Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Tips for planning a 'voluntourism' trip that won't break the bank.

By Karen Datko Apr 14, 2010 9:40AM

This Deal of the Day comes from Sarah Morgan at partner site SmartMoney.

 

Can you claim your next vacation as a tax deduction? Would your co-workers chip in to help send you on a trip to Vietnam? If you’re considering using your vacation time to volunteer abroad, the answer to those questions could be yes -- but you’ll have to do some pre-travel footwork.

 

Start by thinking selfishly: What’s in it for you?

 

You should present a defense in court, even if you can't afford a lawyer.

By Karen Datko Apr 13, 2010 6:00PM

The New York Times told this chilling story recently: A Virginia man was sued for nonpayment of a personal loan. He didn’t show up in court, and the bank won a judgment of $4,750 plus $900 in lawyer’s fees.

 

Over six years, the lender garnished more than $10,000 from his paychecks. After six years, he still owed $3,965.

 

How could this happen?

 

Crooks are trying to sell phony policies by telling people the new law requires they buy insurance now.

By Karen Datko Apr 13, 2010 2:38PM

This post comes from partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

Scammers often follow the news headlines, crafting their schemes around real events to make them seem more plausible.

 

For example, after Congress passed financial bailouts for big companies, scammers tried to convince ordinary Americans they too could qualify for money from the government. People who had not followed the news closely were easy prey.

 

Now that Congress has passed health care reform, consumers are being warned about scammers trying to convince Americans the new law requires them to buy health insurance immediately. Actually, the law does require all Americans to be insured, but the mandate does not begin until 2014. 

 

Cupcakes, 'ice cream pizza' and massages are among the Tax Day deals.

By Teresa Mears Apr 13, 2010 12:40PM

Filling out tax forms and sending off a big check to the Internal Revenue Service can be painful. Some restaurants (and a few other businesses) want to take the bite out of Tax Day by giving us a free bite of something a little sweeter on Thursday, April 15.

 

Like cupcakes. Cinnabon is giving away two free cupcake bites per person from 6 to 8 p.m., or until they run out.

 

Or ice cream. You can get a free sample of MaggieMia’s ice cream pizza from 3 to 7 p.m. at participating MaggieMoo's locations.

 

Many are concentrated in a few choice locations, including near Washington, D.C., and New York.

By Karen Datko Apr 13, 2010 12:38PM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.

 

I was a little surprised to learn that my home county, Howard County, Md., was the third-richest county by median income based on 2008 data from the U.S. Census' American Community Survey.

 

I always knew that Howard County was one of the more affluent areas in Maryland, but I figured that it wouldn’t stand a chance being compared with the suburbs around New York City, which are also among the top 10.

 

Nicolas Cage lost another home to foreclosure last week. Is he doing this just to make the rest of us feel better?

By Karen Datko Apr 13, 2010 8:29AM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.

 

Celebrities, they’re just like us! They grocery shop (occasionally), fight and make up (a lot) and look awful when they’re caught without makeup. Also, like quite a few of us, they lose their homes to foreclosure.

 

Zillow, the real estate site, devotes a blog to celebrity foreclosures. Here you can learn about the troubles of former heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield: He’s not only behind on child support payments but his $10 million“palatial estate in Fayette County (Georgia) is under foreclosure” and “set to be auctioned by Washington Mutual Bank on July 1.” Mr. Holyfield, 45, declined to comment.

 

Slave-to-fashion Nadya Suleman, whom you probably know as “Octo-Mom,” is in on this trend, too.

 

KFC's breadless chicken sandwich debuts: Reviewers are underwhelmed but the paper sleeve it comes in gets a rave review.

By Karen Datko Apr 12, 2010 5:06PM

The Double Down -- KFC’s version of “think outside the bun” -- made its nationwide debut today with much fanfare and uproar -- so much sodium and fat!

 

So, how did it go?

You’ve heard the buzz: For $4.99 or thereabouts, depending on where you live, the Double Down is two fried chicken fillets with two bacon slices, two slices of cheese and a mayonnaisey Colonel’s Sauce in between. No bread.

 

Craigslist, thrift shops and yard sales can yield some great bargains, if you know what to look for.

By Teresa Mears Apr 12, 2010 3:57PM

The first piece of furniture I ever bought was used: a nightstand for 75 cents at a church yard sale. It was a good purchase. I’m still using it, 42 years later.

 

Throughout my life, I have bought most of my furniture, especially wood furniture, used. Not only is it much cheaper than new furniture, it is often of better quality than what you find in many furniture stores.

 

Craigslist, the online classified service, has really improved the used furniture shopping experience, with the ability to see dozens or hundreds of pieces of all styles from home.

 

That’s not the only place to find used furniture bargains, of course. Thrift shops, yard sales and newspaper classifieds also yield deals.

 

But you need to be a careful shopper.

 

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