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90% of the calls placed to the hotline to ask about benefits or check on claims don't get through.

By Karen Datko Jan 27, 2010 4:19PM

Providing education benefits to veterans who’ve served in places like Afghanistan and Iraq is a wonderful thing. Much back-patting ensued when President Bush signed the Post-9/11 GI Bill into law.


But guess what: When veterans place a call to the VA’s GI Bill hotline to learn more about the benefits or check on claims, most of their calls don’t get through. The Army Times reports:


Yes, says Consumer Reports, which has created a shopping calendar.

By Teresa Mears Jan 27, 2010 2:58PM

We’ve all seen the stories that try to tell us the best time of the year to buy things. But in these days of instant Twitter deals, freebies for Facebook fans and constant deal alerts, does the calendar still matter?


Consumer Reports set out to answer that question and concluded that the answer was yes. The magazine has produced a shopping calendar.


But budget travelers can still find sweet deals. Here's some help.

By Karen Datko Jan 27, 2010 1:12PM

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


Travelers hunting for a low-priced cruise will find fewer fish in the sea this year.


All-inclusive cruise packages typically are less expensive than arranging a land stay with air, hotel, food and other costs. That perceived value kept cruise lines afloat during last year’s economic downturn, and continues to draw cost-conscious travelers, says Carolyn Spencer Brown, the editor of review site There has not only been a burst of publicity around newer luxury ships, like the Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, but more demand overall, which means lines have less incentive to broadly drop prices to fill up an itinerary.


Succeeding at an unpleasant job will tell your next employer a lot about you.

By Karen Datko Jan 27, 2010 11:40AM

This post comes from Julie Rains at partner blog Wise Bread.


In the past couple of months, two clients of mine have landed great jobs in the midst of the worst employment climate in decades. The secret to their success, I believe, was delivering outstanding results in lousy jobs.


The jobs weren't completely lousy, which I would define as requiring long hours and offering low pay, few or no employee benefits, demoralizing management, and an unsafe work environment. And the work content gave them valuable experience for specific career targets. But the jobs did contain elements that some career experts consider lousy:


Want a big screen for the big game? Don't pay for it 3 times over.

By Stacy Johnson Jan 26, 2010 7:10PM
It was an OT field goal that sent the New Orleans Saints into Super Bowl XLIV. On Feb. 7, the Indianapolis Colts will face off against the Saints -- and fans on both sides are getting ready to party. 


The Super Bowl has evolved into an annual American house-party tradition that appeals to fan and novice alike. It's undoubtedly the only televised event in the world where the commercials garner almost as much attention as the actual game.


And the centerpiece of that party is, of course, the television.


Price cuts help talkers and texters, but users of mobile Web could see bills increase.

By Teresa Mears Jan 26, 2010 5:31PM

If you act now, you might be able to save $30 a month on your cell phone bill. Or maybe not.


Verizon and AT&T have announced new cheaper “all you can talk” or “all you can talk and text” plans for both individuals and families. In some cases, the new plans could lower users’ monthly fees from $100 to $70 a month. Text adds another $20, which hasn’t changed.


But if you’re a data user, you might end up paying more. Verizon will start charging $9.95 a month for 25 MB of data use on Internet-enabled phones when customers buy new phones or sign new contracts. Unlimited data is still $29.99. Current customers with those phones can keep the pay-as-you go $1.99 per MB charge. AT&T will also require $20 data or texting plans with some phones.


Recession is changing retailers' tactics, but how has it changed consumers'?

By Teresa Mears Jan 26, 2010 2:10PM

For better or for worse, the recession has changed how people shop, at least for now. We’d like to think most of it is for the better, as customers have focused on finding value and living within their means.


Shopping is changing, too.


As retailers prepare themselves for the post-recession era, they are changing the shopping experience in significant ways, USA Today reports.


It's the best way to stay on top of your financial situation.

By Karen Datko Jan 26, 2010 2:02PM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


When you were in school, chances are you knew what you needed on each test to get an A, B, or C (or avoid an F). At work, you have project deadlines to meet and performance criteria to fulfill. When it comes to your finances, there isn’t a convenient, single number you can use to track your progress.


In school, there was your GPA. In personal finance, you can’t just look at your account balances because they don’t give you the whole picture.


That’s where measuring and tracking your net worth can come in handy. Every month I record a snapshot of our family’s net worth in a simple Excel spreadsheet.



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