Smart SpendingSmart Spending

The Fed's latest statement confirms that it won't be coming to the rescue of depositors soon, but these institutions are worth following anyway.

By QuinStreet 18 hours ago
This post comes from Robert Beaupre at partner site MoneyRates.com.

MoneyRates.com on MSN MoneySince the Great Recession, the U.S. economy has seemed to change direction as often as the wind. But at least one trend has stood throughout this period, much to the dismay of savers everywhere: historically low deposit rates.


After recent speculation that the Federal Reserve may raise rates – or at least signal new intentions to raise rates soon – the Fed today reiterated its commitment to low rates in the statement from its latest meeting.


For depositors, these words confirmed that the era of abysmally low rates on savings accounts, money market accounts and certificates of deposit will remain for the foreseeable future.


“The Fed’s low-interest-rate policy has been a boon to borrowers, but devastating to people who have seen the interest on their savings wiped out,” says Richard Barrington, CFA, senior financial analyst for MoneyRates.com.


Yet not all hope is lost for savers.

 

Self-serve gas stations may no longer be the easy prey of crooks with stolen credit and debit cards.

By MSN Money Partner 20 hours ago

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News. 


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyNew anti-theft software is helping gas stations crack down on credit card fraud at the pump.


Pay-at-the-pump terminals at self-serve gas stations are the perfect place for thieves to rack up charges with stolen credit or debit cards. With no one to personally witness the transaction, thieves have little chance of getting caught.


Buying gas © Somos Image, CorbisAccording to Today, convenience stores and gas stations lose an estimated $250 million each year to credit and debit card fraud. Unfortunately, that loss has to be absorbed somewhere, and that usually means higher prices for paying customers.


Now new technology, Visa Transaction Advisor, or VTA, has been designed to recognize lost, stolen or phony cards, so gas stations can more easily distinguish between the rightful card owners and a thief. Today reported:

"This technology uses predictive analytics to help determine whether this is a high-risk transaction. If it is, then we send a notification back to the pump and the customer is prompted to go inside and complete that transaction," explained Mark Nelsen, Visa's vice president of risk products and business intelligence.
 

Don't go hairline-deep into debt this year. These tips will help you celebrate joyously but within your means.

By MSN Money Partner 20 hours ago

This post comes from Donna Freedman at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyNovember and December are the most commercialized months of the year, a time when shrewd marketers ply us with all the things we must have in order to create the Best. Holiday. Ever.


Gift © Brian Hagiwara, Brand X, CorbisFar too many of us buy into that, so to speak. "'Ho-ho-ho' turns into 'owe-owe-owe,'" says Gail Cunningham of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.


Put another way: The first quarter of the year is busiest for NFCC, because consumers are facing the fallout of another season of excess. (Hint: Some still hadn't paid off the previous year's celebration when they plunged into buying for the next one.)


That's why the NFCC recently invited consumers to take the Holiday Financial Reality Checkup. The true-false quiz is designed to help consumers get real about the 2014 holidays (and about their finances in general).


Short form: Don't go hairline-deep into debt this November and December. Instead, find ways to celebrate joyously but also within your means.


Start by taking a clear-eyed look at your current finances. Did it take you months to pay for last year's holiday? Are you just about keeping the books balanced right now, before you've paid for a couple of months' worth of heating oil or school fees?

 

Sure, you love your stuff. Keep buying it, but don't get sucked into paying a premium when perfectly good cheaper alternatives are available.

By MSN Money Partner 21 hours ago

This post comes from Maryalene LaPonsie at partner site Money Talks News. 


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyWith the average nuptials costing $25,200, we can probably all agree that plenty of people are overpaying for their wedding day.


However, if you're trying to live within your means, having a budget wedding only gets you so far. After all, you're only going to get married once, or at least you hope so. Instead, you need to figure out what you're overpaying for on a regular basis and then find cheaper alternatives.

 

In this scheme, scammers are asking for lots of personal information by posing as government officials.

By Credit.com 22 hours ago
This post comes from Christine Di Gangi at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneyThe Better Business Bureau issued a warning earlier this week highlighting an email scam designed to trick recipients into divulging personal information, including names, addresses and Social Security numbers.


Social Security Card © Scott Speakes/CorbisThe scheme involves an email from an account impersonating the Social Security Administration, Service Canada or an organization claiming to represent a government agency. The email says you qualify for a new benefit, and to claim it, you need to fill out a form, which asks for a variety of details, such as your name, address, phone number, Social Security number, employer and driver's license or government ID number. Upon completing the form, you receive a confirmation email, which says you'll hear from a government representative soon.


People who fall for the phishing scam have handed con artists all the information they need to commit identity theft -- with that information, someone can open financial accounts in your name or divert benefits intended for you. That's when the real problems start:

 

Learn how to turn conservative in your investments -- but not too conservative.

By QuinStreet 22 hours ago

This post comes from Richard Barrington at partner site MoneyRates.com.


MoneyRates.com on MSN MoneyWith people living longer, it is important not to view retirement as the finish line for your retirement investment program. At the same time, it can be equally important not to view post-retirement investing as business as usual.


With Americans typically living about 19 years after they reach the traditional retirement age of 65, it is usually necessary to keep some growth components in your portfolio after leaving the workforce, primarily to help purchasing power keep up with inflation.


Stock market © Zurbar/age fotostockHowever, in assessing how big a role growth should play in your investment mix, the key is to recognize that a profound shift in risk exposure occurs once you retire.


The source of that shift? The transition from positive to negative cash flow.


Same market, different results
You may have heard of dollar-cost averaging. This is the technique of earning more by making consistent investments in the market throughout its ups and downs, which works because in effect you can buy more when the market is down than when it is up.


If those consistent investments enhance investment earnings, what impact do you suppose consistent withdrawals from an investment program will have? Withdrawals increase the impact of market downturns, even if they are temporary. Effectively, withdrawals amplify volatility.


Consider three scenarios, all investing in the same market environment and earning the same investment returns.

 

Some workers lose up to a quarter of their paychecks paying off old debt from credit cards, medical bills and student loans, as well as child support.

By MSN Money Partner Tue 6:30 PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News. 


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyThe recession and its financial impacts are still being felt -- and paid for -- by millions of Americans.


According to a new ADP report, 7.2 percent of U.S. workers had wages garnished in 2013 to pay off child support and other debt, including credit cards, medical bills and student loans.


Worried Man © CorbisOther report findings include:

  • Highest rate. Among employees ages 35 to 44, 10.5 percent of employees' wages were garnished, the highest rate of all ages. Half owed child support, but the rest mainly owed consumer debts. Also, the garnishment rate was highest (10 percent) among American workers earning $25,000 to $39,999 per year. More people were garnished for consumer debts in this group than child support, which marks a significant change from prior years. "In the past, the vast majority of wage garnishments went to secure child support payments or to collect on unpaid taxes," NPR said.
  • Different region, different rate. The Midwest had the highest percentage of garnishment at 8.9, and the Northeast region had the lowest at 4.9 percent.
  • Big hits. Forty-eight percent of manufacturing companies had at least one employee whose wages were being garnished. Transportation and utility companies ran a close second at 42 percent. The lowest percentage -- 23 percent -- were in professional and business services, financial activities, and education and health services. "This disparity suggests a possible relationship between garnishment and blue- and white-collar job categories," ADP said.

Garnishment can have a terrible impact on workers, especially those who are barely able to make ends meet.

 

If you think you're too smart to fall for cons and scams, you're setting yourself up to be a victim.

By MSN Money Partner Tue 1:14 PM

This post comes from Bob Sullivan at partner site Money Talks News.

 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyBack in 1996, it was pretty easy to steal money from people on the Internet. You put up an item for sale on a site like eBay.com, you took people's money, and you never sent the thing they bought. (Really, that’s the first Internet scam story I wrote almost 20 years ago).


A spam email message from Nigeria © Just One Film/Getty ImagesScams have become a lot more sophisticated since then, but two things have remained incredibly constant during these past two decades. First: Victims almost always send money using a method that offers no recourse, such as wiring the funds. And when I write the story, a chorus of too-clever-by-half people will scream, "That could never happen to me!"


For that second group, I will often quiz them on their extensive portfolio of overpriced extended warranties, time shares and underperforming mutual funds, and gently remind them that folks who think they are too smart to get cheated are often the easiest marks.


One of the first things a trained con man or woman will do to victims is lavish them with praise. ("I can’t believe this great deal I'm giving you," says the auto dealer as he walks away with your money.) So if you think you can’t be scammed, you are probably next in line.


And for that other group, I say simply, "Stop wiring money to people." Doesn't matter how elaborate the cover story is.


Because I've interviewed thousands of victims during the past two decades, I'm often asked why people fall for scams or corporate rip-offs. Here are my top five reasons.

 

DATA PROVIDERS

Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

ABOUT SMART SPENDING

Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

TOOLS

More