News You Can Use

News You Can Use – February 2024

2-23-24

Nutrition Marketing Can Mislead

Research has found that nutrition-related marketing tactics are nearly universal among fruit drinks. Claims like “100% All Natural” lead consumers to incorrectly believe a product is free of added sugar. This phenomenon, known as the “health halo” effect, occurs when a single marketing promise leads consumers to believe a product is healthy when it isn’t … Full Article

Putting Too Much on Credit Cards

Credit card delinquencies surged more than 50% in 2023 as total consumer debt swelled to $17.5 trillion, the New York Federal Reserve reported Tuesday.

Debt that has transitioned into “serious delinquency,” or 90 days or more past due, increased across multiple categories during the year, but none more so than credit cards … Full Article

Charging More ‘Excess’ Interest Than Ever

Credit card companies are hiking rates to record highs to pad their profits, according to a government report released Thursday.

An analysis by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finds that the share of annual percentage rates (APR) that reflects what card companies charge beyond their own lending costs has nearly doubled in the last decade. That cost borrowers an estimated $25 billion in 2023 alone … Full Article


2-22-24

Massive cellular outage hits AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon

AT&T customers woke up Thursday morning only to realize they couldn’t make any phone calls. More than 70,000 customers were without cellular service and internet, according to the outrage report website Downdetector — and it appears as though they’re still without service in the late morning on the East Coast. Most of the outages were reported by customers located in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and Los Angeles. Latest updates … Full Article

What are the healthiest fruits?

According to government guidelines, fruit, along with vegetables, should form the cornerstone of your diet. Yet, the reality is that a mere 12% of adults meet the recommended 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruit (or the equivalent) daily.

Blueberries take the title of healthiest fruit in the top healthiest fruits. Blueberries’ stunning hue comes from their anthocyanins — an antioxidant believed to be responsible for their numerous health benefits. Long-term studies suggest that including blueberries in your regular lineup may lower the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Blueberries may also improve cognitive performance and strengthen your brainpower … Full Article

$20,000 Bonus for Opening a New Account?! (There’s a catch!)

Bank account sign-up bonuses are nothing new to the world of financial services. A couple hundred here, $50 there — you get the idea. But a $20,000 bonus? That’s the level of sign-up bonus we don’t see much of.

At Chicago-based investment platform M1, users can get $20,000 added to their accounts for simply making a transfer. But it comes with a big catch: Multi-millionaires are the only ones getting this chunk of change. M1 requires you to transfer $7 million or more from another brokerage account before the promotional March 31 deadline to earn that $20,000 😂 … Full Article

2-21-24

Shopping for the Best Deal?

These retailers price match or make price adjustments … Full Article

Why Are Brown Eggs More Expensive?

The color of an egg’s shell is determined by the breed of chiken that lays it. Eggs with a brown shell often cost more than those with a white shell because they’re usually laid by a larger breed of hen that requires more food, which makes the eggs more expensive for farmers to produce. But there’s no nutritional, size, or environmental advantage to brown eggs … Full Article

FCC Bans AI Generated Voices in Robocalls

Bad actors are using AI-generated voices in unsolicited robocalls to extort vulnerable family members, imitate celebrities, and misinform voters. As of Feb. 8, 2024, such activity is illegal … Full Article


2-20-24

 

R U Financially Healthy?

Seven signs you’re financially healthy even if you don’t feel like it — how many do you have?
Consider these often overlooked factors to get a clearer picture of where you stand with your money …Full Article

10 Costco Shopping Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

A Costco shopping trip isn’t just any ordinary errand. It’s an exciting and invigorating experience that’s sure to result in a few unanticipated purchases. While it might not seem possible, there are too many mistakes Costco shoppers make (even some of the most loyal ones, believe it or not). Here’s the thing: It’s not hard to take advantage of all Costco has to offer. If you want to be the smartest shopper, these ten mistakes to avoid can help you not only save money, but take advantage of deeper deals and special services, too … Full Article

Retail Returns Fraud

Unveiling the retail reality —returns fraud grips consumers and challenges industry stability. Despite 84% of consumers saying they have not and would not commit fraud, a large number are unclear on what actually qualifies. Nearly a third of respondents (31%) think using an item then returning it as unused doesn’t count as fraud, although 57% do think that it’s unethical …Full Article

 


2-19-24

Prescription Medication Shortages

Americans continue to face prescription medication shortages, but they’re also struggling to find over-the-counter medicine and medical equipment. Louisiana, West Virginia and Alaska are the states hardest hit by medical shortages.

Many Americans are simply going without their meds, or buying expensive substitutes.

Prescription medication shortages are the most problematic type of shortage for people across the country… Full Article 

Blue Bunny No Longer Real Ice Cream

Blue Bunny ice cream has been a rebel. When other brands downsized to 56 ounces, they stayed at half a gallon. Subsequently when the industry moved to a 48-ounce container, Blue Bunny didn’t follow. But ultimately, they did conform to the now standard 48-ounce size.

The company also saw other brands in the ice cream business like Breyer’s convert some of their real ice cream flavors to “frozen dairy desserts” — a product no longer allowed by federal law to be called “ice cream” because it has less than the required 10% milkfat.

Well, so much for that noble stance. (Even the best of us would not likely spot the change) … Full Article

How the Pros Do It

You don’t need a thermometer to nail your next ribeye. Use the gadget-free method that chefs use to tell when steak is perfectly cooked … Full Article

 


2-17-24

 

iPhone’s New Stolen Device Protection

The new iphone option feature that kicks into action when your iPhone is stolen has a fatal flaw (but you can fix it!) … Full Article

Still Get a 3% Home Mortgage?

Millions of home buyers can avoid high interest rates by snapping up existing low-rate mortgages—in theory. Doing so in practice is filled with obstacles.

Loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs have provisions allowing them to be transferred from home sellers to buyers, or “assumed.” In other words: Even in a world of 7% mortgage rates, a buyer can get a 3% mortgage if he or she takes someone else’s … Full Article

The Case of the Costco Couch

A woman named Jackie shares that  she bought a couch from Costco over two and a half years ago, in a video posted last week that’s attracted nearly 3 million views! … Full Article

Flying Umbrella!

It follows you around in the rain. The new invention is the work of an engineer behind the ‘I Build Stuff’ YouTube channel. The homemade contraption includes an adapted yellow shop-bought umbrella and 3D printed components with propellers on the end… Full Article


2-16-24

Pleasant Smells May Treat Depression

You might walk into a store and are met with an aroma that triggers pleasant memories and takes you back to a “happy place.” Researchers have now concluded that experience can be harnessed to treat depression … Full Article

What Bills Can Consumers Negotiate?

Consumers have more power over their finances than they realize. Especially in the billing department.

If people can successfully negotiate with medical providers, are there other bills that might be subject to a reduction? We corralled some consumer savings experts to find out and, as it turns out, there are plenty.

Just look at this list of possibilities: Cable, cell phone, and internet plans; credit cards; and insurance … Full Article

Spring Fling Flights on SW

Southwest Airlines has launched a Spring Travel Sale, offering discounted flights starting as low as $49 one-way.

This sale is available for travel dates ranging from late February to late May 2024, with specific travel windows varying depending on the destination. The sale includes flights across Southwest’s network, including domestic travel within the United States and to select international destinations such as Mexico and the Caribbean… Full Article


2-15-24

Free Tax Preparation Help for Seniors (Not a Scam!)

We bet you barely have time to do your own taxes, much less help your older adult with theirs (ugh). That makes it the perfect time to get free tax preparation help from IRS-certified volunteers… Full Article

 

Costly ‘Human Error’

The retiree is so distressed she can’t sleep. She appealed the repayment order but was denied three times — and sadly, her story is not uncommon. Here’s why Americans are receiving overpayment notices from the SSA … Full Article

 

Protect Yourself Against Scams

“Before I got scammed, it wasn’t really something I worried about. I knew I wasn’t immune, but I figured I’d see through a serious fraud if one came along. I never responded to weird texts; I blocked and reported phishing emails claiming to be from Geek Squad. Occasionally someone would get ahold of my credit card information and buy random stuff with it, but it was always resolved quickly. It was, at worst, a minor nuisance, a small price to pay for digital conveniences…” Full Story


2-14-24

And Now a College Professor

This college professor fell for a scam that drained her life savings. It was by someone impersonating the chair of the Federal Trade Commission who said her money was in danger.

She was threatened with arrest (for money-laundering and child porn) and with breaking the law if she told anyone (children, friends, banks). She was told that the people threatening her savings would be caught if the government “secured my money.” Once the case was closed, her money would be returned … Full Article

Money Advice from TikToc?

TikTok is full of money tips. But how reliable are they? Younger U.S. adults are flocking to social media for advice on how to handle their money, seeking and sharing information on a range of personal finance topics, or sometimes just commiserating about the kind of financial challenges Gen-Zers and millennials face … Full Article

10 Things to Do if Your Identity Is Stolen

If you’re a victim of identity theft, follow these steps to protect yourself … Full Article


2-13-24

Widow Loses Life Savings and Sues Bank

She lost more than $700,000, her life savings, after a man befriended her and became romantic through text messages. Now she alledges her bank should have stopped her from sending him money … a lot of money … Full Article  

No Preservatives?

Products which state they contain no preservatives, but according to the FDA … they do? Check it out … Full Article

Eating Out is Now a Luxury

If you’ve opted to cook a romantic meal at home with your partner this Valentine’s Day — no matter how it comes out — know that you’re saving a decent amount of money compared to couples dining out.

Even excluding pricey Valentine’s Day menus, it’s becoming increasingly cheaper for Americans to eat at home instead of dining out, according to January Consumer Price Index data. That’s because prices for groceries are up 1.2% year over year, while the price of food consumed at restaurants is up 5.1% … Full Article


2-12-24

Car Insurance Spikes

This year, expect to pay more for your car insurance. Even though inflation has been slowing down, car insurance costs have gone up. Since 2023, car insurance rates have surged 26%, and they’ll likely remain elevated until 2025, according to Bankrate’s True Cost of Auto Insurance Report. The report determined the annual cost for full coverage car insurance in 2024 to be $2,543, compared to $2,014 in 2023 and $1,771 in 2022. For someone earning the median household income of $74,580, that’s 3.41% of their entire income … Full Article

7 Thrifting Trends Taking Over 2024

There’s something magical about discovering the perfect thrift store find. It’s partially luck, partially strategy, and partially dedication to the hunt. What are the thrifting trends for the new year? What secondhand home decor items should thrifting enthusiasts be nabbing before everyone else does? Here’s what the pro advise … Full Article

Tax season is here, so are the scammers

IRS is warning about the new ‘refund’ letters scammers are sending and text messages about your “tax refund” or “tax refund e-statement” that look as official as it can get in hopes of tricking people into clicking on the image’s link so that they can steal from you.

They tell you to click a link —supposedly to check on your ‘tax refund e-statement’ or ‘fill out a form to get your refund.’ But it’s a scam and if you click that link, the scammer might steal your identity or put malware on your phone or computer… Full Article

 


2-11-24

CC Debt Hits New High

Credit card debt has notched another new high. Average credit card balances jump 10% to a record $6,360 as more consumers fall behind on payments. Americans now owe $1.08 trillion on their credit cards, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported Tuesday.

Consumers are just spending more. Even though the inflation rate is down, that doesn’t mean prices are coming down. Full Article

Now to Get Stronger WiFi Signal

There are few things quite as frustrating as a crummy WiFi connection. Before you run out to buy a new router, try these tips for improving the signal throughout your home … Full Article

Estate and Inheritance Taxes

Nothing in this world is certain but death and taxes, Benjamin Franklin said. But even death can’t bring relief from taxes. Yes, death can be a tax-triggering event. And there are two you should be aware of … Full Article


2-10-24

Fed Up!

Food companies have been passing along higher labor and ingredient costs to consumers long after inflation peaked at 9.1% in June 2022. Diners are getting fed up, eating less fast food and griping on social media that their go-to cheap meals aren’t so cheap anymore. McDonald’s, for example, has faced criticism for one franchise location’s $18 Big Mac meal … Full Article

Super Bowl Ads

It seems like every celebrity on the planet makes an appearance! Here are the most talked about Super Bowl ads of 2024 … Full Article

Guaranteed On-Time Delivery

If they don’t give a specific time, your order must ship within 30 days. When shipping will be delayed, the seller has to let you know about it,” Cristina Miranda, consumer education specialist at the FTC notes. “Sellers also have to give you the choice to either accept the delay or cancel your order for a full refund … Full Article


2-8-24

Smart Toothbrushes HACKED!?

Three million smart toothbrushes reportedly hacked in massive DDoS attack. However it may or may not have actually occurred as there’s no official record of this attack taking place. Regardless of whether or not millions of smart toothbrushes were actually used in a large-scale DDoS attack, this story still highlights the dangers posed by smart home devices. Story developing and you can follow the Full Article.

UP $50b in 3 Months

Credit card debt in the United States increased by $50 billion in the fourth quarter of 2023, according to recent findings from the New York Federal Reserve.

The latest report, released Tuesday, found the total credit card balances stood at $1.13 trillion by the end of December, which is about a 4.6 percent increase from the third quarter of 2023. This appears to be the highest credit card balance since at least 2003, according to the state’s Federal Reserve data… Full Article

How To Write a Book (and Get a Publisher!)

This is for the hundreds (thousands?) of people who’ve written to me over the years, asking how to write a book AND get it published. One of the best literary agents has written that book for me!

In her new book, literary agent Lucinda Halpern shares how to get signed with an agent and how to get a book deal. There are three keys to getting an agent and a subsequent book deal … Full Article

 


2-7-24

Victory for EU Farmers

The European Union has caved in to angry protests from farmers, cutting its target to scrap specific agricultural emissions which formed part of the bloc’s net zero drive.

A demand to reduce nitrogen, methane and other emissions linked to farming by almost a third has been removed from a wider Brussels plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 90 per cent by 2040. A recommendation urging EU citizens to eat less meat was also removed from the plan … Full Article

Toilet Lid Up or Down?

Do you flush with the lid open or closed? When it comes to germs, it might not matter.

Just like the great debate over which way the toilet paper roll goes, there is a similar spat over flushing: lid open or closed? Scientists have weighed in with their own woeful conclusion … Full Article 

Venmo, Zelle, Cash App Scam

Imagine walking down the sidewalk and being confronted at gunpoint by a crook. Open the payment app on your phone and transfer out your hard-earned cash, or take a bullet in the head. That’s one phone cash ripoff scenario of many playing out in real-life America.

Do you use mobile payment apps like Venmo, Zelle, or Cash App to send and receive money? If so, you’re not alone. These peer-to-peer payment services now handle an estimated $1 trillion in payments.

Mobile payment apps have some security features to help protect you, but they are not enough, and you should not rely on them alone. If you absolutely cannot live without these things (please reconsider), you should also do these 10 things: Full Article

Greyhound Closing Stations

Greyhound stations were once a big part of America. Now, many of them are being shut. Ironically, as bus stations have withered, buses themselves have gone upscale. They now offer power, Wi-Fi and free movies to laptop-toting riders, who can book in advance and reserve seats. That’s no substitute, though, for a comfortable place to wait between buses … Full Article


2-6-24

Dangerous Effect of Mixed Reality

Mixed reality headsets are becoming all the rage, sparking a dangerous phenomenon termed “social absence.” This study details how passthrough video could alter perception, limiting peripheral vision and presenting a “funhouse mirror” effect that distorts reality. Users reported difficulties with simple tasks like giving high fives or eating, as the technology’s limitations led to misjudgments in distance and object size … Full Article

Real Reason Grocery Bill is Still So High

Inflation in the U.S.is easing across many industries, and yet food prices overall have remained stubbornly high. In fact, inflation in the grocery industry has been higher than in other industries, rising 25 percent over the past four years compared to 19 percent overall, and many have pointed to simple greed as the reason

Not only is that an indication of a deep rot at the heart of the food industry, agribusinesses, and corporate grocery chains, but it is also a clear sign that we need to repair our entire food system… Full Article

Menu Psychology 101

Some restaurants hire menu consultants to help them design their menus using all the basic tenets of menu psychology so you spend more money.

Once you take a peek inside what the industry calls “menu engineering,” you’ll never be able to unsee them  … Full Article


2-5-24

Super Bowl Spoiler Alert

Artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT are trained on trillions of points of information. They are also capable of processing statistics and information quickly so, given the NFL’s never-ending stats supply, I thought I’d see if AI could use that to predict the winner of Super Bowl LVIII (here’s the winner) … Full Article 

IKEA’s Prices Are Dropping in 2024

So, what happened to make IKEA change their furniture prices? Mostly, the cost of materials and transportation lowered significantly in 2023. IKEA has promised to share profits with customers. They’re serious about finding the best prices possible; they’ve already invested over one billion dollars into re-pricing their current stock … Full Article

Mike Rowe on College Degrees

Rowe argues the traditional perception of a college degree — once a testament to one’s intellect, wisdom and knowledge — has drastically deteriorated. Harvard grads are taking their ‘degrees off the wall’ — is welding, pipe fitting or HVAC a better path to six figures? Full Article

Got a Story?

Remember those Chicken Soup for the Soul books? They’re still around, and right now they’re calling for story submissions based on topics like cats, dogs, the power of positive thinking and more. If your story is chosen, you’ll receive a check for $250. Full Article

 

 

2-4-24

IRS Free File

The 2024 tax filing season kicked off earlier this week. Whether you’ve already begun preparing your Tax Year 2023 tax return, or you’re just getting started , you might want to check out this IRS program that allows millions of Americans to file their federal tax returns for free. You can get started with it right now. Full Article

Metro’s $20 Home Internet Has No Catch? Ha!

Metro by T-Mobile is a prepaid cell service provider (formerly Metro PCS) that also offers 5G home internet. In its commercial that began running last month, they promise an unbelievable deal — only $20 a month for internet service. And they say there are no catches and no “exploding bills.” Well, don’t believe it! The details are always in the fine print … Full Article

Emergency Savings

Americans rang in the new year under much better economic circumstances than experts expected, thanks to falling inflation and strong employment figures. But despite the surprisingly strong economy, many Americans still don’t have enough savings for a rainy day.

Only 44 percent of U.S. adults say they would pay an emergency expense of $1,000 or more from their savings, according to a new Bankrate survey… Full Article


2-3-24

How to Prepare for Weather Emergency

If a mandatory evacuation is announced as a storm approaches, you should know what to do to your home before you leave. Read more about preparing your home before evacuating ahead of a storm. Full Article

Pickle Juice

Pickle juice does end leg cramps — but not for the reason you think. Full Article


 

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