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If you have high-interest credit card debt, that sandwich you charge costs more than you think.

By Karen Datko Mar 15, 2010 9:16AM

This post comes from Adam Baker, a staff writer at partner blog Get Rich Slowly, and the blogger at Man vs. Debt.


Courtney and I are big fans of what we call “mental filters.” These are simple little tips and tricks we can use to increase our financial awareness. (Get Rich Slowly's J.D. Roth likes to call these tips and tricks money hacks.)


For example, I’ve talked before about how we taped a picture of our daughter to our credit cards while we were paying down our debt. Many people I know use some sort of 30-day rule to curb their impulse desires, especially those that contribute to clutter.


Both of these techniques are examples of deliberately installing a barrier between yourself and a routine action. Many of us do this in various aspects of our lives to help raise consciousness, but this technique can be particularly powerful in our finances.


Today, I want to share a mental filter (or money hack, if you prefer) that Courtney and I used while passionately attacking our debt. But first, let me share a quick story.


The $6.25 foot-long


Panera Bread will become the first national chain to post calorie counts at its restaurants.

By Teresa Mears Mar 12, 2010 5:59PM

Panera Bread this week became the first national chain restaurant to announce it will post calorie counts at all its restaurants.


As someone who likes to know what she’s eating, I’m happy to hear it, and I hope other restaurants follow suit. I was, however, devastated to hear that my favorite, the Chicken Frontega Panini, has 860 calories. All I can say is that I usually eat only half of it. At Panera’s prices, splitting a sandwich is a good idea. Now if they’d just agree to leave off the mayo.


Closing the account probably won't do much damage, but the devil is in the details.

By Karen Datko Mar 12, 2010 4:47PM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.


A reader recently e-mailed me with a question about credit cards and his FICO credit score. Here's his question:

I have a question relating to annual credit card fees. One of my credit cards that I got about seven years ago with HSBC has an annual fee of $37. I have developed positive credit history with it and it has a $1,400 limit and no rewards. I have since managed to get other credit cards with no annual fees and higher limits. My dilemma is whether i should close it down and take a hit on my credit score or keep it and continue to be charged the annual fee.

I confess that this question stumped me for a while. But a recent article by George Mannes, a senior editor at Money magazine, helped answer this reader's question. The short answer is that canceling the card may lower your credit score, but in most cases won't have a big impact.


Of course, the devil is in the details, so let's dig a little deeper.


Free and discount pie, free spaghetti and free coffee are among the latest food promotions.

By Teresa Mears Mar 12, 2010 3:03PM

Here it is Friday already and time for Friday food deals and freebies.


With St. Patrick’s Day next week, many local restaurants are offering parties and deals. You can do what you want, but we are not going to drink any green beer.


Sunday, March 14, is National Pi Day, and even though it is meant to honor math and not dessert, several establishments are offering specials on pie.


By any objective measure her allocation of assets was foolish. But time and luck were on her side.

By Karen Datko Mar 12, 2010 2:46PM

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


Heard about the secret millionaire of Lake Forest, Ill.? I’ll assume not and recap. Grace Groner was born in 1909 and graduated from Lake Forest College in 1931, just about the worst year of the 20th century to enter the job market. Luckily for her, she landed a position as a secretary at the then obscure firm Abbott Laboratories. She was a secretary there her entire career, retiring at age 65 in 1974. She never married and lived modestly.


So far, it’s a story that could be called poignantly mundane. But add in a few more facts and it transforms into a personal-finance parable that will be repeated, and probably distorted, for some time to come.


He'd have shut up if I'd bought him the treat. Here's why I didn't.

By Donna_Freedman Mar 12, 2010 1:47PM
For the past week I've been hosting my niece and her two boys in my Seattle apartment. Two adults and two kids under age 8 in a two-room apartment with no yard -- good thinking, huh?

During a trip to the Burke Museum I informed the kids that I would not be buying anything at the gift shop. However, the older boy had a tiny amount of cash and purchased a small souvenir. Little bro decided he should have something, too, and came at me with a stuffed animal.

What happened next wasn't pretty.  

But be sure to check that sites selling the cards verify balances.

By Karen Datko Mar 12, 2010 12:17PM

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


Is there a way to squeeze even more out of pre-owned gift cards?


Yes, by pairing them with store sales and print-out coupons or online coupon codes. Secondhand gift cards are a growing market and are available from sites including, and even eBay. Discounts can be as high as 30%, depending on the popularity of the store. But if you stack them on top of other deals a retailer may be offering, you get an extra layer of savings.


A few caveats:


Riders find some glitches, but cyclists are happy to see the result of years of lobbying.

By Teresa Mears Mar 11, 2010 5:42PM

Responding to public demand, Google Maps has released a new feature: directions on how to get from one place to another via bicycle.


“With this launch, we’re showing our commitment to providing maps for people, not just cars. We’re really proud to be a part of this growing movement in helping to build greener and more sustainable communities,’’ Peter Birch, project manager for Google Earth, told the National Bike Summit, according to Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland.



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