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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:


The dos and don'ts for getting the most value

By Karen Datko Sep 27, 2009 2:08PM

This guest post comes from Kris at Cheap Healthy Good.


There's no denying it: When it comes to food discounts, the vast majority of coupons are for sugary snacks and preservative-laden convenience products. You'd do better to lick a septic tank for the vitamins and minerals it provides, "Low in fat! High in niacin!" claims aside.


What's more, coupons can lure you to buy foods you wouldn't otherwise, and oftentimes, those items are significantly pricier than generic or competing brands.




There are ways around the coupon trap. By applying the little buggers prudently, you can (and will) save a few bucks off healthy foods every week. It'll compensate for the cost of labor and materials, and the time commitment shouldn't take away from more important things. Like cooking, sleeping, or wondering why your boyfriend can get his laundry NEAR the hamper, but never IN the hamper.


So, here are a few guidelines to help you along.


You can track developments in major class-action lawsuits

By Karen Datko Sep 27, 2009 1:59PM

Remember that tainted-pet food scare? It's time to file a claim to benefit from a class-action lawsuit settlement if that consumer-safety debacle affected you and your cats and dogs.


There's also good news for those who purchased department store cosmetics over a somewhat recent nine-year period. As a result of another settlement, many stores will be handing out freebies like perfume and makeup. 

We know these things because we've begun reading a very helpful Web site called Not only can you find out how and where to file your claim, but these folks explain the legal intricacies of each class-action suit in a way that regular people can understand.


They're changing terms for responsible customers

By Karen Datko Sep 27, 2009 1:54PM

Credit card companies are spending lots of money to tell you they're on your side.


Peter at Bible Money Matters has noticed the trend: Discover is pushing its cards as "a built-in easy-to-do budget and spending tracker," he said. He also got a mailing from Chase touting savings he could enjoy by using his rewards card, like discounts at Chase's online shopping portal.


We get irritated by the commercials claiming the card companies will bend over backward to help if you're having trouble paying your bills. (In all fairness, credit card companies do help some struggling customers with a variety of methods, like a temporary reduction in interest, to get them to keep paying. The companies don't want to write off the debt.)


Peter isn't buying all the feel-good stuff. He writes: "The credit card companies are not your friend. They just want your money."


Let's review some of the card companies' recent attempts to reduce their risk by assessing more interest and fees or getting rid of customers they no longer want.



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