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Happy Meals and other menu items that include toys may have to meet certain nutritional standards.

By Karen Datko Apr 7, 2011 9:22AM

If you entice kids to order a fast-food meal with a cute toy inside the bag, that meal has to be somewhat healthful. That sums up a proposed ordinance from New York City Council Deputy Majority Leader Leroy Comrie. Six other council members are already on board.


McDonald's could take this as yet another attack on its Happy Meal -- a favorite target of the Center for Science in the Public Interest -- but, just like a similar San Francisco law that will take effect Dec. 1, the ordinance would apply to any fast-food meal that includes a toy and thus is obviously marketed to children. In the New York version, those meals could not exceed 500 calories or 600 milligrams of sodium, among other restrictions. Think of it as a Happy Meal with apple slices, not the fries.


The furlough of government employees would cause some pain, particularly to those 800,000 who would have to go without a paycheck.

By Karen Datko Apr 6, 2011 5:54PM

Good news for retirees: If the federal government shuts down late Friday night, those who collect Social Security will continue to receive their checks (mail will be delivered) or direct deposits to their bank accounts. 


But what if you've just applied for benefits? They likely won't be processed immediately.


Here's what happened to Social Security the last time politicians pulled this stunt, way back in 1995, according to Ed O'Keefe at The Washington Post's Federal Eye blog:


Left unchecked, rising public debt could mean higher interest rates and a slower economy.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 6, 2011 2:47PM

This post comes from Meg Handley at partner site U.S. News & World Report.


 U.S. News & World Report on MSN MoneyAt more than $14 trillion, America's debt might seem abstract, a number so large it's difficult to conceptualize. But if left unchecked, that swiftly swelling figure has the potential to affect our daily lives in a big way, primarily in the forms of higher interest rates and ultimately, a slower economy.

And the numbers are only getting scarier. That $14 trillion tab is growing at a staggering pace of more than $58,000 per second. "It's truly huge -- we're talking 9%, 10% of GDP," says Richard DeKaser, deputy chief economist at The Parthenon Group, a Boston-based financial services firm. "We haven't seen anything like that in most people's lifetime. For most people, this is unprecedented."


When will the government's habit of maxing out its credit cards finally hit home?


The report predicts there will be 11.1 million people 65 and older still working by 2018, nearly twice the current number.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 6, 2011 12:40PM

This post comes from Seth Fiegerman at partner site MainStreet.


More Americans may be living longer, but as new census data shows, the lifestyles of the 65 and older set are anything but golden.


The median income of households in this age group was just $31,354 in 2009, according to the Census Bureau, which was 5.8% higher than the year before, but still nearly $20,000 short of the median income for U.S. households overall. What's more, 3.4 million seniors, or nearly a 10th of this age group, lived in poverty in 2009.


No shopping you'll ever undertake is more important than mortgage shopping. Here's how to do it right.

By Stacy Johnson Apr 6, 2011 11:26AM

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


Shopping for a house is fun. Shopping for a mortgage, not so much, but it warrants just as much of your attention.

If you wouldn't consider paying an extra $50,000 for a house, why would you accept a mortgage rate that's one percentage point higher and could cost $50,000 more over the life of the loan?


With the job market as tight as it is, it's amazing how little effort some people put into their job hunt.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 6, 2011 8:42AM

This post comes from Andrea Dickson at partner blog Wise Bread.


Jobs aren't exactly pouring out of every corner of the market right now. Whether you need a full-time job, a part-time bill payer, new clients for your business, or a second job, the market is tight even for the most qualified candidates. This means that in order to be considered for a job now -- more than ever -- you have to stand out from the crowd as a stellar candidate.


My company is in the process of hiring two new employees. I promote those jobs through my own social networks, and receive lots of inquiries and job applications in the process. I have to admit, even I have been astounded at just how little effort people are willing to make to get hired.


As the Repbulicans' budget proposals are unveiled, the question is: Are they trying to save Medicare or kill it?

By MSN Money Partner Apr 5, 2011 4:58PM

This post comes from Mark Miller at Prism Money, a blog at partner site Reuters.


Reuters on MSN MoneyRemember when Republicans were the protectors of Medicare?


Sure you do -- it was just last year. The GOP fought the health care reform law by scaring seniors with warnings about death panels and slashed Medicare benefits. Both claims were fantasies, but they worked at the polls last fall, when Democrats suffered big defections among senior voters.

But that was 2010. Today, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) offered up a plan to do for Medicare what the 401k has done for pensions. Ryan proposes to privatize Medicare and turn it into a defined contribution plan -- one with a lousy sponsor match.


Yes, they're going to get worse. Gas is expected to exceed $4 a gallon this summer.

By Stacy Johnson Apr 5, 2011 4:28PM

This post comes from Karla Bowsher at partner site Money Talks News.


As gas prices have increased, so have consumers' reactions.


For example:

  • A recent press release (.pdf file) from the National Conference on Weights and Measures (yes, it's a real organization) says more of us are complaining about the accuracy of gas pumps. "Often, consumers give little thought to the accuracy of measurements on a scale, through a gas pump, or on a package label. However, when prices increase, consumers pay greater attention."


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