It's no big deal. We'll still eat junk food but maybe we'll cut back a bit.
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?
- Bing: Soda tax pros and cons
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.
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.
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.
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.
We’ve all seen those silly commercials where the two goofy guys get bad jobs because they didn’t monitor their credit reports at FreeCreditReport.com (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 AnnualCreditReport.com, 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.”
They're not supposed to have a minimum-purchase requirement, but you can see why they'd want to.
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.
- Bing: Worst credit cards
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.
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.
- Bing: Cheap celebrity tippers
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.
A new study shows that nearly half of workers do when they lose or change jobs.
What’s the best type of 401k to have? One that you don’t cash out when you lose your job or move on to the next one.
- Bing: Best 401k plans
A new survey by Hewitt Associates of 170,000 people whose employment changed last year showed that 46% did in fact cash out -- and the percentage was higher among the youngest investors. The amount they lost to taxes and early-withdrawal penalties -- often 30% or more -- apparently wasn’t a disincentive. And neither was the loss of substantial compound interest over time.
An employee who cashes out a $5,000 retirement balance at age 25 would get a check for just $3,500 after taxes and penalties. Left in an account, that $5,000 may have grown over decades to $75,000 at retirement, Hewitt said.
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