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Citibank now wants a big fat annual fee, but dropping that credit card will damage her credit score.

By Karen Datko Mar 10, 2010 2:46PM

This guest post comes from Andrea at Fools and Sages.


Have your credit cards started adding annual fees yet? Not the ones you use -- that would be silly. The banks will gouge you in other ways for those. I’m talking about the ones that you don’t use.


It turns out that maintaining those cards is a pricey venture for the poor, downtrodden banks.


I received notice from Citibank last week that a card I haven’t used in, oh, seven years will begin having a $60 annual fee starting April 1. The only way for me to avoid this fee is to use the card, to the tune of about $200 per month in charges.


That’s not that much and I could actually easily wrangle a way to do it, except that I don’t want to. Our family is trying to whittle down credit cards, not add usage. But closing this particular card down would be particularly damaging to my credit score.


Some of that stuff you want to get rid of may be worth more than you think.

By Karen Datko Mar 10, 2010 1:35PM

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


Done right, de-cluttering during spring cleaning can yield more cash than just spare change found amid the couch cushions.


“We Americans are in love with our stuff, and we have way too much of it,” says Gail Cunningham, a spokeswoman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. “If you haven’t used it or worn it in a year, sell it.” In addition to profiting from the sale, you may be able to cut costs to store and maintain items.


Before you sell, do a quick online search for the item, using the make, model and other identifiers as keywords, says Brandie Kajino, a professional organizer in Vancouver, Wash. It’s not uncommon to undervalue a used or older item -- that is, after all, the entire premise of collectibles shows like “Antiques Roadshow.”


Hosting a garage sale or setting up eBay listings is one way to clear things out, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll get top dollar. Before you resort to a big sale, try these tactics to profit:


You can use the money for all kinds of things. One young couple used it to buy peace of mind.

By Karen Datko Mar 10, 2010 11:47AM

This post comes from WC Porter at partner blog Wise Bread.


After two years, more than 80 viewings, and almost breaking up with our broker, we finally bought our first place.


It's been a saga but we finally got it done. And as someone who has been looking for this long, I can tell you that we were pressured every step of the way to just buy something -- anything -- because it was the "perfect" time to buy. This had to do with prices coming down and interest rates being low.

But the best reason to buy was always President Obama's first-time homebuyer's tax credit. It would give us $8,000 in cash to use however we pleased after we closed on the home. This deal was the greatest thing since the Snuggie and we would be stupid not to take advantage of it.


Critics argue that unemployment checks encourage people to put off finding a job. Do they have a point?

By Karen Datko Mar 9, 2010 10:12PM

Some people have been getting unemployment benefits for so long -- they've been extended to up to 99 weeks in some hard-hit locations -- that critics say the program is morphing into just another entitlement, The Washington Post reports.


We had to wonder: Should unemployment benefits be cut off after, say, six months or a year, even in tough times, forcing the jobless to take any job they can find -- if they can find one? Or, as supporters say, do the benefits bolster not just individual families but also the entire economy?


For insight, we turned to Roger, The Amateur Financier, who has been collecting unemployment benefits for most of the past year. Are the payments, as critics claim, a disincentive to find a job?


The company is barred from making deceptive claims and is required to safeguard customers' private information.

By Karen Datko Mar 9, 2010 7:43PM

This post comes from partner site


LifeLock Inc. has agreed to pay $11 million to the Federal Trade Commission and $1 million to a group of 35 state attorneys general to settle complaints that the company used false claims to promote its identity theft protection services -- which it widely advertised by displaying the CEO’s Social Security number on the side of a truck.


In one of the largest FTC-state coordinated settlements on record, LifeLock and its principals will be barred from making deceptive claims and required to take more stringent measures to safeguard the personal information it collects from customers.


“While LifeLock promised consumers complete protection against all types of identity theft, in truth, the protection it actually provided left enough holes that you could drive a truck through it,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said.


Domino's is teaming with fire departments to push fire safety. Some people will get free pizza -- but they'd better avoid 'puffery.'

By Teresa Mears Mar 9, 2010 5:30PM

If you’re thinking of ordering pizza from Domino’s on Sunday,  you might want to make sure all your smoke detectors are working.


If they are, you could get your pizza free as well as have it delivered on a firetruck. Won’t the kids like that?

Just be sure you don’t engage in any "puffery," and we don’t just mean the kind you do with cigarettes, or Domino’s may take your pizza back. We’re kidding about that part. Sort of.


Where is it written that you need to live like a pharoah? To attain bumhood, you need a home you can truly afford.

By Karen Datko Mar 9, 2010 5:27PM

This guest post comes from “vh” at Funny about Money.


We’ve been talking, on and off, about routes to financial freedom, defined as a life off the day-job treadmill that leaves you free to do what you want to do with your time, not what someone else decides you should do.


It takes time to achieve this freedom. You need get enough education or vocational training to land a job that will produce enough income to allow you to build savings, and you need to live not only within that income but below it. An important part of your early-escape strategy is to get a roof over your head that’s paid for.


Yes. Pay off your mortgage.


The percentage of American workers with no savings rises for the third year.

By Elizabeth Strott Mar 9, 2010 2:36PM

More Americans are ill-prepared for retirement, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute's 20th annual Retirement Confidence Survey.


The percentage of workers who said they have less than $10,000 in savings grew to 43% in 2010, from 39% in 2009. Their savings do not include the value of primary homes and defined-benefit pension plans.

And more workers said they have virtually no savings and investments at all: 27% said they have less than $1,000 in savings, up from 20% in 2009.



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