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Gasoline prices have experienced an uptick recently and will continue to edge up slightly as summer approaches.

By Money Staff 14 hours ago

This post comes from Ellen Chang at partner site MainStreet.


MainStreet on MSN MoneyGasoline prices have experienced an uptick recently but will continue to edge up slightly as summer approaches, industry experts said.


Prices at gas pumps across the country are averaging $3.60 a gallon as temperatures rose slightly in some regions.


Buying gas © moodboard/CorbisGasbuddy.com found that gas reached $3.60 a gallon in many states. Marked exceptions on the low-end were Montana, where gasoline prices were $3.27 a gallon, and Texas, where gas was $3.47 a gallon. By contrast, California had gas as high as $4.17 in California, and Hawaii hit $4.28 a gallon.


Regular gasoline retail prices will continue to stay within this range and is projected to reach an average of $3.57 per gallon overall during the period of April through September, the Energy Information Administration said. The annual average regular gasoline retail price was $3.58 per gallon in 2013.


The projected national average regular retail gasoline price falls from $3.66 per gallon in May to $3.46 per gallon in September. The EIA expects regular gasoline retail prices to average $3.45 per gallon in 2014 and $3.37 per gallon in 2015, compared with $3.51 per gallon in 2013.


"After rising into May, the retail price is expected to fall through the remainder of the summer because both crude oil prices and gasoline crack spreads (the difference between wholesale product price and the price of crude oil) decline," the EIA said in its report.

 

Remember Murphy's Law? Make your finances rock solid with these 10 financial products.

By MSN Money Partner 15 hours ago

This post comes from Maryalene LaPonsie at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyBeing money smart is about more than having a budget and eliminating dumb purchases. It means creating a financial foundation that will carry you and your family comfortably through whatever life throws your way.


Woman counting money © Jose Luis Pelaez Inc, Blend Images, Getty ImagesTo create that foundation and find lasting financial security, you need to own these 10 products. (Hint: You're about to hear a lot about insurance.)


1. Checking account

Let's start with the basics. You need to have a centralized place to manage and monitor your money. After all, it's hard to have a balanced budget if you have only a hazy idea of where your money is going.


Prepaid cards are an increasingly popular option, but they can come saddled with lots of fees. Plus, disclosures for these cards can be spotty, making it hard to know exactly how much your card is costing you.


Instead, look for a free checking account. Many institutions have scaled back their offerings, but there are still ways to get free checking from a bank or credit union.

 

Social Security has stopped trying to settle debts that are more than 10 years old by seizing tax refunds.

By MSN Money Partner 16 hours ago

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


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyThe Social Security Administration is backing off the controversial practice of seizing tax refunds to collect on decades-old debt.


Social Security Card © Tom Grill/Photographers Choice RF/Getty ImagesActing Social Security commissioner Carolyn Colvin issued the following statement  Monday:

I have directed an immediate halt to further referrals under the Treasury Offset Program to recover debts owed to the agency that are 10 years old and older pending a thorough review of our responsibility and discretion under the current law.

Colvin added, "If any Social Security or Supplemental Security Income beneficiary believes they have been incorrectly assessed with an overpayment under this program, I encourage them to request an explanation or seek options to resolve the overpayment."


It's a big deal, reports The Washington Post, which broke the story about the program's irregularities.

 

Eating healthy usually costs more, so some insurers are mailing out coupons to help out.

By Money Staff 19 hours ago

This post comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site CNBC.


CNBC on MSN MoneyThe Sunday paper isn't the only game in town when it comes to printed grocery coupons: Some health insurers are sending discount mailers to consumers as an incentive to eat healthier.


By their measures, at least, there's some evidence that it's working. Among recipients of such mailings, purchases of healthy items (per USDA guidelines) grew 4.5 percent in 2012 to 43 percent of grocery spending, according to a white paper from Linkwell Health.

 

New York java junkies can use an app's prepaid plan to quaff as much coffee as they want, for a monthly rate.

By Money Staff 19 hours ago

This post comes from Caroline Winter at partner site Bloomberg BusinessWeek.


Bloomberg BusinessWeek on MSN MoneyNew York caffeine junkies, look alive: A new app called CUPS allows subscribers to pay $45 per month for unlimited coffee from almost 40 independent coffee shops around the city.


Designed by a small team from Israel, the app is intended as an alternative to the smartphone loyalty cards offered by the likes of Starbucks. "It’s a similar service," says Gilad Rotem, a co-founder of the startup, which is also called CUPS. "We’re offering a mobile app, prepaid plan, but it's for independent, higher-quality coffee."


 Coffee © HD Connelly, Getty ImagesNew Yorkers will pay $45 a month for brewed, drip, pour-over, or filtered coffee (or tea).


Latte drinkers will pay more: The unlimited espresso subscription costs $85 a month. Rotem says the prices are equivalent to about 22 cups, or roughly one java beverage per workday per month. On average, Americans consume 1.7 cups of coffee a day, according to Studylogic, which means a CUPS subscription may not be a bad deal. For coffee drinkers with a lower caffeine tolerance, CUPS also offers prepaid package deals for 5, 10, or 20 drinks per month.

 

Bad news: Your teen got into a jam with the law. Will bailing him out of jail mean bad news for your finances, too?

By Credit.com 20 hours ago
This post comes from Gerri Detweiler at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneyIt's spring, and that means spring break, graduation season and perhaps a bit of reckless behavior parents hadn't expected. If you get a 2 a.m. phone call -- the good news that your kid is not in the hospital, the bad news that he needs bail money -- what's a sleepy, startled parent to do?


If the crime is serious, you may have to wait for a judge to set bail at a hearing. For less serious infractions, there are standard amounts of bail, depending on the charge. Sometimes, a suspect will be released on his or her own recognizance. That will cost you nothing other than the rest of the night lost to picking up your child and worrying about what's next.


Jail © CorbisOther times, the bail could be relatively low, say, $10,000 or $25,000. That's still a lot of money. But if you want to and you are able, you can pay the full amount and it will be refunded when your child appears in court as scheduled.

 

If you trust the website, can you trust the ads you see on it?

By MSN Money Partner Tue 3:22 PM

This post comes from Stacy Johnson at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyToday I'm going to once again address a concern I've talked about before — namely, the advertising you see on websites, television, newspapers and every form of mass communication that accepts it.


Annoyed woman looking at computer © Sheer Photo, Inc/Getty Images
To get started, here are two recent reader comments. I've gotten many similar ones over the years.

You run articles warning us about rip-offs and then you post one on your website. … Explain why you allow this scam on your website. Thank you. -- David

This one is about a different company, but the theme is the same.

I just want you to know that a company you sponsor on your website for cost-saving purposes is not reputable. I have reported (them) to Discover Card fraud services, the New York State BBB and Utah BBB. I am also unsubscribing from your newsletter.
I thought you vetted your affiliations better than that. It's a shame since people rely on you to save money and not get scammed. I hope you do a better job vetting in the future. -- Joe

These emails are painful. I've spent decades building credibility as a journalist. Without it, I'm out of business. So when I read things like "Explain why you allow this scam on your website" and "I thought you vetted your affiliations better than that," it really makes me cringe.


Here’s the deal, guys: We can't vet the advertisers on our website because we rarely know who they are. To understand why, here's a quick lesson in how online advertising works.

 

If you sue your bank, you may be required to pay the bank's legal fees -- even if you win.

By MSN Money Partner Tue 1:36 PM

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


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyLooking to settle a dispute with your bank? Your options are likely limited.


Chances are your bank has a so-called mandatory binding arbitration agreement in its checking contract -- the voluminous, 40-plus-page document that you signed and probably didn't read. (You're not alone. Ninety percent of consumers don't read all of it, according to MarketWatch.)


Bank sign © John Foxx, Stockbyte, Getty ImagesA recent study by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that 70 percent of banks, up from 58 percent in 2013, have verbiage in their contracts that prevents customers from suing the bank on their own or as part of a class-action lawsuit.


As if that's not bad enough, some banks require that consumers who bring suit against the bank will have to pay the bank’s expenses, no matter who wins the case, MarketWatch said.


You read that correctly: If you take your bank to court to settle a claim and you win, you may have to pay your bank's legal expenses. The "loss, costs and expenses" clause is included in the fine print of about 1 in 4 banks' checking account contracts.

 

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