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Sales are down and fees are up this year. Here are some tips on how to find the best deals.

By Karen Datko Jun 30, 2010 10:17AM

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


Travelers hunting for airfare deals have their work cut out for them this year.


With more consumers scheduling vacations and airline scheduling cutbacks, the supply-demand equation has swung back in the airlines' favor, says Tom Parsons, the founder of Fares are slightly higher across the board -- last year's $49 sale is $69 this year, for example -- with substantial increases on select routes, he says.


Sales are still out there, but on many, either the deals aren't as favorable or there are more restrictions on eligible days. "This summer, you're just going to have to poke around," he says.


Part of the equation: fees, which have continued creeping up.


Don't serve too much at a time, don't put foods they don't want on their plate, and don't fear the sippy cup.

By Karen Datko Jun 30, 2010 9:06AM

This post comes from Carrie Kirby at partner blog Wise Bread.


I don't know about your kids, but mine just will not eat kibble. At least not the generic kind. Which means I have to shell out for pricey people food like vegetables, fruit and milk.


To be honest, I'm a better mom than I let on -- I even shell out for organic stuff for my three tykes. But then, so much of that pristine, chemical-free food ends up on the floor or being scraped into the garbage disposal that I wonder why I bothered.


Here are the guidelines we use at our house to try to cut the waste-to-consumption ratio when feeding the kids.


Divorce lawyers are finding a treasure trove of information on social-networking sites. Here's what not to share.

By Karen Datko Jun 29, 2010 7:31PM

If we've said it once, we've said it a hundred (OK, maybe three or four) times: Don't put stuff on Facebook or any other social-networking site that can come back to bite you.


The latest proof of how damaging this can be: An Associated Press story related how divorce attorneys are routinely looking for incriminating stuff on social-networking sites, and they're finding lots of it -- most often on Facebook.


'Luxury squatters' take over vacant houses and declare themselves owners. In Seattle, one family moved into a $3.3 million place.

By Teresa Mears Jun 29, 2010 5:47PM

For years, the 8,000-square-foot mansion in suburban Seattle sat vacant and for sale, the price gradually coming down from $5.8 million to $3.3 million. One day in June, a 30-year-old woman, a man and two children took down the for-sale signs, changed the locks, moved in and declared it their home.


They didn't actually buy the house, or even rent it. They just moved in and declared it their house.

Jill Lane, who was arrested on a charge of trespassing after two weeks in the house, is not contrite, The Seattle Times' Danny Westneat reports. Not only did she try to take over the mansion, with its wine cellar, home theater, six bedrooms and nine baths, she has staked a claim to 10 other bank-owned houses in the Seattle area.


"Banks do whatever they want and nobody holds them accountable," Lane told Westneat by phone from Disneyland, where she went on vacation after she was released by the police. She and her partner ran a company that pledged to "eliminate mortgages" and help others move into empty foreclosed homes.


A traveler's journey through the endless fees imposed by airlines, hotels, cell phone companies, etc. Is there no end to this assault?

By Karen Datko Jun 29, 2010 12:33PM

This guest post comes from Cap at


A trip from San Diego to Indianapolis.


As you're about to book your flight, you stare at the computer screen, wondering what's the best choice.

You quickly searched Southwest, but the timetable and seats available just didn't match up to the meeting's schedule.


You could fly American, as you actually managed to store up some mileage through the years. Despite the fact that you prefer other airlines, you've stuck with American, because loyalty's gotta mean something, right?


With a quick check, those mileage are currently meaningless as there are no reward seats available to claim.


The problem is that you're now running on a much tighter budget. Ever since the recession, business hasn't been going so well, and you can barely afford this trip out to the Midwest. But you have to get to Indianapolis, as sealing this deal ensures your business' survival and that of its six lifelong employees.


When it comes to formal attire, men are more likely to rent than own, while women are the opposite. Both sexes have it wrong.

By Stacy Johnson Jun 29, 2010 10:17AM

This post comes from Stacy Johnson at partner site Money Talks News.


There are occasions in life when the right clothing is crucial. While both men and women need special clothes for special occasions, there's no law that says you have to own those clothes outright.

But when it comes to renting, I believe the sexes have it backward.


A lot of people are going to college unnecessarily -- or for the wrong reasons. For many, there are strong arguments against college.

By Karen Datko Jun 29, 2010 9:07AM

This Devil's Advocate post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


When I was younger, the plan for my future was pretty straightforward. You go to high school to learn, get good grades, and get into a good college. You go to college to get good grades and then get a good job. After that, just circle the mouse wheel until retirement.

OK, that last part about the wheel was my own addition, but that basically was my "job" as a kid. That plan worked for me, and it's the path many people have walked with great success. But it's not the only path.


With the government looking at additional regulation of for-profit colleges, I started to wonder again whether college is "worth it."


About 180,000 would-be buyers won't meet the June 30 deadline for a tax credit. But some may end up with a better deal.

By Teresa Mears Jun 28, 2010 4:18PM

If you've ever bought a house, you know how nerve-racking it can be to try to close the deal by the contract deadline.


Sometimes you do. Often you don't. There are problems with the inspection, or with the appraisal, or with the insurance, or the lender wants more documents. Or there are delays that don’t seem to have any explanation.

Usually all it costs you is a few sleepless nights and some extra paperwork. But for first-time homebuyers who expected to get a federal tax credit, failing to close on time will cost them up to $8,000. Those who don't close by June 30 don't get the credit.



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