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Belly up – but spend wisely

Here are some suggestions that are tailor-made for Spokane.

Wise Bread, a frugal living blog, offers advice for making the most out of eating at buffets.

“We look forward to our monthly outings to a buffet-style restaurant,” one Wise Bread post reads. “When a family of 6 can eat well for under $20 – that’s a great deal!”

A few items from the Budget Buffet:

•Search out the days and times when kids eat free or at reduced price.

•Shoot for lunch, which can save you $2 or $3 a head. At some places, lunch lasts until 4:30 – late enough for an early dinner.

•Skip beverages.

•Try to get the kids to eat fresh foods before moving on to the fried stuff.

Don’t bet on it

High gas prices prompted airlines to add fuel surcharges – along with extra fees for checked bags and other former freebies.

Now that gas prices are easing, will the surcharges disappear?

Don’t hold your breath. Price reductions are unlikely, according to Newhouse News Service.

The airlines have been losing “a ton of money,” said Ilker Baybars, professor of operations management at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University.

Critics say it doesn’t add up. One of them, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., is demanding that airlines roll back the surcharge for the holidays this year.

“You can’t continue to have high prices when fuel is half of what it was before,” Menendez said during a news conference last week at Newark Liberty International Airport. “The families who came here today are paying more than ever to fly.”

The psychological index

It’s easy – if depressing – to measure the daily stock market gains and losses.

What’s harder to calculate is the mental and emotional toll the turmoil is taking on Americans. But some say it’s hitting harder than other recent economic crises – including 1987’s Black Monday stock crash and the punishing bear market that followed the late-1990s Internet bubble.

“What’s going on now is dramatically different than in 2000 and in 1987,” Terrance Odean, a University of California at Berkeley finance professor who studies the behavior of small investors, told the Los Angeles Times. “What’s different is that people have seen the possibility that markets could fail them and that they could do everything they were supposed to do … and still not have what they need in retirement.”

Michal Strahilevitz, professor at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, said, “It reminds me so much of people’s reaction after an earthquake. You’re going about your daily business, and suddenly things that were never frightening are now frightening, and bad things that seemed impossible are now possible.”


Top stories in Spokane

Northwest Passages Book Club: Author J.A. Jance on the art of (re)invention

UPDATED: 9:17 p.m.

Best-selling author J.A. Jance, the latest author to be featured by The Spokesman-Review’s Northwest Passages Book Club, is the author of 56 novels, spanning series featuring such characters as Arizona Sheriff Joanna Bradley, Seattle homicide detective J.P. Beaumont, former television anchor turned sleuth Ali Reynolds and Tucson’s Walker family.