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Unscooped dog poop is also high on the list, particularly among city dwellers.

By Karen Datko Dec 4, 2009 3:14PM

This post comes from partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

Americans have many reasons to be annoyed, but what bugs them most are hidden fees and not being able to speak to a human being when they call customer service, according to a survey by Consumer Reports.

 

In a nationally representative survey conducted in late September, Consumer Reports asked 1,125 Americans to score 21 gripes on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 meaning an experience “does not annoy you at all” and 10 meaning it “annoys you tremendously.”

Hidden fees (8.9 overall) and the inability to reach a human being (8.6.) top the list, but tailgating drivers (8.3), cell phone use while driving (8.0) and incomprehensible bills (7.8) were also among the more annoying things that rub Americans the wrong way.

 

Eat a dozen doughnuts this month, and get a dozen free next month.

By Teresa Mears Dec 4, 2009 1:59PM

It’s Friday, and that means it’s time for food freebies and deals, with some help from our friends at Cities on the Cheap.

If you needed any more temptation to eat holiday sweets, Krispy Kreme is here to provide it. Not only does the baker have holiday doughnuts, it has a holiday deal: Buy a dozen doughnuts at a participating store by Dec. 25 and get a dozen gift tags, each good for a free doughnut in January. So you can eat the first dozen doughnuts and give the rest to your friends. OK, save one for yourself.

 

We also found these food deals:

 

Cash advances come with several catches, including a fee.

By Karen Datko Dec 4, 2009 1:00PM

This post by Manshu originally appeared at partner blog The Dough Roller.

 

Almost every credit card gives you the ability to take a cash advance. You can withdraw cash from a credit card simply by using it at an ATM machine. But there are several things about this that you should keep in mind.

I was reminded of these things recently, when a friend took a small cash advance from his credit card, and faced a whole lot of costs he wasn’t aware of.

 

You didn't ask for them. They show up anyway. Time to get creative.

By Donna_Freedman Dec 4, 2009 11:34AM
Attack of the phone books! Every year these shrink-wrapped bundles of directories litter doorsteps and infiltrate apartment buildings. Just when you think you've got the problem licked, yet another publisher hires a guy to throw more bundles.

The obvious answer is to toss the books into the recycle bin. But keep one or two. They have frugal potential.

For example:  

Could any amount of money erase the pain caused by infidelity?

By Karen Datko Dec 3, 2009 7:31PM

Woman’s Day recently polled readers on a touchy issue: “Would you stay if your husband cheated?” Answers last time we checked: yes, 35%; no, 65%. “Maybe” or “It depends” were not options.

 

The ladies have taken a stand. But what if someone sweetened the pot? What if you were offered money -- millions of dollars, let’s say -- to stay with a cheater?

 

Uncle Sam may help foot the bill for your next appliance purchase.

By Stacy Johnson Dec 3, 2009 5:34PM

The "Cash for Clunkers" program earlier this year got tons of press. But that's not the only program Uncle Sam has cooking that encourages you to toss out one energy-guzzler and buy something new and more efficient.

 

A Cash- for-Clunkers program for appliances is now starting to unfold nationwide. Again, the idea is rebates of up to $200, perhaps more, to entice Americans to replace old, energy-hogging appliances with new Energy Star ones.

 

Record low mortgage rates and a federal tax credit make this a good time to buy for some people.

By Teresa Mears Dec 3, 2009 3:22PM

If you can afford it, there has never been a better time to buy a house, especially if you qualify for the homebuyer tax credit of up to $8,000. But should you buy now?

 

Mortgage rates hit 4.71% for a 30-year loan this week, the lowest since Freddie Mac began keeping track in 1971. Home prices are down nationwide, more than 50% in some former boom areas, such as parts of Florida and California.

 

Waiting for prices to drop further could be a false economy. A $200,000 loan at 6% and $180,000 loan at 5% cost about the same. (Run the numbers yourself.)

 

Recession turns more people into semi-vegetarians, which may be healthier.

By Teresa Mears Dec 3, 2009 1:09PM

It’s no surprise that people are eating less meat during the recession.

 

The late Gourmet magazine published a story earlier this year about recession “flexitarians”  -- semi-vegetarians who eat meat occasionally.

 

The magazine noted that meat is the most expensive thing Americans eat, and reported a survey by the American Meat Institute that found that 51% of shoppers have changed their meat purchasing habits because of the economy.

 

That means there is a lot of surplus meat around, and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture has proposed the recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, get increased benefits with the added benefits card good only for specified dairy, poultry and pork products. The proposal also calls for the government to buy up some meat products and distribute them to school lunch programs or food banks.

 

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