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The silver lining of the downturn is that more people are learning to live within their means, he says.

By Teresa Mears Jan 12, 2010 3:23PM

What should people do to improve their finances during a recession?


The same things they should have been doing before, financial author Dave Ramsey tells Success magazine: “Live on less than you make; get out of debt; have some money set aside for a rainy day, because it’s going to rain; invest for the future; learn to give.”


When you punch in a PIN to pay with your debit card, you're saving the store -- and maybe yourself in the long run -- some money.

By Karen Datko Jan 12, 2010 2:37PM

We recently changed the way we buy most stuff -- be it groceries at the supermarket or paint at the hardware store. When we swipe our debit card, we type in our PIN. That's the “debit” choice when card users are asked to pick “credit” or “debit.”

Why are we doing this? When you say “credit” and provide a signature -- sometimes waived, depending on how much you “charge” with your card -- you’re allowing the banks to siphon more money from the store and, ultimately, the consumers.


A recent New York Times story explained how this came to be -- and gives a lot of the credit, shall we say, to Visa. Here’s a very condensed version:


A new crop of e-readers seeks to compete with the netbook.

By Karen Datko Jan 12, 2010 11:55AM

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


Think $200 is too much to shell out for an e-reader in the era of increasingly cheap netbooks?


Guess what: E-reader makers are out to change your mind. At the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, manufacturers trotted out a variety of new models that allow users to not only store their digital library, but also to surf the Web, edit documents, record video and audio, check e-mail -- and even download Android apps.

Sales of e-readers doubled last year, and the Consumer Electronics Association predicts they will double again this year, in part due to their versatility. Yet it will be several years before your e-reader will qualify as a computer in its own right -- as the netbook does -- despite design similarities, says Andrew Eisner, the director of content for, an online electronics marketplace. The big hurdle: screen lighting technology. Tablets use the same backlit LCD screens found on most computing devices, while e-readers use electronic paper display, or EPD, screens. EPDs, unlike LCDs, are readable in most lighting conditions and are also much easier on the eyes for long periods of reading.


Here are four of the newest e-readers available soon:


When you consider the time, money and risk involved, the stock market seems preferable.

By Karen Datko Jan 12, 2010 10:58AM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


There are two parts to any investment -- cash flow and equity appreciation. Cash flow refers to how much money the investment generates, and equity appreciation is how much the investment itself grows in value. When you look at real estate, cash flow refers to any rents you can earn, and equity appreciation refers to any increase, or decrease, in the property’s value.

In the past few years, real estate has taken a huge hit because prices simply grew too quickly, financially incapable people were given loans they couldn’t afford, and the myth that “buying a home is the best investment ever” was finally revealed to be the result of incredible anecdotes and not a statistical look at historical home values.


I’ve never liked the idea of real estate as purely an investment for a variety of reasons.


You're not going to keep customers happy if what you're really saying is 'I don't care.'

By Karen Datko Jan 11, 2010 6:31PM

You’ve been there: You’re trying to check out a DVD at the video store, but the clerk is too busy on the phone -- and it’s a social call.


Could she possibly make time in her busy schedule to rent us a movie?

Bad customer service plagues all of us, so we can all relate to  a post about customer-service phrases we hate to hear -- and ones we should hear more often -- at My Super-Charged Life.


City wants restaurants, manufacturers to cut sodium in food.

By Teresa Mears Jan 11, 2010 4:58PM

Put down that salt shaker! Right now!


That’s the message New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is sending to restaurateurs and manufacturers of food products.


The mayor who led crusades against smoking and trans fats and pushed for calorie counts in New York City restaurants now wants food manufacturers and restaurants to cut the amount of salt in their products by 25% in the next five years.


You can find assistance from the government, utility companies and nonprofit groups.

By Karen Datko Jan 11, 2010 4:47PM

It was 26 below zero outside (with no wind chill) when we woke up the other day. Inside it was a bearable 60 degrees, thanks to our programmable thermostat (and three pairs of socks inside fuzzy slippers). Even at that low setting, the furnace kept kicking on, and on.


Days like that can make a person anxious about the power bill. And it’s not over yet, as Florida shivers through record cold.


With so many people losing their jobs, giving up looking for work, or living on subsistence incomes, a big power bill can make a stressful situation feel even more desperate. What if you can’t afford that bill -- particularly an unseasonably high one that will result from the cold snap many people have suffered through?

There’s help, but it’s a patchwork effort and differs in every state. We’ll help you find it.


Would you rather be an actuary than a roustabout?

By Teresa Mears Jan 11, 2010 1:12PM

Career Cast has come up with a list of the best and worst jobs for 2010, ranking 200 jobs from  best to worst by taking into account physical demands, work environment, income, stress and hiring outlook.


Of course, some of those factors are entirely subjective. NFL quarterback, for example, is sure to rank high on the physical demands scale, but if you’ve got the athletic ability, it could be a pretty good job. The rankings don’t take into account the cost of education and training for the jobs.


If you want a top job, you’d better be good at math, though historian and philosopher (would I need more education for this?) also were in the top 20.



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