Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Frugality kept the dream alive. Now, frugality provides a little breathing room.

By Donna_Freedman Dec 18, 2009 1:02PM
Three days ago I handed a 97-page undergraduate thesis to my advisor, then took a copy to the Comparative History of Ideas department. There I was allowed to ring the "thesis bell," a brass handbell that the academic advisor keeps on her desk. I made that son-of-a-gun wail.

It's finished. I've spent the past four years on a dead run: full-time class load, dense and copious course readings, academic projects, long bus commutes, research papers, a two-month fellowship, an undergraduate research symposium and a thesis that morphed twice before finally taking shape.

What's next?  

Consider these important points and focus on the long term.

By Karen Datko Dec 18, 2009 11:50AM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.


Recently a reader e-mailed me asking whether he should walk away from his mortgage. In 2007, he bought a condo with no money down with a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage, and the property is now worth $25,000 less than he owes. Although he can afford the mortgage, he is considering walking away. The question is whether he should.


I think there is no "answer" to this question, just things to consider in making the best choice for your situation. We'll talk about some things to consider, but first a brief story.


Is fixing the interest rate for 30 years really as valuable as we seem to think?

By Karen Datko Dec 17, 2009 7:27PM

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


In yet another sign that the Great Recession is receding, earnest discussion has begun in the punditocracy on long-term cures for our nation’s home mortgage system, particularly Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (Remember them?)


I’m not sure if anything at all will come of this. It’s not clear that Congress has enough gas left in the tank to finish with health care, never mind rewiring the mortgage business. If I had to bet money I would say that this window of opportunity, in which there is consensus that something needs fixing, will close without much of anything changing.

But it’s inspired some rare discussion of that great American institution, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. And it really is a uniquely American institution. Except for Denmark, which has a very peculiar system dating to the 18th century, only in America do consumers think that borrowing on 30-year fixed rates is normal.


Would this be a frequent talker or frequent eater plan? Either way, it could be a deal.

By Teresa Mears Dec 17, 2009 5:44PM

Kroger is in the forefront in experimenting with how to use its loyalty card to, well, keep customers loyal, including offering coupons that can be loaded directly onto the card.


This week, it becomes the first supermarket to give its customers free cell phone minutes for buying groceries. Buy enough groceries, and your cell phone minutes could be free.


Supermarket didn't want customers leaving its site to get deals.

By Teresa Mears Dec 17, 2009 2:32PM

Kroger and Procter & Gamble are undergoing a digital divorce.


After Dec. 31, shoppers will no longer be able to download the P&G eSaver electronic coupons onto their  Kroger Plus loyalty cards. Kroger will still accept paper P&G coupons, but any coupons that shoppers have downloaded to their cards will no longer be valid after Dec. 31.


The clock is ticking away for online shoppers ordering holiday gifts.

By Karen Datko Dec 17, 2009 2:25PM

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


Standard shipping deadlines for arrival by Christmas are swiftly approaching. You have just hours left at some retailers and a day or so at others.


Kohl’s shoppers have until 11 p.m. EST today while gives until Dec. 20 at 3 p.m. EST. (Unless you pay for expedited shipping, you’ve missed the boat at a handful of e-tailers, including, LEGO Shop and Home Depot.)

Those deadlines are on retailers’ minds in this lackluster holiday season. Anxious for one last grab at your online business, many stores are offering a final round of no-charge standard shipping deals during today’s Free Shipping Day.


Here's a tip for reducing the influence of advertising on your child.

By Karen Datko Dec 17, 2009 1:04PM

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


Recently, my 4-year-old son was watching a television program at his grandparents’ home. At our own home, we don’t watch much non-PBS programming, so this was one of my son’s first real exposures to advertising.


I came into the room after he had been watching for about 40 minutes and started to get his coat on and get him ready to go. He asked to finish watching the show, so I sat down with him for a few minutes.


At the end of the show, a commercial came on for some toy -- I think it was some sort of mechanized hamster. A couple of seemingly happy children were playing with them. After about 10 seconds, Joe turned to me and said, “Dad, I want one of those,” while pointing at the screen.


There are so many ways to waste money, I can't name them all. But I can name 5.

By Stacy Johnson Dec 17, 2009 11:52AM

The world is full of evidence that when something’s heavily advertised, it should be heavily scrutinized. In this TV news story/blog post I cover five of the countless examples.


Frequent flier cards that just don’t fly. Credit cards that offer frequent-flier miles used to be great deals, but with rising expenses and fewer fliers, airlines have had to cut back wherever they can. And in many instances, frequent-flier programs took the hit.  
These days, they’ve raised the number of miles needed to cash in on free seats and lowered the number of free seats available, so it’s really not such a good deal anymore.


Better idea?



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.