Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Facebook, Zynga accused of handing out user information.

By Karen Datko Oct 21, 2010 12:07PM

This post comes from Jon Hood at partner site


Two class-action lawsuits target Facebook and the largest maker of Facebook applications, alleging that the companies breached consumers' privacy by illegally sharing their information with third parties, in violation of Facebook's own policies.

Both suits follow a Wall Street Journal article detailing a disturbing apparent data breach -- or, more accurately, "leak" -- of consumer information.


Here's what you need to know before jumping on one of these tempting offers.

By Money Staff Oct 20, 2010 7:45PM

This post comes from MSN Money's Liz Pulliam Weston.


Liz Pulliam WestonInterest-free balance transfer offers started drying up more than two years ago with the beginnings of the credit crunch, as I wrote in my February 2008 column "The credit card party is officially over."

Now, as default rates fall and credit card issuers get bolder about winning market share, 0% offers have come roaring back.

"It's kind of shocking how aggressive some of these offers are, because of lot of experts thought these balance transfer offers were an endangered species," said Curtis Arnold, the founder of card-comparison site "I didn't think we'd see their extinction, but I never thought it would rebound as fast as it has."

Arnold points to the Citibank Platinum Select MasterCard as a prime example. Citi started the year offering a 0% balance transfer offer for 12 months. Then Citibank sweetened the term to extend to 15 months, then 18 months. Now, qualified applicants can get 0% for 21 months, with 0% on purchases for 12 months, and the fee has dropped from 5% of the balance to 3%.


In areas of the country where income has fallen, it often is.

By Karen Datko Oct 20, 2010 4:52PM

This post comes from AnnaMaria Andriotis of The Wall Street Journal.


Is your rent too high?

Super-long-shot New York state gubernatorial candidate Jimmy McMillan, of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party, was the topic du jour after stealing the show at Monday night's debate. McMillan is such a tireless advocate for the renter that, during a cell phone conversation with Wall Street Journal reporter Erica Orden, he stopped a man on the street to ask if his rent was too high.


The question got us thinking.


An ex-worker says favored employees got cars and jewelry and one even got a house for falsifying documents.

By Teresa Mears Oct 20, 2010 4:18PM

Employees of a Florida law firm that's under investigation by the state received gifts of cars, jewelry and even a house, plus had their mortgages and other personal bills paid by the firm, according to a former employee.

Former administrative assistant Kelly Scott said one employee got a house from the firm, as well as having his personal bills paid, in exchange for fabricating and backdating documents.


Scott's deposition and several others were released by the Florida Attorney General's Office, which is investigating the operations of the law firm of David J. Stern and several other foreclosure firms.


Over-the-counter medications will no longer be an eligible FSA expense in 2011.

By Karen Datko Oct 20, 2010 2:53PM

This post comes from Fred Yager at partner site


This is the time of year known to millions of workers around the country as the fall "open enrollment" period. Only this time, an estimated 33 million workers who have medical flexible spending accounts will need to be aware of new restriction that go into effect on Jan. 1.

If you are in this group, you are probably deciding how much of your pretax salary to divert into your account for next year or how to spend what's left in your 2010 FSA so you don't forfeit it under the annual "use it or lose it" rule.


Halloween is now part of a 12-week year-end holiday shopping marathon.

By Karen Datko Oct 20, 2010 11:35AM

This post by Wise Bread's Sharon Harvey-Rosenberg comes from partner site USNews.


Halloween can be a bag of financial tricks. Total spending for Halloween this year is expected to hit $5.8 billion, according to the National Retail Federation, an industry association. U.S. shoppers on average will spend $66 on costumes, candy and decorations, according to NRF's 2010 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey. That's up from $56.31 in 2009.

The average $66 Halloween shopping bag will be filled with  costumes ($23.37), candy ($20.29), decorations ($18.66), and greeting cards (nearly $4), the survey showed. (See also "28 ways to have cheaper Halloween fun.")


"In recent years, Halloween has provided a welcome break from reality, allowing many Americans a chance to escape from the stress the economy has put on their family and incomes," said NRF president Matthew Shay. "This year, people are expected to embrace Halloween with even more enthusiasm, and will have an entire weekend to celebrate since the holiday falls on a Sunday."


But you don't have to buy into the hype. Here are five reasons why you should postpone your Halloween celebrations:


Apple gadgets hold their value much better than those of competitors. Here's how to trade them in.

By Karen Datko Oct 20, 2010 10:03AM

This Deal of the Daycomes fromKelli B. Grantat partner site SmartMoney.


For the speed of its march toward becoming the country's largest public company, Apple has its gadget-happy consumers to thank -- particularly the devotees willing to stand in line for every new version of the iPhone or iPad.


But those technophile consumers aren't just the Pavlovian spenders they might at first appear to be. Apple products hold their value much longer than other consumer electronics, says Toan Tran, an equity analyst who covers Apple for Morningstar -- which means reselling an old Apple device can be a smart way to fund a new one.


For example, an AT&T customer who bought an iPhone in 2008 for $199 could sell it today for as much as $104 on trade-in site Gazelle.


Men tend to be less rational than women when it comes to picking a model and sticking to a price.

By Karen Datko Oct 20, 2010 8:53AM

This post comes from Catherine Lutz and Anne Lutz Fernandez at partner blog Wise Bread.


Some people just shouldn't go car shopping on their own -- like Chris, who drove home to his horrified family in the garish chartreuse coupe on which he got "a great deal."

Chris should have never walked alone through the auto dealer's doors, not only because he is colorblind -- but because he is a man.



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.