Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Do you really need all that junk?

By Donna_Freedman Oct 1, 2009 12:18AM

A little cleaning can save dollars along with your sanity. That's what Smart Spending message board reader "Lynn D" says, anyway.

In a thread called "Making home a haven," the grad student notes that her formerly crowded condo made her feel "stressed and boxed in," which led to her wanting to go out, which led to her spending money.

At first, she tried to combat the tendency by spending more money -- on storage bins, hooks, an entertainment center and other things allegedly designed to help. Finally, Lynn D figured out the real problem: "I needed to get rid of (junk)!"

Now she finds herself staying at home more, whether it's to do her nails or watch a movie on a couch no longer littered with papers and books. Lynn D admits to another savings, too: She no longer has to buy things she already owns but couldn't find in all the clutter.


Readers can learn from my mistake.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 1, 2009 12:11AM

A nasty upper respiratory virus recently laid me low. During this time I discovered, to my chagrin, how easy it is to overspend with a debit card when you're not feeling good.

I'm about to blame illness for yet another personal-finance gaffe: the Big Bill-Pay Snafu. 

It turned out to be correctable, but it was a boneheaded error. Here's hoping you will learn from my mistake. 

Pay early, pay often
A small credit card bill arrived over the weekend and I went online to pay it. I'd paid my other bills on Jan. 30. After typing in the amount, I happened to glance to the "last payment made" column on the right. It showed that this bill had already been paid, on Jan. 30. 

In fact, it had been overpaid -- by about $750.


Using cards keeps his finances (and pockets) organized.

By Karen Datko Sep 30, 2009 10:30PM

"Broke Grad Student" would like to have a big honking wad of cash as much as the next guy. But that's a dream because of his big honking student loan debt. In a post called "6 reasons why I hate cash," he explains why he otherwise has little use for bills and coins.

For instance, if you lost that big wad of cash, it would be gone. Poof. "You can't call an 800 number and have them cancel your $20 bills," he says in this humorous post at Broke Grad Student.

He's right. Cash is easily misplaced. It probably took us 20 years to train ourself to check our pockets for money before putting our clothes in the wash. Among his other reasons:


E-mail cons spreading faster than the virus.

By Karen Datko Sep 30, 2009 10:17PM

This post comes from partner site

It didn't take scammers long to latch on to the latest hot-button topic to try to make a quick buck. Scams built on fears of swine flu  are proliferating quickly across the Internet.

The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team issued an alert this week warning of a number of e-mail scams related to the swine flu. The attacks arrive via an unsolicited e-mail message typically containing a subject line related to the swine flu.

"These e-mail messages may contain a link or an attachment. If users click on this link or open the attachment, they may be directed to a phishing Web site or exposed to malicious code," the alert said.


Disputes don't have to become relationship wedges.

By Karen Datko Sep 30, 2009 10:09PM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.

It's been said that money is the No. 1 cause of divorce. Or to say it another way: Marriage is about love, divorce is about money.

To that we may add that money is the No. 1 cause of turmoil in a marriage. Strife over money can last years in a marriage if not properly addressed and, short of divorce, can drive a wedge between a husband and wife. This doesn't have to be, and so here are eight tips on fighting with your spouse over money.


Are you blowing money with your clothes dryer?

By Karen Datko Sep 30, 2009 9:43PM

Every little bit helps if you're trying to stretch your money, and it's even better if you can accomplish savings with little effort. For instance: How long will it take you to put a dry towel in the dryer with a load of wet wash?

Jeffrey Strain at Saving Advice says you can reduce your drying time by 10% by implementing this little trick. It's from his excellent post called "25 ways to improve your financial situation in under 10 minutes."

Of course, you can save even more by not using the dryer. Also, check out a link Jeffrey provides to Dryer Money Saving Tips.


It is possible to mend financial differences.

By Karen Datko Sep 30, 2009 9:32PM

This post comes from Trent Hamm at partner blog The Simple Dollar.

Readers often leave comments at The Simple Dollar complaining that they make frugal choices, but their spouses see their savings not as a long-term financial benefit but as more money to spend right now.

Thus, their frugal ways go without a long-term reward. They're careful about spending their money, but their bank account balances don't grow.

I'm lucky. My wife is very frugal, and we share the same philosophy. In fact, she's probably more frugal than I am. Her only weakness is books, but she participates in PaperBackSwap to keep the cost low. She's in line with my goals: freedom from debt, saving for major purchases so we don't have more debt. Our goal as a family is to eliminate all of our debt by my 40th birthday.


Bloggers hold different views.

By Karen Datko Sep 30, 2009 9:21PM

It's a sign of the times that Web sites have sprouted up telling people how to walk away from homes they can no longer afford or -- in some cases -- are no longer willing to pay for. 

While some sites trumpet offers to buy homes from stressed-out owners, another one sells a foreclosure kit. California-based says its kit will enable you to stay in your home "for up to eight months or more without having to pay anything to your lender!" It also says: "With our money-back guarantee, you get it all for only $995."

The list of services provided is stuff you can do on your own if you're so inclined. And the steps won't eliminate the damage foreclosure does to your credit score. Writes blogger Sam Glover at Caveat Emptor, "Foreclosure ain't pretty, folks, no matter what this Web site would like you to think."



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.