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If you sue your bank, you may be required to pay the bank's legal fees -- even if you win.

By MSN Money Partner Tue 1:36 PM

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


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyLooking to settle a dispute with your bank? Your options are likely limited.


Chances are your bank has a so-called mandatory binding arbitration agreement in its checking contract -- the voluminous, 40-plus-page document that you signed and probably didn't read. (You're not alone. Ninety percent of consumers don't read all of it, according to MarketWatch.)


Bank sign © John Foxx, Stockbyte, Getty ImagesA recent study by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that 70 percent of banks, up from 58 percent in 2013, have verbiage in their contracts that prevents customers from suing the bank on their own or as part of a class-action lawsuit.


As if that's not bad enough, some banks require that consumers who bring suit against the bank will have to pay the bank’s expenses, no matter who wins the case, MarketWatch said.


You read that correctly: If you take your bank to court to settle a claim and you win, you may have to pay your bank's legal expenses. The "loss, costs and expenses" clause is included in the fine print of about 1 in 4 banks' checking account contracts.

 

When it comes to planning your golden years, it's important that you and your partner are on the same page.

By Credit.com Tue 10:48 AM
This post comes from AJ Smith at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneyImagining retirement, like dreaming of vacation or if you win the lottery, can be fun. But what if you and your spouse are picturing very different things? Getting on the same page with your significant other early on can help you to plan a successful retirement.


TFinancial planning © Yellow Dog Productions, Lifesize, Getty Imagesalk about goals

You and your husband/wife/partner don’t have to agree on everything about what you expect in retirement but you do need to figure out how to weave the two dreams together. Whether you want to downsize, travel more, indulge in expensive hobbies or something else, write down your retirement vision. Then compare it with your spouse’s vision. Now think about what you would need to make those dreams a reality.


Questions you want to try to answer include when you want to retire, what you see yourself doing in retirement and how much money you will need for a comfortable retirement. how much money you will need for a comfortable retirement.  It may require some compromise to create a shared retirement dream.

 

Redrawn lines between full- and part-timers at Sodexo decide who is eligible for coverage.

By Money Staff Mon 5:42 PM

This post comes from Lauren Weber at partner site The Wall Street Journal.


The Wall Street Journal on MSN MoneySusan Caspersen was in a hospital in Akron, Ohio, last November recovering from an emergency appendectomy when she got some unwelcome news: as of Jan. 1, 2014, she would no longer be eligible for the health-insurance plan offered by her employer, food-service giant Sodexo USA.


Insurance Money © Comstock Images, JupiterimagesMs. Caspersen, a waitress at Virtues Restaurant in the Summa Akron City Hospital, falls into part of the workforce that may feel the strongest effects of the Affordable Care Act: workers whose hours change on a weekly or seasonal basis.


Thousands of these so-called variable-hour employees—many of whom work on college campuses that don't operate during summer months—could lose their benefits as employers use new formulas to classify workers as full time or part time. The distinction determines which employees are entitled to company-sponsored health coverage.

 

A small orange harvest in Florida has caused OJ prices to soar.

By MSN Money Partner Mon 2:18 PM

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


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyYou better enjoy every drop of that glass of orange juice, because it's not cheap. OJ prices have skyrocketed to their highest point in two years.


Who or what is to blame for the ridiculously high prices of juice?


Orange juice with sliced fresh fruit © Kivoart/Getty Images
Florida, the source of the majority of oranges used to make orange juice in the U.S., experienced an unusually cold winter, plus a fruit disease (citrus greening) has stunted orange growth, leading to the smallest orange harvest in nearly 30 years, The Wall Street Journal said.

The smaller U.S. crop -- down 18 percent from the previous harvest -- comes as groves in Brazil, the world's largest orange exporter, are experiencing the worst drought in decades. Brazilian growers won't know how severe the damage is until July, when the harvest starts.
"We have the two largest producers in the world both having poor crops at the same time," said Mike Seery, president of Seery Futures, a brokerage firm in Plainfield, Ill. "That's bad."

Higher prices for orange juice could potentially turn consumers away from the drink, which has been experiencing a shrinking demand for years. Once a breakfast staple, orange juice retail sales are down 32 percent from 10 years ago, plus they fell 5.3 percent in the four weeks ending March 15, NBC News said.

 

There's no need to pay the higher prices that often accompany the most popular season for family vacations. Here's how you can hold the line.

By MSN Money Partner Mon 1:20 PM

This post comes from Allison Martin at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneySummer is nearly upon us, and you know what that means? It's vacation time! Well, at least for most of us. In fact, a survey last year by Orbitz revealed that nearly 80 percent of Americans planned to take a vacation during the summer months.


Unfortunately, some destinations are more popular than others and are almost guaranteed to come with high price tags on accommodations, not to mention large crowds.


The good news is that you can still take a decent summer vacation without breaking the bank. Here are our tips to help you cut costs on your upcoming trip.

 

The bug has blown a hole in Internet security, and vigilance is required to keep your data safe.

By Credit.com Mon 11:22 AM
This post comes from Adam Levin at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneyThe Heartbleed bug has sent a shockwave through the Internet, as millions of users try to take stock of all of the accounts they’ve ever created and figure out how to change their passwords. Too bad their passwords are just the beginning of the problem.


Heartbleed logo Credit: Codenomicon
Given the reach of Heartbleed and how long the bug existed, it’s hard to even say how much data unscrupulous hackers could’ve gotten their hands on and, because of how it worked, we’ll probably never know. Most people are changing their passwords on affected sites, sitting back and thinking (or hoping) they’re safe. But now is when the work really begins for a large group of scammers. Since many websites ask you (or even require you) to use your email address as a username, that information is also vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug. Welcome to the beginning of phishing season.


Phishing (and the other "ishings," like vishing for phone scams and smishing for text scam) is a more time-consuming method of extracting the goods from you, but it is often more directly profitable.

 

If your insurer thinks you'll shop around for better rates, they'll do what they can to keep you -- and that often includes less expensive rates.

By Credit.com Fri 2:21 PM
This post comes from Gerri Detweiler at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneyHave your auto or homeowner insurance rates been creeping up? If so, you may have been "POed" by your insurer. According to new information from the Consumer Federation of America, some insurance companies are secretly "price optimizing" customers; charging them a higher rate for no other reason than they think the customer won’t shop around for a better deal.


Insurance © NULL/Corbis"Price optimization is a data mining tool used by insurers to charge higher premiums to those consumers least likely to shop for a new policy in the face of a rate increase," says the CFA.


How do they know whether you are likely to shop around? For now at least, that information isn’t public. “I don’t know what’s in the black box,” says Bob Hunter, CFA’s director of insurance. But he notes that insurance companies typically can review credit report data, information provided on applications, and a host of other data available from third-party sources about current and prospective customers.


As an actuary, Hunter says he first heard of this practice when he participated in an industry webinar touting the benefits to insurers of pricing policies this way.

 

Being a financial perfectionist doesn't always pay -- it can be a lot of work for little reward.

By Credit.com Fri 1:14 PM
This post comes from Adam Levin at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneyThere are some people in life for whom an A on a report card was never good enough, who idly wondered why they were never above the 99th percentile on standardized tests and relentlessly beat themselves up whenever they came in second.


In adulthood, some of those same people are relentlessly pursuing the highest possible FICO credit score -- an 850. I’m here to tell those people to stop.


Report card (© C Squared Studios/Getty Images)The idea of "gaming" your already-excellent credit score to drive it up is not going to benefit you in any substantive way -- there’s really no difference between the interest rates or credit terms offered to people with an 800 and those offered to people with the elusive 850. So gaming it doesn’t help anything but your ego.


Worse yet, if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, you’re as likely to hurt your credit score as to help. The models used by FICO (and other scoring agencies) are deliberately not totally transparent and many things that people think will raise their credit scores -- like getting rid of their credit cards or keeping zero debt -- can actually lower their scores.

 

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