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Best option is to give cash to a reputable organization that has a track record of working in Haiti.

By Teresa Mears Jan 14, 2010 3:45PM

A tragedy of the magnitude of the earthquake that hit Haiti makes us want to help, but we also want to make sure that our donations get to the people in need. Scams diverted much-needed aid sent to victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

 

The best strategy is to give to an established charity that is already working in Haiti. Haiti is an extraordinarily complex country, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere even before this disaster. It is not an easy place to work.

 

Among her 10 big blunders: She bought a new car and a condo for the wrong reasons.

By Karen Datko Jan 14, 2010 2:14PM

Just when you think you’ve heard it all, another blogger publishes a post about money blunders that includes some you hadn’t read about before.

 

Such was the case with Jessica Ward’s “Jessica’s top 10 money mistakes” posted at Debt Kid.

 

Jessica bought a new car because she couldn’t afford the higher interest on a used-car loan. That cracked us up. Apparently we’re not alone. “You may stop laughing now,” Jessica wrote after explaining that predicament.

 

Private-sale travel sites offer bargains to members. Here's what you need to know.

By Karen Datko Jan 14, 2010 12:53PM

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

 

Getting a good price on your next vacation is about who you know -- and that’s not necessarily a travel agent.

 

Private-sale sites that offer steep discounts exclusively to their members have long been popular for designer fashions. Now, they’re increasingly an option for luxury travel. Invitation-only fashion site RueLaLa.com recently expanded into luxury travel. Travel search engine Kayak.com also announced this month that it is preparing to launch a private-sale site for hotel, flight and vacation package deals.

 

The idea behind these moves:

 

Consider factors such as your child's development and the effect of more financial pressure on your lives.

By Karen Datko Jan 14, 2010 11:16AM

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

 

Marjorie writes in with a very interesting question:

I'm a single mom with a 4-year-old daughter. Each weekday, I take my daughter to stay with one of my aunts so that I can work to earn a living and keep food on the table. After Christmas, my mom sat down with my aunt and me and gave us a bunch of information about a few great preschools in the area. My aunt told me later on that she's supportive, no matter what I choose. So, for me, the real question is whether or not my daughter would get enough benefit from preschool compared to days with my aunt to make the extra costs worthwhile.

I live next door to a single mother, and I see time and time again how she is forced into making difficult choices about the time devoted to her children. Does she make a nutritious home-cooked meal or does she spend an extra half-hour with her girls? Does she spend some time in the yard with them or does she get some of the never-ending household chores taken care of? This comes on top of the prerequisite day of work for single parents, after which they're exhausted but also wanting a strong connection with their children. On top of that, there are money concerns -- a single-income household in the modern world is never easy.

When it comes to a choice between a good preschool and other child care options, I don’t think there’s a simple cut-and-dried answer because there are so many factors involved.

 

Changes to Medicare mean more people will receive financial assistance to cover prescriptions.

By Karen Datko Jan 13, 2010 5:48PM

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

 

Seniors struggling to stay on a budget may get a little extra help from the government if they are enrolled in a Medicare prescription drug plan.

 

The Social Security Administration says a change in the law makes it easier to qualify for extra help with Medicare prescription drug costs. The extra help program provides assistance to more than 9 million senior and disabled Americans, saving them an average of almost $4,000 a year on their Medicare prescription drug plan costs.

 

Following predictable sales cycles can save you 50% or more on groceries.

By Teresa Mears Jan 13, 2010 4:15PM

I don’t clip a lot of grocery coupons, because I don’t find many for items I want. Clipping coupons doesn’t pass my cost/benefits test. Neither does buying in bulk. I save more by living in a small space. But the grocery strategy that I do find worth the time is paying attention to sales cycles.

 

Have you ever noticed that items you buy routinely seem to go on sale the week after you buy them? Pay attention. Most items go on sale at predictable intervals. If you keep track, you can get those items for 50% off nearly every time you need them.

 

If you would spend $200 on a purse, what does that indicate about you?

By Karen Datko Jan 13, 2010 4:11PM

J. Money at Budgets are Sexy directed us to a fun blogging game: How much would you spend on (fill in the blank)? A winter coat? A purse? Fashion boots?

 

Like all good games -- Monopoly comes to mind -- it can reveal traits you might otherwise leave unexamined. “These exercises are awesome because they get you to stop and evaluate your true spending habits -- something we tend to glaze over every now and then,” J. Money wrote.

Here’s a sample from his post, comparing what he’d spend with figures provided by Krystal of Give Me Back My Five Bucks and “Fabulously Broke” at Fabulously Broke in the City, who invented this little exercise. (Krystal and FB are using Canadian dollars, so Krystal’s $200 purse is $193.33 USD.)

 

There's no such thing as a bad market if you know what it takes to sell a house.

By Stacy Johnson Jan 13, 2010 1:30PM

In the 30 years I’ve been investing in real estate, I’ve never seen anything like this housing market. Granted, all real estate is local and I live in Florida, which shares the title of worst market with California, Nevada and Arizona. Home prices here have declined up to 50%, and many houses have been on the market for years. 

But as the saying goes, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. If you can successfully sell your home in a horrible market, you’ll find selling in better times a walk in the park.

 

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