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At what price connectivity? AT&T and its iPhone customers are finding that out.

By Karen Datko May 5, 2010 7:16PM

AT&T launched a new product to address the problem of users who can’t get good 3G iPhone reception at home: Shell out $150 for your own personal mini cell phone tower, known as the MicroCell.


The New York Times explains: “Minitowers, the size of a couple of decks of cards, act and look like Wi-Fi hot spots at cafes and redirect cell phone calls from congested cell towers to home Web connections.” (A good post at Voxilla explains how it works.)


How’s that plan going so far? Here are some of the complaints we found:


Polling shows strategic defaults are winning converts. A question of morals or incentives?

By Karen Datko May 5, 2010 2:57PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.


Almost a third of foreclosures these days are voluntary, say two Chicago professors who research Americans’ trust in the financial system.

Make that probably voluntary. How do these researchers figure? They polled 1,002 people in March about whether they’d default on their homes if the home value fell below the mortgage amount, even if they could afford the payments.


The poll, by Paolo Sapienza of the Kellogg School of Management, and Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago, finds 31% saying they’d bail on their home. "Strategic" defaults, these decisions are called.

The people polled weren’t all homeowners, much less homeowners in foreclosure. So it’s not a flawless way to peer into the mind of a bailing mortgage-holder. Still, it’s a peek.


What it reveals is that attitudes are changing --and fast -- about what’s right and what’s practical when you’re under economic pressure.


Vacationers looking for summer-rental deals have many choices this year.

By Karen Datko May 5, 2010 2:10PM

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


With summer fast approaching, many travelers are looking to lock in a summer vacation rental -- and prices could be on their side.


According to a recent survey by review site, 28% of travelers have already booked a vacation rental stay for 2010 as a money-saving strategy. Another 40% are considering it. That’s the same as last year at this time, but with the added wrinkle of 138,250 more homes on the rental market this summer over last, according to the National Association of Realtors' recently released 2010 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey.


It's been less than three months since the CARD Act changed credit card statements, and there's already evidence that it's helping.

By Stacy Johnson May 5, 2010 12:58PM

This post comes from partner site Money Talks News.


From health care reform to financial regulatory reform, there have been so many recent legislative initiatives that it’s easy to forget slightly older pro-consumer changes to our nation’s laws.


A prime example is the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act.


Some states and cities offer incentives to trade your lawn mower for a more environmentally friendly model.

By Teresa Mears May 5, 2010 12:38PM

When you hear about incentives to replace gas guzzlers and clunkers with more environmentally friendly vehicles, you don't necessarily think lawn mowers.


But several states and cities offer incentives for trading in your gas-powered lawn mower for a new battery-powered or push mower. California has the most lawn mower trade-in programs, but there are also programs in other areas, including Denver; Boise, Idaho; and Louisville, Ky.

More than 300 counties are in violation of federal air quality standards, and that number is likely to double whennew standards go into effect Aug. 31, Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Dave Ryan told USA Today. New EPA standards for lawn mowers, which require a 35% reduction in emissions, will take effect next year.


Do you pay out more dollars or fewer dollars for the alarm than the system will save you?

By Karen Datko May 5, 2010 12:07PM

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


There was a (for me) thought-provoking article in The New York Times the other day on weighing the value of home security systems.


Our house had an alarm when we moved into it 11 years ago. It was not particularly useful. With children too young for school, there was somebody in the house almost 24/7 so the alarm almost never got turned on. After a while it broke, I never bothered to get it fixed, and eventually I just canceled the contract. All that is left now are some unobtrusive but ugly motion detectors in the corners of some rooms.


Home alarms are more about psychology than economics.


Even changing your default font can produce savings. Just ask the University of Wisconsin.

By Karen Datko May 5, 2010 9:02AM

This post comes from Julie Rains at partner blog Wise Bread.


Printers are cheap, but printer ink is pricey. One-time and day-to-day adjustments can help prevent waste and save money. Try these techniques to lower your office and home cost of ink.


Change the font type. Change the default font (often Times New Roman or Arial) to a lighter font that uses less ink. According to The Associated Press, the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay is adopting Century Gothic as the font of choice as a major money-saving move. To change your default font on Microsoft Word, go to Format >> Font, select your font, and save as "Default."


Some rewards credit cards are no longer offered and others have stingier terms.

By Karen Datko May 4, 2010 7:00PM

Oh, the poor credit card companies. Reined in somewhat by the Credit CARD Act, they’re looking for new ways to make money. Your rewards card may be in their sights.


Among the changes personal-finance writers have noticed:


Some cards are simply going to the big shredder in the sky, including the Charles Schwab Signature Visa with 2% back on anything you buy.



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