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What's more important: Your overall budget or your child's education?

By Karen Datko Mar 22, 2010 10:59AM

This post comes from J.D. Roth at partner blog Get Rich Slowly.


You folks send me tons of great questions, and I’d love to share more of them. This week, for example, Lisa wrote with the following.


“Having kids has made spending choices much more emotional and complex," she says. “You can’t always calculate a return on investment.” Here’s her predicament:


While many of the provisions of the health care reform bill don't take effect until 2014, now's the time to find out about how this legislation will affect you.

By Stacy Johnson Mar 22, 2010 10:12AM

This post comes from partner site Money Talks News.


Now that health care reform has passed the U.S. House, odds are that it will soon be law. So let’s take a minute to see how the most sweeping changes in American health care in 40 years will change things for you.


If you insist on getting married at an island resort far away, some people will say you're selfish.

By Karen Datko Mar 19, 2010 2:58PM

The Washington Post’s Michelle Singletary is a huge fan of Judith Martin, better known as Miss Manners, and we thoroughly enjoy them both. So imagine the fun when these two fine columnists touched on a pet peeve we share -- destination weddings.


Like Martin and Singletary, we have a problem with huge weddings the blessed couples can’t afford, and destination weddings can be an egregious, large subset of that. Singletary, the Post’s personal-finance columnist, wrote:

The truth is, for many of these weddings, guests are goaded to attend because if they do, the marrying couple get their expenses covered. How nice for them!

Is it a good idea to use trusted Hollywood stars like Peter Graves and Dennis Hopper to pitch financial products to seniors?

By Karen Datko Mar 19, 2010 2:01PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.


Peter Graves, the cool, smooth Hollywood star who aged handsomely before audiences, started out playing cowboys in his youth, progressed to the role of Jim Phelps, spy leader in TV’s “Mission: Impossible” in the 1960s and ’70s, and he played a pedophile pilot in the movie “Airplane” (“Joey, did you ever hang around a gymnasium?” was a famous line). A delightful guy by all accounts, Graves died a few days ago at age 83. (Brian Williams recaps his career.)


His last role was peddling reverse mortgages in TV commercials for American Advisors Group. As a pitchman, he joined a legion of aging or elderly stars, including Leslie Nielsen, for Dutchtone; Charlton Heston, for Bud Light; and James Garner, for Polaroid.


The list goes on: Patrick Stewart and Julie Walters flog Brain Training for Nintendo DS, Nancy Walker (“Rhoda” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”) spent 20 years pitching paper towels for Bounty (“the quicker picker upper”), Gene Hackman did voiceovers for Lowe’s, and Morgan Freeman has pitched just about everything from (recently) Visa to Listerine, Black & Long cigarettes and Polaroid cameras.


So, given this long tradition, how come it’s the gray-haired stars hawking financial services that get under my skin?


Free Italian ice, Free Cone Day, Free Pastry Day -- it's a week to celebrate dessert.

By Teresa Mears Mar 19, 2010 12:51PM

It’s the last Friday of winter, and time again for Friday food deals and freebies.


Start working out now, because this week’s top freebies are all sweets.


Some March Madness bar deals are in effect during the NCAA basketball tournament, and some of last week’s deals are still good.


My local store is offering a 10% bonus. I'm in, even though I haven't used up last year's card yet.

By Donna_Freedman Mar 19, 2010 12:06PM
Want a guaranteed 10% return on a short-term $300 investment? I do. That's why I'm going take advantage of the "Refund Rewards" program at Albertsons. If I buy a $300 supermarket gift card, Albertsons will tack on an extra $30. (I could also get a $250 store gift card, but it carries only a $20 bonus.)

The idea is that you'd use some or all of your income tax refund on these cards. Families or individuals who spend more than $300 a month on food might want to get more than one. Myself, I don't buy too much at a time; in fact, the $330 card I bought last April still has $154.87 left on it.

So why get another one?  

The scammers are out. But the good news is the Census Bureau is hiring.

By Karen Datko Mar 19, 2010 11:34AM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.


This week you should find the 2010 census survey in your mailbox. The U.S. census is conducted every 10 years as required by the Constitution. The Constitution mandates that a census be taken every decade to apportion the number of members of the House of Representatives among the states. But the census is also used to apportion federal funding among the states, so completing the census survey is extremely important.


And that's where scam artists enter the picture.


What to do if the cashier gives you too much change back.

By Karen Datko Mar 19, 2010 8:08AM

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


Discovering that $20 has been knocked off a store receipt or deposited in your checking account isn’t quite the same as finding a crumpled $20 bill tucked in the pocket of last year’s spring jacket.


For starters, you do have an ethical obligation to point out the “found money,” says Margaret McLean, associate director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University in California. “You learn counting out change as a little kid -- if [the cashier] gives you a quarter too much, you give them back a quarter,” she says. “We have an ethical obligation to play fair and be honest.” You’d be quick enough to point out an error that cost you money, and the store or bank deserves that same consideration.


There could even be financial or legal repercussions for not doing your due diligence.



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