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The Latest Bridal Trend: Renting Your Gown


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For traditional brides, "carrying something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue" has long been a way of inviting good fortune and prosperity into a marriage. But what if the borrowed something is the big white dress?

A host of new retail outlets are offering all of the glitz and glamour of a fairy tale wedding gown experience, but with a return-by date akin to Cinderella's famous midnight curfew.

Ladies and gentleman, you may now rent the bridal gown.

"When we recently launched Little White Dress rentals for brides, we received orders for events the next day," said Kelsey Doorey, whose new e-retail site Vow to Be Chic, launched with rentals for bridesmaids and then quickly expanded its offerings. "It's clear that women are looking for ways to make the experience more affordable and convenient without sacrificing style or dress quality."

Popular designers featured on the Vow to be Chic site include Jenny Yoo, Nicole Miller, Jill Jill Stuart, Tadashi Shoji, Watters, Theia, Joanna August, LulaKate, Alvina Valenta, Jim Hjelm and Swoon.

And it's not alone in its business model.

With an increasing number of women shifting away from preserving gowns for family heirlooms, many of today's brides are more interested in saving some money on the way from the boutique to the chapel.

Longstanding designer rental website Rent the Runway, which offers 4- and 8-day rentals of upscale gowns by designers ranging from Badgley Mischka to Monique Lhiullier, recently debuted a bridal category after its brick-and-mortar store in the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas saw a steady stream of women shopping for their wedding day.

"I think some women value the experience over the ownership of their gown," said a representative for Rent the Runway. "If they already use Spotify or Uber, services where you’re not necessarily owning something versus experiencing it, they will also feel comfortable with renting a wedding gown."

Plus, the savings of renting are not insignificant.

A sleek, long-sleeved, cocktail-length wedding dress by Dsquared that would normally retail for approximately $830 can be rented for $125 on Rent the Runway. And at Washington, D.C.-based bridal rental atelier Borrowing Magnolia, a Jenny Packham "Aspen Gown" featuring a draping silhouette, meticulous bead work and an illusion lace back that would typically sell for $5,000 before alterations, can be rented for $1,250.

Those discounts leave lots of funds still in the wedding budget for food, music or other desirable decor elements. And if your groom isn't planning to keep his morning jacket, proponents say there's no reason why his betrothed can't follow suit with her tulle.

"Guys have been renting tuxes forever," Doorey told ABC News. "It finally dawned on me: Why can't women enjoy the same concept?"

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Why a Former Letter Carrier Says Drones Will Never Replace Postal Workers


Credit: Hill Street Studios/Blend Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Google, Amazon and Domino's Pizza are big fans. The FAA is feeling it out. But one person clearly not a part of "Team Drone" is Matty Rose, a 70-year-old Vietnam veteran and retired mail carrier.

Google announced Wednesday that it tested drone delivery of items like dog treats, vaccines and candy to farmers in Australia. Though companies like the search giant are figuring out the legalities of FAA rules regarding commercial drone use, the realities of food and product deliveries by small aircraft appear to be closer than ever before.

Though no companies have declared they will replace mail delivery, Rose says you can count him out of the fan club if they ever decide to do so when it comes to packages and letters.

"I don’t think letter carriers can be replaced. Everything else can be automated or bar-coded to every state for the same price," he said. "But somebody has to deliver it."

A former union officer for the National Association of Letter Carriers, Rose delivered mail for more than 12 years in Hollywood, Florida, north of Miami, after his military service in 1966. He is now the president of Nalcrest Trustees, a 500-unit retirement community in Central Florida for former letter carriers.

"The Postal Service is part of the fabric of this nation," said Darleen Reid, a spokeswoman for the United States Postal Service. "Postal employees make a difference in every community across the country."

Here are some of the reasons mail carriers may be better than drones:

1. Drones can't cheer up lonely residents.

"Everybody’s working and busy these days, but in most neighborhoods, especially with people who are seniors, letter carriers are sometimes the only people they get to meet during the course of the day," Rose said. "Letter carriers keep an eye on the elderly and the neighborhood.

2. Mail carriers have saved lives.


"Letter carriers are saving people’s lives and they can stop crimes," he said.

Exhibit A: One mailman in Akron, Ohio, Keith McVey, is credited with saving three lives, including saving a drowning girl from a lake, helping a teen who jumped off a bridge on a snowy day and performing CPR on an unconscious man.

Reid said that in 2013 the Postal Service recognized 262 "employee heroes."

3. Drones can't be Santa Claus.


Since 1912, postal employees, charities and individual and corporate volunteers have helped children and families in need experience the magic of the holiday season by answering letters to Santa.

4. Mail carriers won't drop packages on your head.


"A drone could hover over your head. I don’t know if people would trust drones," whereas many Americans would prefer the "personal touch" of a letter carrier, said Rose. "Something about delivering a letter is special. Look at what we have now. Drones dropping packages on your head. You certainly don’t want that."

5. Your postal worker knows everything about you, hopefully, in a good way.


"The letter carrier knows everything about you: the kind of mail you get, your hobbies, magazines and who you’re fooling around with," Rose said.

6. Drones can't hold food drives.


Reid said the Postal Service and the National Association of Letter Carriers held the largest one-day food drive in the nation. In 2013, more than one million pounds of food were collected. More than one billion pounds of food have been collected since the drive began in 1993.

7. Postal service workers will take a dog bite for you.


Medical expenses from dog attacks cost the Postal Service more than $1.4 million last year, based on data through June 2013. Each year in May, the Postal Service supports National Dog Bite Prevention Week. The campaign raises awareness concerning animal attacks. Last year, 4,734 postal employees were attacked in more than 2,200 cities.

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Wall Street Rebounds from Thursday Losses, Google Testing Drone Delivery


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After a day of losses, Wall Street returned to its form from the beginning of the week, with all three major indices posting gains and the S&P 500 posting a record close.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 17098.38, up 18.81 from Thursday.

The Nasdaq gained 22.57, finished the day at 4580. 27, while the S&P 500 climbed 6.62, finishing the day at a new high close of 2003.36. The S&P 500 finished the month up 3.8 percent, its best August in 14 years.

The market gains come after Google, earlier this week, announced that it is working on a system that would allow the company to delivery goods using drones. Other companies, including Amazon and Dominos Pizza have previously tested similar drone delivery systems.

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Thanks to the Ice Bucket Challenge, ALS Association Reaches $100 Million in Donations


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association announced on Friday that through approximately one month of Ice Bucket Challenge donations, they have received over $100 million in charitable contributions.

"The ALS Association is tremendously grateful for all of the gifts by individuals, corporations and foundations," a statement on the ALSA's website read. Individual donations to the cause have ranged from less than one dollar to $200,000.

"People have responded with such generosity it is truly remarkable," President and CEO of the ALSA, Barbara Newhouse said. "We couldn't be more appreciative." She noted that the donations will "help fuel our fight against ALS in ways that were never before possible."

The ALSA also acknowledged the individuals and corporations who donated in the highest tier, between $100,000 and $200,000. Included in that list were actors Leonardo DiCaprio and David Spade; John Legere, President and CEO of T-Mobile US; and Micky Arison, Chairman of Carnival Cruise Lines and the National Basketball Association's Miami Heat. The ALSA also recognized corporate gifts from Wells Fargo, Spring, The Parsons Foundation, Carnival Cruise Lines and the New York Yankees.

During the same time period last year, the ALS Association says that it received $2.8 million, meaning the ice bucket challenge has spurred a 3500 percent increase in contributions.

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New Citi Credit Card Rewards You for Paying Down Your Debt


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  Citi is introducing its first credit card that rewards customers for paying off their debts.

The Double Cash credit card offers an unlimited one percent cash back on purchases, plus another one percent once you pay your credit card bill for that expense. While some credit cards offer five percent rewards, these are typically opt-in quarterly promotions. Citi's Double Cash two percent rewards does not require any additional enrollment.

Once you earn $25 in rewards, customers can choose to receive their cash in a statement credit, gift card or a check. Another feature of the Double Cash card is a free pass on your first late fee, if you forget to pay your credit card bill.

"This looks like a simple straightforward reward card with a benefit everyone can use: cash. As long as you can pay your bills in full each month you can definitely come out ahead," said Gerri Detweiler, credit card expert with Credit.com.

And with all Citi cards, customers can register to sign up for Citi Price Rewind, which refunds the price difference on purchases you've made within 60 days, with the exception of tickets, and certain large ticket items like jewelry and boats.

Detweiler said the two percent cash back on all purchases with no limit makes Double Cash an "attractive" cash-back reward card. In Credit.com's most recent analysis, Cash-Back Credit Cards in America, the number one card was Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express Card, which also offers 2 percent unlimited cash back.

Bank of America has offered a card that rewards customers with $25 each quarter when they pay more than the minimum balance, Detweiler notes.

The best way to use Citi's Double Cash card would be to pay it in full, Detweiler said.

"You get the reward whether you pay in full or not. If you carry a balance I'd suggest looking for a low-rate card, or even a personal loan, rather than a reward card," she said.

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Best Labor Day Deals This Weekend


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Summer is coming to an end but the cooler weather heralds the beginning of some of the best sales of the year. First up: Labor Day weekend’s big bargains.

Ashley Lutz of the website Business Insider says shoppers should be on the lookout for washers and dryers, bicycles, mattresses, and clothing that will take people out of the summer and into fall and winter.

Lutz explained why washers and dryers and vacuum cleaners tend to be available at such good prices this year, saying: "A lot of retailers are clearing out their merchandise and they're going to start offering the new models for the holidays...so they want to clear out that merchandise now to make way for the new models."

Here's a list of some of the weekend's sales:

  • Abercrombie & Fitch is offering everything in stores and online for up to 60 percent off. They’ll also have jeans for $39.
  • Shop Gap.com for up to 40 percent off select items today and tomorrow, and get 40 percent off your entire in-store and online purchases through Tuesday. Online shoppers must use the code DAY.
  • Banana Republic is offering discounts of up to 40 percent off through Tuesday.

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Cheapest Labor Day Gas Prices Since 2010: Forecast


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Americans behind the wheel may get some relief in their wallet this weekend, as Labor Day gas prices are forecasted to reach the lowest holiday levels since 2010, according to a study by GasBuddy.

The price drop is part of a decrease that began in July and will likely continue through the autumn, according to the gas price tracking company.

The average national gas price is $3.45 for a gallon of regular, according to the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration's weekly report released on Monday. That price is about two cents cheaper from last week, and nearly 10 cents cheaper from a year ago.

Regions that source gasoline from the U.S. Gulf Coast, which GasBuddy says accounts for more than 51 percent of American refinery capacity, will likely see the cheapest gas prices.

However, there are some areas that will still have to pay average or higher prices. States around the Great Lakes may get the short end of the stick due to price adjustments at their regional refineries.

Geopolitical tensions such as violence in the Middle East and uncertainty about long-term Russian energy supplies have not altered the oil supply yet, according to GasBuddy analyst Patrick DeHaan.

It helps that refineries have operated with few problems this summer and rising domestic oil production is putting downward pressure on oil and thus gasoline prices, he said.

The lack of major hurricanes, which generally propel oil prices higher, is another factor he said.

"The good news for motorists doesn’t end there: the conclusion of Labor Day weekend also brings summer driving season to a close, and demand drops off, easing prices," DeHaan said.

Much of the U.S. also will switch back to winter gasoline in mid-September, which should also put downward pressure on pump prices as winter gasoline is cheaper to produce, he said.

Parts of the country may already notice isolated instances of prices as low as $2.99 a gallon, he said, such as Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi.

DeHaan predicts that the national average this fall will drop to around $3.30 to $3.39 a gallon, with a small chance of even $3.20 a gallon, meaning some states will see averages under $2.99 a gallon.

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Bud Light Donates $500K to Descend on Town, Council Approves


Anheuser-Busch(CRESTED BUTTE, Colo.) -- One small mountain town in Colorado is apparently "up for whatever."

The town council in Crested Butte, Colorado, approved a special permit allowing Bud Light to take over the town for a three-day event "of unexpected fun," ABC affiliate KMGH-TV in Denver reported Thursday.

Bud Light, one of Anheuser-Busch's beer brands, doubled its original donation for the town to $500,000. The event will turn the town into a fictitious one: Whatever, USA.

"Ever since we were first approached by Bud Light earlier this summer, we've been impressed with the creativity and level of detail they've put into the planning process for Whatever, USA,” Crested Butte Mayor Aaron Huckstep said in a statement released by the beer brand. "This is going to be an incredible event for our community that will help bring the beauty of Crested Butte to 1,000 new visitors."

Crested Butte was selected because of "its breathtaking natural beauty and colorful cast of characters," according to a statement from Bud Light.

The plan had its critics. One resident, former Colorado Sen. Tim Wirth, called the originally proposed $250,000 donation a "paltry and insulting sum."

"My own view is that this is truly an inappropriate function for a town that has built its reputation so carefully," Wirth told ABC News. "It should cost them a pretty penny and they won’t even notice it."

Bud Light's "UpForWhatever" ad campaign began during the Super Bowl, in which random people on the street, seemingly between the ages of 21 and 35, are whisked off to celebrity-laden adventures. In Bud Light commercials for the town of Whatever, USA, there's a fake, bearded mayor.

For this specific campaign in Colorado, the company will select 1,000 Bud Light fans across the United States who auditioned with a 10-second video explaining why they should be flown into Whatever, USA. Winners will be notified 48 hours before the trip.

The audition deadline is next Thursday and more than 150,000 people have applied so far.

The proposed plans include street performers, a parade, music, dancing, closing off the local Big Mine Ice Arena and, of course, lots of Bud Light.

"There are a lot of different opinions in the town," town manager Ted Crossett said. "There are a lot of people who support it and a lot of people who do not for a variety of reasons."

Crossett's staff report about the weekend describes some of the activities, including "stumble upon events, which are low impact activities such as games, low-key races and curiosities. Most would be open to the public."

"Some would be closed to contestants. Activities would take place on both the street and in private businesses," the Aug. 23 report states.

Prior to the approval, Wirth said the town council has "allowed themselves to be put into this dreadful corner" that has divided the town. He proposed Bud Light pay $10 million to host the event.

David Ochs, executive director at the Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce, argued that the event will bring an unknown amount of extra cash to local businesses and the town coffers, as the high tourist summer season comes to an end.

"Keep locals working, keep paychecks coming and keep everything rolling," he said. "Bud Light has been very good in incorporating retail businesses into the event, but the real benefit might be in the long term: the exposure and marketing of it is what they will see and want to come back to Crested Butte, and that's our bread and butter."

Kevin McGruther, a town resident of 18 years, attended the most recent hearing about the proposed event Monday. He said he wasn't arguing for or against the event, but pointed to the local government's failure to adhere to its typical town-event application process.

"The issue is the transparency, the preemption of the process and disenfranchisement of the community," he told ABC News.


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Hotel Guests Regularly Socked with Extra Fees


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Just when you were getting used to the idea of the airlines charging you extra for things that used to be included in the price of a ticket comes a report about the U.S. hotel industry that is bound to raise more hackles.

NYU professor Bjorn Hanson says that hotels managed to collect over $2 billion from fees and surcharges alone in 2013 and this year they’ll make an even bigger profit.

Hotel guests are regularly socked with resort or amenity fees, early departure fees and early reservation cancellation fees.

In some instances, guests pay for the safe in their rooms that they don’t even use. And of course, there’s the added cost of restocking the minibar.

Just like the airline industry, hotels seem reluctant to raise their prices to reflect market value, which Hanson said would actually eliminate the need for fees.

However, customers seem more willing to put up with the surcharges than pay a little extra for a room even if it costs them more money in the long run.

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Google Working to Develop Drone Delivery Program


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Google is working to develop its own drone delivery program, called Project Wing.

In a video posted to YouTube by the company, Google says it tested the system in Queensland, Australia, and "successfully delivered a first aid kit, candy bars, dog treats, and water" to Australian farmers. The project is still early on in development.

The company states that it anticipates the potential to transport goods "more quickly, safely and efficiently." It is also looking for "partners who can help [them] bring this technology to the world safely."

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IRS Warns Taxpayers of Continued Phone Scams Around the Country


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Internal Revenue Service said on Thursday that taxpayers continue to receive scam phone calls from individuals purporting to be with the agency.

The scammers, the IRS says, may claim that their victims have a refund due, or use another method to attempt to acquire personal information. Callers use fake names and fake IRS identification numbers.

"These telephone scams are being seen in every part of the country," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. He urged people not to fall prey to such calls, noting that the IRS has formal procedures for those individuals with tax issues. "The IRS respects taxpayer rights, and these angry, shake-down calls are not how we do business," Koskinen said.

The IRS also offered Americans five tips to help identify suspicious calls. The agency says that its agents will never call about your taxes prior to mailing you an official notice, demand payment without allowing you the chance to appeal, require a specific method of payment for taxes, ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone or threaten to involve law enforcement groups.

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Investigation into JPMorgan Chase Cyberattack Continues


iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As an investigation into a cyberattack continues, JPMorgan Chase said on Thursday that it had not seen any unusual fraud activity.

One official told ABC News that when a bank as large as JPMorgan is targeted, the investigation looks at the incident not just as a financial crime, but as a potential national security matter.

The bank reaffirmed on Thursday that it would work with the FBI and the Secret Service, who are investigating the cyberattack. JPMorgan is still working to determine who, if anyone, might have been impacted by the attack.

Still, if any JPMorgan customers believe that they have been the victim of fraud, they should contact the bank immediately.

The breach also apparently impacted at least one other financial institution.

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Instagram Dealing with Server Issues, Users Upset


iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Instagram crashed Thursday afternoon, leaving Internet denizens without a place to post pictures of pets and food.

In a tweet, the company acknowledged the problem, saying that they are "experiencing some technical difficulties."

Instagram is experiencing some technical issues. We're aware and working on a fix.

— Instagram (@instagram) August 28, 2014

 

The website "Is It Down Right Now" shows that Instagram's server is not responding.

The social media service's mobile app seemed to properly load older photos, but was unable to reload the service. The web client returned a "500 Internal Server Error" that prevented users from accessing the website.

On Twitter, the phrase "Why is instagram" was briefly trending worldwide, as users sought other means of sharing their selfies and Throwback Thursday photos.

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Wall Street Posts Losses After Hot Start to Week, Labor Department Releases Positive Unemployment Numbers


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After a strong start to the week, Wall Street posted losses on Thursday, while a Labor Department report indicated slightly improved unemployment numbers.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 17,079.57, down 42.44.

The Nasdaq finished at 4,557.70, a drop of 11.92 from Wednesday's close, while the S&P 500 slipped 3.38 to 1,996.74, finishing below 2,000 for the first time since it broke that mark earlier this week.

The Labor Department's weekly report indicated a slight decrease in jobless claims last week. The department also noted that there were no "special factors" that helped to decrease the figures.

Also on Thursday, the investigation into a cyberattack against JPMorgan Chase continued. Wednesday night, the FBI and Secret Service announced the investigation, though they were unable to definitively determine whether customer information was at risk due to the attack.

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Apple Sends Invitations for Mysterious Sept. 9 Event


Apple Press(CUPERTINO, Calif.) -- The wait is almost over.

Apple sent out mysterious invitations on Thursday for a Sept. 9 media event in Cupertino, California.

Much of the speculation has centered around the possible release of an iPhone 6 and a wearable device, however Apple isn't commenting on what it has up its sleeve.

A gray and white invitation sent out to members of the media on Thursday teases, "Wish we could say more."

The event will be held at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino, California, at 10 a.m. PT.

It will be the first time Apple has held an event at the 2,405-seat theater since 1999, when it launched a new iMac, according to Mashable.

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