Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Million-dollar gifts are back, and this year's Christmas Book is available on your iPad. How about a $75,000 Camaro convertible or a $250,000 houseboat?

By Teresa Mears Oct 6, 2010 12:37PM

It appears that, recession or not, wretched excess is back -- if it ever went away.

After a one-year hiatus, this year's Neiman Marcus Christmas Book is back to advertising gifts for more than $1 million. I want the $1.5 million custom swimming pool artwork by glass artist Dale Chihuly. The pool is extra.

 

This year, for the first time, you can get the fantasy catalog on your iPad, which seems fitting. People who can afford these sorts of gifts certainly would have bought the iPad the moment it arrived, rather than waiting a few generations for the price to drop.

 

A wedding is probably the clearest example of something you could be making payments on long after the fun is over.

By Karen Datko Oct 6, 2010 10:16AM

This post comes from  Frank Curmudgeon at Bad Money Advice.

 

Last week WalletPop posted "10 dumb reasons to take out a loan." Oh, how I like list posts. Ideas homogenized into orderly little chunks. It's like blog dim sum. Or sushi. Or maybe Chicken McNuggets.

I am too much of a fussbudget not to point out that three of the listed items are not dumb reasons to borrow but dumb ways to borrow. Still, I think I can come up with 10 easy-to-digest responses. Here goes.

 

Some strategic and creative packing means you'll never have to pay a checked-bag fee.

By Karen Datko Oct 6, 2010 8:45AM

This post comes from Kentin Waits at partner blog Wise Bread.

 

The airlines are always finding new and novel ways to squeeze our wallets. An extra charge for checked baggage was only the beginning in what has fast become a textbook example of how to nickel-and-dime consumers. Blankets, pillows, headphones and -- believe it or not -- bathroom access are all potential profit centers now. Welcome to the great fleecing at 30,000 feet.

After my usual airfare comparison shopping, the one fee I feel I have some control over is the checked-baggage fee. After 9/11, for the sake of shear convenience and (relative) speed, I became a single-bag traveler. Now, regardless of the distance or duration of the trip, I pack strategically and fit every item I need into a well-designed and well-packed carry-on bag. If it won't fit in a reasonably sized carry-on, it stays behind.

 

Here are seven tips to become a single-bag traveler yourself:

 

The number of personal bankruptcies filed in the first nine months of 2010 was an 11% increase over last year.

By Karen Datko Oct 5, 2010 6:34PM

This post comes from Mark Huffman at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

The recession may be officially over, but for millions of Americans, 2010 is shaping up as a miserable year. For some, things just seem to be getting worse.

The evidence can be seen in the latest bankruptcy statistics. U.S. consumer bankruptcy filings totaled 1.16 million nationwide during the first nine months of 2010, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. That amounts to an 11% increase over total consumer filings for the same period a year ago.

 

Here are a few ideas and tools to keep the cold out of your home and the savings in your wallet.

By Stacy Johnson Oct 5, 2010 4:16PM

This post comes from Stacy Johnson at partner site Money Talks News.

 

Last May, we gave you "13 cool tips for lower energy bills." Now that winter is approaching, many of the same tips apply to lowering your heating bill -- like cleaning your air filters and installing insulation. Here are some other quick tips and tools to help you prepare.

Use free online tools. Here's a Web-based tool from the U.S. Department of Energy that can help you save energy. You input your house's specifics and it produces ways you might save. Microsoft Hohm is another site that can help you map out an energy-saving strategy and compare your energy usage to that in similar homes in your area.

 

Workers and business owners expect to work longer because of the recession. That may not be bad.

By Teresa Mears Oct 5, 2010 3:25PM

Here comes another survey demonstrating the effect of the recession on workers: 40% are planning to retire later than they had planned just two years ago.

 

And the largest group of those who are delaying retirement are older workers and those in poor health, according to a new survey by Towers Watson, a company that manages employee benefits. This assumes, of course, they have a choice and aren't forced into retirement by layoffs or health problems.

 

Health insurance is a major issue for these workers. More than two-thirds of those planning to delay retirement said they wanted to keep their health care coverage. A total of 61% blamed a decline in the value of their 401k retirement savings.

 

Online scam settlement offers refunds. Meanwhile, how can you recognize real post-purchase offers?

By Karen Datko Oct 5, 2010 1:23PM

This Deal of the Day comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site SmartMoney.

 

Online shoppers are familiar with the idea of clicking for coupons and discounts. But one wrong click can stealthily add hundreds of dollars to your credit card balance.

These so-called "coupon click fraud" scams have become pervasive enough to draw the attention of state and federal authorities.

  • Last year a federal judge in Boston approved a $10 million class-action settlement against marketer Webloyalty.
 

Public schools raise funds by selling advertising on lockers, in notes to parents and even on the roof.

By Teresa Mears Oct 5, 2010 12:02PM

If you're a parent in Peabody, Mass., soon those permission slips and other school communications won't be brought to you by the letter "P" but by your local pizza parlor.

Desperate to raise money, the school district has decided to sell advertising to local businesses on the 10,000 communiques sent annually to the parents of elementary school students. The district hopes to raise $24,000 to plug holes in the budget.

 

The district is not alone. Public schools nationwide are earning money through all sorts of advertising, reports Christina Hoag of The Associated Press.

 

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