Common cents

Coupons: How useful are they?

News reports have mentioned more consumers turning to coupons as the recession continues. Reuters reported in March that coupon redemptions jumped 10 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 compared with 2007. It's not just supermarket clippers, either. Coupons from mass merchandisers have taken ...

A house for no money down

Yes, you can still buy a house for no money down. At least some people can. Sound like a middle-of-the-night infomercial? It’s not. At least two mortgage loan programs have money to loan without down payments. One is through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development ...

Avoid owing more income taxes next year

By April 1 most of the nation’s workers will find the amounts on their paychecks a little higher than they used to be. That’s the date for implementation of the federal tax break known as Making Work Pay. A few taxpayers, however, could find themselves owing more to the federal ...

Some companies are hiring

At least some employers in the Topeka and Kansas City metropolitan areas expect to be hiring workers during the second quarter of 2009, according to a Manpower Inc. survey. From April to June, 14 percent of companies surveyed in Topeka and 11 percent in Kansas City plan to hire more people, ...

A lesson learned

I learned a valuable lesson recently when taking my secondhand car to an area dealership for servicing: Always beware if the mechanic comes out smiling. It's even more frightening if the mechanic proceeds to say something like, "There's something very wrong with your car!" with barely ...

Identity theft grows; so does price of gold

Next week, March 1-7, is National Consumer Protection Week. Identity theft is at the top of the list when it comes to the need for consumer protection and caution. Consider the following information distributed by The Associated Press: The number of identity theft victims last year in the ...

Mediation tried for consumer complaints

The Kansas Attorney General’s office has started a new consumer mediation program to resolve some matters without having to bring the parties to court. “Through my new mediation program we can return money to consumers without stepping foot in a courtroom,” Attorney General Steve Six ...

State launches stimulus plan Web site

Kansas has a new Web site that is being used to put out information about the new federal stimulus package. Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson announced it Tuesday, the same day President Barack Obama signed the stimulus plan.Parkinson said that as additional information about the stimulus and its effect ...

2008 stimulus check causes tax confusion

Many people are busy filing their income tax returns this time of year and the federal Internal Revenue Service is finding a large number of errors on early returns.The errors involve how to account on 2008 returns for last year’s economic stimulus payments.The stimulus payments affect ...

Data sticks a common loss and found item

CNN is carrying a story today about a man in New Zealand who recently found confidential U.S. military files on a used MP3 player he bought while in Oklahoma a year ago.That news comes at the same time the results of a survey conducted by Credant Technologies of Dallas were released. The data ...

Why pay for text messaging when you can get it free?

Few discoveries gall me more than paying for something I could have received for free.That's one reason why I chose not to get text messaging with my recent cell phone package. Why pay for texting when I could call?Unfortunately, several of my friends didn't have the same idea, but sent me ...

CFL bulbs not what they are touted to be?

Compact fluorescent light bulbs have been touted as more energy efficient than the standard incandescent bulbs most people use. But CFLs are not suitable for many common uses, according to a recent report by the National Center for Policy Analysis. The NCPA has decided CFLs are more trouble ...

Danger, cyberspace ahead

Danger zone. Enter at your own risk.Perhaps that is a message that should appear on a computer screen each time anybody logs onto the Internet.How dangerous is it?In 2008 an average of 35,000 malware samples were detected each day by Panda Security’s PandaLabs. Of those, 22,000 of them were ...

Trash pile tells your Christmas Day story

Christmas gift giving is over and now it’s time to take out the trash.The boxes that contained that new TV, computer or electronic game system have to go somewhere. Usually they get stacked by the alley or the street in the hours before your weekly trash pick up.The National Crime Prevention ...

Lawrence foreclosure rate creeps up

There was a slight increase in foreclosure rates in Lawrence in October, according to the latest information from First American CoreLogic, which monitors national real estate data, but things still aren't as bad as they are nationally.The foreclosure rate among outstanding mortgage loans was ...

Top five pocketbook stories of 2008

We're counting down the top five stories on various topics today as part of an annual recap of the top stories of the year we'll do later this month. Join the conversation by letting us know what we missed or what stories you think are important by posting a comment, below.5. Attention ...

New Web site offers money-saving tips

Kansas Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson has a new Web site designed to help people save money.“Just as the state of Kansas is finding ways to cut back, we understand that people across the state are doing the same,” Parkinson said in a news release. “The guide is just one way we can provide ...

Affordable housing rated in university football towns

Stillwater, Okla., the home of Oklahoma State University, is No. 1 in the Big 12 — when it comes to affordable housing, that is.Coldwell Banker examined the housing markets in towns with the 119 college football bowl subdivision schools and created its college home price comparison index. The ...

How to donate on a tight budget

When the economy is bad, more people turn to charities for help.A story in today's Journal-World quotes a representative from a local social service agency saying that more people on the upper end of income guidelines are likely to ask for help this year in Lawrence.That story also found that ...

Mortgage underwriters getting stricter

Ted Haggart cringes when he watches or reads news accounts about a federal "bank" bailout program."It just kind of makes your blood run hotter than normal," said Haggart, Douglas County Bank president and chief executive.That's because most community banks throughout the country, including ...