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Every professional sports team has a rebuilding year. Here's how to apply the concept to your financial life.

By Karen Datko May 18, 2010 10:52AM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


In every professional sport, there's the concept of a "rebuilding year." These are the years when the team is working on drafting good prospects, building up young talent, and crafting a competitive championship-caliber team piece by piece.


It's difficult to field a championship team every year for more than a few years, with free agency and all, so it's expected that after a few years of stellar performance, you're bound to have a few leaner years where you're rebuilding your talent.


The good teams do this well, and others do it poorly.


How does this apply to you?


Survey says Southwest is the best bet for availability of seats in exchange for frequent-flier miles.

By Karen Datko May 17, 2010 6:33PM

Today's travel quiz: Which airline has the worst seat availability for travelers trying to redeem their frequent-flier miles, according to a new survey?

  • US Airways was lowest with a 10.7% seat availability rate.
  • Delta Airlines' SkyMiles program was next at 12.9%.
  • The third worst on the list was the Miles&Smiles program of Turkish Airlines, 35.3%.

Some U.S. airlines were among the best for redeeming frequent-flier miles for trips:


Making everyone their own pension fund manager means that almost everyone has an incompetent pension fund manager.

By Karen Datko May 17, 2010 3:37PM

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


I think the folks at WalletPop must be running some kind of obvious-headline contest. Recently they carried "Airlines rake in billions from extra fees" and "Majority of social network users share too much." And then we got "Study: Longer life can bring pension money woes."


I'm willing to forgive WalletPop some for that last one. They are a bunch of kids who probably have not thought much about retirement. They do not yet realize that one of the biggest challenges in retirement planning, maybe even the single biggest one, is the somewhat counterintuitive fear of living too long.

If you are retiring on an old-school pension or annuity, which will pay you a certain amount every month as long as you are around to cash the checks, then living a long time is not much of a fiscal danger. Social Security works the same way.


But if you reach that golden moment of retirement with a pile of money that needs to last as long as you do, longevity risk is a tough problem. Interestingly, it has a fairly tidy solution, but nobody likes it.


Learn to cook, keep in touch with your friends, exercise and marry the right person -- these are all keys to financial success.

By Teresa Mears May 17, 2010 2:14PM

This time of year, college graduates are bombard with financial advice, career advice, life advice -- all the wisdom of their elders.


And we think they should listen. It's important to start your adult life on a strong financial footing. Our partner blogger Jim Wang at Bargaineering is providing an entire week of posts about financial nuts and bolts for graduates.


We agree with everyone who has advised you to get a job, make sure you have health insurance, avoid credit card debt, participate in your company’s 401k plan, draw up a budget, pay yourself first, pay off your student loans and live within your means. Quit sponging off your parents. And don't buy a new car.


But what key financial advice has been left out? Drawing on life experience (we are probably older than your parents), plus the collective wisdom of the personal-finance blogosphere, we came up with our own list of less repeated but equally important financial advice.


The FCC calls for public comment on bill overages; how to keep yours in check.

By Karen Datko May 17, 2010 11:52AM

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


While the federal government debates regulations to better warn consumers of cell phone overage charges, there are plenty of steps those subscribers can take now to better keep bills under control.

The Federal Communications Commission has invited consumers to share comments on "bill shock" -- the often exorbitant charges for exceeding the voice, text and data limits on cell phone plans -- through late June. The agency is considering a regulation that would require carriers to warn consumers with a free text message when they are about to incur overage or roaming charges. A similar law in Europe requires such notification, and also allows consumers to cut off service instead of going over.


Although there have been several high-profile U.S. cases with bills in the thousands and tens of thousands of dollars for texting and data use, it's more common for users to go slightly over.


I have a tendency to ignore warning signs and just hope that things will get better on their own.

By Karen Datko May 17, 2010 8:14AM

This post comes from J.D. Roth at partner blog Get Rich Slowly.


As much as I've learned about money in the past five years, and as much as I like to share what I've learned, there are still times when I fail to follow my own advice.

As I've mentioned, we live in a 100-year-old house. This is a great and terrible thing. The house is beautiful and full of character, but it's also a pain.


A California woman will spend her $2 million scratch-off lottery prize on her animal rescue operation.

By Karen Datko May 14, 2010 3:55PM

Many lottery winners let their finances go to the dogs. Beverly Evens of Shasta County, Calif., is spending her lottery prize on the goats -- specifically 35 goats, three horses and an undetermined number of chickens.

Evens, who began rescuing animals nine years ago after adopting a baby Alpine goat, won a $2 million scratch-off lottery prize early this week after buying a $5 ticket at a convenience store. She'll collect $60,000 a year after taxes for the next 25 years.

(Isn't this story sweet? Actually, 19% of Tonic readers polled said it made them happy, 38% said they were inspired, and 43% said it made them laugh. Tough crowd.)


George Winship, editor of the Anderson Valley Post, offers more details about the winner:


Nearly 1,000 complaints have been submitted to the Texas Attorney General's Office and the Better Business Bureau.

By Karen Datko May 14, 2010 1:36PM

This post comes from partner site


A company that purports to help consumers who are having tax problems has problems of its own in Texas.


Houston-based TaxMasters Inc. and its chief executive officer, Patrick Cox, are accused of multiple violations of the state's Deceptive Trade Practices Act and Debt Collection Act.


According to the enforcement action filed by Attorney General Greg Abbott, the defendants unlawfully misled customers about their service contract terms, failed to disclose its no-refunds policy, and falsely claimed that the firm's employees would immediately begin work on a case -- despite the fact that TaxMasters did not actually start to work on a case until its customers paid in full for services, even if the delayed response meant taxpayers missed significant IRS deadlines.



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