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Georgia has had the most bank failures since 2000, edging out Illinois. Who knew?

By Karen Datko Jun 8, 2010 9:29AM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


I really enjoy trivia posts and had a lot of fun researching facts to include in my "50 fun facts about bank failures" post, so I thought I'd bring it back. This time I wanted to cut out all the other stuff, like FDIC insurance facts and "first bank failure" type facts, and just look at the list of failures themselves.

The statistics below are based on the FDIC's list of failed banks, and we used data going back to 2000.

Bank failure facts:

  • The greatest number of failed banks in one day was nine on Oct. 30, 2009:

I thought the decision to eliminate pay TV from my life would be a simple one. How wrong I was.

By Karen Datko Jun 7, 2010 6:45PM

After months of wavering, I have finally pulled the plug. I called DirecTV and put my service on hold for six months. (OK. I didn't officially cancel; more on that wussy move below.)


Why did I get rid of pay TV, a fixture in my life for decades? Actually, I'm not the only one.


The settlement of a similar suit required Costco to install new pumps that deliver more fuel when gas is over a certain temperature.

By Karen Datko Jun 7, 2010 3:58PM

This post comes from Jon Hood at partner site


A Kansas federal judge has granted class-action status to two lawsuits alleging that multiple retailers are ripping off consumers by selling them "hot fuel."


The ruling by U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil allows the suits -- which involve 12 separate retailers -- to proceed.

What is hot fuel? Simply put, it's a matter of chemistry. Since fuel is a liquid, as its temperature increases, so does its volume. That means that hotter gas has less energy than it would at lower temperatures, and that consumers thus drive off with less usable fuel in their tanks.


Couples who accrue consumer debt are much more likely to divorce, research shows, no matter how much they make.

By Teresa Mears Jun 7, 2010 3:04PM

Are couples who rack up a lot of consumer debt more likely to divorce?


They indeed are, according to research by Jeffrey Dew, an assistant professor at Utah State University, who found that couples with no assets are 70% more likely to divorce than couples who had just $10,000 in assets.


A recession, or any financial hardship, can be a treacherous time for a relationship. In these times, Sharon Anne Waldrop wrote at, "financial infidelity is the new adultery."


If you needed another reason to live below your means and avoid consumer debt, be warned that the fate of your relationship is intertwined with the state of your finances. Cheating with your credit card can be as corrosive as cheating with another man or woman.


Proposed legislation would limit how much credit card companies can charge merchants who accept their cards. Is this a good thing?

By Karen Datko Jun 7, 2010 11:37AM

This guest post comes from "vh" at Funny about Money:


Every now and again, the credit union sends out a mass e-mailing to lobby members to ask elected representatives to vote this way or that on matters that affect credit unions in specific and banking in general. Normally I think: Yup yup yup! What's good for my credit union is good enough for me -- and I do as I'm told. This time, though, they're asking us to weigh in on the "interchange legislation" that is part of the proposed Financial Regulatory Reform Act.


And I'm not so sure.


My friend says he wants to change, he says he's learned his lesson from his bankruptcy, but his actions say otherwise.

By Karen Datko Jun 7, 2010 9:15AM

This post comes from J.D. Roth at partner blog Get Rich Slowly.


I've been stewing over something for the past few days, and I'm finally ready to write about it.


I'm not a fan of judging others and their actions. Like Atticus Finch, I believe you never really know a person until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. But I'm human. Like everyone, there are times I can't help passing judgment. And although I know that judging others isn't productive, sometimes I'm at a loss to do anything else.


Rock bottom
I had dinner with my buddy Michael recently. He is moving back to Portland after several years away, and his financial life is a mess. He's had a rough couple of years:

  • He lost his home to foreclosure.
  • He lost his job.
  • His wife is out of work, too.
  • And, last month, he filed for bankruptcy.

Not all of his problems are due to the economy. He's brought plenty of woe upon himself due to a typical consumer lifestyle. He knows that.


Over a meal of Southern-style fried chicken -- my treat -- we talked a lot about his financial situation. We've chatted some in the past, but I never felt as if what I said made much of an impact.


Here's what smart-phone owners on AT&T and other networks need to consider.

By Karen Datko Jun 4, 2010 2:33PM

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


AT&T's decision to eliminate unlimited-data plans is one that will impact all smart-phone users, no matter which carrier they currently use.

AT&T announced Wednesday that starting Monday, June 7, it would stop offering the $30 unlimited-data plan to new customers, instead offering cell phone and iPad owners a monthly subscription choice of $15 for 200 megabytes or $25 for two gigabytes. Those who opt for the more expensive plan can choose to pay an additional $20 monthly to use their phone as a modem for portable computers.


Customers who currently subscribe to an unlimited-data plan can keep it "indefinitely," even if they switch phones, the company said. (Once users switch out of the unlimited plan, however, there's no going back.)


"This has been a long time coming," says Michael Gartenberg, a partner at technology consulting firm Altimeter Group in San Mateo, Calif. AT&T has blamed soaring data usage for dropped calls and other network problems, saying 3% of smart-phone users account for 40% of its data traffic. In December, Ralph de la Vega, chief executive of AT&T Mobility, told investors that usage-based pricing was likely. Spokesman Mark Siegel says the new plans are more fair to the bulk of subscribers. "We came to the conclusion that the one-price-fits-all model wasn't working," he says. The company expects that the lower data point could also entice more consumers to choose a smart phone for their next handset.


Other carriers are likely to move to similar pricing buckets as smart phones become more dominant in the market.


Not everyone is physically able to push (or even ride) a lawn mower. If you can, though, why not fire the yard guy?

By Donna_Freedman Jun 4, 2010 12:05PM

One of my house-sitting responsibilities is to mow the homeowner's lawn. The property isn't huge but it's hilly and lumpy and I was unfamiliar with the equipment. After I trimmed I realized I'd forgotten the small side yard, so I had to get the lawn mower back out.

Even so, it took me only about 45 minutes from starting the mower (the first time) to closing the garage door afterward. I'm wondering what it costs to pay someone to do it.

Anywhere from $35 to $50, according to Smart Spending message board readers.



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