Smart SpendingSmart Spending

You're not going to keep customers happy if what you're really saying is 'I don't care.'

By Karen Datko Jan 11, 2010 6:31PM

You’ve been there: You’re trying to check out a DVD at the video store, but the clerk is too busy on the phone -- and it’s a social call.


Could she possibly make time in her busy schedule to rent us a movie?

Bad customer service plagues all of us, so we can all relate to  a post about customer-service phrases we hate to hear -- and ones we should hear more often -- at My Super-Charged Life.


City wants restaurants, manufacturers to cut sodium in food.

By Teresa Mears Jan 11, 2010 4:58PM

Put down that salt shaker! Right now!


That’s the message New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is sending to restaurateurs and manufacturers of food products.


The mayor who led crusades against smoking and trans fats and pushed for calorie counts in New York City restaurants now wants food manufacturers and restaurants to cut the amount of salt in their products by 25% in the next five years.


You can find assistance from the government, utility companies and nonprofit groups.

By Karen Datko Jan 11, 2010 4:47PM

It was 26 below zero outside (with no wind chill) when we woke up the other day. Inside it was a bearable 60 degrees, thanks to our programmable thermostat (and three pairs of socks inside fuzzy slippers). Even at that low setting, the furnace kept kicking on, and on.


Days like that can make a person anxious about the power bill. And it’s not over yet, as Florida shivers through record cold.


With so many people losing their jobs, giving up looking for work, or living on subsistence incomes, a big power bill can make a stressful situation feel even more desperate. What if you can’t afford that bill -- particularly an unseasonably high one that will result from the cold snap many people have suffered through?

There’s help, but it’s a patchwork effort and differs in every state. We’ll help you find it.


Would you rather be an actuary than a roustabout?

By Teresa Mears Jan 11, 2010 1:12PM

Career Cast has come up with a list of the best and worst jobs for 2010, ranking 200 jobs from  best to worst by taking into account physical demands, work environment, income, stress and hiring outlook.


Of course, some of those factors are entirely subjective. NFL quarterback, for example, is sure to rank high on the physical demands scale, but if you’ve got the athletic ability, it could be a pretty good job. The rankings don’t take into account the cost of education and training for the jobs.


If you want a top job, you’d better be good at math, though historian and philosopher (would I need more education for this?) also were in the top 20.


New services limit phone distractions while you're behind the wheel.

By Karen Datko Jan 11, 2010 1:01PM

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


Driving distractions abounded at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, as automakers and gadget manufacturers infuse vehicles with new entertainment technology, including live television, wireless Internet and connections to social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

“That’s, frankly, really alarming,” says Jonathan Adkins, a spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association, a collective of state highway safety offices.


They may seem daunting, but they aren't. Take a 'money day' to get started.

By Karen Datko Jan 11, 2010 12:11PM

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


Ah, the new year. The perfect time to get your life back on track. If one of your goals for 2010 is to take control of your finances, this crash course in financial basics can help guide the way.


Here are 10 simple but effective steps you can take to build a better financial future.


A modification would help some, but it's not going to get us out of this mess.

By Karen Datko Jan 8, 2010 6:47PM

This guest post comes from “vh” at Funny about Money.


I just sent off a wad of paper to the loan officers at the credit union. My favorite spy there tells me that because I've been laid off my job, we have a shot at getting our mortgage payments reduced, at least for a while.


I've asked to have the principal cut, since the so-called "investment" house is now worth about $50,000 or $60,000 less than my son and I owe on it. What a fiasco!


What we’re hoping for

Of course, they're not going to do that.


Online printable grocery coupons are part of savers' strategies.

By Teresa Mears Jan 8, 2010 5:14PM has released its list of the 20 most frugal cities, or at least the ones that are the biggest users of its online coupons.


Whether coupon use equates to frugality is one of the most debated topics on frugal blogs and bulletin boards, along with strategies to get the most from your coupons.



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.