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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.

 

Retailers are offering 80% off for Presidents Day, but only on select items.

By Karen Datko Feb 12, 2010 12:29PM

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

 

Bad weather before a big holiday shopping weekend can be a boon for consumers -- if you can overcome the shopping craze brought on by cabin fever and smartly assess deals.

The Presidents Day and Valentine's Day sales in this week's ads were planned months in advance, which could leave stores with an unexpected surplus if shoppers stay away because of weather issues. "Between the flooding and the rain on the West Coast, and the snow on the East Coast and Mid-Atlantic, this is going to be a disaster for retailers," says Randy Allen, an associate dean for Cornell University's Johnson Graduate School of Management.

 

Choosing the right card depends on how the student is going to use it -- and always watch out for fees.

By Karen Datko Feb 12, 2010 10:15AM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.

 

Prepaid cards are gaining popularity among college students (and their parents) for several reasons.

 

First, with a prepaid card, you don't have the risk of going deep into debt or facing high interest payments or late fees. Second, if parents are involved in the finances, they can easily add money to the card online. And finally, under the new credit card law that goes into effect this month, students do not need parental consent to get a prepaid card as they might for a traditional credit card.

Prepaid cards, including prepaid credit and prepaid debit cards, act like a debit card but without the bank account. Prepaid cards are part of either the Visa or MasterCard network and are accepted just about anywhere. They can also be used at ATMs or to shop online.

 

But picking a prepaid card can seem overwhelming. There are literally dozens of cards to choose from, and the fees that these cards charge and the options they offer can be difficult to compare. To help you sort through those options, we've put together a checklist of things to consider and a few suggested cards that seem well-suited for college students.

 

Alert: Your credit card issuer wants you to sign up for this plan. But who really benefits?

By Karen Datko Feb 11, 2010 8:31PM

Those long-awaited federal credit card rules take effect later this month, so look for credit card companies to have some new tricks up their sleeves. Among them: They’ll ask you to sign up for over-the-limit protection and make it sound like a sweet deal. A privilege. Something you know you deserve.

Here’s why: Starting Feb. 22, your card issuer can no longer charge an over-limit fee unless you agree to it first. (A similar rule will apply to checking accounts in July.)

 

Lender would accept a deed in lieu of foreclosure, let homeowners stay for six months and help pay for relocation.

By Teresa Mears Feb 11, 2010 4:51PM

CitiMortgage has come up with a new kinder, gentler foreclosure program for homeowners in states hard hit by the real estate bust.

 

The program doesn't actually call for foreclosure, but a deed in lieu of foreclosure, in which the lender agrees to take back the home and forgive the debt without going through the foreclosure process. Citi’s pilot program is aimed at borrowers who don’t want to keep their homes, such as those who might pursue a strategic default rather than keep a home with a mortgage that far exceeds the home’s value.

 

Getting caught by a camera for speeding or running a red light really irks some people. But why can't we just drive better?

By Karen Datko Feb 11, 2010 3:38PM

When we first heard about photo radar years ago, we were perplexed about why it irritated drivers so much. The machine catches you driving 45 mph in a school zone, so pay the fine and slow down, we thought. What’s all the fuss about?

 

Recent events suggest the fuss is just warming up.

 

Heading for Vancouver? Getting a deal on tickets requires speed, cash -- and a tolerance for crowds.

By Karen Datko Feb 11, 2010 11:28AM

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

 

The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics start Feb. 12, and consumers hunting for tickets still have a shot at snagging gold-medal bargains -- but don’t buy tickets until you’re sure you can get a place to stay.

Last-minute demand has been very strong, says Mark Lewis, president of Jet Set Sports and CoSport.com, which sells corporate and public Olympic ticket packages. The good and bad news for travelers is, Vancouver is a more economical and accessible destination than the 2008 summer games in Beijing. That means hotels could be harder to come by and crowds might be bigger. “It’s practically in the backyard,” says Lewis. (With train, bus and car access, Americans on the West Coast can even manage the excursion into Canada as a quick day trip.)

 

Still, with more than 200 events spread out over 17 days, there should be opportunities for travelers to find a good deal, no matter what their budget. “You can pick a la carte to create the experience you want to have,” says Mike Janes, chief executive of ticket search engine FanSnap.com. Here’s what to look for:

 

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