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It's safer than investing in the markets, blogger says.

By Karen Datko Oct 26, 2009 12:03AM

What's the best route as you near retirement: Use extra money to pay off the mortgage or pad your investments? That question deserves a new look in light of the recession, argues Mr. GoTo, a baby boomer and blogger who comes down on the side of paying off the house.

The No. 1 reason: A guaranteed rate of return of 6% (or whatever your mortgage rate is) tax-free. "Compare that to what we have experienced in the markets recently," Mr. GoTo says.


The NYT says cell-phone refuseniks are a tiny, shrinking group.

By Karen Datko Oct 23, 2009 5:39PM

My blogging partner Teresa sent me this link to The New York Times. At last, I thought, I've found my people. Just in the nick of time, because we -- the small number who don't want a cell phone -- are disappearing, it seems, from the face of the Earth.


About 15% of U.S. adults don't have cell phones, but the vast majority of them are challenged by the technology or the cost. "These are people who have a bunch of other struggles in their lives and the expense of maintaining technology and mastering it is also pretty significant for them," Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project, told the NYT.


I’m among the estimated 5% of cell-phone-less folks who simply don't want one.


But I have to wonder: Does our cell-phone-free status inconvenience or, perhaps, irritate those who never go without? Do they see us as odd ducks who resist getting into the water?


From season tickets to tithing, helping others takes many forms.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 23, 2009 2:48PM

Last week I wrote about "radical optimism," or planning for a future I can't quite see. Now I'd like to talk about another optimistic step at an inauspicious time: giving away a little more money next year.

In 2007 I was pledging $20 a month to my church's social assistance programs. That pledge rose each year as my finances improved, to its current $80 a month. After some thought, I decided to inch it up to $100 a month for 2010.

Let me be clear: This is not an essay about religion. It is, however, an essay about faith.


Key steps to take and traps to avoid if you pursue this homebuying method.

By Karen Datko Oct 23, 2009 11:04AM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.


In 2005 I became a landlord. A good friend and I began investing in single-family homes in the Midwest. We purchased two HUD foreclosures in 2005, and since then we've added three more HUD foreclosures to our portfolio.


When we advertise one of our homes for rent, we always advertise the property as a rent-to-own home, also called a lease option. We structure the agreement to allow the tenants to purchase the home within a specified period of time for a set price.


We've entered into several lease-to-own agreements with tenants, although we've yet to sell one of the homes to a tenant (more about that in a minute). This experience has taught me two things: Tenants make major mistakes when entering into a lease-purchase agreement, and some landlords take advantage of tenants who don't understand how to approach a contract for a rent-to-own house.


Because rent-to-own real estate is becoming more and more common, this article will identify tips on how to negotiate a fair lease option with a potential landlord and potential traps you should watch out for.


Free spaghetti and coupons for T.G.I. Friday's, plus more.

By Teresa Mears Oct 23, 2009 10:18AM

If you’re hungry, we’ve got the Friday food freebies and deals.

You already know about the free piece of grilled chicken for everyone at KFC on Monday, Oct. 26.


Some of last week’s deals are still good, too.

Burger King rolled out an addition to its Value Menu this week, the quarter-pound Double Cheeseburger for $1. The sandwich has two flame-broiled hamburger patties, crunchy pickles, ketchup, mustard and two slices of American cheese on a sesame seed bun. If you’re a fast-food aficionado, let us know how you like it.


Here are some other deals, courtesy of our friends at Cities on the Cheap:


A disproportionate number of the 7 million jobs wiped out by the recession were held by men.

By Karen Datko Oct 22, 2009 7:28PM

A recent column by James Surowiecki in The New Yorker convinced us that "the new frugality" won't last once good times return (and is probably just a figment of our imaginations anyway). Let's finally put that discussion to rest. (We will. See below.)


But there is a trend the Great Recession has inadvertently gifted with real staying power: It's more common that American women are the co- or often leading source of income for their families, i.e., they're making more than their husbands.

"The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Changes Everything" says:

Today, four in five families with children still at home are not the traditional male breadwinner, female homemaker. And women are increasingly becoming their family’s breadwinner or co-breadwinner. The deep economic downturn is amplifying and accelerating this trend.

And it also looks like many folks are getting used to the idea. A survey done for the Shriver Report shows that "65.3% of women and 61.2% of men strongly agreed with the idea that they are comfortable with women earning more than men in a household," Allison Linn reported in a story at MSNBC.


Deals include a $149 netbook and $49 digital camera.

By TracyC Oct 22, 2009 4:50PM

Halloween isn’t even here yet, but one of the first big Black Friday sales ads has already been leaked: the circular for OfficeMax.


The best deals listed for one of the biggest shopping days of the year, the day after Thanksgiving, include an Acer Aspire netbook with Intel Atom processor, 10-inch screen and Windows XP for $149, half off its regular price of $300.

The same ad shows an Olympus X905 10 MP digital camera for $49. That camera is now on sale at OfficeMax for $99, marked down from $149.


The essentials about this cheap, healthy food -- plus recipes. Yum.

By Karen Datko Oct 22, 2009 2:26PM

This guest post comes from Kris at Cheap Healthy Good.


Some will balk at their flavor and size. Many will have texture issues. And still others just won't enjoy the gas.

But know this: There are few cheaper, healthier, and more versatile foods than the humble bean. Members of the legume family, beans can be found everywhere from gourmet restaurants to campfire cauldrons. They've been vital to the survival of certain populations, and instrumental to the development of particular cuisines.


Also, they taste good.

Still, there are folks out there unfamiliar with chickpeas and pintos, kidney and black beans. And for them, CHG proudly presents the following: a breakdown of why beans are wonderful, plus 42 tried-and-true recipes in which to use them.



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