Out of Gas: Most Americans Can’t Afford New Cars

A car isn’t a way to get from point A to point B, it’s freedom. The promise of an automobile goes beyond the thrill of the open road or being able to get a late-night pint of ice cream when you want. With a car, you’ve arrived. And with a car, you can always leave. Social mobility, a new life in a new town, used to be just a black ribbon of interstate away.

but that freedom is threatened as a new study finds in only 1 of the top 25 U.S. metro areas can median-income households afford an average-priced new car: D.C.

The couple that pays each other to put the kids to bed

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Two game theory lovers get married.

I found and profiled this really cool Portland couple who have a unique twist on marital bliss. They pay each other to do the chores they don’t want to do.

They put their hands behind their back and think of how much they’d pay the other to do it. Then, at the same time, they show that number on their fingers. Whoever has the lowest bid does the job and gets paid their bid to do it.

After this story ran, Fox had them on and the story got picked up by GQ, and noticed on Digg and Hacker News.

Target breach cheat sheet - what little you can do to protect yourself

It was bad enough when Target announced on Dec. 19 that 40 million credit and debit accounts were nabbed 11/27-12/15. Friday the retailer announced that personal data for 70 million people was also taken. ( http://www.nbcnews.com/business/target-says-stolen-info-data-breach-hit-70-million-people-2D11894083 ) The heisted info included names, home addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. That 70 million data set was not necessarily limited only to customers who shopped at Target during the previously disclosed holiday theft period. The purloined data makes the payment data potentially more valuable on the black market if it’s acquired by entities with the ability and interest to combine the sets. They can even add to individual dossiers built from warehoused data stolen in previous breaches. With more complete personal information, stolen credit card info could be used at more online stores that require fuller profiles. Absent social security numbers, the odds of your identity being stolen and used to open a loan or mortgage in this way are slimmer, but more disquieting. You can cancel a credit card, but you can’t cancel your identity.

Headlines say “up to 110 million” people. You’ll notice that 110 million is 70 million “people” plus 40 million “accounts.” Of that 40 million, some were likely the same people using different cards. Of that 70 million, some were likely part of the 40 million. It’s a venn diagram. How close the two circles are is anyone’s guess. That’s why there’s a range.

Target says they get 30 million customers per week. Times that by the 2.5 weeks the crooks had acess and you get 75 million, plus whatever the Black Friday/holiday boost is. Now the numbers start adding up. (This also means, fun fact, that 1/10 of Americans shop at Target every week. Walmart is even higher.)

Target ALSO said the 70 million included data obtained during the course of business, but not necessarily limited to to 11/27-12/15 timeframe…. parse away.

Consumer tips - what you can do to protect yourself:
* Monitor your accounts and report anything fishy.
* Take advantage of Target’s free id theft monitoring, details to be announced next week. Not that it will protect you any more than a fire alarm stops fires but at least you can try to take steps before it goes too far.
* But beware phishing emails claiming to be from Taget. Scammers can jump on this and create fake sites pretending to be, say, a free id theft monitoring site but actually try to steal your social and other info. Best to wait for official word and only follow links found by typing target.com into the browser and navigating to whatever help area they eventually set up.
* Cancel your card and get a new number if you shopped at Target 11/27-12/15 and would rather avoid fighting fraud charges at any point down the road. Reports indicate the most lucrative of the cards stolen in the breach are going for over $100 on the internet underground. Now, you won’t be liable for any fraud charges and all the vulnerable card numbers are going to go on bank watch lists but why wait for someone else to live up to their promise to protect you?
* Pray. Data privacy is dead. Fiercly guard your PIN (always swipe debit cards as credit), social, debit, bank and brokerage accounts, and hope that no hacker ever decides to single you out. Not to be a drama queen, but your data is out there, just waiting to be collated with malice.