Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Credit cards can be a benefit, as long as you use them responsibly and pay off your balance in full each month.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 7, 2011 2:19PM

This guest post comes from Ron Haynes at The Wisdom Journal.


Over the past three years I've spent a lot of time and energy on The Wisdom Journal  writing about the dangers of irresponsible credit card use. I fought many personal battles with those little pieces of plastic and, while I'm still wary (with good reason), I know that credit CAN be used responsibly.

In many cases, you may actually be better off paying with credit over debit. There are a lot of ways that a credit card comes out on top.


A lot of spending on self-improvement is based on wishful thinking -- and it becomes a big waste of money.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 7, 2011 12:43PM

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


Ah, it's good to be home and finally getting back into something of a routine. As part of that routine, I've been reading hundreds of e-mails, including quite a few reader questions -- like this one from Annie. She writes:

I'm 25, and starting to take personal finance seriously. I'm in graduate school, and am very fortunate to have an educational trust that allows me to do this without loans. Knowing how lucky I am, I live well below the means the trust could provide, hold an intense part-time job, and am working toward a career that will (hopefully) make sure my kids are given the same gift I was -- the freedom to get the finest education they can manage without major debt.
Between my job and my trust, I have a good deal left over every month.

I'm still on the road, too. Good thing I had backup.

By Donna_Freedman Mar 7, 2011 11:36AM
A credit card issuer e-mailed me to warn of potentially fraudulent activity. My immediate thought was that the company had simply forgotten that I was traveling, even though I'd notified them.

Nope. Somebody had gotten hold of my number and used it twice. Guess where.  

No surprise, it's American families. Many of their homes are worth less than they paid; now what they can afford to eat and how much they can drive is being affected.

By doubleace Mar 7, 2011 9:55AM

This post comes from Lynn Mucken at MSN Money.

The American family is about to get kicked in the stomach -- twice. Food and gasoline prices are going up, relatively quickly and probably by quite a lot.


The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization announced March 3 that global food prices were the highest in history, up 34% in the past year. Two days later, AAA said that gasoline prices nationwide had reached $3.49 a gallon, up 16 cents in a week and 75 cents from a year earlier.


After housing, food and gas are the two biggest expenditures in American households. Let's look at both of those:


Plus you can find free glasses, BOGO meals and treats, and a mystery from Dairy Queen.

By Karen Datko Mar 4, 2011 5:53PM

Friday arrived pretty quickly this week, and once again it's time to review food and other freebies and deals. Bring on the weekend. 


A great deal right now is half off the cost of the 2011 Entertainment Book, plus free shipping, through March 14. The Entertainment Book wouldn't make sense in the rural community where I live, but Donna Freedman is a big fan of the Seattle edition. You can check here to see if there's a book available where you live or for a city you plan to visit.

Meanwhile, our pal Julia Scott, aka Bargain Babe, tipped her readers off to a free prescription glasses offer going on right now via this Facebook page for 

With the average car insurance premium costing more than $120 a month, why pay for unnecessary coverage? Trim that bill.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 4, 2011 3:11PM

This post comes from Michael Deane at partner site Investopedia.


Car insurance is one of your biggest bills every month. According to, the average yearly premiums for 2011, so far, are about $1,441 -- which is more than $120 per month, putting this expense on par with utilities, cell phones and cable bills.


To cut down on this large expense, it's best to know what types of car insurance you need to avoid.


J$ takes the quiz and finds out he's "got cash projections that even the Trumps would admire."

By MSN Money Partner Mar 4, 2011 2:15PM

This guest post comes from J. Money at Budgets are Sexy.


I like to take silly quizzes when I'm bored. Especially the ones that try to figure out the essence of your being. I like them because you already know all the answers! It's like acing the test of YOU. And who knows YOU more than you do? (I do! Wait, what?)


Recently I was fortunate enough to find a quiz like that, only having to do with money.


Requiring higher down payments could keep many responsible buyers out of the housing market.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 4, 2011 12:51PM

This post comes from Jeff Brown at partner site MainStreet.


Mortgages with low down payments were widely seen as contributing to the financial crisis still reverberating in today's weak housing market, and the solution is obvious: require bigger down payments.


That's among the housing-market remedies proposed by the Obama administration, which last month called for gradually raising the down payment requirement on conventional loans to 10% on loans issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.


But not everyone agrees. 



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.