurt your ability to get a mortgage. But former customers of two defunct video-rental companies are finding negative information on their credit reports because of unpaid late fees -- which many say they don't owe.

The number of complaints by former customers of Hollywood Video and Movie Gallery is large enough that at least two state attorneys general have gotten involved.

 

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