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A reader poses that question. How would you respond?

By Karen Datko Jan 17, 2011 9:53AM

This post comes from J.D. Roth at partner blog Get Rich Slowly.


What happens when a great opportunity comes along, but you don't quite have the resources to take advantage of it? That's what Greg wants to know. He and his wife have found their dream house. They think they can buy the place -- but only if they're willing to take on some short-term debt in addition to the mortgage. Greg wants to know if this is a smart move.

Here's his story:

My wife and I are in our late 20s, no kids (yet), both safely employed and living very comfortably with a combined monthly income of around $5,000 after taxes. We currently have about $28,000 in student loans, and plan to pay them all off within the year. The original amount was $37,000 six months ago, so we've been making quick progress with them. One loan is in deferment while my wife is in school, another requires $80 a month for the payments, and the one we are aggressively paying off has no monthly payment due until 2014 because of our extra payments. Basically, we only need $80 a month to satisfy our loans for the next two years. We have no car payments, credit card debt, or anything other than the student loans.

Verizon picks up the iPhone but drops some generous customer discounts.

By Karen Datko Jan 14, 2011 2:17PM

This post comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site SmartMoney.


SmartMoney's exclusive story earlier this week detailing Verizon's decision to stop offering early upgrades and discount credits has led to several reader questions about the new policy. It's no surprise since before late Wednesday, Verizon wouldn't comment on the program.

SmartMoney senior consumer reporter Kelli B. Grant answers the most-asked reader questions below:


Fake product reviews are more common than you might think, and even big-name companies sometimes get caught using them.

By Stacy Johnson Jan 14, 2011 1:14PM

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


People often look at product reviews when deciding whether to make a purchase or choosing between brands. It's not that they necessarily care what a stranger thinks. Rather, a batch of reviews can offer an idea of common problems or complaints and sometimes suggest better alternatives.

The problem is fake reviews. Yes, there are people who actually spend time doing that.


Trade in old jeans for 25% off new ones, plus coupons for popcorn, pita, coffee and smoothies.

By Teresa Mears Jan 14, 2011 12:08PM

It's Friday, and we're here with new deals and freebies, both edible and inedible.


Admission to all national parks is free this weekend, Jan. 15-17. If you'd rather not visit a national park this time of year, you'll have more chances for free visits later in the year.


If you're looking for indoor family fun, Borders is having free game nights on Thursdays in January with board games for those 6 and older. Check to see if your local store is participating.


A frugal reader feeds two people on $30 a week. How does your weekly spending compare?

By Karen Datko Jan 14, 2011 11:26AM

This guest post comes from J. Money at Budgets are Sexy.


The other day I was mailing out one of the $50 Christmas stimulus gift cards that I was kind of slacking on, and I got a pretty interesting e-mail back from the winner. Get this: She said she could feed her husband and herself for almost TWO WEEKS on that much money! She only spends $30 a week on groceries. It almost blew my socks off.


And then it got me wondering how much everyone else spends on groceries each week? So I tweeted it out to Twitterland, and Facebooked it around. What I got back was an array of different numbers and lifestyles.


Of course there's a ton of different variables that come into play here -- number of family members, diet, location, if you include alcohol or toiletries or anything else you can pick up at grocery stores, eating out, etc. But I wasn't about to sort it all out in 140 characters or less.

So, take from this what you will, but all I know is that many of you have far out-frugaled the Mrs. and me.


The tab for a brief instant of inattention? More than $1,900 so far.

By Donna_Freedman Jan 14, 2011 11:02AM
Last May I broke my toe in a moment of carelessness, i.e., I was exercising while thinking about something else. (Really bad idea.)

I wrote about it in a post called "Inattention can cost you. Ask me how I know," describing the incident as "a slightly painful reminder to focus on what I'm doing while I'm doing it. Next time I might not be so lucky."

Guess what? I wasn't.  

Of course the winner will be Heinz, right?

By Karen Datko Jan 14, 2011 9:22AM

This guest post comes from Len Penzo at Len Penzo dot Com.


Ketchup is the most popular condiment in the United States, and if you ask 100 people what their favorite brand is, usually 99 will say Heinz. As for the other guy, he'll simply say he doesn't like ketchup, period. It's true.

Then there are the kids: I'm certain mine believe that if Heinz ever went out of business, then ketchup would become extinct.


There can be little doubt that the world definitely revolves around Heinz -- at least when it comes to ketchup.


All kinds of sensitive documents hit the mail after the first of the year, and identity thieves know this.

By Karen Datko Jan 13, 2011 6:22PM

This post comes from Mark Huffman at partner site


More than 11 million people become victims of identity theft each year. Often, experts say, that theft occurs at the beginning of the year -- in January.


While media attention focuses on cybercrime, consumers need to remember that identity thieves are still taking advantage of one of the oldest ways to hijack your identity: stealing from your mailbox.



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