Alpha Consumer

January 2009


5 Smart Upgrades for Tight Times

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My good friend from college and I recently bemoaned the fact that we can't afford all the upgrades we would like, or even that we expected to have by age 30. I thought that by now I would have purchased a home, or at least live in an apartment with a kitchen that's been updated since the 1950s. My ...

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TAGS:
personal finance

The Ethics of Accepting Freebies

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On a recent episode of CBS' Gary Unmarried, Gary's pretty new girlfriend brags about getting everything from valet parking to flat-panel televisions for free. Men, she implies, can't help but shower her with gifts because of her good looks and flirtatious personality.

But is it wrong to accept free ...

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TAGS:
personal finance

Can You Afford a Baby?

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While I'm on vacation, I'm re-posting some older Alpha Consumer entries that still apply today.

From June 12, 2008:

If you're of a certain age and life stage, then you might be asking yourself: Should I have a baby? Before getting carried away with visions of Baby Bjorns and onesies, consider this:

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TAGS:
personal finance

Life on $7 a Day

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While I'm on vacation, I'm re-posting some older Alpha Consumer entries that still apply today.

From March 4, 2008:

My friend Zack, who lives in New York City, recently told me that on average, he spends only $7 per day on food. I asked him to share his tips, many of which he gleaned from the ...

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TAGS:
personal finance

Does Australia Hate Career Women?

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This ad for Australia, now running on television, is designed to encourage people to find themselves by going Down Under. It depicts a career woman who so stressed out by work that she appears exhausted, unpleasant to be around, and on the verge of ruining her relationship. But then, she goes to ...

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TAGS:
personal finance

E-Mail Fraud Rises, But Does It Matter?

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Symantec's MessageLabs has detected a spike in E-mail fraud and financial scams over the last couple weeks. The company says that messages with subjects such as, "Congratulations New Year Winner!" or "You have won the UK National Lottery" make up about 10 percent of the E-mail sent so far this ...

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TAGS:
personal finance

Who Do You Blame For the Crisis?

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We're all feeling poorer, and we need something to blame, apparently.

According to a survey from marketing firm Issues and Answers and Stratcom Communications, we've already chosen the targets for our ire. Here they are, along with the percentages of people citing them:

  • Mortgage companies (90 ...
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    TAGS:
    personal finance

    Watch Out for These Inauguration Scams

    By |

    After hearing about a friend who got tricked into thinking a letter in the mail was an Inauguration Day ticket, I discovered a variety of Jan. 20-related scams. First, beware of the fake tickets. The Inaugural Committee has warned consumers against buying tickets from third-party sellers. Since the ...

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    TAGS:
    personal finance

    Your Inauguration Day Survival Guide

    By |

    For native Washingtonians and visitors alike, Inauguration Day is likely to be crowded, hectic, and short on key supplies. With as many as 2 million people expected to descend on the capital, there will probably be long lines at ATMs, runs on beer, and shortages of useful items such as adult ...

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    TAGS:
    personal finance

    Did the Media Cause the Recession?

    By |

    I recently received an angry letter from a reader -- not an unusual occurrence -- that blamed the media for causing the recession. By talking about the fact that retail sales are down and people are spending less, it makes people less likely to feel optimistic, the writer argued.

    I dismissed it as ...

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    TAGS:
    personal finance

    What If Stocks Never Go Up Again?

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    UPDATE: My response to those who call this question ludicrous is now posted here.

    It's a scenario that would undermine every personal finance book, market expert, and business school class out there: Such a prolonged recession -- or even depression -- that the market never gives investors the 10 ...

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    TAGS:
    personal finance