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You'll find free admission to national parks this weekend, plus free museums, free 'summer camp' and 'fee-free' concerts.

By Teresa Mears Jun 4, 2010 8:03AM

We don't have too many food deals this week, but we do have some tips for finding free and cheap fun.


Today is National Doughnut Day, which means free doughnuts at many shops nationwide. Some of last week's food deals and coupons also are still good.


As the school year winds down, don't forget we also have information on free ways to keep your kids reading this summer and free and cheap movies to entertain them.

With some help from our friends at Cities on the Cheap, we also came up with a few more deals on entertainment:


Washington state woman left her $4.5 million estate to worthy causes. Hardly anyone knew she was wealthy.

By Karen Datko Jun 3, 2010 7:26PM

Even among stories of people who lived frugal lives and bequeathed millions to good causes upon their demise, the life of Verna Oller of Long Beach, Wash., is truly remarkable. She was our kind of gal.


According to stories in The Seattle Times and the Chinook Observer, Oller was a committed do-it-yourselfer who embraced the simple life. She labored until age 76 in jobs like picking cranberries, shucking oysters, and working in restaurants -- waiting tables, prepping food, whatever was required.


A widow since 1964, she grew her own organic vegetables and heated her home with a woodstove -- still able to split and stack wood, too, well into her 90s -- until she moved to a retirement home in 2007. 


She also researched her own investments, studying The Wall Street Journal after her lawyer had finished with his copy. Upon her death last month at age 98, 31 years after she began investing, she had an estate worth $4.5 million.


Retailers are adding programs and trying new tactics to retain your business.

By Karen Datko Jun 3, 2010 3:02PM

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


Retailers are pulling out all the stops to increase membership in their loyalty programs -- but frequent shoppers may want to think twice.


Loyalty programs have historically been an easy way for retailers to collect information about shoppers' habits. Now, with consumers spending cautiously, businesses that didn't have programs are adding them to better stretch marketing dollars. Those that already have programs are increasing the ways they interact with customers.


"It's the one-on-one marketing holy grail," says Michael Gatti, executive vice president of the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association, an industry group.


For consumers, growing programs are a mixed bag.


1.7 million Maytag and other dishwashers made by the company have been recalled.

By Karen Datko Jun 3, 2010 1:47PM

This post comes from Mark Huffman at partner site


Maytag Corp. is recalling 1.7 million dishwashers because of a fire hazard, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says.


The recall includes dishwashers sold under the Maytag, Amana, Jenn-Air, Admiral, Magic Chef, Performa by Maytag, and Crosley brands. Whirlpool Corp. purchased Maytag in 2006.


It's the largest dishwasher recall in three years.


The CPSC says consumers should stop using the appliances immediately because a faulty heating element can short-circuit and ignite.


Walking away from your agreements when you have the capacity to fulfill them is morally wrong, akin to lying.

By Karen Datko Jun 3, 2010 10:13AM

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


Kelli writes in:

My husband and I are sitting on a 30-year mortgage (with 26 years left to go). We still owe $330,000 on our home. A week ago, a very similar home to ours two blocks away sold for $220,000, so we're underwater by at least $100,000. We are thinking of just walking away from this mortgage and renting an apartment for a while until our credit clears up. What do you think?

First of all, there's a strong personal moral element to this type of decision. Is it morally wrong to walk away from a mortgage?


This plan really takes no more self-discipline than you have to muster to make your loan payments.

By Karen Datko Jun 3, 2010 8:41AM

This guest post comes from "vh" at Funny about Money.


The other day while a friend and I were chatting, the subject of buying cars came up. When I mentioned that I pay for my cars in cash, he expressed some awe: The very idea of not having to make car payments was so far outside his ken it might as well have come from Mars.

"Who can pay for a car in cash?" he wondered.


You can. I can. Anyone can.


You may not be able to pay for your present car in cash, but you can pay cash for the next one. Here's the strategy:


How to avoid getting bumped, and make the most of it if you are.

By Karen Datko Jun 2, 2010 6:23PM

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


Air travelers may soon be entitled to more compensation for getting bumped from a flight.


A proposal released by the U.S. Department of Transportation would raise the maximum reimbursement airlines are required to pay travelers involuntarily bumped from overbooked domestic flights to between $650 and $1,300, up from a range of $400 to $800.


6 million Americans survive on food stamps and no other income. Former restaurant critic Ed Murrieta is one of them.

By Karen Datko Jun 2, 2010 5:21PM

Some food writers take the ultimate dining challenge -- eat only the subsistence diet provided by food stamps -- on a lark, or because their cigar-chomping editor tells them to.


And then there are the food writers who have to -- namely Ed Murrieta, who left a newspaper restaurant-critic job with a $1,300-a-month expense account to start his own website. ". . . and when my entrepreneurial dream fizzled along with the economy, my food budget -- my total income -- plunged to $200 a month," he wrote in a first-person account for The Seattle Times.



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