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Blogger's one-month experiment showcases his insane couponing skills.

By Karen Datko Jun 14, 2010 7:33AM

This post comes from J.D. Roth at partner blog Get Rich Slowly.


Recently, Ron Lieber, who writes the "Your Money" column for The New York Times, posted an innocuous little tweet:

This person will have book deal & Today show slot in 5 minutes. RT @marypilon Personal finance blogger eats on $1/day.

To translate into plain English, Jeffrey from the Grocery Coupon Guide blog undertook a little experiment last month. In response to a challenge from his sister, he "ate well" on just a buck a day, thanks largely to his awesome shopping skills and couponing prowess.

Because I love stories of extreme personal finance, and because I haven't highlighted one in a long time, I decided to take a closer look; I spent an hour reading about his project. Holy cats! This fellow's shopping abilities are insane.


The trunk of the car, under the garden, and in plain sight are among the favorite spots, a survey shows.

By Karen Datko Jun 11, 2010 6:43PM

Have you ever bought something you didn't want your spouse to know about? (Fess up. We know some of you have done it.) To what lengths would you go to hide it from him/her?


Would you remove the tags from new clothes and say they came from Goodwill? Bury it in the backyard? Give it to a friend, who then returns it to you as a "gift"?

Real people actually did these things, according to CBS MoneyWatch columnist Kathy Kristof, who has a knack for identifying crazy, oddball and illuminative personal-finance information. This time, her source is the new American Express Spending & Savings Tracker survey, which explored how couples communicate about money.


Apparently, many don't. And when they do, they sometimes make things up.


Kids starving in China would be glad to get them! (Or so say the 'true money-savers.')

By Donna_Freedman Jun 11, 2010 12:43PM

Over at partner blog Wise Bread, writer Marla Walters warns of expected hikes in food prices in the U.S. She thinks this would be a good time to learn to garden and to bake.

And, maybe, to remember how our parents and grandparents made the most of their food budgets. Walters has made a list of "20 signs that you were raised by TRUE money-savers" that is by turns intriguing and horrifying -- and to me, strangely familiar.


For example:

4. They taught you that a plate of mashed-up kidney beans was "just as good as pizza."
20. You were regularly admonished about food with gems like: "Waste not, want not." "There are starving children in China." "Finish that so you can belong to The Clean Plate Club."

I'll see Walters those mashed kidney beans and raise her a "You don't need a whole aspirin -- cut that in half." (No dope fiends in our house.)


Free events include craft workshops for kids and a 'Toy Story' celebration.

By Teresa Mears Jun 11, 2010 12:11PM

It's once again time for Friday food (and a few other) deals and freebies.


It's also time for the World Cup soccer tournament. If you're a soccer fan, check your local pubs and sports bars for special World Cup deals.


Some of last week's deals and coupons are still valid. Free and cheap summer movie programs for kids start in many cities next week, and bookstores are offering your kids a free book if they read a certain number.


We're seeing the first of the Father's Day deals.


The states with the highest bartender wages are Hawaii and Washington, followed by Vermont, Massachusetts and Utah.

By Karen Datko Jun 11, 2010 11:43AM

This post comes from Lisa at partner blog The Dough Roller.


If you've ever been to a bar and thought the bartender didn't seem like the bartending type, you won't be surprised to learn that many bartenders have day jobs. Some are software designers, others are teachers, and the rest have the same jobs you and I work at Monday through Friday.

For many, free time means extra hours to earn extra money to pay off college loans or save for a house. You see, bartending is shift work; it can easily dovetail with a full-time job.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 492,480 bartenders in the U.S. last year. The state with the most bartenders per capita is Montana, believe it or not. The average hourly wage for a bartender there was $8.54. The states with the highest bartender wages are: Hawaii and Washington, tied at $13.84 per hour; Vermont, at $12.94 per hour; Massachusetts, at $12.60 per hour; and Utah, at $12.47 per hour. Nothing to fall out of your chair over, but any bartender will tell you that you're not working for an hourly wage. Tips can bring in more than $1,000 a night for some. On average, however, a good bartender can earn about $300 a night (if the bar is full of customers, of course).


Here's what you need to know about mixing, shaking and stirring your way to extra income.


We service reps may get paid by the companies we work for, but we really are supposed to be on our customers' side.

By Karen Datko Jun 11, 2010 9:20AM

This guest post comes from J. Money at Budgets are Sexy.


I work in customer service because most customer-service people I talk with suck. Really bad. They don't mean to suck, but they usually do. In fact, I always joke that most people in customer service are the ones who should NOT BE in customer service.

There are some exceptions of course (Zappos, USAA, GoDaddy), but if you poll most of your friends you'll find the majority of them are unhappy with the service they receive.


So, one of the reasons I work in customer service is to make your experience not suck. I also genuinely like people and being helpful. I won't yell at you (even if you yell at me), and I don't pretend to know everything. 


More than 1 in 3 mortgage applications don't result in loans. Here's how to make sure yours does.

By Stacy Johnson Jun 10, 2010 7:08PM

This post comes from Stacy Johnson at partner site Money Talks News.


If you're planning to shop for a house, there's good news and bad news to consider.


The good news is that home prices are relatively low -- an absolute bargain in some parts of the country, especially those hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. In addition, finding the lowest rates on mortgages takes a fraction of the time it used to, thanks to mortgage search engines like the one we have here.


The bad news is that mortgage money isn't easy to come by. Then again, with the exception of the heady bubble days, it never was.


Few Americans can take advantage of near-record rates. But down-payment requirements for purchases may be easing.

By Teresa Mears Jun 10, 2010 2:37PM

How low are home mortgage rates?


The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is within one one-hundredth of a percentage point of the lowest rate we've seen in most of our lifetimes, the 4.71% reported the week ending Dec. 3, 2009. If rates decline two one-hundredths of a percentage point, we're back to the spring of 1956, when the average rate hit 4.68%, according to National Bureau of Economic Research statistics.

Rates for 15-year mortgages fell for the fourth straight week, to 4.17%, the lowest rate since Freddie Mac started tracking 15-year loans in 1991.


Where are the balloons and confetti?



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