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A new study shows that nearly half of workers do when they lose or change jobs.

By Karen Datko Nov 2, 2009 6:20PM

What’s the best type of 401k to have? One that you don’t cash out when you lose your job or move on to the next one.

A new survey by Hewitt Associates of 170,000 people whose employment changed last year showed that 46% did in fact cash out -- and the percentage was higher among the youngest investors. The amount they lost to taxes and early-withdrawal penalties -- often 30% or more -- apparently wasn’t a disincentive. And neither was the loss of substantial compound interest over time.


The Associated Press said:

An employee who cashes out a $5,000 retirement balance at age 25 would get a check for just $3,500 after taxes and penalties. Left in an account, that $5,000 may have grown over decades to $75,000 at retirement, Hewitt said.

American, United start new round of discounts.

By Teresa Mears Nov 2, 2009 2:55PM

If you missed last week’s airfare sales, don’t despair.


American Airlines and United Airlines have launched some new sales, and some of their low-fare deals are even good around the holidays, Smarter Travel reports. Not only that, other carriers have matched the sale prices on some routes, with fares as low as $104 round-trip (plus taxes and fees). These fares can be booked through Nov. 12, or whenever the cheap seats are sold out. Fares are higher on the most popular travel dates, of course.


If your landlord doesn't offer you a deal to stay, ask for one.

By Teresa Mears Nov 2, 2009 1:54PM

If the lease on your rented house or apartment is up soon, you may get a little gift from your landlord: a flat-screen TV, lower rent or even a cash payment.


Because of the soft rental market, landlords are offering incentives to renters who renew their leases, The Wall Street Journal reports.


For example, UDR, a Denver-based rental company, is offering tenants who renew their leases a choice of a flat-screen TV, new carpet, a kitchen upgrade or $300 in cash. Cash is the most popular choice.


They're no substitute for insurance, but, for the uninsured, every little bit helps.

By Karen Datko Nov 2, 2009 1:34PM

These days people do what they can to get health care, whether it’s a free flu shot at the local strip club or bidding online at PriceDoc, which WalletPop calls a Priceline approach to care.


With so many people going without health insurance, why not give the benefit of health care via a gift card?


Tackle trouble BEFORE it begins.

By Karen Datko Nov 2, 2009 11:17AM

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


Ron Lieber writes the excellent “Your Money” column for The New York Times. Recently, he shared a list of four money talks to have before marriage. Lieber writes:

Divorce tends to be emotionally gut-wrenching for the people who go through it (not to mention those around them). But most couples don’t realize that divorce can also be among the most ruinous financial moves anyone can make.

This article struck home for me. No, Kris and I are in no danger of getting a divorce (I love my wife!), but we’re at that stage in life where the people around us are passing through rocky stages of their marriage. Some are even getting divorced.

I recently spoke with a friend -- let’s call him Mike -- whose marriage is floundering. Mike and his wife are wrestling with a variety of issues. The acute crisis was caused by infidelity, but the chronic crisis -- the ongoing problem -- involves a conflict over money.


Depression-era lessons aren't always applicable today.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 2, 2009 3:26AM

When the going gets tough, it's tempting to invoke our grandparents and their tribulations during the Great Depression. A Smart Spending message board reader posting as "jestjack" started a thread called "Where are my grandparents when I need them?

"These were some of the most thrifty, smart, industrious, hard-working, and honorable folks," he wrote. "Boy, could we use their wit and wisdom in these troubled times."

I'm about to commit cultural heresy: Not everything our grandparents had to offer would be helpful. 


How to make your produce last a little longer.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 2, 2009 3:20AM

Last week I noticed that some Braeburn apples I'd bought were getting kind of tired. I sliced one up and tried to eat it but the slightly softened texture made the fruit really unappetizing. Given how high food prices are getting, the idea of throwing out fruit really annoyed me -- and I had another five apples in the bag.

A childhood riddle popped into my head: How do you divide five apples among nine people? 

The answer: Make applesauce. So I did: Peeled and sliced the other apples, simmered them with a little water, pulverized them with a potato masher, and added cinnamon and a tiny amount of brown sugar. The result was delicious. 


Do middle class folks really need ostentatious displays of wealth?

By Donna_Freedman Nov 2, 2009 3:12AM

Sam's Club thinks I deserve luxury. Specifically, the retailer thinks I deserve a pair of Granny Smith apples dipped in caramel, rolled in pecan pieces and drizzled with three kinds of chocolate. This particular luxury would cost me $18.22 -- plus shipping, since it’s available only online.

The two-piece treat was one of several items highlighted in an e-mail whose subject line read, "Luxury You Deserve At Sam’s Club." That got my attention because I’d just read a review of a new book called "Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster."

Back in the 19th century, the "luxury" trade was small and aimed squarely at European aristocrats. Now it's big, big business and marketed to the middle class. For example, the author mentions a secretary who’s saving to buy her second Prada bag.



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