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'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.


Recall includes batches of Corn Pops, Honey Smacks, Froot Loops and Apple Jacks.

By Karen Datko Jun 28, 2010 3:39PM

This post comes from partner site


Kellogg Co. is recalling some of its more popular breakfast cereals because of what the company called "an uncharacteristic off-flavor and smell coming from the liner in the package."

Kellogg said it believes the potential for serious health problems is low but cautioned that some consumers are sensitive to the uncharacteristic off-flavor and smell and should not eat the recalled products because of possible temporary symptoms, including nausea and diarrhea.


Looking for that six-figure income isn't such a bad thing after all.

By Karen Datko Jun 28, 2010 2:54PM

This guest post comes from Pop at Pop Economics.


Economists have a way of taking the joy out of joy. That's the first thought that crossed my mind when I read a study by David Blanchflower of Dartmouth and Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick that talked about "happiness equations" and "happiness-maximizing numbers." Nothing like an economist to take the mysterious pleasures of life and break them down into cold figures.


And they've been doing it a lot lately. The "pursuit of happiness," long the purview of psychologists, has been taken up as a serious topic of discussion by economists just in the last couple decades. They've discovered that in most cases, we have a poor sense of what makes us feel good about life.


Analysis of FDA inspections finds mice, roaches and other unsanitary conditions at companies that prepare meals for airlines.

By Teresa Mears Jun 28, 2010 1:16PM

It may turn out to be good news that we're getting fewer meals on airplanes.

A USA Today analysis of Food and Drug Administration inspection reports at facilities that prepare in-flight meals found "unsafe and unsanitary" conditions that could lead to food-borne illnesses, Gary Stoller reported.



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