Money in a Minute: Headlines for Feb. 24, 2011

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2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

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30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

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7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

Considering a Fixer-Upper? 15 Ways to Avoid a Money PitGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

20 Tips for Buying a Home in the Best Location, Location, LocationGrow

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

Marijuana Stocks Flaming Out Under TrumpFamily

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

In today's headlines: The government may be heading for a shutdown and gas may be heading to $5 a gallon, but consumer confidence is high and retirement savings are growing.

GOVERNMENT: Government shutdown: What’s at stake

What happens if Democrats and Republicans in Congress keep bickering over the budget? “If lawmakers don’t pass a funding extension by March 4,” CNN reports, “that could mean that government workers would stay home, national parks and museums would close and cleanup at toxic waste sites would stop.”

GAS: If Libyan unrest spreads, gas could reach $5

Right now, the worst of the revolts in Libya aren’t affecting the oil fields. Even so, “Oil prices soared to the highest level in more than two years as violence spread,” USA Today reports. And if it continues? “Gas prices could hit $5 a gallon by peak summer driving season.”

ECONOMY: US consumer confidence jumps to three-year high in February

Despite all the bad news chronicled above, Americans are increasingly optimistic about the future. “An index of US consumer confidence jumped to 70.4 in February, reaching the highest level in three years,” the New York Post reports. “Economists had expected a confidence reading of 66.”

INVESTING: Fidelity says average 401(K) account balance reached 10-year high in 2010

The average 401(K) balance rose to $71,500 last year – an 11 percent jump from 2009. “About two-thirds of the increase in account balances last year was driven by market performance,” Bloomberg reports, “while one-third was attributed to participant action such as contributions.”

CARS: Ford to recall F-150 pickups over air bags

Another week, another recall. “Under government pressure, Ford Motor Co. said Wednesday it will recall nearly 150,000 F-150 pickup trucks to fix air bags that could deploy without warning,” MSNBC reports.

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