UPDATE

March 3, 2006

On finance and practice

Interest-bearing checking may be no bargain

For the wealthy, spas are hot, cookware is not

Best car bets for young drivers

Three-quarters of students between the ages of 16 and 22 have their own car, and 82 percent of the vehicles were bought used, says a survey conducted for AutoExtra.com, a used-car listing service. A little more than half of those cars cost under $10,000, with parents picking up the bill 51 percent of the time. AutoExtra.com put together its list of 10 top cars costing less than $10,000:
2000 Chevrolet Blazer2003 Ford Ranger2003 Ford Taurus LX 2001 Honda Civic DX2003 Hyundai Elantra GLS 2001 Mercury Cougar 2001 Nissan Altima XE 2003 Suzuki Aerio S2002 Toyota Corolla CE 1998 Toyota 4Runner

Watch those low-rate cell phone plans

Cell phone companies are rolling out more prepaid wireless plans, with prices as low as 10 cents a minute, but watch out for daily access fees, rapid expiration periods, and other strings, says Consumer Action. Verizon Wireless' Inpulse plan offers rates as low as a dime per minute, but you'll also pay 99 cents a day in access fees even if you don't make or receive any calls, a $20 phone setup fee, and maybe even a $35 activation fee. Alltel also has a $35 activation fee for its prepaid wireless plan, while Cingular and Movida levy daily access fees on certain plans.

Many plans also have expiration dates and require you to buy a set number of minutes each month. Worse, if the plan expires, most companies will shut your account and take away your phone number.