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Time extended, and credit added for some owners of existing homes.

By Teresa Mears Nov 5, 2009 6:25PM

While extending unemployment benefits this week, Congress also made a few moves its members say are designed to stimulate the housing market. If you're planning to buy a house, this could be good news for you.

 

Congress took two significant steps that will benefit certain homebuyers:

  • Extended the $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers (defined as those who haven’t owned a home in the last three years) through April 30.
  • Added a new $6,500 tax credit for people who buy a new home after owning and living in their homes five of the last eight years.

The president is expected to sign the bill, which you can read here. The National Association of Realtors also has put together a helpful chart comparing the new and old tax credit provisions.

 

Is a text message all we really need to get us to save money?

By Karen Datko Nov 5, 2009 6:05PM

This guest post comes from Frank Curmudgeon at Bad Money Advice.

 

There is a movement amongst earnest policy wonks that might be called Nanny State Light. It’s a compromise position between full-on centrally planned we-know-what’s-best-for-you control and you’re-on-your-own-kid libertarianism.

 

The idea is that instead of making people do the right thing or hoping that they do what’s best on their own, you give them a little nudge and hint in the right direction. This is, I am told, the topic of a clever and popular book, “Nudge,” which I haven’t yet gotten around to reading. (But I bought a copy a few weeks ago. That’s something, isn’t it?)

The latest scheme along these lines to hit the media was in The Wall Street Journal this week. Apparently, all we need to do to get people to save more money is to send them a text message reminding them to save more money.

 

Frequent flier says he was denied seat upgrade because of his attire.

By Karen Datko Nov 5, 2009 4:36PM

A United Airlines Red Carpet Club member -- a Best Buy corporate vice president, no less -- says he was denied a first-class upgrade on a flight last month because he was wearing a track suit.

The My Fox Atlanta Web site reported about frequent traveler Armando Alvarez, who was commuting from his Maryland home to Best Buy headquarters:

He said he used his miles to upgrade to first class on a flight from Dulles to Connecticut. Alvarez said the gate agent called his name and when he walked up to the counter for his upgrade, the agent said he was dressed too casually for first class. "I was humiliated and embarrassed," Alvarez said.

Alvarez wore the same Puma track suit during a Fox interview and, in the video, his attire is very neat -- much nicer than a lot of sloppy-looking customers we’ve seen on flights.

 

Company targets high-end 'advanced devices' for price hike.

By Karen Datko Nov 5, 2009 2:26PM

This post comes from Martin H. Bosworth at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

A memo leaked from Verizon Wireless confirms that the company is increasing its early contract cancellation fees to as high as $350 for what it calls its "advanced devices." That's double the current fee.

The memo, obtained by tech blog Boy Genius Report, states that an advanced device's cancellation fee will drop by $10 for each month completed under contract.

 

Though the company did not specify what it meant by "advanced devices," Boy Genius Report's Andrew Munchbach speculated it was targeted at high-end smart phones like the recently announced Droid, which runs the open-source Android platform and was built by Motorola. It's scheduled to debut Nov. 15.

 

Deals on turkey dinners and electronics start this week.

By Teresa Mears Nov 5, 2009 1:22PM

At least one store isn’t waiting until Black Friday to unleash its deals. Rather than leaking its ads early, Wal-Mart is starting its electronics sales early, plus offering $20 turkey dinners for eight.

 

Wal-Mart will begin the first of several one-week “electronics savings events” on Saturday, Nov. 7. Here are the first week’s deals:

 

Once the mortgage is paid off, you're directly responsible for property taxes. Here's what to do.

By Karen Datko Nov 5, 2009 12:47PM

This guest post is from Mr. GoTo at Go To Retirement.

 

If you have paid off your mortgage -- as we did earlier this year -- you have some new tasks to take over from the bank or mortgage company. One of those is paying the property taxes on your home.

 

We just received our first tax bill. There are a few rules and procedures to be aware of.

As most homeowners know, when there is a mortgage on the property, the lender or lender’s mortgage service company usually pays the homeowners insurance and property taxes directly.

 

If you're a guest, aren't you entitled to a meal made just for you?

By Karen Datko Nov 5, 2009 11:31AM

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

 

Note from Trent: Recently, I posted a series of articles on the ethics of frugality. How far can you take things without crossing an ethical line or diving into seriously socially unacceptable waters? Here is one of those posts.

 

“Jim” writes in:

A married couple I’m friends with invited me over to dinner recently. When I arrived, they were rushing around trying to throw a meal together. The main course turned out to be leftover chicken breasts. Yes, leftover. They had been grilled a day or two before and they had merely tossed on some additional spices and warmed them in the oven. I was kind of disgusted by this. I understand that this was an inexpensive route for them to go for dinner, but I was a dinner guest at their home!

When you have guests over, how far does frugality go before it crosses a line? As always, there are two sides to the story.

 

'To Whom It May Concern' screams that you didn't do your homework.

By Karen Datko Nov 4, 2009 8:07PM

Our experience as a manager tells us that Squawkfox is right: If you're not getting called for a job interview, it's likely your cover letter laid an egg on some honcho's desk.

 

What's wrong with your letter? You might find some clues in a post by Kerry Taylor, the "Fox" at Squawkfox, called "6 things that make your cover letter suck." It's part of a series of posts on the topic, including "Anatomy of a killer cover letter." A companion series addresses resume writing, including the memorable "6 words that make your resume suck."

Kerry blessedly demonstrates that a topic that seems oppressive -- don't we all HATE these chores? -- can be fun. OK, maybe that's a stretch, but her posts are informative and entertaining.

 

Among Kerry's cover letter tips:

 

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