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As apartment vacancies drop, more landlords balk at granting concessions.

By Karen Datko Aug 26, 2010 4:24PM

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


The clock is ticking for consumers looking to negotiate a more favorable rent on a home or apartment. Not only are landlords less willing to offer some of the price breaks common last year, but in many markets they are actually raising rents.

"The recovery of and increase in (rental) demand happened a lot sooner and was more dramatic than we expected," says Hessam Nadji, managing director for research and advisory services at Marcus & Millichap, a real estate investment services firm.


Record low finds few in a position to buy, but 8 out of 10 loans go to homeowners grabbing payments half the size of a generation ago.

By Teresa Mears Aug 26, 2010 1:57PM

Once again, mortgage rates have dropped to the lowest levels seen in most of our lifetimes. Once again, few Americans can take advantage of the low rates to refinance or buy homes.


According to Freddie Mac's weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 4.36% this week, the lowest rate since Freddie Mac started keeping records in 1971 and a rate not seen since the 1950s, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, when loan terms were shorter.


This is the ninth record low we've seen this year, and we may see another low next week.


Experiments with monkeys indicate we've been making the same money mistakes for millions of years.

By Karen Datko Aug 26, 2010 1:05PM

This guest post comes from Pop at Pop Economics.


How hard is it to learn to be a good investor? I've written a lot about the behavioral quirks that cause us to make major mistakes when we put our money in stocks and bonds, even though we know that we'd do a lot better to make different decisions. Losses hurt more than gains feel good. Walking inside your boss's office for a review actually triggers an adrenal response -- you're ready to sock your boss in the face or fly out the door as he tells you how well you're filling out Excel spreadsheets.

Of course, none of these emotional and hormonal responses actually help you do anything. You know that having cold, sweaty hands isn't going to help you explain your position to your boss effectively, in the same way you know that getting a free ice cream cone should make you just as happy as dropping one on the floor makes you sad. So why do we do it?


According to a new survey, most Americans think doctors are more loyal to big drug companies than to individual patients.

By Stacy Johnson Aug 26, 2010 11:34AM

This post comes from Michael Koretzky at partner site Money Talks News.


When their doctor writes them a prescription, more than two-thirds of Americans feel a bit queasy. Or so implies a new Consumer Reports survey that shows 69% of those currently taking prescription medications think doctors are in cahoots with big drug companies.


The survey of 1,150 adults makes some bold claims:


Visiting coupon sites for the sole purpose of saving money will cost you money.

By Karen Datko Aug 26, 2010 9:58AM

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


I've long been an advocate of using coupons at the grocery store. I often clip coupons for toiletries and household products and, when there are opportunities, for some food items like organic milk. I've used coupons for bigger purchases as well.

Because of this, I hear almost every day from people who have great coupons or great coupon-offering websites. "You should try this!" they'll say, or they'll suggest that I feature the site on The Simple Dollar. A very recent example of this is Groupon; other examples include Coupon Sherpa and Woot -- and I won't even touch on the plethora of "coupon blogs" out there.


I don't link to these things. In fact, I usually don't visit them beyond simply adding them as a bookmark to a "coupon" folder in my browser.


Some of you are probably surprised by that (others might already know why). After all, on a site interested in saving money, why wouldn't I hunt down coupons?


With inControl, your card can be declined when you exceed your own preset spending limit. Why is this a good thing?

By Karen Datko Aug 25, 2010 4:34PM

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


It has been months since I last shared confusion over the way everybody else uses credit cards. Today I am back at it.


Recently The New York Times had a report about a new feature being rolled out by MasterCard and Citibank.

The service, called inControl and already in use by some Barclaycard holders in Britain, is a sort of financial chastity belt that offers the potential to prevent a variety of budget sins and other money traps.
Worried about your restaurant habit? If your bank adopts MasterCard's service, you could tell it to have your debit or credit card reject any restaurant purchase above whatever monthly cap you set.

I must admit I do like the name of the product. "InControl" neatly implies that without it you would be "outofControl," and I think that if this service appeals to you that is likely true.


If you find an enticing place that's priced like a car, it may make sense to negotiate just as you would in the dealer's showroom.

By Karen Datko Aug 25, 2010 2:37PM

This post comes from Stacy Johnson at partner site Money Talks News.


Right now, you can buy a one-bedroom, one-bath condo in Las Vegas for $29,000 -- or, for around the same price at a Las Vegas Buick dealership, a brand-new 2010 GMC Sierra pickup truck, fully loaded.

That's right. A place to live can now cost you less than a car to drive -- even some used cars -- and not just in Vegas. Around the country, you can find homes that cost less than the sticker prices at nearby car dealers. Fact is, the recession has devastated home prices much more than auto prices.


AARP finds costs up 41.5% in 5 years -- 3 times the rate of inflation. The industry faults the report for excluding generics.

By Teresa Mears Aug 25, 2010 12:56PM

This won't be a surprise to anyone who regularly fills a prescription: The price of name-brand drugs has risen 8.3% in the past year, far faster than the rate of inflation.


In a report (.pdf file) that looked at prices over five years, AARP found that prices for 207 name-brand drugs commonly taken by Medicare beneficiaries had increased 41.5% since 2004, compared with an inflation rate of 13.3%.


For people who take more than one prescription drug to treat chronic conditions, the impact can be substantial. A patient who regularly takes three name-brand drugs would have paid nearly $1,900 a year more in 2009 than in 2004. The report looked at retail prices of drugs, and many patients with insurance pay less.



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