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Prices are often marked up to take advantage of travelers' relaxed grip on their purse strings.

By Karen Datko Aug 2, 2010 9:45AM

This post comes from Sierra Black, a staff writer at partner blog Get Rich Slowly.


Travel is a gift. We get to see new places and cultures, meet new people, and expand our lives. Most of us, when we've put the time and money into traveling somewhere special, want to treasure the memories.

There's a large industry to support that desire. Gift and souvenir shops in the United States pull in more than $17 billion a year, according to Hoovers. And gift shops are just the tip of the iceberg.


In a victory for consumers, this October it's going to be a lot tougher to be in the debt-settlement business.

By Stacy Johnson Jul 30, 2010 2:51PM

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


Unless you've been living in a cave for the last several years, you've seen and heard debt-settlement ads -- the ones that make it appear that eliminating credit card debt is as simple as paying "pennies on the dollar."


But after October, those ads may start fading away, along with many of the companies. The Federal Trade Commission has announced what could become crippling restrictions on this particular way to deal with consumer debt.


More and more travelers choose the 'BYOF' option.

By Donna_Freedman Jul 30, 2010 1:57PM
Forget the hotel restaurant. Ignore the lobby store. Bring your own grub.

More and more travelers are opting to bring their own food, according to Lisa Grossberg, manager of Manhattan's Buckingham Hotel. Meal costs can eat up "anywhere from a third to half of the total spent on an average trip," Grossberg says.

Of course, savoring local flavor is an integral part of the travel experience. But if you cut corners on breakfast and lunch, you can afford some really fine dining -- or possibly an extra day or two of travel.

Some hotels offer full kitchens, or at least a small refrigerator and/or microwave. If not? Get creative.  

Some patience is required. But if the wait is routine and interminably long, here are steps you can take.

By Karen Datko Jul 30, 2010 1:55PM

How many of you have arrived at the doctor's office (on time) and been forced to wait, be it 20 minutes, or maybe an hour or two? You inevitably think: Hey, I know you went to medical school (and have the student loan debt to show for it), but my time is valuable, too.

We are not totally powerless when this happens, says a post at The New York Times Bucks blog. From Bucks and other sources, we've come up with several possible courses of action.


But first, why does this happen?


Deals on dessert, burgers, small plates -- and free bowling for all.

By Teresa Mears Jul 30, 2010 12:09PM

We hope you're in the mood for dessert, because it's National Cheesecake Day.


That means two dessert deals good today only, July 30.


The Cheesecake Factory is offering a slice of any cheesecake on the menu for half-price for dine-in guests only.

At Copeland's Cheesecake Bistro, if you buy one slice of cheesecake, you can get one free. You can also save $10 off a whole cheesecake.


We bought a home in the blink of an eye -- the month the housing bubble burst.

By Karen Datko Jul 30, 2010 11:19AM

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


I was at a loss for topics to write about the other day, so I decided to go through some of my old drafts piling up and see if anything sparked my interest. And what do you know -- I found a link I'd saved more than a year and a half ago that was just waiting to come out.


What I liked about this post is that it shows just how NOT perfect we personal-finance bloggers really are. We do stupid stuff and blow our money too, just like you -- even when we very well know it's not financially smart to do so. In fact, if you look around you'll notice that many bloggers are blogging BECAUSE they're in debt. They have awesome war stories, unlike myself. (Although some of mine below are pretty close.)


While the wife and I have gone from $0 net worth to $150,000 in a little more than three years, I am not a perfect angel.


Rent is just one of the new expenses you'll face when you move out on your own.

By Karen Datko Jul 30, 2010 10:16AM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.


Renting your first apartment can be an exciting undertaking. Unfortunately, despite all the energy and excitement conjured up visiting new apartments and thinking about furniture and floor plans, potential renters need to keep their heads on straight.


We've compiled seven basic but extremely important things that first-time (and, for that matter, all) renters need to remember before signing on the dotted line.


The home debt crisis is changing the landscape, causing millions of vacant homes, rising for-sale inventories and downward pressure on prices.

By Karen Datko Jul 29, 2010 8:15PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.


The long middle of the foreclosure tsunami rolls on. And on.


The news from RealtyTrac, which counts foreclosure actions (repossessions, auctions scheduled and notices of default) nationwide, is that foreclosures are increasing in 75% of the nation's largest cities.


In the first half of this year, 1.6 million properties were in foreclosure, RealtyTrac reports. Since RealtyTrac has been keeping records, beginning in 2005, the fewest foreclosures -- 68,525 -- were in March that year. The record, so far, was March this year, with 367,056 properties receiving foreclosure filings in that one month alone.


Four states -- Florida, California, Nevada and Arizona -- are responsible for the top 20 metro foreclosure rates. (Read a recap at Listed, the MSN Real Estate blog.)

Darkness -- and a little light



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