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Being a financial perfectionist doesn't always pay -- it can be a lot of work for little reward.

By Credit.com Fri 1:14 PM
This post comes from Adam Levin at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneyThere are some people in life for whom an A on a report card was never good enough, who idly wondered why they were never above the 99th percentile on standardized tests and relentlessly beat themselves up whenever they came in second.


In adulthood, some of those same people are relentlessly pursuing the highest possible FICO credit score -- an 850. I’m here to tell those people to stop.


Report card (© C Squared Studios/Getty Images)The idea of "gaming" your already-excellent credit score to drive it up is not going to benefit you in any substantive way -- there’s really no difference between the interest rates or credit terms offered to people with an 800 and those offered to people with the elusive 850. So gaming it doesn’t help anything but your ego.


Worse yet, if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, you’re as likely to hurt your credit score as to help. The models used by FICO (and other scoring agencies) are deliberately not totally transparent and many things that people think will raise their credit scores -- like getting rid of their credit cards or keeping zero debt -- can actually lower their scores.

 

Federal data show that a tiny sliver of medical providers accounts for a hefty share of Medicare costs. You can find out how much your doctor collects.

By MSN Money Partner Fri 12:56 PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News. 

 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneySome doctors are getting rich off of Medicare. And others look like they are, when they're actually sharing a billing code with other doctors or performing necessary but pricey medical procedures.


A new study shows that the top 1 percent of doctors and other medical providers accounted for 14 percent of the nearly $77 billion in Medicare billing recorded for 2012. Medicare is the government health insurance program for those 65 and older.


Medical doctor © John Arborgast, Photodisc Red, Getty ImagesOne Florida ophthalmologist reportedly billed Medicare for nearly $21 million in 2012, 64 times the average in the ophthalmology field. You can read more about him here.


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services made the Medicare billing information public this week for the first time. Some of the statistics were startling. For instance, "Some top earners were paid as much as 100 times the average for their respective fields," Bloomberg said


Is your doctor on the Medicare billing list? You can check by clicking on the CMS website here.


But don't be quick to assume that the top earners on the Medicare list are scamming the system. Sure, some probably are, but that's not always the case.

 

There are plenty of ways personal information about you can find its way onto a company's marketing spreadsheet.

By Credit.com Fri 12:52 PM

This post comes from Christine DiGangi at partner site Credit.com.


Credit.com on MSN MoneyEven some of the most financially savvy consumers find credit scoring confusing — the numbers change all the time, there are dozens of scoring models, and you never know which score a lender will use when reviewing your credit application.


Woman with a credit card © Alistair Berg, Digital Vision, Getty ImagesYet of all the consumer scores out there, credit scores are the most widely known and understood. Reassuring, isn't it?


Not to harp on depressing realities, but to most industries out there, you're not a name, you're a number. Unlike credit scores, a lot of these ratings systems are not accessible to you, and many aren't subject to regulation. That brings up a slew of questions about privacy and the legality of using these scores in decision-making situations, a topic explored by the World Privacy Forum in an 80-page report on consumer scores called "The Scoring of America: How Secret Consumer Scores Threaten Your Privacy and Your Future."

 

Tired of spending a fortune on restaurant meals? Check out 15 ways to make the experience more affordable.

By MSN Money Partner Fri 12:37 PM

This post comes from Allison Martin at partner site Money Talks News. 


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyYou don't have to keep wishing on a star that you'll one day be able to afford fine dining establishments.


It's usually one of the first expenses to take a hit when the spending plan comes into play, but the last thing that we actually want to part ways with. However, it is possible to enjoy the finer things in life, at least in the food category, without breaking the bank. Here's how.

 

Car-sharing is a convenient way for occasional drivers to save money. Some programs are national and some local. Here's the scoop.

By Cheapism.com Fri 12:10 PM
This post comes from Louis DeNicola at partner site Cheapism.com.

Cheapism.com on MSN MoneyCar-share programs offer the convenience of hopping into a car or truck, for a few hours or a few days, without owning whatever you're driving. Plus, you avoid the insurance and maintenance costs associated with ownership and you don't even pay for fuel.

A woman demonstrates a Zipcar in New York City
© Spencer Platt/Getty Images
But these are not carefree deals -- there is plenty of fine print. Here's what you need to know.

The benefits
For all their differences, car-share programs have much in common. Fleets of vehicles are parked in designated spots around a city or near a college campus. You reserve a vehicle online or with a mobile app and use a card or fob (handed over when you join the program) to unlock it; keys are stashed inside. You drive off for a designated amount of time and return the vehicle to the same spot. (One-way options are limited to a few programs.)
 

DealNews has uncovered tricks that retailers use to make those alluring wholesale prices much less consumer-friendly.

By DealNews.com Thu 4:22 PM

This post comes from Aaron Crowe at partner site DealNews.

DealNews on MSN MoneyUnless I leave my wallet at home, I can never make a trip to Costco without spending $100. It's simply not possible. I may go there with a shopping list and be determined to stick to it, but every time I leave with more goods than I expected to buy.

Shoppers stand in line to pay for their merchandise inside a Sam's Club store © Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg via Getty Images

What pull does Costco have over my wallet, and how do wholesale warehouse clubs get shoppers to spend more than they've planned to?


The folks at DealNews have uncovered a few factors that make up the allure of wholesale pricing. Make yourself aware of them, and maybe you'll avoid buying more than you need.

 

'Theft by deception' is one way some collectors are trying to get consumers to pay debts -- even, in some cases, if the debt is a mistake.

By Credit.com Thu 1:57 PM
This post comes from Gerri Detweiler at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneyAfter allegedly cashing the same checks more than once (by phone and in person), four Georgia football players were recently charged with theft by deception. It’s a crime that can result in fines or even jail time, depending on state law and the severity of the offense.


Some debt collectors are using the threat of being charged with this crime to scare consumers into paying debts they may not owe. As our reader CWhit123 shared on our blog recently:


I have received a call from (a collector). He has been very polite but I have never taken out a payday loan online. He has all of my personal information though...They are charging me supposedly with theft by deception and something else.


Jail © CorbisThe fact that this consumer didn't take out a payday loan  either means the collector either has the wrong person or the consumer is being targeted by a scammer. But what if he had taken the loan out and failed to pay it back? Could he be charged with this crime like the football players were?

 

As you work to get your financial life on track, it's not uncommon to find old, counterproductive habits undermining your progress. Here's how to change them.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 11:40 AM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis at partner site Money Talks News


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyThe good habits we've made carry us along almost effortlessly. That's positive. It lets us focus on the things that need our attention most.


But as you work to pay off debt, save and get your financial life on track, you'll probably find some old, counterproductive habits undermining your progress. They may have worked once, but now they’re holding you back.


Dropping bad money habits makes it easier to power up your financial life. Here are ways to drop habits you no longer want and adopt new habits to take their place.

 

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