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It's both reassuring and scary that so many products are recalled. Here's what you can do to protect yourself.

By Stacy Johnson Jan 13, 2011 11:40AM

This post comes from Michael Koretzky at partner site Money Talks News.

 

On Christmas Eve, Whole Foods Market had quite the holiday gift for its healthy-lifestyle customers: a recall of ginger bread houses it had sold in 23 states because they were "connected to several outbreaks of Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) food poisoning."

In fact, Whole Foods dutifully reported more than a dozen recalled products last year -- which you can digest at the company's Product Recalls page. A quick perusal of that page raises several points:

 

How to teach children that less is more when well-meaning relatives overwhelm them with gifts.

By Karen Datko Jan 13, 2011 10:37AM

This post comes from Trent Hamm at partner blog The Simple Dollar.

 

This year for Christmas, most of the items my wife and I received were small and/or served some specific utility in our lives. I received some grape juice with which to make homemade wine (pinot noir), a replacement for our small saucepan, and some books, among other things. My wife received similar small items.

 

Our kids? Here's the challenge with our children: My parents have traditionally gone way overboard on their grandchildren for birthdays and Christmas. On the other side of the family tree, our children are the first grandchildren of my mother- and father-in-law, and the first niece and nephews of my sisters-in-law.

 

A college degree is essential these days if you want a good job. Also essential: Making sure you're getting the best bang for your education buck.

By Money Staff Jan 12, 2011 8:19PM

This post comes from MSN Money's Liz Pulliam Weston.

 

Liz Pulliam Weston on MSN MoneyA college degree is pretty important in our brave new economy, but some schools seem more intent on exploiting their students than educating them for available jobs.

The latest report on school scandals comes from The New York Times, which detailed how law schools fudge their employment numbers to make their students' job prospects seem much rosier than they actually are. Graduates often discover they've been had only after they've paid fortunes for their degrees, since "tuition at even mediocre law schools can cost up to $43,000 a year," as The Times explains. Many times, these educations are financed with crushing debt.

 

Verizon quietly ends generous customer discounts. Other carriers may follow.

By Karen Datko Jan 12, 2011 3:25PM

This post comes fromKelli B. Grantand Jonnelle Marteat partner site SmartMoney.

 

You'd have to be living in a cave to have missed the big news that the iPhone is finally coming to Verizon. But what the company didn't announce may turn out to be more important to subscribers: a change in the company's upgrade policies that will make phones more expensive for current and future Verizon customers.

 

Best Buy's new buy-back program is aimed at the folks who want the latest gadgets. But is it a good deal?

By Teresa Mears Jan 12, 2011 2:31PM

With the advances in electronics these days, the two years of a cell phone contract can seem like forever. The BlackBerry Curve smart phone I got in late 2008 is practically an antique.

 

Best Buy announced this week that it has come up with a solution for the electronics junkie who wants the latest gizmo: a guaranteed buy-back program.

 

That's right. If you want to return your TV, mobile phone, laptop, netbook or tablet anytime within two years of purchase (four years for TVs), Best Buy will give you a gift card to apply toward the latest and greatest electronics.

 

Whether you'll want to do that is debatable, but you'll have to think ahead: Best Buy is going to charge you up front for this convenience: $39.99 and $59.99 for mobile phones, $69.99 for laptops and tablets, and $59.99 to $349.99 for TVs, depending on the retail price.

 

Has the Massachusetts high court ruling opened the door for mortgage chaos?

By Karen Datko Jan 12, 2011 12:43PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.

 

Consumers keeping score in the legal battle between banks and homeowners over banks' foreclosure practices witnessed interesting action in the last few days.

 

Supremes strike

At the end of last week the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court slapped down US Bancorp and Wells Fargo in a decision on two foreclosure cases whose lower-court decisions were being appealed.

The court ruled that the banks have to return two homes seized in foreclosure because they couldn't prove they owned the homes when they began the legal actions. (Read the 16-page decision at Scribd.com.)

 

The banks didn't make the loans. They represent investors who bought the mortgages after they were packaged into securities. In both cases, the banks obtained the deeds to the properties only after starting foreclosure. The banks apparently tried to argue that this was a technicality. Critics see it as a property-rights issue.

 

Her new kitchen has no counter space, few cupboards and no dishwasher.

By Karen Datko Jan 12, 2011 10:56AM

This post comes from Meg Favreau at partner blog Wise Bread.

 

I recently downsized from a row house to a small apartment. How small? Let's just say the kitchen is better defined as an alcove than a room. There's no dishwasher -- an appliance I grew all too accustomed to over the past few years. There's no silverware drawer. And there's literally no counter space, unless you count the 2-inch strip that runs between the sink and the oven.

Heck, when I looked at the apartment, the previous tenant was keeping his microwave on the floor. Something about having to get down on hands and knees to heat up a Hot Pocket seems really unappealing to me, but hey, maybe that guy really enjoyed the process.

 

I love to cook, so I was worried about the tiny kitchen. But it's forced me to reconsider what tools I need to cook and how I prepare food, and so far, I'm loving it. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your kitchen if you're short on space:

 

You'll have to pay a cancellation fee and buy a new phone, but here's how to cover the costs and even come out ahead.

By Karen Datko Jan 11, 2011 6:10PM

This post comes from Dan Schointuch at partner site Money Talks News.

 

If you're an iPhone 4 owner like me, you've been eagerly anticipating the Verizon iPhone -- a mythical device with all  the features of the gadget you love, but one that can also make phone calls.

Unfortunately, AT&T locked you into a two-year contract with a hefty $325 cancellation fee (minus $10 for each full month of service you've completed). Since the iPhone 4 was released on June 23, the earliest anyone with a two-year contract can cancel without paying that fee is June 23, 2012. That's too far away!

 

Fortunately, I've figured out how you can switch your iPhone from AT&T to Verizon for free. In fact, it's possible you'll actually come away with an extra $295.

 

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