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A plan to write off some debt for 'underwater' borrowers elicits anger but also stories from people who find themselves stuck.

By Teresa Mears Apr 5, 2010 4:00PM

Is it right to forgive mortgage principal for people who owe more than their homes are worth?


What if they refinanced and took out cash to buy new cars and kitchens with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances? What if they stretched to buy a home they could barely afford? What if they didn’t put any money down?


In the meantime, you bought a home that was well below what you could afford, put 20% down and are still staring at the old Formica countertops that came with it 20 years ago. Why doesn’t the lender forgive your balance?


So far the $100,000 plug-in is the only vehicle to qualify for an electric-car tax credit this year.

By Karen Datko Apr 5, 2010 2:39PM

Our hat’s off to Kathy Kristof, a personal-finance columnist (and MSN Money contributor) who has a knack for uncovering financial facts that make absolutely no sense.


Kristof delights in exposing rules and situations that make us cringe -- like the 703.8% interest credit card bill or the bank that allowed a $50,000 fraudulent withdrawal from a business checking account and said, “Oops, you’re out of luck.” In the same vein, she now explains the new $7,500 tax credit for people who buy a $100,000 Tesla Roadster in a new post at CBS MoneyWatch.


Frugal Zeitgeist holds a Bad Boss Festival to acknowledge the contributions of lousy bosses in blogger's life.

By Karen Datko Apr 5, 2010 12:53PM

“FZ” at Frugal Zeitgeist seems like the kind of boss workers would enjoy and respect. How did she get to be so good? Most of what she learned came from observing managers who oversaw her work -- particularly the bad ones, and she’s had some doozies.


Topping her list at a post called “The Bad Boss Festival” was a “boss who tracked his guesstimates for female employees' menstrual periods on a calendar.”


“There have been many instances in which something my boss at the time did made me feel undervalued, disrespected, marginalized, and completely unappreciated,” she wrote.


Among others on her list:


Free downloads aim to help you find better deals. Do they work?

By Karen Datko Apr 5, 2010 10:40AM

This Deal of the Day comes from Sarah Morgan at partner site SmartMoney.


Buying an iPod should be easy, right? That’s what Robin Landy thought when he started shopping for one online a couple of years ago. But as the Londoner tried searching for the best price on the specific iPod he wanted, he kept turning up irrelevant results: the wrong color, the older model, and so on. “All I could think was, it should be easier than this,” says Landy, 30.


What you want or need to own shouldn't be defined by what other people have.

By Karen Datko Apr 5, 2010 9:44AM

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


A new study out of the U.K. confirms what many of us have already learned: Money makes you happy only if you have more than those around you. According to the London Telegraph:

Despite the vast improvements in general standards of living in the past 40 years across Britain, "keeping up with the Joneses" is still our biggest aspiration, the findings suggest.

Bank error showed nearly $89 billion in a Florida man's business account.

By Karen Datko Apr 2, 2010 2:08PM

The following would have been more appropriate on April 1: A Florida man found $88,888,888,888.88 in his business' SunTrust Bank account when he checked it online one night last week, The Wealth Report blog in The Wall Street Journal reports.


Paul Fischer quickly diagnosed a bank error, but he asked if he could transfer the ghost balance to an interest-bearing account until the problem was fixed and donate the earnings -- $7.3 million -- to charity.


My mom's family has known hardship, but you never heard these Tennessee women complain.

By Donna_Freedman Apr 2, 2010 1:53PM
My Aunt Dot is dying. She’s 87 years old and has been taken to a South Jersey hospital with pneumonia. Since she suffers from emphysema and has had serious heart problems for years, she is probably reaching the end of her life.

Of course, that’s what they said when her older sister, my Aunt Elna, was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer in her 70s. She went through chemo and lived for a few more good years before developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Both of these women were older sisters to my mother. All three of them taught me a lot about frugality, and about life. A few important lessons:  

Paying no interest sounds inviting, but not every buyer qualifies.

By Karen Datko Apr 2, 2010 10:34AM

This post comes from partner site


If you've watched much television lately, you've likely seen back-to-back car commercials touting 0% financing. As carmakers compete to sell vehicles, nearly all are resorting to "no-cost" financing.


Zero percent financing offers often draw consumers to showrooms, but the results aren't always good for buyers.



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