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Extra spending for hybrid cars, store memberships and rewards cards may not be the best choices. Here's why.

By Karen Datko Aug 31, 2010 5:04PM

This post comes from Kimberly Palmer, author of "Generation Earn" and's Alpha Consumer blog.


Upgrading your wardrobe, car, or wine collection might sound like a rewarding thing to do. After all, you work hard all day, and you deserve to come home to some luxury during your off-hours. But crunching the numbers shows that these five splurges aren't worth their additional cost. Here's why:


Products you viewed on one site are following you around the Web as more companies embrace targeted marketing techniques.

By Teresa Mears Aug 31, 2010 5:03PM

We wrote recently about a new phone app that knows when you're in a store and rewards you for stopping by, perhaps with relevant coupons. It's the latest twist on location-based services such as Foursquare, where users get rewards and sometimes deals for "checking in" at establishments.


Some people reject those technologies. They don't want to tell marketers where they are.


We have news for you. They already know, at least if you're in front of your computer.


The New York Times reported recently on a marketing technique known as personalized ad retargeting, in which ads from websites you have visited follow you around to other websites, in some cases even showing you the exact products you viewed but didn't buy.


Even with gold-plated health insurance, the cost of a major illness can wipe out your savings.

By Stacy Johnson Aug 31, 2010 2:08PM

This post comes from Michael Koretzky at partner site Money Talks News.


A new study by insurer MetLife shows that half of all Americans have only $5,000 in savings to tap for a major illness -- while critical illness like cancer or stroke can reduce a family’s income by more than $12,000 in the first year alone. And that's for those with medical insurance.

Many people realize that their insurance won't cover 100% of the treatment and recovery for, say, a heart attack. But not only have they not saved enough to offset their share of the cost, they also typically underestimate how long they'll be out of work and not making any money.


How to find the best prices on tickets for the Grand Slam tennis tournament.

By Karen Datko Aug 31, 2010 12:29PM

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


The U.S. Open is in full swing, and ticket resellers are serving great deals -- at least if you're interested in catching players in early rounds before the competition really heats up.

Prices for the first rounds of the tournament, which began Monday and wraps up Sept. 12, are lower than last year's.


In one study, the women wearing the knockoff sunglasses were more likely to cheat on a test than those wearing the real deal.

By Karen Datko Aug 31, 2010 11:29AM

This guest post comes from Pop at Pop Economics.


We've all cheated in some way or another. Maybe you tricked your little sister into a bad trade at Monopoly. Maybe you copied an answer off the test next to you.

Hopefully, those minor indiscretions never evolved into major betrayals at work or in relationships later on. But psychologists and economists have recently run a multitude of tests to help determine what makes us cheat and how to stop it.


The results are pretty surprising and, at times, counterintuitive. Our propensity to cheat doesn't seem to have to do with getting caught. It doesn't even seem to do with how much you gain by cheating.


Balance transfers can be an effective way to pay down debt. But they shouldn't be used as a way to delay payment.

By Karen Datko Aug 31, 2010 8:08AM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


In the last few years, I've received a lot of questions about balance transfers from people looking for an edge in battling their credit card debt.


A few years ago, most cards with balance transfers didn't have a transfer fee and, with comparable post-promotional interest rates, the transfer itself was an easy "yes." A 12-month 0% period meant a borrower got a full year to catch up on their debt, as long as they didn't accumulate more.

Nowadays, with balance-transfer fees and less favorable post-promo rates, the decision isn't as obvious. Fortunately, I believe a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation is enough to help you decide whether a balance transfer makes sense financially for you.


How did they rip off 1.35 million credit cardholders? Tiny amounts billed to poorly labeled merchants.

By Teresa Mears Aug 30, 2010 8:11PM

How do you steal $10 million and get away with it?


An international credit card ring stole its millions a few dollars (or less) at a time, placing bogus charges of 20 cents to $9 on 1.35 million credit and debit cards. Most were never challenged.


As we wrote previously, there are ways to protect yourself against such fraudulent charges. But business professor Randall Stross, writing in The New York Times, raises an interesting point: Why do banks give you so little information on your credit card statement about the companies with which you've done business?


Advertisements for license plate sprays and covers say they render those pesky red-light cameras ineffective. A new study shows they don't work.

By Karen Datko Aug 30, 2010 6:44PM

The red-light camera -- is there any more-hated traffic control device? From California to Texas and points beyond, the debate about their use rages. (We covered the pros and cons of them here.)

But what if you could apply a cover or spray to your license plates to neutralize the devices? Some products are marketed to do that: The spray or cover supposedly reflects the camera's flash and overexposes the photo, rendering it useless.


Sorry, folks. A new study of some of those products by the Los Angeles Police Department -- experts on the "California stop" -- shows they don't work and, in some cases, actually improve the image quality.



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