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States are passing laws to force Amazon to collect sales tax, and the online giant is fighting back.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 15, 2011 11:50AM

This guest post comes from Laura Heller at


Anyone who's saved money with sales-tax-free purchases online should pay attention: All that may be coming to an end as states try to recoup revenue to fill gaping holes in their budgets., as the largest Internet-only retailer with $34 billion in revenue last year, is facing the brunt of this pressure and is fighting back with all of its might. But retailers like and Zappos will also be affected.


If you're intent on winning a stuffed animal, play games that pit you against a lot of other players.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 15, 2011 9:35AM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


My favorite part about spring, besides the good weather, is the arrival of carnivals.


Carnivals are little bastions of legalized gambling wrapped up in funnel cake, sometimes less-than-safe rides and bright flashing lights. I love carnivals because you can walk around for free, listen to the cheer of the crowd as someone wins an oversized stuffed animal, and enjoy the outdoors while sampling a bit of capitalism here or there.


The cornerstone of every carnival is the game area. I say it's legalized gambling because otherwise rational people hand over real money to play fake games and win stuffed prizes.


The 100-watt light bulb that provides the heat source will no longer be sold next year. The oven is being redesigned.

By Karen Datko Mar 14, 2011 8:11PM

How many parents will it take to change a light bulb in an Easy-Bake Oven next year?


None, since the 100-watt bulb that serves as the heating element in the classic toy won't be sold in the U.S. after Jan. 1. (Note to parents: Stock up now on the light bulbs so you won't have to spring for the new, bulb-free version of this hall of fame plaything.)


Being nickel-and-dimed by the airlines has irritated many passengers, but some would be willing to pay extra for child-free flights, among other things.

By Karen Datko Mar 14, 2011 4:33PM

Airline fees for this and that are annoying and accumulating at a rapid pace. But are some fees actually worth the cost? And are the airlines missing out by not charging for some things we would be happy to pay extra for?


For instance, some recent surveys and reader polls indicate that travelers would be willing to pay more for child-free flights.


Pretty soon, simply telling people that the unemployment rate is 9% isn't going to make people bat an eyelash.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 14, 2011 2:08PM

This guest post comes from Pop at Pop Economics.


Every once in a while, I run across a comment on a blog or news story that reads something like this: "If you've been unemployed for more than a year, you're not looking hard enough."


It's mean, but I'm sure the writer believes what he says. They probably have a job and run across "Help Wanted" signs every once in a while, and can't reconcile that with the fact that more than 6 million people have been out of work for more than 26 weeks.


But now the jobless face another problem. If you do have a job right now, you have more job security than at any time in the last decade.


The venerable ratings service has been accused of giving higher grades to companies that buy its membership.

By doubleace Mar 14, 2011 12:29PM

This post comes from Lynn Mucken at MSN Money.


There are few things in life more frightening than wading -- unaided and without even a little bit of expertise -- into the shark pool called business. I don't mean starting one, but rather dealing with one.


The Better Business Bureau, which has been around for 89 years, is supposed to be there for you, vetting businesses so you can avoid the rip-off specialists and the mere incompetents. Its motto: "Start With Trust."


In recent months, however, the BBB has come under fire from some heavyweights, including ABC News, the Connecticut state attorney general, and Wolfgang Puck, for allegedly "selling" good ratings. 


Finish those exams and pack your bags. Haven't planned your spring break yet? We have suggestions.

By Stacy Johnson Mar 14, 2011 11:42AM

This post comes from Brandon Ballenger at partner site Money Talks News.


Spring break is around the corner and you're ready to chill. But while you've been slaving away to pass your midterms, you haven't made any plans -- and you don't have much money. 


A good spring break doesn't require a ton of cash:


I've spent far too much time downloading, uploading, troubleshooting, and e-mailing customer-service reps. Tracking my money doesn't need to be complicated.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 14, 2011 9:46AM

This post comes from April Dykman at partner blog Get Rich Slowly.


As many of you know, before I was a Get Rich Slowly staff writer, I was a GRS reader and active commenter. I'd say the bulk of my early personal-finance education came from that website, and it's most definitely the resource I credit for spurring me to get serious about paying off debt and saving money.

So last year, when J.D. Roth started talking about falling off the tracking-every-penny wagon, I winced. I haven't been tracking my spending, either. Ever since our income went up last year, I've been satisfied that we're saving enough -- more than 55% of our income. We have no debt, we have targeted accounts for irregular expenses, and we pay our credit card bill in full every month.


We're definitely doing well, but the more J.D. wrote about getting back to basics, the more I started to think that my reasoning was just a cop-out. He's always a few steps ahead of me, it seems.



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