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Everyday Economy

MONDAY, MAY 11, 2009

Smart ways to fill the cart 

Lists of grocery-shopping tips have become commonplace in economic coverage in the past couple of years.But Consumer Reports brings a fresh eye to that old staple, with a relatively new list of 13 ways to save at the grocers. The list includes some well-worn and...

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Get a jump on summer jobs

Will you -- or your kids -- be looking for a summer job?It's a good idea to get an early start, this year more than others. Surveys show employers are expecting more applicants and planning to hire fewer of them, so you'll want to get...

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Let's make a deal

Bartering is back.At least that's what a spate of activity at online sites suggests. With people in penny-pinching mode, offers to barter for everything from used cars to professional services to weekends at lake homes are booming at web sites like craigslist and, the...

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TUESDAY, MAY 5, 2009

Is recession changing our financial DNA?

Is the recession fundamentally changing Americans' attitudes toward money?A recent survey conducted for found that a lot of people think so: Ninety-four percent said the recession will have a lasting effect on the way they manage their finances. Nine in 10 people said they've...

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Cut clutter to save

Simplicity is a kind of corrollary to frugality -- people often talk about both values at the same time.The blog Unclutterer focuses on clearing out the clutter and getting organized, and as a result it often touches on issues that relate to saving money and...

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The hours are awful, and it pays bad 

In the next couple of months, a lot of high school and college students will be looking for summer jobs.And some of those jobs are going to provide young people with horror stories they can tell the rest of their lives. Whether it's a job...

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The 20-cent-a-gallon border

Everyone's noticed the upward creep in gas prices.After plummeting from record highs late last year, prices have inched upward ever since January. That's true across the board, but of course it's often the differences in prices among regions that attract our attention -- the steady...

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The question at the checkout

Credit or debit? There's more to this question than some of us realize. Writing at the blog Wise Bread, Paul Michael poses a question it hadn't really occured to me to ask: Being someone who hates the word “credit” I have always opted for “debit”...

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MONDAY, APRIL 20, 2009

How happy are we? Miserable

You may have heard of the Misery Index -- a measure developed during the 1970s that essentially adds the unemployment rates to the inflation to come up with a larger picture of the economy.Now there's the Happiness Index, developed at It's a similar kind...

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Putting tuition on a credit card

There's a lot of grim news for college students lately. Tuition -- which has been rising faster than inflation for years -- is getting ready to take off even more, as states battle huge deficits. Families are struggling in the recession and having a harder...

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MONDAY, APRIL 13, 2009

Garage-sale season opens 

It's starting to be the season for one of the region's great economic "sports" -- garage sales.A lot of people pursue the sales with a passion that easily matches that of the weekend golfer: gathering the ads, mapping a route, and hitting sale after sale...

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'I miss my stuff'

There's a fantasy a lot of us have, once we've accumulated a house and cars -- and the payments that come with them -- and filled the house with stuff.The fantasy involves getting rid of it all and living a blissfully simple life, traveling from...

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MONDAY, MARCH 30, 2009

New recession index: facial hair

The typical hallmarks of this recession are well-known: unemployment, foreclosures, bankruptcies...Now you can add beards -- at least for some men. The rise of the "recession beard" has drawn commentary in some quarters, and now there's a contest for the best recession beard at WalletPop,...

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Some employers take the long view

At a time when it's extra painful to do so, some companies are providing new perks to workers in an effort to build loyalty.It's the exception, to be sure. But a piece in the Wall Street Journal notes that some companies are adding relatively low-cost,...

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MONDAY, MARCH 23, 2009

The fad of frugality 

I'm starting to think we're kidding ourselves a little bit, when it comes to coffee.Is any daily habit more subject to the whims and attentions of our suddenly rediscovered frugality? Is any item more likely to be suggested as a way to save than giving...

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Fill up the tip jar

Google has started a new web site that gathers all sorts of advice for saving money, called Tip Jar.The suggestions come from readers and frugal-living websites. People can contribute their own ideas and vote on their favorites from other people. You might have heard some...

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401(k)s: A reason to believe?

Lots of people have stopped investment in their retirement accounts lately -- or at least shifted their accounts dramatically toward the slow and safe bets.And we've all heard the gloomy estimates about how long it took the market to recover from the Great Depression --...

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MONDAY, MARCH 16, 2009

Fill up that freezer 

If you buy a lot of food in bulk, you'll naturally need to freeze some of it.But a lot of us are uncertain about freezing certain foods, like dairy products and vegetables. Erin Hufstetler, at Frugal Living, has a post today outlining the variety of...

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Economy turns "truths" to myths

For a long time, a lot of us shared some assumptions about the economy.Real estate won't lose value. Life insurance isn't a good investment. A near-perfect credit score will get you the best interest rate.But this recession is turning a lot of those "truths" on...

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When terms change, pick up the phone's latest "15-minute Tip" has some useful advice for people who've been getting those sometimes indecipherable notices from their credit-card companies lately.As a lot of us are learning, the notices often leave a little to be desired when it comes to a full explanation of...

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Costly money

Everyone's got their mind on money these days -- how to get it and hang onto it.But some strategies just aren't worth it. A piece at WalletPop examines 10 bad ideas for raising some money -- with No. 1 being taking a 401(k) loan.Don't do...

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MONDAY, FEB. 16, 2009

Frank talk for kids

Are your kids worried about the economy?You may assume they're not. But if you are, chances are decent that they're feeling your anxiety and wondering what's going on. Teen-agers, especially, are mature enough to be scared -- and to be given some straight talk about...

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FRIDAY, FEB. 13, 2009

Tax tips for tough times

For people who are feeling the direct effects of the recession -- whether it's a foreclosure or a drop in pay -- this year's tax season brings some changes.The New York Times has collected a list of 10 tax tips for people hurt by the...

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THURSDAY, FEB. 12, 2009

Not so fast 

When the national economy zigs, Spokane's sometimes zags. Or at least lags -- showing less intense highs and lows than elsewhere during the recent housing bubble and subsequent recession.It's been true with foreclosures and bankruptcies, which have been going up here, but not to the...

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WEDNESDAY, FEB. 11, 2009

Or three decent Spokane homes...

The New York Times regularly compares home values around the country with its "What You Get For ... " series.Today it plugs in $600,000 and include a visit to Schweitzer Mountain -- where that money will get you a three-bedroom, three-bath, ski-in, ski-out condominium.This unit...

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Everyday Economy is a blog and weekly page in the newspaper dedicated to the way people are living their financial lives. Shawn Vestal, a longtime Spokesman-Review writer and editor, is overseeing the project.