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Need your refund quickly? There are better alternatives to refund anticipation loans.

By Stacy Johnson Feb 16, 2010 2:31PM

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


You wouldn’t borrow from a loan shark operating out of a downtown pool hall. You wouldn’t borrow from that payday loan place next to the liquor store. You wouldn’t hock Grandma’s china at the pawn shop down by the tracks.


Then why would you get an income tax refund anticipation loan from your tax preparer?


Could giving up small indulgences for Lent be a successful saving strategy?

By Karen Datko Feb 16, 2010 10:26AM

This Deal of the Day comes from Sarah Morgan at partner site SmartMoney.


Are you giving up anything for Lent? For Christians, the traditional 40-day period of fasting that leads up to Easter begins Wednesday. This year, with budgets still tight for the faithful and secular alike, the practice of giving up some cherished self-indulgences could be a chance to practice fiscal, as well as spiritual, discipline.


Living without them may be easier than you think.

By Karen Datko Feb 16, 2010 9:49AM

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


For nearly a decade, I lived without a personal credit card. In 1998, I destroyed all my cards and canceled my accounts in a last-ditch effort to curb my compulsive spending. It worked (sort of), and it wasn’t until 2007 that I finally felt like I was responsible enough to use credit wisely without going into debt. (And so far, it’s been smooth sailing.)


What was it like without credit?


Bank of America failed to listen to its own realty agent, lawsuit says, but at least in this case didn't leave the house reeking from rotten fish.

By Teresa Mears Feb 12, 2010 7:39PM

You’d think that one sure-fire way to avoid foreclosure would be to pay cash for your house.


But Charlie and Maria Cardoso of New Bedford, Mass., who paid $139,000 in cash for a retirement home in Florida in 2005, experienced the embarrassment and expense of a foreclosure anyway, they say, when Bank of America tried to take their house by mistake.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Massachusetts, the couple said the bank changed the locks, took away family photos, power tools and other possessions, scared their tenant into moving out and disconnected the utilities, which caused the pipes to freeze.


A frequent-flier ticket and 1-cent snacks make for cheap traveling.

By Donna_Freedman Feb 12, 2010 5:13PM
I’m writing this from Anchorage, which seems to have only slightly more snow on the ground than our nation’s capital. (Of course, it'll last longer here.) Perhaps it seems counterintuitive to visit Alaska in February unless you’re a skier -- and I’m not.

It’s just that I’d promised myself a trip to visit friends and family once I got my university degree, and I didn’t want to wait until summer.

I figure I can visit again in June, my favorite month in Alaska, by making the current trip as affordable as possible. Here’s how:  

Say 'I Love You' with a YouTube video, a collection of Post-its or -- yes, guys -- a mushy card.

By Teresa Mears Feb 12, 2010 3:35PM

The cheapskates are in charge this Valentine’s Day.


A new Zogby poll found that two-thirds of Americans plan to spend less than $50 this Valentine’s Day, and a quarter plan to spend nothing. We think that’s as it should be.


It’s great to remind the people we love how much we care, but it doesn’t take a lot of money to do so. Spending money you don’t have is one of the greatest stressors in any relationship. And you don’t need a blog to tell you that some of the most romantic love activities are free.


But it does take time and effort, and a real desire to change. Here's how you can do it.

By Karen Datko Feb 12, 2010 1:36PM

This guest post comes from Kris at Cheap Healthy Good.


There’s a scene in the Oscar-nominated documentary “Food, Inc.” in which a busy family of four visits a grocery store. The father has Type II diabetes, the mother is overweight, and their younger child appears to be developing similar issues. In the supermarket, they’re faced with a few choices: four bottles of Coke for $5, broccoli for $1.29 per pound, and pears priced about two for $1.

Though we never see them buying anything, it’s made clear that the produce isn’t a viable option. Broccoli doesn’t provide the caloric punch of either the soda or the dollar menu at their local McDonald’s. Whether they simply prefer the Coke goes unmentioned.

Watching the scene, I have a lot of mixed emotions. On one hand, I’m sympathetic, because the deck is clearly stacked against the family.


Give the gift of bowling, or maybe you can just clean the bathroom for your true love.

By Teresa Mears Feb 12, 2010 1:27PM

Welcome to our special Valentine’s Day/Presidents Day edition of Friday food deals and freebies.


We can’t think of anything more romantic than a significant other who cooks for us. (Well, maybe one who cleans the bathroom.)


But if you want to dine out or order in, we’ve got some deals, gathered with some help from our friends at Cities on the Cheap. And nothing says you have to bring your sweetheart to get a deal. Go out with your girlfriends, take your mother, take the kids -- or stay home and eat all the chocolate yourself.



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