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A writer who used to believe that every waiter deserved at least a minimal tip explains why he's changed his tune.

By Karen Datko Feb 18, 2010 10:35AM

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

 

I don’t believe in the idea of a “minimum tip.”

 

There, I said it. It’s a big change from my previous belief on tipping.

 

A few weeks ago, my family and I ate at a restaurant where the service was extremely poor. We sat for 25 minutes waiting for our server (my wife was literally putting on her coat).

 

After we ordered, we spied our server sitting at a table with other restaurant employees (where the server had also been while we were waiting). We did not get our drinks until after our meal arrived and we had requested them again (to our server’s annoyance).

 

When the plates were being served, mine was bumped on the edge of the table, knocking a portion of my food off the plate onto the floor.

 

Please Rob Me points out how vulnerable you can be when using location-sharing services like Foursquare.

By Karen Datko Feb 17, 2010 9:50PM

We’re not really interested that you’ve just spent $1 on a double cheeseburger at Burger King (going to $1.19 in April, by the way) so we won’t be tracking you on Blippy. And we don’t really care where you are right now, so while you might be sharing your location with your social-networking friends, Foursquare isn’t for us.

 

But someone else might care and, a new Web site points out in a somewhat humorous way, that someone might be a burglar. “Please Rob Me mocks all of the Foursquare users that have told Twitter to automatically broadcast their whereabouts,” Chris Gaylord wrote at The Christian Science Monitor.

 

TechCrunch explains how Please Rob Me works:

 

Consumers continue to report that mortgage servicers are difficult to work with.

By Karen Datko Feb 17, 2010 7:13PM

This post comes from Mark Huffman at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

Under pressure from the Obama administration, Bank of America says it has stepped up its efforts to modify mortgages through the White House's Home Affordable Modification Program.

 

Bank of America now says more than 12,700 of its mortgage holders have a permanent Home Affordable modification, up from nearly 3,200 a month earlier. Another 13,700 permanent modifications are pending, meaning final modified loan terms have been approved and documents have been sent for the customers' signatures, which will be their final step to a completed modification.

 

A reading of the Federal Reserve regulations suggests the law won't do what you think it will.

By Karen Datko Feb 17, 2010 6:43PM

This guest post comes from Frank Curmudgeon at Bad Money Advice.

 

In some ways, the CARD Act of 2009 was everything health care reform was not. It enjoyed broad bipartisan support, passing the House and Senate by 361-64 and 90-5, respectively. It dealt with topics familiar to most Americans in simple terms. And it was refreshingly short, at only 33 pages.

 

A person might think that would make it a model for other legislation, an example of how effective government can be if reasonable people cast aside their partisan differences and write simple rules to make our lives better.

 

Then again, maybe not.

 

Music can affect our financial behavior, so don't take Lady Gaga shopping at Macy's. She could be helpful at Kroger.

By Teresa Mears Feb 17, 2010 3:57PM

We all know about the importance of the right music for workouts, the best music for a romantic evening and maybe even the most effective music to lull the baby (or yourself) to sleep. But who knew that music can make a difference in your financial life?

 

Numerous studies have linked music to spending behavior, writes Gina Roberts-Grey at CreditCards.com. “In fact, the kinds of music you listen to can impact your opinion of your finances, the likelihood you'll blow your budget at the grocery store and your approach to balancing your checkbook or paying credit card bills.”

Who knew?

 

So what kind of music is best for various times in one’s financial life?

 

Airline fees are on the rise, but there are ways to save money on tickets that you probably didn't know.

By Karen Datko Feb 17, 2010 1:13PM

This Deal of the Day comes from Elizabeth Trotta at partner site SmartMoney.

 

Newsflash: Flying isn’t cheap.

 

As airlines have come under greater pressure from elevated fuel prices and a decline in travel demand, many have rolled out new fees that only begin when you purchase your ticket. Depending on your carrier, bags, leg room and even pretzels could cost you a premium.

 

“Their most lucrative area, business travel, was hit hard -- instead of cutting people, businesses cut travel,” says Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.com, an airfare comparison shopping site. “They’re having to figure out other ways to make up shortfalls in revenue.”

 

Although you might feel nickel-and-dimed, roughly 20% of all flights would have empty seats if the carriers didn’t discount, Seaney says. That means there are opportunities for savvy shoppers. The key to saving on air travel is to understand a few basic rules.

 

April 15 is taxing enough without blowing big bucks on paid preparers who are either overkill or overpriced.

By Stacy Johnson Feb 17, 2010 11:52AM

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

 

As long as you file your taxes on time and accurately, the IRS doesn't care if you do it with a dull pencil or with the assistance of a $500-an-hour tax attorney. But if you're going to pay a pro, don't overpay. In fact, for many people, there's no reason to pay at all.

 

It's easier than ever to find printable and uploadable coupons.

By Karen Datko Feb 17, 2010 11:01AM

This post comes from Linsey Knerl at partner blog Wise Bread.

 

You could sit and wait every week for your Sunday paper to shower you with coupons for your next money-saving shopping trip -- or you could go out there and get them yourself -- online. We checked out some of the best sites for getting both printable and traditional coupons via the Web.

 

Coupons. Just plug in your ZIP code and see what offers are available to you. In addition to getting printable coupons for cents (and dollars) off cereal, coffee, diapers and more, you can see which restaurants are offering deals in your area. Another nifty feature? Skip the printing and just upload the coupons to your chain store savings card (like Kroger, for example). Take your card with you when you check out and let the cashier scan your card. No need to stuff coupons in your purse or wallet.

 

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