The Most Popular MainStreet Stories of 2011

  • And the Winners Are…

    Here at MainStreet, we cover everything that would be of interest to, well, Main Street. In 2011 we took a hard look at airline fees, explored the ramifications of divorce and remarriage, and investigated how a bad neighbor can hurt your home value. Readers made some of these articles more popular than others, and as the year ends, we’ve decided to take a good look at the ones that readers really responded to. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    January: The Dirty Little Secret of Car Rentals
  • January: The Dirty Little Secret of Car Rentals

    If you’re traveling for the holiday season and need to rent a car, you might be tempted to buy the extra insurance to make sure you’re covered in the event of an accident. But in most cases, you’d be throwing your money away. The Dirty Little Secret of Car Rentals looked at the fact that most people already have car insurance policies that cover their rentals, and thus have no need to spend the extra $26 a day to insure the car. Next time you’re planning to rent a car, check your own insurance policy first to see if you really need to buy extra insurance. Photo Credit: www.bluewaikiki.com
    February: What a Second Marriage Does to Your Money
  • February: What a Second Marriage Does to Your Money

    When it comes to marriage, sometimes the second time’s the charm. Unfortunately, divorcing and then walking down the aisle a second time can bring up some tricky financial considerations. For instance, who gets to claim the kids as a deduction after a marriage falls apart? Should you sign up a prenuptial agreement when marrying someone who has children from a previous marriage? What a Second Marriage Does to Your Money navigates the thorny financial issues that arise when you take a second shot at married life. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    March: 5 True Tales of Getting Out of Debt
  • March: 5 True Tales of Getting Out of Debt

    If you’re buried in credit card debt, it might seem like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. But Americans as a whole are doing a better job of managing and paying off debt, with default rates down significantly in 2011. Back in March we took an early look at a few case studies with 5 True Tales of Getting Out of Debt. The article was full of inspirational stories, including that of one man who was buried in more than $10,000 in debt, declared bankruptcy, recovered and later became a credit counselor. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    April: 5 Airline Fees We’d Happily Pay
  • April: 5 Airline Fees We’d Happily Pay

    Airlines made more than $4 billion in fees in 2010, charging for everything from checked bags to booking your ticket online. It got so bad that in November, a senator introduced a bill that would do away with baggage fees altogether, a change we’d gladly support. That doesn’t mean that we oppose fees altogether, especially if we’re getting a little something extra for the charge. In April we proposed 5 Airline Fees We’d Happily Pay, a list that included charges for priority takeoff and buffet-style meals. Hey, we can dream, can’t we? Photo Credit: Getty Images
    May: 7 Neighbors That Can Hurt Your Home
  • May: 7 Neighbors That Can Hurt Your Home

    We all know the three rules of real estate: location, location, location. But location is also a matter of who lives in your area, and it turns out the people down the street can be a real drag on your home value. 7 Neighbors That Can Hurt Your Home includes such obvious culprits as landfills and power plants, but also looks at the surprising impact of sex offenders, closed schools and even a neighbor with a brown lawn. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    June: 10 Health Issues Plaguing Boomers
  • June: 10 Health Issues Plaguing Boomers

    First, the good news: If you’re part of the boomer generation, chances are retirement is in your near future. The bad news? You have a bunch of health problems to worry about. From high blood pressure to eye problems, here are the health issues that retirement-age Americans – and by extension, the American healthcare system – will need to worry about. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    July: How to Shop for a New Car
  • July: How to Shop for a New Car

    If there’s one thing we love to do here at MainStreet, it’s to tell you how to shop smarter. At various points we’ve looked at how to shop at Costco, how to get a deal at a pawn shop and even how to get a cheap Christmas tree. One of our more popular articles looked at how to shop for a new car, in which we headed down to a car dealership and got expert advice on everything from negotiating price to doing your homework on financing options. Photo Credit: LandRover.com
    August: The Plastic Ceiling: Credit Cards You Can’t Have
  • August: The Plastic Ceiling: Credit Cards You Can’t Have

    Want to impress your date by whipping out an American Express Black Centurion card? The Plastic Ceiling looks at this and other cards, which are limited to lavish spenders willing to pay big initiation fees in return for luxurious benefits. While the American Express Black is the cream of the crop, there are also cards like the Ritz Carlton Premium Rewards Card, which provides free upgrades and concierge service at the hotel chain, plus perks like admittance to airport lounges. Photo Credit: Clemson
    September: 5 Items You Pay for, Then Never Use
  • September: 5 Items You Pay for, Then Never Use

    5 Items You Pay for, Then Never Use looks at those notorious impulse buys that collect dust in the basement while we struggle to pay off the resulting credit card bill. Take exercise equipment, for instance, which often goes unused after we abandon our lofty New Year’s resolution. Keep that in mind before you drop $500 on a treadmill next month. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    October: 5 Things You Think Work, But Actually Don’t
  • October: 5 Things You Think Work, But Actually Don’t

    Have you ever found yourself jabbing at the “close door” button on an elevator, wondering why it isn’t working? Well, we have bad news: On many modern elevators, it’s not actually supposed to work, having been installed solely for the use of mechanics who need a key to operate it. Those dummy buttons are one of the things included in 5 Things You Think Work, But Actually Don’t, which looks at the “placebos” that we’re deceived into using on an everyday basis. When you’re finished reading the article, you may find yourself feeling a little embarrassed about how much time you’ve spent pressing the button for the crosswalk signal. Photo Credit: Quinn Dombrowski
    November: 8 Thoughtful Gifts That Require No Thought
  • November: 8 Thoughtful Gifts That Require No Thought

    Back in November, MainStreet readers had one thing on their mind: getting gifts that look “thoughtful” without actually putting any effort into the selection process. Suggestions include a gift certificate that’s accompanied by personalized purchase recommendations and a subscription to a transplant’s old hometown paper. It’s too late to buy such a gift for Christmas, but keep this in mind for upcoming birthdays and the 2012 holiday season. Photo Credit: Rhett Sutphin
    December: 10 Things You Should Have Bought in 2011
  • December: 10 Things You Should Have Bought in 2011

    Before you start looking ahead to 2012, how about a regretful look back at all you should have done this year? 10 Things You Should Have Bought in 2011 examines many of the products that were phased out in 2011, from Flip cameras to Kobo e-readers. We’re already feeling a little nostalgic. Photo Credit: Cisco
    Special Mention: 2011: The Year Main Street Americans Fought Back
  • Special Mention: 2011: The Year Main Street Americans Fought Back

    Things haven’t been so rosy on Main Street for the past few years, so perhaps it wasn’t surprising that the middle class began to show real signs of agitation in 2011 and fight for their rights as consumers, taxpayers and homeowners. The Occupy Wall Street movement gave voice to widespread frustration about income inequality, while a separate movement, Bank Transfer Day, saw Americans fight back against perceived abuses by large banks. Main Street wasn’t always victorious – income inequality still exists, and Netflix never did reverse course on that price hike – but it was still nice to see consumers start to stand up for themselves. We looked at the year of the angry consumer last month in the piece 2011: The Year Main Street Americans Fought Back. Photo Credit: Paul Stein
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