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Spring -- can it get here soon enough? -- means a thorough home cleaning. Why not take care of some annual financial maintenance as well?

By Karen Datko Feb 1, 2011 9:38PM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering. It's part of Bargaineering's 2011 Spring Cleaning Week.

 

If you watched any television during the holidays, chances are you saw (and fast-forwarded through) a lot of jewelry commercials. I learned what every kiss begins with, where "he" went to, and how long a diamond is "for."

If you bought anything sparkly this winter, chances are you'll want to make sure it's protected in the event it's lost or stolen. That goes for any new golf clubs, televisions, or other big-ticket items you may have purchased. (If you had a "December to remember" -- well, that's covered by auto insurance.)

While jewelry is typically insured by a jewelry rider, almost everything else in your home is covered by your base insurance, and you'll want to update your home inventory to make sure you remember what you own.

 

The lawsuit also accuses the carrier of billing iPhone users for 'phantom data traffic.'

By Karen Datko Feb 1, 2011 7:27PM

This post comes from Jon Hood at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

Just three weeks after Verizonannounced that it will begin carrying the iPhone in February, AT&T has been dealt another blow: A lawsuit alleges that the carrier's bills "systematically overstate the amount of data used on each data transaction involving an iPhone or iPad account," and charge consumers for "phantom data traffic" that never existed in the first place.

The suit, filed in San Francisco, alleges that AT&T charges consumers for data transactions even if they disable their phones entirely. It compares the billing system to a "rigged gas pump charging you when you never even pulled your car into the station."

 

February promotion gives travelers a taste of airborne Wi-Fi in hopes they'll pay for additional service on future flights.

By Teresa Mears Feb 1, 2011 3:35PM

If you're flying in February on one of seven U.S. airlines with wireless in-flight access, you can update your Facebook status in the air for free.

 

But if you want to post updates on Twitter, read Smart Spending or go anywhere else on the Internet, you'll have to pay $4.95 to $12.95 per flight. The service also has monthly plans, and you can sometimes find promo codes online.

 

The free Facebook promotion is courtesy of Gogo Inflight Internet, which offered free in-flight wireless over the holidays on three airlines to promote its service, and Ford Motor Co. Fliers can take advantage of the promotion with any Wi-Fi-enabled device.

 

Forced to eat at home, consumers find they like it. The rise of celebrity chefs and recipe websites has fueled the trend.

By Teresa Mears Feb 1, 2011 1:58PM

We've finally found a silver lining to the recession: More people are cooking at home and enjoying it.

 

They even plan to keep it up when their financial situation improves.

 

While that isn't necessarily good news for the restaurant business, it is good news for consumers, most of whom can produce healthier and better meals at home than they can buy in a restaurant.

 

"People are becoming not only accustomed to eating at home, they're enjoying it," Darren Tristano, executive vice president of restaurant consulting firm Technomic, told Ellen Gibson of The Associated Press. "They can sit in front of their 50-inch flat-screens and not have to tip a waiter."

 

Food and beverages are essential to a Super Bowl party. Here's how you can honor your team's traditions without spending a lot.

By Karen Datko Feb 1, 2011 12:37PM

Two of the NFL's favorite teams are ready to face off in Super Bowl XLV. How can you celebrate your team appropriately -- honoring the best traditions of these franchises and football-crazed communities (and we mean that with great respect) -- without a helmet-to-helmet hit on your budget?

You can be frugal without going overboard (you know, like the kind of money Brett Keisel saves on shaving each year).

 

I've scoured the Web -- and my memories from growing up in southwestern Pennsylvania -- to bring you some recommendations for Super Bowl food and beverages that are both authentic and affordable. We also have advice if you're buying a new, huge TV for the game.

 

Resorts, all-inclusives and even tourism agencies are discounting in big ways.

By Karen Datko Feb 1, 2011 10:03AM

This Deal of the Daycomes fromKelli B. Grantat partner site SmartMoney.

 

A slow economic recovery means a weeklong trip to a warm-weather destination might not cost all that much more than, say, all the money you've paid the kid next door to dig out your driveway (again) after this winter's wave of snowstorms.

Experts say deals at resorts -- high-end hotels offering a variety of on-site amenities such as restaurants, shopping, entertainment and organized activities -- are on par with, if not better than, those offered during the recession.

 

Free use of debit cards is likely to join free checking as relics of 2010.

By Karen Datko Jan 31, 2011 4:42PM

Back in the day, banks used to charge you a fee whenever you used a debit card. Eventually, that privilege became free. And today debit cards have outstripped credit cards as the most popular form of plastic.

So wouldn't you know that banks are seriously considering charging a fee for debit card use again?

 

US Bank chief executive Richard Davis recently mentioned the possibility of some sort of debit card fee, The New York Times' Bucks blog reports. Davis also said that "debit is no longer a free product" and "there will no longer be rewards to speak of." (More on that below.) 

 

Why a fee? you might ask.

 

The marketing-savvy organization sees more profit in fewer varieties. Can't find cookies? Use the app.

By Teresa Mears Jan 31, 2011 2:19PM

No one is immune to the economy, not even the Girl Scouts.

 

The organization is discontinuing some of its less popular cookie flavors, choosing to cut costs by focusing on just six flavors in 12 test markets around the country.

Whew! Samoas (also known as Caramel deLites) are still being sold nationwide, as are Thin Mints, Do-Si-Dos, Trefoils, Lemon Chalet Cremes and Tagalongs (aka Peanut Butter Patties).

 

But Dulce de Leche, Thank U Berry Munch and All Abouts shortbread cookies are no longer on the menu for the regions participating in the Super Six pilot.

 

The Girl Scouts, which started selling cookies in 1917, have focused more on successful marketing techniques in recent years. The organization's latest move was to embrace the use of social media for cookie sales.

 

Like other merchants, the organization is looking for ways to cut costs in lean times.

 

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