By Nina Smith

Originally published on Advocate.com October 09 2009 10:00 AM ET

A watchdog website exposes deals too good to be true.

We all know someone (not us, mind you) who’s been burned by overlooking those “important change in terms” notices because crucial details are often buried in the fine print. But missing a key point in the terms and conditions of a contract, purchase agreement, or online scheme can cost you money. That’s why each Monday, MousePrint.org, a consumer advocacy site, features a new example of fine print gone awry by casting light on offending companies and advertisers. The site also shines a spotlight on products that are dwindling in size but don’t go down in price, a sneaky way for manufacturers to give you less for your money in trying times. The site’s food and groceries section has logged reports about matters as varied as shrinking toilet paper rolls and packaging changes for orange juice and ice cream. Taking the time to read the fine-print analysis at Mouse Print can save you money whether you’re grocery shopping or signing up with a new cable provider. It pays to subscribe to its free weekly newsletter. MousePrint.org

The Loan Arranger
Who needs a sugar daddy? Borrowing money from a loved one can be strictly business.

With mortgage lenders demanding 20% down, it’s more challenging than ever to qualify for your first home loan. And that dream vacation you’ve been saving for won’t become a reality while you’re paying off that college loan and maintaining the exclusive gym membership. You need a helping hand. Virgin Money, an online loan facilitator launched by Richard Branson, offers a businesslike way to borrow money from someone near and dear. The site will administer billing and collection details and provide documents that frame the transaction as strictly business. It also makes the loan legit so you can deduct the mortgage interest.
 
Virgin Money offers two methods: Handshake Basic ($99), which provides the essential steps to guarantee repayment of a private loan between you and your family or friends, or Handshake Plus ($199 + $9 per payment), which offers electronic fund transfers, e-mail reminders, online account access, a professional accuracy review, and year-end reports. VirginMoneyUS.com

Holiday Gift Guide: Fellowes Powershred P-58Cs
While your romantic side might shudder at giving a paper shredder as a gift, your nearest and dearest’s inner accountant will forgive the practicality. Repairing the aftermath of identity fraud can cost individuals thousands of dollars in lost wages and legal help, so if you love his current credit score, buy him a paper shredder. $100. Officemax.com