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Should your gift equal the cost of your reception meal?

By Donna_Freedman Oct 11, 2010 11:00AM

I want to get married. That is, I want to get married after I've finagled an introduction to J. Money of the Budgets Are Sexy personal-finance blog. Once he and I are best buds, I want to get married a whole bunch of times, because J. Money's wedding gift of choice is a $100 bill.


"Nothing more, nothing less -- just a straight-up Mr. Benjamin for all our friends and family," he wrote in this post.


All right, I'm not actually looking to get married. (Unless it were for something really romantic, like health insurance.) But I have to say I'm tempted by J. Money's largesse, which is, well, large.

 

Transferred military couple didn't sell Vegas home at the height of the bubble. Now they're struggling to rent it out from afar.

By Karen Datko Oct 11, 2010 7:48AM

This post from Jolyn is part of the reader stories feature at partner blog Get Rich Slowly.

 

My husband and I bought our first home when he was stationed in Las Vegas with the Air Force. This was right after 9/11, when the economy was stagnant and the real estate market uncertain.

In the spirit of our new hometown, we took the gamble and plunged into homeownership, banking on the economy recovering before it was time for us to move again in a few years.

 

Fast-forward to 2004: The market was on fire. Houses were selling mere hours after being listed. Our house had appreciated by $120,000. It was also time for us to move again -- and time for us to take the money and run, right? Wrong.

 

Do you feel guilty about using those return-address labels from charities, or for neglecting to write thank-you cards?

By Karen Datko Oct 8, 2010 2:04PM

This guest post comes from J. Money at Budgets are Sexy.

 

Almost a year ago I started a post about money-related things I've done that I feel bad about, but for whatever reason I couldn't finish it. Maybe it had to do with thinking they're small and aren't all that exciting, mixed with feeling guilty about them -- and probably more so of the latter. (Who likes admitting to thousands of people that they aren't perfect?)

Lately though, I figured it was about time to bare my soul. And something tells me I'm not the only one who's done these things.

 

Five things I feel bad about doing:

  • Using those "free" St. Jude's stickers. You know, the ones with your address preprinted on them so you never have to write another return address again because you have 500-plus of them. That will last you 150 years. Unless you move.
 

Pepsi wants to tap into Americans' desire for healthier soft drinks. Plus: Coupons and kids eat free at Quiznos.

By Teresa Mears Oct 8, 2010 12:45PM

Poor beleaguered soda. Though Americans still drink too many sweetened soft drinks, they are starting to ask questions about whether they should. Cities and states have tried to tax soda, and New York City even wants to ban its purchase with food stamps.

Seeking to capture the "healthy soda" market, or at least tap into consumers' desires for healthier beverages, PepsiCo has turned the old Sierra Mist into the new Sierra Mist Natural.

 

As part of a major marketing campaign, Pepsi is giving away 10 million cans on Saturday, Oct. 9, at 2,800 Wal-Mart Supercenters nationwide. The giveaway is not on the Wal-Mart sampling calendar, but we believe it is 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

 

All that stuff you never use can benefit others. You get a tax write-off and more room in your life.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 8, 2010 11:24AM

Following my divorce I received dozens of paintings, prints and posters as part of my share of the community property. Some I've been able to sell. Some of it I probably never will.

I've decided to give away some of it, starting with one framed photo of Mount McKinley and three examples of the Alaska art genre known as "moose and goose in the spruce."

So who'd want it?

 

Elite status comes with perks worth the extra trip. But how do you get it without overpaying?

By Karen Datko Oct 8, 2010 10:57AM

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

 

Seth Miller has neither family nor business in Spokane, Wash., but that didn't stop the New Yorker from making three cross-country trips to the Eastern Washington city this year. Miller went solely for the miles, to secure his 2011 status as a platinum-level elite flier on Continental Airlines. "I didn't know what I was going to do there," he says. "I booked the (sale) fare and figured it out after."

Late-fall "mileage runs" are common among frequent fliers who are just a few miles shy of the 25,000 they need for "elite" status, which includes perks like seat upgrades and waived baggage fees. For the more casual traveler, such unnecessary trips might seem like flights of fancy. But with fares and fees on the rise, elite status is starting to confer tangible benefits. "Getting elite status used to be all about seat upgrades," says Randy Petersen, the founder of InsideFlyer, which tracks frequent-flier programs. "Today it's about saving money."

 

One man's tale of how 'requirements creep' crept into his kitchen remodeling plans and spread to the bathroom.

By Karen Datko Oct 8, 2010 7:55AM

This guest post comes from Len Penzo at Len Penzo dot Com.

 

As I've previously mentioned, the Penzo household is in the middle of a long-awaited home renovation project.

 

Originally, it was supposed to be a fairly modest kitchen renovation that involved replacing our porcelain tile countertops with granite and adding a new tumbled stone backsplash. It also included some new appliances.

Then, one quiet evening not too long ago, while we were watching the 6,000th episode of "House Hunters," the Honeybee decided to see if she could push the budget boundaries just a tad.

 

American Tax Relief's ads on TV, radio and the Internet said it could settle customers' tax debt for a fraction of what they owed.

By Karen Datko Oct 7, 2010 5:20PM

This post comes from James Limbach at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

A federal judge has halted a national operation accused of bilking consumers out of more than $60 million by falsely claiming it can reduce tax debts.

The California state business license of American Tax Relief was suspended last year for nonpayment of its own taxes, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which is seeking to make the defendants pay restitution to victims.

 

"We've made it a top priority to go after scammers who try to exploit the financial hardship of others," said David C. Vladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.

 

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