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Several forces are conspiring to raise your bar tab.

By Money Staff Mar 27, 2014 12:07PM

This post comes from Catey Hill at partner site MarketWatch.

MarketWatch on MSN MoneyYou're not seeing double: Your bar tab really is that big.

Man with tropical drink © CorbisMargaritas, screwdrivers and Bloody Mary's are among the cocktails that could become more expensive in coming months. And drinkers can't blame the actual alcohol for that -- thanks to a convergence of factors ranging from weather to bacteria, the price of many of the ingredients in cocktail mixers has jumped.

In general, the prices for fresh fruits — including many used as cocktail mixers — climbed 2.5 percent from January to February this year, compared with just 0.4 percent for food overall. And Vernon Crowder, the senior vice president and senior analyst at Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory, says that fruit prices could continue to climb through the summer.


The second-ranking Republican in the US House says the minimum wage doesn't need to be raised -- it's the Affordable Care Act that's hurting workers' wages.

By Mar 27, 2014 11:00AM

This post comes from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor at partner site on MSN MoneyOn Jan. 31, a fry cook asked President Obama why his hours were being cut to part time because of Obamacare, and the President responded by saying he was pushing to raise the minimum wage.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va © J. Scott Applewhite/AP
This moment between the fry cook and the president reveals the entire reasoning of the Democratic Party’s push to raise the minimum wage. Rather than restore wages and hours lost by working middle-class Americans due to Obamacare, Democrats are hiding these losses behind a false debate about the minimum wage.

Just look at the math. In 2013, President Obama supported a $9 minimum wage. This year, he proposed a $10.10 minimum wage, which at the federal level turns out to be an increase roughly equal to the amount of wages a minimum wage employee would lose if they had their hours cut by 25 percent, as is happening under one provision of Obamacare. Coincidence?


U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren writes that the minimum wage in the US is too low to raise a child in a secure environment. The Massachusetts Democrat says almost 5 million single mothers would get a needed raise.

By Mar 26, 2014 5:20PM

This post comes from U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., at partner site on MSN MoneyI have 17 million reasons for wanting to increase the minimum wage.  Yes, 17 million -- the number of children whose lives would be a little more secure if their moms and dads earned at least $10.10 an hour.

Caption: Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) © Joshua Roberts/Reuters
When I was in junior high, my daddy had a heart attack. He was home for a while, the medical bills piled up, and we lost our family station wagon.

So my mother did what she had to do: She went to work answering the phones at Sears. The job paid only minimum wage, but it was enough to make sure we could keep our home.

No one should work full time and live in poverty. In 1968, the minimum wage was high enough to keep a family of three out of poverty. In 1980, the minimum wage was at least high enough to keep a family of two out of poverty. 


Looking for nearly new gizmos at a lower the price? Buying reconditioned laptops, phones and more is a good way to go.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 26, 2014 1:51PM

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

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyRight now, you could spend $299 on a brand-new 32GB iPod Touch or you could spend $219 for the refurbished version. Both come from the Apple store in a sparkling white box with new accessories, a new battery and a one-year warranty.

Which do you choose?

You may be hesitant to go the refurbished route, but have no fear. Refurbished electronics are an awesome deal and can save you up to 50 percent off the sticker price.


Renting a car in the near future? Don't make the mistake of paying more than you intend to or more than you should.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 26, 2014 1:44PM

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

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyAre you a frequent patron of rental car companies? If so, you may be well aware of their shrewd practices that can leave you in the hole if you fail to be a responsible shopper.

And what about all of the hidden or surprise fees that come with the territory?

Woman in car adjusting mirror © Jose Luis Pelaez Inc, Blend Images, Getty ImagesWhen I made my first rental car reservation, I was stunned at how low the rate was. Unfortunately, I quickly learned that things aren't always what they appear to be when I picked up my ride for the weekend.

The initial figure was just an illusion. I wish someone had warned me beforehand.

Here are a few common rental car "gotchas" to watch out for:

1. Penalties and extra fees

This is usually where the trapping begins. You walk into the rental car company, hand them your reservation, and you drive away with exactly what you reserved at the quoted price, correct?

Well, not quite if you are offered a more luxurious ride, need to extend the rental for a day or so or bring the car back early, plan to use a debit card, or alter the return destination.

These are just a few of the scenarios in which your wallet can take a hit. Want to avoid these fees?


The deadline for purchasing individual health insurance is quickly approaching, although some will get some extra time to complete their application.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 26, 2014 12:50PM

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

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyJust a handful of days remain to buy a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act. The March 31 deadline is less than a week away.

Pills © ImageShop/CorbisIf you have qualifying health insurance through your job, or through a government program like Medicare or Medicaid, or you have purchased an individual policy, you're good to go. If you still haven't signed up for coverage, and aren't exempt, you need to act.

1. Deadline

The deadline to enroll for individual health insurance is March 31. But don't wait until the last minute, because it's not a 10-minute process. The application and selecting a plan take some time to complete.

Unless you qualify for an exemption (more on that below), this deadline is for everyone, regardless of whether or not you're eligible for a subsidy. (Note: Only those who buy health insurance through a government online marketplace can qualify for a subsidy to help make premiums more affordable.)

With few exceptions, you cannot buy an individual health insurance plan after March 31, period. For coverage starting in 2015, the open enrollment period begins Nov. 15.

2. Deadline grace period

If you've begun the application process to sign up for health insurance by the deadline and cannot complete it because of technical issues or other problems, you'll be given a grace period to complete your application.


Lots of financial challenges can arise when you enter your golden years, but here's some good news: You'll probably save money in these areas.

By Mar 26, 2014 11:49AM

This post comes from AJ Smith at partner site on MSN MoneyWhether retirement is a distant dream or fast approaching, planning now can help. One of the first steps in planning is thinking about what kind of retirement you desire. Do you anticipate taking on a second career or pursuing part-time work? Do you hope to travel extensively or start expensive hobbies? Will you downsize your home, move to another state or even another country? These answers will ultimately help you decide how much income you need in retirement and thus how much you need to save.

Smiling older man driving convertible © Clerkenwell, the Agency Collection, Getty ImagesWill your income needs stay the same, decrease or increase in retirement? The answer will be different for everyone but here are three ways your cost of living may decrease in retirement.

1. No mortgage

If you make it a goal to  pay off your mortgage pprior to retirement, you can cut the cost of your mortgage from your monthly budget.


Insurance seekers who fail to enroll by March 31 may have to wait months for the next enrollment period.

By QuinStreet Mar 25, 2014 3:34PM
This story comes from Beth Orenstein at partner site on MSN MoneyIf you haven't bought health insurance yet, it's time to panic. You have until March 31 to buy coverage or you may have to pay a penalty when you file your 2014 taxes next year.

Surgeons operating on patient © Pete Saloutos, UpperCut Images, Getty ImagesThe Affordable Care Act requires most everyone who can afford health insurance to be covered by April 1 or pay a penalty. That penalty could be a maximum of $285 for a family of four or up to 1 percent of the family income, whichever is greater.

If you planned to buy a health plan through a broker or directly from a health insurance company for coverage in April, the March 15 deadline for doing so has passed. If you buy health insurance anytime from March 16 to the 31 outside the government-run marketplaces, your coverage won't start until May 1.

Exchanges offer some breathing room

You have a little more breathing room if you buy your plan from the government-run marketplace in your state. If you buy a plan through the marketplace before March 31, coverage won't start until May 1. But the Obama administration will let you slide. "Health and Human Services granted an extension for those enrolling in the marketplace but not for those enrolling outside the marketplace," says Carol Taylor, employee benefit advisor for D&S Agency in Roanoke, Va., a partner firm of United Benefit Advisors.



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