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When it comes to sunglasses, the best product doesn't always go to the biggest spender. Here's why.

By MSN Money Partner 6 minutes ago

This post comes from Allison Martin at partner site Money Talks News.

 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyIt's summertime, so you know what that means -- trips to the beach with sunglasses perched on your nose. For some, the appearance and designer brand of their shades are just as important as those of their bathing suit and may even exceed its price.


The primary functions of sunglasses, whether designer or not, are to shield your eyes from the sun's harmful rays, to boost visibility by eliminating glare and provide an optimal level of comfort. So why do people insist on sporting the most stylish and expensive pair of frames?

 

When it comes to holiday shopping, a bargain is a bargain no matter what time of year it is.

By Credit.com 14 minutes ago
This post comes from Gerri Detweiler at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneyTalk about Christmas in July. Carrie Rocha has already started her holiday shopping. "A few weeks back I picked up a $60 toy for $4, and, truth be told, I picked up a whole lot more than that," she wrote in an email. "I spent about $80 total and got $350+ in toys."


Gift © Brian Hagiwara, Brand X, CorbisIf you think the holidays start too early as it is, you may find her approach a bit overboard. But several years ago, Rocha and her husband dug out of debt, paying off some $50,000 in consumer debt, a process she detailed in her book and website PocketYourDollars.com. One of their strategies, she says, was to “stop pretending the holidays don’t come every year.”


Whether you want to think about it or not, the fact is the holidays will be here before you know it. So unless you have plenty of money to throw around or plan to forgo festivities altogether, now is the time to start planning for a debt-free and less stressful holiday.

 

Here are the things that drive customers batty.

By Credit.com 18 hours ago
This post comes from Christine DiGangi at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneyA dissatisfied customer typically is not a quiet one: Venting to friends, launching a social media assault on the offending service provider and exchanging tense words with customer service representatives are among Americans' favorite ways of dealing with bad experiences. You can also reach out to agencies dedicated to resolving consumer issues, and because of those complaints, the Consumer Federation of America has a good idea of what bothers people most.


Angry businessman © Imagesource/CorbisToday, with the North American Consumer Protection Investigators, the CFA released its most recent edition of the top consumer complaints. The rankings are based on 268,380 complaints received in 2013 by 40 agencies in 23 states that responded to the national organizations' survey. The top issues remained the same as they were in 2012: issues with automobiles and associated services; home improvement and construction; and consumer credit and debt.


Consumers' biggest complaints

In their report, CFA and NACPI noted mostly the same local agencies responded to this and last year's survey, but some did not, and a few new ones reported 2013 complaints. As a result, the rankings are only a snapshot of top complaints to participating agencies, and shifts in rankings from previous years aren't necessarily indicative of an increase or decrease in problems within certain industries.


Here are the most common complaints among the thousands included in the report:

 

Most credit cards offer insurance protection if you use them to rent a car. But some have better coverage than others.

By MSN Money Partner 18 hours ago

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


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyYou are standing at the desk of the car rental company and the agent asks, "Do you want the collision damage waivers?"


Customers Checking in Car Rental Agency © Lawrence Manning, CorbisUh … .


The moment of confusion

For a lot of us, this is a moment of confusion. Of course you don't want it. It's one more expense. In fact, the price of these damage "waivers" can nearly double the cost of your vehicle rental. (Supplemental insurance coverage offered by rental car companies is called a waiver because, when you pay for it, the company agrees to waive its right to collect for damages from you.)


But should you purchase the rental car waivers anyway, just to be safe?

 

You probably don't need it. The chances are good that you're already covered -- very likely by your credit card, and probably by your personal auto insurance, too.


What you may not know, however, is that some credit cards' rental car coverage is better than others.

 

A new report shows the program's fiscal health is getting better but issues persist.

By MSN Money Partner 22 hours ago

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


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyGood news for Medicare.


The program's Hospital Insurance Trust Fund has enough money to fund the program through 2030, according to a new report from the program's board of trustees (.pdf file). That's four Pills © SuperStockyears later than last year's estimate, and 13 years later than was forecast the year before the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, NPR said.

"Medicare is considerably stronger than it was just four years ago," Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said Monday. She noted that slower growth of the program’s spending will very likely mean that the Medicare Part B premium charged to beneficiaries -- currently -- remains the same for the third year in a row. "That's a growth rate of zero percent," she noted.

The trustees cited slower growth in health care spending and expected savings from Obamacare for extending the solvency of the hospital trust fund. Judith Stein, executive director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy, said in a press release that the trustees' report effectively demonstrates that Medicare is a healthy, viable program. She added:

It continues to be an efficient, cost-effective program that Americans can count on for future generations. It should be protected as one of our great success stories.

Despite Medicare's slightly healthier financial outlook, the program is still financially unsustainable over the long run.

 

The new study is based on the review of credit files from TransUnion. Does the large number surprise you?

By MSN Money Partner 23 hours ago

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


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyDo you have delinquent debt? Apparently, you're part of a very large group.


Worried Man © CorbisA new study (.pdf file) by the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank, and Encore Capital Group's Consumer Credit Research Institute found that last year more than 35 percent of U.S. adults with credit files -- or 77 million Americans -- had bills that were unpaid for so long that they were considered "in collections."


What does that mean? CNN Money explains:

Once it is categorized as in collections, … it can follow one of three courses, according to the Urban Institute report. The creditor can charge it off and sell it to a debt buyer, put the account into default, or seek to collect what's owed through an in-house department or a third-party debt collector.

The Urban Institute used 2013 data from credit bureau TransUnion to measure Americans' past-due, non-mortgage debt. In the 7,000 credit files studied, that debt ranged from as little as $25 to a jaw-dropping $125,000. The average non-mortgage debt in collections was $5,178. The median was $1,350.

 

Name-brand items often aren't worth the extra cost. Here's a list of items you should always buy generic, along with a few exceptions to the rule.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 12:13 PM

This post comes from Allison Martin at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyWhat does your loyalty to brand-name products stem from? Do you think the items are truly superior in quality, or have you been won over by fancy marketing campaigns?


Either way, it's likely you're spending more than you need to just for a label. A new study "estimates Americans are wasting about $44 billion a year on name brands, when they could be buying the exact same products if they switched to cheaper store brands," CNN Money said.

 

When our furry feline friends aren't feeling fine, our finances often take a hit as well.

By Credit.com Wed 11:24 AM
This post comes from Gerri Detweiler at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneyCats are generally low-maintenance: feed them, pet them (when they want you to!), and clean their litter boxes, and they are often happy.


Hannah an d Rusty Photo credit: Gusstavo Vasquez/courtesy Credit.comBut like any pet, they can get sick or suffer accidents that can quickly result in large medical bills that could put your credit in jeopardy.


Here are three stories of owners who put their own credit at risk to care for the felines they love.

 

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