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Bank of America failed to listen to its own realty agent, lawsuit says, but at least in this case didn't leave the house reeking from rotten fish.

By Teresa Mears Feb 12, 2010 7:39PM

You’d think that one sure-fire way to avoid foreclosure would be to pay cash for your house.


But Charlie and Maria Cardoso of New Bedford, Mass., who paid $139,000 in cash for a retirement home in Florida in 2005, experienced the embarrassment and expense of a foreclosure anyway, they say, when Bank of America tried to take their house by mistake.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Massachusetts, the couple said the bank changed the locks, took away family photos, power tools and other possessions, scared their tenant into moving out and disconnected the utilities, which caused the pipes to freeze.


A frequent-flier ticket and 1-cent snacks make for cheap traveling.

By Donna_Freedman Feb 12, 2010 5:13PM
I’m writing this from Anchorage, which seems to have only slightly more snow on the ground than our nation’s capital. (Of course, it'll last longer here.) Perhaps it seems counterintuitive to visit Alaska in February unless you’re a skier -- and I’m not.

It’s just that I’d promised myself a trip to visit friends and family once I got my university degree, and I didn’t want to wait until summer.

I figure I can visit again in June, my favorite month in Alaska, by making the current trip as affordable as possible. Here’s how:  

Say 'I Love You' with a YouTube video, a collection of Post-its or -- yes, guys -- a mushy card.

By Teresa Mears Feb 12, 2010 3:35PM

The cheapskates are in charge this Valentine’s Day.


A new Zogby poll found that two-thirds of Americans plan to spend less than $50 this Valentine’s Day, and a quarter plan to spend nothing. We think that’s as it should be.


It’s great to remind the people we love how much we care, but it doesn’t take a lot of money to do so. Spending money you don’t have is one of the greatest stressors in any relationship. And you don’t need a blog to tell you that some of the most romantic love activities are free.


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.)



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