Some companies that offer to help you settle your credit card debt for less are not what they claim to be.
The ads for credit card debt-settlement companies make it sound pretty easy: If you have $10,000 or more of credit card debt, these firms say they can negotiate with your lender so that you can walk away from all but a small percentage of the money you owe.
Are these promises on the level? The Better Business Bureau calls the debt-settlement industry one fraught with "inherent problems." That's a diplomatic way of saying some of these companies are outright scams. In recent months several have been targets of legal action by state attorneys general.
Grab your unclaimed tax refunds by April 15. Plus, other places to find cash.
Lose track of $100 or more? You? Even if you carefully balance every penny in your checking account, it’s a definite possibility.
The states are collectively holding on to more than $32.8 billion in unclaimed assets in the form of dormant bank accounts, stock splits, life insurance payouts, gift cards, uncashed payroll checks and other funds, reports the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. In all but two states, there’s no time limit to declare ownership. (Idaho allows 10 years to make a claim; Indiana, 25.)
- Video: How to claim unclaimed cash
But if you’re owed a federal tax refund, better get a move on.
For example, one beauty blogger found that using Crisco on her skin worked just as well as an expensive face cream.
Like many of you, I’m a proponent of quality over quantity. I’d rather buy one good coat that will get me through three seasons and last for years than replace a poorly made, cheap one every year.
But it’s important to consider that expense is not necessarily an indication of quality. And even when the more expensive item is of higher quality, it might not be the best buy.
The following are five examples that illustrate that the more expensive option isn’t always worth the extra expense.
For example: Both suitcases and meals could be lighter.
I’m in Arizona on another frugal vacation, this time visiting my daughter and son-in-law. In a couple of months Phoenix will become Satan’s Fry Daddy, but current temps in the low 80s feel downright balmy. It’s a dry heat, remember?
Getting here was a nail-biter. I was on standby because I was traveling on a buddy pass given to me by a friend. At the last minute half a dozen airline employees showed up asking for seats. The only reason I got on the plane at all was that one of the employees, bless his heart, agreed to take the jump seat. Luckily he didn’t change his mind and require me to sit on a toilet for most of the flight.
Thanks to the pass my round-trip ticket cost only $86.40, including all fees. Not everyone has access to that kind of discount. But in the past week I’ve learned or relearned a handful of other things about frugal travel:
Even if you can't, it's a foot in the door for sanity -- finally.
This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.
Don’t go counting your mortgage chickens just yet. They’re not likely to hatch for some time.
I’m talking about Bank of America’s decision to finally do what many people have thought for years was just plain common sense: reduce the principal on some mortgages.
Trade your stuff for free -- but watch out for flaky friends.
Admiring other people’s possessions isn't necessarily a bad thing -- especially if you can trade them for it.
I’ll admit to a slight shoe obsession, although it takes a deal to get me to indulge. (For example, stacking sales, coupon codes and a reward certificate at DSW recently netted me a $55 pair for just $18, a 67% discount.) Instead, I’ve decided to throw a swap party with five friends of the same size. Voila -- new-to-me shoes for free while clearing my closet of pairs I don't wear.
That kind of one-on-one and group swapping has thrived in the struggling economy as consumers look for ways to cut their budgets and still get the things they want. “It’s like Christmas,” says Darcy Cruwys, the founder of community swap site SwapMamas.com.
Watch out for the flake-out factor:
It's a way for those without bank accounts to get their tax refunds sooner.
Direct deposit of a tax refund is great news for some. You get your refund added to your checking account in about two weeks rather than the six to eight weeks it takes for a paper check refund. And you avoid the hassle of schlepping to your bank to deposit the refund check.
For those who do not have a checking account, however, the benefits of direct deposit are elusive. According to the FDIC, about 30 million U.S. households are underbanked or unbanked, so this is no small issue.
To make matters worse, those without bank accounts often turn to tax refund anticipation loans. These short-term loans come with extremely high interest rates, and are really no better than a payday loan. While they do give you access to your refund immediately, the fees can eat into a substantial portion of it. Fortunately, there is an extremely low-cost alternative -- having your tax refund deposited on a prepaid card.
Free matchmaking, pizza buffet and a chocolate-covered Peep are among the offerings this week.
Once again, it’s time for Friday food deals and freebies.
This week, we’ve got deals both edible and inedible, with some help from our friends at Cities on the Cheap.
If you’re feeling lonely and want to find love, you can join the free communication weekend from Chemistry, from Friday, March 26, through Sunday, March 28. During this promotion, you can take a free personality test and find out which types of people you match best with. My cats hope my true love doesn’t have a dog.
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.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
LATEST BLOG POSTS
If you think you're too smart to fall for cons and scams, you're setting yourself up to be a victim.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
BLOGS WE LIKE
MUST-SEE ON MSN
- Video: Easy DIY smoked meats at home
A charcuterie master shares his process for cold-smoking meat at home.
- Jetpacks about to go mainstream
- Weird things covered by home insurance
- Bing: 70 percent of adults report 'digital eye strain'