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The e-commerce giant is not always the best place to go for these items.

By Money Staff 20 hours ago

This post comes from Catey Hill at partner site MarketWatch.


MarketWatch on MSN MoneyWhen we need books, soap, diapers, electronics — pretty much anything — many of us head right to Amazon.com Inc., assuming it has the lowest prices. But for some things, you may be better off shopping elsewhere.


A parcel moves on the conveyor belt at Amazon's a logistics center © Michaela Rehle/Reuters 
Last week, Amazon released its quarterly earnings, making one thing crystal clear: Customers are dropping a load of cash on the site. For the 52nd straight quarter, Amazon’s sales grew double-digits with revenue increasing to more than $19 billion, up 23 percent from a year earlier.


In many cases, it isn’t a bad idea to shop on Amazon. Savings.com, which just launched the PriceJump browser plug-in and app that compares Amazon prices with prices around the Web, examined the prices of roughly 1,500 new products priced $10 or more on a day in May.


It found that about half of the time, Amazon did, in fact, have the best price (which is pretty good, considering that it compared Amazon’s prices to those of 5,000 other retailers). In particular, Amazon tends to have the best prices on digital downloads like books, inexpensive items (things under $10, which were excluded from the survey) and on items you buy in bulk, says Meghan Heffernan, a spokesperson for Savings.com — which is a lot of what we buy on the site.


"The cheap stuff on Amazon is cheap," says Matthew Ong, a senior retail analyst at NerdWallet.com.


There’s also the issue of shipping. For $99 a year, Amazon gives its Prime members free two-day shipping. If you order multiple items a month and would otherwise pay for two-day shipping, a Prime membership may save you a pile of loot, says James Crompton, an analyst with IBISWorld — and that’s particularly true if you buy multiple, inexpensive items or bulk items, which Amazon tends to have cheaper, the Savings.com data revealed. This analysis will help you determine if Prime makes sense for you. Furthermore, some consumers use Amazon’s Subscribe & Save feature to save up to 15 percent off items when they get automatic delivery on some of their frequent purchases (just be careful that this doesn’t make you stock up on items that you don’t need at that time).


But sometimes, Amazon’s prices aren’t the best, according to the analysis by Savings.com. Here are a few of those items. 

 

Online wedding registry site Zankyou sizes up average gift spending, and people marrying this year can expect a pretty decent haul of wedding gifts.

By Credit.com 21 hours ago
This post comes from Christine DiGangi at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneyWith Americans spending an average of $167 per couple, people marrying this year can expect a pretty decent haul of wedding gifts. (And if they're lucky, their guests will spend that money on something they actually want.)


Bride and bridesmaid © Stockbyte/PhotolibraryOnline wedding registry site Zankyou looked at 300,000 donations given through its registries and determined average gift spending in 12 countries. The site is a little different than something you'd set up at a department store: Couples identify things they'd like — whether those are physical items, a honeymoon fund or savings for a home together — and guests give the couple money to spend on those items.


As a result, this formula excludes wedding guests who gift things like handmade artwork, an assortment of kitchen trinkets or any bargain present. (There's nothing wrong with such gestures, considering the point of a wedding isn't to bill others for your expensive tastes.)


Based on Zankyou's analysis, Americans are neither big spenders nor cheapskates, though their spending shrunk 2% from last year. Here are the average donations from guests in the 12 countries included in Zankyou's report, from smallest to largest: 

 

The change leaves players at a bigger disadvantage.

By MSN Money Partner 21 hours ago

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.

 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyIf you're looking to play blackjack in Las Vegas, you need to know that some Vegas casino operators are changing their blackjack payouts.


Earlier this year, Las Vegas Sands, which owns the Venetian and the Palazzo casinos, altered its payouts from three-to-two to six-to-five, according to Pacific Standard. Here's a different way to look at it: A $10 blackjack hand no longer wins $15. The payout is $12 instead.


Blackjack hand with Ace & King of spades© Adam Balatoni/Getty ImagesIn blackjack, players try to get cards whose face value adds up to 21, or as close as possible to 21, without going over.


Henry Tamburin, a gambler, gaming instructor and author, equates the payout change to a hidden tax on players. According to Pacific Standard:

Tamburin says a player can expect to hit a blackjack about once every 21 hands. At an average of 80 hands an hour, that translates to the house snatching an extra $12 out of players' hands every 60 minutes. Spread that over every player at every table at a casino and you can see why pit bosses might go all in on six-to-five.

It appears that other casinos may be following Las Vegas Sands' lead.

 

A recent survey identified the global cities with the highest percentage of millionaires.

By MSN Money Partner 21 hours ago

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyThe Big Apple is teeming with millionaires. In fact, if you're walking down the street in New York City, chances are a millionaire is not far away.


That's according to a recent Spear's magazine study, which said that 1 in 25 New Yorkers is a millionaire. With 389,100 millionaires, New York ranks fourth on a list of global cities with the highest percentage of millionaires.


Central Park at twilight with reflections of Midtown Manhattan buildings, New York : © Brian Jannsen/Alamy
A millionaire is someone whose net worth, excluding their primary residence, is $1 million or more.


Spear's worked with consulting firm WealthInsight to determine the list. According to the Los Angeles Times:

"New York has long been the bastion of wealth not only in America, but the world," said Oliver Williams, an analyst at WealthInsight. "It has the second largest millionaire and largest billionaire population of any global city."

Monaco, Zurich and Geneva earned the top three spots for the highest percentage of millionaires. One in every 3 people living in Monaco is a millionaire.


Two other U.S. cities also made the list.

 

You probably assume that your bank's website is secure. However, a new report shows that banking websites might not be so airtight against attacks.

By Credit.com 22 hours ago

This post comes from Eva Velasquez at partner site Credit.com.


Credit.com on MSN MoneyWhen you go online to bank, you probably assume the site – along with your transaction – is secure. However, a new report shows that your banking experience could be more vulnerable than you think.


Computer error © Digital Vision/Digital Vision Ltd.Operation Emmental, cleverly named by Trend Micro to convey how full of holes online banking protections can be, is the latest threat affecting 34 banks and a yet-to-be-determined number of European consumers. While there has been considerable news coverage of this hacking scam in tech and cybersecurity circles, the story has not made it into the consciousness of mainstream America and probably wasn’t a topic of discussion at your dinner table last night. The article in the New York Times recently, “Hackers Find Way to Outwit Tough Security at Banking Sites” didn’t make the top 20 most read online articles while “French Food Goes Down” and “What Writers Can learn from ‘Goodnight Moon’” did.


So why isn’t there more interest? And more importantly, why should there be?

 

You probably don't need a full-blown pet trust, but you do need to take steps to make sure your beloved animals are cared for if you die before they do.

By MSN Money Partner 22 hours ago

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis at partner site Money Talks News.
 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyEstate planning is smart for a lot of reasons. One easily overlooked one is to make sure your beloved animal sidekicks will be well taken care of if you should die before they do.


Dog © Alley Cat Productions/Brand X/CorbisAs anyone who has worked at an animal shelter will tell you, a number of the pets there were beloved companions who became homeless because of their owners' deaths.


Trouble's story

Perhaps the most spectacular illustration of estate planning for a pet was the $12 million fortune that hotel magnate Leona Helmsley bequeathed to her little white Maltese, Trouble.


Trouble, presumably the world's richest dog, died in 2011 at age 12, leading ABC News to reminisce:

When Helmsley died in 2007, she left Trouble $12 million. Twelve million! A judge knocked it down to $2 million but still, she was one of the world's wealthiest animals.

Helmsley was eccentric, but on this question, at least, she had the right idea. Lining up care for your pets in case you die ensures that your animals won't be abandoned.

 

A Fidelity study found that adult kids and their folks aren't on the same page when it comes to discussing finances.

By MSN Money Partner Fri 4:42 PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyIf you think the birds and the bees is the most uncomfortable discussion a parent and child can have, think again. It seems there's an even more difficult talk: the one between parents and their adult children about money.


 Adult with elderly parent © Digital Vision/SuperStockAccording to Fidelity's Intra-Family Generational Finance Study (.pdf file), parents and their adult children agree that discussing finances -- including retirement planning, elder care and inheritance -- is important. Unfortunately, they can't seem to agree on when the conversation should occur, and how much financial detail should be covered.


The study found that while parents prefer to delay the conversation until after they've retired, most children said the finance discussion should occur earlier, before retirement or potential health issues arise. Overall, just 40 percent of parents said they had a detailed conversation with their children about expenses during retirement.


Some parents said they avoid the financial talk because they don't want their children to count on receiving an inheritance, MarketWatch said. The top reason kids said they don't want to broach the discussion is because they believe it’s upsetting to talk about -- both for them and for their parents.

 

Tax-free weekends help your back-to-school dollars go a little further. Find out if your state participates.

By MSN Money Partner Fri 4:36 PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneySchool supplies aren't cheap.


The National Retail Federation projects that U.S. families will spend an average of $669 on back-to-school items like clothes, shoes, supplies and electronics, up 5 percent from $635 last year. If you're looking to get a bigger bang for your buck on school items, back-to-school sales tax holidays are a great time to shop.


 A green chalkboard with the alphabet written on it © Ocean, Corbis A number of states offer tax-free weekends during the back-to-school shopping period, where select items -- typically clothing, footwear and school supplies -- can be purchased tax-free. The back-to-school shopping period is the second-largest selling season of the year, according to Today.


"Sales tax holidays are very, very popular with consumers and very successful at getting consumers into stores and getting them to spend money," said J. Craig Shearman, vice president of government affairs public relations at the National Retail Federation.


The impact goes far beyond money, Shearman said. If a retailer were to offer 5 percent off a purchase, consumers -- who are used to seeing double-digit discounts in store windows -- would laugh. But because the discount relates to not paying a sales tax, it has a psychological appeal, he said.

 

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