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Wigs, tanning salons, summer camp may also be eligible expenses

By Donna_Freedman Nov 13, 2009 11:49AM
Flexible spending accounts are a great boost to the budget since they let you pay for health and dependent care expenses with pre-tax monies. Since this is a "use it or lose it" situation, it's important to make sure you've spent all your funds by the end of the grace period, which ends March 15, 2010.

There certainly are plenty of ways to spend the money. For example, condoms, IUDs and birth control pills are all on the eligible expenses list.

Or you can head in the other direction, since sterilization reversal, ovulation kits, Viagra and Levitra, in vitro fertilization, pregnancy test kits and Lamaze classes are also allowed.  

Whistleblower says charges for erroneous data usage are intentional.

By Teresa Mears Nov 12, 2009 7:08PM

Verizon Wireless is already charging you up to $350 if you want to terminate your service and $3 to pay your bill in person.


Now New York Times technology columnist David Pogue has revealed “another bit of greedy nastiness,” as he put it: Verizon is charging customers $1.99 for any bit of data download, even if it’s done in error -- and customers complain the phones are designed to make such errors inevitable.


Here is what one of Pogue’s readers reported:

Virtually every bill I get has a couple of erroneous data charges at $1.99 each -- yet we download no data.
Here’s how it works. They configure the phones to have multiple easily hit keystrokes to launch ‘Get it now’ or ‘Mobile Web’-- usually a single key like an arrow key. Often we have no idea what key we hit, but up pops one of these screens. The instant you call the function, they charge you the data fee. We cancel these unintended requests as fast as we can hit the End key, but it doesn’t matter; they’ve told me that ANY data -- even one kilobyte -- is billed as 1MB. The damage is done.

Planning and being realistic are keys to a successful transition.

By Teresa Mears Nov 12, 2009 5:19PM

We love stories about people who change careers, even though we have not actually done it. Several years ago we interviewed a number of people who had changed jobs in mid-life, including an insurance agent who become a fine furniture maker, a PR specialist who became a garden designer and a science teacher who finally fulfilled her lifelong desire to be a doctor and graduated from medical school at age 50.


Who among us hasn’t dreamed of leaving a job that bores us and doing something totally different, no matter what our age?


For some, the recession has thrust that change upon them, whether they were ready for it or not. Several of our journalist colleagues have become teachers. Some are again considering law school. One is studying nursing, courtesy of a state program to retrain downsized professionals.


Starting in July, debit and ATM charges that overdraw accounts will be denied.

By MSN Money producer Nov 12, 2009 5:10PM
In a win for consumers, banks will have to secure customers' consent before charging exorbitant overdraft fees on ATM and debit card transactions, The Associated Press reports.

In other words: No more $35 charges against customers who accidentally overdraw their accounts for a $4 latte.

The new Federal Reserve rules announced Thursday require banks to notify customers of their overdraft services and give customers the option of being covered. If customers don't "opt in," any debit or ATM transactions that overdraw their accounts will be denied.  

You've heard 'Turn off the lights!' before, but when's the last time you cleaned your fridge's coils?

By MSN Money producer Nov 12, 2009 4:34PM
If you're looking for ways to cut your electricity bill, Fred Schebesta at My Next Buck shares 72 ways you can reduce your consumption.

With a list that long, there's bound to be some redundancy. A big chunk is ideas we've all heard before: Turn off lights and appliances you're not using and unplug "vampire" electronic devices. But despite the number of no-brainer solutions, several gems caught our eyes: 

Why worry about thieves? Your fraud liability is zero.

By MSN Money producer Nov 12, 2009 2:54PM

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

I like few things more than writing posts that cause consternation. A recent gem was on my confusion over debit cards, and who can forget my assault on the irrational fear of identity theft. So why not combine the two themes?

Consumerism Commentary has a nice post on writing "Check ID" in the little strip on the back of your credit card where you are supposed to sign it. Turns out that this is a relatively common practice and that it is against Visa and MasterCard's rules. I guess I'm not really surprised at either of these facts.

Why would a person write "Check ID" on a card? I can only assume that it is an attempt to deter a potential thief from using the card if stolen. Does anybody really think this would work? How often do cashiers actually look at the back of credit and debit cards? And then there are all the situations, from the self-checkout line to, that there is no cashier.


You'll need to instill good habits when they're young.

By MSN Money producer Nov 12, 2009 2:24PM

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

In the past, I've strongly advocated for families to introduce their teenagers to financial reality as early as possible. I know that in my own case, I went off to college with almost no idea of how to manage my money, and it really showed in the spending decisions I made over the next 10 years of my life.

Over the past decade, I've had the chance to intimately watch other families raise their children through the teenage years with lots of success and some failure. I've been impressed with some of the young people that are the core of Generation Y coming of age. Two in particular, my niece and my first cousin, are the kind of people that are a big net benefit to the world, and I would be incredibly proud if my own children turned out as well as they have.


You shouldn't feel obligated to send out cards.

By MSN Money producer Nov 12, 2009 1:17AM

This guest post comes from "vh" at Funny about Money.

Some of us suffer from chronic skepticism about the annual Christmas merchandising frenzy. But you don't have to be totally cheap to come up with a pretty holiday celebration that won't leave you feeling like Ebenezer Scrooge.

Here are a few strategies that have saved me some bucks:



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