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Wall Street Journal

Our Reporters Offer Strategies for Saving Time and Money

This year, the news hit home -- literally.

As a weak housing market has mushroomed into a global credit crisis, few have been left untouched in one way or another. Home values shrank. Foreclosures soared. Lenders got tougher on all kinds of borrowing. Volatile financial markets have rattled even the most risk-loving investors. That isn't all. The dollar plunged, making imports (and foreign travel) more expensive. High energy prices drove up the cost of powering and heating your house. Our love affair with cheap imports from China was shaken by reports of lead-tainted toys and other potentially dangerous household goods. And fires, floods, drought and tornadoes bore down on the country with unusual ferocity.

What aspect of your life needs fixing the most? Vote in the Question of the Day.As we enter 2008, many of these concerns persist, making it as important as ever to equip yourself with the knowledge you need to protect yourself. To that end, our reporters have dug deep into their beats to help you navigate this shaky terrain. Modeled on Personal Journal's regular Quick Fix feature, their advice covers a lot of ground, from snagging higher interest rates on your savings to ensuring you get an airport parking spot before you fly. You'll also find advice to help you avoid the increasing threat of identity theft, save better for retirement, and even take off on a road trip abroad.

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Family photo
The Problem: You want to plan a family reunion, but it is hard to organize farflung relatives.

The Fix: Use online resources. At www.myevent.com, you can post a family-reunion Web site that will serve as a communications clearinghouse. Some families use www.SurveyMonkey.com to create surveys that can help come up with a family consensus on dates or locations. If you're thinking of planning a reunion around a popular destination, check out two group-travel sites, www.GroupAbout.com or www.TripHub.com; both offer family-reunion tips and the opportunity to post a home page for your group. Also, see www.reunionsmag.com for resources and tips.

Remember to keep your expectations realistic. Invite everyone, but be aware that it's unlikely that everyone will be able to attend -- and be sure to communicate directly with family members who may not be Web savvy.

--Sue Shellenbarger

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