Started a budget before, only to give up a few months later? Maybe you weren't doing it right.
For the next few months, I’ll be doing news stories and blogging about destroying debt. This blog post and the video below are about one of the most important tools for doing it: a budget. Not just any budget, but one that you can not only live with, but look forward to using.
Impossible? Read on.
Be sure to check the fine print so you'll get your $100 (or higher) bonus.
Just when we think our banks don’t love us anymore, they start sending flowers -- at least to some of us.
And the bonuses offered to sign up for new checking counts are substantial: $50 here, $100 there, even $300. Like any relationship, these come with strings attached, but if you qualify, you can pick up some free money.
It says consumers spend more each year on overdraft fees than they do on fresh vegetables.
The Center for Responsible Lending has taken a calculator to tally up the costs to the U.S. economy of what it calls "bad lending" -- everything from subprime mortgages to abusive bank policies to payday loans.
The group has added a section to its Web site where consumers can see these costs broken down sector by sector and state by state.
For example, in California, CRL counts 731,779 total foreclosure starts from the first quarter of 2008 through the third quarter of 2009. Foreclosure starts increased 692% from 2006 to 2009.
Buying the house they really loved would have meant a much different life.
A few months before we bought our current home, my wife and I toured literally dozens of different houses, trying to find one that was right for us. We had come up with a budget for our purchase and knew what our firm spending cap was.
On one bright spring day, my wife and I were visiting three homes for sale on the same block that were all having open houses. None of them really struck our fancy, but we did notice a fourth house on the corner that was for sale at a price about $60,000 over our price range.
We toured that house. We fell in love with that house.
What you need to know about the latest technology.
Music fans looking for free tunes are tuning in to an oldie but goodie -- radio. The medium is gaining a new audience thanks to technology upgrades that offer listeners more control over their music with minimal financial investment.
Although music downloads have grown into a $3 billion-per-year industry, consumers are actually keeping fewer MP3s on their computers these days. The average person has 641 songs; an 18% drop compared with last year, according to a December 2009 study by Mintel, a market research group. The same study found that Internet radio use doubled in the same period, with the average listener turning in for 4.3 hours per week via computer or cell phone.
There are a number of new iterations of this old media:
Now more than ever, men -- not women -- are the ones improving their economic status through marriage.
Good news, gentlemen: Marrying can mean working less and having more money.
A new study released by the Pew Research Center found more American men today, compared with 40 years ago, are married to women who have a higher education and level of income than they do.
The report highlights the quickly changing roles of men and women in the home. Now more than ever, men are the ones gaining economically from marriage when they say "I do" to a woman with an MBA and six-digit income.
It's a practice no retailer is going to willingly admit to.
Plenty of people were outraged by the New York Times report that unsold clothes from Wal-Mart and H&M were found deliberately mutilated, bagged and tossed in the trash.
Both retailers insisted that the incidents were not commonplace and that they normally donate unworn and undamaged clothing to charities. Wal-Mart said it would investigate.
The dust has had time to settle, but has the truth emerged? What have we really learned about what retailers do with unsold clothing?
It depends on whom you ask.
Perhaps consumer lending is best left to the professionals.
Almost three years ago I discovered peer-to-peer lending, in the form of the then widely hyped Prosper.com. For a week or two I was enthusiastic on it as an investment, until I crunched enough numbers to decide it was not so exciting after all. In the meantime, I had put $1,000 in ten $100 loan slices.
Loans on Prosper are three years in duration, so next week this little experiment will finally wind down. Assuming that I get the last $15.46 that is owed me, I will have received a grand total of $1,029.50 over three years. A nearly 0% return is pretty lousy, but at least I have the solace that quite a few other things that I could have invested in in January 2007 would have done a lot worse.
But, as it turns out, breaking even makes me an above average lender on Prosper.
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Which store penalizes you for too many returns? And which one will let you retroactively apply coupons?