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Don't spend money on costly critter management. You can keep bugs and rodents away yourself for less.

By Stacy Johnson Apr 5, 2013 11:06AM

This post comes from Craig Donofrio from partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyPest control employment is expected to boom by 26% through 2020, according to the United States Department of Labor, suggesting Americans are having a problem keeping critters outdoors where they belong.


Image: Fly ©, JupiterimagesBut exterminators should be your last option. If you take steps to create a hostile environment for bugs and other pests, you won't be spending big bucks on the bug man this summer. 

Here are 10 ways to keep your home bug and pest-free.


Most store clerks who ask for your ZIP code aren't concerned with security. They want to use it to sell you more stuff.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 4, 2013 3:12PM

This post comes from MSN Money contributor Mitch Lipka.


Teenage girl buying clothes at till, close-up © Lisa Stirling, Digital Vision, Getty ImagesHow many times have you gone to a store and had the clerk ask for your ZIP code? Most consumers probably assume the question has something to do with using a credit card.


But it usually doesn't. You're just as likely to get asked the question if you pay with cash. It's about marketing -- collecting information about you and your purchases to sell you more things because adding your ZIP code to other information on file can help add to data being collected about you and your shopping habits.


You can just say no when asked, and privacy experts say you should.


Prioritizing your financial wants and needs can be tricky, but doing so is essential for good fiscal health.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 4, 2013 2:36PM

This post comes from Philip Brewer at partner blog Wise Bread.

Wise Bread on MSN MoneyStandard financial advice is full of things to do first -- build an emergency fund, contribute to a 401k, pay off debts, start investing, stockpile emergency supplies. What really comes first?


Image: U. S. banknotes on shelf in kitchen pantry © Supapixx, AlamyBecause everybody's circumstances are different, there's no one answer that applies to everyone. Instead, the right way to approach this problem is with a mental model -- a way to think about these issues that can guide you to coming up with the right answer for your particular circumstances.


Here's my stab at one.


A foreclosure specialist tells where mom-and-pop investors can still buy homes for cheap and rent them out for a sizable profit.

By Marilyn Lewis Apr 4, 2013 12:19PM

This post comes from MSN Money contributor Marilyn Lewis.


Image: Rental market (© Dana Hoff/Beateworks/Corbis)Deep-pocket financiers and investors have swarmed the U.S. real estate market, scooping up cheap foreclosures and recession bargains to rent them out. You'd think there's nothing left for the little guy.


But, apparently, there still are bargain homes that pencil out as profitable rentals.


Foreclosure specialist RealtyTrac ran the numbers and lists the top 20 markets with potential for mom-and-pop investors. RealtyTrac's list includes the median home price, rent, mortgage payment and capitalization rate for a three-bedroom home in each of these cities.


A couple of surprises top RealtyTrac's list: Rents in the No. 1 market, Memphis, Tenn., and No. 2, Saginaw, Mich., are strong enough to generate capitalization rates of 10.38% and 10.32%, respectively. (Investopedia tells how to find the capitalization rate, or rate of return: Divide the income by the property's value.)


Saving money doesn't mean missing out on fun. For sports, concerts, movies and more, if you use your imagination, you can easily find ways to have a great time at a great price.

By Stacy Johnson Apr 4, 2013 11:25AM

This post comes from Linda Doell at partner site Money Talks News


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,  the  average U.S. household spends about $2,500 annually on entertainment. That may not seem like a lot, but it's still a nice chunk of change.

Of course, entertainment is the reason we work in the first place. It helps you relax and enjoy life. But you can substitute your imagination for your wallet and find plenty of cool things to do cheap or free.


With a few simple no- or low-cost steps, you can give your eyes the rest they need from all that screen time.

By businessed Apr 4, 2013 10:50AM

This post comes from MSN Money contributor Michelle V. Rafter.


Tired businesswoman working at computer (© Image Source/Getty Images) You check email and text messages on your smartphone before getting out of bed, sit in front of a computer all day at work, and unwind at night with an e-book, movie on the iPad or Xbox360 game.


No wonder your eyes are shot.


All those hours spent looking at screens is turning you and a lot of other people like you into Mr. Magoo.


It’s no joke. Between 64% and 90% of computer users experience eyestrain, headaches, dry eye, blurred vision or other symptoms of a condition that in recent times has been recognized as computer vision syndrome (CVS), according to a 2011 study in Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics.


An offer of a $9 pizza if the longshot Wichita State team wins the tournament is no deal at all.

By Mitch Lipka Apr 3, 2013 2:22PM

This post comes from MSN Money contributor Mitch Lipka.


Fred Van Vleet #23 and Carl Hall #22 of the Wichita State Shockers celebrate after defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes 70-66 during the West Regional Final of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Staples Center on March 30, 2013 in Los Angeles (© Jeff Gross/Getty Images)Pizza Hut, looking to connect its Wichita roots to the upstart Wichita State Shockers basketball team in a bid for attention, scored on publicity and committed a turnover on the offer.

The pizza chain is offering a deal to anyone who signs up for the Pizza Hut email list: a pizza for $9 if Wichita State wins the national championship. The $9 price riffs off the Shockers being a No. 9 seed in the tournament.

The thing is $9 isn't necessarily a deal at all. You can go on Pizza Hut's website today and get a two-topping large pizza for $7.99. So, should Wichita State go all the way, it would cost a dollar more than the price you could pay today for that pizza. What a deal!


When was the last time you gave your car insurance a tune-up? If you're overdue, you might be overpaying.

By Stacy Johnson Apr 3, 2013 12:31PM

This post comes from Angela Colley at partner site Money Talks News.


In 2010, the last year data was available, American households spent an average of $1,010 for car insurance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (.pdf file).

That's a lot, but there are plenty of ways to drive down the cost ...



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