Friday Grab Bag – 7/10/2009

Tiny house mania!

Know anyone who watched Lord of the Rings that didn’t absolutely fall in love with those little hobbit houses? Neither do I. Whether home to three bears or seven dwarves, small cottages have been captivating our imaginations for years. Less money and less maintenance, a tiny house can mean no more mortgage or it can serve as a frugal secondary home. Tiny House Blog is dedicated to showing the gamut of styles and construction methods. Now, if I could just fit through the door…

Free 7-Eleven Slurpee Day! (and sign a petition while you’re there)

Tomorrow is July 11, and you know what that means…it’s annual free Slurpee day at 7-Eleven! While you’re there, check to see if there’s a petition near the cash register. 6,300 7-Elevens are asking customers to sign their names to help stop sky-high credit card merchant fees. Convenience stores have seen a 10.5% hike in merchant transaction fees since 2007. These fees mean that the merchant may actually be losing money when we use our cards to make small purchases. Of course, merchants tend to pass these fees onto us in the form of higher-priced goods, so lower transaction fees would benefit all of us.

A new blend of credit card

A credit union in Texas has put a new spin on the boring, old credit card by mixing two types of credit: revolving and non-revolving. Credit union members will need at least a 720 credit score to qualify for this Onyx card, though. Here’s how it works: Each card comes with up to a $30,000 line of credit. The first $10,000 acts just like a traditional credit card, in which you pay back at least the minimum each month. Any balance you accrue above $10,000 is treated as non-revolving credit, and is due in full each month. It’s like if an Amex charge card and a Visa credit card got together and, well, you know… This new breed of card is also subject to routine spending limit updates, based on “an advanced behavioral scoring system” developed specifically for the credit union.

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Banks lend 38% less than last year

In case you didn’t know it, banks are doling out fewer credit cards this year – 38% fewer, to be exact. The latest numbers from Equifax are in, and show that banks have only issued 9.8 million cards in the first four months of 2009, as opposed to the nearly 16 million issued in the first four months of 2008. Also, the average limit on new cards issued has fallen 3% to only $4,594.

Really smart ID thieves may be able to extrapolate your SSN

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have cracked the SSN code, more or less, proving that it is possible to extrapolate some portion of some SSNs based on date and place of birth. There’s a lot of big “if’s” that have to happen before you should be worried though. First, identity thieves would have to learn the algorithms that can be used to determine SSNs. Second, they would have to have your birth data. And third, the algorithms are not nearly 100% accurate, at best yielding only the first five digits of an SSN.

Piggy bank sales are up

Forever consumers at heart, we Americans simply cannot start to save money without the appropriate accessories. Piggy bank and coin purse sales are way up, and manufacturers of digital coin counting devices are having trouble keeping up with demand. I’m all for having a cute place to stash your cash, but what about a frugal, homemade option instead?

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