Smart SpendingSmart Spending

With millions of foreclosures looming, only 1,711 homeowners have negotiated a deal.

By Teresa Mears Dec 4, 2009 6:20PM

The Obama administration this week said it planned to use a new weapon to persuade lenders to modify more troubled mortgages: shame.

 

Treasury Department officials plan to increase the pressure on the 71 companies participating in the government’s $75 billion effort to stem the foreclosure crisis, starting by sending three-person "SWAT teams" to monitor the eight largest companies' progress.

 

The goal is to increase the number of temporary mortgage modifications that become permanent.  As of September, more than 650,000 borrowers had received temporary modifications but only 1,711 had seen a permanent modification.

In contrast, one of eight U.S. mortgages is in foreclosure or in default, noted a Congressional Oversight Panel charged with evaluating the administration’s efforts to stem the foreclosure crisis. That panel raised serious questions about whether the Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP) would make a dent in the 10 million to 12 million foreclosures it estimates could be the result of the current crisis.

 

"It increasingly appears that HAMP is targeted at the housing crisis as it existed six months ago, rather than as it exists right now," the panel wrote.

 

Unscooped dog poop is also high on the list, particularly among city dwellers.

By Karen Datko Dec 4, 2009 3:14PM

This post comes from partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

Americans have many reasons to be annoyed, but what bugs them most are hidden fees and not being able to speak to a human being when they call customer service, according to a survey by Consumer Reports.

 

In a nationally representative survey conducted in late September, Consumer Reports asked 1,125 Americans to score 21 gripes on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 meaning an experience “does not annoy you at all” and 10 meaning it “annoys you tremendously.”

Hidden fees (8.9 overall) and the inability to reach a human being (8.6.) top the list, but tailgating drivers (8.3), cell phone use while driving (8.0) and incomprehensible bills (7.8) were also among the more annoying things that rub Americans the wrong way.

 

Eat a dozen doughnuts this month, and get a dozen free next month.

By Teresa Mears Dec 4, 2009 1:59PM

It’s Friday, and that means it’s time for food freebies and deals, with some help from our friends at Cities on the Cheap.

If you needed any more temptation to eat holiday sweets, Krispy Kreme is here to provide it. Not only does the baker have holiday doughnuts, it has a holiday deal: Buy a dozen doughnuts at a participating store by Dec. 25 and get a dozen gift tags, each good for a free doughnut in January. So you can eat the first dozen doughnuts and give the rest to your friends. OK, save one for yourself.

 

We also found these food deals:

 

Cash advances come with several catches, including a fee.

By Karen Datko Dec 4, 2009 1:00PM

This post by Manshu originally appeared at partner blog The Dough Roller.

 

Almost every credit card gives you the ability to take a cash advance. You can withdraw cash from a credit card simply by using it at an ATM machine. But there are several things about this that you should keep in mind.

I was reminded of these things recently, when a friend took a small cash advance from his credit card, and faced a whole lot of costs he wasn’t aware of.

 

You didn't ask for them. They show up anyway. Time to get creative.

By Donna_Freedman Dec 4, 2009 11:34AM
Attack of the phone books! Every year these shrink-wrapped bundles of directories litter doorsteps and infiltrate apartment buildings. Just when you think you've got the problem licked, yet another publisher hires a guy to throw more bundles.

The obvious answer is to toss the books into the recycle bin. But keep one or two. They have frugal potential.

For example:  

Could any amount of money erase the pain caused by infidelity?

By Karen Datko Dec 3, 2009 7:31PM

Woman’s Day recently polled readers on a touchy issue: “Would you stay if your husband cheated?” Answers last time we checked: yes, 35%; no, 65%. “Maybe” or “It depends” were not options.

 

The ladies have taken a stand. But what if someone sweetened the pot? What if you were offered money -- millions of dollars, let’s say -- to stay with a cheater?

 

Uncle Sam may help foot the bill for your next appliance purchase.

By Stacy Johnson Dec 3, 2009 5:34PM

The "Cash for Clunkers" program earlier this year got tons of press. But that's not the only program Uncle Sam has cooking that encourages you to toss out one energy-guzzler and buy something new and more efficient.

 

A Cash- for-Clunkers program for appliances is now starting to unfold nationwide. Again, the idea is rebates of up to $200, perhaps more, to entice Americans to replace old, energy-hogging appliances with new Energy Star ones.

 

Record low mortgage rates and a federal tax credit make this a good time to buy for some people.

By Teresa Mears Dec 3, 2009 3:22PM

If you can afford it, there has never been a better time to buy a house, especially if you qualify for the homebuyer tax credit of up to $8,000. But should you buy now?

 

Mortgage rates hit 4.71% for a 30-year loan this week, the lowest since Freddie Mac began keeping track in 1971. Home prices are down nationwide, more than 50% in some former boom areas, such as parts of Florida and California.

 

Waiting for prices to drop further could be a false economy. A $200,000 loan at 6% and $180,000 loan at 5% cost about the same. (Run the numbers yourself.)

 

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.

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

TOOLS

More