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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.


IPhone app sends your avatar on a quest to vanquish your to-do list. Can a video game motivate people to do real-life work?

By Teresa Mears Sep 28, 2010 1:06PM

Ever wish you were a superhero and could leap over all those items on your to-do list in a single bound?

Would you believe there's an app for that?


Unfortunately, EpicWin doesn't actually do your chores for you, but this role-playing game "rewards" you for making progress on your quest to vanquish the to-do list.


Starting this week, debt settlement and other for-profit debt relief companies will have to start toeing the line.

By Stacy Johnson Sep 28, 2010 12:31PM

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


They're everywhere these days -- ads from debt settlement and other questionable companies claiming they can help you pay off your credit card balances for pennies on the dollar.

Debt settlement companies negotiate with credit card companies and other creditors to lower the principal amount you owe, then -- after you've built up enough money -- pay off your debts in a single lump sum. This is not the same as  credit counseling, which typically involves putting clients on a debt settlement plan, negotiating lower interest rates and payments, then paying the debt off in full with monthly payments over three to five years.  


Despite economic goblins, the average consumer plans to spend $66.28. We suggest cheap costumes, including a DIY baby Gaga.

By Teresa Mears Sep 28, 2010 10:22AM

Consumers are willing to spend more this Halloween to hide from reality. We can't figure out if that translates as good economic news or not.

The National Retail Federation's annual survey finds that Americans plan to spend an average of $66.28 per person this year for Halloween, up from $56.31 last year. That brings spending back to 2008 levels.


We're not sure who's planning to spend $66.28, since most people we know are probably closer to a budget of $6.28, but the survey does say people 18 to 24 years old are the most enthusiastic about celebrating.



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