Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Big changes are in the works for credit cards this year, as issuers try to make them more profitable.

By Karen Datko Jan 19, 2011 5:24PM

With limits on their fees and interest rate hikes, credit card companies are trying to make money the old-fashioned way -- by getting you to borrow it.


Even those people who were dissed in recent years -- including people with not-so-great credit scores -- are being solicited as potential customers again. The message seems to be: Please don't be mad that we cut your credit limit, doubled the minimum payment due or canceled your card. It's 2011, so let's celebrate with more spending.

Why is this happening? Five major credit card issuers announced that their delinquency and charge-off rates are dropping at a healthy clip. Not so skittish anymore, they're ready to lend you money.


The company rolls out the largest U.S. mobile payment app, which lets customers pay with smart phones.

By Teresa Mears Jan 19, 2011 3:34PM

Starbucks has made a giant leap toward turning your smart phone into your wallet: You can now pay for coffee with your phone.


The Starbucks Mobile Card, which was tested starting last fall at select locations, has gone national and can now be used at the nearly 6,800 company-run stores and more than 1,000 locations at Target stores. The company has apps for iPhone and BlackBerry and is working on one for Android.


While the Starbucks Mobile Card isn't the first mobile payment app, it is likely to be the most widely used, at least for now. And the launch of a mobile payment system by a popular retailer may speed up the adoption of mobile payments by other businesses.


Survey shows that brides-to-be are willing to ditch size and tradition in favor of saving money, and know how to work social media.

By Stacy Johnson Jan 19, 2011 3:10PM

This post comes from Michael Koretzky at partner site Money Talks News.


Forget something borrowed and something blue. More brides today are going brand-new and Bluetooth.

The David's Bridal chain has released its fifth annual What's on Brides' Minds survey and, wow, how the times have changed in half a decade. As late as 2008, the survey of engaged women showed the Internet was simply "a wonderful planning tool and a great time-saver" for everything from comparison shopping for invitations to making honeymoon reservations.

Now, some brides have no reservations about "a paperless wedding invitation." And after the wedding, they're using social media to spread the word. Nearly half -- 48% -- update Facebook with their new relationship status or new married name within a day of saying "I do." And 44% are posting snippets of their ceremony on YouTube, "like a choreographed dance down the aisle or first dance."


When her family's income shrank drastically, she was forced to get serious about managing money. A 3-ring binder is one of her tools.

By Karen Datko Jan 19, 2011 1:38PM

This guest post comes from I am the working poor.


I used to earn triple the income I have now. Everything was financed and I worked to pay the bills.

Clothes were on credit, gifts were on credit, a vehicle and a house were financed. I thought the job was there to stay and as long as I could make at least the minimum payments I would be OK. The only thing I never put on credit was groceries. At least I knew that was a bad thing to do.


The prices of popular electronics will continue to drop. Here are predictions for 12 hot items.

By Karen Datko Jan 19, 2011 10:24AM

This guest post comes from Beth Pinsker at


One of the great things about technology is that we can count on prices dropping at a steady clip over time on the things we want most. The more demand, the faster the electronics industry seems to satisfy us with new, cheaper products. Think how different it is for nonelectronic items such as milk and cereal, which always seem to go up (see our list of 20 things that will be more expensive in 2011).

We've now proven this mathematically, by sifting through thousands upon thousands of tech deals that we've listed over the past couple of years.


Our price trend data show how prices dropped on 12 popular items from 2009 to 2010, based on the individual deals we list on


The family garden plot taught two brothers how to plan projects, grow and preserve organic food, and make and manage money. Those were the good old days.

By Karen Datko Jan 19, 2011 9:39AM

This post comes from Kentin Waits at partner blog Wise Bread.


Doesn't it seem like there used to be more gardens? When I was a kid in the 1970s and '80s, my parents kept a huge garden by today's standards -- a full city lot planted with corn, dill, radishes, cucumbers, potatoes, tomatoes and green peppers, all framed by a few stately and towering sunflowers. It was straight out of Sunset Magazine, before we knew there was a Sunset Magazine.

I kid you not. Random drivers would pull over in their mid-1970s Impalas or ozone-defying Fleetwoods (about as big as the garden itself) to have a look. My mom and dad took pride in that garden, leveraging every ounce of their considerable energy to measure the rows carefully, and keep it fertilized, weeded and watered, producing bumper crops every year. It wasn't just fruitful, it was beautiful.


But where have all the gardens gone?


It might be a decent investment, but how would it go over with other family members?

By Karen Datko Jan 18, 2011 5:52PM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner site Bargaineering.


A reader, John, e-mailed me a question about secondary sales of life insurance policies. He had learned that his father was going to cancel his term life insurance policy at the end of the month and he was considering "buying" it from his father by paying the premiums and collecting the death benefit.

We didn't get into the specifics but he ran the numbers and believes there's a 5% annual return if his father dies within 28 years (by age 91). He wanted to know if I thought this was a good idea.


Mom teaches her daughter about money by giving her 'jobs' with a weekly paycheck.

By Teresa Mears Jan 18, 2011 3:52PM

Parents often debate whether it's better to give children an allowance or pay them for doing household chores.


Alisa T. Weinstein believes you should give your child a job as a paleontologist or an entomologist or a market researcher and pay her for that.


Weinstein has just published "Earn It, Learn It: Teach Your Child the Value of Money, Work, and Time Well Spent," after using the program from two years on her daughter Mia, now 6. She didn't want to give Mia an allowance because she wanted her daughter to work for the money, just as adults do. But she didn't want to pay her for household chores because she believes that chores should be shared by everyone in the household.


She hit upon the idea of letting her daughter try a career every week and then paying her for her work, an attempt to duplicate the real world in microcosm. Each week, she and her daughter choose a career, choose a task from that career, and her daughter does the task. When her mother is satisfied, Mia gets her paycheck.



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.


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.