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Flying together: Tips for finding adjacent airline seats without paying extra


NEW YORK — On top of the bag fees and other charges, families traveling this summer may have to pay extra just to sit next to one another.

Airlines are reserving a growing number of seats for elite customers or those willing to shell out more money. These seats often — but not always — come with a little extra legroom. The catch: setting these seats aside leaves fewer places for other passengers to sit without paying extra.

That means mom might end up in row 20, dad in row 23 and junior sitting all the way back in row 30, regardless of age. Airlines say their gate agents try to help family members without adjacent seats sit together, especially people flying with small children. Yet there is no guarantee things will work out.

Shrinking luggage: Airline group suggests smaller carry-on bags to free up bins


NEW YORK — Millions of fliers might soon want to buy new carry-on suitcases.

Global airlines have announced a new guideline that recommends shrinking carry-on bags, in an effort to free up space in packed overhead bins.

No-tip restaurant offers food for thought on pay, benefits


PHILADELPHIA — Customers to Girard Brasserie and Bruncherie might be in for a surprise when they read the note attached to their bills: “Tipping is not necessary.”

That’s food for thought in an industry where servers depend on gratuities for the bulk of their pay. Yet staff at the French-inspired restaurant earn about $13 an hour, and they get sick time, vacation days and health insurance.

Turn your junk to cash in a weekend


The Wall Street Journal has estimated the annual yield from garage sales to be around $2 billion. Isn’t it about time for you to claim your share of that jackpot?

It’s summer and I can’t think of a better time to clean out the drawers, closets and disaster areas that your family members are always complaining about. You need to turn that clutter into cash.

Cash or plastic? Payment methods see generational shift


Cash is no longer king.

More than half of all Americans say they have gone an entire week without paying for anything with cash or coin, according to a new survey of 800 adults conducted by Rasmussen Reports.

How to have a mower that’s still working in 15 years


Whatever kind of lawn mower you have, proper maintenance should help keep it going a decade or more. Consumer Reports, working to improve the lives of consumers by driving marketplace change, offers the most common ways to have your machine humming.

Gasoline degrades and gums up over time. Ethanol in the gas can compound the problem by degrading rubber and plastic parts and coating linkages.

Ready to ‘cut the cord’ and save some money? Here’s how


With new Internet-based video-viewing alternatives springing up almost weekly, an estimated 1.5 million dissatisfied cable and satellite-TV subscribers this year will “cut the cord.” An additional 2.4 million will downgrade their service, according to a recent survey by Digitalsmiths.

Big brands like HBO, CBS, Dish Network, Sony, Showtime, Apple and Verizon are jumping into the fray with Web-delivered subscription-TV services, joining biggies Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video, now in two of every five U.S. homes.

5 Spot: Gather ideas, ask questions before you hire a landscaper


Ready to hire help to spruce up your property this year?

Before you dig too deeply into hiring a landscaping contractor, take time to do two things:

GROCERIES: Do labels mean what they say?

Real! Simple! Artisanal! Even old brands such as Progresso have been slapping those words on their product labels lately, notes ShopSmart, the shopping magazine from the publisher of Consumer Reports.

They can give you the impression that a product is higher quality. Or they can make food appear more healthful, according to the Hartman Group, a Washington-based firm that specializes in market research and food trends. And that might get you to choose one product over another and maybe even pay a higher price.

GROCERIES: Five websites that really deliver

If you’ve never bought groceries online — or if you have and found it unsatisfying — now is a great time to give it a try, says ShopSmart, the shopping magazine from the publisher of Consumer Reports.

ShopSmart looked at five national companies. They all let you browse food categories as you would in store aisles or search by keyword or UPC. The trade-offs: Some sites require a minimum purchase, shipping fees can be steep and most offer only dry goods.

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