Shopping 
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Rent-to-own sucks and you should never, ever do it

Rent-to-own is a terrible deal for consumers and you should avoid it at all costsThere’s no disputing the appeal of buy now, pay later. I myself can attest to the temptation to get the latest and greatest without having to bother with figuring out where the money will come from.

Nowhere is that kind of thinking more dangerous than with rent-to-own. Usually rent-to-own outfits advertise nothing more than a weekly payment — pay us $20 per week and you can have rent this large and desirable item until you finally own it. A measly $20 a week? Sure!

The problem is, long-term wealth is often won or lost in small increments like that. Did we learn nothing from Superman 3? Even tiny fractions of a penny taken from us enough times amount to huge thefts.

And so it is with rent-to-own.


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 Personal Finance 
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How to get money back from a friend

Ever have trouble getting money back from a friend?Ever loaned money to a friend? If so, then you’ve probably experienced some level of awkwardness, which usually kicks in when it comes to asking for your money back.

Last year, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that friends who borrow money remember the loan very differently than friends who lend the money. Sometimes, borrowers even remember the amount differently. Researchers call it “the blind spot.”

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 Reviews 
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Credit Karma iPhone Mobile App Review

Credit KarmaCredit Karma recently released a free Credit Karma iPhone app that lets you monitor your credit anytime you want. It was released today I think and, as is the case with everything I’ve seen from them, it’s very well done.

The data on the screens isn’t mine so I can’t speak to what some of that means in a broader context.

The app is straightforward, with four basic screens (click to enlarge them in a new window):

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 Credit 
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Credit Sesame’s New iPhone App Review

By now, you are probably aware of how important your credit score is to your financial future. Knowing your credit score, and keeping up with your credit situation can help you save money in the long run, especially as you take steps to improve your situation.

One of the ways you can keep tabs on your general creditworthiness is by signing up for a web site like Credit Sesame. Credit Sesame offers you access to a general idea of your credit score — at least the Experian version of it — and provides you with information about how you can save money with different credit offers. Recently, Credit Sesame launched an online app designed to let you take advantage of Credit Sesame on the go.

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 Credit 
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Pros and Cons of Credit Cards

Credit cards are the prevalent form of payment in our country. However, in spite of their convenience, there are some drawbacks to credit cards. While some contend that credit cards are pure evil, the truth is that they are tools. Whether or not they are tools that are likely to work for you depends on your financial goals and you situation.

Before you make a decision about whether or not to get a credit card, it helps to consider your own financial situation, and decide which card is mostly likely to help you meet your goals (if any card can do that). Here are some of the pros and cons of credit cards:

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 Your Take 
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Your Take: Ever Play Credit Card Roulette?

Roulette is Exciting!So, I have a few friends who like to gamble (did my Super Bowl betting post about my friend who won $1500 on the Giants’ safety give that away) but, surprisingly, that hasn’t translated into many games of credit card roulette. There are a few varieties of the game but the basic gist is that you go out, get some food, and when the bill comes, everyone throws in a credit card. The server takes out cards, one by one with a lot of drama, and the last one in there pays the bill. The last time I played was a few weeks ago at a local bar, it was only four people, it was really really exciting, and it was really really awesome when my friend Drew lost.

Hey Drew – thanks for the oysters, beer, and dinner!

What do you think about credit card roulette? Stupid and silly? Or should I have to claim that win on my taxes? :)

(Photo: stoneflower)


 Credit 
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Is Credit Karma a Scam?

Credit KarmaYou know the old maxim – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Does Credit Karma sound too good to be true? You can see your TransUnion credit score for free? You can get absolutely free credit monitoring? These are services that people pay good money for and Credit Karma, a company that isn’t affiliated with any of the credit bureaus, is giving it away for free. It does sound too good to be true.

That begs the question – is Credit Karma a Scam?

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 Credit 
10
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5 Credit Cards to Avoid at All Costs

Free Soda for Credit CardIt’s true: There are some ways that credit cards can help you. With proper planning, you can get a credit card that provides you with free merchandise, travel discounts and cash back. The right rewards card, when used responsibly and paid down, can be a boon to your finances. Additionally, the responsible use of credit can help you build a financial reputation that can save you money when you get home loans and auto loans.

But, not all credit cards are created equal. Here are 5 credit cards to avoid at all costs:

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