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There are several calculations to consider.

By Karen Datko Sep 28, 2009 5:51PM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.


Particularly for those looking to buy their first home, the big question is always: How much house can I afford based on my income? I can still remember when my wife and I tried to crunch the numbers when we bought our first home back in 1993. I was scared to death that we wouldn't be able to afford the mortgage payments. But we did, and as the months and years went by, our mortgage payments became more manageable.


If you're considering buying a home, it helps to have an idea of how much you can afford. It's very important to think of this question from two different perspectives.


Fewer cars are being built with manual transmissions.

By Karen Datko Sep 28, 2009 3:28AM

Better gas mileage can be had from what used to be standard in cars -- the manual transmission, or stick shift. But how many drivers know how to use one these days?

It's a lost art, but a very efficient one. For its October issue, Consumer Reports bought two versions of seven different cars -- ranging from a $15,800 Scion to a $24,000 Mini Cooper -- and found a gain of 2 to 5 mpg with a standard versus  automatic transmission in the same model.


Most readers say 'don't do it.'

By Karen Datko Sep 28, 2009 3:18AM

Hank's friend, a father of three, faces a difficult decision: He's been offered a job in Iraq that will pay $290,000 for a year's commitment.

Like most big decisions, it's very complicated. But we'll tell you right now that most readers who commented on Hank's post said, "Don't do it."


Do your research, and remember you're dealing with expert negotiators.

By Karen Datko Sep 28, 2009 3:10AM

This post comes from J.D. Roth at partner blog Get Rich Slowly.

When I bought my used Mini Cooper in April, things didn't go exactly as I'd planned. Part of this was because I hadn't done enough research. But a lot of it was because the dealership had some tricks up its sleeve and I did not.

At Car and Driver, Jared Gall has compiled a list of car dealer tricks to watch for when buying a vehicle. He says the following are common practices:


'Historic' tax is expected to encourage about 1 million to quit.

By Karen Datko Sep 28, 2009 2:59AM

Many smokers aren't finding the cost of cigarettes a laughing matter. The federal tax on a pack jumped Wednesday -- April Fools' Day -- from 39 cents to $1.01. The tax increase is so big, it's being called "historic."

Higher federal taxes apply to other tobacco products, so even those smokers who have taken to rolling their own to save money can't escape them. (To see how your preferred product is affected, click here.)


You can supplement your TV diet with rentals and downloads.

By Karen Datko Sep 28, 2009 2:46AM
This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.

Are you tired of paying for cable or satellite TV?

Would you like to get digital-quality TV and many of your favorite cable shows for free?

If you answered yes to these questions, today is your lucky day. Today is the deadline for broadcast TV stations to switch from an analog to a digital signal. This switch from analog to digital broadcast television is referred to as the digital TV or DTV transition. Starting Saturday, June 13, full-power television stations will broadcast only digital over-the-air signals. Many local broadcasters have already made the transition. 

Personal-finance bloggers share embarrassing moments.

By Karen Datko Sep 27, 2009 2:53PM

This guest post comes from Mr. ToughMoneyLove at Tough Money Love.


Recently the Tough Money Love blog had its first anniversary. To help me celebrate, I invited my blogging colleagues to tell us about a personal-finance lesson he or she learned the hard way. Many responded with their own versions of the hard truth.


I encourage you to read every one of their contributions for their entertainment and educational value.


They don't necessarily mean the food is inedible

By Karen Datko Sep 27, 2009 2:42PM

Anyone who has worked in a grocery store will tell you to look for the date on the package (and it's amazing how many shoppers don't). But what do terms like "sell by," "use by" and "expiration" mean about a product's freshness and safety?


They're not interchangeable, writes "vh" at Funny about Money in a post called "Is that bargain food safe to eat?" She adds that no matter what the date says, "If in doubt, throw it out."


According to Consumer Reports, the federal government requires only that poultry, infant formula and some baby food carry dates. Some states also have requirements.


Here's is what some of the dates mean:



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