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More retailers join Wal-Mart in providing check cashing and other financial services for people without bank accounts.

By Teresa Mears Feb 3, 2011 2:43PM

Perhaps inspired by the success of Wal-Mart, more retailers are offering financial services such as check cashing to their customers, seeking to earn the business of the "unbanked."

About 8% of U.S. households don't have bank accounts and another 18% are considered "underbanked." All kinds of establishments are willing to cash their checks or sell them prepaid cards, usually with hefty fees.


Now traditional retailers are entering this niche.


The sexiest way to save on Valentine's Day? Do the seemingly impossible: Spend less and get more.

By Stacy Johnson Feb 3, 2011 1:59PM
This post comes from Michael Koretzky at partner site Money Talks News.
Being romantic and being frugal don't have to be mutually exclusive. Whether it's flowers, dinner or jewelry, there are simple tips to impress your Valentine as well as your savings account.
As with any gift-giving time of the year, the way you create memories on the cheap is to use your mind before you spend your money.

Good news for those coveting a new TV for the Super Bowl: The price of really big screens, including those with 3-D, has come way down.

By Karen Datko Feb 3, 2011 1:05PM

This guest post comes from Louis Ramirez at


Big screens require a big budget. Or so we used to think.


Recent data we've collected from dealnews' exclusive databases show that in the past 12 months, the price of name-brand 55-inch LCDs has fallen significantly.

This is especially so for top-of-the-line models with built-in 3-D; they have plummeted in price by a whopping 50%. So while $2,970 for a 55-inch 3-D TV was a great deal in February 2010, $1,499 for a similar 3-D TV in January 2011 is even better.


A burrito you make at home can cost less, plus you know what's inside. Here's how to incorporate homemade 'fast food' into your busy life.

By Karen Datko Feb 3, 2011 11:03AM

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


Recently, fast-food chain Taco Bell was sued for calling one of its fillings "seasoned ground beef." The lawsuit alleges it contains too little meat to fit that definition and should be identified as "taco meat filling" instead.

The law firm also claims that the filling is only about 36% beef, less than the 40% needed to meet even that definition.


Taco Bell's own ingredients list includes water, isolated oat product, wheat oats, maltodrextrin, soy lecithin, anti-dusting agent, autolyzed yeast extract, modified corn starch, sodium phosphate and silicon dioxide.


Silicon dioxide?


Here's the thing: The lawsuit itself isn't really all that important.


More people have learned that premium gas has no benefit for cars that don't require it. But even when it's recommended, you still may not need it.

By Stacy Johnson Feb 2, 2011 7:02PM

These days, many people at the pump are passing on premium gas. The reason is obvious: Any kind of gas costs a premium these days. So if you don't need premium, why use it?


While car lovers can debate the merits of using premium, one thing's for sure: Cars that are designed for regular fuel get no benefit from using premium. Using it may not hurt anything -- other than your wallet -- but only specially designed engines can take advantage of premium fuel.


New census report shows that 2.7% of homes normally occupied by owners are vacant, and the rate of homeownership continues to fall.

By Teresa Mears Feb 2, 2011 5:39PM

More U.S. homes are sitting empty and waiting for sale, according to a new report by the U.S. Census Bureau, and the rate of homeownership is continuing to drop.

In the last quarter of 2010, 2.7% of U.S. homes normally occupied by owners were vacant, up from 2.5% the previous quarter. The vacancy rate hit a record high of 2.9% in the first and fourth quarters of 2008. A "normal rate" is about 1.7%, Bill McBride at Calculated Risk Finance & Economics wrote. He has charts showing historical trends, indicating that the vacancy rate has hovered between 2.5% and 2.7% the last two years.


As the Blizzard of 2011 makes you a prisoner in your home, try these tips for saving money, reducing energy use and preserving your sanity.

By Karen Datko Feb 2, 2011 5:05PM

This guest post comes from Lou Carlozo, Green Dad columnist at


As I write this from my blustery blizzard perch in Chicago, the scene is something right out of Snowmageddon. They've closed Lake Shore Drive, and abandoned cars are piling up all over the city's snow-choked arteries. They're talking 20-foot waves on Lake Michigan, and every few minutes the swirling whirlwind is punctuated by thunder -- yes, thunder -- and police sirens.

About the only thing piling up faster than the snow outside my house is the angst inside it.


My son is whining because he accidentally deleted his driver's license from his Nintendo Wii racing game. My daughter is whining even louder because she'd rather watch "101 Dalmatians" for the 102nd time. It's a race to the corkscrew between my wife and I to see who gets to the Merlot bottle first ... which ends in …


No vino, no whine: Now I know the errand I forgot to run before the Blizz hit the fan.


Not to worry. With a record-setting storm rocking the Windy City and much of the nation, I have just the ticket for that triple whammy of snowdrifts, closed schools and cabin fever.


Super Bowl Sunday is one of the top days for pizza delivery. You can take advantage of deals or make your own pies.

By Teresa Mears Feb 2, 2011 2:54PM

Are you planning to order pizza for Super Bowl Sunday? You're not alone.


Super Bowl Sunday is one of the five top pizza-ordering days of the year, and some pizza chains say it's their busiest day.

"Pizza is a party food. It's a communal food. It's meant to be shared. It's inexpensive and everyone likes it," Jeremy White of Pizza Today told The Associated Press.


Here are a few numbers:

  • Papa John's expects to travel 300,000 miles, the equivalent of 1.3 round trips to the moon, for deliveries.


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