Observations 
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Target, other retailers sorry about data breaches but somehow they just keep happening

Target data breach just more of the same for consumers

This week I got an electronic mail from Target containing some sad news.

Addressed with maximum sincerity to “Dear Target Guest,” (I always get a warm fuzzy feeling when they call me that) the email notified me that in addition to the theft of 40 million customers’ payment information reported in December, thieves had also gained access to the personal information of 70 million customers, including our names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and maybe other stuff.
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 This is why you're broke 
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This is why you’re broke, going out to eat edition

going out to eat is expensiveGoing out to eat is great for a lot of reasons: no dishes, new culinary experiences, time to relax and share a meal with friends or my significant other, annoying the Internet by posting pictures of my food.

But those benefits come at a price. Going back to the days when I used to blow half my minimum-wage-landscaping-job paycheck at the local Chinese buffet, eating out has always been one of my biggest budget busters. I’ve been able to cut down on that over the years by learning to cook myself and having a wife who’s a really excellent cook (having two little daughters that aren’t amazing to take to restaurants also helps).
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 Money Lab 
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How I got $132 worth of clothes for free

A clothing swap allows you to freshen up your wardrobe without a pricey shopping spreeA clothing swap allows you to freshen up your wardrobe without a pricey shopping spree.

It’s totally unfrugal, but sometimes buying new clothes and shoes and accessories just feels good. But know what doesn’t feel so good? A busted budget.

Good news is, there are ways to satisfy your inner shopaholic without going broke. One of my favorite ways to scratch a shopping itch on a budget: swap parties.

Yes, swap parties. (And get your mind out of the gutter. This ain’t the ’70s.) I’m talking clothing swap parties: get-togethers in which you and your friends sip wine, snack, and then trade awesome outfits.
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 Credit 
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5 signs your credit card sucks

If your credit card sucks, it belongs hereWhen it comes to choosing the right credit card, you’ve got plenty of options. A good card can give you a long promotional period, a great interest rate and reward you with some nice benefits. On the other hand, a bad card at best takes up undeserved space in your wallet, like so many stripes of vanilla ice cream in a carton of neapolitan, and at worst can result in larger balances and serious financial damage.
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 Billshit 
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Billshit: A line-by-line look at your bloated, horrible cable bill

Paying too much for cable stinksI know. Here I am, a person who writes about living frugally and saving money and all that, and I still subscribe to one of the biggest rip-offs of all time: Cable TV. I’m not proud of it, and I blame Breaking Bad. I couldn’t exactly get rid of cable when Walt went on the lam, and, ever since then, well, I’ve just been lazy.

Despite the variety of alternatives that now exist, lots of people still have cable. So in this edition of Billshit, I thought I’d run down my bill, call my cable company and get the details of every single line item. It was pure hell, but hopefully reading about it won’t be.
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 The Home 
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Why toilet paper was the best thing I got for Christmas this year

The Gift of Necessity is the ultimate care packageWhen I was little, about once a month the most glorious package would arrive at our house. It was from a far-off land called Brooklyn, sent by one of the most magical women on Earth, my Grandma. The excitement was so high that we were required to wait for every member of the family to get home before digging in.
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 MoneyDerp 
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McResource, McDonald’s employee site that offered finance advice, gets McMurdered

McDonalds McResource McMurderedLate last month, McDonald’s finally shut down its McResource website for employees, which collapsed under the weight of approximately a billion metric tons of Internet snark. The fry that broke the camel’s back? Advising employees not to eat too much fast food because it’s bad for your health.

A lot of the criticism of the site centered around its financial advice, which seemed to be aimed at helping workers scrape out the best possible lifestyle for a person making $7.25 an hour, but frequently missed the mark.
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 Culture Cents 
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The Czervik Principle: Why cash beats miles, points or other credit card rewards in 2014

When choosing between credit card rewards, here's why miles and points should take a backseat to cashSorry to be a buzz kill on New Year’s, but 2014 is shaping up to be a bad year for frequent flier mile fanatics and other collectors of “points” doled out by credit card companies, airlines and others. There’s a massive devaluation of points and miles going on, requiring consumers to spend more to get rewards like plane tickets and hotel stays. And that’s just one example of why the world needs the Czervik Principle.
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