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More food pantries are helping financially struggling pet owners. Even Meals on Wheels sometimes delivers cat food.

By Teresa Mears Dec 31, 2010 1:32PM

The recession has brought heart-wrenching stories of pets abandoned in foreclosed homes or surrendered to shelters when their financially strapped owners could no longer keep them.


In recent years, organizations have sought to help people with financial challenges keep their pets.


The Meals on Wheels organizations that provide hot meals to elderly people have added deliveries of pet food in some areas.


"We discovered last year that many of our seniors share their meals with their pets, because they can't afford pet food," Allison Adams, care manager for Meals on Wheels in Spokane, Wash., told The Spokesman-Review. "Some people may not understand that a pet is that important to someone, but I wasn't surprised when we discovered our clients were sharing their own meals with their dogs and cats."


The mini-cupcake bakery is yet another example of creeping clutter. Time for a little post-holiday purging?

By Donna_Freedman Dec 31, 2010 10:23AM

I received a Bed Bath & Beyond gift card for Christmas. Yesterday I hit that store's post-holiday clearance sale with an eye toward buying birthday or Christmas gifts for the coming year.

I walked out with four presents that I didn't pay for and still a little credit on the gift card. That should have made me happy. But I just couldn't shake the image of the mini-cupcake bakery.

This tabletop device is, I swear, an Easy-Bake Oven for grown-ups. It looks something like a waffle iron and promises cupcakes in five minutes. Although I like cupcakes as much as the next person, I can't help wondering if we've all lost our minds.


Amazon now lets e-book buyers lend those books to friends, but there are restrictions.

By Karen Datko Dec 30, 2010 7:52PM

One of the major complaints about the Kindle -- Amazon's top-selling product of all time -- is that you can't loan the Amazon e-books you own to a friend.


Well, now you can -- with several restrictions (reaffirming the public library's status as the best place to borrow books).


Writers who took e-mail scammers for a ride tell some funny stories about con men and women who will promise anything for cash.

By Teresa Mears Dec 30, 2010 4:15PM

We all get those ridiculous spam e-mails from Nigerian princes who need our help (and our cash) to claim lottery prizes and inheritances or from "friends" stranded overseas who need money.


We know we're better off just hitting "delete." But the temptation to play along and try to scam the scammers does strike at times.


David Pogue of The New York Times' Pogue's Posts recently shared a hilarious exchange between James Veitch, a London playwright and director, and a scammer who called herself "Alexandra K." says New Year's Eve is the best day in December to buy a car.

By Stacy Johnson Dec 30, 2010 12:46PM

This post comes from Brandon Ballenger at partner site Money Talks News.


In this economy, a lot of people are putting off big purchases like cars because their budgets are just too tight. But as we mentioned earlier this week, some people can't put it off any longer.

If you're one of those people, here's some good news: One of the best times to buy is right now.


A Florida family's story shows how tense life can be in a crowded home near the edge of homelessness.

By Karen Datko Dec 30, 2010 8:58AM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.


Three generations of a struggling Florida family are jammed into a "recession-beaten," three-bedroom ranch house, prisoners of their inability to find stable jobs, in The New York Times' story of Holly Maggi, 26; her fiancé, James Wilson, 26; their 21-month-old daughter, Madison; and their "good-natured pit bull, Caley." The young family moved in with Holly's parents in February after they were evicted from their apartment.

It's an increasingly common tale these days. National Public Radio reports that the number of households with extended families -- including "boomerang" kids like Holly -- grew 11% in the last two years.


While you may have heard about the trend before, we don't often get to read in such vivid detail what it's like when economics force you to move in with family.


Words like 'bankster,' '99er,' 'microtarget' and 'gate rape' captured the state of affairs this year.

By Karen Datko Dec 29, 2010 8:56PM

"Austerity" -- meaning "enforced or extreme economy" -- is Merriam-Webster's word of the year (more on the selection process below). It's one of several notable words and phrases that describe our forced frugality and other aspects of the economy -- and are being honored this year.


You don't need to be a member of the blogerati (.pdf file) to enjoy the picks for the various word-of-the-year lists for 2010.


"Bankster," a New Oxford American Dictionary top 10 finalist for word of the year, is a "delicious blend of 'banker' and 'gangster' that has actually been around since the 1930s but for which we never had much use until now," Samantha Bennett wrote at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


Thieves took nearly $90,000 from a Minnesota man's HELOC account, and his credit union says it's up to him to pay it back.

By Teresa Mears Dec 29, 2010 5:09PM

Mike Calcutt was shocked to learn that nearly $90,000 had been spent from his home equity line of credit


He was more shocked when Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union said he would have to pay back the $88,593, even though he had reported the fraud as soon as he received his bank statement.

Calcutt, who lives in Minnesota, is among a growing number of victims of HELOC fraud, in which scammers either open home equity lines of credit in other people's names or withdraw money from existing accounts by impersonating the account owners.



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