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Fares are up and seats will be harder to come by this year.

By Karen Datko Sep 24, 2010 3:45PM

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


It's time to start your holiday shopping -- for airfare, at least.


Last year, would-be travelers had the luxury to buy at the last minute, with airlines slashing ticket prices until the week before Christmas to fill empty seats. Not this year.


World's Largest Ice Cream Social will dish up free ice cream. And don't forget Bud's free beer.

By Teresa Mears Sep 24, 2010 11:46AM

This weekend, there is no excuse for not going out and enjoying some free fun.

Depending on the weather, you might choose a free visit to a national park or a free visit to a museum.


Entry to all 392 U.S. national parks is free on Public Lands Day, Saturday, Sept. 25. (Admission to some national parks is always free.) The next free day at national parks that charge admission will be Nov. 11, Veterans Day.


Organize a neighborhood produce swap and enjoy a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs.

By Donna_Freedman Sep 24, 2010 11:37AM
Angela, who blogs at My Year Without Spending, recently traded a batch of peanut butter cookies for the following items: a couple of avocados, burning sage, a butternut squash, zapote, some saba bananas, cherry and heirloom tomatoes, a strawberry guava, banana bread, some figs and bunches of fresh herbs (rosemary, basil, chives and bay leaves).

Kind of like spinning straw into gold. And this sort of thing goes on all the time thanks to the Hillside Produce Cooperative, a group of neighbors in northeast Los Angeles.

In a post called "Delicious and nutritious free food," Angela outlined several reasons to love this idea:  

If you didn't opt in for the service, your bank can no longer charge you a hefty fee. Instead, your debit card will be declined.

By Stacy Johnson Sep 24, 2010 11:20AM

This post comes from Brandon Ballenger at partner site Money Talks News.


According to recent reports, roughly half of Americans last month chose to decline the "courtesy" overdraft protection offered by their banks.

That's the service that pays the transaction but charges a fee -- typically about $30 -- sometimes resulting in big tabs for tiny purchases. Enrollment used to be automatic, but new rules require that banks now get your permission before signing you up. (Here's our story about the new overdraft rules.)


While most consumer advocates (including us) applaud the decision to not sign up for the service, it's left millions of Americans walking around with no protection at all.


If you can't live on that amount of money each year, it's your fault.

By Karen Datko Sep 24, 2010 10:00AM

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


A few weeks ago I shared with you 10 characteristics of debt-free people of modest means.

In that article I specifically asked my readers to consider this question:

Why is it that there are families out there with household incomes under $40,000 comfortably making ends meet and saving for retirement with no debt on the books -- or at worst, a single mortgage payment -- while others who made millions per year like Sinbad, Ed McMahon, Mike Tyson, and Stephen Baldwin had trouble keeping their financial heads above water?

While my list of 10 traits was met with general acceptance, I did manage to start up a minor debate among the readers as to whether or not it was really possible for the majority of folks here in the good ol' USA to make ends meet on $40,000 per year.


How can I make such a claim?


Bundle's free tool shows your daily spending habits, categorized and compared with those of other people just like you.

By Karen Datko Sep 23, 2010 6:39PM

This post comes from MSN Money.


MSN Money's new partner,, offers an answer to the question every consumer has: How am I doing?

Starting this month, MSN Money readers will be able to aggregate their checking, credit and investment accounts to create a comprehensive picture of their own spending. They'll be able to build smarter budgets with drag-and-drop functionality and set long-term goals. They'll be able to compare notes with others in the same situations.


But Bundle completes the personal-finance puzzle with its critical missing piece:


Shortcuts, faked documents and forged signatures -- activists uncover evidence of overburdened courts and mortgage processors.

By Karen Datko Sep 23, 2010 5:26PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.


This week's mortgage industry revelation -- that one of the country's largest lenders is halting evictions because of concerns that a large number of its foreclosures were improperly processed -- "took the housing industry by surprise and set the foreclosure blogosphere abuzz." That's the assessment from Mother Jones, the muckraking magazine. 

"Could bank's admission about dubious foreclosure documents cast doubt over millions of foreclosures filed by Wall Street banks in the past few years?" MJ asks.


The flawed process has created "an opening for borrowers to contest some of the more than 2 million foreclosures that have taken place since the real estate crisis began," says The Washington Post.


Insurance industry rep thinks focusing on technology would be more useful than laws banning cell phone use.

By Teresa Mears Sep 23, 2010 2:25PM

Have the dangers of texting while driving been overblown?

As Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood organized a "Distracted Driving" summit this week in Washington to hammer home the dangers of driving while using a cell phone, Justin Hyde of Jalopnik was interviewing Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, who has a different point of view.


Not that Lund advocates texting while driving. He wouldn't even let Hyde interview him while Hyde was driving. (We have found that people in general give less interesting interviews while driving because they are, well, distracted by driving.)



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