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Despite the current tough economy, most pension benefits are not at risk -- but it's always a good idea to check the health of your plan.

By MSN Money Partner Nov 10, 2011 7:12PM

This post comes from Phil Moeller at partner site U.S. News & World Report.


Reports of the death of the traditional pension, as with concerns about Social Security, have been greatly exaggerated, to borrow Mark Twain's famous phrase.


There is no question that defined benefit plans are disappearing from the workplace. And pensions, particularly public pensions, are under pressure. Employers are scrambling to adequately fund their plans and are also watching plan returns slide after finally regaining much of the losses they experienced during the 2007-2008 market swoon.


But pension benefits are generally not at risk, experts stress, particularly for existing employees who already have vested benefits from their plans. More likely, newer employees will receive less generous benefits and may have to contribute more to their plans to secure benefits than existing employees.


First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes stressing out about money. Here's how to focus more on the fun part and less on the stress.

By Stacy Johnson Nov 10, 2011 7:09PM

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


MoneyTalksNews on MSN MoneyA friend of mine just got married. She came back from her honeymoon to find an email from her financial adviser with a laundry list of money matters she hadn’t considered yet. Within the hour, she was  stressing with her new husband and watching the Internal Revenue Service’s YouTube channel.


They’re not alone. Saying "I do" is the start of a new financial lifestyle for most newly married couples. Here's how to make sure your new family gets off on the right foot.


Credit cards are valuable tools, but they're also misunderstood. Here's advice from someone who eats, sleeps, and breathes credit cards.

By Stacy Johnson Nov 10, 2011 4:15PM

This post is from Jason Steele at partner site Money Talks News.


MoneyTalksNews on MSN MoneyUsing credit cards wisely was the cornerstone of the personal finance education I received from a very young age. In fact, it's probably one of the chief reasons I decided to carve a career from writing about credit cards and other personal finance topics.


These days I often spend hours reviewing credit card offers, and still learn new things every once in a while. And I still see card users making fundamental mistakes in the way they manage their cards.

Here are some top mistakes some people make that I wouldn't.


'The Moneyless Man' describes living for a year with no income and no expenses -- Dumpster diving, growing and foraging for food, riding a bike and using solar power.

By MSN Money Partner Nov 10, 2011 3:34PM

This post comes from Mark Frauenfelder at partner site


In these lean times, people want to reduce their spending. It's easy to cut back on nonessentials such as video games and restaurant meals, but once you eliminate discretionary spending, you're stuck with an essentials budget that's hard to reduce. At least that's what most of us think.


Mark Boyle had different ideas. He'd been working as a businessman in the organic foods industry in England, and had become concerned about his relationship with money. To him, money was a negative influence: "It enables us to be completely disconnected from what we consume and from the people who make the products we use." He also believed money was largely responsible for environmental destruction and that banks spur this on by "pursu[ing] infinite economic growth on a finite planet."


So in 2008 Boyle decided to try living for a year without money.


A flurry of refinancing follows, but vast numbers of 'underwater' loans continue to weigh down the housing market.

By MSN Money Partner Nov 10, 2011 2:33PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis at MSN Money.


Mortgage rates dropped just a smidgeon this week, falling below 4% and breaking an important and historic psychological barrier for the second time this year.


The average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage now sells for an average 3.99%, according to the Freddie Mac's Weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey. To get that rate, homebuyers and refinancers are paying an average 0.7 point (a point is a fee, about 1% of the loan amount.)


In reality, this is a wee drop from last week's 4% average. Likewise, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped a hair, from 3.31% to 3.30% with a 0.8 point paid.


It's only natural to help out a child in financial need. But make sure you're not risking your retirement to do so.

By MSN Money Partner Nov 10, 2011 1:42PM

This post comes from Catey Hill at partner site SmartMoney. on MSN MoneyThe recession hit young men harder than any other age group, the Wall Street Journal reported this week, with unemployment rates for male high school grads age 20 to 24 at a whopping 22.4%. But that’s only part of the story: The parents of these 20-somethings often bear the brunt of the cost of their unemployment, as they move back home and depend on mom and dad for money, food and housing.


Some 59% of parents financially support their adult, non-student children (ages 18 to 39), according to a 2011 study by the National Endowment for Financial Education. Nearly half (48%) help their adult kids with living expenses, 41% with transportation costs, and 29% with spending money.


"This is happening more than I've ever seen it," says Benjamin Tobias, the founder of Tobias Financial Advisors in Plantation, Fla.


This year it wasn't deal sites providing a sneak peek of Wal-Mart's holiday shopping specials weeks ahead of time. It was the retailing giant itself.

By MSN Money Partner Nov 10, 2011 1:12PM

This post comes from Melinda Fulmer at MSN Money.


At midnight Thursday, Wal-Mart released its own Black Friday ad to the Web -- a three-tiered sale, starting with a toy, video game and home sale at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, followed by a midnight electronics sale, with the remaining deals available at 8 a.m. on Black Friday.


Retailers, desperate to court shoppers in this rough economy, are opening and advertising earlier to get strapped shoppers spending more at their stores.


You know it's not much, but once you crunch the numbers you see just how meager it is.

By MSN Money Partner Nov 9, 2011 7:46PM

This guest post comes from Andrea at So Over Debt.


One of my clients recently reported getting a job at a fast-food restaurant. Since she's been unemployed and desperately looking for work for nearly a year, I was thrilled for her. She was very excited that she'll be making $7.50 an hour -– a whole quarter more than minimum wage.


After she left my office, I got out a calculator. I've never worked for minimum wage, so I didn't know exactly how much -- or how little -- money that is.


Assuming 80 hours per pay period, my client will be bringing home around $462 every two weeks. That's with no health insurance or retirement contributions.


If I brought home $924 a month, would I even be able to survive? I decided to find out.



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