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Is the official estimate for real? Some parents say it's not.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 22, 2010 10:47AM
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced that it costs about $222,360 to raise a child in this country.


Miranda Marquit, a staff writer at Moolanomy, doesn't believe that. She ran some numbers of her own for a post called "Does my son really cost me $26,000 a year?" Marquit figures it's costing less than $15,000 per year to raise her little guy.

Maybe a lot less.

 

Blogger's kids say mints are out. So are pretzels, other healthy fare, and chewy things that don't mix with braces.

By Karen Datko Oct 22, 2010 10:06AM

This guest post comes from Len Penzo at Len Penzo dot Com.

 

When I was a kid, I would come home from my annual after-dark Halloween trip around the neighborhood and empty the booty from my pillowcase to see what I had scored from my ghoulish trick-or-treating adventure.

 

Of course, most of my take was usually the typical Halloween fare, like miniature candy bars. Every year, though, I also got a few unexpected items; some were really awesome Halloween treats -- but others were not.

One year I even got a rock in my bag -- just like Charlie Brown. I'm not kidding.

 

It's a good thing I didn't see that rock go in my sack when it was handed out, or I promise you that bozo's front yard would have looked like a winter wonderland because I would have gone back and toilet-papered it later in the evening.

 

I recently surveyed my kids -- Matthew, 13, and Nina, 11 -- to find out some of the worst stuff well-meaning folks in my neighborhood have tossed in their Halloween bags.

 

High shipping fees, complex return policies and on-time delivery can make the process daunting.

By Karen Datko Oct 21, 2010 7:08PM

This post by Moolanomy's Pinyo comes from partner site USNews.

 

The holiday season is fast approaching, and that means that many of us are getting ready to order gifts online.

I love online shopping for gifts. You get a wider selection, and you can use online wish lists to help you find just what someone wants. However, there are plenty of pitfalls associated with online holiday shopping. Make sure you understand the possible problems and prepare for them.

 

Here are five common pitfalls associated with online holiday shopping:

 

Is it the beginning of the end for Black Friday Midnight Madness?

By Karen Datko Oct 21, 2010 5:47PM

This post comes from Melinda Fulmer of MSN Money.

 

One Massachusetts city has decided it wants none of the retail frenzy associated with Black Friday.

 

Voters at a town meeting in Dartmouth this week approved rigorous new restrictions for retailers who want to open their doors between midnight and 4 a.m. on the traditional holiday shopping kickoff on Nov. 26.

 

"We're not looking to interfere with business," Dartmouth police chief Timothy M. Lee told meeting members, according to SouthCoastToday.com.

Rather, he said they want to protect shoppers and employers from the frenzied stampedes of hundreds of bargain-crazy shoppers that have resulted in countless injuries and at least one fatality -- at a Long Island Wal-Mart in 2008.

 

Target gets flak for a commercial that makes fun of the Halloween outfit a mother made for her little boy.

By Teresa Mears Oct 21, 2010 3:41PM

Perhaps you have been living under a rock the last few weeks, as I have, and therefore are not aware of this serious Halloween scandal:

Target has a commercial making fun of homemade Halloween costumes.

 

They should be ashamed! Actually, I think the 15-second spot is funny. It shows a mother taking pride in the Iron Man costume she has made for her young son, a costume that falls apart as soon as she goes to get her camera. Then Target shows a store-bought Iron Man costume, and the words "Life's a moving target" appear on the screen.

 

The video of the ad has had more than 102,000 views on YouTube.

 

While we find it hard to be outraged by the ad (sometimes a commercial is just a commercial), we don't necessarily agree with it. The homemade Iron Man costume is quite cute and would work fine if the mother found a better way to attach the light to the boy's chest. We LIKE homemade costumes.

 

More couples are cohabitating without the legal benefits of marriage. Here are some basics they need to know.

By Stacy Johnson Oct 21, 2010 1:31PM

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

 

Here are some sobering statistics:

  • 7.5 million opposite-sex couples are living together -- 13% more than this time last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Nearly half (47%) of adults in their 30s and 40s have lived with someone in a sexual relationship, according to a Pew Research Center survey.
  • That same survey says 41% of couples living together don't really care about getting married.

I call these statistics sobering not because I'm passing moral judgment but because I suspect that many unmarried couples haven't properly considered the financial ramifications of living together. That's a mistake, because they're not afforded the same protections and advantages that married couples have.

Books, magazines and the Internet are full of financial advice for the newly engaged. (Money Talks News has provided advice for everything from wedding insurance and divorce insurance to money and marriage.) So here's some financial advice for the unmarried.

 

Facebook, Zynga accused of handing out user information.

By Karen Datko Oct 21, 2010 12:07PM

This post comes from Jon Hood at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

Two class-action lawsuits target Facebook and the largest maker of Facebook applications, alleging that the companies breached consumers' privacy by illegally sharing their information with third parties, in violation of Facebook's own policies.

Both suits follow a Wall Street Journal article detailing a disturbing apparent data breach -- or, more accurately, "leak" -- of consumer information.

 

Here's what you need to know before jumping on one of these tempting offers.

By Money Staff Oct 20, 2010 7:45PM

This post comes from MSN Money's Liz Pulliam Weston.

 

Liz Pulliam WestonInterest-free balance transfer offers started drying up more than two years ago with the beginnings of the credit crunch, as I wrote in my February 2008 column "The credit card party is officially over."


Now, as default rates fall and credit card issuers get bolder about winning market share, 0% offers have come roaring back.

"It's kind of shocking how aggressive some of these offers are, because of lot of experts thought these balance transfer offers were an endangered species," said Curtis Arnold, the founder of card-comparison site CardRatings.com. "I didn't think we'd see their extinction, but I never thought it would rebound as fast as it has."


Arnold points to the Citibank Platinum Select MasterCard as a prime example. Citi started the year offering a 0% balance transfer offer for 12 months. Then Citibank sweetened the term to extend to 15 months, then 18 months. Now, qualified applicants can get 0% for 21 months, with 0% on purchases for 12 months, and the fee has dropped from 5% of the balance to 3%.

 

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