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Some big banks are considering restricting the size of debit card purchases. It's part of their response to proposed federal regulations.

By Karen Datko Mar 16, 2011 12:17PM

What if your debit card no longer worked for purchases exceeding $50 or $100?


That's one of the ideas big banks are floating as they battle a proposed limit on how much they can charge merchants each time you swipe your card.


This idea isn't going over well in all quarters. Wrote The Budgeting Babe:

Talk about alienating your customers! I use my debit card for everything -- including monthly automatic bill pay for a few accounts that definitely charge more than $100 per month. And now the banks want us to use credit for that. Credit?! Just when America was learning to wean ourselves off our credit cards!

A $35 purchase can net you $225 in savings in the first year.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 16, 2011 8:57AM

This post comes from G.E. Miller at partner blog Wise Bread.


Bold statement alert: The best money-saving device that you may ever purchase in terms of return on investment is a low-flow shower head.


Why use a low-flow shower head? One 10-minute shower with an inefficient shower head uses 55 gallons of water (5.5 gallons per minute, or gpm) on average, while an Energy Star model uses less than half that at 2.5 gpm. Most shower heads made before 1992 have a 5.5 gpm flow.


Employers might as well embrace the tournament as a way to build company morale and workplace camaraderie.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 15, 2011 2:38PM

This post comes from Jeanine Skowronski at partner site MainStreet.


Employers may not be looking forward to March Madness.


According to a report from outplacement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., an estimated 8.4 million work hours will be lost to the annual three-week-long tournament set to begin today (March 15).


Challenger says if you multiply that figure by $22.87, the average hourly earnings among private-sector workers, the financial impact would exceed $192 million.


They're extremely well-reimbursed by anything but Wall Street standards, but too many are ill-prepared if the cash spigot stops flowing because of a work stoppage.

By doubleace Mar 15, 2011 1:05PM

This post comes from Lynn Mucken at MSN Money.


The all-but-assured National Football League work stoppage -- that means no Sunday football next fall -- has been described as millionaires vs. billionaires, a contest to see which rich guys blink first. 


The 1,700 players, after all, averaged $1.87 million in pay this past season, with a median of about $700,000 and a minimum of $320,000. The owners of the 32 teams? Most were extremely wealthy before they bought their teams, and sure haven't suffered any financial setbacks since then.


States are passing laws to force Amazon to collect sales tax, and the online giant is fighting back.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 15, 2011 11:50AM

This guest post comes from Laura Heller at


Anyone who's saved money with sales-tax-free purchases online should pay attention: All that may be coming to an end as states try to recoup revenue to fill gaping holes in their budgets., as the largest Internet-only retailer with $34 billion in revenue last year, is facing the brunt of this pressure and is fighting back with all of its might. But retailers like and Zappos will also be affected.


If you're intent on winning a stuffed animal, play games that pit you against a lot of other players.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 15, 2011 9:35AM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


My favorite part about spring, besides the good weather, is the arrival of carnivals.


Carnivals are little bastions of legalized gambling wrapped up in funnel cake, sometimes less-than-safe rides and bright flashing lights. I love carnivals because you can walk around for free, listen to the cheer of the crowd as someone wins an oversized stuffed animal, and enjoy the outdoors while sampling a bit of capitalism here or there.


The cornerstone of every carnival is the game area. I say it's legalized gambling because otherwise rational people hand over real money to play fake games and win stuffed prizes.


The 100-watt light bulb that provides the heat source will no longer be sold next year. The oven is being redesigned.

By Karen Datko Mar 14, 2011 8:11PM

How many parents will it take to change a light bulb in an Easy-Bake Oven next year?


None, since the 100-watt bulb that serves as the heating element in the classic toy won't be sold in the U.S. after Jan. 1. (Note to parents: Stock up now on the light bulbs so you won't have to spring for the new, bulb-free version of this hall of fame plaything.)


Being nickel-and-dimed by the airlines has irritated many passengers, but some would be willing to pay extra for child-free flights, among other things.

By Karen Datko Mar 14, 2011 4:33PM

Airline fees for this and that are annoying and accumulating at a rapid pace. But are some fees actually worth the cost? And are the airlines missing out by not charging for some things we would be happy to pay extra for?


For instance, some recent surveys and reader polls indicate that travelers would be willing to pay more for child-free flights.



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