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Auto recalls may be the key to haggling over any new or used car.

By Karen Datko Mar 9, 2010 10:35AM

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


Pointing out the flaws of an item is Haggling 101 -- and the spate of recent auto recalls has given consumers plenty to negotiate with.


Since November, Toyota has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide, some 5.5 million of those in the United States. Congress is investigating the automaker’s response to malfunctions including faulty accelerator pedals and floor mats that jammed pedals. Smaller recalls in February covered glitches with brakes and front drive shafts.


Toyota isn’t alone in pulling cars from the market, either. Nissan recalled 539,864 cars in early March -- the largest recall in the automaker’s history -- for brake pin and fuel gauge problems. That same week, GM announced it would recall 1.3 million compacts to repair power-steering motors.


Recalls spur competition among car makers. A brand with a recent recall is eager to polish its reputation by keeping sales steady, says Jeff Bennett, a professor of automotive marketing at Northwood University in Midland, Mich. Other car companies are more willing to lower prices to lure away the affected brand’s loyal but anxious buyers. In either case, consumers may be able to pay little more than invoice price (i.e., what the dealership pays for the car).


But getting a good deal isn’t as simple as showing up at the lot with a Toyota and a nervous tic. Here’s what to consider based on what you want to buy:


It's not nearly as good a deal as you may think.

By Karen Datko Mar 9, 2010 9:23AM
This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.

The mortgage interest deduction is one of the most celebrated tax deductions in all of tax deduction-dom. It’s cited as one of the benefits of homeownership, right behind “you’re not throwing your money away,” and it is repeated over and over again. Unfortunately, I believe it’s misrepresented. It’s not as good as you think.


I’ll explain why.


Finding the money to pay off debt or build savings doesn't have to make life dull.

By Stacy Johnson Mar 8, 2010 9:51PM

This post comes from partner site Money Talks News.


If your goal is to destroy debt or build savings, you're going to need to find extra money in your current budget. I've recently shown you 28 tips to save on groceries, 18 ways to save on clothes and 16 tips to save on home improvement.


Now it's time to tackle another expense that can soak up the cash: entertainment. 


Efforts are afoot to prohibit companies from pulling credit reports of most prospective hires.

By Karen Datko Mar 8, 2010 6:48PM

Should an employer have access to your credit report when you’ve applied for a job? Is that really fair? What if you can’t pay your bills because you were laid off or had major medical bills? 


More lawmakers think it’s not. At least 16 states are considering a ban on employer access to credit reports unless they're filling law enforcement jobs or those that involve handling lots of money. Hawaii and Washington state already have similar laws on the books. (A federal version was introduced but apparently is going nowhere in Congress.)


Credit reports can affect your access to credit and how much interest you’ll pay, and increasingly, whether you’ll be hired. A recent survey by the Society for Human Resources Management found that:


She fed her fiance on $25 for a week, and he was well-fed. Sometime he had too much to eat.

By Karen Datko Mar 8, 2010 1:31PM

This guest post comes from Kris at Cheap Healthy Good.


Our project has come to an end. The Husband-Elect, a 6-foot, 205-pound man in his mid-30s, has been successfully fed for a week on $25. Needless to say, we are celebrating with beer.

Thanks to everyone who wrote throughout with suggestions (especially "wosnes" and "CJ"). Your ideas were super helpful, especially during a midweek culinary rut, when my sinuses threatened to take over the world.

Included below is a breakdown of the week: the final numbers, an analysis of what worked and what didn’t, the Husband-Elect’s exit interview, and recipes made over the seven days. I’d love to hear what you think and what you would have done differently.


Are 47 shirts, 14 sweaters, a pile of shoes and all those comic books really necessary?

By Karen Datko Mar 8, 2010 9:27AM

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


It seems like every time I travel, I come home committed to win my war on stuff. This time was no different. I lived out of a single carry-on bag while vacationing in Belize recently, and even that felt luxurious. Now I’ve returned to a house packed with doodads and gewgaws, knickknacks and baubles.


The more I purge stuff from my life, the more I travel, and the more I see (and read) about how little others need to get by, the stronger my conviction to reduce what I own. I’m in awe of my friend Leo from Zen Habits, for instance. At his secondary blog, mnmlist, Leo has been chronicling his attempt to reduce the number of thing he owns. At first, this was his 100 Things Challenge (he wanted to own just 100 personal items). Recently, he’s upped the ante. It’s now a 50 Things Challenge. Wow.


I’m not ready to go to this extreme -- not even close. But I am beginning to wonder:


Will anyone have sympathy for the investors who gave their money to 'America's Prophet'?

By Karen Datko Mar 5, 2010 10:37PM

Sean David Morton claimed that he used psychic powers developed in a Nepalese monastery to accurately predict market performance. "I have called ALL the highs and lows of the market, giving EXACT DATES for rises and crashes over the last 14 years," he wrote in his newsletter in 2006.


Bizarre claims alone aren’t enough to get you in trouble with the SEC, but messing with other people’s money is.


N.J. police write an average of 9,770 cell phone tickets a month. Meanwhile, a poll found an increase in texting while driving.

By Karen Datko Mar 5, 2010 7:42PM

This post comes from partner site


New Jersey has a law prohibiting drivers from texting or talking on their cell phones while behind the wheel, but it's clear many have not gotten the message.


The evidence is in the number of tickets state police officers have written over the last two years. In the past 23 months, 224,725 citations -- an average of 9,770 a month -- have been issued to motorists for violating the state's cell phone law.



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