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Food stamp cards will be welcomed at half of its stores by Thanksgiving.

By Karen Datko Oct 28, 2009 9:05PM

Costco, the warehouse club for the more sophisticated shopper, will begin accepting food stamps at all of its stores.

 

"It's a big about-face for a retailer that has catered to the bargain-hunting affluent -- and a sign of the grim reality facing retailers and their customers. Food-stamp users recently hit a record 36 million," BusinessWeek said.

 

Sounds like a smart move, for several reasons:

 

New study details card companies' increasingly punitive terms.

By Karen Datko Oct 28, 2009 7:29PM

Need more proof that credit card companies aren’t treating customers with more consideration before the Credit CARD Act actually takes effect next year? A new Pew Charitable Trusts study has details.

Pew reviewed terms offered by nearly 400 credit cards in July and compared them with terms for those cards back in December. Card companies aren’t gradually adopting better behavior as the Feb. 22 deadline for many of the reforms draws near. In fact, the opposite is true.

 

Suze Orman chastises banks, and senator proposes freeze on rates.

By Teresa Mears Oct 28, 2009 5:13PM

Ann Minch, the California woman who got Bank of America to rescind its interest rate increase after she took her fight to YouTube, has recruited an unlikely ally: Suze Orman, the financial author and TV personality and advocate for protecting your FICO score.

 

Minch was featured on Orman’s television show on CNBC, where she told her story and Orman aired clips from her video. While Orman didn’t advise her listeners to quit paying their credit card bills and make YouTube videos instead, she did chastise banks for arbitrary increases in rates, fees and minimum payments and suggested that viewers move their money to credit unions.

 

The wholesale cost of chicken wings is now higher than boneless chicken breast.

By Karen Datko Oct 28, 2009 4:23PM

Do you know why food establishments are pushing boneless chicken wings?

 

Answer: Boneless wings are really chicken breast meat, which now -- in a surprising turn of events -- costs less than real wings with bones.

No, this is not a food quiz blog (although we did once write about whether baby carrots are really tiny little carrots. They're not.) But the fact is that two staples of Sunday football -- chicken wings and beer -- aren't the cheap treats they used to be.

 

The price of wings -- the real ones -- has gone up, and the cost of beer is not coming down, despite a glut of hops on the market, according to news reports.

 

General purpose gift cards come with fees many people don't know about.

By Karen Datko Oct 28, 2009 2:32PM

This post comes from James Limbach at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

A consumer survey commissioned by the Consumer Federation of America and undertaken by the Opinion Research Corp. earlier this month revealed widespread misunderstanding of general purpose gift cards, also sometimes called bank or cash gift cards. Most are issued by Visa, MasterCard and American Express.

 

Only 33% of a representative sample of 1,004 adult Americans know how much these cards cost to purchase, and only 54% are aware that "six to 12 months after purchase, some of these gift cards charge a monthly fee."

A large majority of the more than $50 billion consumers are expected to spend on gift cards this year represents purchase of store cards with no fees or expiration date. But nearly $4 billion, and a growing percentage, will be spent on general purchase gift cards that can be used at most stores. They usually cost $4 to $7 to purchase and sometimes are subject to monthly fees as high as $4.95 as early as six months after purchase.

 

With one exception, the deals are just decent

By TracyC Oct 28, 2009 1:49PM

If the new Sears Black Friday sales ad is any indication, the deals could be tepid this holiday shopping season.

 

While there are a few decent bargains -- the $39.99 Craftsman drill (regularly $79.99), the $289 Kitchen Aid mixer for $149.99, and a $999 Samsung 50” plasma HDTV marked down to $699.99 -- most of the advertised discounts elicited a yawn.

 

“Well so far, I can stay in bed,” said DealVixen, responding to the posted ad in a SlickDeals.net forum. “Those are some pretty lukewarm prices for TVs. Everything else was just OK.”

 

There's one striking exception.

 

Bring back the mop, feather duster and rags. Also, buy a bread machine.

By Karen Datko Oct 28, 2009 12:05PM

This post comes from Annalise Silivanch at partner blog Wise Bread.

 

Cleaning? Cooking? Ugh, you say. Make friends with it, compadre; they've got to be part of the frugal warrior's toolkit.

 

Me, I avoid cleaning as much as possible until a young offspring can't find clean underthings and I want to howl in the chasm of Boring Adult Responsibilities and go hide in the kitchen, which I enjoy much more.

 

When that no longer works, and when the children look at me like you did this to me, I look for ways to make it easier. I also look for ways to make it cheaper, because when my frugal and eco-selves are in partnership, then I can feel my groove coming back. Because if there is one thing I've learned, it's that I want to spend my better days kicking butt and making change, and not spend them in Target buying overpriced refills and feeling like some crazy woman on a commercial who smiles at her mop while a song plays in the background.

 

The cost of Swiffer refills can really add up.

By Karen Datko Oct 28, 2009 11:19AM

When we had our hardwood floors refinished, our floor guy finished the job by cleaning with a Swiffer Sweeper, a product he heartily endorsed.

 

Yes, it's great -- until you have to spring for new cloths. A box of the wet pads can cost about $11.50.

Knowing we're exposing ourself to potential ridicule from Frank Curmudgeon at Bad Money Advice, who has poked fun at this and similar pursuits in a weekly post called "Frugal Friday," we've researched cheap alternatives to the very efficient but costly Swiffer cloths.

 

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