Smart SpendingSmart Spending

If you weren't happy with the health insurance you've had this year, you'll soon have a chance to go shopping for a new plan.

By MSN Money Partner Fri 2:17 PM

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

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyAre you ready for Round Two?

In a little more than a month, the federal Health Insurance Marketplace will swing open its virtual doors and let the masses in. Hopefully, things will go a little smoother than last year.


This Texas family has a substantial income and doesn't splurge on extras but still finds there's little left at the end of the month.

By MSN Money Partner Fri 2:03 PM

This post comes from Bob Sullivan at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN Money"Something is wrong. Very broken. We are doing our part. We rarely splurge, we never go out as a family to the movies, we aren't taking wild holidays, we don't spend foolishly, and yet every month is painfully tight."

A bird nest full of money © David R. Frazier Photolibrary, Inc., AlamyMatthew Brada is a software consultant, and he is doing great. He earns about $125,000 per year while owning a home in reasonably priced Plano, Texas. He's been married 16 years to wife Julie, and together they have two children: Piper, who's 12, and Noah, who is 9.

Matthew is also pretty nervous. Or, using the language of my ongoing project, he feels restless.

"We've cut the cable, subscriptions, eating out. We literally scrape by. If something breaks, it stays broken basically," he said. "I am grateful to have my position, but when I break it down for my family of four on a sole income in Plano, it's not so awesome."


Talking about finances can be awkward or difficult, but it's essential to both your relationship and your bank account.

By Fri 11:38 AM
This post comes from Gerri Detweiler at partner site on MSN MoneyTalking about money with a partner can be difficult. Partly because if things are going great and everyone's in harmony, there's no urgency about it. And when you're dreaming about what you'd do if you win the lottery, nobody is seriously worried about what will happen if you don't.

Couple in love © Vladimir Godnik/JupiterimagesBut when decisions need to be made, or when you're concerned about your finances, there's no getting around the need for a conversation. You're probably already worried that what you hope will be a money discussion will turn into a money fight (more about that later).

And so you summon your courage and say, "We need to talk." Personal finance expert and mediator Paula Langguth Ryan calls those four words "the worst way to begin a difficult money talk," no matter how well-intentioned. Though the statement is simple and to the point, those words are so often used as a preface to bad news that your mate will almost certainly have a Pavlovian "fight or flight" response says Ryan.


Mind your finances so you don't get to the point that creditors are eyeing your bank account.

By Thu 1:11 PM
This post comes from Gerri Detweiler at partner site on MSN MoneyCan a creditor or debt collector seize money from your bank account if you can’t pay your debt?

Worried Man © CorbisIt’s a terrifying scenario to someone who is just getting by and needs every penny to put food on the table, gas in the tank, and to pay their essential bills. Several of our readers have expressed this fear, or experienced it, firsthand:

  • Joan wrote that she was unemployed and was worried about a creditor taking money out of her bank account.
  • "Non" said a creditor wiped out her savings account.
  • Another reader said their bank account was seized to satisfy a court judgment they thought was taken care of when they were taxed for the “canceled” debt.

The short answer is, yes. Funds in your bank account could potentially be at risk if you don’t pay your debts. But there are important limitations that apply.

Here, bankruptcy attorney Eugene Melchionne explains how it works in Connecticut, the state where he practices. The rules and procedures may be different in your state.


A practice known as drive-by-doctoring is leading to big, unexpected bills for some unwitting patients.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 12:58 PM

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

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyImagine going in for surgery and expecting to receive medical bills totaling no more than $200,000, only to be blindsided by an extra $117,000 bill for an assistant surgeon you didn't even know was going to be working on you.

Medical doctor © Sean Justice/CorbisAccording to The New York Times, that was the unfortunate reality for 37-year-old Peter Drier, who underwent a neck surgery for herniated disks in December. Drier said he had researched his health insurance coverage, as well as the surgery fees -- $4,300 for an anesthesiologist, a $56,000 hospital bill and $133,000 for an orthopedist (who accepted a negotiated fee from Drier's insurance company of $6,200, the Times said).

So Drier was understandably shocked when he received a $117,000 bill from a neurosurgeon he hadn't heard of before. The Times said:

In operating rooms and on hospital wards across the country, physicians and other health providers typically help one another in patient care. But in an increasingly common practice that some medical experts call drive-by doctoring, assistants, consultants and other hospital employees are charging patients or their insurers hefty fees. They may be called in when the need for them is questionable. And patients usually do not realize they have been involved or are charging until the bill arrives.

Here are some simple tips to help boost your car's trade-in value by hundreds of dollars.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 12:55 PM

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

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyYou're finally in tip-top financial shape to purchase a new car, but there's one problem.

Car on road (© Brand X/SuperStock)

How will you get your existing set of wheels off your hands?

You don't have the time to deal with the hassle of a private sale, and you have no desire to auction it off.

You decide a dealer trade is the best way to earn cash for your vehicle with no strings attached.

Afraid of getting lowballed by the car salesman? Don't fret.

Conducting research on the trade-in process and your car's value will equip you with the tools needed to demand top dollar for your ride.

How trade-in values are determined

According to CarsDirect, five factors determine the trade-in value:


Apple is all about changing the way we live, and now they want us to ditch our wallets.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 11:46 AM

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

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyApple said, Let there be ear buds. And we all bought iPods.

Apple said, Let there be portable computers. And we all bought iPhones.

Apple says, Let there be no more wallets. And we all say, huh?

All right, so not everyone is on the Apple bandwagon, but it does seem that when Apple says "jump," many of us reply with "how high?" Apple has changed music, changed phones, and now it wants to change how we pay for everything.


You can vacation in luxury without breaking your bank account if you're going to Europe or Asia.

By Thu 11:26 AM
This post comes from Christine Di Gangi at partner site on MSN MoneyLuxurious vacations tend to have the unfortunate quality of being very expensive. Plenty of people don't need to fly first class or stay in a fancy hotel in order to have a wonderful trip, but still, it would be nice to enjoy an exceptionally comfortable suite on the occasional excursion, without paying an obscene amount of money to do so.

Hotel maid © Simon Jarratt/CorbisTaking advantage of coupons or deal-hunting travel sites is often a great way to save on vacation expenses, but your destination is often the largest factor in what you pay.

It can cost hundreds of dollars a night to stay in some of the most popular cities around the globe, but that's not always the case. analyzed lodging booked through its site and came up with a list of the cities with the most affordable 5-star hotels, many of which cost less than $200 a night.



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.