th2 You know whats hot? A money date.Hey, all you single men and women: Want to attract a mate? Work on your credit scores as much as your abs.

Of the 1,010 married adults surveyed by Experian, 95 percent rated “financial responsibility” as more important than “physical attractiveness” (86 percent) and “career ambition” (77 percent).

Not that romance is dead: “Personal compatibility” was the most important attribute in a potential partner, ranking at 98 percent.  

Financial compatibility is important, too; in fact, at 96 percent it edged out “sex and intimacy” (95 percent) and trounced “religion and spirituality” (69 percent). The thing is, plenty of people don’t talk about finances before they marry – and that’s a huge mistake.


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th9 150x150 The prom bubble has burst. Sort of.According to a Visa survey of 4,000 people, families will be spending 14 percent less on the prom this year.

“I think people are realizing that prom is a dance, and you don’t have to spend like a celebrity to have a great time,” says Nat Sillin, head of U.S. financial education for Visa.

While I’m glad to hear spending is down, I’m still a little startled by the average price tag: $978.

Regionally speaking, the West Coast region pays the most and the Midwest the least (although more than last year). The Northeast registered a 27 percent spending drop since last year and the South 23 percent.

Here’s how that shakes down per family, per region:

  • Western, $1,125
  • Northeastern, $1,104
  • Southern, $926
  • Midwestern, $835

Doesn’t that sound like an awful lot of money for a high-school dance?


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th7 Yet another plastic bags blog post.Washing and re-using plastic bags is a frugality meme that won’t die. Although it saves money and is an eco-friendly thing to do, it’s often derided in a “get a life!” way: You waste all that time and energy just to save a few cents?

I have a few thoughts about that. Washing takes just a few seconds. These bags cost  more than a few pennies each. Finally, they’re made from petroleum or natural gas — a couple of non-renewable resources.

The Bargain Babe website recently resurrected the notion with a post called “21 reuses for freezer bags.” Some of Megan Thode’s ideas are clever but I disagree with some, such as using them to start seedlings, pipe frosting or transport used cooking oil to the trash.

To do those things would mean trashing a perfectly good Ziploc. Can’t play that way.

However, I do think that once bags spring pinhole leaks they can be used for some of her other suggestions, such as matching kids’ clothing or storing board-game pieces.


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th2 150x150 Between the (budget) sheets.Recently a financial company called Yodlee sent me a study about how financial worries influence sex habits. An astonishing (to me) 48% of U.S. students over age 18 find that concerns about cash affect their intimacy with romantic partners.

In fact, more than one-third (36%) of people aged 18 to 34 said that money woes affect their sex drives.

And here I thought that sex was one of those inexpensive things that could help take your mind off your bank balance.


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th7 How NOT to cure boredom.Today’s press release from Ebates bothered me a good deal. The cash-back shopping site recently surveyed 1,000 people and learned, among other things, that 49 percent use mobile devices to shop while waiting in line.

Apparently it “cures boredom.”

All the Internet at your fingertips – the chance to download millions of e-books for free, listen to amazing music, view more cat pictures than anyone really needs – and you decide to kill time by shopping?

Couple of things, here:

  • How long are the lines in which you’re waiting?
  • How’s your budget holding up under this anti-boredom tactic?

I understand that even five minutes in line can feel endless. It isn’t, since you do eventually get to go home. Even if it turned into half an hour of waiting, is there no other way to occupy your mind? (See “cat pictures” et al., above.)

Possibly some of these folks aren’t actually buying, just shopping – the equivalent of window-shopping in place. After all, some people can walk through a store and look at lots but leave empty-handed.

But the Internet is superb at creating need where none exists. Oh, that funny T-shirt would be perfect for your brother. A skin-care shop is having a sale on products in your favorite scent. What an interesting herbal tea sampler, and your tisane-loving BFF could use a little pick-me-up….

Throw in free shipping and you’re gone. As is a chunk of your budget.


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