Expert Explains
seven swans a-swimming

Christmas Price Index rising faster than the cost of living

In spite of relatively slow inflation, the cost of buying all the gifts in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” has risen by more than six percent this year, according to the PNC Financial Services Group’s Christmas Price Index. Highest ever Christmas Price Index Each year PNC adds the current costs of all the gift items
Shinseki

VA swamped in backlog of claims

The Department of Veterans Affairs, a.k.a. the VA, is swamped with a growing backlog of claims, a recent probe found. As a result, many veterans are waiting a year or more to receive the benefits they earned in the service of their country. VA backlog grows 2,000 percent in four years According to a new
BBB

LA chapter expelled from the Better Business Bureau

It is getting very difficult to know who consumers can trust anymore. The Better Business Bureau has, for the last century, been held up as the one bastion of integrity consumers can turn to for the real scoop on businesses. Now, however, the Southern California chapter has been stripped of its BBB status for its
Peepshi

Never give up on your Peeps

Colored eggs and chocolate bunnies be damned, for many, no treats say Easter quite like the chick-shaped marshmallow confections knows as Peeps. This Easter, the pop-culture holiday sensation will be 60 years old, with no intention of retiring. Power to the Peeps! Just Born Inc. has been making Peeps since 1953. And while growth has
McD

Secret menu items hiding at fast food franchises

Are you tired of the same old Big Mac for lunch? Why not try a Monster Mac, featuring eight all-beef patties? Don’t remember seeing it on the menu? That’s because it isn’t! It is one of the many hidden or secret menu items available at your favorite fast food chains. You only have to know
Clinton

Bill Clinton does about-face on Doma, and good on him

Former President Bill Clinton is appealing to the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which he signed into law, essentially barring federal recognition of same-sex marriages by defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Flip-flopping on Doma? As the Supreme Court prepares to take another look at
Klondike bar

Survey: most would trade privacy for lower auto insurance

More coveted, apparently, than a Klondike bar, a new survey illuminates the things some people would do for a discount on their auto insurance. You might be surprised the lengths to which some would be willing to go to lower their rates. I saved on auto insurance by switching to Big Brother In this time
graduate

Community college graduates out-earning those with BAs

Educators, parents and politicians alike keep telling us to get that sheepskin, that a middle-class income is not obtainable without at least a bachelor’s degree. Yet, according to new research, more and more community college graduates are out-earning those with fancy schmancy bachelor’s degrees. Community college graduates surge ahead A new study by Georgetown University’s
Horses and cows are both made of meat. Image

Horse meat scandal has sentimental underpinnings

Several reports of horse meat in products sold as beef has sparked a red hot controversy in the European Union. The practice is fraud, as food packagers try to cut corners with the less-expensive horse flesh. The problem no doubt needs to be addressed. But is the controversy so heated simply because of consumer duping?
Coke

Food activists want FDA to limit sugars in drinks

A Washington-based nutrition activist group has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require beverage bottlers to limit the amount of high fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners in their products. FDA urged to regulates sweeteners The Center for Science in the Public Interest filed the petition on Wednesday, February 13. It was signed by
online dating

Are paid dating sites better than free ones?

Looking for love on line is convenient, relatively easy and allows love-seekers to meet more potential matches much more quickly than would be possible otherwise. But it can also get expensive, even before the dating begins, if you choose to use a paid dating site over one of the free ones. But is the expense
Monopoly cat

Monopoly has a new cat and still teaches values

One of the most popular and enduring boardgames, Monopoly, enjoyed its 78th birthday on February 6. Hasbro, which sells the game, marked the day by retiring the old flat iron token in favor of a new cat. Meanwhile, it is still a great way to teach your kids some fundamental personal finance lessons. History of
dinosaur

Let the U.S. Postal Service dinosaur live

Some of my friends believe it’s time to let the U.S. Postal Service go, that it’s a dinosaur that has outlived its time. The USPS’s recent announcement that it will cease delivering mail on Saturdays beginning in August has re-sparked such rhetoric. But I for one can’t imagine an America without a post office. Besides,
If the Postal Service has its way, your mailbox will remain empty on the weekends

Postal Service says it will cut Saturday deliveries in Aug.

The U.S. Postal service has announced that it will discontinue the Saturday deliver of mail, except for parcels, in an effort to cut costs. Most Americans agree with U.S. Postal Service The announcement, made February 6, says the change will begin on August 1. However, it may meet resistance from Congress, which has not, as
oil cans

Americans pay more for gasoline, but drive less

Since the economic slowdown, and with rising gas prices, Americans have kept their eye on fuel economy. They have been using less gasoline and driving more fuel efficient vehicles. In spite of those efforts, they are paying a larger part of their income for gasoline than they have in three decades. Gasoline takes a larger
State Farm

Large firms charging poor people more for auto insurance

A new report from the Consumer Federation of America asserts that some large insurance companies are often charging higher auto insurance premiums for those with lower income, even if they have a clean driving record. Low-income consumers pay more for auto insurance “We were finding that low-income people with low-income jobs and less education were
Paid

Debt collectors using social media, feds alert

Federal financial regulators are looking into ways to limit how debt collectors and banks can use social media in tracking down delinquent borrowers or attracting customers. Social media slips between regulatory cracks The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, established more than 30 years ago, protects consumers from many abusive collection practices. However, those laws were