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How active-duty armed service members can get a FICO score and access to financial services at no charge.

By MSN Money Partner May 13, 2011 1:36PM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.


Having lived in the Washington, D.C., area for 20 years, I've seen firsthand the sacrifices military personnel and their families make each and every day. The late-night visits to my home when a Marine needs help with his will before heading overseas is a solemn reminder of what's at stake for these families.


So it's always nice to see companies go out of their way to offer special deals and perks to our military. And that's true even for something as mundane as a free FICO credit score offer.


How do you convince children to part with a toy? Help them sell it for new toys while teaching your kids some valuable lessons.

By Stacy Johnson May 13, 2011 11:14AM

This post comes from Aaron Crowe at partner site Money Talks News.


After stepping on, over and around one too many of my 6-year-old daughter's toys, I recently trashed some of her stuff while she was asleep. You can probably predict the inevitable outcome: What I had considered trash was, to her, priceless treasure. Not a pretty picture.


But what's a dad to do? For many young children, every doll or action figure is their favorite, even though they have dozens. Tucking a kid into bed can be a battle to see which favorite stuffed animal has to sleep on the floor.


If you're desperate to rid yourself of some of the toys and kids clothing in your house, rather than repeat my ham-handed move, here's a better idea: Have your kids clear their own clutter.


On May 14, put something in the blue bag. Even a can of soup can make a difference.

By Donna_Freedman May 13, 2011 10:03AM
Hunger is increasing in the United States. On Saturday you have a chance to help do something about it.

The National Association of Letter Carriers Annual Food Drive takes place on May 14. You probably got a blue plastic bag in your mailbox this week. But even if you didn't, you can still help.  

Some are specific steps you can take; others address your attitude toward money.

By MSN Money Partner May 13, 2011 9:15AM

This post comes from Len Penzo at partner blog Len Penzo dot Com.


One of the first and most important tasks most everybody should tackle as an adult is establishing and improving their credit scores. That's because people with great credit enjoy lower loan rates that can result in serious monetary savings.


It's no secret that mortgage rates can vary by 1.5 percentage points or more between the highest and lowest credit tier.

To put that in perspective, if you borrow $200,000 and get a 30-year mortgage at 5%, you'll pay $176,011 in interest over the life of the loan. On the other hand, if you have to pay 6.5%, you'll end up paying an additional $66,994 over the same time period.


So how can you improve your credit scores? Well, I think I have more than a few ideas, both directly and indirectly. Here they are in no particular order:


An easily accessible stash of cash is great when you're faced with unexpected bills or events. But you need more than that.

By MSN Money Partner May 12, 2011 6:49PM

This post comes from Trent Hamm at partner blog The Simple Dollar.


I often talk about emergency funds and how useful they are. Here's a quick summary for people new to The Simple Dollar:

An emergency fund is a pool of money you can easily access to take care of short-term problems in your life, such as a car repair or paying bills during a short period of unemployment. A good emergency fund is liquid (meaning you can easily withdraw the cash when you need it) and doesn't put the balance at risk. Thus, a savings account is a great place for an emergency fund.

However, I've come to realize thatcash is just one small part of a successful emergency fund. A true emergency fund is broader. It's any resource that helps you survive an unexpected event in your life.


Here are some tools everyone should have in their "emergency fund":


Homeowners can borrow up to that amount to make energy-efficient improvements.

By MSN Money Partner May 12, 2011 2:47PM

This post comes from Brian O'Connell at partner site MainStreet.


The Federal Housing Administration is making an enticing offer to select U.S. homeowners: a $25,000 interest-free loan to "green up" your home and (hopefully) save at least twice that amount, according to Uncle Sam, through increased home energy efficiency.


At $25,000, the pilot program might be worthwhile, especially since there is evidence that greening up your home can enhance its resale value.


Meanwhile, foreclosures and other distressed homes are holding home prices down in many areas.

By MSN Money Partner May 12, 2011 1:05PM

This post comes fromAmy Hoak at partner site MarketWatch.


Mortgage rates fell for the fourth week, with rates on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaging 4.63%, the lowest this year, according to Freddie Mac's weekly survey of conforming mortgage rates.


Customers who used a debit card at these stores should immediately contact their bank.

By MSN Money Partner May 12, 2011 11:39AM

This post comes from Mark Huffman at partner site


Michaels, a chain of craft stores, said debit card readers at 80 of its stores in 20 states show signs of tampering. That means consumers who used debit cards in those stores may have exposed their bank information to criminals.



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