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A new study raises more questions about the value of a degree.

By Teresa Mears Jan 20, 2011 3:04PM

With new graduates facing high rates of both debt and unemployment, the value of a college degree has come into question. Now, a new study raises even more doubts about whether that $25,000 a year you're spending to send Junior to college is worth it: He isn't learning much.

At least that's the conclusion of professors Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, who found that learning is taking a back seat on campus as instructors focus on research and students focus on their social lives. Their study of 2,300 students at 24 colleges and universities found that, after two years of college, 45% of the students showed little academic gain. Plus, 36% showed little gain after four years.


"These are really kind of shocking, disturbing numbers," Arum, a professor at New York University, told USA Today. "Students are able to navigate through the system quite well with little effort."


Gallup poll also reveals that 42% are worried that their own house will lose value.

By Karen Datko Jan 20, 2011 10:48AM

This post comes from Amy Hoak at partner site MarketWatch.


MarketWatch on MSN MoneySixty-seven percent of Americans said that now is a good time to buy a house, according to a recent Gallup poll. That's down slightly from 72% who said the same in 2010 and 71% in 2009.

Low interest rates and home prices that have fallen sharply from their peaks likely have many Americans believing now is a good time to take action -- even if it's still difficult to get financing and there's potential for prices to dip even lower, said Dennis Jacobe, chief economist for Gallup.


How the fliers can help you produce a meal plan and also a very well organized grocery list.

By Karen Datko Jan 20, 2011 10:00AM

This post comes from Trent Hamm at partner blog The Simple Dollar.


One of our most frequently used methods for saving money on food is to create a meal plan each week based on the sales found in grocery fliers. I then prepare a grocery list -- based on the meal plan -- that includes many of the sale items found on the fliers.


This approach to meal planning is vastly different from what I once did and, frankly, it took some getting used to. I tend to learn such things through example and repetition, seeing what others have done and trying it myself until it becomes natural and normal.


This week, as I worked on my family's meal plan, I decided to write a post outlining the entire process, so you can see clearly how it works.


Big changes are in the works for credit cards this year, as issuers try to make them more profitable.

By Karen Datko Jan 19, 2011 5:24PM

With limits on their fees and interest rate hikes, credit card companies are trying to make money the old-fashioned way -- by getting you to borrow it.


Even those people who were dissed in recent years -- including people with not-so-great credit scores -- are being solicited as potential customers again. The message seems to be: Please don't be mad that we cut your credit limit, doubled the minimum payment due or canceled your card. It's 2011, so let's celebrate with more spending.

Why is this happening? Five major credit card issuers announced that their delinquency and charge-off rates are dropping at a healthy clip. Not so skittish anymore, they're ready to lend you money.


The company rolls out the largest U.S. mobile payment app, which lets customers pay with smart phones.

By Teresa Mears Jan 19, 2011 3:34PM

Starbucks has made a giant leap toward turning your smart phone into your wallet: You can now pay for coffee with your phone.


The Starbucks Mobile Card, which was tested starting last fall at select locations, has gone national and can now be used at the nearly 6,800 company-run stores and more than 1,000 locations at Target stores. The company has apps for iPhone and BlackBerry and is working on one for Android.


While the Starbucks Mobile Card isn't the first mobile payment app, it is likely to be the most widely used, at least for now. And the launch of a mobile payment system by a popular retailer may speed up the adoption of mobile payments by other businesses.


Survey shows that brides-to-be are willing to ditch size and tradition in favor of saving money, and know how to work social media.

By Stacy Johnson Jan 19, 2011 3:10PM

This post comes from Michael Koretzky at partner site Money Talks News.


Forget something borrowed and something blue. More brides today are going brand-new and Bluetooth.

The David's Bridal chain has released its fifth annual What's on Brides' Minds survey and, wow, how the times have changed in half a decade. As late as 2008, the survey of engaged women showed the Internet was simply "a wonderful planning tool and a great time-saver" for everything from comparison shopping for invitations to making honeymoon reservations.

Now, some brides have no reservations about "a paperless wedding invitation." And after the wedding, they're using social media to spread the word. Nearly half -- 48% -- update Facebook with their new relationship status or new married name within a day of saying "I do." And 44% are posting snippets of their ceremony on YouTube, "like a choreographed dance down the aisle or first dance."


When her family's income shrank drastically, she was forced to get serious about managing money. A 3-ring binder is one of her tools.

By Karen Datko Jan 19, 2011 1:38PM

This guest post comes from I am the working poor.


I used to earn triple the income I have now. Everything was financed and I worked to pay the bills.

Clothes were on credit, gifts were on credit, a vehicle and a house were financed. I thought the job was there to stay and as long as I could make at least the minimum payments I would be OK. The only thing I never put on credit was groceries. At least I knew that was a bad thing to do.


The prices of popular electronics will continue to drop. Here are predictions for 12 hot items.

By Karen Datko Jan 19, 2011 10:24AM

This guest post comes from Beth Pinsker at


One of the great things about technology is that we can count on prices dropping at a steady clip over time on the things we want most. The more demand, the faster the electronics industry seems to satisfy us with new, cheaper products. Think how different it is for nonelectronic items such as milk and cereal, which always seem to go up (see our list of 20 things that will be more expensive in 2011).

We've now proven this mathematically, by sifting through thousands upon thousands of tech deals that we've listed over the past couple of years.


Our price trend data show how prices dropped on 12 popular items from 2009 to 2010, based on the individual deals we list on



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