Smart SpendingSmart Spending

It can be done, although it's not the best route for everyone.

By Karen Datko Feb 26, 2010 12:37PM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.


It's a commonly accepted rule of personal finance that one should save three to six months’ worth of expenses in an emergency fund. Conventional wisdom dictates that you stash your cash in a high-interest savings account or maybe a short-term high-yield CD. The key is to have ready access to the cash in a true emergency.


Confession time: I've never kept three to six months’ worth of cash sitting in a bank account and don't plan to. In an emergency, I can tap investment accounts, a home-equity line of credit, or yes, even the dreaded credit card. The question for today is whether it's a smart money move to rely on credit cards as your financial backstop.


Fashion Week trends can be had on clearance -- if you know where to go.

By Karen Datko Feb 26, 2010 11:01AM

This Deal of the Day comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site SmartMoney.


Want to hear a secret fashion retailers won’t share with you? The trendy fall and winter items they are pushing out the door now will be just as of-the-moment come autumn.


In other words: Shoppers who know what to look for can get hot items for next fall at substantial discounts.


First, don't buy more house than you need. Then, when it's time to remodel, use these simple tips to save 20% to 50%.

By Stacy Johnson Feb 26, 2010 9:20AM

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


Food, clothing and shelter: the basic necessities, and expenses, of daily life. This week I’ve done posts on 28 ways to save on food and 18 ways to save on clothing. Now it’s time to tackle shelter.


Writing new laws to change the way things work is much more challenging than it seems.

By Karen Datko Feb 25, 2010 6:35PM

This guest post comes from Frank Curmudgeon at Bad Money Advice.


This is the third installment in what has turned out to be a series of posts about the CARD Act of 2009 (.pdf file) and the Federal Reserve’s new regulations to implement same. First, I discussed how new rules requiring lenders to consider ability to pay were a non-event. Next, I explained that there were not, after all, meaningful restrictions against giving credit cards to those under 21.


Today I will round up some other don’t-know-if-I-should-laugh-or-cry oddities that I came across in my few hours of research. As good a place to start as any is the other prong in the attack on underage plastic -- new draconian restrictions against marketing these evil things to college students.


Survey measured variation in prices, plus how many shops changed their estimates when presented with the industry standard price.

By Teresa Mears Feb 25, 2010 3:44PM

If you want to get a fair and accurate estimate of the cost of fixing your car, you’re better off in Memphis than in Chicago.


That’s according to, one of several free online sites that give customers an estimate of what a specific auto repair should cost.

The site sent mystery shoppers to more than 600 repairs shops in the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas to get price quotes on a front brake replacement for a Ford Focus. The shoppers called back two weeks later, armed with the industry standard price for that repair.


Are you surprised to hear that more than two-thirds of the shops changed their price quote when presented with the usual price for that job?


Bundle: The very rich actually are very different.

By Janet Paskin Feb 25, 2010 12:14PM

From "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" to "Cribs," there is something fascinating about the excesses of rich people. I will never in my life have a movie theater in my house, nor will I spend $1,000 for a night in a hotel suite, nor will I ever carry a Birkin bag. To me, the people who do these things might as well be aliens. And yet, when given the chance to look behind a Hollywood mogul's knit platinum curtains, I'll always peek.

Data from Bundle let me look at just how much money rich people are spending -- and where.


7 tips for cutting the cost of drinks when you go out.

By Karen Datko Feb 25, 2010 11:41AM

This Deal of the Day comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site SmartMoney.


Want to grab a drink tonight? How about meeting at . . . my place.


In the tough economy, a night out drinking is looking like an indulgence. Liquor sales were flat at $18.7 billion in 2009, and volume shifted. While sales for home consumption rose 2.2%, sales for restaurants, bars, hotels and nightclubs fell 3%, according to the Distilled Spirits Council.

Another reason people are drinking less: Bars are pushing pricey premium liquors and complicated cocktails. “The best bars are charging a premium because the cocktails take awhile to make,” says Noah Rothbaum, the founder of cocktail and spirits guide and author of “The Business of Spirits.” Freshly squeezed juices, exotic ingredients, even special ice, all add up. The more expensive a drink gets, the more likely drinkers are to savor rather than slurp.


How can you spend less without going for the cheap stuff -- or staying home? On your next night out, use these seven tricks to cut your bill:


They have $10,000 in credit card debt and a mortgage payment, and he just lost his job.

By Karen Datko Feb 25, 2010 10:29AM

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


Susan wrote in:

Yesterday my husband found out he has lost his job. We don’t know what to do. He was making $38,000 a year as an IT specialist. I make about $36,000 a year as a school teacher. We have about $10,000 in credit card debt spread across three cards and a $1,300-a- month mortgage payment. We don’t have anything saved either other than some retirement account money. I am so scared we are going to lose our house and lose everything! What do we do? Help!

First and foremost: Don’t panic. No problem is solved well in panic mode. Bad choices -- choices that you’ll regret down the road -- are made when you panic.


Take a deep breath. Here are seven things that you should attempt to do in the coming days.



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.