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It says consumers spend more each year on overdraft fees than they do on fresh vegetables.

By Karen Datko Jan 21, 2010 5:30PM

This post comes from Mark Huffman at partner site


The Center for Responsible Lending has taken a calculator to tally up the costs to the U.S. economy of what it calls "bad lending" -- everything from subprime mortgages to abusive bank policies to payday loans.


The group has added a section to its Web site where consumers can see these costs broken down sector by sector and state by state.


For example, in California, CRL counts 731,779 total foreclosure starts from the first quarter of 2008 through the third quarter of 2009. Foreclosure starts increased 692% from 2006 to 2009.


Buying the house they really loved would have meant a much different life.

By Karen Datko Jan 21, 2010 2:08PM

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


A few months before we bought our current home, my wife and I toured literally dozens of different houses, trying to find one that was right for us. We had come up with a budget for our purchase and knew what our firm spending cap was.


On one bright spring day, my wife and I were visiting three homes for sale on the same block that were all having open houses. None of them really struck our fancy, but we did notice a fourth house on the corner that was for sale at a price about $60,000 over our price range.


We toured that house. We fell in love with that house.


What you need to know about the latest technology.

By Karen Datko Jan 21, 2010 12:30PM

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


Music fans looking for free tunes are tuning in to an oldie but goodie -- radio. The medium is gaining a new audience thanks to technology upgrades that offer listeners more control over their music with minimal financial investment.

Although music downloads have grown into a $3 billion-per-year industry, consumers are actually keeping fewer MP3s on their computers these days. The average person has 641 songs; an 18% drop compared with last year, according to a December 2009 study by Mintel, a market research group. The same study found that Internet radio use doubled in the same period, with the average listener turning in for 4.3 hours per week via computer or cell phone.


There are a number of new iterations of this old media:


Now more than ever, men -- not women -- are the ones improving their economic status through marriage.

By Money Staff Jan 21, 2010 10:18AM

Good news, gentlemen: Marrying can mean working less and having more money.


A new study released by the Pew Research Center found more American men today, compared with 40 years ago, are married to women who have a higher education and level of income than they do. 


The report highlights the quickly changing roles of men and women in the home. Now more than ever, men are the ones gaining economically from marriage when they say "I do" to a woman with an MBA and six-digit income.


It's a practice no retailer is going to willingly admit to.

By Karen Datko Jan 20, 2010 9:18PM

Plenty of people were outraged by the New York Times report that unsold clothes from Wal-Mart and H&M were found deliberately mutilated, bagged and tossed in the trash.


Both retailers insisted that the incidents were not commonplace and that they normally donate unworn and undamaged clothing to charities. Wal-Mart said it would investigate.

The dust has had time to settle, but has the truth emerged? What have we really learned about what retailers do with unsold clothing?


It depends on whom you ask.


Perhaps consumer lending is best left to the professionals.

By Karen Datko Jan 20, 2010 7:00PM

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


Almost three years ago I discovered peer-to-peer lending, in the form of the then widely hyped For a week or two I was enthusiastic on it as an investment, until I crunched enough numbers to decide it was not so exciting after all. In the meantime, I had put $1,000 in ten $100 loan slices.


Loans on Prosper are three years in duration, so next week this little experiment will finally wind down. Assuming that I get the last $15.46 that is owed me, I will have received a grand total of $1,029.50 over three years. A nearly 0% return is pretty lousy, but at least I have the solace that quite a few other things that I could have invested in in January 2007 would have done a lot worse.


But, as it turns out, breaking even makes me an above average lender on Prosper.


Star players of the Drugstore Game never pay for toothpaste or tissue.

By Teresa Mears Jan 20, 2010 6:06PM

Until I joined the world of frugal bloggers, I had no idea there was a “CVS Game,” in whch people used coupons and the CVS Extra Care Bucks rewards program to score free toothpaste for life and otherwise save on toiletries, cosmetics and other items.


This week through March 15, CVS is awarding double Extra Bucks rewards for CVS-brand items and prescriptions. To get the deals, customers need to present a Double Bucks certificate along with their ExtraCare card in the store or sign up online. You can get the certificates at the stores, online or in the weekly sales circulars. The Extra Bucks awarded during this promotion will be available the first week in April.


How to avoid higher checked-bag fees and longer security lines.

By Karen Datko Jan 20, 2010 2:40PM

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


Continental raised fees earlier this month from $18 to $25 for a first checked bag and $27 to $35 for a second. Delta, United, American and US Airways all swiftly followed suit.


“There are now three things certain in life: death, taxes and airlines fees,” says Terry Trippler, the chief executive of, which tracks airline policies. During the third quarter of 2009, airline fees generated $2 billion, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. That’s a 36% increase over the previous year.

Airlines need the revenue amid rising fuel prices and slumping travel, but they’re also positioned to take advantage of increased numbers of checked bags amid new security restrictions following the attempted bombing of a Northwest flight on Christmas Day. The Transportation Security Administration added new screening methods for U.S.-bound international flights, and cautioned consumers that lines may be longer than usual. On U.S.-bound flights from Canada, there’s a temporary ban on carry-on bags. Passengers are allowed only a small personal item such as a purse or laptop computer.


Here’s how to limit the hassles of bag fees and long security lines at every stage of your trip:



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