Alpha Consumer

March 2009


Most Tax Refunds Won't Go to Retailers

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Do you know how you'll spend your tax refund? In another sign of the tough economic times, this year, most Americans say won't be splurging on a new LCD television or leather sofa with that money. Instead, they'll save it, invest it, or use the money to pay off debt, according to a survey by ING ...

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personal finance

The Best Money-Saving Kitchen Gadgets

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It's time for an Alpha Consumer Challenge: Nominate your choice for the best money-saving kitchen gadget. The randomly-selected winner will receive a copy of Slow Cookers for Dummies, which gives you a hint at my first nomination. Here are a few other ideas to get you started. Leave your own ...

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personal finance

Restaurant Week Can Save Money

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I just got this tip from Alpha Consumer reader Veronica Neilan:

Restaurant owners are hurting a lot due to the economy and cut in consumer spending. It's currently Dine In Brooklyn week, where a three-course meal can be had for $23 (not including drinks, tax, tip). A lot of restaurants in ...

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personal finance

Video Game Teaches Financial Literacy

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Check out the trailer for Celebrity Calamity, a video game from the D2D Fund that promotes financial literacy. Students practice paying off credit card bills, learn how much they really pay for items when they pay interest, and pick up a basic understanding of how to use credit. Early results show ...

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personal finance

Nutritional Labels for Mutual Funds

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So far, the best idea to come out of today’s Brookings Institution conference on financial literacy in Washington, DC is to slap nutritional labels onto mutual funds and other investment products. Instead of calories and fat, the labels would list expense fees, historical rates of return, and other ...

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personal finance

Shop Discount Groceries and Save $1,000

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If you could save over $1,000 a year by shopping at a discount grocery chain, would you do it?

A survey from Washington Consumers' Checkbook shows that families that would spend $150 a week if they shopped at average-priced chains, such as Safeway, could save $1,326 by shopping at the discount ...

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personal finance

Want a Loan? Check the Mirror First

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Before you visit the bank for a loan, you might want to consider getting a makeover first.

A new study from Rice University and the University of Washington finds that people's physical appearance can affect whether they are deemed trustworthy, which in turn affects their access to loans. The ...

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personal finance

Is the American Dream Dead?

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These days, the American Dream is looking a little less dreamy.

With people feeling less financial secure, visions of large houses and other outwards signs of success are dwindling, according to the 2009 MetLife Study of the American Dream. Some of the developments are welcome, such as a renewed ...

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personal finance

Why Young People Are in Trouble

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The plight of retirees and soon-to-be-retirees is well-known: They've lost much of their savings just as they're about to start living off that money. But less discussed is the plight of 20 and 30-somethings, who find themselves facing a different kind of financial crisis.

Because younger ...

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personal finance

Debt Settlement Myths & Facts

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This morning on the radio, I heard an ad that asked listeners if they knew they had a right to settle with credit card companies for a fraction of what they owed.

Unfortunately, that's not really how it works. No one has a "right" to settle with credit card companies for a fraction of what they owe.

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personal finance

Will Obama's Plan Hurt Charities?

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When President Obama announced his proposal to reduce the amount that taxpayers can deduct for charitable donations (for those earning over $250,000 a year, the deduction rate would go from 33 or 35 percent to 28 percent), charities protested that they would suffer from decreased giving.

But a new ...

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personal finance

When to Pay Taxes on Domestic Workers

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The latest issue of Washington Consumers' Checkbook gives the lowdown on paying taxes to domestic workers -- an issue that has tripped up more than one Cabinet nominee. Here are some key facts:

  • The law requires anyone employing a household worker to fill out an "employment eligibility verification ...
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    TAGS:
    personal finance