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The IRS stops aiding and abetting tax preparers in making high-interest loans to those who can least afford them.

By Stacy Johnson Aug 9, 2010 10:14AM

This post comes from Michael Koretzky at partner site Money Talks News.

 

The IRS has announced that, starting in 2011, it's going to make it more difficult for tax preparation companies to provide refund anticipation loans -- expensive, short-term loans for consumers who want their refund "instantly" rather than waiting a couple of weeks. These loans, often aimed at the working poor, typically come with fees that translate into annual percentage rates of 50% to 500%.
 

Ultimately, deciding when and how to leave the workforce isn't about some number in a retirement account.

By Karen Datko Aug 9, 2010 9:16AM

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

 

I recently returned from my annual weekend trip to Oregon's Opal Creek Wilderness Area. Every year, I join five other friends to hike into the forest, pitch our tents on the banks of the creek, and sit around the fire talking about life. We drank a lot of whiskey this year, and spent a lot of time at the swimming hole.

 

This year, we also talked a lot about where we're going in life. All six of us are about 40 years old, and we're all dealing with career transitions of some sort. We chatted about "talkers and doers" (a topic I hope to write about soon), about building social capital, and about retirement. I mentioned that my wife hopes to retire when she's 52, and that caused a lot of envy. It also prompted an interesting discussion on Sunday afternoon.

 

Only new borrowers will be hit by rising mortgage insurance premiums next month. But there's also a consolation.

By Karen Datko Aug 6, 2010 8:42PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.

 

The cost of getting an FHA mortgage is growing -- by about $38 a month, on average. The price hike in FHA mortgage insurance premiums, which takes effect Sept. 7, will hit only new borrowers. Current holders of FHA loans won't be touched.

The fee hike was approved unanimously by the U.S. Senate this week. The House already had signed on. President Obama is expected to sign the change before the end of the month.

 

FHA takes away -- and gives a little

 

Even if breakfast to you is just a cup of joe, you're going to pay more for your first meal of the day.

By Karen Datko Aug 6, 2010 1:16PM

The cost of the most important meal of the day is edging up. Look to pay more for coffee, orange juice, cereal, pancakes, toast and bacon -- yes, even bacon (and chicken-fried steak) -- in the coming weeks and months.

 

Due to heavy rains in Colombia, the J.M. Smucker Co. this week raised the price of its Folgers, Dunkin' Donuts and Millstone coffee brands by an average of 9%. Expect Kraft (Maxwell House, Yuban) to do the same. You should notice the difference on supermarket shelves in the coming weeks. (Hint: Stock up now.)

Bad weather is mostly to blame for coming price increases in other breakfast fare.

 

Don't pitch surplus zucchini into the compost bin. Try these tactics instead.

By Donna_Freedman Aug 6, 2010 11:56AM

Are squash the size of Louisville Sluggers overrunning your garden? Have you stumbled over a "gift" bag of zooks left on the doorstep by an anonymous (read: frantic) neighbor?

If you haven't made the mistake of planting too much squash, someone you know probably has. Just how much zucchini bread and steamed zooks can one family stand?

Recently I heard about an extremely, uh, creative way to use the extra squash:

 

What's cheaper: Tuna or egg salad? Len Penzo adds it all up in his second annual survey of how much homemade sandwiches cost.

By Karen Datko Aug 6, 2010 8:15AM

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

 

Yes, school is right around the corner, and the honeybee is once again gearing up for another season of endless sandwich making for the kids' brown-bag lunches. She won't be alone.

 

Every day, millions of people pack a sandwich or two to eat for lunch at their school or place of employment, and who can argue with that strategy?

 

While I realize that packing a homemade lunch is more economical and more healthful than eating out at a burger joint or some other greasy spoon, this intrepid personal-finance blogger was not satisfied to simply accept the obvious financial wisdom of forgoing a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese in lieu of the handmade ham and Swiss cheese sandwich. Uh-uh, not me.

 

So last year I took a vow to never rest until I knew which of the 10 most common brown-bag sandwiches offered the best value of them all. 

 

You don't have to be a billionaire to make your donations count.

By Karen Datko Aug 5, 2010 7:31PM

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

 

As of this week, 40 billionaires have pledged to donate the majority of their wealth to charity. Consumers inspired by the gesture can give just as effectively -- in smaller amounts.

 

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett announced Wednesday that their "Giving Pledge," a recession-inspired commitment to sign over at least half of their assets to nonprofits over their lifetime or after their death, now numbers 40 signers, including themselves. Among the philanthropists: Oracle founder Larry Ellison, film director George Lucas, designer Diane Von Furstenberg and hotel mogul Barron Hilton.

 

Paper or plastic? Here are eight reasons why credit cards beat cash (or debit cards) at the checkout line.

By Stacy Johnson Aug 5, 2010 6:38PM

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

 

Like many consumer advocates, I'm certainly no fan of credit cards. It's hard to like plastic when I've done so many stories about  people who end up in a financial death spiral due to revolving debt. (I've even written a book called "Life or Debt.") 

 

And I can't begin to count the stories I've done over the last 20 years about banks abusing their card customers with usurious rates, unfair fees and all manner of sneaky tactics specifically designed to transfer wealth from Main Street to Wall Street.

 

With all the negative press and recent legislation exposing the seamy underbelly of the credit card industry, it's easy to believe that credit cards are the downfall of Western civilization. But maybe this pendulum has swung too far.

 

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