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8 DIY methods to approaching your debt.

By Karen Datko Oct 2, 2009 12:46PM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.


Debt-consolidation and debt-negotiation programs are often associated with seedy companies more interested in helping themselves than helping consumers.


The debt-consolidation industry is largely responsible for earning this reputation. The Federal Trade Commission, for example, warns consumers about the false promises many in the debt business make to consumers. And the FTC has even brought legal action against “nonprofit” debt-negotiation companies for violating federal consumer protection laws. The FTC has published an excellent article called "Knee deep in debt" that talks in part about debt-consolidation companies and is definitely worth reading.


But the concept behind debt consolidation is still a good one for many people overwhelmed by debt. By consolidating debt, many can lower the interest rate on their debt and lower their monthly payments. This in turn can make paying your debt and providing for your other expenses more manageable.


But this still leaves one big question -- how? How should one go about consolidating debt?


Video: Consumer Reports warns to check your homes for these recalled items

By MSN Money Oct 2, 2009 11:31AM
Watch Don Mays from Consumer Reports share some important information about products that have been recalled in the past year. 

One blogger felt guilty about finding a fiver. Would you?

By Donna_Freedman Oct 2, 2009 11:17AM

Julia Scott, aka the "Bargain Babe," was shopping at the Hollywood Farmers Market when she saw a crumpled five-dollar bill. Having spent most of the $20 she'd budgeted for fresh produce, Scott was delighted -- and torn.

"I'm not the rightful owner," she thought.

Scott wandered the market for a while longer, then swung back by the stall where she'd seen the money. Amazingly, it was still there. Since no one had picked it up, and since there was no way to find the true owner, "it might as well be mine, I reasoned."


A little ignorance can be costly.

By Karen Datko Oct 2, 2009 12:21AM

No matter how much personal-finance bloggers write about credit cards, myths about them persist. Kristin at Twenties Money Magazine sets the record straight with "TMM top 20 dumb credit card rumors."

Here's No. 18, which we think gets a lot of traction, even though it's absolutely untrue: " Cash advance is the same as using an ATM." In fact, credit card cash advances come with a hefty price tag.


There's something for everyone on blogger's list.

By Karen Datko Oct 2, 2009 12:09AM

OK, tofu and broccoli are on Brie Cadman's list of "The 20 healthiest foods for under $1" at Divine Caroline. But so are eggs, whole grain pasta, bananas, potatoes and coffee. Are you on board now?

This excellent post puts a big dent in the contention that stretching your food dollars means you'll be eating more unhealthy or fattening food. She describes the nutritional value of each food and offers serving suggestions. Plus she provides links to wonderful recipes like easy breakfast potatoes and huevos rancheros.


Smaller portions will reduce your food bill (and your waist).

By Karen Datko Oct 1, 2009 11:57PM

This post comes from Abby Freedman, a freelance writer and daughter of Smart Spending blogger Donna Freedman.

An MSN article about portion sizes got me thinking about the economics of eating. Food is, arguably, one of the most expensive aspects of modern life, whether you make your meals at home or eat out.

We order our days around meal breaks. We deny ourselves some foods and force others down our throats -- when was the last time someone willingly ate a rice cake? Finally, we pay tons of money to gyms so that we can work off all that food.

I don't have diet foods or delivered meals worked into my spending plan. But I do have to fit into a wedding gown in 5 1/2 months. So I decided to try a little experiment with portion size, and see if I couldn't make food a bit more affordable at the same time.


Our abstract notion of cash may explain some bad national habits.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 1, 2009 9:46PM

This guest post comes from Abigail Perry at I Pick Up Pennies.

Unless you're living in a soundproofed house with no connection to any media, you've heard about the ongoing turmoil on Wall Street. 

Here's what I see as an underlying theme for recent personal and national financial crises: We've stopped seeing money as real. 


We're going to have to pay more to slash the deficit.

By Karen Datko Oct 1, 2009 8:14PM

Should Americans pay higher taxes to reduce the nation’s ballooning deficit?


There. We’ve said it. Before you get all riled up, pro or con, remember that this is not a political blog. We’re looking at this from a personal-finance perspective.


It’s timely because the deficit for the federal fiscal year that ended Wednesday, Sept. 30, is expected to be $1.58 trillion.


Actually, we’re not the first to bring this up, not hardly. Author and Republican economist Bruce Bartlett raised the issue in Forbes with the recent column “Fiscal responsibility requires higher taxes.” Some rich folks, including Warren Buffett, argue that they and their wealthy peers should pay more.



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