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Most of us struggle to save, but for some chronic savers, parting with cash is excruciating -- and so they deny themselves comfort and pleasure.

By MSN Smart Spending editor Sep 6, 2013 2:52PM

This post comes from Geoff Williams at partner site U.S. News & World Report.


USNews logoToo much of a good thing, we're often told, is a bad thing. This is why there are sexual addiction therapists and an obesity epidemic. But, still, can anyone really have too much money?


Man holding cash © Rubberball, Getty Images

In a way, yes. There are people out there – both extremely rich and poor – who are afraid to spend money. They fear spending to the point that they feel financially paralyzed, with money safely socked away in the bank yet they won't pay for doctor visits, vacations, clothes or the electric bill.


"I've seen plenty of clients like this. They don't spend money on beauty supplies, haircuts, vacations, entertainment or even their health," says Adam Hagerman, a financial coach based near Baltimore who does some work for a government agency and has encountered a number of chronic savers who receive his help free of charge. In fact, he adds, "I have never had a chronic saver pay for my services."


Hagerman says such clients also typically have trouble spending money on food, and when they do, it's as inexpensive as possible (and often not nutritious). "These chronic savers also seem to just have this pile of money. It's never allocated to anything. It's just there. I'm not saying that that's a bad thing ... However, it's just about the number to these savers," Hagerman says.

 

You've shopped, you've compared models, and you've negotiated for a good price on a new set of wheels -- and you might still walk out with a clunker of payment plan.

By MSN Smart Spending editor Sep 6, 2013 12:41PM
This post comes from AnnaMaria Andriotis at partner site MarketWatch.

MarketWatch logoWhen driving away from the dealership, a car buyer’s biggest fear used to be ending up with a clunker. But these days, a car loan is as likely to be a lemon as the car itself.

Couple shopping for car (© Image100/Jupiterimages)Nearly 85% of new-car buyers in the second quarter signed up for a loan or lease to fund their purchase, according to data released this week by credit bureau Experian. That’s the highest level since it began tracking the sector in 2006.

Car dealers are driving the surge with incentives that include low-interest financing for the most creditworthy borrowers, but experts caution that shady lending practices remain in the marketplace, including interest rates or monthly payments that end up higher on the loan paperwork than what the lender and borrower verbally agreed to, and pitches for expensive add-ons (like extended warranties and rust protection) that raise payments. “There are still unscrupulous dealers out there — guys who are not going to live up to their promises,” says Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst at Kelley Blue Book.
 

The devices, which can be had for under $100, can help with insurance claims and protect drivers from fraud and other scams.

By businessed Sep 6, 2013 12:41PM

This post comes from MSN Money contributor Bruce Kennedy.


Dashboard camera in a car in Moscow on March 12, 2013 (© YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images)New technologies allow anyone with a cell phone to take still images and usually video, too. Think of all the newsworthy events we have seen in recent years because ordinary people happened to be there with their phones.

But there's another, similar device that Americans have been relatively late to adopt: the dashboard video camera. Now that appears to be changing.

 

Knowing how and when to claim can make a huge difference in lifetime payouts. Therefore, mistakes come at a painfully high price.

By MSN Smart Spending editor Sep 6, 2013 11:42AM
This post comes from Lucy Lazarony at partner site MoneyRates.com.

MoneyRates logoWhen deciding how you and your spouse should approach Social Security retirement benefits, there are a lot of approaches to consider. Unfortunately, many of them can result in you getting significantly less than what's available to you.


Mature couple calculating expenses © Abel Mitja Varela, the Agency Collection, Getty Images"It's like a game of chess," says Mari Adam, a certified financial planner based in Boca Raton, Fla.

Each decision you make as a couple can impact the monthly Social Security benefits you receive for the rest of your lives. Consequently, even small missteps can shave thousands from the cumulative benefits you receive as a couple.


To prevent you and your partner from getting short-changed, consider these five tips for helping married couples maximize their Social Security benefits.


1. Understand the impact of timing

Whether you're single or married, deciding when to start your benefits is critical. But when a couple makes a bad timing decision together, the losses are compounded. This makes it especially important for couples to grasp the basics.

 

While LEDs last decades and sip electricity, replace the wrong bulbs and you could be dead before you break even.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 6, 2013 10:29AM

This post comes from Stacy Johnson at partner site Money Talks News. 


MTN logoThe power bills for my South Florida home average more than $300 a month year-round. So, as you might imagine, I'm all about saving energy.


A few years ago I spent close to $5,000 to replace an old central air system. I've installed extra insulation, a programmable thermostat, dimmer switches and energy-efficient appliances. You name it, I've done it.


So when one of my buddies opened a business specializing in LEDs, I lit up. My home is now awash in low-energy lighting. The dark side: My bank account is lighter by more than $400.


Worth it? Well, let's say I wish I knew then what I know now.

 

According to one survey, 12% of companies plan to exclude spouses on health care plans to save on costs and offset the effects of the Affordable Care Act.

By Smart Spending Editor Sep 5, 2013 7:03PM
This post is from Jen Wieczner at parter site MarketWatch.com.

MSN Money partnerThe United Parcel Service UPS will no longer cover employees’ spouses on the company health plan. And while it’s not the only company to have adopted the policy, it’s among the largest.

Image: Business people working together © Terry Vine, Blend Images, Blend Images, Getty ImagesSome 15,000 UPS spouses who can obtain health coverage through their own jobs will be dropped from the plan. In a memo to employees, the company explained that the change was intended to offset the effects of the Affordable Care Act, which were expected to increase its health care costs by 4%.

By denying coverage to spouses, employers not only save the annual premiums, but also the new fees that went into effect as part of the Affordable Care Act. This year, companies have to pay $1 or $2 "per life" covered on their plans, a sum that jumps to $65 in 2014. And health law guidelines proposed recently mandate coverage of employees’ dependent children (up to age 26). But husbands and wives are optional.

"The question about whether it’s obligatory to cover the family of the employee is being thought through more than ever before," says Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health.

While surcharges for spousal coverage are more common, next year, 12% of employers plan to exclude spouses, up from 4% this year, according to a recent Towers Watson survey. These "spousal carve-outs," or "working spouse provisions," generally prohibit only people who could get coverage through their own job from enrolling in their spouse’s plan. 

Letting your kids play with your devices led to $2.8 billion in spending to repair or replace those items. Think about that next time junior wants to play with your smartphone.

By Mitch Lipka Sep 5, 2013 5:48PM

Image: Teens with MP3 player (© RubberBall/SuperStock)Those kids! So full of energy. So reckless. So expensive.


Victim of youthful exuberance (among many other things): your electronic devices. The electronic warranty company SquareTrade said its research found that half of American parents reported that their children had damaged at least one electronic device.


The damages for the kid carnage? A whopping $2.8 billion for repair and replacement costs, SquareTrade said.


One reason kids wreak such havoc on their parents' devices is simple access. Nearly three-quarters of parents allow their children to use their personal devices, the company found. And close to two-thirds of the time there was kid-caused damage it came during time off from school. And 80% of the time the damage happened at home. In other words, Mom and Dad could have prevented the damage, in theory, anyway. In promoting how at risk our devices are, SquareTrade is hoping to gain more customers of its electronics protection plans. 

Doctors and other medical workers are among the first to notice signs of elder abuse and fraud, according to a recent survey. Another reason to listen to the doctor.

By MSN Smart Spending editor Sep 5, 2013 5:14PM

This post comes from Kimberly Palmer at partner site U.S. News & World Report.


MSN Money partnerA reader, Thomas, recently wrote to say that he is struggling to keep his father, age 98, safe from fraudsters.


Medical doctor (© Creatas/SuperStock)“My father has used a computer for the last 20 years, but he has now lost most of the awareness of many routine, necessary things to do to protect himself online,” he writes. His father, he adds, surfs the Web just enough to get himself into trouble, including making contact with strangers who then call him and send him mail.


Thomas, who asked to be identified by his first name only, urges his father not to talk to strangers on the phone or install unfamiliar programs on his computer, but his father does so anyway. Plus, Thomas says, his father would be furious if anyone took away his computer. Thomas wants to know what he can do to help keep his father safe.

 

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