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Certain expenditures and habits can either help you save or put your finances in jeopardy. Here's where you can look for money leaks and opportunities to save.

By Credit.com Oct 16, 2013 11:56AM

This post comes from Jane Young at partner site Credit.com.


Credit.com logoThe first step toward saving money is making a conscious decision to devote the time and energy required to focus on saving money.


Close-up of a person using a calculator in a supermarket (© George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)You can save a tremendous amount by creating a spending plan, making a list of what you really need and taking the time to shop and compare. It can take lot of time and discipline to save money. Let’s look at some suggestions to help you budget in eight key areas.


1. Stay out of debt

One of the most efficient ways to save money is to avoid going into debt.  You will save a lot of money on interest by paying your credit cards off at the end of every month. If you are carrying a balance, prioritize paying off your credit cards as soon as possible. Most of us need a mortgage to purchase a home, but you should avoid going into debt to purchase consumer products such as vehicles, appliances, furniture and electronics, if possible.

 

When your dog gets cancer, how are you going to pay for his chemo? Should you have a pet insurance policy?

By MSN Money Partner Oct 16, 2013 11:42AM

This post comes from Maryalene LaPonsie at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyAfter my husband and I bought a house with a fenced-in yard, it was only a matter of time before a dog would follow.


We picked out Tyson from the local Humane Society. He was a beautiful fawn boxer with a sweet disposition … and a tennis ball-sized lump on his side.


The veterinarian at the Humane Society said it wasn't anything serious. It was only fatty tissue, and our local vet agreed. But a year later, we decided it was time to make Tyson lump-free. About two hours after we dropped Tyson off at the vet, the call came. Turns out the fatty tissue wasn't just fat. It was cancer, and did we want the vet to try to remove the entire tumor?

 

In community property states, your spouse’s bad credit can hurt your chances of getting a mortgage, even if you leave him or her off the loan.

By Credit.com Oct 16, 2013 11:36AM

This post comes from Chris Birk at partner site Credit.com.


Credit.com logoMy wife was entering her third and final year of law school when we bought our current home.

While she landed a nearly full ride to a Top 20 school, after two years of nonstop studying, her debt and income profile didn’t exactly glisten in terms of mortgage qualification.


Couple talking to bank manager © Image Source, Getty ImagesIn fact, it might have proved detrimental. Some lawyers may make good money, but most law students aren’t exactly raking it in. Adding her to a loan application would have meant a net loss because her minimal debt exceeded her even more minimal income. It ultimately made more sense for me to qualify on my own.


For a lot of prospective homebuyers, being able to count a spouse’s income is essential to qualifying for a loan. But there are certainly times when debts or bad credit actually make your spouse a homebuying liability.


The rub is that, depending on where you plan to purchase, your spouse’s rough financials can still hurt you, even if you leave him or her off the loan.

 

If you have wondered how other people juggle several credit cards, wonder no more. Here are tips for managing multiple cards.

By QuinStreet Oct 15, 2013 2:45PM

This post comes from Maryalene LaPonsie at partner site CardRatings.com.


CardRatings.com on MSN MoneyFor Louis DeNicola, it started in college with a student Visa credit card. That was followed by two store cards.


Stack of Credit Cards © Fuse, Getty ImagesThen came the realization that credit card rewards points could hold the key to free travel. One free flight to Europe and a couple free hotel stays later, the New York City resident was hooked. Today, DeNicola has nearly a dozen cards and is known as the "credit card guy" in his circle of friends.


Half of the U.S. population has at least two credit cards, according to a report by credit bureau Experian.

 

A reader wants to know which of two credit monitoring services she's using is the better deal. My answer? Drop them both like a bad habit.

By MSN Money Partner Oct 15, 2013 1:17PM

This post comes from Stacy Johnson at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyThis question comes from our Facebook page. It's from one of the many Americans who pay to have their credit protected by a credit monitoring service.

Dear Stacy,
I love your newsletter and I think I have your question of the week!
I inadvertently subscribe to two credit monitoring services with at least two different plans offered by each company (which appear to be comparable). My LifeLock membership is $23.30 a month (paid annually), while my Shield Activate membership runs me $26.95 a month, which includes my LegalShield membership of $9.95. My problem? I can't decide which is the most cost-effective provider of credit monitoring and identity theft protection.
Regards,
Heather from Massachusetts

Woman with credit cards (© Corbis)Here's your answer, Heather!


About 25 years ago, I needed a divorce attorney. I had a good friend who was a brilliant corporate lawyer, so I asked him, "Who's the best divorce lawyer in town?" His response: "That's like asking who's going to win a one-legged race."


He didn't have much respect for divorce lawyers.


I feel like answering Heather's question the same way, because I have little respect for companies charging big bucks for credit monitoring. Here's why.

 

If you're hoping to get a federal loan, you can stop sweating your score, but if you're looking at private loans, the answer may be different.

By Credit.com Oct 15, 2013 12:53PM
This post comes from Christine DiGangi at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneyConsumers’ credit scores can determine their ability to get auto loans, mortgages, personal loans and all kinds of financing. But student loans are different. It can be challenging enough to get into a certain academic program -- but do students have to make a certain credit grade to be able to pay for it, too?

Mortarboard , diploma and money © Comstock, Getty ImagesIt depends. 

Three simple questions can help you make one of the biggest financial decisions of your retirement years.

By businessed Oct 15, 2013 12:47PM

This post is from Beth Braverman at partner site The Fiscal Times.


The Fiscal Times on MSN MoneyFor most retirees, it makes sense to wait as long as possible to start receiving Social Security, but individual circumstances differ. There are three major factors to consider.

Credit: MR & PR/Getty Images
Caption: Senior man reading Social Security form
 

Question: I retired at 58, work part time, and have a net worth of  $1.3 million, including investments. When is a good time for me to collect Social Security? –Birdie

 

Higher demand and bad weather have conspired to raise the price of the major ingredient of a chocolate bar. So expect the cost to climb, especially for the good stuff.

By MSN Money Partner Oct 15, 2013 12:43PM

This post comes from Brandon Ballenger at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyExpect chocolate prices -- especially on the high-end stuff -- to go up soon.


Rising demand in India along with bad weather for cocoa crops in Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia are driving costs up, CNNMoney says. The price of cocoa butter, which is used to make chocolate, is at a four-year high, and it's up 70% in just the past year.


Chocolate © image100/CorbisThe cost of making the average milk chocolate bar is up 25% in the past year, too, according to British trade magazine The Grocer. But retail prices in the U.S. have risen by only 7%, CNNMoney says, because the big chocolate makers want to avoid pricing consumers out of their cravings.


If you like higher-quality dark chocolate, you'll probably see prices going up much more.

 

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