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More people are refinancing into short-term loans. Is this right for you?

By Karen Datko Aug 19, 2010 5:04PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.


Mortgage rates fell again this week, says Freddie Mac, the government-run mortgage agency that surveys the market each week.

The average price of a 30-year mortgage dropped to 4.42%, from 4.44%. Buyers are paying an average of 0.7 point for that rate. This time last year, the mortgage rate was 5.12%, which seemed pretty low back then.


Amazingly, you can get a 15-year fixed-rate loan for under 4% -- 3.90% this week, which is down from last week's rate of 3.92%.


Health officials fear salmonella outbreak could sicken thousands.

By Karen Datko Aug 19, 2010 4:04PM

This post comes from Mark Huffman at partner site


Wright County Egg, one of the nation's largest egg producers, has increased its recall of eggs to 380 million, or 32 million cartons. That's a 66% increase since Wednesday.


Meanwhile, health officials are worried that the tainted eggs could spark the worst outbreak of salmonella in two decades, eclipsing the 2007 outbreak linked to peanut butter.


The growing popularity of group buying has drawn a shady element.

By Karen Datko Aug 19, 2010 12:54PM

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


A rise in the number of group-buying sites offering daily deals is making it harder for bargain hunters to spot group sales that are worthwhile.

Group-buying sites offer limited-time purchase windows on discounted goods or services but follow through on the deal only if enough people sign up. Their ranks have multiplied over the last few months, as startups jostle for a piece of the profitable market.


If you want a better life than you have now, you're going to have to do some uncomfortable things in the short term.

By Karen Datko Aug 19, 2010 12:00PM

This post comes from Trent Hamm at partner blog The Simple Dollar.


"It takes all the running you can do just to stay in the same place." -- The Red Queen, "Alice in Wonderland"


I receive piles of stories from readers, but the final question in a recent reader mailbag really stuck with me. I'll quote it here, so you can read it again:

So I sit here writing this at a very challenging job that I enjoy the bulk of, but zaps the life right out of me, and leaves little of me for my two young children, ages 6 and 2. (I am a paralegal.) I enjoy the majority of what I do, but there is so much of me invested in this, and I feel overworked. I am currently the only paralegal for two very busy attorneys, and I only have a helper to answer the phones for about 20 hours per week. This all leads to my question.
I am a single mother for the majority of the past two years due to a nasty divorce.

You may not realize it, but you probably can't sue your credit card company and other businesses you deal with. That may be ending. Here's why it matters.

By Stacy Johnson Aug 19, 2010 9:40AM

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


Talk to a lawyer, and he'll tell you: You can sue anyone for any reason at any time. It's your constitutional right. (And other people can sue you as well, even for Internet posts. Check out "When free speech gets expensive.")


While it may be theoretically possible to sue on a whim, in the real world it's not as easy as it may seem -- at least not if the target is your bank, broker, cell phone provider or many other businesses you deal with. That's because, before they agree to do business with you, many of those companies require you to accept a contract provision waiving your right to sue in favor of arbitration. Why didn't you know that? Because it's in the fine print you never read.


The new rules improve the chances that you'll get more value from the card before it expires or inactivity fees eat up the balance.

By Karen Datko Aug 18, 2010 5:54PM

Sheryl Harris of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland has some good advice: If you're planning to buy a gift card, wait until Sunday, Aug. 22.


That's when new federal gift card rules take effect, along with the final protections for credit card customers that were included in the Credit CARD Act and phased in over time since the bill was signed into law last year.


Here's what's in store:


Latest mobile shopping app 'rewards' customers for entering the store, trying on clothes and more. Useful or creepy?

By Teresa Mears Aug 18, 2010 3:59PM
Mobile shopping apps, coupons by cell phone -- every day we hear about another technology aimed at parting us from our money. Or, helping us find bargains. Or, surreptitiously collecting data to share with marketers.
The latest shopping app, called Shopkick, kicked off this week. The free app, so far available only for iPhone and only in selected cities, knows when we're in the store, offers us rewards for stopping by and gives us even more rewards for specific actions, such as trying on clothes.

The consumer bankruptcy filings, coupled with stubbornly high foreclosure numbers, paint a picture of a consumer still struggling to get footing.

By Karen Datko Aug 18, 2010 1:58PM

This post comes from Mark Huffman at partner site


There was more evidence this week that economic recovery has yet to find much traction -- at least for consumers. The number of U.S. bankruptcy filings has risen to levels not seen since 2005, when changes to the bankruptcy law took effect.

Bankruptcy filings rose 20% in the 12-month period ending June 30, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. A total of 1.57 million bankruptcy cases were filed in federal courts in that period, compared with 1.3 million in the 12-month period ending June 30, 2009.



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