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Parents face social pressure to pay for photos every year.

By Karen Datko Oct 5, 2009 5:13PM

Are school pictures one of those things you can’t sacrifice, no matter what they cost? What if you simply can’t afford them?


Jenn at Frugal Upstate offers three ways to avoid this expensive, annual tradition. (However, she wrote that under the pressure of time, "I caved. … Yes, I have now shelled out a grand total of $75 for school pictures: $29 for each of the kids for one of the smallest packages, then $17 for Buddy’s soccer pictures," she added.

One reader of Lafayette, Ind.-based reported paying $100 total for her two kids. Others lamented that you can’t buy photos a la carte anymore, but have to get an entire package.


"It's like cable. You have to pay for all the stuff you don't want or use," wrote "mockingbirdmom." "What a racket."


Maybe your bank will let you opt out of overdraft protection.

By Karen Datko Oct 5, 2009 3:09PM

We’d venture that overdraft fees are the most hated fees charged by banks, and they charge a lot -- an estimated $36.7 billion last year, USA Today reports.


Bankaholic explains how overdraft fees work:

It doesn’t matter whether they’re buying a mink coat or a $4 latte at Starbucks. And to help them charge as many overdraft fees as possible, the banks deduct the largest purchases on any given day first to drain accounts as quickly as possible.

Now, facing possible restrictions from Congress and the Federal Reserve, more banks are putting limits on the despised fees, which are often in the neighborhood of $26 to $39.


Here’s what you can expect in the near future:


Should Congress take action to control debit card fees?

By Karen Datko Oct 5, 2009 9:50AM

This post is from Adam Baker, a staff writer at partner blogger J.D. Roth’s Get Rich Slowly.


Several weeks ago, The New York Times featured an article callled "Overspending on debit cards is a boon for banks." While I usually favor personal-finance blogs over the larger online media networks (call me partial), this piece was particularly compelling to me. It does an excellent job of shedding light on a topic that is positioned to be the next major debate in our government’s quest for banking reform.

As many other sectors of the banking industry continue to underperform, debit cards have stepped up to become an essential profit center for banks. Fees associated with overdrafting checking accounts are expected to exceed $27 billion this year. In comparison, the article predicts only $20.5 billion in credit card fees, which is likely to drop even further in the years ahead as recent government reform will require consumers to opt in to over-the-limit charges.


Each major credit bureau has its own system.

By Karen Datko Oct 5, 2009 2:01AM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.

Earlier this week we took a look at how to get your free FICO credit score from Operated by the Fair Isaac Corp., creator of the FICO credit score, it offers consumers a free credit report and FICO credit score when they sign up for a 30-day trial of Score Watch. The FICO credit score provides is from Equifax, one of the three major credit bureaus.

And that's where some confusion can creep in.

There are three major credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. And each of these credit bureaus calculates a consumer's FICO credit score, which can be and usually is different for each credit bureau. In other words, you likely have a different FICO credit score from each of the three major credit bureaus. And to add to the confusion, each of the credit bureaus calls its version of the FICO credit score by a different name.

So let's quickly sort all this out:


To avoid price increases, companies stealthily reduce sizes.

By Karen Datko Oct 5, 2009 1:43AM

"LivingAlmostLarge" at the blog with the same name read an article about how manufacturers of food and sundry items are shrinking the size of their products and charging the same price. She found the proof in her own cupboards.

She wrote that "curiosity got the better of me and I started to pull through my cabinets.  And Bounty did decrease the roll size. I can say that because I have some from last summer." Bounty isn't the only product that's smaller now.


Many don't like being told they live unhealthy lives.

By Karen Datko Oct 5, 2009 1:32AM

Freemoneyfinance has compiled more than 700 money-saving tips over the years. Based on feedback from readers, FMF, in typical snarky fashion, has compiled the 10 most-hated suggestions. We'll share some of the highlights here.

No. 10 on the list: "Be healthy." "Let's face it, people don't like being told they are fat and lazy," FMF writes. "I think that's at the core of the disdain for a healthy lifestyle." Quitting smoking is No. 8.


Do you really know as much as you think you do?

By Karen Datko Oct 2, 2009 6:22PM

Do you think you’re the reigning coupon queen in your neck of the woods? Do you need proof or confirmation?


Blogger Paula Wethington at the always excellent Monroe on a Budget (that’s Monroe, Mich.) has written a quiz to test your skills. We took it, and it’s a good one.


Try this question out:

3. The store is having super double-coupon sale up to $2 value. You have a 75 cents-off coupon for a product that has a retail price of $1.25. How much will you pay for that product?
A. You will get a refund of 25 cents.
B. The product will be free.

Here’s the answer (this post is all the better because Paula provides an explanation with each one).


Picking the wrong pet can be quite costly.

By Karen Datko Oct 2, 2009 3:43PM

This guest post comes from "vh" at Funny about Money.


M’hijito called the other evening to report that a friend of a friend wants to find a new home for a 2-year-old golden retriever. M’hijito himself has craved to get a dog for a long time, and in particular he pines for a golden, the breed of his beloved childhood companion.


The story is that the pup’s family consists of a pair of divorcing doctors. The dog belongs to their 15-year-old daughter. Mom and Dad, in their unholy wisdom, have decided that in addition to depriving their child of a stable pair of parents (chances are she hasn’t had one of those in a long time), they’re also going to deprive her of her pet, neither parent wishing to take care of it in singlehood.


To be fair, there’s a second pet dog, possibly one that’s more manageable in an apartment (read “doesn’t eat the furniture”). But there it is: The element of cruelty gives M’hijito pause. It has a whiff of coldness about it that makes one wonder what exactly is being offered and why.


Because my familiars have always been dogs (preferably large ones) rather than the tediously conventional black cats, he wanted to know what questions I would ask about this animal and its background, by way of guessing what he was getting into. So, I came up with a few things a person might want to know.


If you’re interested in adopting an adult dog, especially one that comes from a private home (as opposed to a shelter), you might consider a few of these, too:



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