Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Do your homework to make sure you don't get swindled or stuck with higher interest rates.

By Credit.com Fri 1:13 PM
College student with laptop sitting on library floor. © Hero Images/Getty ImagesBy Gerri Detweiler, Credit.com Credit.com 

When Johnnie was trying to figure out what to do about his student loans that were in collections, he got more than the runaround. He was almost misled into making what could have easily been a costly, bad decision.


Johnnie was thinking of getting a personal loan to consolidate about $12,000 in federal student loan debt that had gone into collections. He was in the process of rehabilitating his loans to get back on track, but the student loan debt collector made it sound like taking the rehabilitation route would bring Johnnie nothing but misery in the future.

 

He wrote in a comment on the Credit.com blog:

I was told my loans can be bought and sold at (the lender's) discretion and that I would have to randomly renegotiate my terms. That bothers me a lot. Should I just constantly deal with this ridiculous flip-flop of lenders selling my loans off and always renegotiating my payments and interest constantly changing, or will it be OK to pay them with something I can get set in stone?

What Johnnie says the lender told him was flat-out wrong.

 

Sales of jeans are down by 6% in the US as clothing choices move toward active and casual.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 5:59 PM

Rack of blue denim jeans © Joanna Pecha/Getty ImagesBy Krystal Steinmetz, Money Talks News http://www.moneytalksnews.com/

 

Denim is singing the blues.


Sales of the American-born fashion staple have plummeted, according to NBC News. The NPD Group, a market research company, told NBC that domestic jean sales declined by 6 percent last year.


"A 6 percent drop may not seem like much, but it's rare for denim to take such a dramatic drop. It's a commodity business, we buy it and replenish it all the time," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst of The NPD Group.


Jeans have been an American uniform for decades. But Americans' love affair with jeans isn't what it used to be. Women prefer "athleisure" clothing these days, a comfort-based casual clothing that includes yoga pants, leggings and jeggings. NBC said:

 

Some restrictions may apply. But you can still get in absolutely free at plenty of places during Sept. 27 event.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 4:47 PM

Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. © Rick Friedman/CorbisBy Donna Freedman, Money Talks News Money Talks News

 

More than 1,500 museums in all 50 states will be open free of charge on Saturday, Sept. 27, aka "Museum Day Live!" That is, they'll be open to those who take advantage of a Smithsonian magazine offer: a ticket good for two people to any participating museum.


Register online and a ticket will be emailed to you. Then just print it out and take it to the venue of your choice. All participants also get a one-year digital subscription to Smithsonian magazine; you can opt out if you like.


That's one sweet deal. But it's not the only way to get in free at museums -- or at zoos, aquariums, science centers and children's museums.


Do some restrictions apply? Naturally. But still: Free admission!

 

When dollar amounts are the same, we're more likely to say yes to renting -- and less likely to compare options or gather information.

By Credit.com Aug 14, 2014 1:47PM
A house for rent sign © Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty ImagesBy Christine DiGangi, Credit.com
Credit.com

Consumers exhibit more reckless behavior when deciding to rent something rather than buy it, a new study out of the University of Maryland finds. The lack of commitment required when deciding to rent a product leads people to consider fewer options, gather less information and settle for a less appealing product than they would when buying, according to a release about the study.


Anastasiya Pocheptsova, the study's author and a professor at Maryland's Smith School of Business, worked with researchers from Columbia and Yale universities to conduct studies of people's behaviors while considering renting and buying the same products. Shoppers more often chose to buy when they had the choice of buying or renting, but when an item was presented only with an option to buy or only with an option to rent, more people chose to get the product when it was framed as a rental. The price of renting and buying was the same.

 

This roundup of coupon and deal websites will help you save time, energy and money.

By Cheapism.com Aug 14, 2014 1:02PM

With all the coupon and daily deal sites sprouting up these days, we've updated our roundup of the best coupon sites for 2014. Fight the flood of emails and discover discount codes that actually work, saving you time, energy, and, of course, money.

Best coupon sites
Coupons.com: The coupon pioneer and a perennial favorite remains a top pick this year because of its wide selection. As one of the biggest sources of online coupons, it feeds into many affiliates and other coupon sites. Coupons.com is especially useful for grocery trips. Search, "clip," and print coupons before going shopping.

Money Saving Mom: The recipes and frugal-living blog on this site are just extras on top of a comprehensive coupon database. Sort coupons by retailer, item, or expiration date and print before you head to the store. This site draws from other major aggregators such as Coupons.com, as well as individual retailers such as Target, so you can search them all in one place. It was a little messy-looking on our browser (Chrome version 35) when we checked recently, but with more than 5,250 coupons it's hard to complain.
 

A good novel, a classic whodunit, a scientific treatise, a trashy celebrity mag -- all this and more can be yours for little or nothing.

By MSN Money Partner Aug 13, 2014 2:51PM

This post comes from Donna Freedman at partner site Money Talks News. 

 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyA good read is one of life’s great pleasures, whether enjoyed in a hammock on a sunny summer afternoon or in a cozy armchair while winter winds howl outside.

 

You might be the one howling, though, when you add up the cost of all that reading material.

 

Car insurance has a mission: Keep an accident from turning into financial disaster. Knowing what most drivers buy can be a good place to start.

By QuinStreet Aug 13, 2014 2:04PM

This post comes from Des Toups at partner site Insurance.com.


Insurance.com on MSN MoneyWhen you bought your last car insurance policy, how did you decide how much coverage to buy?


Sure, there are generally accepted guidelines out there. Homeowners need at least $100,000 in bodily injury liability protection, because a large, valuable asset like a house is an easy lawsuit target if you don’t have enough to cover your victim’s hospital bills.


Car being towed © Digital Vision Ltd., SuperStockOr maybe you own nothing and have no savings – nothing you could lose. Then you might go for the legal minimum in your state.


There’s a lot of room in between, though, and seeing the choices other drivers in your situation make can be a good guideline when you shop for car insurance yourself. 

 

Digital alerts can let you know immediately when your card is used for a big purchase.

By Credit.com Aug 13, 2014 12:48PM
This post comes from Gerri Detweiler at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneyBy now, just about everyone knows to guard the digits that are the keys to so many parts of our lives --  Social Security numbers, checking account numbers and credit card numbers. But short of locking up a credit card as soon as you get it and never using it, there's no way to be absolutely sure it will not be used fraudulently. After that, your best hope is to catch it quickly.


 Credit card © Astock/CorbisA credit card fraud victim, a woman we'll call Shawn, recently discovered that digital alerts can save the day. She had her card set to send her an email notification if her Chase Visa was used for a purchase of $200 or more. She had those alerts set up for two uneventful years. And so when she learned on a recent night that $437 had been charged on her card, had been charged on her card, she immediately called Chase.


It turned out the charge was for a Jet Ski rental, which made no sense to her, because it was after dark -- about 9 p.m. -- when the alert came through. But then she learned that the card was used for an in-person purchase at a beach in California, where it was close to 6 p.m. And yet her card was in her wallet.


She's not sure what happened if or when the person who used her card number tried to return the watercraft. Nor does she know how or when her card data was taken. But this she knows: "I am very careful with my accounts." If it could happen to her, it can happen to anyone. 

 

DATA PROVIDERS

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

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.

LATEST BLOG POSTS

11 money lessons from 'The Simpsons'

Tune in to 'The Simpsons' marathon for laughs -- and also for lessons about careers, consumerism, college majors, and what should and shouldn't be used as toilet paper.

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

TOOLS

More