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Blogger details frustrations she's encountered as she tries to save her home.

By Karen Datko Nov 4, 2009 10:38AM

This guest post comes from Andrea at Fools and Sages.


For the record, I’ve all but given up trying to get my mortgage modified after a job loss at the end of March.


My family is a perfect example of the type of family I would have thought would be a shoe-in for a modification -- we were fine when I was working, making our payments without any trouble, darn near perfect credit, just about as regular as a family can be.

The modification program was pretty straightforward, but I’ve read too much online, talked to friends, and have my own experiences, and I’m here to tell you that the bottom line is that the banks that are receiving this government money do not want to talk to you. They would rather wait until you go into foreclosure, figuring you will do whatever it takes -- take on more debt, raid your retirement account, borrow from family -- to make your payments if you can, and that means they’re still getting paid.


It's no big deal. We'll still eat junk food but maybe we'll cut back a bit.

By Karen Datko Nov 3, 2009 9:02PM

This post comes from Paul Michael at partner blog Wise Bread.


Should there be a "fat tax" on junk food?




Well, that's just my humble opinion, but I really don't see why this has so many people throwing their arms up in the air with shock. We tax liquor and cigarettes, neither of which are essentials in life. Why not tax something that is bad for our health, preventing more people from buying it and generating much-needed tax revenue in the process?

Taxes on beer, spirits and cigarettes vary from state to state (there's a detailed list here) but one thing's for sure: When you grab a shot of your favorite tipple, you're giving money to Uncle Sam. Like most things in life, liquor should be taken in moderation. It's a treat. And, as such, we can stomach a little extra money being handed over for our shot of bourbon or pint of ale. (Cigarettes, well, they're a whole different animal, and if it weren't for the enormous amount of money they generate they would have been banned years ago. Such is the power of the mighty dollar.)


Similarly, fast food is (or should be) a rare treat, too.


40-page circular has a ton of doorbusters; toys are 50% off.

By TracyC Nov 3, 2009 7:48PM

Bargain hunters may find a few items for their holiday shopping list in Kmart’s leaked Black Friday ad.


The 40-page circular hit online deal sites Monday with a huge number of Friday doorbusters and some Saturday-only deals. A few merit a mention:


Flying on off-peak days will save you money.

By Teresa Mears Nov 3, 2009 3:43PM

Baggage fees, booking fees, airfare sales –- and now travel surcharges for holiday periods. These days, you practically need an MBA to buy an airline ticket.


Which day you pick to travel could make a big difference in how much you pay. Because while we are seeing heavily discounted fares for some days near the holidays, flying other days carries a hefty surcharge, $20 each way.


Delta, Northwest, American and United have doubled the surcharge they've imposed for the busiest travel days around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day, USA Today reports. The airlines began charging an extra $10 each way at the end of September for some peak travel days, and that charge has now been doubled, to $20 each way.


Joy about increased sales of boxers and briefs might have been premature.

By Karen Datko Nov 3, 2009 3:03PM

Here's a headline from August we won't soon forget: "Manty sales are up! Is the end of the recession near?"


There was joy across the land when retailers reported a resurgence in men's underwear sales. Known as the underwear index and attributed to former Fed chair Alan Greenspan, the indicator is based on the theory that men stop replacing worn boxers and briefs when the economy is in trouble. When men start buying again, good times are near.

Thus the joy back in August. But, David Colman writes at New York Magazine's Intelligencer, there were two flaws in that thinking.


Agency creates own goofy ads, seeks comments on new rules.

By Teresa Mears Nov 3, 2009 2:01PM

We’ve all seen those silly commercials where the two goofy guys get bad jobs because they didn’t monitor their credit reports at (tell your dad, tell your mom).


The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is not amused, The New York Times reports. Because not only is the site competing with the government approved, the credit reports are not really free. They require you to sign up for a credit-monitoring service at $14.95 a month. The only way you can get your report for free is to sign up for the service, get the report and cancel within seven days.


The FTC has used several tactics to brand its own site as the official free credit report site, including the unusual step of making spoof videos featuring its own trio of slackers. In song, they warn: “Other sites may turn your head; they say they’re free, don’t be misled. Once you’re in their tangled web, they’ll sell you something else instead.”


As part of the CARD credit reform laws, the FTC is seeking public comment through Nov. 30 on new rules that would delay any advertising or marketing until after consumers have obtained their reports.


They're not supposed to have a minimum-purchase requirement, but you can see why they'd want to.

By Karen Datko Nov 3, 2009 1:14PM

Has this ever happened to you? You pull out your MasterCard to buy a pack of gum, and the clerk says you’ve got to spend more, say $5 total. The store has a minimum-purchase requirement for plastic.

If that’s the case, the store is violating the rules set by MasterCard and most other major credit card brands, David Seaman recently wrote at MainStreet.


But we can understand a store’s motivation: If it followed the rules on accepting credit cards for small purchases, it probably wouldn't make money on the sale.


Here’s how this works, David explained:


These guidelines will help, but it's really about how much you can afford.

By Karen Datko Nov 3, 2009 11:07AM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


The holidays are about spending time with family and friends, being thankful for the things we’ve accomplished and the lives we’ve led, and showing appreciation to everyone who has made the year possible. Sometimes the year ends on a high note, as we celebrate the achievements. Sometimes we simply want to turn the page on a difficult 12 months.

For many, this year will seem more like the latter, but it’s important to remember that as difficult as it was for you, chances are many were facing much tougher challenges.


It’s on this more somber note that I present to you the 2009 Holiday Tipping Guide, which hopefully will give you an idea of what is considered customary when it comes to showing appreciation to those in the services industry who have gone above and beyond. These are merely guidelines; it’s up to you to decide what makes sense for both your area and your own finances.



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