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Free fries and Sam's Club membership (for one day). Plus, Atlanta once again ranks No. 1 in coupon use.

By Teresa Mears Jan 21, 2011 12:42PM

It's Friday, and that means it's time for food deals and coupons.

 

The annual list of the most frugal cities, at least measured by coupon use, is out, and Atlanta is at the top again, followed by Tampa, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Minneapolis. Ohio was the most frugal state for the second year in a row, reports Coupons.com.

 

Rounding out the top 20 most coupon-using cities were Charlotte, N.C.; Nashville; Cleveland; Pittsburgh; Raleigh, N.C.; Kansas City, Mo.; Washington, D.C.; Miami; Dallas; Oklahoma City; Boston; Denver; Seattle; Columbus, Ohio; and Wichita, Kan. Seattle is a newcomer in the rankings, and the only West Coast city on the list.

 

Three in four workers do. Some feel guilty calling in sick. Others can't afford to.

By Donna_Freedman Jan 21, 2011 10:52AM
Going to work while sick is a fact of life for the Florida retail worker who blogs at I am the working poor. "When there is no health insurance or sick pay, you just keep going," the woman wrote in a post called "Sick day."

Anytime she becomes ill, she asks herself, "Can I afford to be sick?" Usually the answer is "no," so off to work she goes.

She's not alone.  

Republicans' efforts to undo the Affordable Care Act will complicate planning by seniors, who have already benefited from the new law.

By Karen Datko Jan 20, 2011 6:59PM

This post comes from Jennie L. Phipps at partner site Bankrate.com's Retirement Blog.

 

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have launched an assault on the Affordable Care Act, or ACA -- voting for repeal, not modification.

Medicare recipients have already received some benefits from the law, and the House vote Wednesday only increases the complexity of retirement planning. Among the changes in the ACA are the following key improvements:

 

Plenty of calculators around the Web are supposed to help you decide whether to rent or buy. There's only one problem: They probably won't help much.

By Stacy Johnson Jan 20, 2011 6:12PM

Before our nation's housing crisis began in 2007, the rent vs. buy question wasn't really a question at all. Because the answer was: If you can afford it and you're going to stay put long enough to recoup the transaction costs, you buy. Simple.

That's because for the generations leading up to the Great Recession, buying was always superior to renting for two reasons -- one societal and one financial.

 

As a society, the belief was virtually universal that owning a home was simply what normal, stable adults did. Homeownership has traditionally been known as the "American dream," and anyone not in pursuit of it was assumed to be either transient or not able to measure up financially.

 

Owning a home was also the right idea financially, because there had never been a time in modern memory when home values, at least nationally, didn't increase over time. In addition, Uncle Sam was contributing to the gains by subsidizing mortgage interest via tax deductions.

 

What a difference one recession/housing crisis can make.

 

Current Verizon customers lured by the cult of Apple might be better off waiting.

By Karen Datko Jan 20, 2011 4:59PM

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

 

Verizon subscribers have been a stalwart bunch. While AT&T customers flaunted their iPhones the last 3 1/2 years, Verizon subscribers countered with claims of network clarity and Droid superiority. But now that their iPhone drought is over, the very loyalty that has kept them with the company for so long might backfire and hit them in the wallet.

Some 9 million current Verizon subscribers are expected to upgrade to the iPhone when it becomes available -- representing 75% of the iPhones Verizon is expected to sell over the rest of this year. But that move comes with plenty of upfront costs, from buying all those apps again to the early upgrade costs of up to $750.

 

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.

 

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