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The Volt isn't eligible for a state tax rebate or for guaranteed access to the HOV lanes.

By Karen Datko Jul 28, 2010 8:58PM

Ah, here's some California dreamin' for you: Cruising alone down the HOV lane in your hugely discounted -- thanks to federal and Cali tax breaks -- 2011 Chevy Volt, without the gas engine coming on.


Yep, it's a dream. Unlike its fellow electric car -- the 2011 Nissan Leaf -- the Volt won't be eligible for California's $5,000 tax rebate for zero-emissions cars or the privilege of using the lanes reserved for hybrids and carpoolers (unless you're carpooling in your Volt).

In California -- one of a handful of states where the Chevy will become available later this year -- that gives the cheaper Leaf (sticker price: $32,780) a distinct advantage over the $41,000 Volt. (In contrast, the price to lease each vehicle is comparable.) They're both highly awaited and locked in a PR battle for coolest plug-in car. How could this happen?


The stakes are big. "Together, these developments represent a serious advantage for the Leaf over the Volt in what is almost certain to be the world's largest market for electric cars in the short-to-medium term," Edward Niedermeyer wrote at The Truth About Cars.


The 'old normal' may be a thing of history. How will this affect your retirement plans?

By Karen Datko Jul 28, 2010 5:35PM

This guest post comes from Pop at Pop Economics.


Stocks have gone nowhere in 10 years. Not even dividends have made it better. Sure, you might have had a bit of a gain if you stuck your money in emerging markets at the right time or gold or any of the other asset classes that turned slightly positive. But on the whole, buy-and-hold investors had it pretty crummy.


And yet, we still get this from Dave Ramsey (hat tip to All Financial Matters for noting the clip). On Slide 12 of an otherwise smart little video on not rushing out to buy a new car, Ramsey throws out this line (paraphrased): "But instead of spending that money, you've invested it in a mutual fund earning the average stock market return of 12%." Bwahahaha.


A 12% stock market return is so 1998. We know now that 12% is wildly optimistic. Eight percent might even be optimistic. What's more reasonable?


Suspect chemical is used to coat thermal paper for register receipts.

By Karen Datko Jul 28, 2010 2:58PM

This post comes from Mark Huffman at partner site


Bisphenol-A, or BPA, is a chemical used in plastic containers that some studies suggest is a health hazard. Now, it turns out that BPA can even be found in the receipt you get at the store, a fast-food outlet or even the post office.

Laboratory tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group, a consumer organization, have reportedly found high levels of BPA on 40% of receipts sampled from major U.S. businesses and services, including outlets of McDonald's, CVS, KFC, Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, Safeway and the U.S. Postal Service.


Receipts from some businesses, including Target, Starbucks and Bank of America ATMs, were BPA-free or contained only trace amounts.


With the deadline for downloading data from Wesabe fast approaching, you'll need to find another personal-finance tool.

By Karen Datko Jul 28, 2010 1:45PM

This post comes from Craig Ford at partner blog Wise Bread.


A dark cloud has fallen over those who are part of the Wesabe community. The Wesabe free online personal-finance tool will shut down effective July 31.


If you are a Wesabe user, you have until then to download all your data. However, the question remains: Where will you upload or export that material?


If you're searching for a Wesabe replacement, remember:


The year is more than half over. If you're not meeting the savings resolutions you made in January, here are some tips that can help.

By Stacy Johnson Jul 28, 2010 12:20PM

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


If you're like many people, at the beginning of every year you resolve to get your finances in better shape by paying off debt and adding to your savings. But, as with many resolutions, the reality often doesn't meet the goal.


All is not lost. There are still five full months left in the year -- time for a quick review of simple ways to save. The goal? To set aside at least an extra $1,000 by Christmas, without sacrificing your quality of life.


Analysis finds that 80% of Americans can't read well enough to understand the average credit card agreement.

By Teresa Mears Jul 28, 2010 8:59AM

If you found the "Twilight" series of novels hard going, don't even try to read your credit card agreement. But if you can sail through the King James version of the Bible, you might be able to understand a credit card contract. analyzed 1,200 credit card agreements and ranked them on difficulty using what's known as the FOG, or "Frequency of Gobbledygook," index, which is actually a real scientific formula. The analysis found -- we are shocked, shocked! -- that gobbledygook was frequent.


A new study says credit card fees and rewards are subsidized by consumers who pay with cash, including low-income folks. Is that fair?

By Karen Datko Jul 27, 2010 5:55PM

Remember all that election year hubbub about "spreading the wealth around"? A new Federal Reserve Bank of Boston study (.pdf file) says a big redistribution of wealth -- from the poor to those who are better off -- is happening every day when people use credit cards.


It's common knowledge (or should be) that everyone pays more for goods because of fees merchants must pay for credit card transactions. So where does this income distribution come in? 


Brent Hunsberger of The Oregonian summed it up nicely:


A new school year is a good time to give your kids an allowance and make them responsible for some of their expenses.

By Teresa Mears Jul 27, 2010 3:11PM

This is the time of year when many parents regret not teaching their kids that money doesn't grow on trees. The kids want $10 for a backpack and $20 for new jeans and $10 tomorrow for pizza. They don't seem to understand that the Bank of Mom and Dad has limited funds.


As we were writing this week about shopping for school supplies, we came upon advice from Cathy at Suddenly Frugal that reminded us of one of the best ways to teach kids about money: Make it their money, not yours.


Parents shouldn't be surprised that their children, even their adult children, don't know how to live on a budget if they have never had to do it. Receiving money on demand doesn't teach the same lessons. Kids need to hold that money in their hot little hands and weigh it against a list of expenses, just as adults do.



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