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Furniture firm's Life Improvement Project encompasses furniture and community service.

By Teresa Mears Sep 14, 2010 2:32PM

Do you feel as if your life could use some improvement? We all certainly see a need for improvement in the lives around us.


Ikea thinks it can help.

The Swedish furniture retailer has just unveiled a new advertising campaign that includes The Life Improvement Project. The store also is adopting a new slogan, "The Life Improvement Store."


We didn't know you could buy life improvement at a store, but we're willing to go window shopping.


Fall loyalty offers reward bonus points -- but there are strings attached.

By Karen Datko Sep 14, 2010 1:18PM

This Deal of the Daycomes fromKelli B. Grantat partner site SmartMoney.


The kids are in school, the skies are gray, and hotel room rates are rising. Could there be a worse time to travel?

Perhaps a free night's stay would convince you otherwise. Or reimbursement of those pesky checked-bag fees. And how about triple rewards points to sweeten the deal? A flock of hotel chains is offering these promotions and more to lure reluctant travelers into the shoulder season.


Great deals can be found on new cars. Here's where to look, along with buying tips that could save you thousands.

By Stacy Johnson Sep 14, 2010 11:06AM

This post comes from Michael Koretsky at partner site Money Talks News.


If you're in the market for a new vehicle, bad news for car dealers can mean good news for you.

Last month was the "worst August for U.S. auto sales since 1983," according to an Associated Press report, prompting dealers to offer bigger incentives for new-car sales. 


Companies use behavioral economics to squeeze our wallets. And, sadly, they're on the bleeding edge of research.

By Karen Datko Sep 14, 2010 6:57AM

This guest post comes from Pop at Pop Economics.


You might have heard about all those little tweaks government officials have thought about implementing in order to make you healthier and save more. You could have companies automatically enroll employees in a 401k plan, rather than have them opt in, for example. Companies that have implemented that little change have seen 401k participation jump to 93% from 76%.

But, of course, the very best behavioral economic "parlor tricks" aren't all used for good. In fact, it's often the marketing departments of consumer goods companies that implement new research the fastest. Here are a few to look out for.


Thieves may have targeted one 'friend' who announced his vacation online. Be judicious, but good locks are more important.

By Teresa Mears Sep 13, 2010 2:08PM

Reports that a burglary ring in New Hampshire targeted 50 homes and netted up to $200,000 in stolen goods after reading Facebook status updates that the owners would be away have been greatly exaggerated.

One home might have been targeted that way. Or maybe two.


A ring apparently did burglarize at least 18 homes, but most were chosen the old-fashioned way -- by keeping an eye on the neighborhood and pinpointing houses where no one was  home and that were easy to enter. And the home that was chosen because of a Facebook posting that the owner would be away? Well, it seems as if the thief was a "friend" of the victim. Some friend.


Removing footwear makes carpet and flooring last longer. It also keeps you from tracking in some nasty stuff.

By Donna_Freedman Sep 13, 2010 12:08PM

Wish I had a piece of the hosiery industry in Anchorage, where you remove your footwear after you enter someone's house. Knowing you'll be unshod regularly means making sure your feet are decently covered.

Once when I was an Anchorage Daily News reporter I took off my shoes at an interviewee's home and discovered a rent in one sock. It's hard to look professional when your big toe has its eye to the peephole.


Obviously Alaska is not the only place where indoor shoe-wearing is frowned upon. People in other cultures live this way too -- and so, increasingly, do U.S. residents, as a quick Internet search indicates.



While some patients are skittish about it, doctor's visits over a computer are becoming more popular.

By Stacy Johnson Sep 13, 2010 11:18AM

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


In Maryland, an 87-year-old woman wakes up each morning and takes her blood pressure in her apartment by slipping her arm through a collar hooked up to a computer -- which sends the results straight to her doctor. In Utah, a family therapist meets online with a mother whose children are acting out and offers counseling. In Hawaii, a 59-year-old nurse with an infected cut on her arm sits at her computer to chat with a doctor and get a prescription for antibiotics.

Welcome to the future of medicine. For some of us, it's already here. But are the rest of us ready for it?


Journalist gives prepaid cards to street beggars to see how they spend the money.

By Karen Datko Sep 13, 2010 7:58AM

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


Have you ever wondered what the panhandlers you see on the street would do if you actually gave them a bunch of money to spend?

Like many people, I generally give my pocket change to anyone who asks. I figure that if they have to ask, they probably need it more than I do. (Yes, I know that there are just as many folks who think this is ridiculous, and who never give anything to folks on the street. What can I say? The empathetic J.D. almost always gets his way over the logical J.D. Exception: I never give to aggressive panhandlers.)


Recently, The Toronto Star featured a fascinating article from Jim Rankin about a little experiment he conducted. He actually decided to give a few panhandlers more than just pocket change.



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