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Parents are still saving, but some are struggling and some are using retirement accounts, not the best choice.

By Teresa Mears Oct 6, 2010 3:06PM

The good news is that families are saving more for college.

The bad news is that they may not be keeping those savings in the most appropriate types of accounts, according to a new Gallup survey commissioned by Sallie Mae, which provides student loans and college savings plans.


Almost one-fourth of all college savings is in retirement accounts, including 401ks and IRAs.


A Consumer Reports survey finds that credit card customers are still dissatisfied despite the Credit CARD Act.

By Karen Datko Oct 6, 2010 2:13PM

This post comes from partner site


With the provisions of the Credit CARD Act of 2009 now in full effect, a national survey shows a slightly lower level of dissatisfaction among consumers with their credit cards than last year.

However, Consumer Reports says credit cards remain one of the lowest-rated services it has ever analyzed, with only 45% of respondents saying they are completely or very satisfied with their cards.


Still in the red

The survey, conducted in July by the magazine's National Research Center, also shows that consumers are carrying less credit card debt, with median balances of $3,793 -- $1,100 lower than in 2009.


Million-dollar gifts are back, and this year's Christmas Book is available on your iPad. How about a $75,000 Camaro convertible or a $250,000 houseboat?

By Teresa Mears Oct 6, 2010 12:37PM

It appears that, recession or not, wretched excess is back -- if it ever went away.

After a one-year hiatus, this year's Neiman Marcus Christmas Book is back to advertising gifts for more than $1 million. I want the $1.5 million custom swimming pool artwork by glass artist Dale Chihuly. The pool is extra.


This year, for the first time, you can get the fantasy catalog on your iPad, which seems fitting. People who can afford these sorts of gifts certainly would have bought the iPad the moment it arrived, rather than waiting a few generations for the price to drop.


A wedding is probably the clearest example of something you could be making payments on long after the fun is over.

By Karen Datko Oct 6, 2010 10:16AM

This post comes from  Frank Curmudgeon at Bad Money Advice.


Last week WalletPop posted "10 dumb reasons to take out a loan." Oh, how I like list posts. Ideas homogenized into orderly little chunks. It's like blog dim sum. Or sushi. Or maybe Chicken McNuggets.

I am too much of a fussbudget not to point out that three of the listed items are not dumb reasons to borrow but dumb ways to borrow. Still, I think I can come up with 10 easy-to-digest responses. Here goes.


Some strategic and creative packing means you'll never have to pay a checked-bag fee.

By Karen Datko Oct 6, 2010 8:45AM

This post comes from Kentin Waits at partner blog Wise Bread.


The airlines are always finding new and novel ways to squeeze our wallets. An extra charge for checked baggage was only the beginning in what has fast become a textbook example of how to nickel-and-dime consumers. Blankets, pillows, headphones and -- believe it or not -- bathroom access are all potential profit centers now. Welcome to the great fleecing at 30,000 feet.

After my usual airfare comparison shopping, the one fee I feel I have some control over is the checked-baggage fee. After 9/11, for the sake of shear convenience and (relative) speed, I became a single-bag traveler. Now, regardless of the distance or duration of the trip, I pack strategically and fit every item I need into a well-designed and well-packed carry-on bag. If it won't fit in a reasonably sized carry-on, it stays behind.


Here are seven tips to become a single-bag traveler yourself:


The number of personal bankruptcies filed in the first nine months of 2010 was an 11% increase over last year.

By Karen Datko Oct 5, 2010 6:34PM

This post comes from Mark Huffman at partner site


The recession may be officially over, but for millions of Americans, 2010 is shaping up as a miserable year. For some, things just seem to be getting worse.

The evidence can be seen in the latest bankruptcy statistics. U.S. consumer bankruptcy filings totaled 1.16 million nationwide during the first nine months of 2010, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. That amounts to an 11% increase over total consumer filings for the same period a year ago.


Here are a few ideas and tools to keep the cold out of your home and the savings in your wallet.

By Stacy Johnson Oct 5, 2010 4:16PM

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


Last May, we gave you "13 cool tips for lower energy bills." Now that winter is approaching, many of the same tips apply to lowering your heating bill -- like cleaning your air filters and installing insulation. Here are some other quick tips and tools to help you prepare.

Use free online tools. Here's a Web-based tool from the U.S. Department of Energy that can help you save energy. You input your house's specifics and it produces ways you might save. Microsoft Hohm is another site that can help you map out an energy-saving strategy and compare your energy usage to that in similar homes in your area.


Workers and business owners expect to work longer because of the recession. That may not be bad.

By Teresa Mears Oct 5, 2010 3:25PM

Here comes another survey demonstrating the effect of the recession on workers: 40% are planning to retire later than they had planned just two years ago.


And the largest group of those who are delaying retirement are older workers and those in poor health, according to a new survey by Towers Watson, a company that manages employee benefits. This assumes, of course, they have a choice and aren't forced into retirement by layoffs or health problems.


Health insurance is a major issue for these workers. More than two-thirds of those planning to delay retirement said they wanted to keep their health care coverage. A total of 61% blamed a decline in the value of their 401k retirement savings.



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