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New service lets kids and others without credit spend real money in the virtual world.

By Karen Datko Mar 15, 2010 7:30PM

Don’t have a credit card? That’s OK. You can use Kwedit -- essentially a promise to pay -- when you purchase virtual goods on the interwebs.


On the surface, it sounds goofy but harmless enough. So why did Stephen Colbert and personal-finance writer Kathy Kristof blast the new service? Colbert said on his show, “Instead of just having adults spend money they don’t have on things they don’t need, now we’ll have kids spending money they don’t have on products that don’t exist.”


Confronted with lower prices on healthful food, shoppers bought more. Then they spent their savings on junk food.

By Teresa Mears Mar 15, 2010 3:13PM

If healthful food were cheaper, would people buy more of it and less junk food?


Probably not, says a new study from the University of Buffalo. That same study found that a tax on junk food might be more persuasive.


"People are just more responsive to price increases than decreases," Dean Karlan, a behavioral economist at Yale University, told National Public Radio, which reported on the study during Monday’s "Morning Edition."


The experts offer some suggestions for increasing your chances of winning the pot.

By Karen Datko Mar 15, 2010 1:12PM

One of the benefits of schlepping to work every day is roundly enjoyed each spring -- the office March Madness pool. (Sure, you can do it online if you work at home, but an office pool is much more fun.)


Everyone does it. “The NCAA estimates that more than 35 million Americans participate in office pools, and, according to Nielsen Media Research, 92% of fans who watched games online do it at work,” The Tampa Tribune reports.

Been there, done that. And, back in the day, we used a combination of educated guesses, baseless hunches and emotional picks to fill out the bracket. We did OK for a round or two.

If only we’d known about the method described by Sarah Lorge Butler in a post at CBS MoneyWatch.


The first sets are crazy expensive and there's not much to watch yet.

By Karen Datko Mar 15, 2010 10:10AM

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


Consumers in search of TV bragging rights are checking out the first 3D-ready TVs. But while the technology is stoking interest, the price tags are budget-busters and the content sparse for early adopters.


The first 3D-ready TVs from Panasonic and Samsung went on sale last week, just a few months after the technology drew crowds at the International Consumer Electronics Show in January, and more models are expected in coming months from LG (May), Sony (June) and Vizio (August).


Why the rush?


If you have high-interest credit card debt, that sandwich you charge costs more than you think.

By Karen Datko Mar 15, 2010 9:16AM

This post comes from Adam Baker, a staff writer at partner blog Get Rich Slowly, and the blogger at Man vs. Debt.


Courtney and I are big fans of what we call “mental filters.” These are simple little tips and tricks we can use to increase our financial awareness. (Get Rich Slowly's J.D. Roth likes to call these tips and tricks money hacks.)


For example, I’ve talked before about how we taped a picture of our daughter to our credit cards while we were paying down our debt. Many people I know use some sort of 30-day rule to curb their impulse desires, especially those that contribute to clutter.


Both of these techniques are examples of deliberately installing a barrier between yourself and a routine action. Many of us do this in various aspects of our lives to help raise consciousness, but this technique can be particularly powerful in our finances.


Today, I want to share a mental filter (or money hack, if you prefer) that Courtney and I used while passionately attacking our debt. But first, let me share a quick story.


The $6.25 foot-long


Panera Bread will become the first national chain to post calorie counts at its restaurants.

By Teresa Mears Mar 12, 2010 5:59PM

Panera Bread this week became the first national chain restaurant to announce it will post calorie counts at all its restaurants.


As someone who likes to know what she’s eating, I’m happy to hear it, and I hope other restaurants follow suit. I was, however, devastated to hear that my favorite, the Chicken Frontega Panini, has 860 calories. All I can say is that I usually eat only half of it. At Panera’s prices, splitting a sandwich is a good idea. Now if they’d just agree to leave off the mayo.


Closing the account probably won't do much damage, but the devil is in the details.

By Karen Datko Mar 12, 2010 4:47PM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.


A reader recently e-mailed me with a question about credit cards and his FICO credit score. Here's his question:

I have a question relating to annual credit card fees. One of my credit cards that I got about seven years ago with HSBC has an annual fee of $37. I have developed positive credit history with it and it has a $1,400 limit and no rewards. I have since managed to get other credit cards with no annual fees and higher limits. My dilemma is whether i should close it down and take a hit on my credit score or keep it and continue to be charged the annual fee.

I confess that this question stumped me for a while. But a recent article by George Mannes, a senior editor at Money magazine, helped answer this reader's question. The short answer is that canceling the card may lower your credit score, but in most cases won't have a big impact.


Of course, the devil is in the details, so let's dig a little deeper.


Free and discount pie, free spaghetti and free coffee are among the latest food promotions.

By Teresa Mears Mar 12, 2010 3:03PM

Here it is Friday already and time for Friday food deals and freebies.


With St. Patrick’s Day next week, many local restaurants are offering parties and deals. You can do what you want, but we are not going to drink any green beer.


Sunday, March 14, is National Pi Day, and even though it is meant to honor math and not dessert, several establishments are offering specials on pie.



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