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The core problem is not that those charged with performing modifications are reluctant to do it.

By Karen Datko Sep 30, 2010 8:45AM

This guest post comes from Frank Curmudgeon at Bad Money Advice.


Last year I wrung several good posts from the Obama administration's doomed-from-go scheme to get banks to modify mortgages. It was good material for me. I got to mock both those few who were clueless enough to think it might work and the great many people who were too polite or too loyal to the White House to admit they understood that the program's outlook was grim.

After a while, I got bored of beating that particular dead horse. So many other things to mock.


But I realized recently I never really addressed the basic conceptual flaw in the Home Affordable Modification Program.


The days of finding a 2-year-old car for thousands less than new are gone -- at least for now.

By Karen Datko Sep 29, 2010 1:32PM

This Deal of the Daycomes fromKelli B. Grantat partner site SmartMoney.


After the engine blew on his 2004 Saturn, Tom Wright figured his next car would, obviously, be used. Given that new cars lose value faster than a 35-year-old utility infielder, why not buy a year-old Toyota RAV4 and save $5,000 right off the bat?

Then he started pricing cars around his hometown of Asheville, N.C. After cash back and a promotional financing offer, the 2010 model was only $1,000 more than the used cars he saw on the market. Sold! "Why buy someone else's problem," he says.


Many car buyers are encountering surprises, both good and bad, as market conditions have turned tried-and-true used-car-buying advice on its head. The tight economy has driven more consumers to used-car lots in search of savings; that increased demand has pushed prices up. The days of finding a 2-year-old car for thousands less than new are gone -- at least for now.


Florida 12-year-old created this year's flavor for the World's Largest Ice Cream Social, which benefits ill children.

By Teresa Mears Sep 29, 2010 12:25PM

Thursday, Sept. 30, is the World's Largest Ice Cream Social, when Cold Stone Creamery dishes up free ice cream to all comers.

The annual event will raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which fulfills wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses. (We're sure Karen would support the wish of 15-year-old Zach, who got to announce the Pittsburgh Steelers' first-round pick in the 2010 NFL draft.)


What Kate Rawley of Tampa, Fla., wished was to be the one who created the ice cream flavor for this year's social. She got her wish, and this year's flavor is called Kate's Creation. Kate, 12, has a congenital spinal cord condition that has meant five surgeries and numerous hospitalizations.


Everyone likes free stuff -- except maybe free malware, viruses, and other problems that can come from searching for free things online.

By Stacy Johnson Sep 29, 2010 11:05AM

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


The Internet is full of freebies, but many come with a high price: stolen personal information, viruses, junk software, plus your time and frustration when you don't get what was advertised.

In fact, just looking for something free online -- even if you don't download or sign up for anything -- puts you and your computer at risk.


Raised during the Great Depression, he adhered to principles that are popular again.

By Karen Datko Sep 29, 2010 10:25AM

This post comes from Kentin Waits at partner blog Wise Bread.


My dad was 12 years old when the first waves of the Great Depression spread across the country. A modest but thriving farm insulated his family from the worst of the effects, but this period still defined his approach to money management and influenced nearly every aspect of his lifestyle.

When I was a kid, I skipped most of the usual rebellious attitudes against thrift and simple living. I wasn't elated that we had a smaller house, that my dad and like-minded mom controlled all the finances with surgical precision, but I vaguely realized they had a goal and a focus that I might benefit from someday. At the risk of dating myself, I remember wanting a pair of parachute pants so badly and for so long that by the time I could finally buy a pair, wearing them would have seemed ironic.


Now, decades later, I look back at my childhood and see the simple, direct, conscious attitude that drove my parents' financial decisions large and small.


Chains aren't offering free drinks for National Coffee Day. Check local stores on Facebook and Twitter. Or just make your own.

By Teresa Mears Sep 29, 2010 2:13AM

The major chains have been duking it out, trying to become your top choice for coffee drinks, but where are they on National Coffee Day?

Starbucks and McDonald's are silent, offering not one single coffee deal that we could find for National Coffee Day today, Sept 29. Perhaps it's the rising costs. A few Dunkin' Donuts locations are offering free coffee (and even speed dating), but that's a local promotion. And that's after Dunkin' did a survey showing how much we depend on coffee to get us through the day.


So what is a coffee lover to do?


Celebrate National Coffee Day by visiting a local coffeehouse or making a great cup of java at home.


And yet, you should still get one.

By Karen Datko Sep 28, 2010 5:55PM

This guest post comes from Pop at Pop Economics.


"In a society of Einsteins, Einsteins take out the garbage, scrub floors, and wash dishes." That was a recent sentence written by George Mason economist Bryan Caplan.

He was talking about eugenics, but the quote got me to thinking about the college education and its recent role as a punching bag in the blogosphere and press. If everyone in America got a bachelor's degree, college grads would have to take out the garbage, scrub floors, and wash dishes. You can't outsource your janitorial staff to India.

How close are we to that? "Is a college degree worth the cost?" is a question that returns every time the fall semester starts. But this time around, the skepticism has gotten especially strong.


Do the math and figure out how long it will take for the panels to pay for themselves.

By Karen Datko Sep 28, 2010 2:46PM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


This summer on our trip to Lake Tahoe, we spent a night at the home of my father-in-law's childhood friend. They have a pool that is heated using a series of black tubes on top of their lattice patio cover. The tubes shade the patio from the sun, the sun heats the tubes, and the water inside the tubes goes into the pool to give it a nice bathwater temperature.

Thus the all-powerful sun is used to heat the pool in a most novel of ways -- to me, anyway. I'm sure plenty of pools are heated this way, especially in California.


It made me wonder about solar panels.



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