Here's how to weigh the pros and cons of holiday savings clubs.
There are more than 160 shopping days until Christmas, but retailers are already angling for a chunk of the nation's holiday spending budget.
Several big chain stores are rolling out holiday savings programs this summer. The plans require customers to commit money to a store throughout the year in exchange for bonus cash redeemable closer to the winter holidays.
It's like choosing between an apple and an orange. One may be better for you, but they're both good.
Kelley wrote recently with the sort of dilemma I get asked about all of the time: Is it better to invest or to prepay a mortgage? We've covered this topic in the distant past, but it's time to review the debate for current readers.
First, let's look at Kelley's e-mail:
My husband and I are on the right track. At age 25, our only debt lies in our home mortgage. We have the six-month emergency fund in place, I currently meet the 3% 401k match offered by my employer, and I started a Roth IRA for myself and my husband last year. I started each Roth IRA with $4,000.
My financial adviser recommended for us to max out each of our Roth IRAs each year. My husband disagrees. He thinks paying off the house is a bigger priority.
And odd nails, bits of drywall or anything else that lets you jury-rig a repair -- or even create a permanent fix.
Vh recently ditched the flimsy plastic holder in favor of a frugal wooden one. Frugal as in "free," since she cobbled it together out of scraps from previous projects.
How does it look?
Free chicken, ice cream and Slurpees, plus a deal from Starbucks and a slew of dining coupons.
It's not every Friday that we celebrate Cow Appreciation Day as well as food deals and freebies. If you dress like a cow today, you can get free chicken at Chick-fil-A.
If you prefer your milk in one of those much-maligned lattes, Starbucks has brought back its Treat Receipt deal. If you make a purchase at Starbucks early in the day, you can bring back your receipt after 2 p.m. and get a grande cold beverage for $2. The promotion continues through Oct. 4.
While we're appreciating dairy products, Ben and Jerry's also has a promotion: Volunteer through the Scoop It Forward program and get a coupon for free Ben & Jerry's ice cream. The promotion continues through Dec. 31 or as long as supplies last.
Unless you're watching most of your movies via streaming, you need to decide which plan provides the most value.
Netflix runs an online DVD rental business with nearly 14 million subscribers. While Blockbuster struggles to avoid bankruptcy, Netflix continues to develop new streaming technology and to regularly produce higher than expected earnings.
One thing that hasn't changed in a while, though, is the cost to be a Netflix member.
The economics of Netflix is quite simple. The more DVDs you rent via mail at a time, the more money it's going to cost you. Each additional DVD added to your plan costs between $3 and $7, and the most complicated thing about Netflix is figuring out which plan is best for you.
Health care reform didn't include dental insurance for all. Fortunately, you don't have to grin and bear it.
A trip to the dentist has become symbolic of things we hate to do, for good reason. If having a stranger's hands in your mouth isn't bad enough, odds are good you're also swallowing the cost.
According to the National Association of Dental Plans (.pdf file), about 43% of Americans don't have dental insurance. If you're one of them, you don't have to just grin and bear it. There are ways to get dental work for less.
Offers by Boston jewelers for the same items ranged from $485 to $1,000.
With gold prices at historic highs, many consumers are considering turning that broken necklace or single earring into cash. A survey of downtown Boston jewelers shows consumers need to shop around for the best price.
The survey, conducted by Massachusetts consumer protection officials during the week of June 7 when gold prices were about $1,200 an ounce, included 10 jewelry stores in Boston's Downtown Crossing and Chinatown neighborhoods. Jewelers were presented a bag of gold jewelry and asked for an estimated purchase price. The offers ranged from $485 to $1,000.
"Our survey shows significant differences in the prices various jewelers will pay average consumers for their gold.
It's not the first time someone has lost coverage because they underpaid by a penny. And it likely won't be the last.
Jobless and undergoing chemotherapy, a Colorado leukemia patient learned that she no longer had health insurance because she underpaid the premium by a penny.
The story of La Rosa Carrington, 52, was relayed by the Colorado Springs Gazette. What's even more remarkable is, this isn't the first time an insurance company or benefits administrator has dropped coverage over a lousy cent.
"We’ve seen it before," June Harryman, a supervisory benefits adviser for the federal Employee Benefits Security Administration, told the Gazette. "It's not the first, and it won’t be the last."
Here's how this came about:
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
'We are sitting ourselves to death,' a doctor says in a new book, and obesity isn't the only risk.
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'