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I recently overheard a Niagara Falls consumer lamenting the disappearance of layaway at a discount department store. "Look at all these nice coats," she said, sorting through a rack of winter jackets displayed well before the first flakes of winter had flown. "They really screwed us up when they got rid of layaway." Looking into her tired eyes, I saw …

It seems more and more people are ditching their land line and relying on a cell phone instead. My sister swears it's a terrible idea, and feels a tremendous amount of security by hanging onto her home phone. I use just a cell phone. Is this a smart way to cut back on costs? Are there benefits to having both lines of communication? Or, are duplicate phone lines just a …

I love zombie movies and other types of apocalyptic films, mostly because I love watching the scenes where people frantically stockpile resources in the face of the unknown. Most people fondly remember the movie "Red Dawn" for the scene where C. Thomas Howell screams "Wolverines!" The part I remember best is when they are rummaging through their par…

MoneySmart tip:The coffee wars are heating up, so to speak:From now until Nov. 11, Dunkin' Donuts is offering - between 2 and 5 p.m. on weekdays - a 99 cent 12-ounce latte. And if you buy a medium hot coffee or larger any time of the day, you can get an egg and cheese sandwich for just 99 cents.These "value offers," as they are called in the biz, follow Starbuc…

Automakers' sales fell sharply in September, due in part to the spreading credit crisis. Some dealers around the country say they are hurting because customers can't get loans, due to tighter restrictions from lenders. But some local dealers say the problem hasn't really affected them; they say consumers' lack of confidence in the economy is a more likely the cause of a sa…

A survey by Sun Life Financial shows that half of the U.S. workers plan to stay on the job past the traditional retirement age of 67, not just because of financial needs, but because they like working. Most of the 1,515 survey respondents said the want to stay working to keep mentally active. Many also said they want to earn more money to live well. What are your retirem…

National Public Radio commentator Daniel Pinkwater calls it the "Best-kept secret online." And he's right. The secret is buying cheap eyeglasses on the Internet. Why spend hundreds of dollars in a traditional bricks-and-mortar eyeglass store when you can buy the same product online for a fraction of the price? Why the markup? Someone's got to pay for the sto…

Many genetically engineered animals sold as food will not be labeled as such, according to proposed rules from the Food and Drug Administration. The Consumers Union, a consumer protection agency, finds the lack of labels "incomprehensible," considering packages of beef, poultry and seafood could be made from animals whose DNA has been altered by animals of an en…

Another day, another corporate bailout? As strapped consumers watch failing corporations receive billions of dollars in assistance, some are wondering, "Where is MY bailout?" As people lose their homes in record numbers and are forced to make tough economic decisions, consumers are looking for a similar safety net. Is one there? Do you feel the government's de…

Buffalo was recently ranked the  No. 1 mid-sized arts destination by AmericanStyle magazine. Do you feel your high-culture entertainment dollar stretches all that far? How do we compare with other cities? Where do you feel you get the most for your money? ---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Do you gamble at the casino or play the lottery? How about poker with your friends? Do you feel it's worth spending a few dollars in hopes of a big return? Is it an economical source of entertainment? How much is too much? ---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Are you thinking about doing some early Christmas shopping or going to the Macy's parade in New York City? I wondered what are the cheapest ways to travel  to the Big Apple. Prices range anywhere from $2 round-trip on Neon Bus to $189 on JetBlue. Check out the price differences in the Comparison Shopper column in Monday's MoneySmart section.  And if you have any …

Where is your favorite place to spend a $10 bill in the city? How could you make 10 bucks last an entire day? Could you spend the day with less? ---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Ever overpay for a hairstyle you could have done better yourself--in the dark? Ever do your highlights at home to save money, only to have to pay someone to fix it later? We want to hear your hair and beauty horror stories. Are there steps you take now to prevent them from happening again? Do you have advice so others don't make the same bad moves? Have a great stylist to…