Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Even though it's usually thought of as the very last resort for personal finance, more Americans are borrowing from their 401ks.

By MSN Money Partner Jun 7, 2011 5:13PM

This post comes from Jilian Mincer at partner site SmartMoney. on MSN MoneyIn spite of decades of advice to the contrary and the improving economy, millions of Americans are increasingly turning to what was once a lender of last resort -- their 401k plans.


In 2010, about one in seven workers borrowed from a 401k plan, according to new data from human-resources consulting group AON Hewitt. Companies that run the plans report double-digit increases in borrowing from 2009: up 14% in Vanguard Group Inc.-run plans, and up 11% in plans run by T. Rowe Price Group Inc. Today, almost 30% of 401k savers have a loan outstanding, the highest in recent history.


That is too many, says a pair of senators.


Studies show that mistakes are common, and overwhelmingly in favor of the seller.

By doubleace Jun 7, 2011 1:49PM

This post comes from Lynn Mucken at MSN Money.

The story had, in media terms, a great "hook."

Communications giant Verizon charged Betty Howard $110.80 for being in arrears on her Internet service bill, then, despite being informed that the Loma Linda, Calif., woman had been dead for three months, turned the bill over to a collection agency.

It gets better -- or worse:


The lack of a bar code or expiration date is often a sign that the coupon is fake.

By MSN Money Partner Jun 7, 2011 11:19AM

This post comes from Jeanine Skowronski at partner site MainStreet.


Getting held up at a checkout line isn't the worst thing that could happen to you if you flash the clerk a counterfeit coupon.


According to the Coupon Information Corporation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending coupon fraud, scammers often sell phony coupon books to consumers in order to cheat them out of their money or get them to download malware onto their computers.


And those who take part in this shady process are running afoul of the law.


Using an ATM could cost you $5 or even more per transaction unless you follow this advice.

By MSN Money Partner Jun 7, 2011 10:05AM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner site Bargaineering.


When my sister was in college, she used the ATM a lot. Whenever she needed some money, she'd go to the machine and pull out $20. Sometimes she'd check her balance.


Then one day she realized, or my dad realized, that she was using an out-of-network ATM that charged about $5 to $7 (combined) each time she withdrew money. For every $20 she withdrew, she was paying a $7 fee. Every time she checked her balance, that's another fee. Over the course of a semester, she racked up about $100 in unnecessary fees. In her case, she wasn't aware it was happening, but it's a hard pill to swallow nonetheless.


Fortunately, with a few quick tips, being dinged by ATM fees is completely avoidable.


Dealing with the loss of a loved one is tough enough without being forced to untangle a complicated web of fraudulent charges. Here's what to do if you're handling an estate.

By Stacy Johnson Jun 7, 2011 9:03AM

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


Everybody knows identity thieves are low-down scoundrels, but how low will they go? Apparently, even 6 feet under.


In May, Forbes reported that the Internal Revenue Service had paid out more than $12 million in tax refunds to dead people in 2010 -- victims of identity theft.  It's proof that these days it's not enough to protect your own identity. You have to look out for lost loved ones, too.


Giving your password to people who aren't members of your household could get you charged with a crime in Tennessee.

By MSN Money Partner Jun 6, 2011 4:33PM

This post comes from Jeanine Skowronski at partner site MainStreet.


Tennessee lawmakers have passed a measure that makes it illegal for residents to share their user names and passwords for entertainment subscription services like Netflix and Rhapsody.


The Web Entertainment Theft Bill, which the lawmakers hope other states adopt, is a move to thwart hackers from selling passwords in bulk, but might also raise issues for subscribers who share their accounts with friends.


Settling a disputed bill with pennies or other small change is occasionally used as a form of protest. But is it smart or effective?

By Karen Datko Jun 6, 2011 2:30PM

What's one way to get your jollies while paying a disputed bill? Satisfy the debt with pennies -- lots of them.


Or maybe not. A Vernal, Utah, man faces a charge of disorderly conduct for paying a $25 medical bill with 2,500 pennies, according to police. "After asking if they accepted cash, (Jason) West dumped 2,500 pennies onto the counter and demanded that they count it," Vernal assistant police chief Keith Campbell told the Deseret News. "The pennies were strewn about the counter and the floor."


Here's one way to avoid those 'gotcha' fares on some airline routes.

By doubleace Jun 6, 2011 1:11PM

This post comes from Lynn Mucken at MSN Money.


Ever heard of the "hidden city" airline ticket? Probably not; carriers not only don't advertise it, most of them expressly forbid it. But loopholes are what have made America great, so here's how it works:


"Passengers flying to or from airports that are dominated by a single carrier -- like Memphis, Newark or Dallas-Fort Worth -- pay fares 20 or 30% higher than at non-hub airports," wrote Nate Silver in The New York Times Magazine.


Instead of booking a direct flight, Silver advises, purchase a cheaper one that ends at a more competitively priced airport, but has a layover in the city you actually want to travel to. There, instead of switching planes, just head out the terminal door.



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.