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Company uses scratch-and-sniff to educate about the dangers of natural-gas leaks.

By Karen Datko Aug 16, 2010 7:22PM

Scratch-and-sniff is usually associated with pleasing scents: men's cologne, women's perfume, new-car smell.


Not so with this month's bills from Puget Sound Energy, serving 1 million-plus customers in Washington state. A pamphlet (.pdf file) accompanying the bill is infused with the odor of rotten eggs. Scratch the pamphlet and you'll know what a natural-gas leak smells like. When you smell that smell, it's time to leave the house. Right. Now.

Some found the smelly pamphlet humorous.


Rogue app allows hackers to post spam on Facebook pages.

By Karen Datko Aug 16, 2010 6:18PM

This post comes from Mark Huffman at partner site


If you're offered a chance to install a "dislike" button on your Facebook page, ignore it. It's part of a phishing scam.

The idea behind the "dislike" button is to allow users to flag comments they don't like. Facebook has a like button but not a dislike button, and says it has no plans to add one.


New Outlook plug-in attempts to keep inappropriate emotion out of our online missives. But can it overcome human stupidity?

By Teresa Mears Aug 16, 2010 3:47PM

It's happened to us all. An e-mail we thought was perfectly clear and straightforward was taken by the recipient the wrong way. Perhaps he was offended, angered or thought we were making fun of him. And all we wanted was to make sure he knew the meeting was at 9 a.m., not 10 a.m., and he needed to be there on time.


A new software program wants to save us from ourselves. ToneCheck is a plug-in that works with Microsoft Outlook and was created by the Canadian company Lymbix. Once installed, it will check your messages for inappropriate emotion, giving you an opportunity to reword your missives before you hit "send."


Lymbix CEO Matt Eldridge came up with the program after he found that his e-mail sales pitches fell flat, he told ABC News' Ki Mae Heussner: "I thought to myself, there's a spell check, there's a grammar check. There must be a check I can download into my Outlook to check my tone."


Make more money without leaving a bad taste in your boss's mouth.

By Karen Datko Aug 16, 2010 2:02PM

This guest post comes from Pop at Pop Economics.


Ready to make more money? As I've written before, getting a bigger salary matters more than your asset allocation. It matters more than avoiding ATM fees. Heck, it matters more than your savings rate. If you can get a 20% bump today, you put yourself on the path to a huge difference in wealth 20 years down the road.


And the benefits just multiply. As you negotiate for raises, you'll get better at it. You'll get better in other kinds of negotiations too. Worst-case scenario: You get shot down. But if you don't ask, the answer will always be "no."

In Part One of this two-part series, I explained why "now" is a great time to ask for a raise. The economic environment is bad, but not so much that you've lost all negotiating power.


However, let's not abandon tact. Getting a raise is a lot different from negotiating a job offer.


What's the fastest way to pump up a credit score? I asked the company that invented credit scoring for their three best ideas.

By Stacy Johnson Aug 16, 2010 1:04PM

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


You're planning to buy a house in a few months and want to do everything possible to raise your credit score before you apply for a mortgage. What are the three most important things you can do today for a higher credit score tomorrow?

That's the question I asked Fair Isaac, the company that created the most popular credit score, the FICO score.


Where you rent is increasingly about what technology you use.

By Karen Datko Aug 16, 2010 11:44AM

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


Choosing where to rent movies may soon depend in part on what gadgets you own (basic DVD player excluded).


Over the last year, electronics manufacturers, content providers and rental companies have made a number of partnerships that give consumers more viewing options. TVs, Blu-ray players, game consoles and cell phones, among other devices, today have the ability to download and play movies, or stream them online.


"The choices are almost dizzying now," says Andrew Eisner, director of content for electronics review site

The selection is expanding rapidly, too.


When you've paid off debt and saved for emergencies and retirement, whatever's left over is yours to do with as you please, right?

By Karen Datko Aug 16, 2010 9:32AM

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


I paid off the last of my debt in 2007, quit my day job in 2008, and have been working to build wealth ever since. As I wrote early last year, I'm in what I've called the third stage of personal finance: I've paid off my debt, built a cash cushion in savings, and am maxing out my retirement accounts. And after doing all of these things, I have money left over to spend on comic books and travel. I'm a lucky man.


For the past year, GRS readers have been asking me to write more about the third stage of personal finance. What's it like there? What choices does a person face? What sorts of things does he do with his money?


Though I've wanted to respond to these requests, I haven't.

  • For one thing, I've felt there isn't a whole lot to say. Mostly, the third stage is like the earlier stages, but without the debt. I'm still pretty careful with my cash, but instead of saving to pay off past purchases, or saving my emergency fund, I'm now saving for other goals -- like travel.
  • For another, I'm reluctant to talk about some of my spending.

Confusing my credit card with my debit card at the ATM is going to cost me.

By Karen Datko Aug 13, 2010 5:26PM

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


I did something very stupid: I used my credit card instead of my debit card at the ATM last week. Three different times. The stupid cards look so much alike.


So, this means that:

  • Each transaction was treated as a cash advance -- charging me $15-plus in total fees just for swiping them.


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