Smart SpendingSmart Spending

If your landlord doesn't offer you a deal to stay, ask for one.

By Teresa Mears Nov 2, 2009 1:54PM

If the lease on your rented house or apartment is up soon, you may get a little gift from your landlord: a flat-screen TV, lower rent or even a cash payment.


Because of the soft rental market, landlords are offering incentives to renters who renew their leases, The Wall Street Journal reports.


For example, UDR, a Denver-based rental company, is offering tenants who renew their leases a choice of a flat-screen TV, new carpet, a kitchen upgrade or $300 in cash. Cash is the most popular choice.


They're no substitute for insurance, but, for the uninsured, every little bit helps.

By Karen Datko Nov 2, 2009 1:34PM

These days people do what they can to get health care, whether it’s a free flu shot at the local strip club or bidding online at PriceDoc, which WalletPop calls a Priceline approach to care.


With so many people going without health insurance, why not give the benefit of health care via a gift card?


Tackle trouble BEFORE it begins.

By Karen Datko Nov 2, 2009 11:17AM

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


Ron Lieber writes the excellent “Your Money” column for The New York Times. Recently, he shared a list of four money talks to have before marriage. Lieber writes:

Divorce tends to be emotionally gut-wrenching for the people who go through it (not to mention those around them). But most couples don’t realize that divorce can also be among the most ruinous financial moves anyone can make.

This article struck home for me. No, Kris and I are in no danger of getting a divorce (I love my wife!), but we’re at that stage in life where the people around us are passing through rocky stages of their marriage. Some are even getting divorced.

I recently spoke with a friend -- let’s call him Mike -- whose marriage is floundering. Mike and his wife are wrestling with a variety of issues. The acute crisis was caused by infidelity, but the chronic crisis -- the ongoing problem -- involves a conflict over money.


Depression-era lessons aren't always applicable today.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 2, 2009 3:26AM

When the going gets tough, it's tempting to invoke our grandparents and their tribulations during the Great Depression. A Smart Spending message board reader posting as "jestjack" started a thread called "Where are my grandparents when I need them?

"These were some of the most thrifty, smart, industrious, hard-working, and honorable folks," he wrote. "Boy, could we use their wit and wisdom in these troubled times."

I'm about to commit cultural heresy: Not everything our grandparents had to offer would be helpful. 


How to make your produce last a little longer.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 2, 2009 3:20AM

Last week I noticed that some Braeburn apples I'd bought were getting kind of tired. I sliced one up and tried to eat it but the slightly softened texture made the fruit really unappetizing. Given how high food prices are getting, the idea of throwing out fruit really annoyed me -- and I had another five apples in the bag.

A childhood riddle popped into my head: How do you divide five apples among nine people? 

The answer: Make applesauce. So I did: Peeled and sliced the other apples, simmered them with a little water, pulverized them with a potato masher, and added cinnamon and a tiny amount of brown sugar. The result was delicious. 


Do middle class folks really need ostentatious displays of wealth?

By Donna_Freedman Nov 2, 2009 3:12AM

Sam's Club thinks I deserve luxury. Specifically, the retailer thinks I deserve a pair of Granny Smith apples dipped in caramel, rolled in pecan pieces and drizzled with three kinds of chocolate. This particular luxury would cost me $18.22 -- plus shipping, since it’s available only online.

The two-piece treat was one of several items highlighted in an e-mail whose subject line read, "Luxury You Deserve At Sam’s Club." That got my attention because I’d just read a review of a new book called "Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster."

Back in the 19th century, the "luxury" trade was small and aimed squarely at European aristocrats. Now it's big, big business and marketed to the middle class. For example, the author mentions a secretary who’s saving to buy her second Prada bag.


You might be able to score a deal.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 2, 2009 3:06AM

Recently I called a regional pharmacy to take advantage of its generic prescription program. Thyroid medication costs me $10 a month at my current pharmacy, but at the other store that same $10 would buy three months' worth of pills.

The phone rang a few minutes later. It was my current pharmacist, asking for another chance. 

He'd just heard from Fred Meyer about my plans to switch, and he offered to match the $10-for-three-months price. It would never have occurred to me to ask. 

The fact that he did offer made me want to suggest this tactic to readers: If you're thinking about switching to a generic prescription program, don't do so without asking your current pharmacy to match the price.


Crock-pot meals fed my family when money was tight.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 2, 2009 2:54AM

I remember when slow cookers first hit the market, back in 1970. To my cash-strapped family such things were luxuries, culinary toys for the rich. We felt the same way about popcorn poppers and the Fry Daddy.

But I don't know how I would have made it as a struggling single mother eight years later without the slow cooker. It made most of the meals on which the baby and I subsisted: primarily bean soup, with occasional forays into minestrone and spaghetti.



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.