Catching up on links…

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This week’s Carnival of Personal Finance (a weekly roundup of great blog posts on personal finance) is being hosted at Wheaties favorite Get Rich Slowly. You should definitely check it out — J.D. illustrated the digest with clips from comic books, and but a huge amount into it. Nice job!

Speaking of Get Rich Slowly, I contributed a guest article there over the holidays, “The Dangers of the Payday Loan Trap.” There are a lot of businesses that try to make a quick buck off you by giving you an advance on your next paycheck. I talked about the dangers of this practice, whether at check cashing/payday advance storefronts, or at ATM machines at some banks.

I’d like to say I contributed an article to the New York Times Magazine this weekend, but instead I just scooped them by about three weeks. 🙂 In the Times article, Freakonomics authors Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt talk about the same problem with gift cards that we covered here, namely that many consumers don’t use the money on those cards, and retailers wind up keeping that money instead. They have much more detail in their article than I did mine, so I didn’t scoop them after all. They also follow up the Times piece with an article on their blog providing links to the research behind it. Well worth checking out. I was particularly interested to see that retailers call unused gift card income “breakage,” which is the same name they give to unused rebate offers, as we discussed here last October. Breakage is the new watchword for consumers, it seems.

Finally, via Consumerist, Consumer Reports has a great list of 10 easy steps to the simple (financial) life. It’s well worth checking out. #1, put savings on autopilot, is probably the single strategy that has most helped me save money over the years.

(Sorry for the radio silence — just getting over a long cold. We’ve got a stack of great things to talk about this week…)


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