Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Take a trip and save on purchases of diamonds, electronics, leather, and even health care.

By Cheapism.com Fri 11:20 AM
This post comes from Tahirah Blanding at partner site Cheapism.com.

Cheapism.com on MSN MoneyTraveling abroad for vacation is a surefire way to de-stress and unwind. It's also the perfect time to score deals on products and services that are normally more expensive in the United States.

Woman wearing a diamond necklace © Image Source, CorbisWhether you're heading south to Central America or going as far as Southeast Asia, you'll be in or near hotspots for cheap medical services, leather, electronics, and even precious gems. We can't vouch for the safety or quality of the products or services mentioned below, but our research suggests that they're generally cheaper than what you'd find at home.
 

There are many ways to save money, but some cost you more than you think.

By Cheapism.com Fri 11:04 AM
This post comes from Emily Lugg at partner site Cheapism.com.

Cheapism.com on MSN MoneyWho doesn't want to save a few bucks? Indeed, there are some tried and true ways to cut costs -- couponing, watching for sales, shopping the discount aisle, and so on. Then there are money-saving strategies that actually may be illusory. Perhaps it's time to rethink your cheapskate ways to ensure that you're truly cutting into your bottom line.

Do you ...

Pennies © CorbisDrive extra miles to save money on gas? Yes, the gas station near your best friend's house may be three cents or even 30 cents a gallon cheaper, but it's on the other side of town. By the time you drive there, fill up, and drive home, your cheapskate ways have burned extra time (which counts for something, too) and also any savings you may have racked up.
 

Your car's vehicle identification number (VIN) may look random, but it is anything but.

By QuinStreet Thu 4:48 PM
This post comes from Barbara Marquand at partner site Insure.com.

Insure.com on MSN MoneyYour car's vehicle identification number, commonly known as a VIN, may look like a meaningless string of random numbers and letters.


But together those 17 digits make up an impressive one-of-a-kind combination, following the car from the factory to the scrap heap.


A VIN tag © SQUIB/Alamy"A VIN is to a car what a fingerprint is to a person," says Frank Scafidi, spokesperson for the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).


A variety of agencies and companies use VINs to report and access information about vehicles. Thanks to the VIN, a car insurance company can check whether a car has a salvage title, a body shop can order the right parts for repairs and police can identify stolen vehicles.


You can find your car's VIN on the dashboard near the windshield and inside the doorframe on the driver's side. On some cars, the VIN is located on additional parts, such as the bumpers or steering column. The locations are based on the car's theft risk and are standardized by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The VIN also appears on documents, such as your car title, registration and auto insurance ID card.

 

If you're looking for some nontraditional options for purchasing inexpensive and nutritious foods, we have some ideas for you.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 1:32 PM

This post comes from Kimberly Winkowitsch  at partner site Money Talks News


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyA couple of years ago, I was feeling especially thrifty. My husband farms both organic and traditional wheat, barley, lentils and peas, so I thought I should make use of what he grows.


I ground some of his organic wheat in the dry container on my blender and made my own homemade bread. To my surprise, it turned out really good. I've had more than a few domestic fails over the years, so I was pretty excited about my bread success.


Shopping cart © Claus Christensen, PhotographerI decided to go all out and bake all of our bread with our very own wheat.


I watched bread-baking YouTube videos, I bought lots of bread pans and supplies, and I even found a used grain grinder.


I was really having fun and impressing my family, but there was one problem. We ate so much bread that we started gaining weight at an alarming rate. Because I'm trying to keep us at a healthy weight, I put away my bread-baking supplies. (My new focus is making green smoothies.)


But here's my point: There are inexpensive alternatives to buying food at the grocery store, whether it's getting it directly from the local farmers and ranchers who produce it, or from cooperatives and other groups. You can save money and have more control over the source and quality of the food your family eats.


Here are some options:

 

Check out our big list of 10 money-saving ideas that will work in Worcester, Massachusetts, Waikiki Beach and all points in between.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 1:13 PM

This post comes from Maryalene LaPonsie at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyIt's summertime, and that means we here at Money Talks News have been busy brainstorming and researching ways for you to save on your vacation. Recently, we've told you whether travel insurance is a good buy, pulled back the curtain on the world's most expensive cities, and advised on how best to book a flight for the family.


Now we've compiled a big list of ways to save 50 percent on your travel costs, regardless of whether you're going by plane, train or automobile.

 

Learn what you should have ready in case the lights go out for an extended period.

By QuinStreet Thu 11:50 AM

This post comes from William Cowie at partner site GetRichSlowly.org.


Get Rich Slowly on MSN MoneyHave you considered how your life would freeze to a standstill if a general outage cut electric power for more than two or three days? As every summer arrives, it’s a question more and more people ask, because demand for electric power is growing inexorably, and summertime is when the grid always gets strained to the max. Many experts say all it will take is one unusually bad heat wave and a single computer glitch. The last major outage happened in the summer of 2003, and it affected over 55 million people.


Major storm © Exactostock/SuperStockOur lives depend on electricity more than just about anything else, but there are few things we take so for granted. (You couldn’t read this post without it.) Environmentalists have effectively put a stop to all new construction of traditional power stations, and a growing portion of new construction is for clean energy sources. Clean energy may sound sexy, but it’s still unreliable: Wind turbines generate electricity only when the wind blows, which might not be when you need it. Likewise, solar energy generation fluctuates with weather conditions. All it takes is one confluence of circumstances to shut down your power.


That’s a mess. Once your cell phone’s battery runs down, how will you recharge it? Think you can run down to the local Starbucks to get some coffee (your coffeemaker is dead, remember) and recharge your laptop, cell phone, tablet, iPod, toothbrush and shaver? Think again. All your neighbors will have descended on that little coffee shop en masse because they’ll be without power too.

 

A new survey suggests daughters may be a better investment than sons, but parents say there's more to this story.

By QuinStreet Jul 16, 2014 4:23PM

This post comes from Robert Beaupre at partner site MoneyRates.com.


MoneyRates.com on MSN MoneyA study released last month by Yodlee Interactive and Harris Poll found that adult women are 32 percent less likely to need financial support from their parents than adult men are. Shortly after the release, a spate of headlines touting the financial virtues of daughters appeared across the Web.


 Young girl counting coins © Burke/Triolo Productions/Brand X/Corbis/CorbisHowever, because the study only looked at adult sons and daughters, it did little to answer the question of which sex is less expensive to parent in the long run. A 2010 study from Lovemoney.com found that, between the ages of 5 and 18, boys are actually cheaper to raise than girls, primarily due to the more costly hobbies and activities girls tend to adopt (at least in England, where the study was conducted).


In terms of hard data, the debate over the relative costs of sons and daughters seems muddled at best. But if you turned to parents who have children of both sexes for answers, would a clearer answer emerge? 

 

Some companies are seizing control of employees' 401k investment choices. If yours does, watch out for these five mistakes.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 16, 2014 12:42PM

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


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyHow would you like it if your company started overriding your 401k investment choices? Well, your employer may be doing just that.


401k © Tom Grill, CorbisA number of companies, concerned that their employees' retirement investments are too risky or not risky enough, are overriding some employees' investment picks and substituting the company's choices.


The ease of letting an employer take the wheel appeals to some investors who feel they haven't got the nerve or knowledge to make investment decisions or can't find the time.


But there are downsides.


Why the boss steps in

A company's substitute choice, typically, is a target date fund -- a portfolio of stocks and bonds whose investments become increasingly conservative as the employee's retirement target date draws nearer.


The employer tactic of substitutions, called re-enrollment, helps boost the safety and growth of employees' investments and can ward off lawsuits over 401k plans' performance or fund choices, says the Journal of Pension Benefits (.pdf file).

 

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