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Because it can.

By Karen Datko Oct 29, 2009 3:41PM

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

 

The College Board (the SAT people) recently released its annual survey of college tuition (.pdf file) and found what it always finds. College got more expensive last year. This time ’round public colleges went up 6.5% and private ones 4.4%, both of which are pretty steep increases when compared with the 2.1% decline in the CPI over the same period.

This was a particularly bad year for the tuition vs. inflation comparison, but the overall trend is striking. According to the College Board, over the past 30 years the average tuition cost has tripled in real inflation-adjusted terms. It’s hard to think of anything else we buy that has gone up as much. It would be like paying $12 a gallon at the pump.

 

The retail behemoth follows Costco's lead by offering a selection of caskets and urns online.

By Karen Datko Oct 29, 2009 11:34AM

Don't look for them on the shelves of your local Wal-Mart store, but Walmart.com is now selling caskets and urns at bargain prices online.

 

The Associated Press reports that Wal-Mart quietly added these items to its huge online selection last week. And it noted that Costco has been selling caskets and urns online as well. Who knew?

This is great news, we think, because the exorbitant prices charged by funeral homes have been one of our pet peeves for decades. Funeral homes are required by law to accept a casket you buy elsewhere -- and can't charge you extra if you do.

 

Her 24-year-old daughter returned home after college and hasn't left yet.

By Karen Datko Oct 29, 2009 9:37AM

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

 

Margaret writes in:

I have a 24-year-old daughter who is still living at home. She went away to college, but moved back in after college while looking for a job. She’s had a good job now for two years, but has made no move at all to move out. She does give me money for groceries and for bills, but she spends the rest of her money as soon as she gets it on clothes and cell phones and laptops. I think it’s time for her to move out, but I know that if I kicked her out, she would have nothing to fall back on. What credit she has is pretty poor. So I’m stuck. What do you suggest?

I suggest putting the impetus back on your daughter.

 

Food stamp cards will be welcomed at half of its stores by Thanksgiving.

By Karen Datko Oct 28, 2009 9:05PM

Costco, the warehouse club for the more sophisticated shopper, will begin accepting food stamps at all of its stores.

 

"It's a big about-face for a retailer that has catered to the bargain-hunting affluent -- and a sign of the grim reality facing retailers and their customers. Food-stamp users recently hit a record 36 million," BusinessWeek said.

 

Sounds like a smart move, for several reasons:

 

New study details card companies' increasingly punitive terms.

By Karen Datko Oct 28, 2009 7:29PM

Need more proof that credit card companies aren’t treating customers with more consideration before the Credit CARD Act actually takes effect next year? A new Pew Charitable Trusts study has details.

Pew reviewed terms offered by nearly 400 credit cards in July and compared them with terms for those cards back in December. Card companies aren’t gradually adopting better behavior as the Feb. 22 deadline for many of the reforms draws near. In fact, the opposite is true.

 

Suze Orman chastises banks, and senator proposes freeze on rates.

By Teresa Mears Oct 28, 2009 5:13PM

Ann Minch, the California woman who got Bank of America to rescind its interest rate increase after she took her fight to YouTube, has recruited an unlikely ally: Suze Orman, the financial author and TV personality and advocate for protecting your FICO score.

 

Minch was featured on Orman’s television show on CNBC, where she told her story and Orman aired clips from her video. While Orman didn’t advise her listeners to quit paying their credit card bills and make YouTube videos instead, she did chastise banks for arbitrary increases in rates, fees and minimum payments and suggested that viewers move their money to credit unions.

 

The wholesale cost of chicken wings is now higher than boneless chicken breast.

By Karen Datko Oct 28, 2009 4:23PM

Do you know why food establishments are pushing boneless chicken wings?

 

Answer: Boneless wings are really chicken breast meat, which now -- in a surprising turn of events -- costs less than real wings with bones.

No, this is not a food quiz blog (although we did once write about whether baby carrots are really tiny little carrots. They're not.) But the fact is that two staples of Sunday football -- chicken wings and beer -- aren't the cheap treats they used to be.

 

The price of wings -- the real ones -- has gone up, and the cost of beer is not coming down, despite a glut of hops on the market, according to news reports.

 

General purpose gift cards come with fees many people don't know about.

By Karen Datko Oct 28, 2009 2:32PM

This post comes from James Limbach at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

A consumer survey commissioned by the Consumer Federation of America and undertaken by the Opinion Research Corp. earlier this month revealed widespread misunderstanding of general purpose gift cards, also sometimes called bank or cash gift cards. Most are issued by Visa, MasterCard and American Express.

 

Only 33% of a representative sample of 1,004 adult Americans know how much these cards cost to purchase, and only 54% are aware that "six to 12 months after purchase, some of these gift cards charge a monthly fee."

A large majority of the more than $50 billion consumers are expected to spend on gift cards this year represents purchase of store cards with no fees or expiration date. But nearly $4 billion, and a growing percentage, will be spent on general purchase gift cards that can be used at most stores. They usually cost $4 to $7 to purchase and sometimes are subject to monthly fees as high as $4.95 as early as six months after purchase.

 

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