Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Cut cost -- and calories -- with these easy-to-follow suggestions. Cheers.

By Karen Datko Mar 17, 2010 5:29PM

This guest post comes from Kris at Cheap Healthy Good.


Top o’ the afternoon to ye, my fellow Irish, part-Irish, and Irish-on-March-17-only. I raise a pint of Guinness to you, since today, of all days, calls for a drink.

Alas, alcohol is expensive, and certain beverages come with calorie counts you’d expect only from a Double Whopper. So, how can one quaff without ending up as nutritionally and financially bankrupt as '70s-era meat loaf? Read on …


Use Congress' sometimes-ignored pay-as-you-go rule in your own home.

By Karen Datko Mar 17, 2010 4:20PM

This guest post comes from Jason at Frugal Dad.


U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky created quite a stir by holding out his vote for extending unemployment benefits. His contention was that it violated the PAYGO (pay-as-you-go) rules that Congress and the president had reinstated just a month earlier. Bunning eventually caved and the benefits were extended, but just because the government won't operate under PAYGO doesn’t mean we the people can’t.


A free night's stay is within reach. But you might be better off hoarding points.

By Karen Datko Mar 17, 2010 12:52PM

This Deal of the Day comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site SmartMoney.


With room occupancy at historic lows, hotels are looking for the kind of customer who doesn’t sleep around.


Hotel occupancy levels plunged to 55% during the recession and are expected to continue hovering there this year, reports PKF Consulting, a hospitality research firm that tracks pricing trends. “It’s still very much a buyer’s market, and brands are fighting for guests,” says Robert Mandelbaum, director of research for PKF. Room rates, which dropped 8.8% in 2009, are projected to fall an additional 1% to an average $96.17. Some properties are trying to find ways to entice guests without harming the bottom line.


Enter loyalty programs.


The bedside manner wasn't great, but the online chat saved them a trip to the doctor.

By Karen Datko Mar 17, 2010 10:36AM

This post comes from Marla Walters at partner blog Wise Bread.


My husband was building a shed recently. I went out to see how it was coming, and noticed that he seemed distracted about something. He said his calf was sore, as though he had a pulled muscle.


As the soreness got worse, he finally stopped to look at his leg, and there was a spot of blood right where the soreness was. He felt it, and there was something there, which he assumed was a splinter. He scratched at it, and something came off. He wondered if a treated-lumber sliver could have such an effect on his leg. Before too long, there was a grape-sized swelling under the small wound.


He decided that he had better come inside and put some ice on it. I felt it, and under the grape-sized swelling there was a larger hard area, as though his calf muscle were flexed, even when relaxed.


It's not a social experiment for her but rather a matter of a very tight budget.

By Karen Datko Mar 16, 2010 6:34PM

A dollar a day for food: You may have seen some of these posts, where well-meaning people experiment to see if they can make it work -- if they can eat like poor folks.


Blogger “j.” saw them too, and thought she could do better. But for her, eating on $1 a day is not a social experiment:

Well, here I am. Broke, newly moved, and almost totally without food. Like those who came before me I've got some rules, but unlike those before me I'm not doing this to help anyone else. This is all about my grocery bill.

She’s not joking. One of her rules is that if she wins the Powerball jackpot, the $1-a-day food limit comes to an abrupt halt.


Beer, sliders, pizza and wings, plus a burrito for St. Patrick's Day.

By Teresa Mears Mar 16, 2010 1:53PM

Apparently there is some sort of basketball tournament going on.


I’m not a sports fan, but I’m certainly a deals fan, and a number of restaurants are offering March Madness deals. We found a few St. Patrick’s Day specials, too, though you’ll find most of the best St. Patrick’s Day parties at local restaurants and Irish pubs.


Blockbuster adds late fees, Warner Bros. delays new releases. Where to rent now.

By Karen Datko Mar 16, 2010 10:55AM

This Deal of the Day comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site SmartMoney.


Renting movies to watch at home is cheaper than a night out at the theater, but it can still be a budget-buster. Now renters have new pitfalls, financial and otherwise, to watch for.


Blockbuster reinstated late fees this month, charging $1 per day after the rental period, up to $10 total. (Previously, consumers had a 10-day grace period before being charged a one-time $10 fee.) Getting hot new releases is no easy feat either. Desperate to boost DVD sales, studios are pressuring DVD-rental companies to withhold titles until a month after they go on sale. Redbox and Netflix struck deals with Warner Bros. earlier this year, agreeing to a "sale only" window of 28 days.

“Obviously, it isn’t the consumer who makes out on these deals,” says Dan Rayburn, a principal analyst with Frost & Sullivan covering the online video market. Companies are trying to better position themselves as consumers flock to inexpensive rental options such as mail subscriptions, online streaming and kiosks.


In the rapidly changing rental market, there's no longer one best choice.


It's good to have a stash in case of emergencies, but don't overdo it. Bad things can happen.

By Karen Datko Mar 16, 2010 9:41AM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


I had a conversation recently with a friend of mine who likes to keep a little bit of cash at home in the event of a zombie apocalypse. As I reminded him that zombies don’t take U.S. dollars, I thought about how we like to keep some cash on hand at home, too.


My friend was talking a thousand dollars or two; we keep maybe a hundred bucks. While he was trying to up his chances of survival, we do it to avoid an unnecessary trip to the ATM if we find our wallet or purse a little light one day.

That led me to wonder where the best places are to hide your money at home, and fortunately the Web did not disappoint.



Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.