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So, your family doesn't cook. How are you ever going to learn to prepare your own food and save money?

By Karen Datko Jan 8, 2010 9:54AM

This guest post comes from Kris at Cheap Healthy Good.


A few months ago, CHG posted a piece called "Overcoming your cooking obstacles," discussing why folks avoid their own kitchens. I argued that cooking is imperative to saving cash (because you spend less) and eating healthier (because you have control), and then presented some strategies for conquering common culinary fears.

Sadly, there’s an obstacle I missed. A big one. Maybe the biggest one of all. What if your family doesn’t cook? What if they never did? What if they don’t want to, either?

At first, this may seem like a problem easily solved. “Suck it up and get going,” you might hear. “This is your journey, not theirs.” Boo, I say. Boo.


Those words are often used to bludgeon people who are struggling.

By Karen Datko Jan 7, 2010 9:29PM

This guest post comes from Andrea at Fools and Sages.


If I had a list of my least favorite phrases or words, “personal responsibility” would be right near the top, along with “you go, girlfriend,” “irregardless” and “supposably.”


Sounds odd, right? How in the world could personal responsibility be a bad thing?


Well, it’s not, of course. Personal responsibility is an honorable trait, one that parents try to instill in their children and companies look for in their employees, something that constituents try in vain to see in their elected officials and fans sometimes pretend to care about in their superstars.


What I don’t like is when the phrase “personal responsibility” is used as a bludgeon, a self-righteous way of saying that those who are somehow facing challenges are stupid, lazy, weak, and immoral.


Some are angry about the delay in getting new releases, but others see a bigger picture.

By Karen Datko Jan 7, 2010 4:28PM

Just when we were ready to ditch the satellite TV in favor of Netflix, news of this deal emerged: New releases from Warner Bros. studios won’t be available for rent through Netflix until 28 days after they go on sale.


We had to wonder: Does that reduce the value of Netflix for us? What do some of Netflix’s 11 million subscribers think?


Some movie fans are not happy.


Buying an extended warranty rarely makes sense -- except when it does.

By Karen Datko Jan 7, 2010 12:05PM

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


Whether you’re buying a $50 MP3 player or a $500 TV, paying more to extend the warranty or service plan is usually -- but not always -- a pretty bad deal.

Buying into such options means you’re betting on a rare event:


That's just the first step in merging lives in ways you might not have considered before.

By Karen Datko Jan 7, 2010 11:14AM

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


Charlene writes in:

I’m getting married in March. My future husband and I are talking about when and how to merge our finances and we’ve had some difficulty coming up with a plan. What did you and your wife do? What would you suggest for other couples on the cusp of marriage?

CBS MoneyWatch examined 8 weight-loss programs. Here's what it found.

By Karen Datko Jan 6, 2010 8:06PM

Many of us are obsessed with weight loss right now. But simply eating less and exercising more can be too boring or too difficult, or require more self-control than we possess.


So maybe we'll consider a weight-loss plan. Maybe we’ve seen the celebrity endorsements or drooled over the pictures of food. But, smart spenders have to ask themselves: Do these programs work and are they worth it?

CBS MoneyWatch analyzed eight weight-loss plans in an article called “Diet plan review: Best ways to lose 20 pounds,” considering factors like price, nutrition, results and clinical studies. In each case, they provide the cost for losing 20 pounds and the cost for each pound of weight lost.


Briefly, here’s what they found about the basic plans offered:


Some saw scores drop 100 points even though they never missed a payment.

By Teresa Mears Jan 6, 2010 3:15PM

People who lost income and are struggling to make mortgage payments thought they had come up with a way to save both their homes and their good credit scores: a mortgage modification.


But it turns out that a mortgage modification, even a temporary one, can hurt your credit score, sometimes as much as a foreclosure or short sale.


They're trying to get weight-conscious customers through their doors, but are the menu choices really good for us?

By Karen Datko Jan 6, 2010 3:06PM

In January we all feel fat, so fast-food purveyors are rolling out new diet menus to keep us coming back despite our New Year’s resolutions, USA Today reports.


Some are also likely inspired by menu-labeling mandates contained in the proposed health care reform legislation -- requirements the restaurant industry supports, according to The Washington Post. Better to cut the calorie counts of menu items before we can all see them in a “clear and conspicuous” place.

But aren’t fast food and healthy food mutually exclusive?

Here’s what’s on the menu:



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