Who knows more about you than anyone else? The answer may be scary.
The Federal Trade Commission wants Congress to pass a bill that would require data mining companies to reveal more information about themselves, and to let consumers have better access to the data they've collected. These companies compile vast amounts of data about individuals -- what we buy, where we go and what we search for -- and sell it for various marketing purposes. The FTC says the extent of consumer profiling today means "data brokers often know as much -- or even more -- about us than our family and friends."
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%If you've stayed in a hotel recently, you've probably seen the signs encouraging guests to reuse their towels. Well, the Los Angeles Times reports a new study finds that about half us do so in an effort to be environmentally friendly and another 39 percent say they sometimes reuse towels. Business travelers and college students are most likely to do so, while families on vacation are least likely.
In addition to all of its other problems, Detroit needs to tear down 40,000 homes and other dilapidated buildings around the city. A White House task force report says more than 20 percent of the city's building are plagued by blight, and the cost of cleaning up the mess would be at least $850 million.
Here on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gained 69 points on Tuesday, the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rose 51 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) added 11 points to another record high. The Dow starts the day just 40 points shy of its all-time best, but the S&P 500 is still 16 percent away from its 14-year-old record.
Lastly, Italy has found a way to boost its anemic economic growth. The country is overhauling the way it calculates its gross domestic product to include black market activities such as prostitution, illegal drug sales and arms trafficking. USA Today says this could add 1.3 points to GDP this year.
-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.
9 Ways to Live Large
Money Minute: FTC Advocates For More Light on Data Miners
From 1945 to 1964, there was a radio or TV program called "Queen for a Day." This is similar, only it's real life, not a game show. Castlerentals.net allows you to rent castles in Ireland, France and Britain. It can be pricey –- at the time of this writing, one castle started at 7,500 euros ($10,300), with no mention of whether this is a daily, weekend or weekly rate. On one hand, if you have to ask, you probably can't afford it. On the other hand, the Chateau de Montfluery, near Vic-le-Comte, France, costs only 1,200 euros for a weekend. For 14 guests, it might not seem too steep.
This isn't buying a dress, wearing it and returning it, hoping nobody will notice the wine stain. At RenttheRunway.com, customers are encouraged to rent (for four to eight days) designer dresses and accessories, like jewelry and handbags, for a big event and then mail them back in a prepaid envelope. How much cheaper is renting than buying it? It depends on the outfit, but a Hervé Léger dress is retailing for $1,950 –- or you can rent it for $200. A dress by Shoshanna that retails for $385 can be rented for $40.
You can buy and rent islands at PrivateIslandsOnline.com. Yes, most are listed as "price upon request," meaning they're out of reach from the typical middle-class income, but you could rent an island for a night, with some listings going for less than $500.
At HighlandTitles.com, you'll discover that 29.99 pounds can buy a square foot of property in Scotland. Then, because you'll be a land owner (albeit a minor land owner), you can call yourself laird, lord or lady. All of the site's profits, according to the website, go toward protecting Scotland's green space.
No doubt about it, hiring a private jet is squarely in the realm of the rich. But the daily deals at JetSuite.com can be attractive. You'll have to hurry since the deals are for the day of, but on the day this was written, there were three flights available from various locations in California and Nevada. If you wanted, for instance, to fly from Reno, Nevada, across the state to Las Vegas, you could have the entire jet for $536. With four seats, for a family of four, that's arguably cheaper than the airlines – and if you split the cost with friends, you could fly into Vegas in style.
In six cities now (and more on the way), KitchenSurfing.com lets you hire a personal chef. Prices start at $50 per person, which seems about on par with what you might spend at a fancy restaurant -– but you're getting the personal chef in your home. For an anniversary dinner, $50 and up per person seems like a deal.
Get your own personal driver for occasional trips. Car services that send a driver to pick you up are becoming more popular. Uber is probably the best-known of the bunch.
You know how when you book some hotels, especially if you want a good rate, you're locked into paying even if something comes up and you can't go? And you know things do come up sometimes. RoomerTravel.com has created a business model around that. Travelers can buy unused hotel rooms at a discount from hapless travelers who can no longer stay there. According to the company, it's typical to get up to 40 percent off the original booking price. Sample deals at the time this was written: a room at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, which regularly goes for $196 a night, was listed at $85, and a $563 room at St. Ermin's Hotel in London was $180.
If you can't live large from a financial perspective, you could approach the concept from a literal perspective and just feel large -– by buying a tiny house. One of the smaller listings on TinyHouseListings.com is just 120 square feet, yet it has "a loft, full-sized bed, working full-sized toilet and shower." You won't feel rich, but you will feel eco-friendly, which along with the price is the selling point for living in such a tiny home (this one's in Knoxville, Tennessee). That said, you'll want to go elsewhere if there is a hurricane or tornado coming. Or maybe any strong breeze.