Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Americans are not only paying more but the service may not be as good as it is in other countries.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 1:59 PM

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

 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyWhen it comes to the quality and affordability of cellphone service, Americans seem to be getting the shaft.


Portrait of various smartphones © Jeffrey Coolidge/Getty Images

According to The New York Times, American cellphone service is expensive. In fact, it's among the most costly in the world.


If you compare a cellphone plan in the U.S. with a similar plan in Britain, there is a significant difference in cost. For instance, an iPhone 5S with 16 gigabytes of memory, 2 GB of data, unlimited voice and texting, and a two-year commitment costs about $109 per month in the U.S., according to the Times. A similar plan in the U.K. offers unlimited data and still comes in at just $68 per month.


So why the hefty price difference? The Times said:

Several factors are involved, but an important one is regulatory policy. Britain has forced companies to lease their networks to competitors at cost. The United States has not, allowing a formidable barrier against competitors.
"The United States lacks meaningful competition in its cellular market sector, which leads to higher cell plan prices than a growing list of other countries," said Sascha Meinrath, founder of the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation.
 

Slower-than-expected growth in Medicare spending -- and health care spending in general -- is good news for the federal budget.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 1:53 PM

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

 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyYou often hear about the potential for Medicare spending to skyrocket now that a growing number of baby boomers are retiring. But the doom-and-gloom scenario for Medicare isn't nearly as bad as anticipated.


Pills © SuperStockAccording to The New York Times, the most recent report from the Congressional Budget Office (.pdf file) revealed a reduced estimate for Medicare spending in upcoming years.


So just how big is the anticipated savings in Medicare spending? If you compare the new estimate for Medicare expenditures in 2019 ($11,300 per person) with the spending anticipated for 2019 four years ago ($12,700 per person), the U.S. can expect to pocket about $95 billion in Medicare spending savings. Wow.


"That sum is greater than the government is expected to spend that year on unemployment insurance, welfare and Amtrak -- combined," the Times said.


Any savings in Medicare spending is good news for the federal budget. According to the Times:

 

If you're looking to lower your student loan payments, a debt relief program may not be a good option. Here's why.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 1:49 PM

This post comes from Allison Martin at partner site Money Talks News. 

 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyUnemployed and drowning in student loan debt? Receiving a call from a debt relief company claiming it can help sounds like a godsend.


Graduation cap © Brand X Pictures, PhotolibraryBut is it the best option for you?


Not necessarily. The industry is riddled with fraudsters who employ shrewd tactics and charge exorbitant fees to access government programs you can participate in free of charge.


So why aren't borrowers taking advantage of those no-cost government programs designed to offer relief? Too much ambiguity, and not enough resources to sort it all out.


According to the National Consumer Law Center (.pdf file), which issued a report about the student debt relief industry:

 

Buying your first car will require some time and effort on your part. Here's a step-by-step guide to get the best deal on a new ride.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 12:09 PM

This post comes from Allison Martin at partner site Money Talks News. 

 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyIf you're in the market for your first car, there's nothing more exciting than the thought of cruising down the highway in the driver's seat. No more carpools and public transportation; just you and your new ride.


But it takes a little time and effort to make those dreams a reality. You don't want to be bamboozled by a slick car salesman.

 

Some scams are new, while others are oldies (but baddies). Keep your guard up when it comes to deals that sound too good to be true, or unsolicited calls about your computer.

By Credit.com Wed 11:07 AM
This post comes from Christine Di Gangi at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneyAs much of a joke as those Nigerian-prince-email scams have become, people sadly fall for them. That "pay me now, you'll get millions later" operation has been around for decades (the Boston Globe says it's 200 years old) and has found ways to work from paper letters, emails and texts, and given that longevity, it's probably never going to disappear.


Damaged laptop © Jason Stang, Photo LibrarySome scams are more cleverly designed than this one (at least, they're less well-known and, therefore, more effective), but even the seemingly most obvious tricks find victims. When scammers succeed, they're likely to keep searching for prey, or at least someone will try to copy their techniques.


For example:

 

Americans lack basic supplies, according to an Insure.com study.

By QuinStreet Tue 2:12 PM

This post comes from Marjorie Musick at partner site Insure.com.


Insure.com on MSN MoneyA quiet hurricane season can lull us into complacency, but it’s important for homeowners in hurricane-prone areas to stay on top of weather reports and their insurance policies.


Hurricane winds © Exactostock/SuperStock"It's important to keep in mind that even one major hurricane can do catastrophic damage and it's important to be prepared just in case one strikes in 2014,” says Bonnie Schneider, national television meteorologist and author of “Extreme Weather.”


Here are tips from insurance and weather experts on surviving a hurricane season.

 

A growing number of Americans are selling their homes and possessions and spending their retirement years traveling abroad.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 9, 2014 1:38PM

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

 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyAn increasing number of older Americans is downsizing -- selling their house and purging their belongings -- and hitting the road, traveling and sightseeing abroad.


According to The New York Times, the international nomadic lifestyle is gaining in popularity with retirees. In 1993, 9.7 percent of all retirees were traveling abroad. In 2012 that percentage swelled to 13 percent, the Times said.


 Couple on vacation © Image Source/SuperStockAbout 360,000 Americans received Social Security benefits at foreign addresses in 2013, about 48 percent more than 10 years earlier. An informal survey of insurance brokers found greater demand by older clients for travel medical policies. (Medicare, with a few exceptions, does not cover expenses outside the United States). While many retirees ultimately return home or become expatriates, some live like vagabonds.


Lynne Martin, a 73-year-old retiree and author of "Home Sweet Anywhere," lives the nomadic lifestyle with her husband, Tim. In an article she contributed to The Huffington Post, Martin said they sold their California home and most of their belongings, put their prized possessions in a small storage unit, and hit the road. Martin said they've traveled across the globe, staying in temporary homes for a couple of weeks to a few months at a time.


She wrote:

 

Manage your finances smartly and you'll reap the rewards -- these credit card rewards, to be precise.

By Credit.com Sep 9, 2014 1:32PM
This post comes from Jason Steele at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneyOne reason many people dislike credit cards is that often, they impose harsh interest rates and fees when cardholders carry debt or miss payments.


Credit cards © Fancy, Veer, Corbis,

For example, most cards charge a late payment fee equal to the minimum payment or $25, whichever is less, and up to $35 for subsequent late payments. In addition, cardholders who pay late lose their grace period and have to pay interest charges on all of their purchases.


Thankfully, there are some rewards cards with incentives that encourage customers to use their credit cards responsibly, and at least one that has simply eliminated fees altogether.

 

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