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Newspaper provides online tool that explains what reform means to your coverage and your taxes.

By Karen Datko Mar 25, 2010 5:22PM

What’s the bottom line in your household when it comes to health care reform? The Washington Post has an online tool to help you figure it out.

 

“This tool estimates what it could mean for your health coverage and taxes based on your income, family size and current insurance status,” the Post says (and a hat tip to the Post's Michelle Singletary for pointing it out).

 

The tool asks whether you have insurance now and who provides it, your household size, your adjusted gross household income, and marital status.  

 

We tried out a variety of scenarios, and here’s what we found.

 

Many readers of Cheap Healthy Good said they are vehemently opposed to a tax on food that is bad for us.

By Karen Datko Mar 25, 2010 2:47PM

This guest post comes from Kris at Cheap Healthy Good.

 

Last week, we discussed the prospect of a junk-food tax, a hypothetical federal tariff that would be placed on ostensibly unhealthy edibles like soda, pizza and more. Ideally, it would curb obesity and prompt buyers toward making healthier grocery choices. Probably, it would make a lot of people angry.

I asked readers their opinions of the potential tax.

 

Bundle spending data reveals where the boys (and girls) are.

By Janet Paskin Mar 25, 2010 1:38PM

In teaching his son to play hockey, Walter Gretzky often told little Wayne (not to be confused with Lil Wayne) to "skate to where the puck is going to be." That wisdom helped turn Wayne into the most prolific scorer in hockey history, and it's not bad advice when it comes to dating, either. Go where the girls (or the boys) are.

 

And where might that be? I decided to use Bundle's spending data to find out. 

 

Spring training games can be affordable -- if you're able to snag tickets.

By Karen Datko Mar 25, 2010 12:29PM

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

 

Travelers looking to see their favorite baseball team in action before opening day may strike out unless they’re willing to get a little creative.

 

Major league teams practicing in the Grapefruit (Florida) and Cactus (Arizona) spring training leagues wrap up by April 3. Fans hoping to book a last-minute trip must battle spring-break tourists for hotels and airfare. There’s also reduced availability for tickets thanks to avid fans who booked trips months in advance.

 

Reader wonders if having higher deductibles on her insurance won't cost her more in the long run.

By Karen Datko Mar 25, 2010 9:39AM

This post comes from Trent Hamm at partner blog The Simple Dollar.

 

One common, painful bill that we all face is the insurance bill. Whether you’re talking renters insurance, homeowners insurance, or automobile insurance, the bill feels painful because it’s not something we can often see the benefit of. It just comes in handy when something goes wrong.

 

One of the most common tactics you’ll see in cost-cutting articles is calling up your insurance company and requesting an increase in your deductible -- the amount you have to pay before the insurance kicks in.

 

On the surface, this works well. If you increase your deductible, your premiums (the amount you pay each month/quarter/year) will go down, meaning your insurance bills are lower. You can chip a hefty percentage from your insurance bill just by making this move.

One of my longtime readers, Jeanne, has been writing to me about insurance this week. She has considered doing this, but something is convincing her that it’s not the best move:

 

Interactive map shows how much your state and county are suffering in the recession.

By Karen Datko Mar 24, 2010 4:57PM

The Great Recession has undoubtedly taken its toll, but how close to home is the pain? You can track it in your county and state with the Economic Stress Index prepared by The Associated Press.

 

“The thing is fascinating,” said our pal “vh” at Funny about Money, who recently discovered this tool. “As bad off as things are in Michigan, what with the struggles of the automotive industry, things generally are far worse in California. The Imperial Valley has an unemployment rate of 27.7%!”

 

We love poring over statistical snapshots like this, and not all trace misery.

 

New federal rules are an attempt to streamline the process. Will they work?

By Teresa Mears Mar 24, 2010 1:47PM

When you want to sell a home that is worth less than your mortgage, doing a short sale -- making a deal with the lender to sell it for less than you owe -- is usually considered preferable to just letting the home slide into foreclosure.

 

But lenders have often made the process difficult, taking months to respond once buyer and seller have signed a contract. The uncertainty keeps many buyers from even considering short-sale homes, or the buyer may walk away before the deal can be completed, forcing the seller to start over.

 

New Treasury Department rules (.pdf file) that take effect April 5 are supposed to streamline and shorten the process. In addition to offering lenders cash incentives, the rules require them to respond to a purchase offer within 10 days. Sellers also can get as much as $1,500 in relocation assistance.

 

New regulations designed to protect consumers from surprises.

By Karen Datko Mar 24, 2010 12:05PM

This post comes from James Limbach at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

The Federal Reserve Board has announced final rules that will restrict the fees and expiration dates that may apply to gift cards. The rules are expected to protect consumers from certain unexpected costs and require that gift card terms and conditions be clearly stated.

 

The new regulations prohibit dormancy, inactivity and service fees on gift cards unless:

 

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