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The features are nice, but will they save you money?

By Karen Datko Sep 23, 2009 8:26PM

Zut alors! Credit card companies are beginning to offer simpler, more consumer-friendly credit cards to the masses.


For instance, Bank of America's Basic Visa card, which debuts next month, will charge the same interest rate no matter how you use the card. It also comes with a set $39 late fee that won't fluctuate regardless of how large your outstanding balance is.


Also, Jack at Master Your Card said, the interest rate won't go up even if you make a late payment.


Even better, it seems, is Chase's new Blueprint feature, newly available for some 20 million existing credit card accounts. Blueprint allows cardholders to single out certain types of purchases -- say, groceries or gas -- that they can pay in full each month interest-free while finance charges accumulate on the rest of the balance.


What to consider if you can't say no

By Karen Datko Sep 23, 2009 8:20PM

This post comes from Nora Dunn at partner blog Wise Bread.


How many friendships have you lost (or almost lost) because of money? If money matters are a touchy subject to begin with, then how are we expected to navigate the murky waters of borrowing from friends?


We've all been there (on either side of the spectrum) before: A buddy asks you to spot him $20, but never seems to have the cash available to pay you back, or he continues to forget when he sees you. And when, months later, he buys a fourth round of beer in front of you without handing over the $20 that has been slowly eroding away at your sanity, you pop.


Your buddy has probably forgotten that he even owed you anything and immediately hands you the cash, but the damage has been done. Your friendship now faces trust and communication issues that may or may not be overcome.


Now, $20 is a fairly easy loan amount to forgive or forget about. But what if that $20 is $200, or even $2,000 or beyond? What tension will exist in the friendship as a result of an outstanding loan?


NYC restaurant goes plastic-only

By Karen Datko Sep 23, 2009 8:12PM

This guest post comes from Frank Curmudgeon at Bad Money Advice.


I still don't get the debit card thing. But according to The Wall Street Journal, there is a new trend I do understand: establishments accepting cards but not cash.


Slips of paper and metal disks are an inefficient and archaic form of money. You have to go to an ATM to get some, and often pay a fee. To use it, you have to wait for the clerk to make change. You have to carry it around. And then there is the growing pile of coins most of us have at home.


And don't get me started on parking meters. Offering me a nice parking space for half an hour in exchange for a quarter, and only in exchange for a quarter, is more scavenger hunt than transaction.

Plastic pushing out paper has been a long brewing trend.


That's up from 49% last year

By Karen Datko Sep 23, 2009 8:07PM

This post comes from James Limbach at partner site


Counting down the hours until payday? You're not alone.

As the economic downturn trudges on, many workers are struggling with household budgets. About six in 10 workers -- 61% -- report they always or usually live paycheck to paycheck just to make ends meet, compared with 49% last year and 43% in 2007, according to a new nationwide survey of more than 4,400 workers by CareerBuilder.


Thirty percent of workers with salaries of $100,000 or more report that they too live paycheck to paycheck, versus 21% in 2008.


Be specific, and don't embellish or lie

By Karen Datko Sep 23, 2009 8:02PM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog


A few years ago, when unemployment was low and the economy was rosy, all you needed to do to get a job was get your résumé in front of as many people as possible. You had to carpet bomb, stuff electronic résumé boxes, and simply wait. One of the companies you reached out to probably had a job opening and you probably were a pretty good fit.


Nowadays, the jobs are harder to find and companies aren't going to take a risk on a "pretty good fit." So, I compiled a list of 10 tips I've tried to use when crafting my résumé during a job search.

You are a salesperson now. Joe Sugarman is one of the most famous copywriters of all time and a mail order maven. I read one of his books about copywriting, and think that the best part about his tips is that they're simple -- your title should be designed to get the reader to read the first sentence. The first sentence should be designed to get the reader to read the second sentence. The second ... you get the idea.


Reasons for denying coverage may surprise you

By Karen Datko Sep 23, 2009 7:55PM

We knew that health insurance companies refuse to sell individual policies to people who've had cancer or hypertension. But acne or bunions -- or working in a first-responder job?


Insurance company documents obtained and made public by Consumer Watchdog indicate how far some insurers will go to limit individual coverage to only the healthiest people (and those with the safest jobs). A hangnail? You'll get coverage. Toenail fungus? Perhaps not.


Consumers can get a refund of up to $100

By Karen Datko Sep 23, 2009 7:50PM

This post comes from Jon Hood at partner site


Dannon has settled a consumer class-action lawsuit alleging that ads for certain brands of its yogurt overstate their claimed health benefits. The settlement will shell out $35 million to affected consumers.


The suit alleged that ads for both Activia and DanActive yogurt exaggerated their beneficial effects on human health. The ads promote the yogurt as improving digestion and have become well known for their goofiness; a recent Activia iteration features actress Jamie Lee Curtis, seated on a couch, noting that "our busy lives sometimes force us to eat the wrong things at the wrong times," and promoting Activia as the solution to "digestive issues."


A voiceover in the ad claims that Activia is "clinically proven to help regulate your digestive system in two weeks" if eaten every day.


Meanwhile, canned pumpkin is in short supply

By Karen Datko Sep 23, 2009 7:45PM

The jack-o'-lantern outlook in New England and parts of the Midwest looks a fright. A combination of wet and cold ruined a bunch of the pumpkin crop, and what's left in some fields is taking its own sweet time to ripen.


Not to worry, Halloween fans. The crop in most of the country's pumpkin patch looks fine, The Associated Press reports.


What's aggravating people is a shortage of canned pumpkin on store shelves.



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