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There's no need to spend hours on end to adequately manage your finances. Here are 10 small money moves you can make right now that will pay off big in the long run.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 2, 2014 12:15PM

This post comes from Allison Martin at partner site Money Talks News. 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyHow much time do you spend on your finances each week? A couple of hours? Or do you rarely spend any time at all?

Many shy away from what appears to be a daunting task for a number of reasons, including fear, time constraints and, in some cases, laziness.

Regardless of which excuse, if any, applies to you, one thing's for certain: Choosing to be involved can save you a ton of time, money and headaches in the long run.


There can be a lot of blood, sweat and tears when a kid loses a tooth. How much cash should they find under their pillow the next morning?

By Money Staff Apr 2, 2014 11:00AM

This post comes from Janet Bodnar at partner site Kiplinger.

Kiplinger on MSN MoneyOn the occasion of National Tooth Fairy Day (yes, there is such a thing), I received not one but two studies showing that the tiny sprite is taking a bigger bite out of parents' wallets.

Boy holding money from the tooth fairy © Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Getty Images
An annual survey by Visa showed that children received an average of $3.70 per lost tooth last year -- an increase of 23 percent over the $3 per tooth left in 2012.

Meanwhile, the Original Tooth Fairy Poll, by Delta Dental Plans Association, a provider of dental benefits programs, found that the average gift climbed to $3.50 last year, up from $2.42 in 2012 -- a 45 percent gain that even beat last year's stellar stock market performance, as Delta Dental points out.

Aside from satisfying parents' curiosity, each poll has an ulterior motive. In Visa’s case, "parents should take this opportunity to talk about saving and smart money habits with their kids, and have the same talk with a perhaps overgenerous tooth fairy," says Nat Sillin, Visa's head of U.S. financial education. And Delta Dental says the fairy's visits present an opportunity for parents to discuss good oral hygiene with their children.

How much to give

Why such an inflated cost per tooth?


A new report reveals the true cost of owning and operating a vehicle in the U.S.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 1, 2014 2:51PM

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

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyIf you're feeling broke at the end of the month and don't know where all your money disappeared to, just take a peek in your garage. Your car could be sucking your bank account dry.

AAA recently released its 2013 Your Driving Costs report (.pdf file), which reveals what Americans are really paying to drive. It showed an almost 2 percent increase in the cost to own and operate a vehicle in the U.S.

Los Angeles, Calif., traffic on Interstate 405 © VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm/Digital Vision/Getty ImagesIf you drive a mid-size sedan, like a Toyota Camry, Chevy Impala or Ford Fusion, you're paying about 60.8 cents per mile, or $9,122 a year. That is based on driving 15,000 miles per year, which is common for American workers. If you drive an SUV, you're paying about $11,600 per year, AAA said.

That's a lot of money. And more than some people pay for rent.

According to a press release from AAA:

"Many factors go into the cost calculation of owning and operating a vehicle," said John Nielsen, AAA director of automotive engineering and repair. "This year, changes in maintenance, fuel and insurance costs resulted in the increase to just over 60 cents a mile."

Here’s a breakdown of the costs that AAA said drove the 2 percent increase in operating and owning a vehicle:


It's vital that you prepare for your future -- and your end -- with sound practices. Don't make these mistakes.

By Apr 1, 2014 2:25PM
This post comes from Kelly Trageser at partner site on MSN MoneyEstate planning is a conscious approach to organizing your personal and financial affairs in order to deal with the possibility of mental incapacity and death. The biggest mistakes you can make in estate planning are to plan improperly, or to fail to plan at all. Without the proper estate planning documents to protect your wealth and wishes, you can lose out on several benefits.

Here are the main benefits to having a clearly stated estate plan:Last will and testament © Tetra Images, Getty Images

  1. Reducing or eliminating any potential estate tax.
  2. Making effective transfers during life and death.
  3. Arranging for efficient business succession.
  4. Arranging for health care decisions in the event one becomes incapacitated.
  5. Allowing an estate to avoid probate, which can be costly and cause delays in asset distribution.
  6. Enabling property to pass to the desired person.
  7. Planning for the care of and financial well being of children in the event of parental death.
  8. Fulfilling charitable intentions.
  9. Enabling peace of mind.
  10. Giving the gift of clear instructions for your wealth and wishes to your loved ones.

I've sat on both sides of the customer service line -- taking abuse from callers and getting angry at unmotivated CS reps too. Here are some lessons I've learned.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 1, 2014 2:05PM

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

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyWe've all had that sinking feeling that comes with the realization that a customer service call is inevitable. The printer stops working, the laptop flickers with the blue screen of death, or the cellphone company sneaks a new cryptic fee onto your bill.

Woman with mobile phone and credit card, smiling © Pando Hall, PhotographerThese are all foreboding circumstances that gird us to begin the long descent into Dante's Fifth Circle of Hell (anger) -- making the dreaded call to a nameless, faceless and likely outsourced customer service department.

Does it sound like I'm inclined to exaggeration or being unfair? Maybe so. But I've sat on both sides of that customer service line and I'm intimately familiar with unmotivated CS reps, language barriers, and quick-to-rage callers. I've had to calm down customers who seemed not only ready, but entirely able to climb through the phone line to strangle me. And, as a caller, I've had to be calmed down a time or two, as well.

But with a bit of planning, some Zen-like preparation, and a few basic ground rules, a customer service call can be -- if certainly not the highlight of your day -- at least sufferable and productive. Here are seven strategies that can stack the odds in your favor:


A new survey shows that two-thirds of millennials have used a co-signer.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 1, 2014 1:17PM

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

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyThank goodness for parents. That's the word from the millennial generation, which often relies on Mom and Dad to co-sign for everything from student loans and car loans to residential leases and credit cards.

Person signing document © Eric Audras, PhotoAlto, Alamy

According to a new report from Experian, two-thirds of millennials, made up of those born between the late 1970s and mid-1990s, have used a co-signer at some point, most often relying on their parents.

Ken Chaplin, senior vice president of marketing for Experian Consumer Services, said:

Since the co-signer guarantees the person for whom they are co-signing will repay the debt on time and in full, it's important that both parties understand repayment expectations and communicate guidelines so they can be confident in their credit decisions.
An estimated 8 percent of millennials either fall behind on payments or default on loans, putting them in bad standing. This leaves the co-signer on the hook to pay the debt, and can leave a lasting mark on them and their credit. Here's how co-signers have managed things to this point: 

Dream of being self-employed? Here's what to do, and what not to do, as you approach financing your small-business startup.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 1, 2014 12:40PM

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

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyAs a business owner myself, I'm all about helping others start their own business, become their own boss and live their dreams.

Here's this week's reader question:

Businesswoman using laptop and telephone © Terry Vine, Blend Images, Getty Images

Hi, I am just starting a new business. I have done all of the filing and am at the point that I need startup capital and business lines of credit.
For the startup capital, will you help me in getting grants? Please tell me where I should look and apply that will not cost me to submit an application. And also, where do I find legit private lenders? Thank you. -- Shaela

First, Shaela, congratulations on starting your own business. But let's get you started on the right foot by avoiding making a big mistake out of the gate.

Are government grants real?

Like many rumors and rip-offs, the one about government grants contains a grain of truth.

The government does hand out grant money -- but almost never to typical small businesses.


No, you're not. Here's how to shore up your finances if you haven't lived an exemplary savings life.

By Apr 1, 2014 12:09PM
This post comes from Gerri Detweiler at partner site on MSN MoneyIs it ever too late to build credit? For many older Americans, it’s not an issue because a lifetime of good financial habits have secured them strong credit scores. In fact, the Greatest Generation -- those age 66 and older -- tend to have the highest average credit scores, coming in at an average VantageScore of 735 according to Experian’s Fourth Annual State of Credit report.

But an average is just that -- an average -- and some will fall far below.



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