Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Add a new component to this year's already raging price wars: shipping deals. We predict you'll see more.

By Teresa Mears Nov 11, 2010 12:41PM

We're already seeing fierce price competition this holiday season. Now Wal-Mart has bought out the big gun: free shipping.

In a new twist on everyday low prices (and an attempt to revive flagging sales), Wal-Mart announced Thursday that it would offer free shipping on 60,000 items through Dec. 20, with no minimum purchase required. The company will even offer free shipping on returns.


"Everyone’s trying to figure out how we can serve a customer that's trying to save every penny they can," Steve Nave, Wal-Mart senior vice president and general manager, told The New York Times. "It's the most competitive offer out there, and we're pretty excited about it."


My bankruptcy was my one big do-over, and you don't often get another one.

By Karen Datko Nov 11, 2010 12:27PM

This guest post by Debt Kid comes from


Editor's note: Debt Kid found himself in serious debt after day-trading away more than a quarter-million dollars. He's been blogging since 2007 about his journey back to zero.


In 2007, after trying a debt-management plan, and selling most of my possessions on eBay, I hit my breaking point. I couldn't afford to keep servicing more than $250,000 in debt. I did something I never thought I would have to do: I filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Doh!

Fast-forward to today, and while it was not an easy process to go through, I learned some lessons from the whole ordeal.


It's silly to attach value to something just because it's been hanging around for a while.

By Karen Datko Nov 11, 2010 9:04AM

This guest post comes from Lauren at Richly Reasonable.


Last week I told y'all how I'm helping the folks purge their closets, drawers and cabinets of childhood "relics" that the sisters and I had left behind (either intentionally or unintentionally).


Apart from some interesting finds -- like my fifth-grade autobiography/political manifesto (because of which I am now likely on some sort of government watch list; crazy, crazy stuff) -- most of my discoveries have been, as expected, junk.

Some of the found items we could have never meant to leave behind, i.e., Hungry Hungry Hippos. Many of the things, however, we simply couldn't bring ourselves to throw away. But that didn't mean we wanted them in our houses either.


So why do we keep junk? Better yet, why do we buy it in the first place?


We are delusional.


Defaults by high-scoring borrowers spur lenders to look at a lot more of your personal financial data.

By Teresa Mears Nov 10, 2010 9:28PM

We've known for years that lending institutions paid great attention to our credit scores. But the fact that people with perfect credit are among those defaulting on mortgages has made lenders look for new ways to judge potential borrowers.


That could be good news or bad news for consumers, depending on how they handle their financial lives -- or how well their asssets are holding up.


Your paycheck is likely to shrink in January. The only question is by how much. And it's not just the temporary Bush tax cuts that are at stake.

By Money Staff Nov 10, 2010 7:45PM

This post comes from MSN Money's Liz Pulliam Weston.


Liz Pulliam WestonYou've probably heard that Congress will discuss extending the Bush-era tax cuts when it reconvenes next week. Even if lawmakers manage to settle that squabble before the end of the year -- which is not guaranteed -- they’re unlikely to extend another tax break that’s beefed up most workers' paychecks this year.

We're not talking small change, either. If lawmakers don't extend the Bush tax cuts for lower- and middle-income families, people will see a big jump in their tax bite next year, according to The Wall Street Journal. For example:

  • A household making $40,000 would see its paychecks shrink by $95 a month if it had no children, $135 if it had one child and $165 if it had two children.
  • A household making $80,000 would see its monthly paychecks shrink by $145 with no kids, $150 with one and $180 with two.
  • A household making $100,000 would clear $270 less per month with no kids, $300 less with one and $335 less with two.

Nice, huh? But there's another, less-talked-about tax break that’s been helping you out.


National parks are free for all, and active or former military members can get dinners, car washes and shopping discounts.

By Teresa Mears Nov 10, 2010 2:09PM

We wrote last week about deals for Veterans Day, but so many new deals have emerged that we've put together another roundup.

Remember that entry to national parks is free for everyone Nov. 11 in honor of Veterans Day, and some state parks and tourist attractions are offering free entry to either the public or veterans and military.


The discount retailer’s ad hit the Web -- and while the reaction is mixed, a few deals are keepers.

By Money Staff Nov 10, 2010 1:16PM

This post comes from Melinda Fulmer of MSN Money.


Target's leaked Black Friday ad hit the Web Tuesday night, offering a handful of deals tempting enough to get many bargain-savvy shoppers off their couch.

The discounter, which will open its stores at 4 a.m. Friday, is offering some sweet deals on electronics, video games and toys to lure jaded shoppers into its stores after weeks of pre-sales. And for every purchase over $100, shoppers will receive a $10 Target gift card (one per customer.)


I've never seen a kid do a happy dance around the living room for a gift card.

By Karen Datko Nov 10, 2010 11:38AM

This post comes from Sonja Stewart at partner blog Wise Bread.


Do you remember what it was like to be a kid? Do you remember how hard it was to get your hands on cash?


I know I'm dating myself here, but when I was young, a dollar was, well, paper money. I could get a lot of candy for that dollar. A lot.

So why have I been so hesitant to give kids cash for gifts? Will I be getting them practical things next, like socks and sweaters and underpants?


No way. I'm refusing to become that grown up. Here's why I'm sending cash for Christmas, and you should too.



Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.