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Banks are using a hard sell to get people to stay with overpriced overdraft protection. You don't need it. Here's why.

By Karen Datko Feb 24, 2010 9:08AM

You should expect a pitch like this in the mail from your bank: Opt in for overdraft protection for your debit or ATM card -- or you may be sorry. When your account contains too little or no money, your card could be denied!


People resoundingly said they didn’t like this “courtesy” overdraft protection when banks could foist it on them without asking. In a poll, they said they’d rather have their card declined than have an overdraft go through, costing them a big fat fee each time it did -- $35 or so.


So, now that it’s finally up to you, why would you choose to opt in to that type of protection? Hopefully you won’t. Here’s why:


Law student is using free passes and persuasion to exercise gratis for a year. Savvy shopping or dishonest?

By Teresa Mears Feb 23, 2010 3:26PM

Julia Neyman has embarked on a thrifty crusade: The 24-year-old law student wants to work out in New York gyms free for a year without spending a cent.


She plans to do this through a combination of persuasion (she is in law school) and the free trials anyone can get from most gyms.


Although they are heavily promoted, ear candles don't work and can be hazardous, the FDA and others warn.

By Karen Datko Feb 23, 2010 1:18PM

This post comes from Lisa Wade McCormick at partner site


Does sticking a burning candle in your ear sound like a good way to remove ear wax or cleanse your blood of impurities?


Many consumers are apparently trying this procedure -- often called "ear candling." But federal health officials warn consumers not to use these products, saying they can cause burns and other serious injuries.


Companies are offering exclusive deals on Twitter. Whom should you follow?

By Karen Datko Feb 23, 2010 10:55AM

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


Sometimes it pays to be a follower.


Twitter and Facebook have been a marketing godsend for all kinds of companies, which increasingly are using social media to build loyalty with shoppers. Now, retailers have even begun to tout sales and exclusive discounts to customers who interact with them through social media. For example, Banana Republic recently offered shoppers an invitation to an exclusive spring preview event, as well as a printout coupon good for 30% off a purchase of $100 or more at the event.


Start with the merchant to find satisfaction, and then escalate if that doesn't work.

By Karen Datko Feb 23, 2010 10:03AM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


Last month, I went to a Trader Joe’s to buy a package of coffee filters. For whatever reason, their packages of unbleached cone filters are always remarkably cheaper than anywhere else, despite Trader Joe’s higher-end reputation. On this particular trip, there was some sort of technical problem with the register.


I would swipe my card, sign in the box, and then the system would skip the receipt printout step. Each time, the person working the counter would politely insist that the charge didn’t go through and we’d have to swipe it again. We did this three times.


Unfortunately, the only technical problem was that a receipt wasn’t printed and it wasn’t until a week later that I saw I had three charges for one box of coffee filters. The annoying part about all this was that the charges were for only $1.80 each, which meant I was only out $3.60. Part of me wished it was more like $360 so that it would be more worth my time to deal with it.


If you need to dispute a credit card charge, here’s what you should do:


If you're interviewing with people who are half your age, there are certain things you'll want to avoid doing.

By Karen Datko Feb 22, 2010 7:30PM

Old dogs can learn new tricks, but not everyone believes it.


So, when you’re of a certain age (like me) and interviewing for a job, you need to be aware of not emphasizing how many years you’ve walked the face of the Earth, Pamela Redmond Satran, blogger at the delightful How Not To Act Old, advises in a post at CBS MoneyWatch. (Female readers, the underwear photo at the top of her blog should give you some inkling on whether you’re acting old or not.)

Her tips aren’t over the top -- they don’t scream, “I’m not over the hill” in an inappropriate way -- like, say, getting multiple piercings. Just as appearing past your prime can be “more subtle than simply offering your interviewer a nice piece of hard candy,” she writes, diverting attention away from your age involves avoiding certain behaviors.


Among them:


With the April 30 deadline for the homebuyer tax credit approaching, gambling that a lender will close the deal in time is risky.

By Teresa Mears Feb 22, 2010 4:53PM

If you want to buy a home in time to take advantage of the $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers (or the $6,500 credit for some move-up buyers), you’d better get moving.


You are probably already too late to snag a deal on a short sale.


Or why smart people fall for stupid cons.

By Karen Datko Feb 22, 2010 3:55PM

This guest post comes from Pop at Pop Economics.


Sometimes it mystifies me that so many people can fall for the oldest tricks in the book. Bernie Madoff’s operation was nothing more than a Ponzi scheme -- you know, that scam that was invented in the 1920s. Do people really think that a random Nigerian prince selected them to handle gigantic sums of money? Does it really never occur to a tourist that a street-side card game probably isn’t on the up-and-up?

It mystifies me, that is, until I fall for one. Then the excuses get rolled out. Even in hindsight, you try to convince yourself that you’re not a sucker: There was no way you could have seen that coming.


So why is it that we fall for these silly cons?



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