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First steps: Get your FICO score and a free credit report.

By Karen Datko Oct 6, 2009 11:12PM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller:

Improving your FICO credit score has never been more important than it is now. Your credit score affects whether you are approved for a loan, the interest rate your pay, and even the cost of insurance.

Credit card companies now use credit scores and credit history to determine not only the interest rate that will apply to the account, but other terms such as the length of no-interest balance transfers. And your credit score can even impact whether you get a job.

In short, your credit score has a big impact on your finances. The good news is that you can begin to improve your credit score today with a few simple steps.


Many factors can affect the value.

By Karen Datko Oct 6, 2009 11:04PM

This post comes from Xin Lu at partner blog Wise Bread.

I first read about selling hair in "Les Misérables," when Fantine sold her head of gold to clothe her daughter, Cosette. The hair trade just seems like such an archaic idea, but, actually, high-quality hairpieces are still made from real human hair and there is a huge market for sourcing natural hair.

Here are some tips and information on how to sell your tresses for cash.


You might be able to get one for free.

By Karen Datko Oct 6, 2009 10:22PM

This post comes from partner blog Blueprint for Financial Prosperity.

It's always possible to get an influenza vaccination unless the vaccine is in short supply, but it's another matter to find a free flu shot. If you're elderly or in another at-risk group, you stand the best chance of getting a free shot. If you're healthy and can afford spending $20, I recommend you leave the freebies for those less fortunate and pay for your shot.

Where can you find a free flu shot?


Retirement plan not a good choice for most people.

By Karen Datko Oct 6, 2009 10:14PM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.

Let's get right to the point: Saving for retirement in a Roth 401(k) likely will leave you with less money in retirement than if you had invested in a traditional 401(k).

There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, a Roth 401(k) may be the right choice if you make more than $1 million a year or if you make so little that you pay no income tax or very little income tax. But for the majority of us, the Roth 401(k) is better left alone. Here's why.


Recycling really doesn't take much effort.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 6, 2009 7:10PM

Recently a tenant moved out of the apartment building I manage. During the final walk-through I saw that she'd left behind a wall-mounted spice rack, a shelf-and-cabinet unit in the bathroom and a wheeled kitchen cart. She told me her fiancé had all the household items they needed. If no one wanted those things, they could just be thrown away.

I love my new kitchen cart. 


It may be repetitious, but at least frugal living is relaxing.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 6, 2009 6:55PM

Over at partner blog Wise Bread, writer W.C. Porter has proposed the "Boring Challenge." Porter suggests changing a habit for one week to see how much money you can save. Making the replacement habit "boring" makes it simple, he says.

In his case it was taking a lunch instead of eating at a restaurant -- "boring" because it was the same lunch every day. And it was simple, so simple that Porter kept going. After three years, he'd saved $2,000.

The Boring Challenge kind of describes my life, although I don't think of it as particularly boring. I'd call it the "Who Cares? It Works!" Challenge. 


Sticking with bills can help keep you on track.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 6, 2009 6:47PM

Last month my colleague Karen Datko linked to a post from personal finance blogger "Broke Grad Student." The short essay, "6 reasons why I hate cash," seemed at least partly tongue in cheek, especially since a couple of days later he followed up with reasons to love money. Yet the underlying sentiment -- plastic rules, cash stinks -- seemed genuine.

Broke Grad Student wrote his piece after making an ATM run to buy food at his workplace cafe. "Having to make the trip to get the cash (annoyed) me," he wrote. Good grief -- hasn't this man ever thought about getting cash back with a purchase from the supermarket or drugstore? Or, for that matter, about packing his own lunch

The blogger further groused that cash is "easy to lose." Just about everybody misplaces moola, he claimed, and afterward "you can't call an 800 number and have them cancel your $20 bills."

Yeah, and if you lose your credit or debit card and don't have any cash on you, good luck with that cab ride.


Packing your pantry can make financial sense.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 6, 2009 6:37PM

I have 29 cans of tuna, thanks to a really good sale at Albertsons. Last week's ad had a coupon for Chicken of the Sea tuna at three cans for 99 cents, limit six. 

The fine print said "one coupon per transaction," not "one coupon per customer." Some of my neighbors toss the grocery ads unread into the lobby recycle bin, so I wound up with a handful of coupons.

Guess which destination walk I chose a bunch of times in the past week? And guess what I had for lunch on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday?



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