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Is it ever necessary for the packaging to dwarf the food inside?

By Karen Datko Dec 7, 2009 2:04PM

Does it annoy you when you open a box of some kind of food -- fish sticks, say, or a rice concoction -- and find the box only half full?


Consumer Reports examined nine products suggested by readers and, in each case, the actual weight of the contents was accurately displayed but the package contained a disappointing amount.

Federal law prohibits companies from using packaging to mislead consumers, but “slack fill,” as it’s called, “is allowed if it keeps a product from breaking, if the package does double-duty (as a dispenser, or a tray, for example) to accommodate machinery on the assembly line, or to discourage theft in the store,” our partner site says.


Add these 5 sites to your arsenal for finding the best travel deals.

By Karen Datko Dec 7, 2009 9:59AM

This post comes from Adam Baker, a staff writer at partner blog Get Rich Slowly.


When booking airfare online, most people think of the popular online aggregation sites. You know the ones: They have the fancy commercials, catchy jingles, and washed-up celebrity pitchmen. While those sites aren’t inherently bad, there are a few well-documented problems with relying solely on these larger engines:


If you can't afford your health insurance premiums, here are some options.

By Karen Datko Dec 4, 2009 8:47PM

The economic stimulus package passed early this year included a subsidy to help laid-off workers pay for COBRA -- a continuation of the health care coverage they used to have through their workplace.


This week, the nine-month subsidy ran out for the first group of unemployed people who qualified. This is bad news. Paying for COBRA without government help will be a challenge -- an impossibility even -- for many folks.


The argument that winning = ruin is a fraud.

By Karen Datko Dec 4, 2009 6:51PM

This guest post comes from Frank Curmudgeon at Bad Money Advice.


There is a pretty obvious reason why buying lottery tickets is a bad idea. You will lose money. The odds are usually just awful. Casino gambling is, in comparison, a comparatively sound investment.


And, of course, casino gambling is not a wise thing to do with your savings. You would have to be off the deep end of "positive thinking" to believe anything other than it is, for some, an amusing way to waste money.


That objection to gambling, and lotteries, is today so pervasive that we have all but forgotten another traditional objection. A hundred years ago, at least as common as the argument that you would probably lose was the one that you might win.


With millions of foreclosures looming, only 1,711 homeowners have negotiated a deal.

By Teresa Mears Dec 4, 2009 6:20PM

The Obama administration this week said it planned to use a new weapon to persuade lenders to modify more troubled mortgages: shame.


Treasury Department officials plan to increase the pressure on the 71 companies participating in the government’s $75 billion effort to stem the foreclosure crisis, starting by sending three-person "SWAT teams" to monitor the eight largest companies' progress.


The goal is to increase the number of temporary mortgage modifications that become permanent.  As of September, more than 650,000 borrowers had received temporary modifications but only 1,711 had seen a permanent modification.

In contrast, one of eight U.S. mortgages is in foreclosure or in default, noted a Congressional Oversight Panel charged with evaluating the administration’s efforts to stem the foreclosure crisis. That panel raised serious questions about whether the Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP) would make a dent in the 10 million to 12 million foreclosures it estimates could be the result of the current crisis.


"It increasingly appears that HAMP is targeted at the housing crisis as it existed six months ago, rather than as it exists right now," the panel wrote.


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


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.



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