Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Our reporter took the frugal month challenge and saved $328 during February by forgoing haircuts and new clothes and finding free entertainment.

By Mar 6, 2014 12:52PM
This post comes from Raechel Conover at partner site on MSN MoneyThis February we invited readers to take the Frugal Month Challenge and commit to what some have called a "no-buy month." My family of four embarked on this cheap-living challenge and now I'm back to share the results.

Money jar © Big Cheese Photo/PictureQuestA quick refresher on the rule: Buy nothing extra -- only the bare necessities. For my family that meant we paid our mortgage and other monthly bills and bought groceries, dog food, and gas, but that's pretty much it. We even tried to pare down our grocery budget to increase our savings.

Learn how driver's license points are assessed, how long they stick and how they affect your auto insurance rates.

By QuinStreet Mar 6, 2014 12:35PM

This post comes from Michelle Megna at partner site on MSN MoneyScoring points is a good thing, unless it's on your driving record. Still, if you know how your state's point system works, you'll have a better game plan for keeping your license -- and your auto insurance rates low. Here are 10 things every driver should know:

Woman with license © Blend Images, SuperStock1. Auto insurance companies don't rely on state motor vehicle department point systems -- they use their own.

Both state motor vehicle departments and insurance companies use point systems to track driving performance, but they are separate assessments. DMV points are applied when you are convicted of certain traffic violations. If you accumulate too many points within a certain period of time, your license is typically suspended or revoked.

Insurers don't generally pay much attention to DMV points because they use their own point system when deciding how much to raise your rate. Based on the infraction, your rates rise by a predetermined amount at certain thresholds.


You don't have to be a millionaire now to be a millionaire at retirement. Find out the secrets behind retiring rich.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 6, 2014 12:24PM

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

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyThe median worker's retirement fund contained a meager $79,300 in 2010. That fun fact comes courtesy of professional services firm Towers Watson and might make you think retiring rich is out of reach for most people.

Think again.

Don't let the statistics scare you. With a little advance planning and self-discipline, you might not ever be famous but you could be rich.


The big day can be costly, but strategic use of rewards cards can help you earn some valuable rewards.

By Mar 5, 2014 5:54PM

This post comes from Jason Steele at partner site on MSN MoneyA wedding is a joyous, yet expensive, occasion. And with so much money being spent, credit card users are wise to look for any possible method to maximize their credit card rewards. Thankfully, there are several ways that couples can leverage their spending to earn considerable rewards points, miles and cash back on their big day.

Newlywed couple © Purestock/SuperStockWhen paying for wedding expenses, it is best to use a credit card only as a method of payment, not a means of finance. As unsecured debt, credit card interest rates are very high, and couples would be far better off hosting a celebration within their means rather than beginning their lives together under a cloud of new debt. Also, any rewards earned from a credit card will be dwarfed by just a month or two of interest payments, so earning rewards makes little sense when cardholders carry a balance.

Earning points and miles at hotels

Hotels are popular venue for ceremonies and receptions, and credit cards make it very easy to earn valuable rewards.


Not quite economy class, not quite first class -- 'premium economy' is the latest way airlines are trying to wrangle a few more of your travel dollars.

By Money Staff Mar 5, 2014 1:58PM

This post comes from Daniel Michaels at partner site The Wall Street Journal.

The Wall Street Journal on MSN MoneyFor fliers, the ideal seat is usually in first or business class. For airlines, the sweet spot on long-haul flights is, increasingly, farther back in the plane.

A new hybrid class, called premium economy, is appearing on more planes due into its attractive economics. The seats generally give passengers a bit more space than traditional coach and often come with extra amenities like better food.

Tickets are pricier than for basic economy, but still much cheaper than flying up front.


A new survey ranks the island nation as the most expensive city to live in this year.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 5, 2014 1:11PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News. 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneySingapore leapt five spots in 2014 to overtake Japan's capital of Tokyo as the world's most expensive city to live in.

The 2014 Worldwide Cost of Living survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit compares more than 400 different price indicators, from groceries to utilities, to rank the cost of living of 131 cities worldwide.


Graduation is a time of exciting possibilities, high expectations -- and new financial realities. Get off on the right foot and build a brighter future with these seven tips.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 5, 2014 1:08PM

This post comes from Kentin Waits at partner site Money Talks News. 

Money Talks NewsI landed my first professional job right out of college way back in 1992. I was earning $18,000 a year and somehow managed to pay rent for a small apartment just off of Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, have a car, and dine out (maybe a bit too often) with friends.

College graduates © Ariel Skelley / Blend Images/Getty ImagesI didn't feel the least bit deprived at the time. In fact, I felt like I was making enough to not only stay on top of my bills, but save, and enjoy life too. I think what kept everything in balance was a basic knowledge of how to manage money and meticulously avoiding the more common missteps that might have capsized my little income boat.

No doubt there are throngs of new grads out there looking for or landing their first "real" job and wondering how to make ends meet and still save in an economy that can best be described as challenging. Here are seven strategies that can help:


There is no foolproof way to keep yourself completely safe, but there are precautions you can take that will reduce the risk your data will be compromised.

By Mar 5, 2014 12:52PM

This post comes from AJ Smith at partner site

Every year, millions of Americans fall victim to identity theft. The effects can be widespread -- hurting credit scores, homebuying potential and even job opportunities. Data shows that an identity theft occurs every three seconds and in 2012 identity fraud activity equaled more than $21 billion in losses. But there are some ways you can try to make yourself less of a target.

When shopping and banking online you have to be vigilant. Here are four tips to keep your online transactions secure.

Woman with a credit card © Alistair Berg, Digital Vision, Getty Images1. Use the right card

Credit cards can offer more protection for consumers than debit cards. Read the find print on credit card agreements to learn about the protections and limitations. Learn what each of your credit cards offer as fraud protection and liability protection. This way you can choose the best card for online purchases. It can be a good idea to use only one card for online transactions, to limit your exposure to fraud and theft.



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.