Bundle tackles awkward money situations and suggests how to best respond.
Consider this scenario: Someone is making a coffee run and gathers orders from everyone else. You ask for tea and hand over your only available cash -- a $5 bill. When the Good Samaritan returns, he delivers your tea but has no change for you. "Oh, I just put what was left in the tip jar,” he says. Say what?
Perhaps it’s OK if you’d ordered a $4 latte, but you made the frugal choice of tea. What is the proper response/solution?
That’s one of the situations described at a regular feature of Bundle.com, an MSN Money partner that chronicles how and how much we spend. Here are examples of “more awkwardness, resolved gracefully” at “The Awkward Dollar” (and you’re encouraged to e-mail your questions to Bundle):
The public-TV show could teach kids to avoid adult money mistakes with just a few plot twists.
But what if we used a favorite kids TV show to educate children about financial mistakes within the context of recent events? One of our favorite PF humorists had that novel (tongue-in-cheek) idea for "Sesame Street."
“All we have to do is teach the next generation about money matters using the same tool that we use to teach them how to read and write,” says “rutgerskevin” of The Red Stapler Chronicles, who offers several twists to the normal plots of "Sesame Street." Each proposed episode cleverly incorporates one or more favorite topics of the PF world.
GAO investigation finds litany of abuses by companies that claim they can settle your debt for pennies on the dollar.
You’d have to be living on Mars not to have seen or heard the ads: Settle your debt for pennies on the dollar. Get out from under credit card bills you can’t pay.
It sounds too good to be true.
It is, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported last week, saying an investigation found rampant fraud, abuse and misrepresentation in debt settlement. In a report to a Senate committee, the GAO wrote:
While we determined that some companies gave consumers sound advice, most of those we contacted provided information that was deceptive, abusive, or, in some cases, fraudulent. Representatives of several companies claimed that their programs had unusually high success rates, made guarantees about the extent to which they could reduce our debts, or offered other information that we found to be fraudulent, deceptive, or otherwise questionable.
Lawsuit seeks compensation for consumers who were 'duped into buying virtual land and items under the false promise of ownership.'
A group of gamers has filed a class-action lawsuit against the creator of Second Life, accusing the company of taking away the plaintiffs' ownership rights to virtual “land” without just compensation.
The suit, filed in federal court in Pennsylvania, says Linden Labs repeatedly told potential Second Life players that the game would allow them to hold an indefinite ownership interest in virtual property.
Carriers offer more options, but savings may not add up.
As carrier competition for cell phone subscribers heats up, switching to prepaid service is the most obvious -- although not always the best -- cost-saving strategy for consumers looking to cut their bills.
Prepaid plans, which let users pay for service as needed without a contract, are attractive for their low costs (as little as $10 a month, compared with $40 for a contract plan) and flexibility to chase better deals. The slow economy has made them even more appealing. “No one wants to be stuck paying big bills [under contract],” says Schwark Satyavolu, the president of cell phone comparison site BillShrink.com.
New prepaid subscribers outnumbered those signing contracts for the first time ever in the fourth quarter of 2009, accounting for 65% of carriers’ 4.2 million new accounts, reports the New Millennium Research Council, a telecommunications think tank.
Maybe my financial discipline has become ingrained. Or am I fooling myself?
When I struggled with money during the 1990s, I had no clue what I was spending each month. I made my financial decisions based on my checkbook balance: If there were a few bucks left, I’d find ways to spend the money; if my balance was close to zero (as in $10 or $20), I’d turn to my credit cards. Where did this money go? If you’d have asked me, I wouldn’t have known.
As part of my financial turnaround, I learned to track my spending. In fact, this was one of the most effective tools in getting me to change my spending habits. Every week, I’d sit down at the computer to enter my receipts into Quicken. Once or twice a month, I’d play with the graphs and reports, keeping an eye on the problem spots. By tracking every penny that I earned and spent, I became more aware of my habits.
But something’s happened lately.
New study shows that a surprising number of tanning booth frequenters have tried to cut back but can't.
OK. I’m not addicted to tanning, but it seems that a surprising number of people are.
A new study featured in the Archives of Dermatology found that of 421 college students who were interviewed, 229 had used a tanning bed/booth -- on average, 23 times -- in the last year, and 31% to 39% of those students met criteria for addiction, depending on which addiction measure was used. Those students tanned on average 40 times in the last year, but some visited the salon 100 times.
Just in time for Earth Day: A garbage strike and a garbage-stuffed whale.
In other news: Union garbage haulers agreed to return to work after a two-day strike. There’s still no contract but at least the two sides are talking again. Or will be, come Monday.
I sure am glad those trucks are rolling once more. The apartment building’s Dumpster is right under my window.
As for the whale’s stomach contents, all I can say is it doesn’t surprise me. We humans are a trashy bunch.
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