Smart SpendingSmart Spending

What if doctors' offices were like the gym: pay $50 to $150 monthly and come as often as you like -- without insurance? It's already available.

By Stacy Johnson Nov 2, 2010 6:10PM

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


You've probably heard of Doctors Without Borders. Maybe it's time for doctors without insurance.


Thanks to a little-known provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as health care reform, beginning in 2014 a new type of medical practice will be allowed to compete within state-based insurance exchanges. They're called direct primary care practices or "medical homes."

By eliminating insurance companies from the health care equation, these practices promise to lower the cost of medical care by up to 40% -- according to some experts -- the amount sucked up by insurance company profit and overhead.


There are subtle differences between these two huge shopping days, so you need a strategy.

By Karen Datko Nov 2, 2010 4:27PM

This post comes from Melinda Fulmer of MSN Money.


In the holiday spending smackdown, there are two big shopping days when people start opening their wallets and crossing off their lists.


One is Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, when people have traditionally camped out in the cold for hot in-store deals. The other is Cyber Monday, a flurry of online-only sales three days later. 

What's the difference? Increasingly, not that much, says Dan de Grandpre, CEO of, as retailers shift more Black Friday deals to the Web. But there are some subtle differences that can help you plan your shopping strategy.


Housing was looking good for a while but prices are falling again. One expert predicts they'll drop 8% more.

By Karen Datko Nov 2, 2010 3:52PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.


The question on the lips of many homeowners in America is: How much longer will my home's value be sliding down the drain?


No one knows, of course. But a useful activity -- even if it's not comforting -- is watching the direction of housing prices around the country. (Tell us how you are getting through this. Would you rather just cover your eyes?)

Even if you don't have a dog -- er, a home -- in this race, the fate of housing is the fate of the whole economy. So we've all got a stake in the outcome.


Companies are charging customers for roadside assistance, unless they pay a daily fee up front. But whose fault is a flat?

By Teresa Mears Nov 2, 2010 2:18PM

Just in case you don't have enough fees when you travel, the rental car industry is piling on more.

It's not just the "privilege fee" or the "energy surcharge" or the fee for an extra driver.


Now if THEIR car has trouble on the road and you haven't paid the daily roadside assistance fee, you may pay extra for a repair, such as fixing a flat tire.


This maker of fine cotton stationery is also the sole provider of currency paper to the U.S. government.

By Karen Datko Nov 2, 2010 12:44PM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


Who is Crane & Co. and why would we want to know 10 fun facts about it? Open up your wallet or your purse and pull out a bill. Crane & Co. manufactures the paper the money is printed on.


In fact, Crane & Co. actually prints money for Sweden, Saudi Arabia and India, and supplies currency paper to a number of other countries. While they're also a high-end stationery provider, 80% of their revenue is from currency business accounts.


Here are a few more fun facts about Crane & Co.:


New Group Gifts app allows donors to organize a joint gift via Facebook or e-mail, no cash collection required.

By Teresa Mears Nov 2, 2010 11:35AM

EBay has come up with a whole new definition of group buying.

The online auction site has just launched Group Gifts, a way for a group of people to buy a gift together. If you and your co-workers want to chip in for a wedding gift for the boss, someone can choose a gift, notify the others via e-mail or Facebook, and everyone can contribute using PayPal, a credit card or a debit card. If you don't raise enough money for your initial gift choice, the funds can be transferred to a less expensive gift. But no one actually needs to collect cash.


If you use Facebook Connect, eBay will even suggest gifts, based on the recipient's profile. If you choose this option, you have to give the service permission to access your profile and your friends' profiles. If their privacy settings don't allow that, the gift suggestions will be less personalized.


When times get tough, people tend to shift their giving toward groups that provide basic needs.

By Karen Datko Nov 2, 2010 10:24AM

This Deal of the Day comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site SmartMoney.


Whether Americans are moved by the holiday spirit or just doing some last-ditch tax planning, the charitable-giving season starts now.

But with budgets tight, it's important to get the most out of your gift -- and you might get more mileage from your contribution by giving to smaller, local organizations, rather than to the big, brand-name charities.


Borrowing from your 401k or taking a hardship withdrawal will come with consequences.

By Karen Datko Nov 1, 2010 5:00PM

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


The way things are going, the recession that's now officially over is still hurting people and may do so for decades to come.


And that's not just an opinion. A recent survey by SunLife Financial contained this depressing information:

Less than half of respondents (42%) are very confident that they will now be able to take care of basic living expenses in retirement, and only one in four have strong confidence that they will be able to take care of medical expenses. Just under 20% believe they will never fully rebuild from their financial losses.

One thing that might be contributing to the average worker's lack of gold for the golden years? The record number who have raided their 401k retirement accounts. 



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.