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Back in the good ol' days, there used to be lots of advantages to using paper checks. Now, not so much.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 9, 2011 11:05AM

This post comes from Philip Brewer at partner blog Wise Bread.


I know plenty of people who write essentially no paper checks anymore. I know students who pay everything with debit cards. Others manage their financial lives with electronic payments. I do neither. I get by with a mix of cash, credit cards and paper checks.

Now it's really just a matter of inertia. I used to have some reasons for doing things this way, but they've all been superseded by events.


Blogger set himself a frugal challenge to spend no more than $1,000 in February, including rent. He learned a few things.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 9, 2011 9:52AM

This guest post comes from Chris at Dealerity.


At the beginning of February I began a frugal challenge to spend less than $1,000 for the entire month. The hope was that this challenge would give me a better sense of the value of a dollar and empathy for those who are less fortunate. 


Selfishly, I craved some degree of authority about living a frugal lifestyle, because while I blog about frugality, I also spend more in a year than the average American makes.


In this post I'm going to reveal whether or not I succeeded, what my final spending totals were, and a bit of what I've learned from this adventure.


Overseas travelers run the risk that vendors won't accept them and that banks will charge a substantial fee to cash them.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 8, 2011 6:06PM

This post comes from Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell at partner site MainStreet.


Back in the '70s, actor Karl Malden told American TV viewers, "Don't leave home without them." He was referring to the traveler's check, then the safest way to carry money while traveling for business or pleasure. But now it seems that traveler's checks, just like those commercials, are becoming a distant memory.


Leaving the waitstaff bills for a tip will simplify their lives and make sure the money gets to the right place.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 8, 2011 2:55PM

This post comes from Jeremy M. Simon at partner site on MSN MoneyWant to give the most generous gratuities for hardworking waitstaff or servers? Bypass the tip line on a credit card receipt -- and leave cash instead.


Even when you tip well on a credit card, it's difficult to know whether your entire gratuity will end up in your server's bank account. That's mainly because policies can differ among various restaurants, hotels and other establishments where employees earn tip income. Those policies may reduce tip amounts or slow their payout.


Even bank fees and loan fees and interest rates are fair game for haggling.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 8, 2011 2:02PM

This post comes from Miranda Marquit at partner blog Bargaineering.


When it comes to saving money, one of the most important things you can do is ask for a discount. Many of us have been conditioned to just accept costs as they are. Haggling is not really part of the American psyche (although some point out that bargaining has been on the rise since the recession).

There is no reason to just accept the first number offered. There are a number of things open to negotiation, from the price of your car -- one the few things we do haggle for -- to the interest rates on your loans. Before you shell out, make sure you really are getting a good deal.


Here are four expenses you should be negotiating:


She might have slept in a mansion every night, but she was smarter about being broke than I was.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 8, 2011 1:29PM

This guest post comes from Lindy at Minting Nickels.


I once had a classmate who was always broke. At least she always talked about how broke she was.


I was broke too, actually. At the time, I was putting myself through design school, paying my own tuition and footing all my expenses.


My classmate was in the same boat, but she handled it a little differently than I did.


Direct deposit didn't go through on time? Uh-oh.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 8, 2011 12:04PM

This guest post comes from Jason Steele at Money Crashers.


Like most people, I rely on the wonders of banking technology to receive my pay checks and pay my bills. Banks offer the near-magical feature of having money just appear in your bank account (i.e., direct deposit) or having bills paid on a schedule while you worry about other things.


Modern technology is often so seamless and convenient that it's easy to forget that computers, and the people using them, are not perfect. It would be nice to think that our banking system is fail-safe. However, that would be ignorant, and, in the case of finances, ignorance is far from bliss.


Here are four real-life examples of banking disasters that could have happened to anyone, even you:


TVs are bigger. Computers are more powerful. How much is enough?

By MSN Money Partner Mar 8, 2011 10:14AM

This Deal of the Day comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site SmartMoney.


When Apple introduced its newest laptop last month, the company bragged about faster processors, dazzling graphics, new connectivity and a better camera. But all these improvements -- to a series of computers that was already by most accounts pretty good -- left some critics with a pointed question: Who really needs all that?



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