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Companies that offer rewards reap the benefits when customers don't redeem them.

By MSN Money Partner May 4, 2011 11:37AM

This post comes from Brian O'Connellat partner site MainStreet.

 

Americans are great at accruing loyalty rewards points, especially from retailers, banks and credit card companies. Unfortunately, they're just as good at not cashing those rewards in.

 

A new study from Colloquy, a marketing firm in Cincinnati, shows that about 33% of the 48 million rewards points earned by American consumers each year go unused, presumably due to neglect and misinformation, for a total value of $16 billion.

 

That news will probably make the companies that promote them happy, as the banks, credit card companies and retailers benefit from a huge de facto profit-making engine without having to lift a finger.

 

You won't get market value, and fancy presentations don't mean anything, because it's all going to be melted down anyway. But selling gold jewelry and coins can help in tough economic times.

By MSN Money Partner May 4, 2011 11:25AM

This post comes from Erin Peterson at partner site Bankrate.com.

 

Bankrate on MSN MoneyIt's not a bad idea to sell your old gold jewelry or coins to help you ride out the recession. Just don't expect to get the full market value for an ounce of gold that you hear so much about.

 

First, you'll get a portion of the scrap value, not the market value, for your gold. Buyers melt the gold down, so they will not pay anything for the artisanship or style of the jewelry. Second, dealers must pay a smelter, someone who melts the gold, up to 30% of the value to refine the precious metal. Then there's the buyer's profit.

 

Also, remember, some gold items are purer -- and more valuable -- than others are. Pure gold is considered 24 karat, or 24k. Think of it as a 24-slice pie -- each slice a single karat. Therefore, a necklace that has an ounce of 10k gold has less than half the gold of a necklace with an ounce of 24k gold.

 

With those savings, you could buy a nice laptop or a lovely wardrobe, or save for a family vacation.

By MSN Money Partner May 4, 2011 9:47AM

This post comes from Paul Michael at partner blog Wise Bread.

 

Most of us eat out at least once a week. In fact, renowned culinary expert Zagat recently announced that although we are dining out less as a nation -- due to the poor economy -- we are still eating out an average of 3.1 times per week. That's the average. Of course, some of us are eating out daily. (See also: "A cheapskate's guide to eating out.")

 

And when we eat out, be it at a fast-food restaurant or something more refined, we drink soda. Oh, how we drink soda. As a nation, we can't get enough of it. Dr. Oz says that "53 million Americans drink at least one soda a day, and we spent $70 billion last year on soda."

 

That got me thinking. How much would we save, on average, if we substituted tap water (not bottled, please) for soda every time we ate out?

 

A large majority of Americans are unwilling to pay anything at all for online content from daily newspapers.

By MSN Money Partner May 3, 2011 7:01PM

This post comes from partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

Newspapers and other traditional media outlets have spent a lot of time and money trying to figure out how to charge their online readers, who are often getting a free ride when they read news online.

 

But the latest Adweek/Harris poll shows that a large majority of Americans -- 80% -- say they are willing to pay exactly "nothing" to read a daily newspaper online.

 

Many of us don't know beans about mortgages. Or can't even add or subtract. Can you do better?

By MSN Money Partner May 3, 2011 5:25PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis at MSN Money.

 

Ignorant homebuyers weren't the only cause of the home loan crisis. Not by a long shot. But, boy, did they help.

 

Yes, there was also predatory lending, artificially low interest rates, easy credit, and a culture of keeping up with the Joneses, among other things.  

 

But without our collective ignorance, all those other factors wouldn't have mattered, would they?

 

Can you do better?

The results were a little unnerving when Zillow.com recently used a survey company to test the mortgage savvy of 168 randomly selected adults 18 and over who said they were prospective homebuyers.

 

Many people pay bills month after month for things that could be had for considerably less -- or for free.

By MSN Money Partner May 3, 2011 3:36PM

This post comes fromTara Struyk at partner site Investopedia.

 

"Save your money" has become a bit of a clichéd piece of financial advice -- and it's especially grating during a recession, when many people have very little money left over after paying for basic expenses. But no matter how slim your margins, there are almost always some expenses that can be cut.

 

Fortunately, those cuts need not be overly painful. In fact, many people pay bills month after month on things they could be paying considerably less for -- or get for free.

 

Three exams in 13 months bring startlingly different results. What's up with that?

By doubleace May 3, 2011 11:43AM

This post comes from Lynn Mucken at MSN Money.

 

My dental problems began about 10 years ago. Not problems with my teeth or gums; problems with my dentists.

 

I had strolled into the office for my semiannual cleaning and checkup. The receptionist, in that cheery receptionist way, greeted me with, "Doctor has a new associate. Do you mind if she does your checkup?"

 

The associate took the usual five-minute look, then asked, "Would it surprise you to find out you have three cavities? One of them will require a root canal."

 

Yes, it would surprise me.

 

Some personal-finance bloggers urge one path; some prefer the other. Who's right?

By MSN Money Partner May 3, 2011 9:18AM

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

 

One thing I love to do is to browse through random personal-finance blogs. I'll jump on links from one blog to another, just to see what a new voice will have to say. Doing this helps me get a pretty good idea of the various perspectives and ideas that are out there. It also helps me notice a few "groupings" of ideas out there as well.

For example, I notice that PF bloggers often are either wholeheartedly about frugality or they're all about entrepreneurship and earning more money. They'll write only about their ideas and sometimes even take swipes at other perspectives (I often see entrepreneurship blogs making fun of frugality).

 

Frankly, I find this completely silly.

 

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