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The home debt crisis is changing the landscape, causing millions of vacant homes, rising for-sale inventories and downward pressure on prices.

By Karen Datko Jul 29, 2010 8:15PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.

 

The long middle of the foreclosure tsunami rolls on. And on.

 

The news from RealtyTrac, which counts foreclosure actions (repossessions, auctions scheduled and notices of default) nationwide, is that foreclosures are increasing in 75% of the nation's largest cities.

 

In the first half of this year, 1.6 million properties were in foreclosure, RealtyTrac reports. Since RealtyTrac has been keeping records, beginning in 2005, the fewest foreclosures -- 68,525 -- were in March that year. The record, so far, was March this year, with 367,056 properties receiving foreclosure filings in that one month alone.

 

Four states -- Florida, California, Nevada and Arizona -- are responsible for the top 20 metro foreclosure rates. (Read a recap at Listed, the MSN Real Estate blog.)

Darkness -- and a little light

 

Once you become loyal to a brand, that company counts on your repeat business throughout the course of your lifetime.

By Karen Datko Jul 29, 2010 3:10PM

This guest post comes from Kris at Cheap Healthy Good.

 

I have a confession: Cooking healthily and staying on budget remain constant struggles. Though I'm learning, and hope you're enjoying the journey, I'm ultimately not an expert chef, dietician, or personal-finance guru.

But I am a media professional. And I know a little bit about advertising. And I know that the brass ring of every ad agency in existence is brand loyalty. And I know that brand loyalty can cost a food shopper (you, me, us, etc.) a lot of cash.

Today's article focuses on that phenomenon. What is brand loyalty? When does it start? Why is it less than great? How can it be tamed? You might find the piece a bit drier than most CHG posts (in which case, pace yourself by periodically checking into Cute Overload), but it could also be one of the most important yet.

 

Federal judge rules against Coca-Cola and allows a lawsuit challenging Vitaminwater's labeling to go on.

By Karen Datko Jul 29, 2010 12:35PM

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

 

Vitaminwater's claim to fame -- that it's a healthy alternative to water and other sports drinks -- is about to get some serious scrutiny.

 

A federal judge shot down Coca-Cola's attempts to dismiss a lawsuit claiming the drink's labeling is deceptive, setting the stage for further litigation.

 

Judge John Gleeson, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, wrote a 55-page opinion asserting that Vitaminwater's name could potentially "reinforce a consumer's mistaken belief that the product is comprised of only vitamins and water" and ignores "the fact that there is a key, unnamed ingredient [sugar] in the product."

 

Wealthy people are probably no more likely to strategically default, or default for any reason, than anyone else.

By Karen Datko Jul 29, 2010 11:37AM

This guest post comes from Frank Curmudgeon at Bad Money Advice.

 

It is rare that I read something I wish I had written, and even rarer that it comes from a source belonging to the old media. When that happens I get one of my infrequent opportunities to write something positive.

 

So today I write nice things about a post at The Atlantic by Megan McArdle. (OK, so a blog post is not exactly old media, but it's from The Atlantic, a magazine older than most rocks.) Of course, in saying nice things about that post I will be saying un-nice things about its subject, The New York Times. There is only so charming I can be.

 

With 2 adults and 3 children, including one in cloth diapers, the washer seems to be running constantly.

By Karen Datko Jul 29, 2010 9:31AM

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

 

We have five people living at our home. Let's say, hypothetically, we all change clothes twice a day. (It's often more than that due to the nonstop accidents, spills, and other things that go on in a household with small children.)

 

That's 10 outfits to wash each and every day. We also cloth diaper our youngest child.

 

Needless to say, our washer seems to run all the time. Every time the washer runs, a little money goes straight down the drain. Because it runs so often, it's useful to find little ways to reduce the cost per load. Here are 11 tactics we've found that work for us.

 

The Volt isn't eligible for a state tax rebate or for guaranteed access to the HOV lanes.

By Karen Datko Jul 28, 2010 8:58PM

Ah, here's some California dreamin' for you: Cruising alone down the HOV lane in your hugely discounted -- thanks to federal and Cali tax breaks -- 2011 Chevy Volt, without the gas engine coming on.

 

Yep, it's a dream. Unlike its fellow electric car -- the 2011 Nissan Leaf -- the Volt won't be eligible for California's $5,000 tax rebate for zero-emissions cars or the privilege of using the lanes reserved for hybrids and carpoolers (unless you're carpooling in your Volt).

In California -- one of a handful of states where the Chevy will become available later this year -- that gives the cheaper Leaf (sticker price: $32,780) a distinct advantage over the $41,000 Volt. (In contrast, the price to lease each vehicle is comparable.) They're both highly awaited and locked in a PR battle for coolest plug-in car. How could this happen?

 

The stakes are big. "Together, these developments represent a serious advantage for the Leaf over the Volt in what is almost certain to be the world's largest market for electric cars in the short-to-medium term," Edward Niedermeyer wrote at The Truth About Cars.

 

The 'old normal' may be a thing of history. How will this affect your retirement plans?

By Karen Datko Jul 28, 2010 5:35PM

This guest post comes from Pop at Pop Economics.

 

Stocks have gone nowhere in 10 years. Not even dividends have made it better. Sure, you might have had a bit of a gain if you stuck your money in emerging markets at the right time or gold or any of the other asset classes that turned slightly positive. But on the whole, buy-and-hold investors had it pretty crummy.

 

And yet, we still get this from Dave Ramsey (hat tip to All Financial Matters for noting the clip). On Slide 12 of an otherwise smart little video on not rushing out to buy a new car, Ramsey throws out this line (paraphrased): "But instead of spending that money, you've invested it in a mutual fund earning the average stock market return of 12%." Bwahahaha.

 

A 12% stock market return is so 1998. We know now that 12% is wildly optimistic. Eight percent might even be optimistic. What's more reasonable?

 

Suspect chemical is used to coat thermal paper for register receipts.

By Karen Datko Jul 28, 2010 2:58PM

This post comes from Mark Huffman at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

Bisphenol-A, or BPA, is a chemical used in plastic containers that some studies suggest is a health hazard. Now, it turns out that BPA can even be found in the receipt you get at the store, a fast-food outlet or even the post office.

Laboratory tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group, a consumer organization, have reportedly found high levels of BPA on 40% of receipts sampled from major U.S. businesses and services, including outlets of McDonald's, CVS, KFC, Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, Safeway and the U.S. Postal Service.

 

Receipts from some businesses, including Target, Starbucks and Bank of America ATMs, were BPA-free or contained only trace amounts.

 

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