Reasons for denying coverage may surprise you
We knew that health insurance companies refuse to sell individual policies to people who've had cancer or hypertension. But acne or bunions -- or working in a first-responder job?
Insurance company documents obtained and made public by Consumer Watchdog indicate how far some insurers will go to limit individual coverage to only the healthiest people (and those with the safest jobs). A hangnail? You'll get coverage. Toenail fungus? Perhaps not.
Consumers can get a refund of up to $100
Dannon has settled a consumer class-action lawsuit alleging that ads for certain brands of its yogurt overstate their claimed health benefits. The settlement will shell out $35 million to affected consumers.
The suit alleged that ads for both Activia and DanActive yogurt exaggerated their beneficial effects on human health. The ads promote the yogurt as improving digestion and have become well known for their goofiness; a recent Activia iteration features actress Jamie Lee Curtis, seated on a couch, noting that "our busy lives sometimes force us to eat the wrong things at the wrong times," and promoting Activia as the solution to "digestive issues."
A voiceover in the ad claims that Activia is "clinically proven to help regulate your digestive system in two weeks" if eaten every day.
Meanwhile, canned pumpkin is in short supply
The jack-o'-lantern outlook in New England and parts of the Midwest looks a fright. A combination of wet and cold ruined a bunch of the pumpkin crop, and what's left in some fields is taking its own sweet time to ripen.
Not to worry, Halloween fans. The crop in most of the country's pumpkin patch looks fine, The Associated Press reports.
What's aggravating people is a shortage of canned pumpkin on store shelves.
Understand what role money plays in your life
A critical skill for a fulfilling financial life is understanding your own money priorities. Without taking this first step, it's like driving without a destination -- you will simply end up wherever the road takes you.
I've touched on the topic of setting priorities in a number of past posts:
Now I'd like to take a more detailed approach and propose a list of seven independent activities that will drive you to find what's at the heart of your financial desires.
I guarantee that doing even one of these will bring you much closer to understanding what you value and aligning your daily actions with where you'd like to finish. It's worth the effort.
Consider these seven individually, or as a group:
The savings are probably more than you think
The October 2009 issue of Consumer Reports contains an article extolling the virtues of generic store-brand products. While shoppers used to sacrifice quality when choosing generic, that's no longer the case. From the article:
If concern about taste has kept you from trying store-brand foods, hesitate no more. In blind tests, our trained tasters compared a big national brand with a store brand in 29 food categories. Store and national brands tasted about equally good 19 times. Four times, the store brand won; six times, the national brand won.
In other words, store brands offer roughly the same quality as national brands, but at a much-reduced cost. How much reduced? Consumer Reports says the store brands they tested cost on average 27% less than the name-brand equivalents.
How much can you save?
Sometimes theory is one thing and reality another. It's nice that Consumer Reports can score great deals on store brands. But could I? Last week, I walked to two local grocery stores to do my own research. First I looked at Safeway, where Kris and I shop most often. Next, I walked across the street to Fred Meyer, a store we usually try to avoid. (The store is huge and its layout makes little sense to me.)
Health care costs are part of the problem
Here's a statistic that should give us all pause: The average credit card debt of seniors grew by 26% between 2005 and 2008, CreditCards.com reports. For the rest of us, the increase was a comparatively modest 3%.
Also, CreditCards.com says: "According to a study (.pdf file) released in July 2009 by New York City-based Demos, a public policy group, consumers 65 and older carried $10,235 in average card debt last year." That is a lot.
And that's very troubling, considering that so many retirees are living on Social Security and no other savings, and face considerable medical expenses despite government-run Medicare. The dreaded "doughnut hole" is just a drop in the bucket compared with the other potential health care-related demands on their money.
What's happening here?
Surprise! People with the highest credit scores
Conventional wisdom would seem to dictate that someone with an excellent credit score is less likely to walk away from a mortgage than someone with poor credit.
That's not so, syndicated real estate columnist Kenneth Harney writes in a story The Washington Post headlined "Good credit scores, deadbeat choices." In fact, people with excellent credit scores are 50% more likely to "strategically default" on their mortgages -- intentionally walk away -- than are lower scoring borrowers, according to a study by credit bureau Experian and consulting firm Oliver Wyman.
Bank returns interest rate to previous level, 12.99%
Ann Minch, the California woman who took her fight over a credit card rate increase to YouTube, apparently has extracted the concession she sought from Bank of America.
In a new video posted Saturday, she said Bank of America had agreed to return the interest rate on her $5,943.34 balance, which had been hiked to 30%, to 12.99%. The bank's first offer was 16.99%, which she said she rejected.
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
LATEST BLOG POSTS
Homeowners associations ban them and environmentalists love them. All that aside, though, a clothesline saves you money.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
BLOGS WE LIKE
MUST-SEE ON MSN
- Video: Easy DIY smoked meats at home
A charcuterie master shares his process for cold-smoking meat at home.
- Jetpacks about to go mainstream
- Weird things covered by home insurance
- Bing: 70 percent of adults report 'digital eye strain'