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Hundreds of readers have shared how they live well while spending less than $5,000 a month. Now it's time to hear from those who feel they're falling behind despite having a much larger income.

By MSN Money Partner Fri 12:57 PM

This post comes from Bob Sullivan at partner site Money Talks News. 


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyDo you struggle to live on $60,000 per year? Or $80,000? Or even $100,000? Well, I know a lot of people who can't understand how that's possible.

Measuring Finances © CorbisAs part of my Restless Project, I've been talking about what it costs to live a "normal" life in America today. Last week, I asked folks who spend less than $60,000 per year, $5,000 per month, how they do it. Many of them had already written to me about my initial $100,000 budget, saying I was off my rocker.

Generous with both their time, their personal financial snapshots, and their opinions, I've heard from nearly 1,000 people so far. Hundreds of them broke down for me how they live well by spending less than $5,000 per month. While many of them are lucky enough to live in our nation's less-expensive haunts, like Texas, or live without the expenses of raising children, I heard from some families in expensive places, too.

I will share their stories in the near future.

But now, I want to hear from the other half of this equation.


Flashing your plastic safely and wisely can earn you valuable rewards in the long run.

By Fri 12:46 PM
This post comes from Jason Steele at partner site on MSN MoneyWe all know the dumb ways to use a credit card, such as getting into debt and racking up fees by missing payments. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of smart ways to use a credit card.

Used wisely, credit cards can be a secure and convenient method of payment that offers valuable rewards. Here are five of the best ways to use a credit card.

Shopping online © Creatas, SuperStock1. As a method of payment

When you pay your statement balance in full and on time, you will avoid interest charges. When used in this way, the credit card becomes simply a method of payment, not a means of finance. That allows cardholders to enjoy several benefits at no cost. For example, customers receive what amounts to a free loan when they make purchases that are paid off 25 to 55 days later. In addition, cardholders are afforded the protections against fraud that are guaranteed by the Fair Credit Billing Act. 


New data show that girls aren't getting the financial education boys are. Find out what they both should know.

By QuinStreet Fri 12:36 PM

This post comes from Richard Barrington at partner site on MSN MoneyWomen are not as good with financial matters as men.

 Family © CorbisIt's a stubborn stereotype, and if there is any truth to that statement, it may be because it has been made into a self-fulfilling prophecy by differences in how boys and girls are raised. A recent survey by T. Rowe Price found that parents are more likely to discuss financial goals with their sons than with their daughters, and that boys are twice as likely to have their own credit cards as girls.

This comes on the heels of a survey that found that boys are more likely than girls to receive financial education in school. So, both at home and at school, girls are being shortchanged when it comes to financial lessons.

Money wisdom for all children

Given that men and women alike have to manage their personal finances, it is equally important to teach boys and girls some fundamental money skills. Here are six financial lessons you should teach each of your kids before they leave the nest:


The golden years probably had more gold for your parents than they will for you. Here’s why and what you can do.

By MSN Money Partner Fri 12:33 PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis at partner site Money Talks News. 


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyRegardless how old you are now, it's likely you'll have a harder time pulling off a financially secure retirement than your parents did.

Many of us haven’t planned and saved well, it's true. But, also, fundamental changes in American life make it harder for today's generations to achieve a comfortable life after work.


Business travelers can save on lodging by booking outside the city center.

By Fri 11:56 AM
This post comes from Louis DeNicola at partner site on MSN MoneySmall business owners know the value of saving a buck. Cutting costs here and there means more funds to invest in the business. Travel expenses, whether for a conference or an important meeting, provide fertile ground for cost reductions. Going beyond the obvious "enroll in a frequent flyer program," we focused on lodging as an underappreciated source of savings for small business travelers.

Las Vegas © Ocean/CorbisFinding a safe and inexpensive place to spend the night can be a challenge. Business is often conducted in major metropolitan areas, drawing hordes of out-of-town businesspeople in need of a hotel. The law of supply and demand typically leads to hefty hotel and motel rates, especially mid-week. Moreover, small business owners compete for space with tourists and with employees of big companies that have negotiated good deals with hotel chains.

For the business owner who wants to travel on the cheap, some general tips always apply: Split the cost of a room with a colleague. Don't rent a car unless absolutely necessary. Choose a hotel with free breakfast and parking (in case the car is a must). Following these simple rules can trim hundreds of dollars from your budget.

But there are more savings to pluck.

Harvard research indicates that the chasm between the rich and poor continues to grow and that there's no sign it will narrow anytime soon.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 11, 2014 1:54PM

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


Only part of the economy is prospering, and that’s going to end up hurting us all.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyThat's the finding of a new Harvard Business School study (.pdf file) on U.S. competitiveness. The study, based on interviews with 1,947 Harvard Business School alumni, said that although larger U.S. companies are showing good signs of recovery since the financial crisis, things don't look nearly as sunny for many American workers.

Businessman with cigar © Juice Images , SuperStock According to the study:

A truly competitive U.S. economy would lift both firms and citizens. But our survey findings and other evidence reveal that that is not happening today in America. Instead, our "recovering" economy is doing just half its job: The typical large or midsized firm in America is rallying or even prospering, as are highly skilled individuals. But many middle- and working-class citizens and small businesses are struggling.

The Boston Globe reported that while the average income rose 4 percent in the past three years, "most of that increase has been concentrated among the highest earners. Meantime, the income of a typical family has dropped 5 percent, to $46,700, from $49,000 in that period."

That ever-widening gap between America's rich and the middle- and lower-class is "unsustainable," the study said. It explains why, while offering a prescription for change:


Take these steps to make sure you're not paying more for a car loan than you really need to.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 11, 2014 1:50PM
This post comes from Marilyn Lewis at partner site Money Talks News. 


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyCar loans are growing bigger and bigger. The average amounts auto buyers financed hit highs this year, according to Experian Automotive:

  • The average new-vehicle loan in the first quarter of 2014 was $27,612. That's $964 more than last year.
  • The average used-vehicle loan was $17,927 -- up $395 from 2013.

These are large loans. Before you speed into this kind of debt, why not pause to learn how to keep down your borrowing costs?


Some colleges and universities actually guarantee that their students will find jobs after they complete their degrees. Discover which institutions are going out on a limb.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 11, 2014 1:46PM

This post comes from Maryalene LaPonsie at partner site Money Talks News. 


Money Talks News on MSN Money Nearly 20 years ago, when I was preparing to graduate from high school, college was not a choice; it was an expectation. Time and time again, it was stressed that without a degree, my classmates and I would find ourselves flipping burgers for life.

College graduate (© Corbis)Over the years, as student debt has climbed and some graduates find they aren't getting their dream jobs, the tide seems to have turned. Today, we have former Secretary of Education William Bennett questioning the value of four-year degrees, while others are outright dismissing the importance of all formal higher education.

Perhaps to get students (and their checkbook-holding parents) back on board, some colleges and universities are now guaranteeing their degrees will translate into jobs after graduation.



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