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Social network games are big money, and name-brand products are joining the quest to make real dollars from virtual goods.

By Teresa Mears Sep 10, 2010 7:34PM

Do you ever feel as if you're the only person in the world not playing Farmville? We probably should pretend an elitist disdain, but really, the lonely black sheep is SO cute, and I always did like playing with paper dolls.

 

The truth is that virtual reality games are big business, such big business that major companies are joining up.

 

Volvo just started working with MyTown, an iPhone game that sounds like a cross between Monopoly and Foursquare. MTV is on MallWorld, a Facebook shopping game (which sounds a lot like paper dolls for adults).

 

You know that generic products are cheaper than name-brand ones, but are you clinging to the belief they're also inferior?

By Stacy Johnson Sep 10, 2010 4:00PM

This post comes from Stacy Johnson at partner site Money Talks News.

 

Save just $5 a day for 30 years, earn 10% on it, and you'll end up with a nest egg of $342,000. Would that make a difference in your life? (By the way, if you're wondering how the heck you can make 10% on your savings, you can't -- at least without risk. It is possible, however: See my stock portfolio.)

The tricky part is saving that $5 without sacrificing your quality of life. And one of many ways of doing that is to pay for name brands only when name brands make a difference. Sound obvious? Take a quick stroll around any grocery store and you'll see that it must not be at all obvious, because the shelves are stuffed with products that cost extra -- sometimes a whole lot extra -- in exchange for nothing more than a name.

 

Among the clues: Are you afraid to open your credit card bill or look at your receipts? How often do you overdraw your account?

By Karen Datko Sep 10, 2010 2:47PM

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

 

I recently got an e-mail from BillShrink.com identifying 20 signs that you need a financial makeover, and I can't help but pass it along.There's something about it that just says, "Hey you! Stop what you're doing and pay attention! Your money needs you!"

Some of them are pretty lame, but the majority of them are right on the money and should definitely get you to think. (I had to take a few seconds to research at least three of them to see if I needed a makeover or not.) 

 

Here are all 20 signs. Billshrink's words are in bold, and my comments are in plain. How many do you need to correct?

 

National Milkshake Month and National Grandparents Day also mean free food.

By Teresa Mears Sep 10, 2010 11:46AM

New season, new school year -- is it time to try out a new warehouse club?

 

BJ's Wholesale Club hopes your answer is yes. The store is offering free 60-day trial memberships through Dec. 31.

 

Jennifer Maciejewski at Cities on the Cheap likes BJ's because the store lets you stack manufacturers' and store coupons, unlike some other warehouse clubs. Here's your chance to see if that means more savings.

 

You've got several opportunities for free desserts this week. Bravo's new TV show, "Top Chef Just Desserts," is celebrating its premiere with a free dessert Sept. 15 for diners who reserve through Open Table and order two entrees. The deal is good in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

 

The silly season is looming, but there's still time to achieve a cash-only Christmas.

By Donna_Freedman Sep 10, 2010 11:30AM
Here's a scary thought: Only 106 more shopping days until Christmas.

Some people are already finished, having stocked up at post-holiday sales last December. Others are happily turning out picture frames, socks or jewelry for a handmade holiday.

But what if you're neither organized nor particularly crafty, and broke to boot?  

Most lawyers don't make enough to justify the cost of law school.

By Karen Datko Sep 10, 2010 10:26AM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.

 

Guess what a first-year lawyer right out of law school makes at a major law firm. For major firms outside of New York City, the starting salary is $145,000, plus a bonus that can add $20,000 to the total package. For major firms in NYC, starting salary can hit $160,000 or more, with bonuses as high as $40,000. Welcome to the world of big law (salary source: FindLaw).

 

But here's the kicker: The high salaries may not be worth the cost of law school.

I was one of those crazy kids who actually knew what he wanted to do by the eighth grade. Having sat through a criminal trial with a friend of mine whose dad was a cop, I knew then I wanted to be a trial lawyer.

 

What is it that separates the financially free from the financially inept?

By Karen Datko Sep 10, 2010 9:33AM

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

 

The other day a friend and I were discussing why some people manage to live their lives in complete control of their finances, while others are constantly in debt up to their eyeballs no matter how much money they make.

I've preached that financial freedom can be achieved by anybody regardless of their income level more times than I care to count.

 

So what is it that separates the financially free from the financially inept?

 

Why is it that there are families out there with household incomes under $40,000 comfortably making ends meet and saving for retirement with no debt on the books, or, at worst, a single mortgage payment. while others who make millions per year -- people like Sinbad, Ed McMahon, Mike Tyson and Stephen Baldwin -- have trouble keeping their financial heads above water?

 

Target is a great source for the Kindle and green household cleaners, among other things, but better deals for some products can be found elsewhere.

By Karen Datko Sep 9, 2010 7:30PM

Target has its loyal fans and deservedly so, with competitive prices, quality goods and decent apparel. Plus, it's an acceptable discount alternative for those who love to hate Wal-Mart. (For those who dwell on such things: Despite the "Tar-zhay" nickname, Target is not a French company. Can that silly urban myth finally be put to rest?)

Still, just like any major chain, Target is a great place to buy certain things, but for others, not so much. CBS MoneyWatch recently compiled lists of both. Those posts made us wonder: What are the good and bad buys at other stores? (For more on that, see below.) Here's what CBS MoneyWatch found:

 

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