Smart SpendingSmart Spending

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. 


The decision needs to be based on your goals and values, and on what brings you peace of mind.

By Karen Datko Nov 1, 2010 3:44PM

This post comes from J.D. Roth at partner blog Get Rich Slowly.


A Get Rich Slowly reader, Kristine, is trying to decide whether she should refinance her mortgage. Here's what she has to say:

I'm trying to decide if refinancing is the right choice for our family. We're living pretty tight right now and the idea of reducing our monthly payment is very tempting. I would love to be able to take the savings and put it toward retirement and possibly some other future goals. However, if we do that, then we'll be paying thousands of dollars extra in interest over the life of our mortgage.

Customers and bloggers have been complaining since August, but the retailer still hasn't solved the problem.

By Teresa Mears Nov 1, 2010 1:31PM

In a time when technology is sophisticated enough for advertisers to follow individual users from website to website with photos of a specific product, you'd think a major corporation would have long mastered the relatively simple technology of applying coupons at checkout.

But coupon users who shop at Target have been complaining for months that the retailer's registers don't calculate their savings correctly. And, while the company acknowledges the problem, it still doesn't have a solution.


Where she works, the customer is always right, and the employees are expendable.

By Karen Datko Nov 1, 2010 12:12PM

This guest post comes from I am the working poor.


Working with the public is always an adventure. You never know what the attitude of the day will be. Large corporations usually work hard to please all of their customers to keep a steady customer base. Some companies become overzealous in trying to make all customers happy at any cost.


I work for an overzealous company.



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.