Smart SpendingSmart Spending

A consumer advocate pitted the top brands on the market against each other in a lab study and came to a startling conclusion.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 31, 2011 1:32PM

This post comes from Mitch Lipka, consumer advocate for dealnews.com.

 

When it comes to batteries, how can you tell a deal from a dud? When is it worth spending money on a premium brand?

 

We brought a collection of different AA batteries to the Worcester Polytechnic Institute and asked if they could test to find out whether there's any real difference between brand-name and generic batteries.

 

If you fly Spirit, you'll pay an extra $5 or $10 in addition to the fee you're already charged for checked bags and carry-on.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 31, 2011 12:35PM

This post comes from Matt Brownell at partner site MainStreet.

 

It was only a matter of time: Airline fees have begun replicating at an exponential rate.

 

Spirit Airlines, which last year started charging passengers $30 to $45 for carry-on bags, has found a new way to extract money from people who want to bring things with them when they fly. For all tickets booked on or after March 23, Spirit now charges passengers a fee for not paying their baggage fees far enough in advance.

 

Yes, you heard that right: a fee for not paying a fee early enough.

 

Blogger's 3 omissions and blunders caused him to spend $100 more than he needed to for a rental car.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 31, 2011 11:39AM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.

 

My family and I were in Florida recently visiting colleges for my son and daughter. We rented a car from Thrifty in Orlando for four days. While I thought I did everything possible to get the best possible deal, it turns out I made three critical mistakes that cost me about $100.

 

So before you rent from Thrifty or any other car rental company, learn from my mistakes.

 

Don't get suckered by the banks.

By Karen Datko Mar 31, 2011 9:11AM

This guest post comes from Kevin at Invest It Wisely.

 

When you go to the bank to look at getting a mortgage preapproval, they will often quote you a ridiculous figure as the maximum amount you can borrow.

This number is usually based on a simple metric, such as "debt payments should be no more than 40% of income." Such simple metrics can lead to people borrowing excessively, and getting in over their heads.

 

Grandpa wasn't great with kids, but the final gift he gave was a lesson and an opportunity.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 30, 2011 5:57PM

This guest post comes from Lindy at Minting Nickels.

 

When I was 9 years old, I went through a phase typical for a young girl of the '80s. I went through a penguin phase.

 

A whole shelf in my room was dedicated to my collection of tuxedoed birds. I had penguin figurines, art prints, mugs, post cards. I even saved an old styrofoam cup from a penguin-themed frozen yogurt shop. Gross, I know, but I was 9, and obsessed.

 

It was during this phase that my paternal grandfather, Grandpa Dick, drove down from eastern Washington to visit us for Christmas. Since he hadn't bought me a Christmas gift yet (being a single guy in his 60s and not aware of the tastes of a 9-year-old girl), it was decided that he would take me to the mall to pick something out.

 

Just him, and me.

 

Wells Fargo is the latest big bank no longer giving perks to new customers.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 30, 2011 3:34PM

This post comes from Truman Lewis at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

Wells Fargo has joined the no-debit-card-perks posse. The San Francisco bank says it will stop offering debit card reward programs to new customers, and says no decision has been made about current customers.

 

Chase did the same a few weeks ago, as did US Bank and PNC.

 

Faced with having to raise prices or admit they are delivering less, food manufacturers are trying to persuade consumers that they are doing them a favor.

By doubleace Mar 30, 2011 1:38PM

 This post comes from Lynn Mucken at MSN Money.

 

You're getting less for your dollar, or even less for more dollars, when you go to the grocery store these days. If you haven't noticed, it's probably because the downsizing of the actual food content is exceeded only by the cleverness of the repackaging.

 

That's no surprise. The cost of ingredients is rising rapidly, as are the costs of bringing the food from the farmer or rancher to you. And it is not a new tactic; the high-inflation pressures of the late 1970s made deception a growth industry.

 

Smaller profits are the mother of invention. And what's new this time around is the sales pitch. 

 

Health care credit cards put a pretty face on the price of plastic surgery and other elective medical procedures, but they come with risks, and they aren't your only option.

By Stacy Johnson Mar 30, 2011 11:57AM

This post comes from Brandon Ballenger at partner site Money Talks News.

 

Americans spent more than $10 billion for about 13 million plastic surgeries last year, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons says (.pdf file).

 

But unless a procedure is medically necessary, typical health insurance won't pay. A nose job that fixes a breathing problem? Sure. But one that just makes you look better? Nope. And to put a little salt in that wound, most cosmetic surgery isn't tax-deductible either.

 

So, how do people come up with the money for breast implants, tummy tucks, cosmetic dental work, and face lifts? One popular solution is a line of credit specifically for procedures like these.

 

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