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Bookstores' summer reading programs offer rewards, and public libraries offer free kids' activities.

By Teresa Mears May 26, 2010 12:42PM

Bookstores want your children to read this summer, and they are offering free books as an enticement.


Of course, your public libraries always have free books available, as long as you're willing to bring them back on time. Most public libraries organize free children's programs in the summers, some with prizes. Our public library will offer teens henna tattoos in addition to organizing more traditional programs around books, film and music.

Libraries lend more than books, too. You can check out DVDs, videos, music and audio books.


Local independent bookstores organize free children's events and some also have summer reading programs. Many bookstores offer free regular story hours, too.


With the resort industry reeling from the recession, golfers can find bargains.

By Karen Datko May 26, 2010 11:39AM

This Deal of the Day comes from Sarah Morgan at partner site SmartMoney.


Golf course owners are still searching for the green -- and that could be good news for vacationing golfers.


After ticking down 1.8% in 2008, the number of rounds of golf played in 2009 inched south another 0.6%, according to the National Golf Foundation. Some states saw steeper declines: South Carolina, with well-known golfing destinations in Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach, saw 4.3% fewer rounds of golf played last year than in 2008, and golf rounds fell 12.8% in Hawaii.


The drop-off in business could add up to some good last-minute deals for consumers, says Bob Bruns, associate director of the PGA Golf Management program at Methodist University.


Before you spend a lot of money, investigate free or low-cost options.

By Karen Datko May 26, 2010 8:59AM

This post comes from Julie Rains at partner blog Wise Bread.


Scams aren't just for the unsophisticated. Even a reasonable job seeker with an ounce of urgency might be convinced by polished, persistent schemers who are pros at overselling the value of job-search services.


To be semantically precise, these setups are more scheme-like than pure scams. Service providers don't take your money and disappear; instead, they deliver a service that may be worthless or have value that is a fraction of its fee.

As such, these schemes persist, especially when hawked by aggressive salespeople disguised as career-services experts. They prey on the sense of urgency and latent fears of high-achieving people who happen to be unemployed or underemployed at the moment. They exploit the idea that exclusive, high-priced services are better than readily available, free or lower-priced alternatives.


The online retailer earns praise from customers, but some think it's merely a PR stunt.

By Karen Datko May 25, 2010 3:56PM

A pricing-engine mistake at a sister site,, capped all prices at $49.95 for the first six hours of Friday before the error was caught. Now, in a brilliant customer-service move, Zappos says it will honor all of the orders placed and eat the $1.6 million mistake.


Hopefully, someone somewhere got the $1,000 GPS for just under 50 bucks. Customers overall, it appears, are impressed with the company's response.

"Wow, you mean they didn't pull an Amazon and just canceled all those orders? Crazy!" a reader commented at CNET News. Amazon acquired shoe and apparel online retailer Zappos last year.


This is certainly a departure from how many online retailers handle pricing mix-ups and gaffes. For instance:


The 'sin tax' defines candy as a sweet without flour. Except some candy contains flour. It's still candy, isn't it?

By Teresa Mears May 25, 2010 1:59PM

Starting June 1, you'll have to pay sales tax if you buy candy or gum in Washington state. Local taxes vary, but in Seattle, for example, that's 9.5 cents more on a $1 candy bar.


Unless you buy a Kit Kat, Milky Way or Twizzlers.


Those aren't candy, according to the state's definition. Because the state and city don't tax food, those sweets are tax-free.

That doesn't mean they're better for you. It's just that those non-candy candies contain flour. And, by the state's definition, an item that contains flour isn't candy, even if it's candy.


The Center for Science in the Public Interest identifies selections at 7 popular chains that provide 'Xtreme' levels of calories and fat.

By Karen Datko May 25, 2010 1:03PM

What do you get if you order the pasta carbonara with chicken at The Cheesecake Factory, followed by the Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake?


Answer: 4,170 calories and 133 grams of saturated fat -- more than the recommended limit of saturated fat for six entire days. The recommended daily caloric intake for most folks is 2,000.


These two menu items are among the Center for Science in the Public Interest's nine winners of the 2010 Xtreme Eating Awards. Is there any wonder we're an obese nation? Can the federal requirement that restaurants post calorie counts take effect soon enough to save us from ourselves?

"I wouldn't accuse California Pizza Kitchen or P.F. Chang's of being a threat to national security, but with a quarter of young Americans too heavy to join the military, these and other chains ought to get the extremes off their menus," CSPI nutrition director Bonnie Liebman said in a news release. "At a minimum, they should disclose calories on menus now, even before federal regulations make it mandatory."


Among the other "dishonorees" on the list:


A tongue-in-cheek look at the things people do that almost invite burglars into their home.

By Karen Datko May 25, 2010 7:38AM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


Being burglarized is almost never a good thing. The idea of someone breaking into your home, rummaging through your stuff, and taking all the choice bits is unpleasant. Most people whose homes have been burglarized will tell you that the worst part isn't the loss of stuff, which can be replaced, but the loss of their feeling of security.


But what if you wanted to be burglarized?

Why would you want your home broken into? Let's say you wanted to sell all of your possessions. How long would that take? A week? A month? Imagine if you could sell them all in one day for $500? Would you do it? If the answer is yes and you have insurance, skip the pleasantries and just get robbed!

Anything of value would be gone, you wouldn't even need to pack it, and you're on the hook only for the deductible. Think of it as a nontraditional garage sale. So, how do you entice a burglar to come rob your house? It's remarkably easy!


When asked, readers listed going to college, buying gold, and cooking at home, among other things. Not everyone agreed.

By Karen Datko May 24, 2010 4:25PM

A recent Ramit Sethi post began with a simple question: "What are areas where people THINK they're making a lot of money, but actually don't?"


Ramit, who blogs at I Will Teach You To Be Rich, suggested some possible answers: buying a house (hopefully everyone has figured that one out) and picking individual stocks (best not left to amateurs, we think).

What came next were comments from some very astute readers. Among them:


Buying something for the tax deduction.



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