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Your employer, health insurance company or landlord may help with the cost.

By Karen Datko Jan 5, 2010 12:35PM

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

 

Keeping a New Year’s resolution to get in shape is no easy feat. The first hurdle: finding a gym membership that’s fiscally fit.

 

Half of consumers who don’t belong to a gym say the costs are the primary deterrent, according to a 2009 survey from market researcher Mintel. Factoring in initiation fees, the median annual cost for a new gym member is $775, according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, a trade group. (Ongoing members pay slightly less than $43 per month for an average $511 annually.)

But many new members can cut their costs by as much as 50%. Here’s how:

 

Getting a new card dropped his wife's credit score by 14 points.

By Karen Datko Jan 5, 2010 11:12AM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.

 

We recently purchased a Fujitsu ScanSnap S300 and have been scanning a lot of our documents to reduce the number of paper documents we retain. Among the documents we came upon were two printouts of my wife’s FICO credit score and credit reports from Equifax, through myFICO. Earlier this year she signed up for the trial to see what her score was and in between the two inquiries she applied for a credit card.

The first report was pulled in mid-March and she had a glowing score of 804. The second report was pulled a month later and her score was 790, still very strong.

 

The only difference? She applied for and was approved for a new credit card. It cost her 14 FICO points.

 

One recession lesson seems to be that experiences provide more joy than things. But will it stick?

By Teresa Mears Jan 4, 2010 6:27PM

Here is another unintended consequence of the recession: Americans are changing their lives to favor experiences over things.

 

Or at least that’s what The New York Times says, based on a November New York Times/CBS News poll.

 

The poll found:

 

Free checking accounts could be next casualty as banks seek to replace revenue lost to credit card and overdraft reforms.

By Teresa Mears Jan 4, 2010 3:18PM

For consumers, 2010 may be the year of sneaky bank fees, not just on credit cards but also on checking accounts.

 

The Wall Street Journal reports that banks will be bombarding customers with new fees this year as they try to replace the revenue they are losing from the new credit card law that goes into effect in February and restrictions on overdraft fees that take effect in July.

 

For some customers, that could mean the end of free checking accounts.

 

And you can be -- if you figure out what 'enough' means to you.

By Karen Datko Jan 4, 2010 12:44PM

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

 

Here’s the opening paragraph from my forthcoming book, “Your Money: The Missing Manual.” It’s the sum of everything I’ve learned during my five-year journey to get rich slowly:

You don’t want to be rich -- you want to be happy. Many people mistakenly believe that the former leads to the latter. While it’s certainly true that money can help you achieve your goals, provide for your future, and make life more enjoyable, merely having money doesn’t guarantee happiness.

Many of us (including me) get wrapped up in the belief that having more money is the key to a better life. But it’s not.

 

Beating the high cost of textbooks is a lesson worth learning.

By Stacy Johnson Jan 4, 2010 11:22AM

Getting a better deal on textbooks is definitely a subject worthy of study: They can add from 25% to 75% to tuition.

 

Consider these facts from a 2005 study by the General Accounting Office:  

 

New rules seek to make it easier to shop for loans and understand what you're getting into ahead of time.

By Teresa Mears Dec 31, 2009 6:22PM

New federal rules that take effect Friday, Jan. 1, are supposed to make it easier for consumers to shop for mortgages by providing uniform estimates of loan costs and requiring the estimates to be closer to the actual costs when it comes time to close the loan.

 

How much the new rules, an update of the 1974 Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), will really help consumers is still being debated.

 

Time to look back at some personal-finance highs (and lows) of the past 10 years -- and a bit of silliness.

By Karen Datko Dec 31, 2009 6:00PM

Now that the Aughts or Ohs or whatever this decade is called are nearly over, let’s reflect a bit on the best they produced when it comes to our money.

 

Could this exercise be as fun as “best TV shows” (“The Wire” wins!), best movies, best songs, best theme park rides -- the usual compendia that come at the close of every decade?

Let’s hope so. Here are some of the “best (or most notable) of the decade” lists with a personal-finance twist:

 

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