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Free Showtime, BOGO Italian meals, $1 'chowda' plus more dining coupons.

By Teresa Mears Jan 7, 2011 12:36PM

If you're looking for something to do over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, consider visiting a national park.

 

The National Park Service is offering free admission Jan. 15-17 at the 100 national parks that charge an entrance fee. (Many national parks are always free.)

 

If this is the wrong time of year to visit a national park, put the rest of this year's free days on your calendar: April 16-24, National Park Week;  June 21, the first day of summer; Sept. 24, Public Lands Day; and Nov. 11-13, Veterans Day weekend.

 

The weather is too bad for outdoor activities? Customers who have cable TV can watch Showtime free this weekend, Jan. 7-10.

 

Fannie Mae unveils an interesting approach to consumer education, an interactive 'learning simulation' meant to help defaulting homeowners.

By Karen Datko Jan 7, 2011 11:04AM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.

 

Are you ready for Foreclosure: The Video Game?

 

Well, ready or not, government-owned Fannie Mae has unveiled WaysHome, a free, online interactive game/movie and "learning tool."

The game, tool, or whatever it is, is composed of several films about three families in a neighborhood:

  • There's Jackie, a single mom with two kids, who is struggling to make her house payments.
  • A neighbor, Richard, is late on his mortgage and he's thinking about walking away from his home.
  • Miguel and his wife, Gabi, are underwater on their mortgage. They've refinanced two or three times and they owe more on the loan than the home is worth. Should they refinance?
 

Need to slash your budget? Fire your housecleaner and pick up a broom. This won't take long.

By Donna_Freedman Jan 7, 2011 10:00AM

The topic of my most recent Living With Less column was eight quick ways to slash your bills. It showed how 20-minute blocks of time can save you hundreds of bucks -- things like energy-use fixes, haggling for lower prices, and negotiating better deals for cable TV or your credit card.

Space constraints meant I had to hold the line at eight quick ways. Here's another one:

 

You may not notice you're getting less because the packages may stay the same size. Oh, and the price isn't going down.

By Teresa Mears Jan 6, 2011 4:41PM

Do the things you buy seem not to last as long as they used to?

 

It's not that you're eating more ice cream (at least we hope you're not). It's that the packages keep getting smaller.

 

The incredible shrinking product trend that started several years ago is still going strong, Consumer Reports writes in its February issue.

 

Plaintiffs say devices use permanent ID numbers to access confidential information.

By Karen Datko Jan 6, 2011 3:29PM

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

 

Apple is facing two class-action lawsuits alleging that its iPhone and iPad tablet transmit private user information to advertising networks, without first obtaining permission from affected consumers.

The suits, both filed in California, contend that iPhones and iPads use so-called unique device identifiers or UDIDs to transmit consumer data to advertisers. UDIDs are 40-digit strings used to identify particular devices. Unlike cookies, UDIDs cannot be deleted or modified by users.

 

The company that owns Cash4Gold is now in the gift card resale biz. How it stacks up against the competition.

By Karen Datko Jan 6, 2011 2:45PM

This Deal of the Day comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site SmartMoney.

 

Last year, roughly $8 billion worth of gift cards went unused by those who received them. Last weekend, during the televised college football marathon, fans were pitched an alternative: Send in your unwanted cards, and get spend-anywhere cash in return.

But the offer from gift card reseller CardWoo was unusual in the growing secondary marketplace for such cards.

 

But they won't be much of a deal. Charging $4.95 to send $25 may not lure many customers.

By Teresa Mears Jan 6, 2011 1:16PM

In an effort to drum up business, the U.S. Postal Service has decided to sell gift cards.

 

Stamp us underwhelmed.

The cards will be the type known as "open loop," issued by Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express, usable anywhere credit cards are accepted.

 

They sound great, don't they? What an easy gift.

 

But those easy gifts come with hefty fees. The post office plans to charge $4.95 for gift cards with a set rate of $25 and $50 and $5.95 for cards in variable amounts ranging from $26 to $100. There is no word yet on whether the cards will have an expiration date or carry any additional fees.

 

Our son is starting to understand that money represents time and effort.

By Karen Datko Jan 6, 2011 12:44PM

This post comes from Trent Hamm at partner blog The Simple Dollar.

 

For us, 2010 was a year of learning both for the parents and children in our household about what allowance means, how it works, and what kinds of money lessons our children are learning.

Let's roll back the clock to November 2009, when our children each received piggy banks and the allowance adventure got under way.

 

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