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I have a better chance of being hired as a cabana boy for Lady Gaga than I do changing some of these behaviors.

By Karen Datko Nov 12, 2010 9:02AM

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


I hate it when I see people waste food.


I'm not sure why, but I've always been that way. Somebody who believes in reincarnation once told me that I probably starved to death in a past life. OK.

Another pet peeve of mine is carelessly wasting money in ways that can be easily prevented. Although I haven't shared that little characteristic of mine with the reincarnationist, I wonder what she'd say. Then again, on second thought, I don't really care.


While I am very diligent about not wasting food, I still have a lot of work to do when it gets down to plugging all of my money leaks.


I recently did a quick audit to see where some of my biggest leaks reside and then evaluated my odds of repairing them. When you're done checking them out, let me know if: 1) you suffer from some of the same money leaks that I do; and 2) if you have a few others plaguing you that I didn't list. Thanks.


Overpaying for our satellite television service:

  • My (lame) excuse: Although I watch the same 25 channels 99.5376% of the time, one day I may want to watch something on one of the other 1,746 channels I'm paying for.

New study shows that 40% of kids ages 2-11 ask their parents to go to McDonald's at least once a week and 15% of preschoolers ask to go every day.

By Karen Datko Nov 11, 2010 5:59PM

This post comes from Sara Huffman at


As debate heats up about whether a McDonald's Happy Meal should include a toy or not, a new study out of Yale's Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity about kids and fast food produced some remarkable results.

The new evaluation, the most comprehensive study of fast-food nutrition and marketing ever conducted, shows that fast-food marketers target children across a variety of media and in restaurants.


And they're not marketing the healthy foods on the menu.

In addition, the study finds that restaurants provide largely unhealthy defaults for the side dishes and drinks that come with kids' meals.


The retailer is luring shoppers out at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving with some hot deals.

By Money Staff Nov 11, 2010 4:38PM

This post comes from Melinda Fulmer of MSN Money.


Toys R Us wants to be parents’ first shopping stop after turkey dinner. The toy retailer’s leaked ad promises lots of hot deals starting Thanksgiving night.

The toy retailer appears poised to take on rival discounters Target and Wal-Mart with some rich doorbuster prices between 10 p.m. Thursday and 1 p.m. Friday, as well as some nice bonuses, like a free box of 64-count Crayola crayons and coloring book with any purchase.


For example, while Target is offering an 8GB iPod Touch for $225 with $30 Target gift card, Toys R Us is offering the same product for $229 with a $50 gift card. For some parents that might be a Black Friday game-changer.


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


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.



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