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If you're brewing your morning cup with a $20,000 coffee maker, that's a pretty expensive jolt.

By Karen Datko May 4, 2010 8:49AM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.

 

The "latte factor" is the idea that frequent, small-dollar purchases add up quickly. We don’t notice them because the purchases are so small, like a $3 cup of coffee each morning, but over the course of a year that adds up to serious money. It’s not a novel idea. There are plenty of idioms that mirror that same idea (death by a thousand cuts, tipping point), but it's a popular one in personal finance.

 

Except $3 a cup is nothing. Worry about the $10-a-day or $30 mistake you’re making. Forget the latte factor; focus on bigger things. And when you really think about it, $3 for a cup ain’t bad. Let’s see how really expensive it can get.

 

Blogger organizes national event to share with food banks, homeless shelters and other people in need.

By Karen Datko May 3, 2010 2:55PM

What are the coupon queens (and kings) of the blogosphere doing this week? They’re sharing their bounty to benefit people who need help. The event, Couponing for Community, began Sunday, May 2, and will last the entire week.

 

The final day, incidentally, coincides with the National Association of Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger food drive. Suggestion: Use your extra coupons to buy nonperishable food items to leave in a bag at your mailbox or door.

 

Kudos go to Kaley Ehret, who blogs at Cha Ching on a Shoestring, for coming up with the idea for Couponing for Community and taking it nationwide.

 

The company was slow to set up a procedure, but it now has a form on its website. Retailers are also issuing refunds.

By Teresa Mears May 3, 2010 1:36PM

When a unit of Johnson & Johnson recalled its liquid children’s cold medicines this weekend, it told parents to throw all the old medication away.

 

What the company did NOT tell parents was how to get a refund for the over-the-counter products, which cost $5 per bottle and up.

 

Mothers don't want junk you can't afford for Mother's Day. Here are some frugal gifts for the mom who cares about how you spend your money.

By Teresa Mears May 3, 2010 11:08AM

Sunday, May 9, is Mother’s Day, and that means we are being bombarded by ads for “deals” on Mother’s Day gifts.

 

But what does Mom really want? She wants you to call or visit, of course. She wants you to do the cooking and cleanup, or else take her out to eat. Yes, she does want a mushy greeting card. But your mother cares about your financial health, and she doesn’t want you to spend money you don’t have.

 

A merger could increase the number and cost of travel fees.

By Karen Datko May 3, 2010 9:58AM

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

 

Investors have already digested many of the implications of a merger between Continental Airlines and United Airlines. Now, consumers should brace themselves for one in particular: new fees.

 

After years of sputtering merger talks, the two carriers announced a deal to combine operations this morning. The new airline would be the world’s largest, in terms of the number of passengers carried. During 2009, Continental and United carried more than 77.4 million passengers on domestic flights alone, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Delta, the current record-holder, carried 55.6 million domestic passengers over the same period.

 

Fusing Continental and United may affect a variety of customer services, including fare sale policies and frequent-flier miles. But the carriers’ differing approaches to fees could also mean added costs for many fliers -- particularly Continental fans.

 

Some widely held beliefs aren't true. It really pays to do your own research.

By Karen Datko May 3, 2010 8:52AM

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

 

When I sat down to write “Your Money: The Missing Manual,” I knew I wanted to start with a chapter on happiness. (Well, to be fair, I was going to conclude the book with this chapter; my editor suggested moving it to the beginning, which was a stroke of genius.) In particular, I wanted to make the point that money doesn’t buy happiness. Because we all know that’s true, right?

 

Well, not so much, as it turns out.

 

And, in all honesty, should I really care?

By Karen Datko Apr 30, 2010 2:44PM

This guest post comes from J. Money at Budgets are Sexy.

 

I keep seeing these middle-class factoids from U.S. News & World Report at other personal-finance blogs (including Free Money Finance) so I thought I’d join in. I hadn’t looked through them all yet, but I was willing to guess that, yes, I am middle class. Let’s see if I’m wrong, though, shall we?

 

The middle-class matchup:

  • Income: “For the 50% of families in the middle of the scale, household income ranges from $51,000 to $123,000 for a typical four-person, two-parent family. The median is about $81,000.”
    • J$: Between my full-time gig, side hustles, and the wife’s TA position, we fall a little under $100k.
 

Those blank checks in the mail from your card company can be very costly.

By Karen Datko Apr 30, 2010 12:45PM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.

 

Have you ever received blank checks from a credit card company? We get them all the time. A letter comes in the mail from one of our credit card issuers, and inside are a bunch of perforated “convenience” checks -- and a lot of legal jargon, too.

 

The idea of writing a check without drawing down your checking account can be really enticing. It can also cost you an arm and a leg.

 

So we thought it was time to take a closer look at exactly what convenience checks are, and the pros and cons of using them.

 

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