Personal Finance

Don’t Order the Second-Cheapest Bottle of Wine

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It may seem like a good idea, but the second-cheapest bottle of wine is probably the worst deal on the wine list. From Urbanspoon:

Restaurants realize that many people won’t order the least expensive wine (no one wants to look like a cheapskate!) so they often go for the second cheapest. That’s exactly why it’s often the most marked-up bottle on the list.

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How to Use GameStop as a Bank

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Transcription:

Does anyone else use Gamestop as a bank?

I got really pissed off with US Bank because I kept overdrafting my account even though I opted out, and the same thing happened with my credit union when I got a debit card.

Now whenever I get paid I go preorder a whole shitload of games. Whenever I need money, I go to the nearest gamestop and ask for my money back on a game I don’t want and make a withdrawal. The lines are shorter at gamestop than at the bank and I can trade in old games and have money go straight to my savings account. Gamestops are just as prevalent as banks in my town and I work at a mall so it’s even more convenient than running an errand to the bank or using an ATM and getting charged.

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Would You Buy This $99 Wedding Dress?

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Weddings are “really, egregiously, horrifically expensive” says Caitlin Dewey for the Washington Post. And she is right. CNN Money put the average cost of a wedding in 2012 at $28,400. Caitlin Kenney, a reporter for NPR’s Planet Money paid $3,500 just for her dress.

When my wife and I were married at the end of 2006, we didn’t have a lot of money, so our entire wedding cost just a bit more than Kenney’s dress. She wore a bridesmaid dress and looked amazing in it, but I think she would have looked pretty seriously at this dress if it were available at the time.

I guess it’s fine if couples want to blow nearly 30 grand on a wedding, if they or their parents actually have that much money to spare. But if I had the choice between spending $20,000+ on a wedding or a down payment on a house, I know which one I would choose.

(h/t Felix Salmon)

Always Order the Bigger Pizza

A 12-inch pizza is more than twice the size of an 8-inch pizza, but generally only costs a little bit more. This is true all the way up the pizza-size ladder, as NPR’s Planet Money found out after compiling data from over 3,678 pizza restaurants into one amazing pizza-value chart:

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In short, always get the bigger pizza. I hope this guy knows about this.

Minnesota Schools Take Away School Lunches, Too

Two weeks ago, it was big news when a Salt Lake City school took lunches away from students when their card was declined at the register. (Students at many schools use a card to buy lunches, and parents are responsible for depositing money to the student’s lunch card account through the school’s website.)

It turns out that many Minnesota schools do the same thing. According to the StarTribune:

 A majority of public school districts in this state deny hot lunch — or any lunch at all in some cases — to children who can’t pay for them. Some schools take the meals from students in the lunch line and dump them in the trash when the computer shows a deficit in their lunch accounts.

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A New Debt-Collection Low: Taking Lunch Away From Schoolchildren

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A “child-nutrition manager” in Salt-Lake City, notified of an unusually-large number of students who owed money for lunch at Uintah Elementary School, came up with a brilliant plan: take away their lunches. Students with delinquent school-lunch accounts went through the lunch line as usual, but when their card was declined at the register, the lunch-room staff tossed their meal in the trash.

Several parents told the Salt Lake Tribune that they were not notified that they owed money for their children’s lunches. It doesn’t seem like anyone was notified that their children would have their lunches taken away from them, either. The school has said it is “currently investigating to see if [notification] guidelines were followed correctly.”

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McDonald’s Publishes a Guide to Tipping the Help — for its Minimum-Wage Employees

From the Atlantic:

McDonald’s had published an etiquette guide on a company website full of advice from Emily Post on how families should tip their help during the holidays. If you were a McDonald’s worker with a pool cleaner, a personal trainer, or massage therapist, corporate had you covered.

For more budgeting advice from McDonald’s, here’s my earlier post with more ridiculous McDonald’s budgeting tips

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Here’s What Income Inequality in the US Looks Like, in One Image

From the Pew Research Center:

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Pretty striking. Can we all agree this is a problem, even if we can’t all agree on the solution?

When Sales, Aren’t

At the Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal explains how retailers use “retail price” to make it look like you are getting a good deal. At Macy’s, for example:

“‘Regular’ and ‘Original’ prices are offering prices that may not have resulted in actual sales, and some ‘Original’ prices may not have been in effect during the past 180 days,” it read (emphasis added).

Before you click the buy button on what seems to be a good deal, make sure you look for the same product at other retailers. Don’t trust the retailer to give you an honest “sale.”

McDonald’s Offers Budgeting Tips for Hungry, Cold, Naked, Overworked Employees Who Walk Everywhere

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On the McDonald’s “Practical Money Skills” website, which was surely created with the best of intentions, the fast-food company offers a sample budget to show its employees how to make ends meet on a McDonald’s paycheck — as long as they are also getting another paycheck. That’s not even a joke. According to Robyn Pennacchia at Death and Taxes, here’s how much you would have to work to fit into the budget:

Yeah– now, when I first saw that, I assumed that the top line was for a part-time McDonald’s employee. Then I got out my calculator– that is actually what you would make if you were working full-time at McDonald’s.

Now let’s say that the “second” job that they budget in here (feels like cheating, but OK) is also minimum wage. … That translates to 74 hours a week. That’s almost a whole other full time job.

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