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If you don't work or live along the Gulf Coast, how will this environmental disaster affect what you pay for seafood and other items?

By Karen Datko Jul 13, 2010 12:43PM

The lives of many who live and work along the Gulf Coast have been turned upside down by the BP spill. But what about those who live inland, in states far away? How is this unprecedented environmental disaster affecting the pocketbooks of those folks?


If you love to down those plump raw Gulf oysters with fresh lemon or a dash of hot sauce (we do!) or enjoy Gulf shrimp on the grill, you'll pay more for the experience.

But the impact on other costs is difficult to nail down. Even those directly affected can't predict the outcome. The Hattiesburg American in Mississippi reports:

"This is like watching a disaster in slow motion," said Rich Forgette, chairman of the political science department at the University of Mississippi and a member of the research team charged with tallying the economic impact. "We haven't seen the end of it by any stretch."

Here's what you can expect right now:


The first step in any credit card reduction strategy is to reduce your outstanding debt.

By Karen Datko Jul 13, 2010 10:03AM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


Last year, personal-finance writers focused a lot on financial defense of credit, credit reports and credit scores. They're a cornerstone of modern financial life, whether you like it or not.


During that time, many card issuers canceled cards, reduced credit limits, and otherwise reduced their overall financial risk. With rampant foreclosures and sinking home prices, issuers were scared. Some even started cutting people based on where they shopped.

Now that the economy has begun to recover, many people don't want to be in the position they were in a year ago -- feeling as though the card issuers held them and their credit scores hostage. The easiest way to do this is to reduce how much credit you use, and the quickest way to do that is to cancel credit cards.


How do you cancel a credit card without significantly hurting your credit score?


The FCC is examining whether to adopt measures that would give wireless customers advance notice that they are exceeding limits.

By Karen Datko Jul 12, 2010 4:27PM

This post comes from Mark Huffman at partner site


When consumers sign up for a wireless plan, they expect to pay the same amount each month. But sometimes other fees kick in when they access additional services or exceed preset limits, and those fees can come as a shock.

According to a recent Federal Communications Commission survey on "the consumer mobile experience," one in six mobile telecommunications subscribers, or 30 million Americans, encountered unexpected charges and fees in their bills, commonly known as cell phone "bill shock."


Entrepreneurial young people aren't letting a tough job market keep them from earning. They're starting their own businesses.

By Teresa Mears Jul 12, 2010 1:40PM

Miami teen Jorge Carrera couldn’t find a summer job. So he created one.


As the president and CEO (and also the muscle) of Son for Rent, the 17-year-old does odd jobs around the house and yard for friends and neighbors. Last summer he earned about $4,000 and he's on track this year to make "way more," he told Kathleen McGrory of The Miami Herald.


Jorge is one of a number of enterprising teenagers who are creating their own businesses, some doing typical teenage jobs and others using special talents to get an early start in the business world.


Here's how to weigh the pros and cons of holiday savings clubs.

By Karen Datko Jul 12, 2010 10:27AM

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


There are more than 160 shopping days until Christmas, but retailers are already angling for a chunk of the nation's holiday spending budget.


Several big chain stores are rolling out holiday savings programs this summer. The plans require customers to commit money to a store throughout the year in exchange for bonus cash redeemable closer to the winter holidays. 


It's like choosing between an apple and an orange. One may be better for you, but they're both good.

By Karen Datko Jul 12, 2010 9:09AM

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


Kelley wrote recently with the sort of dilemma I get asked about all of the time: Is it better to invest or to prepay a mortgage? We've covered this topic in the distant past, but it's time to review the debate for current readers.


First, let's look at Kelley's e-mail:

My husband and I are on the right track. At age 25, our only debt lies in our home mortgage. We have the six-month emergency fund in place, I currently meet the 3% 401k match offered by my employer, and I started a Roth IRA for myself and my husband last year. I started each Roth IRA with $4,000.
My financial adviser recommended for us to max out each of our Roth IRAs each year. My husband disagrees. He thinks paying off the house is a bigger priority.

And odd nails, bits of drywall or anything else that lets you jury-rig a repair -- or even create a permanent fix.

By Donna_Freedman Jul 9, 2010 1:38PM
When personal-finance blogger "vh" of Funny About Money bought her home, there was a cheap paper-towel holder in the laundry area. The flimsy apparatus wasn't very good at its job and, as per Murphy's Law, tended to dump rolls when the utility sink below it was full of water. As a result, she quit using it.

Vh recently ditched the flimsy plastic holder in favor of a frugal wooden one. Frugal as in "free," since she cobbled it together out of scraps from previous projects.

How does it look?  

Free chicken, ice cream and Slurpees, plus a deal from Starbucks and a slew of dining coupons.

By Teresa Mears Jul 9, 2010 11:54AM

It's not every Friday that we celebrate Cow Appreciation Day as well as food deals and freebies. If you dress like a cow today, you can get free chicken at Chick-fil-A.


If you prefer your milk in one of those much-maligned lattes, Starbucks has brought back its Treat Receipt deal. If you make a purchase at Starbucks early in the day, you can bring back your receipt after 2 p.m. and get a grande cold beverage for $2. The promotion continues through Oct. 4.


While we're appreciating dairy products, Ben and Jerry's also has a promotion: Volunteer through the Scoop It Forward program and get a coupon for free Ben & Jerry's ice cream. The promotion continues through Dec. 31 or as long as supplies last.



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