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Take advantage of last-minute travel deals for popular New Year's destinations.

By Karen Datko Dec 16, 2009 1:43PM

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

 

In Decembers past, a New Year’s resolution to travel more stood in conflict with a resolution to save more money. This month, consumers can resolve to do both at once -- before the new year even begins.

This year, drop-offs in regional tourism along with the usual year-end push by the travel industry to meet its financial goals are yielding more last-minute deals on trips to popular destinations for New Year’s Eve.

 

6 ways to avoid becoming the stereotypical starving student.

By Karen Datko Dec 16, 2009 12:01PM

This post comes from Linsey Knerl at partner blog Wise Bread.

 

Back in 1996, I was a partial-scholarship private-college student with the “gold” meal plan. Despite having access to food almost anytime I wanted, I often went hungry. Why? I was a horrible planner, a bit bad with my time, and I really had no knowledge of food savings strategies.

Here are six things I finally learned about how to get more from your very limited college food budget.

 

British think tank calculates relative worth of six professions.

By Teresa Mears Dec 15, 2009 5:04PM

A British study has now confirmed what many of us have long suspected: Hospital janitors are worth more to society than bankers.

 

Perhaps the janitors should get the bonuses. The study, “A Bit Rich: Calculating the Real Value to Society of Different Professionals,” wasn’t directly tied to the huge bankers’ bonuses that have raised ire in the U.K. (and the U.S., for that matter) or the 50% tax Britain has slapped on those bonuses. (A “whack the banker” game is all the rage in Britain these days, according to the BBC.)

 

Would a proposed federal program prompt you to weatherize your house?

By Karen Datko Dec 15, 2009 4:51PM

Regular readers here know that budgets are sexy. Now insulation is, too -- according to the president.

 

President Obama held a roundtable at a Home Depot to push "cash for caulkers," then addressed a larger crowd at the store that included Home Depot CEO Frank Blake, union members and other folks. According to The Los Angeles Times, he said:

We were at the roundtable and somebody said, "Insulation's not sexy." I disagree. Here's what's sexy about it: saving money.

That is sexy, and so is the thought of being toasty warm when it’s beyond frigid outside -- without a budget-busting power bill. (The high here is supposed to be 15 degrees today -- a vast improvement over the previous 24 hours.) Congress would have to approve the cash for caulkers program, officially called Home Star, but here’s how it might work.

 

Jobless lack health care, have trouble sleeping.

By Teresa Mears Dec 15, 2009 2:12PM

Tammy Linville of Louisville, Ky., lost her clerical job a year and a half ago. Her boyfriend is still working, but his hours have been cut and he’s earning less. Her car broke down, and she can’t afford to fix it. The couple are struggling to support themselves and their two small children.

 

 “Every time I think about money, I shut down because there is none,” Linville told The New York Times. “I get major panic attacks. I just don’t know what we’re going to do.”

 

The 29-year-old woman was interviewed for a Times story about a new Times/CBS News poll demonstrating the emotional and financial toll that losing their jobs is taking on the unemployed.

 

It's the next 'big thing' but it can be a tremendous burden. Enjoy your freedom while you can.

By Karen Datko Dec 15, 2009 1:23PM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.

 

Whenever my wife or I tell people what I do (personal-finance blogger), invariably one of the next questions they ask is if I have any stock picks for them. After I’ve explained that I don’t do that sort of thing, the next topic usually has to do with buying a house.

After graduating college, the next “big thing” on peoples’ minds is usually buying a home. My belief is that you shouldn’t buy a home within five years of graduating college or high school.

 

Protecting your identity is a great idea. Paying for that protection isn't.

By Stacy Johnson Dec 15, 2009 7:59AM

It’s a nightmare scenario. Someone, somewhere is pretending to be you. Using your credit cards, bank accounts, even getting loans in your name. It happens every year to millions of Americans and costs the banking industry billions.

And even though your losses might be limited by the law --ultimately you're not responsible for money obtained by someone illegally forging your signature -- should you become a victim, your life and credit rating will suffer, perhaps for years.

 

Enter American entrepreneurial spirit. Because ID theft is so highly publicized and so frightening, a crop of companies now offer to help -- for a fee, of course. Pay them every month and they'll help protect your identity. One even ran commercials showing a moving billboard driving around with the CEO's Social Security number on it: That's how confident he was that nobody could steal your identity with their $10-a-month service.

 

But here's something the ads don't say: The technique many services use is something you can do yourself in less than five minutes absolutely free

 

Maybe that's too small for most folks, but many agree that smaller is better these days.

By Karen Datko Dec 14, 2009 8:20PM

McMansions are out. Small spaces are in. But just how small can you go? Can a couple live happily in a Manhattan apartment that’s not quite 15 by 10 feet, plus a narrow, 3-by-9-foot bathroom?

 

Zaarath and Christopher Prokop share the space with their two cats, and have pronounced life “harmonious” after three months in what the New York Post calls the city’s smallest apartment. (View the photos here.)

 

It should be noted that their living arrangements are somewhat unusual.

 

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