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You've been told that you never have to pay for these things, but let's examine the bottom line.

By Karen Datko Aug 13, 2010 9:04AM

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

 

Who doesn't love a free lunch? I know I've never turned one down.

 

If you believe everything you read on the Internet (as well you should), then there are a lot of products and services out there you should never pay for.

 

I know because I read about it here. And here. Oh, and here too.

 

The problem is, "never" is such a strong word, isn't it?

 

Compounding the matter, "free" is also a bit of a dicey term. And, while I've never turned down a free lunch, I also realize that, in reality, there's no such thing as a free, er, lunch.

 

So, with that in mind, here is my take on some of the products and services we've been told we should never ever pay a single penny for (post continues after video):

 

Lenders trying to collect billions of dollars in home equity loans face major obstacles. The battle rages: Is it right or wrong for borrowers to bail?

By Karen Datko Aug 12, 2010 9:18PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.

 

Think back to 2007. Remember all those hot tubs, granite countertops, boats, cars, vacations and master bath additions that you saw your $50,000-a-year-earning neighbors amassing? Maybe you were amassing a little bit of that bling, too.

How did everybody finance it? Home equity loans and lines of credit, of course.

 

Now, the bills are due, and Americans are walking away from mountains and mountains of that home equity debt.

 

Back-to-school budgeting is a good place to start the lessons. You're prepared to buy notebooks and your kid expects an e-reader.

By Teresa Mears Aug 12, 2010 5:29PM

Your back-to-school shopping list for your teen may include pencils, notebooks and a couple pairs of jeans, but she has other ideas: She wants a cell phone, computer or e-reader.

 

Can she spell "only if you spend your own money"?

 

Capital One's annual back-to-school survey found some differences in expectations between teens and parents about back-to-school shopping.

 

Consumers stay on the sidelines, expecting rates to remain low and housing prices to fall further.

By Teresa Mears Aug 12, 2010 1:00PM

It's Thursday, and that means it's time for another story reporting that mortgage rates have dropped to record lows, for the seventh time this year -- so far. But, despite the lowest rates most of us have seen in our lifetimes, people are not rushing to refinance or buy homes.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.44% this week, the lowest since Freddie Mac began keeping records in 1971. That's down from 4.49% last week and from 5.19% a year ago. The rate is the lowest recorded since 1953, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, when loan terms were shorter.

 

Wells Fargo is ordered to return $200 million in overdraft fees a federal judge says were obtained through deceptive manipulation.

By Karen Datko Aug 12, 2010 12:21PM

This post comes from Jon Hood at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

A federal judge has ordered Wells Fargo to shell out more than $200 million in restitution to California customers for "massive" overdraft fees.

In a spirited 90-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup wrote that "Wells Fargo has devised a bookkeeping device to turn what would ordinarily be one overdraft into as many as 10 overdrafts, thereby dramatically multiplying the number of fees the bank can extract from a single mistake."

 

Line add-ons and phone requirements make it tough to get a good deal.

By Karen Datko Aug 12, 2010 10:37AM

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

 

Cell phones have joined the ranks of back-to-school necessities, and if it seems like the family cell phone bill gets pricier each year, it's not your imagination.

Sprintrecently notified account holders on family plans that it will no longer extend employee discounts to additional phone lines or add-on services priced at less than $30.

 

Which little expenditures really brighten your life and which ones can you put on the chopping block?

By Karen Datko Aug 12, 2010 9:11AM

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

 

The other day, I had a conversation with an Associated Press reporter who was writing a story about teaching children how to be frugal. The discussion wound through several topics, eventually coming back to the idea that many people (for example, Ramit) do not like frugality because it doesn't give you the "big win" and that people don't like giving up things like lattes.

 

She gave herself as an example of this. She lives in a small apartment in a major metropolitan area, which means that in order to entertain friends she has to do it outside the apartment.

 

My response to her was simple:

 

Leaving a pet at home can be as expensive as traveling with one. How to decide.

By Karen Datko Aug 11, 2010 6:21PM

This Deal of the Day comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site SmartMoney.

 

Pet owners planning a trip face a tough decision: leave their four-legged friend at home, or bring him along. Either choice is expensive and potentially dangerous.

 

Last week, seven puppies died in the cargo hold of an American Airlines plane heading from Tulsa, Okla., to Chicago. The airline says it is investigating possible causes, including pre-existing health conditions and heat stroke.

 

The American incident was not an isolated one.

 

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