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The Frugal Consumer: Stay Home for Dinner and Suspense

Looking for an easy way to keep your entertainment budget in check without feeling like you're pinching pennies or getting bored? Bring the gang over for a dinner party and movie night that features one of these classic Hollywood suspense films.

Social Security Isn't Broke, But We Still Should Fix It

It's true that Social Security paid out more than it collected in 2010. But the Trust Fund owns $2.6 trillion in Treasury bonds, and though some people may claim those holdings are an illusion, they aren't. Still, there are some fairly painless steps we could take to shore up the program's balance sheet for the long term.

Starbucks CEO's New Bio: A Venti Fairy Tale?

Howard Schultz, the impulsive and mercurial founder of Starbucks, had already told his story once, in "Pour Your Heart Into It." His new autobiographic tome, "Onward," reveals how he retook control of his company -- and despite his best efforts to paint himself as a benevolent visionary, his many, many flaws shine through.

Ryan's Proposed Budget: The Numbers Don't Add Up

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan promises his proposed 2012 federal budget is the solution to America's money woes. But is the Tea Party favorite's plan based in reality, or does it rely on impossible numbers and fairy tales?

Predatory Lenders Put U.S. Soldiers in the Crosshairs

Members of America's military face threats around the world every day, but it's a domestic threat that has the top brass on the offensive on the home front -- predatory lenders. Here's how the Department of Defense is fighting back.

The Truth About ID Theft Protection Services

With identity theft on the rise, consumers are actively seeking ways to protect themselves. A crop of companies has sprung up offering identity theft protection services. But how well do they really work?

Frugal Consumer: Three Home Theater Films for Teens

Today's pinched budgets mean many American families can%u2019t shell out as much as they once did to send teenagers to the movies. But there's a more affordable way to keep young people entertained: Soup up your home theater and screen some teen-friendly classics.

Don't Ask, Just Cram: Let Judges Modify Mortgages Again

Regulators want the nation's big banks to reduce what borrowers owe on underwater mortgages, but they're still focused on solutions that rely on banks to voluntarily do the right thing. But we've already seen that won't work, and history shows what will -- giving bankruptcy judges back the right to cram down mortgages.

Fly the Hungry Skies: Continental Drops Free Pretzels

The United-Continental merger was supposed to bring together the best of both carriers, but it doesn't always work that way. Continental is following United's lead and eliminating its free pretzels. But there are still a few options for flyers seeking free munchies -- and some of them are mighty tasty.

Why Fly? The Case Against Air Travel

It's bad enough that air fares and extra fees have been rising as fast as a plane taking off -- now, travelers must wonder if aircraft have been properly inspected. Are the costs, pains and risks of flying reaching the point where frequent fliers should reconsider their transportation choices?

Five Tips on Planning a Prenup Before You Say 'I Do'

Modern couples are bringing more assets into their marriages -- and more liabilities too including credit card debt, student loans and mortgages. It may be unromantic, and the subject is fraught with emotional peril, but it's worth discussing: Should you consider a prenuptial agreement?

Are You Better Off Under the Obama Administration?

President Obama has officially launched his reelection campaign and when it's time to vote again many may ask themselves whether they are better off than they were four years ago. A close look at the statistics reveals the clear winners and losers so far.

The Best Corporate April Fools Day Pranks Ever

April Fools Day is the perfect time for people to play practical jokes and pranks on each other. But the holiday isn't just for individuals: Large companies have long had a tradition of using April 1 to pull humorous hoaxes on the public too. Here are some of my favorites from past years.

Buffett's Blind Spot: David Sokol's Unethical History

David Sokol, once considered a likely successor to Warren Buffett as CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, resigned this week from Berkshire under a cloud of possible insider trading charges. But these recent ethical lapses are hardly the worst of Sokol's business transgressions.

How 'Short-Term' Payday Loans Cause Long-Term Woes

A new report from the Center for Responsible Lending paints a seriously depressing picture of the damage the payday loan industry wreaks on its customers. What's worse is that the report actually understates the grim reality facing payday borrowers today.

Why You Should Double-Check the Math on Your Mortgage

Attention homeowners with mortgages, whether you're current or in default: Double-check your mortgage bank's math. As recent court testimony explains, there's a real chance that the bank is wrong about how much you owe them, particularly if you're behind on your payments.

Google's Future: Can Larry Page Make It a Winner Again?

Google has been dead money for the last year -- up just 3% vs. 12.6% for the S&P 500. The Internet giant's biggest problem is its inability to diversify its revenue sources. Author Peter Cohan pulls out his Innovation Quotient to suggest how new CEO Larry Page might correct that.

The Dangers of Buying on Disasters

Days after Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami, Warren Buffett and Marc Faber pronounced the country's woes a buying opportunity. A cash stampede into U.S.-based Japan exchange-traded funds followed, but these investments carry much greater risks than the average investor probably realized.

The Return of the Dreaded (and Dreadful) Stock Pickers

Market turbulence and economic uncertainty create fear and anxiety among investors. Unfortunately, many turn to advice freely dispensed by self-styled investment gurus -- who claim they can predict the direction of the markets or pick outperforming stocks.

Record Amounts of Cash Flow Into Japanese Stocks

Debates are raging over whether Japan needs charitable financial help to recover, but one way money has been flowing into the country is in the form of foreign purchases of Japanese stocks as investors snap up hammered shares.

Stock Buybacks:
A Warning Sign for Smart Investors

Last year saw a surge in stock repurchases -- companies like ExxonMobil, Walmart and Microsoft bought back shares at record levels. Buybacks can be seen as a cash giveaway to investors, and they boost earnings per share. But there's a strong reason to be wary of companies that do buybacks.

The Bulls Are Optimistic Despite Global Turmoil

Despite turmoil around the world, U.S. markets have been rising again, but is this a temporary bump, or the return of a bull market? The sharp-eyed analysts of Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs say its the latter, and their money is on strong growth ahead.

What's Really Wrong With Letting Banks Pay Big Dividends

The Federal Reserve is finally admitting that not all the big banks are healthy: Bank of America won't get to pay increased dividends. But none of those financial giants should be allowed to, and a logical look at the reasons they say they want to dole out the cash makes it totally clear why.

How to Reduce the U.S. Deficit: Sell Some of America's Icons?

Would the U.S. government really consider selling the Hoover Dam, all the gold in Fort Knox, or the naming rights to the Grand Canyon? That may depend on how desperate it is to balance the budget. Here are nine big U.S. assets whose auction could take a real bite out of the deficit.

Inside Wall Street: Turbo-Charged Investment Managing

Wall Street is littered with so-called hot and smart investors who flamed-out during economic downturns or market crashes. But Marketocracy says its investment management teams are different -- with stock picks that have demonstrated proven, long-term staying prowess.

Is the Market Rally Over, or Is It Just Taking a Breather?

Markets hate uncertainty more than bad news, which is one reason they've swooned: No one can predict the long-term economic effects of Japan's earthquake or Middle Eastern upheaval. But technical analysis looks at the patterns deeper than the daily news, and the charts suggest a real bear ahead.