90% of the calls placed to the hotline to ask about benefits or check on claims don't get through.
Providing education benefits to veterans who’ve served in places like Afghanistan and Iraq is a wonderful thing. Much back-patting ensued when President Bush signed the Post-9/11 GI Bill into law.
But guess what: When veterans place a call to the VA’s GI Bill hotline to learn more about the benefits or check on claims, most of their calls don’t get through. The Army Times reports:
Yes, says Consumer Reports, which has created a shopping calendar.
We’ve all seen the stories that try to tell us the best time of the year to buy things. But in these days of instant Twitter deals, freebies for Facebook fans and constant deal alerts, does the calendar still matter?
But budget travelers can still find sweet deals. Here's some help.
Travelers hunting for a low-priced cruise will find fewer fish in the sea this year.
All-inclusive cruise packages typically are less expensive than arranging a land stay with air, hotel, food and other costs. That perceived value kept cruise lines afloat during last year’s economic downturn, and continues to draw cost-conscious travelers, says Carolyn Spencer Brown, the editor of review site CruiseCritic.com. There has not only been a burst of publicity around newer luxury ships, like the Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, but more demand overall, which means lines have less incentive to broadly drop prices to fill up an itinerary.
Succeeding at an unpleasant job will tell your next employer a lot about you.
In the past couple of months, two clients of mine have landed great jobs in the midst of the worst employment climate in decades. The secret to their success, I believe, was delivering outstanding results in lousy jobs.
The jobs weren't completely lousy, which I would define as requiring long hours and offering low pay, few or no employee benefits, demoralizing management, and an unsafe work environment. And the work content gave them valuable experience for specific career targets. But the jobs did contain elements that some career experts consider lousy:
Want a big screen for the big game? Don't pay for it 3 times over.
The Super Bowl has evolved into an annual American house-party tradition that appeals to fan and novice alike. It's undoubtedly the only televised event in the world where the commercials garner almost as much attention as the actual game.
And the centerpiece of that party is, of course, the television.
Price cuts help talkers and texters, but users of mobile Web could see bills increase.
If you act now, you might be able to save $30 a month on your cell phone bill. Or maybe not.
Verizon and AT&T have announced new cheaper “all you can talk” or “all you can talk and text” plans for both individuals and families. In some cases, the new plans could lower users’ monthly fees from $100 to $70 a month. Text adds another $20, which hasn’t changed.
But if you’re a data user, you might end up paying more. Verizon will start charging $9.95 a month for 25 MB of data use on Internet-enabled phones when customers buy new phones or sign new contracts. Unlimited data is still $29.99. Current customers with those phones can keep the pay-as-you go $1.99 per MB charge. AT&T will also require $20 data or texting plans with some phones.
Recession is changing retailers' tactics, but how has it changed consumers'?
For better or for worse, the recession has changed how people shop, at least for now. We’d like to think most of it is for the better, as customers have focused on finding value and living within their means.
Shopping is changing, too.
It's the best way to stay on top of your financial situation.
When you were in school, chances are you knew what you needed on each test to get an A, B, or C (or avoid an F). At work, you have project deadlines to meet and performance criteria to fulfill. When it comes to your finances, there isn’t a convenient, single number you can use to track your progress.
In school, there was your GPA. In personal finance, you can’t just look at your account balances because they don’t give you the whole picture.
That’s where measuring and tracking your net worth can come in handy. Every month I record a snapshot of our family’s net worth in a simple Excel spreadsheet.
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ABOUT SMART SPENDING
Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
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