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With some exceptions, asking someone how much they make is a big no-no.

By MSN Money producer Nov 10, 2009 2:43PM

This guest post comes from J. Money at Budgets Are Sexy.


Are you my friend? Family? Are we helping each other out with our finances? If not, you're probably just making me angry. Unfortunately, I can't even say that with a straight face because I'm naturally happy.

Seriously though, I'm all for open discussions on money, but you can't be a jerk and ask someone how much they make just because you feel like it.

 

Lenders are likely to issue fewer credit cards and charge more.

By Teresa Mears Nov 10, 2009 2:27PM

As interest rates and fees rise, Americans’ love affair with credit cards appears to be waning. Credit cards may be ready for a break-up, too.

 

Constrained by both Congress and the economy from some of their most profitable practices, banks are trying to figure out how to make money under the new conditions. Already, it seems, one result is going to be that fewer people will be able to get credit cards, and even those with good credit may find using those cards more expensive, The New York Times reports.

 

On a per-minute basis, you might find a cheaper option.

By MSN Money producer Nov 10, 2009 1:59PM

This post comes from our partner blog Bargaineering.


When you think of prepaid cell phones, what do you think of? If you’ve watched "The Wire" on HBO, a gritty drama about life in Baltimore, you associate them with drug dealers. If you were a fan of "The Sopranos," you knew they were good for avoiding wiretaps. If you haven't seen either, chances are you don’t associate them with anything.


Most people don't use prepaid cell phones because we naturally think to a nice buffet-type minute plan with a major carrier.

For our vacation to Europe, we used a pay as you go phone. We couldn't use our own phones since we didn’t have compatible technology but our friend lent us her old phone. We went to a local Orange store (a pay-as-you-go service company), bought a SIM card and loaded it up with some minutes.


The cost of the chip? Zero.

 

Recession-battered retailers have reduced inventories, making many must-haves hard to find.

By MSN Money producer Nov 9, 2009 11:52PM

Zhu Zhu Hamster © Mark Lennihan / AP

If toys are on your Christmas shopping list, you might want to hit the stores now as many of the season's hottest items are already in short supply, The Associated Press reports.


Don't blame overeager parents and collectors. Retailers stung by the recession have cut inventories in anticipation of a repeat of last year's dismal shopping season.

 

The hot toys this year, according to the AP:

 

If you want the best bargains, you have to show up early.

By MSN Money producer Nov 9, 2009 5:58PM

The Kohl's Black Friday sale ad was leaked Sunday morning. There are a few standout deals buried in its whopping 64 pages -- mostly toy, jewelry and home items. Coupons, rebates and Kohl's cash make the deals even better.

 

As usual, all of the truly smoking deals are early bird specials, available only on Friday, Nov. 27, from the time the store opens at 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. (The ad does say some deals will be available online.) For every $50 you spend, you get $10 in  "Kohl's cash" to use in the store the first week of December.

 

Here are some of the better bargains:

 

Facebook and MySpace games are rife with shady advertising, blogger says.

By MSN Money producer Nov 9, 2009 5:07PM

Trouble's brewing in FarmVille.


A small online firestorm was stirred up recently by technology blogger Michael Arrington at TechCrunch when he called out free Facebook and MySpace games for their deceptive advertising practices.


In the post "Scamville: The Social Gaming Ecosystem Of Hell," Arrington says games such as Mobsters and Farmville are raking in big bucks from ads that promise in-game currency in exchange for signing up for often dubious services. To make matters worse, the games that feature the most egregious scams have become the most popular with users, edging out games that don't feature such trickery.

 

Potluck dinner, minimal decor, early shopping can all help.

By Teresa Mears Nov 9, 2009 3:17PM

Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away. If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to start shopping and planning to make your holiday frugal as well as fun.

 

The Sunday newspaper fliers are filled with coupons for such items as chicken broth, butter and other ingredients for Thanksgiving cooking. Many grocery stores also are putting these items on sale, so keep an eye on store deals and look for good sale/coupon combos to really save.

 

Sweating the small stuff is good, but true savings come from making wise choices on big-ticket items.

By MSN Money producer Nov 9, 2009 2:27PM

This post comes from J.D. Roth at partner blog Get Rich Slowly.


Last winter, my wife and I re-financed our mortgage. In one fell swoop, we trimmed our monthly payments for principal and interest from $1,386 to $1,137, boosting our cash flow by $249 per month.


If we had consumer debt, that's $249 per month we have could used for our debt snowball. It’s $249 per month we could stick in our retirement accounts, or to put into savings accounts for our trip to France next year -- or to pursue other hobbies and interests. Really, it's $249 we could use for anything we wanted. (As it happens, we chose to use that money to accelerate our mortgage payments.)

There's no question that frugality is an important part of personal finance. It's good to clip coupons and to mend broken furniture and to turn the thermostat down. But it's even better to shop around for the best deal on a mortgage. Everyday frugality can save you a little money consistently, but by making smart choices on big-ticket items, you can save thousands of dollars in one blow. Or you can boost your cash flow by hundreds of dollars per month.

 

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