Why let banks have all the fun? Run the numbers on your own personal finances, suggests a certified financial planner in the Dallas Morning News, and see whether or not you’re prepared for disruptions like a layoff or sudden interest rate increase.
Jennifer Reese decided to make six common food items and then determine whether it was better to go the homemade route or to buy from the store. We briefly considered making our own crackers last month in a fit of anger over how expensive generic saltines have become, so we’re glad someone did the research for us.
Spring is coming! Consumer Reports tests scooters and motorcycles for the first time since 1981. [Consumer Reports]
Kevin’s been invited to his friend’s house to hear about a great new business opportunity! He writes, “I did a quick Google search and… while the company appears to be legit, it seems that their way of marketing their products [is] almost pyramid scheme in nature.” The problem for Kevin, and anyone else researching this sort of thing, is it can be hard to tell how much you should trust any specific page of reviews or feedback. Here’s a clear 5-step evaluation to determine whether or not the next big thing is really a multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme.
Hawaii last week became the first state to transition to digital television, leading hundreds of confused locals to call into the FCC’s help center. Though the transition appears to have been a technical success, the new digital signals mays never reach some of the 20,000 Hawaiians who rely on analog service.
Kiplinger has two quizzes named “Financial Truth or Bunk?“, and they go through some of the more popular tips you’ve heard about personal finance, including lines like:
- You can’t lose money investing in bonds.
- Stay-at-home moms or dads need life insurance, too.
- Don’t buy a red car — it’ll cost more to insure.
- Dollar-cost averaging boosts investment returns.
- The percentage of stock in your portfolio should equal 100 minus your age.
If you weren’t one of the 41 million Americans drinking water contaminated with sex hormones and pharmaceutical waste, welcome to the club! Testing prompted by the AP’s damning investigation has revealed that another five million people, including residents of Reno, Colorado Springs, and Chicago, now sip the potentially dangerous pharmaceutical soup.
We want to commend hhole for electing himself or herself guinea pig on this morning’s coffee grounds post. Apparently, hhole immediately started rubbing coffee grounds all over his or her body in order to see if it really would work as a facial scrub/hair shiner. (Of course, this only makes us want to come up with some imaginary “use” for, say, kitty litter or corn meal to see whether hhole takes the bait.) Read this intrepid commenter’s first person report below.
A Denver TV crew unseated a RAM chip and then took it to seven different repair centers for a diagnosis. The resulting displays of incompetence were pretty evenly distributed, with two Best Buy Geek Squads, one Circuit City Firedog, and one locally owned repair center (CTI) all failing miserably (“It’s the motherboard!” they each said). Of the three locations that correctly diagnosed and fixed the problem, Action Computers charged $50, Geek Squad charged $30, and the Firedog tech who hands-down won the challenge “reinstalled the memory cards in less than two minutes, free of charge.”
Jason bought a couple of new Sidekick phones, but quickly discovered that he and his wife couldn’t live with the abysmal battery life. He called T-Mobile and found out that he had a 14-day window during which he could return the phones for a full refund. Before he sent them back in, however, T-Mobile offered to send him two more batteries via expedited shipping to see if the experience would improve. Jason agreed and tested the new batteries, but still wanted to return the phone. But now he had a problem: he was one day outside his “Buyer’s Remorse” period and T-Mobile wouldn’t let him.
An anonymous AT&T employee who says to call him “Vernon” wrote in to tell us that starting next Tuesday, March 11th, some customers in the Southeast who call in to make a payment will be charged $5, with the fee going nationwide by May. He writes, “I feel this is taking advantage of our customers’ trust, because even when we put it on all of their bills, and let people know, there will be tons of reps that won’t let the customer know they’re being charged for taking their payment.”
Consumer Reports noticed, as so many of us have, that stainless steel is awesome until you have to clean it. With that in mind, they’ve tested a bunch of stainless steel cleaners and found that they all work just about the same.
Minivan bumpers may not protect much, but they sure do cost a lot to repair, according to the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety. The IIHS smashed six minivans to test their bumpers and found that all racked up repair bills exceeding $5,000. The Nissan Quest was singled out as a “miserable failure,” costing $8,000 to patch-up.
The New York Times recently tested some “Vitasea” seaweed clothing from athletic clothing store Lululemon Athletica and could not find any evidence that there was any actual seaweed in the fabric. Lululemon disagrees.
If you want decaf coffee on the go, your best bet is McDonald’s, says Consumer Reports: cups from Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, and Seattle’s Best Coffee varied unpredictably, spiking as hight as 20-30 mg of caffeine per serving, while McDonald’s was consistently under 5 mg. [Consumer Reports]
Living with a snorer brings out the worst in you—things you would never do while awake, like punching your partner in the face, seem trivial at three in the morning when your bedmate suddenly sounds like an old lawnmower. This chronic snorer tested several solutions to find what worked best, ranking them on ease of use, reaction of spouse, and how he felt the morning after. The surprising winner? A tennis ball tied to the back of a t-shirt to prevent him from rolling onto his back.
Toys will be 10% more expensive next year thanks the toy industry’s latest attempts to protect American children from defective merchandise. Toy makers will use the hike to offset the cost of retaining independent labs to both test for defective and dangerous toys, and provide a measure of PR security.
Consumers could also see higher prices on other Chinese imports such as fish and children’s apparel, but the big price gains in toys could be more jolting.