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Now's the time for cheap tacos, burgers, pizza, drinks and more.

By Teresa Mears Jan 8, 2010 1:08PM

It’s a new year, and we’ve got some new dining deals and coupons, with some help from our friends at Cities on the Cheap.

 

For a limited time, T.G.I. Friday’s is bringing back its popular “3 for $12.99″ dinner menu, which gives you appetizer, entrée and dessert for $12.99.

 

For something a bit cheaper, Fuddruckers is offering the Family Fudds Deal, which feeds two adults and two children for $20. The deal includes two 1/3-pound burgers with fries and soft drinks or domestic beers and two kid’s meals (hamburger or hot dog) with fries and drink.

 

One reader's easy, effective tip for avoiding excess expenditures.

By Donna_Freedman Jan 8, 2010 12:50PM

Having trouble staying true to your spending plan?

Maybe your downfall is those online shopping specials. Maybe you keep going out with friends even though you've burned through your entertainment budget for the week, or the month. Maybe you regularly stop for takeout meals while leftovers shrivel in the fridge.

A regular reader of the Smart Spending message board who posts as "SC CDF" came up with a budgeting strategy that's both simple and brilliant:

 

They aren't magic bullets, and can't create a signal where there is none.

By Karen Datko Jan 8, 2010 10:54AM

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

 

Smart phones are capable of many tricks these days -- thanks to an abundance of apps, Internet connectivity and embedded MP3 players  and cameras -- but all the bells and whistles don’t mean a thing if you can’t get a signal.

 

The average consumer spends roughly $70 a month for cell phone service, according to market researcher Nielsen. For that kind of money, the ability to make clear, consistent connections at home, in the office and on the road seems perfectly reasonable.

While the carriers (most notably, Verizon and AT&T) duke it out in commercials over who has the best coverage, fastest network and hottest phones, companies at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas are looking at the problem from a different perspective:

 

So, your family doesn't cook. How are you ever going to learn to prepare your own food and save money?

By Karen Datko Jan 8, 2010 9:54AM

This guest post comes from Kris at Cheap Healthy Good.

 

A few months ago, CHG posted a piece called "Overcoming your cooking obstacles," discussing why folks avoid their own kitchens. I argued that cooking is imperative to saving cash (because you spend less) and eating healthier (because you have control), and then presented some strategies for conquering common culinary fears.

Sadly, there’s an obstacle I missed. A big one. Maybe the biggest one of all. What if your family doesn’t cook? What if they never did? What if they don’t want to, either?

At first, this may seem like a problem easily solved. “Suck it up and get going,” you might hear. “This is your journey, not theirs.” Boo, I say. Boo.

 

Those words are often used to bludgeon people who are struggling.

By Karen Datko Jan 7, 2010 9:29PM

This guest post comes from Andrea at Fools and Sages.

 

If I had a list of my least favorite phrases or words, “personal responsibility” would be right near the top, along with “you go, girlfriend,” “irregardless” and “supposably.”

 

Sounds odd, right? How in the world could personal responsibility be a bad thing?

 

Well, it’s not, of course. Personal responsibility is an honorable trait, one that parents try to instill in their children and companies look for in their employees, something that constituents try in vain to see in their elected officials and fans sometimes pretend to care about in their superstars.

 

What I don’t like is when the phrase “personal responsibility” is used as a bludgeon, a self-righteous way of saying that those who are somehow facing challenges are stupid, lazy, weak, and immoral.

 

Some are angry about the delay in getting new releases, but others see a bigger picture.

By Karen Datko Jan 7, 2010 4:28PM

Just when we were ready to ditch the satellite TV in favor of Netflix, news of this deal emerged: New releases from Warner Bros. studios won’t be available for rent through Netflix until 28 days after they go on sale.

 

We had to wonder: Does that reduce the value of Netflix for us? What do some of Netflix’s 11 million subscribers think?

 

Some movie fans are not happy.

 

Buying an extended warranty rarely makes sense -- except when it does.

By Karen Datko Jan 7, 2010 12:05PM

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

 

Whether you’re buying a $50 MP3 player or a $500 TV, paying more to extend the warranty or service plan is usually -- but not always -- a pretty bad deal.

Buying into such options means you’re betting on a rare event:

 

That's just the first step in merging lives in ways you might not have considered before.

By Karen Datko Jan 7, 2010 11:14AM

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

 

Charlene writes in:

I’m getting married in March. My future husband and I are talking about when and how to merge our finances and we’ve had some difficulty coming up with a plan. What did you and your wife do? What would you suggest for other couples on the cusp of marriage?
 

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