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There are ways to cut through the compulsory trailers and ads and go right to the movie.

By Karen Datko Aug 20, 2010 10:07AM

This guest post comes from Len Penzo at Len Penzo dot Com.


One recent weekend not too long ago I came home to find out that both my kids happened to be spending the night at neighbors' homes. Heh.


Of course, I'm sure all of you who are married with children know what that means.


But before that could actually happen I had to grease the skids. Er, so to speak.


Both the "Honeybee" and I are homebodies, so we decided to cook up some steaks at home and rent a movie.


I sauteed us some fresh mushrooms and then cooked us up a couple of nice rib eyes (cooked rare, and lightly marinated beforehand in Italian dressing). Our steaks were accompanied by baked potatoes loaded with butter, sour cream, chives and bacon bits.

Oh yeah, it was delicious.


Before I knew it the kitchen was cleaned up and it was movie time.


I popped us up some fresh hot popcorn and cracked open a frosty cold one. Meanwhile, the Honeybee made herself a tall Jack and Diet Coke and grabbed a big bag of peanut M&Ms she thinks she keeps hidden from me in the cupboard (in the far corner, behind the bag of Lay's Salt & Vinegar potato chips). Never mind that I prefer the plain ones.


At 8:30 p.m. we settled down to watch "Clash of the Titans" starring Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and a bunch of other actors I never heard of.


Buying those seasoning packets is really costly. The secret is MYOM -- make your own mix.

By Karen Datko Aug 19, 2010 6:45PM

This guest post comes from Kris at Cheap Healthy Good.


The more I learn about saving cash on food, the madder I get with myself when I knowingly waste money. While this holds true for every aspect of grocery shopping, it's double the fury when it comes to McCormick-style seasoning packets. Why?


Well, almost any prepackaged spice mix, rub, or powder can be made at home for a fraction of the price. Oftentimes, it'll taste better, too.

Case in point: I'd been running out of chili powder for almost a month. It occurred to me several times to buy some, but always in places like the Q Train or the bathroom at Barnes & Noble.


More people are refinancing into short-term loans. Is this right for you?

By Karen Datko Aug 19, 2010 5:04PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.


Mortgage rates fell again this week, says Freddie Mac, the government-run mortgage agency that surveys the market each week.

The average price of a 30-year mortgage dropped to 4.42%, from 4.44%. Buyers are paying an average of 0.7 point for that rate. This time last year, the mortgage rate was 5.12%, which seemed pretty low back then.


Amazingly, you can get a 15-year fixed-rate loan for under 4% -- 3.90% this week, which is down from last week's rate of 3.92%.


Health officials fear salmonella outbreak could sicken thousands.

By Karen Datko Aug 19, 2010 4:04PM

This post comes from Mark Huffman at partner site


Wright County Egg, one of the nation's largest egg producers, has increased its recall of eggs to 380 million, or 32 million cartons. That's a 66% increase since Wednesday.


Meanwhile, health officials are worried that the tainted eggs could spark the worst outbreak of salmonella in two decades, eclipsing the 2007 outbreak linked to peanut butter.


The growing popularity of group buying has drawn a shady element.

By Karen Datko Aug 19, 2010 12:54PM

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


A rise in the number of group-buying sites offering daily deals is making it harder for bargain hunters to spot group sales that are worthwhile.

Group-buying sites offer limited-time purchase windows on discounted goods or services but follow through on the deal only if enough people sign up. Their ranks have multiplied over the last few months, as startups jostle for a piece of the profitable market.


If you want a better life than you have now, you're going to have to do some uncomfortable things in the short term.

By Karen Datko Aug 19, 2010 12:00PM

This post comes from Trent Hamm at partner blog The Simple Dollar.


"It takes all the running you can do just to stay in the same place." -- The Red Queen, "Alice in Wonderland"


I receive piles of stories from readers, but the final question in a recent reader mailbag really stuck with me. I'll quote it here, so you can read it again:

So I sit here writing this at a very challenging job that I enjoy the bulk of, but zaps the life right out of me, and leaves little of me for my two young children, ages 6 and 2. (I am a paralegal.) I enjoy the majority of what I do, but there is so much of me invested in this, and I feel overworked. I am currently the only paralegal for two very busy attorneys, and I only have a helper to answer the phones for about 20 hours per week. This all leads to my question.
I am a single mother for the majority of the past two years due to a nasty divorce.

You may not realize it, but you probably can't sue your credit card company and other businesses you deal with. That may be ending. Here's why it matters.

By Stacy Johnson Aug 19, 2010 9:40AM

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


Talk to a lawyer, and he'll tell you: You can sue anyone for any reason at any time. It's your constitutional right. (And other people can sue you as well, even for Internet posts. Check out "When free speech gets expensive.")


While it may be theoretically possible to sue on a whim, in the real world it's not as easy as it may seem -- at least not if the target is your bank, broker, cell phone provider or many other businesses you deal with. That's because, before they agree to do business with you, many of those companies require you to accept a contract provision waiving your right to sue in favor of arbitration. Why didn't you know that? Because it's in the fine print you never read.


The new rules improve the chances that you'll get more value from the card before it expires or inactivity fees eat up the balance.

By Karen Datko Aug 18, 2010 5:54PM

Sheryl Harris of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland has some good advice: If you're planning to buy a gift card, wait until Sunday, Aug. 22.


That's when new federal gift card rules take effect, along with the final protections for credit card customers that were included in the Credit CARD Act and phased in over time since the bill was signed into law last year.


Here's what's in store:



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