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For example: Both suitcases and meals could be lighter.

By Donna_Freedman Mar 26, 2010 4:51PM

I’m in Arizona on another frugal vacation, this time visiting my daughter and son-in-law. In a couple of months Phoenix will become Satan’s Fry Daddy, but current temps in the low 80s feel downright balmy. It’s a dry heat, remember?

Getting here was a nail-biter. I was on standby because I was traveling on a buddy pass given to me by a friend. At the last minute half a dozen airline employees showed up asking for seats. The only reason I got on the plane at all was that one of the employees, bless his heart, agreed to take the jump seat. Luckily he didn’t change his mind and require me to sit on a toilet for most of the flight.

Thanks to the pass my round-trip ticket cost only $86.40, including all fees. Not everyone has access to that kind of discount. But in the past week I’ve learned or relearned a handful of other things about frugal travel:


Even if you can't, it's a foot in the door for sanity -- finally.

By Karen Datko Mar 26, 2010 2:39PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.


Don’t go counting your mortgage chickens just yet. They’re not likely to hatch for some time.


If ever.


I’m talking about Bank of America’s decision to finally do what many people have thought for years was just plain common sense: reduce the principal on some mortgages. 


Trade your stuff for free -- but watch out for flaky friends.

By Karen Datko Mar 26, 2010 11:33AM

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


Admiring other people’s possessions isn't necessarily a bad thing -- especially if you can trade them for it.


I’ll admit to a slight shoe obsession, although it takes a deal to get me to indulge. (For example, stacking sales, coupon codes and a reward certificate at DSW recently netted me a $55 pair for just $18, a 67% discount.) Instead, I’ve decided to throw a swap party with five friends of the same size. Voila -- new-to-me shoes for free while clearing my closet of pairs I don't wear.


That kind of one-on-one and group swapping has thrived in the struggling economy as consumers look for ways to cut their budgets and still get the things they want. “It’s like Christmas,” says Darcy Cruwys, the founder of community swap site


Watch out for the flake-out factor:


It's a way for those without bank accounts to get their tax refunds sooner.

By Karen Datko Mar 26, 2010 10:33AM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.


Direct deposit of a tax refund is great news for some. You get your refund added to your checking account in about two weeks rather than the six to eight weeks it takes for a paper check refund. And you avoid the hassle of schlepping to your bank to deposit the refund check.


For those who do not have a checking account, however, the benefits of direct deposit are elusive. According to the FDIC, about 30 million U.S. households are underbanked or unbanked, so this is no small issue.


To make matters worse, those without bank accounts often turn to tax refund anticipation loans. These short-term loans come with extremely high interest rates, and are really no better than a payday loan. While they do give you access to your refund immediately, the fees can eat into a substantial portion of it. Fortunately, there is an extremely low-cost alternative -- having your tax refund deposited on a prepaid card.


Free matchmaking, pizza buffet and a chocolate-covered Peep are among the offerings this week.

By Teresa Mears Mar 26, 2010 9:35AM

Once again, it’s time for Friday food deals and freebies.


This week, we’ve got deals both edible and inedible, with some help from our friends at Cities on the Cheap.


If you’re feeling lonely and want to find love, you can join the free communication weekend from Chemistry, from Friday, March 26, through Sunday, March 28. During this promotion, you can take a free personality test and find out which types of people you match best with. My cats hope my true love doesn’t have a dog.


Don’t forget about all the March Madness bar deals, and some of last week’s deals are still good.


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. 



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