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You can use the money for all kinds of things. One young couple used it to buy peace of mind.

By Karen Datko Mar 10, 2010 11:47AM

This post comes from WC Porter at partner blog Wise Bread.


After two years, more than 80 viewings, and almost breaking up with our broker, we finally bought our first place.


It's been a saga but we finally got it done. And as someone who has been looking for this long, I can tell you that we were pressured every step of the way to just buy something -- anything -- because it was the "perfect" time to buy. This had to do with prices coming down and interest rates being low.

But the best reason to buy was always President Obama's first-time homebuyer's tax credit. It would give us $8,000 in cash to use however we pleased after we closed on the home. This deal was the greatest thing since the Snuggie and we would be stupid not to take advantage of it.


Critics argue that unemployment checks encourage people to put off finding a job. Do they have a point?

By Karen Datko Mar 9, 2010 10:12PM

Some people have been getting unemployment benefits for so long -- they've been extended to up to 99 weeks in some hard-hit locations -- that critics say the program is morphing into just another entitlement, The Washington Post reports.


We had to wonder: Should unemployment benefits be cut off after, say, six months or a year, even in tough times, forcing the jobless to take any job they can find -- if they can find one? Or, as supporters say, do the benefits bolster not just individual families but also the entire economy?


For insight, we turned to Roger, The Amateur Financier, who has been collecting unemployment benefits for most of the past year. Are the payments, as critics claim, a disincentive to find a job?


The company is barred from making deceptive claims and is required to safeguard customers' private information.

By Karen Datko Mar 9, 2010 7:43PM

This post comes from partner site


LifeLock Inc. has agreed to pay $11 million to the Federal Trade Commission and $1 million to a group of 35 state attorneys general to settle complaints that the company used false claims to promote its identity theft protection services -- which it widely advertised by displaying the CEO’s Social Security number on the side of a truck.


In one of the largest FTC-state coordinated settlements on record, LifeLock and its principals will be barred from making deceptive claims and required to take more stringent measures to safeguard the personal information it collects from customers.


“While LifeLock promised consumers complete protection against all types of identity theft, in truth, the protection it actually provided left enough holes that you could drive a truck through it,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said.


Domino's is teaming with fire departments to push fire safety. Some people will get free pizza -- but they'd better avoid 'puffery.'

By Teresa Mears Mar 9, 2010 5:30PM

If you’re thinking of ordering pizza from Domino’s on Sunday,  you might want to make sure all your smoke detectors are working.


If they are, you could get your pizza free as well as have it delivered on a firetruck. Won’t the kids like that?

Just be sure you don’t engage in any "puffery," and we don’t just mean the kind you do with cigarettes, or Domino’s may take your pizza back. We’re kidding about that part. Sort of.


Where is it written that you need to live like a pharoah? To attain bumhood, you need a home you can truly afford.

By Karen Datko Mar 9, 2010 5:27PM

This guest post comes from “vh” at Funny about Money.


We’ve been talking, on and off, about routes to financial freedom, defined as a life off the day-job treadmill that leaves you free to do what you want to do with your time, not what someone else decides you should do.


It takes time to achieve this freedom. You need get enough education or vocational training to land a job that will produce enough income to allow you to build savings, and you need to live not only within that income but below it. An important part of your early-escape strategy is to get a roof over your head that’s paid for.


Yes. Pay off your mortgage.


The percentage of American workers with no savings rises for the third year.

By Elizabeth Strott Mar 9, 2010 2:36PM

More Americans are ill-prepared for retirement, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute's 20th annual Retirement Confidence Survey.


The percentage of workers who said they have less than $10,000 in savings grew to 43% in 2010, from 39% in 2009. Their savings do not include the value of primary homes and defined-benefit pension plans.

And more workers said they have virtually no savings and investments at all: 27% said they have less than $1,000 in savings, up from 20% in 2009.


Auto recalls may be the key to haggling over any new or used car.

By Karen Datko Mar 9, 2010 10:35AM

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


Pointing out the flaws of an item is Haggling 101 -- and the spate of recent auto recalls has given consumers plenty to negotiate with.


Since November, Toyota has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide, some 5.5 million of those in the United States. Congress is investigating the automaker’s response to malfunctions including faulty accelerator pedals and floor mats that jammed pedals. Smaller recalls in February covered glitches with brakes and front drive shafts.


Toyota isn’t alone in pulling cars from the market, either. Nissan recalled 539,864 cars in early March -- the largest recall in the automaker’s history -- for brake pin and fuel gauge problems. That same week, GM announced it would recall 1.3 million compacts to repair power-steering motors.


Recalls spur competition among car makers. A brand with a recent recall is eager to polish its reputation by keeping sales steady, says Jeff Bennett, a professor of automotive marketing at Northwood University in Midland, Mich. Other car companies are more willing to lower prices to lure away the affected brand’s loyal but anxious buyers. In either case, consumers may be able to pay little more than invoice price (i.e., what the dealership pays for the car).


But getting a good deal isn’t as simple as showing up at the lot with a Toyota and a nervous tic. Here’s what to consider based on what you want to buy:


It's not nearly as good a deal as you may think.

By Karen Datko Mar 9, 2010 9:23AM
This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.

The mortgage interest deduction is one of the most celebrated tax deductions in all of tax deduction-dom. It’s cited as one of the benefits of homeownership, right behind “you’re not throwing your money away,” and it is repeated over and over again. Unfortunately, I believe it’s misrepresented. It’s not as good as you think.


I’ll explain why.



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