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Fed's buy of Treasury bonds brings back low rates, and refinancing is up, but economic woes are keeping many out of the market.

By Teresa Mears Nov 11, 2010 2:35PM

You know how we told you to say goodbye to record low mortgage rates? Well, you can say hello again.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped to 4.17% this week, yet another new low for Freddie Mac records. Rates have dropped from 4.91% a year ago. They had started inching up again after hitting a low of 4.19% the week of Oct. 14, rising to 4.24% last week, but were driven back down by the Fed's plan to buy $600 billion in Treasury bonds.

 

The last time we saw rates this low was in 1951, when loan terms were shorter and rules were different, and many of us hadn't even been born. Freddie Mac started its Primary Mortgage Market Survey in April 1971, when the rate for a 30-year loan was 7.31%.

 

Some people take saving money to extremes, but you can live on a budget without pinching pennies until your fingers bleed.

By Karen Datko Nov 11, 2010 2:07PM

This guest post comes from Lindy at Minting Nickels.

 

This is Part 2 in a two-part series on my tendency to act like a toddler when it comes to being frugal. You can see Part 1 here, in case you missed it, as well as the Intro here.

 

Shortly after starting my financial journey (the one in which I realized saving is good, and debt is bad), I came across an article in our local Arizona Republic profiling a family crowned as "Arizona's Thriftiest Family."

 

The article mostly discussed their scrimping ways, some of which you may be familiar with: using the envelope cash method, popping around town to get the best deals, buying in bulk, being coupon-crazy.

But this family also had some hardcore habits. The mom was known to dig through trash cans at baseball games to collect soda cans. And if they ran out of money in the gas budget during the month, they didn't drive -- no exceptions. Their monthly "personal" budget for haircuts and entertainment was an amount we could easily blow through in one night.

 

To me, their life sounded Draconian. I sat there with eyes wide while reading. Did I too have to live like this in order to be "responsible"?

 

Add a new component to this year's already raging price wars: shipping deals. We predict you'll see more.

By Teresa Mears Nov 11, 2010 12:41PM

We're already seeing fierce price competition this holiday season. Now Wal-Mart has bought out the big gun: free shipping.

In a new twist on everyday low prices (and an attempt to revive flagging sales), Wal-Mart announced Thursday that it would offer free shipping on 60,000 items through Dec. 20, with no minimum purchase required. The company will even offer free shipping on returns.

 

"Everyone’s trying to figure out how we can serve a customer that's trying to save every penny they can," Steve Nave, Wal-Mart senior vice president and general manager, told The New York Times. "It's the most competitive offer out there, and we're pretty excited about it."

 

My bankruptcy was my one big do-over, and you don't often get another one.

By Karen Datko Nov 11, 2010 12:27PM

This guest post by Debt Kid comes from PTMoney.com.

 

Editor's note: Debt Kid found himself in serious debt after day-trading away more than a quarter-million dollars. He's been blogging since 2007 about his journey back to zero.

 

In 2007, after trying a debt-management plan, and selling most of my possessions on eBay, I hit my breaking point. I couldn't afford to keep servicing more than $250,000 in debt. I did something I never thought I would have to do: I filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Doh!

Fast-forward to today, and while it was not an easy process to go through, I learned some lessons from the whole ordeal.

 

It's silly to attach value to something just because it's been hanging around for a while.

By Karen Datko Nov 11, 2010 9:04AM

This guest post comes from Lauren at Richly Reasonable.

 

Last week I told y'all how I'm helping the folks purge their closets, drawers and cabinets of childhood "relics" that the sisters and I had left behind (either intentionally or unintentionally).

 

Apart from some interesting finds -- like my fifth-grade autobiography/political manifesto (because of which I am now likely on some sort of government watch list; crazy, crazy stuff) -- most of my discoveries have been, as expected, junk.

Some of the found items we could have never meant to leave behind, i.e., Hungry Hungry Hippos. Many of the things, however, we simply couldn't bring ourselves to throw away. But that didn't mean we wanted them in our houses either.

 

So why do we keep junk? Better yet, why do we buy it in the first place?

 

We are delusional.

 

Defaults by high-scoring borrowers spur lenders to look at a lot more of your personal financial data.

By Teresa Mears Nov 10, 2010 9:28PM

We've known for years that lending institutions paid great attention to our credit scores. But the fact that people with perfect credit are among those defaulting on mortgages has made lenders look for new ways to judge potential borrowers.

 

That could be good news or bad news for consumers, depending on how they handle their financial lives -- or how well their asssets are holding up.

 

Your paycheck is likely to shrink in January. The only question is by how much. And it's not just the temporary Bush tax cuts that are at stake.

By Money Staff Nov 10, 2010 7:45PM

This post comes from MSN Money's Liz Pulliam Weston.

 

Liz Pulliam WestonYou've probably heard that Congress will discuss extending the Bush-era tax cuts when it reconvenes next week. Even if lawmakers manage to settle that squabble before the end of the year -- which is not guaranteed -- they’re unlikely to extend another tax break that’s beefed up most workers' paychecks this year.

We're not talking small change, either. If lawmakers don't extend the Bush tax cuts for lower- and middle-income families, people will see a big jump in their tax bite next year, according to The Wall Street Journal. For example:

  • A household making $40,000 would see its paychecks shrink by $95 a month if it had no children, $135 if it had one child and $165 if it had two children.
  • A household making $80,000 would see its monthly paychecks shrink by $145 with no kids, $150 with one and $180 with two.
  • A household making $100,000 would clear $270 less per month with no kids, $300 less with one and $335 less with two.

Nice, huh? But there's another, less-talked-about tax break that’s been helping you out.

 

National parks are free for all, and active or former military members can get dinners, car washes and shopping discounts.

By Teresa Mears Nov 10, 2010 2:09PM

We wrote last week about deals for Veterans Day, but so many new deals have emerged that we've put together another roundup.

Remember that entry to national parks is free for everyone Nov. 11 in honor of Veterans Day, and some state parks and tourist attractions are offering free entry to either the public or veterans and military.

 

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