Smart SpendingSmart Spending

You may owe money, but you're not required to pay with your dignity.

By Stacy Johnson Mar 4, 2010 10:45AM

This post comes from partner site Money Talks News.

 

Owing more than you can pay is bad enough. Being badgered, hounded and abused by a debt collector can make your life a living hell.

 

But if you ever find yourself harassed by dozens of phone calls daily, here’s something you should know: You don’t deserve to be treated like a doormat. Nor should you tolerate it. And if your legal rights are being violated, you might qualify for free legal help to make it stop.

 

Survey says Americans are getting comfort and strength from the four-legged members of their households.

By Karen Datko Mar 3, 2010 7:53PM

poll by Catalyst Direct Inc. found that the majority of pet owners surveyed are experiencing various degrees of nervousness or stress about the economy. However, these folks don’t have to face their troubles alone:

  • 89% said their pets help them cope with the stress.
  • 83% “value the steady presence their pets provide in an uncertain economy.”
  • 86% “value their pet’s appreciation.”

But here’s the real tribute:

 

Think again before you get in a rush to pay off the loan.

By Karen Datko Mar 3, 2010 4:58PM

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

 

Conventional wisdom holds that a mortgage on the house you live in is a special kind of debt, one that, mostly because of favorable tax treatment, is so cheap that you should be in no particular hurry to pay it off.

 

But there is a popular heresy that opposes this firmly established orthodoxy. It holds that all debt is a bad idea, and paying 3X to the bank so you can save X on your taxes is loopy. Free Money Finance made this case recently. And Dave Ramsey is probably the high priest of this particular sect.

 

I have an instinctive contempt for orthodoxy and a sympathy for heresies of all kinds. But, alas, this is one of those cases where the conventional wisdom is spot on. Sad and boring, but true.

 

Cinemas offer movie marathon deals, and we give you tips for throwing an Oscar party on the cheap.

By Teresa Mears Mar 3, 2010 3:48PM

Did you miss some of the Oscar-nominated films? Here’s your chance to see a discount movie marathon.

 

Both AMC Entertainment and Cinemark are offering marathons of Oscar-nominated films Saturday, March 6. Once you've seen the films, you can throw an Oscar-watching party on the cheap.

 

You'll be able to dodge the kids at these destinations.

By Karen Datko Mar 3, 2010 11:58AM

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

 

Plane tickets might cost more this year, but if you’re flexible on days (and not too picky about destinations), there are both spring break hotel bargains to be had -- and strategies to avoid partying college students.

 

Airfare for between Feb. 28 and March 31 is up 9% this spring, to an average of $349, while hotels are down 15%, reports Bing Travel, Microsoft’s travel search site. What does that mean for you? Think: travel jujitsu.

 

Antivirus software companies predict a breakthrough year for hacker attacks via social-networking sites.

By Karen Datko Mar 3, 2010 10:47AM

This post comes from Jabulani Leffall at partner blog Wise Bread.

 

In the last few months you've probably been bombarded with things to watch for in 2010: ways to save, what the best vacation destinations are, who's hot and who's not -- you know, important stuff.

 

You may wish to share some of this stuff via a social-networking site: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace -- you know, the important sites.

 

These sites are actually important because millions of people use them. And millions, such as yourself, will be vulnerable to scams, trickery and tomfoolery that will at best lead to some embarrassing hijacking of your page or computer and, at worse, help a hacker dial down into what in the data-protection world is called PII or personally identifiable information. We've covered a little bit of that at this blog but never enough.

 

Allow me to pose this question: Would you walk into a dark alley that says "Check out this really cool video of you and your friends"?

 

It's a throwdown between name- and store-brand kielbasa, canned corn, chunky salsa and more. The winners may surprise you.

By Karen Datko Mar 2, 2010 7:32PM

Let’s tootle on over to the Penzo house where, if we’re lucky, Len and other members of the Penzo clan will be engaged in their new brand of family fun.

 

They’ve become masters of the blind taste test -- a safe and inexpensive activity you can try at home. Their taste tests pit name-brand foods against cheaper, store-brand equivalents. Whenever the store brand wins, that can end up saving lots of money.

 

Plus, Len’s posts are the most entertaining blind taste test accounts we’ve ever read. (“Too close to call,” Len exclaims at one point. “Nobody can accuse the Albertsons soup of being a laughing stock.” For a more staid approach, check out those done by Consumer Reports.)

 

Here’s what they’ve tested so far, as reported at Len Penzo dot Com (we’ll get to some results below):

  • Blind Taste Test No. 1: Name-brand vs. store-brand cookies (Oreos vs. the Albertsons version), sliced provolone, canned peas, kielbasa, tortilla chips and chunky salsa.
 

Facebook app lets you chide your friends about their bad spending habits.

By Teresa Mears Mar 2, 2010 4:50PM

From Mighty Bargain Hunter comes news of yet another useless Facebook application: Buddy Bailout, in which friends confront friends about their bad spending habits.

 

Is your friend The Fashionista, The Gambler, The Credit Abuser or The Over-Blinged? Maybe he needs a public nudge, with a posting headlined “(Your name here) thinks YOU need a bailout!”

Just think what it will do to the relationship when you post on your best friend’s wall, “Your ride looks great, but you can't afford the gas to drive it. Pimp out your bank account, not your ride.”

 

Let us channel Suze Orman for a moment and scream with our best Midwestern twang: “Are you kidding?!!!”

 

DATA PROVIDERS

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.

ABOUT SMART SPENDING

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.

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

TOOLS

More