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Sure, it's free, but is it really useable or worthwhile?

By Karen Datko Oct 9, 2009 12:43PM

This guest post comes from Buck Weber at The Buck List.


Can you really find good free stuff on Craigslist? To find an answer to that question, I decided to employ one of the oldest forms of scientific study: observation.


I randomly chose four cities from around the United States (Atlanta, Sacramento, Minneapolis and New York) and during a one-week period of time (Sept. 5-12. OK, eight days) I perused and wrote down what each city had to offer in its respective free sections on Craigslist every day.


What I found was sometimes amusing and somewhat telling of the value we place on our stuff, especially very heavy things.


BOGO brunch, free breakfast, kids eat free and bowling.

By Teresa Mears Oct 9, 2009 12:37PM

It’s time for Friday Food (and a few other) Freebies, courtesy of our friends at Cities on the Cheap.

Here are the latest restaurant and fast-food deals:

  • Get $10 off a $25 purchase at Rainforest Café with a coupon good through Dec. 31. You can download the coupon at Rainforest Cafe’s Facebook page, and you don’t have to belong to Facebook.
  • Free breakfast and a free cup of coffee this weekend, Oct. 10-12, at participating IKEA locations. No coupon necessary. The deal is not valid in Hicksville, N.Y., Houston or at IKEA Direct.

Attitude matters. Try phrasing your PF goals -- and even your setbacks -- in an affirmative way.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 9, 2009 11:14AM
A few days ago I felt pretty good about my finances: bills paid, rent mailed, a chunk of money left to add to the pot for my next quarterly tax payment.

Then came the final disposition of my three-year scholarship. Because tuition has gone up and my other two educational grants have expired, I was left with a truly spooky balance due: $666.

My first reaction: "Oh, man, now I can't use that extra money for taxes!"

My second reaction: "Would you listen to yourself?"  

But I did learn 7 lessons from the experience.

By Karen Datko Oct 9, 2009 10:35AM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.


With mortgage rates at historic lows, we recently tried to refinance our mortgage. The result? Well, as my son would say, FAIL. For the first time in my life, I was denied a loan. (Actually, this was the second time. I was turned down for a student credit card in college.)


Why I was denied the loan is a bit complicated, but it had to do with the appraisal of our home and the fact that we have a home-equity line of credit in addition to a first mortgage.

To make a long story short, the appraiser used the tax assessed value of our home as the benchmark. Tax assessments where we live are historically far below the actual value of real estate, so why he took this approach remains a mystery. The irony of it all is that two weeks after the appraisal, a home just down the street worth less than ours sold for about 15% more than the appraised value of our home.


As frustrating as this process was, we did learn a few things about refinancing a home loan that I want to pass along.


If you don't negotiate starting salary, you might lose out.

By Karen Datko Oct 9, 2009 2:57AM

We've made this mistake in our working life, and we wonder how many other people have too. "Miss M" described it nicely in a post at M is for Money called "My money mistake No. 2 -- didn't negotiate salary."

She wrote: "Everything financial experts tell you not to do, I've probably done. But one mistake stands out in my mind amongst the rest. Let's go back in time to look at when I accepted a low-ball salary offer."


How long will Americans continue to embrace frugality?

By Karen Datko Oct 9, 2009 2:40AM

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

Over the past few months, the mainstream media have been filled with stories about the "New Frugals" and the return to thrift. People who once lived beyond their means, financing their lifestyle with debt, have "found religion." They've begun to embrace frugality, and have discovered the joy that can come through spending less.

Not everyone is happy about this. The March issue of Redbook contained an article called "How to benefit from the recession," which profiled how four women are coping with the recession. The story prompted the following letter to the editor in the May issue:


Blogger 'didn't want to be working for a thing.'

By Karen Datko Oct 9, 2009 2:09AM

Blunt Money's first job after graduate school paid $42,000, so what was one of the first things she did? She went shopping for a new car. "Why was I doing this?" she writes. "When it came right down to it, I didn't know. It just seemed like what people did. Get a better job? Get a better car!"

It was 1999, and the car she test drove was a BMW Z3, which, she recalls, cost about $40,000 at the time. Sounds crazy, but not totally out of line with current car-buying practices. According to, car buyers on average put a measly $2,400 down, finance $24,864 and pay $479 a month. To make matters worse, the most popular loan is for more than five years, dragging those interest payments out longer than people reasonably should.

So what did Blunt Money do?


It's not just rent that you need to consider.

By Karen Datko Oct 9, 2009 1:55AM

This post comes from partner blog Blueprint for Financial Prosperity.

One of the main reasons I bought a home was because I was tired of moving. I hated packing up my things, renting a truck, moving my things, then unpacking my things. It felt like such wasted effort.

However, in my numerous moves, I did establish a great way to come up with a total cost-of-housing metric that helped me compare various housing options.



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