Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Just in time for Financial Literacy Month, surveys show that many Americans are poorly equipped to handle their current and future finances.

By MSN Money Partner Mon 1:11 PM

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

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyIf you lost your job and sole source of income tomorrow, could you live for more than a month on what you have saved? If you answered "no," you're not alone.


A survey conducted by RetailMeNot and The Omnibus Co. -- just in time for Financial Literacy Month -- found that just 52 percent of respondents could live for more than a month on what they have socked away in their savings accounts.


Office worker wearing dunce hat © Design Pics/CorbisIf that's not concerning enough, nearly half of those surveyed said they lack knowledge or understanding, and thus confidence, about their personal finances. Many people are in dire need of financial literacy.


But truly, there are simple steps people can take. Trae Bodge, senior editor for The Real Deal blog by RetailMeNot, said:

Saving money is just one part of the financial literacy equation. It is also important that consumers spend wisely to be able to afford the items they need. Making small adjustments to shopping behaviors, like utilizing discounts for everyday purchases, in addition to putting away even a small amount each month, are important steps toward achieving overall financial health.

Other key findings of the survey include:

 

When it comes to food budget savings, what comes first -- the chicken or the egg?

By Cheapism.com Mon 12:51 PM
This post comes from Josue Ledesma at partner site Cheapism.com.

Cheapism.com on MSN MoneyWith sustainability gaining a foothold in the popular imagination, raising chickens in the backyard holds a certain appeal. There's the steady supply of fresh eggs from a flock of hens, for one, the natural grooming of the landscape when the brood roams free, and the general thrill that comes with money-saving self-sufficiency.
 
A chicken rest in a backyard coop in La Porte, Colo. © Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images
But a word to the wise: Before forging ahead, check local zoning regulations and health codes. The raising of livestock, which may or may not include chickens, is subject to local control in many communities.
 

One financial expert says parents should start easing children off the family gravy train before they're old enough to drive.

By Credit.com Mon 12:22 PM
This post comes from Gerri Detweiler at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneyThey're becoming adults, they're graduating or they've pointed out they are now 18 and can make their own decisions. And you silently wonder when they'll start making their own money, too.


Young man sitting at a table in front of a laptop holding a credit card © Jack Hollingsworth, Blend Images, Getty ImagesHow long do you support your children financially? For many baby boomers, the answer is unclear. Many report that they are still supporting grown children. Retirement planners sometimes worry about it. But when, exactly, do you start encouraging your kids to be more financially independent?


Author and financial coach Gail Perry-Mason has an answer: age 14.

 

Some homemade cleaners perform better than commercial ones, cost less and are better for the environment.

By MSN Money Partner Mon 12:05 PM

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


Money Talks News at MSN MoneyYou've probably heard that you can make your own cleaning products from ingredients found around the house. But how do they stack up against commercial cleaners?


You can clean your home effectively -- killing germs and bacteria while protecting your health and caring for the environment (Tuesday, April 22, is Earth Day!) -- and for about half of what you're probably paying now.

 

Different financial situations call for different credit cards. Here's how to know if a card is right -- or wrong -- for you.

By Credit.com Mon 11:46 AM

This post comes from Jason Steele at partner site Credit.com.


Credit.com on MSN MoneyBetween television commercials, and advertisements on the Internet and in your mailbox, there is no shortage of information about credit cards.


Credit cards © Corbis

But when it comes to determining which one you should get, a pretty good place to start, when sorting through the hundreds of cards on the market, is to eliminate those you should avoid.


With so many different credit cards available, there are right and wrong cards for each different kind of credit card user.


So first figure out what type of credit card customer you are, and then be sure to avoid these cards.

 

Saving just a single month of expenses may take longer than you think. See how your savings rate affects how quickly you can build a solid emergency fund.

By Dough Roller Fri 4:59 PM
This post comes from Rob Berger at partner site the Dough Roller.

The Dough Roller on MSN MoneyWe often talk about the importance of saving an emergency fund.  Many financial experts suggest building an emergency fund that is equal to three to six months' worth of expenses.  Have you ever thought about just how long it takes to save even one month of expenses?

Office worker marking calendar with red pen © Image Source, Image Source, Getty ImagesThe formula to figure out just how long it will take is very simple.  It's also eye-opening.

First, let's start with your after-tax income. Take this amount and divide it into two buckets - how much you spend and how much you save.

Don't forget to include savings and spending that come directly out of your paycheck -- e.g., 401k contributions (saving) and health insurance premiums (spending).

Once you know how much you spend and how much you save, it's easy to figure how long it'll take to save your month's worth of expenses.
 

They're more alike than you realize, and not in good ways. And that's coming from someone who likes Peeps.

By Credit.com Fri 2:08 PM
This post comes from Gerri Detweiler at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneyYou see them at every grocery or drugstore checkout line -- brightly colored Peeps calling to you from the display. Does anybody ever go to the store with Peeps on the list? Certainly nowhere near as many people as those who come home having purchased them.


 Easter Peeps © PRNewsFoto/PEEPS/AP
They're not unlike payday loans -- stay with me a minute, even if you love Peeps (and we certainly do).


Payday loans are never on anybody's list of ideal ways to make ends meet. And yet, payday lending is a big business. Somehow, similar to the bright-colored marshmallow chicks we didn't plan to buy, we may find ourselves in payday loan debt we didn't plan to go into.


Here's how Peeps and payday loans are similar.

 

There are plenty of people who are willing to buy your silver and other valuables, but most won't give you top dollar for what you have.

By MSN Money Partner Fri 1:18 PM

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


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyGrandma's silver was such a great gift. Until you realized you need to polish it. Gorgeous old silver flatware, trays, bowls, pitchers and tea sets may be more of a responsibility than many people today are able to take on. If you decide to sell it, you'll want to get top dollar.


Antique silverware and old silver jewelry © Ekspansio/Getty Images
A wide array of businesses buy household silver, and many offer considerably less than your silver is worth.


"It seems these days on every corner next to the nail parlor, you see a place with a sign: 'We buy gold, we buy precious metals,'" says Steve Yvaska, The Antiques Advisor. An expert in American silver, he appraises antiques and writes a column on antiques and collectibles for the San Jose Mercury News.


Don't just walk into an unknown business with your bag of silver and expect to get the best price. By the same token, you can't expect to get more for your silver than is realistic. Educate yourself to learn the value of what you have and maximize your profit, Yvaska urges.


Learn what you've got

Household silver is sold in one of two ways:

 

DATA PROVIDERS

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.

ABOUT SMART SPENDING

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.

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

TOOLS

More