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A summer spent serving hot dogs can scar you for life.

By Karen Datko Oct 6, 2009 12:37AM

Daniel at Casual Kitchen gave up fast-food burgers for life after working for one summer at a Burger King. The experience of making thousands of burgers -- and that was 20 years ago -- ensured that he just couldn't face another one. (He can still eat french fries.)


"Being around this food so much cured me of this ‘cuisine' for the rest of my life," he wrote in a post called "Scarred for life by a food industry job."


Dan asked: Do readers have similar experiences to share? That question opened up a mini floodgate. (Our thanks to Kris at Cheap Healthy Good for the link.)

 

When was the last time you cleaned your coils?

By Karen Datko Oct 6, 2009 12:00AM

This post comes from Trent Hamm at partner blog The Simple Dollar.


Your refrigerator/freezer combo is the biggest energy consumer among all of your appliances -- seriously. It gobbles about $100 in energy each year. Even worse, it's often home to lots of wasted food -- leftovers forgotten and allowed to spoil, etc.


To put it simply, your refrigerator and freezer are money sinks. They're expensive in the first place, gobble down energy like there's no tomorrow, and sometimes ruin the food that's inside. What's a thrifty person to do?


Here are a few simple techniques to overcome and reduce these costs with surprisingly little effort.

 

Blogger has some unique money-saving ideas.

By Karen Datko Oct 5, 2009 11:37PM

"Frugal Dad" provides 75 tips for cutting back to help your budget withstand the impact of rising gas prices, higher food prices and our other economic ills. We love compilations like this because you can print them out and put them on the fridge.


Frugal Dad covers a lot of ground here, and has some ideas we hadn't considered. He cuts bottled juice with water to make it last twice as long. To save money but salvage his social life, he meets friends after the dinner hour. Eating out, after all, can be a mighty budget buster.


Here are some other samples (click here to read the entire list):

 

The small 'justifications' can add up.

By Karen Datko Oct 5, 2009 11:08PM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.


While we don't have any credit card debt now, except for 0% APR balance transfers, there was a time when we did. While we never let our credit cards get completely out of control, we did build up several thousand dollars on our credit cards when I first got out of college.


So having gotten into card debt and then climbed out of it, we've learned many of the causes of this financial pain. The fact is, we can talk ourselves into using our credit cards in ways that will hurt our finances down the road.


So here are 10 lies we tell ourselves that get us in credit card debt and keep us there.

 

Parents face social pressure to pay for photos every year.

By Karen Datko Oct 5, 2009 5:13PM

Are school pictures one of those things you can’t sacrifice, no matter what they cost? What if you simply can’t afford them?

 

Jenn at Frugal Upstate offers three ways to avoid this expensive, annual tradition. (However, she wrote that under the pressure of time, "I caved. … Yes, I have now shelled out a grand total of $75 for school pictures: $29 for each of the kids for one of the smallest packages, then $17 for Buddy’s soccer pictures," she added.

One reader of Lafayette, Ind.-based MomsLikeMe.com reported paying $100 total for her two kids. Others lamented that you can’t buy photos a la carte anymore, but have to get an entire package.

 

"It's like cable. You have to pay for all the stuff you don't want or use," wrote "mockingbirdmom." "What a racket."

 

Maybe your bank will let you opt out of overdraft protection.

By Karen Datko Oct 5, 2009 3:09PM

We’d venture that overdraft fees are the most hated fees charged by banks, and they charge a lot -- an estimated $36.7 billion last year, USA Today reports.

 

Bankaholic explains how overdraft fees work:

It doesn’t matter whether they’re buying a mink coat or a $4 latte at Starbucks. And to help them charge as many overdraft fees as possible, the banks deduct the largest purchases on any given day first to drain accounts as quickly as possible.

Now, facing possible restrictions from Congress and the Federal Reserve, more banks are putting limits on the despised fees, which are often in the neighborhood of $26 to $39.

 

Here’s what you can expect in the near future:

 

Should Congress take action to control debit card fees?

By Karen Datko Oct 5, 2009 9:50AM

This post is from Adam Baker, a staff writer at partner blogger J.D. Roth’s Get Rich Slowly.

 

Several weeks ago, The New York Times featured an article callled "Overspending on debit cards is a boon for banks." While I usually favor personal-finance blogs over the larger online media networks (call me partial), this piece was particularly compelling to me. It does an excellent job of shedding light on a topic that is positioned to be the next major debate in our government’s quest for banking reform.

As many other sectors of the banking industry continue to underperform, debit cards have stepped up to become an essential profit center for banks. Fees associated with overdrafting checking accounts are expected to exceed $27 billion this year. In comparison, the article predicts only $20.5 billion in credit card fees, which is likely to drop even further in the years ahead as recent government reform will require consumers to opt in to over-the-limit charges.

 

Each major credit bureau has its own system.

By Karen Datko Oct 5, 2009 2:01AM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.


Earlier this week we took a look at how to get your free FICO credit score from myFICO.com. Operated by the Fair Isaac Corp., creator of the FICO credit score, it offers consumers a free credit report and FICO credit score when they sign up for a 30-day trial of Score Watch. The FICO credit score myFICO.com provides is from Equifax, one of the three major credit bureaus.


And that's where some confusion can creep in.

There are three major credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. And each of these credit bureaus calculates a consumer's FICO credit score, which can be and usually is different for each credit bureau. In other words, you likely have a different FICO credit score from each of the three major credit bureaus. And to add to the confusion, each of the credit bureaus calls its version of the FICO credit score by a different name.


So let's quickly sort all this out:

 

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