Smart SpendingSmart Spending

If you build it yourself, a cat enclosure can be an inexpensive way to keep your felines happy. And you want to keep them happy.

By Teresa Mears Jun 21, 2010 1:39PM

We could dismiss the latest "catio" craze story in The New York Times as just another waste of money on pets.


Except that we have cats. And we have a catio of sorts, a small screened porch built by the previous owner for humans. Living in a small space with cats, we can't tell you how valuable that tiny porch is. But the felines really want a bigger one.


While you can spend hundreds of dollars on ready-made cat enclosures or kits to create them, you can build your own catio using common, inexpensive materials.


Chains are offering free games to children, and some offer cheap games to adults who come along.

By Teresa Mears Jun 21, 2010 12:04PM

Are your kids already driving you crazy with wails of "I'm SO bored"? And summer has just started.


We suggest you meet those laments with a list of household chores that need doing, and your kids are likely to find something wildly interesting to do within minutes.

Maybe you can send them bowling. Several chains are offering "kids bowl free" summer promotions.


He's ashamed to admit that over the past few months, his personal finances have come to resemble his unkempt, neglected yard.

By Karen Datko Jun 21, 2010 10:25AM

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


I had a great weekend. In fact, it was probably one of the best weekends I've had in years. I spent all day Saturday and Sunday doing chores. (Well, I watched the World Cup a little, too.) I spent nearly 16 hours doing yardwork, and I loved every minute of it.


This passion for pruning may seem strange to you, but it seems even stranger to me. I generally don't like yardwork. But here's the thing: When we bought this house in 2004, I was fairly diligent about performing routine maintenance. I pruned the hedges, mowed the lawn, cleaned the gutters, and did dozens of other little things to make sure the house and yard remained at peak form.


For several years, I stayed on top of things around Rosings Park (which is what we call our two-thirds of an acre). But about two years ago -- just as Get Rich Slowly began to take over my life -- I let things slide.


Your friends can not only make you fat, they can make the social barriers to breaking a mortgage contract come crumbling down.

By Karen Datko Jun 21, 2010 7:36AM

This guest post comes from Pop at Pop Economics.


Your friends can make you fat. And I don't mean by baking you stuff.


A few years ago, scientists released the results of a 32-year obesity study in the New England Journal of Medicine. Pardon the description if you're already familiar with it.


Scientists followed about 12,000 people over a 32-year time period, many of whom ran in the same social circles, and tried to assess what common factors led to many of them becoming obese. It turned out that who those studied became friends with was incredibly important. In fact, if someone's friend became obese, he or she became 57% more likely to become obese. If someone's brother or sister became obese, his or her chances increased by 40%. And if it was a spouse, the chances rose 37%.


The study caused a pretty big stir.


A new program will enlist the help of medical professionals to identify seniors who are most vulnerable. But we can all help.

By Karen Datko Jun 18, 2010 5:34PM

People in our line of work often see stories like these: "Medicare recipients target of new scam." "Elderly Kansas couple lose heavily to scam." "Elderly couple targeted by timeshare fraud." And that's just a few we noticed today.


And then there's this one: "Medical professionals will try to spot elderly fraud victims." The McClatchy Newspapers story says:

The "Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation" project will train medical professionals across the country to identify patients with mild cognitive impairments who are most susceptible to financial scams. The goal is to have caregivers inform state regulators about patients who pose the greatest risk for abuse.

Plenty of evidence suggests that elderly people need more protection.


RadioShack sweetens T-Mobile's free phone deal, food freebies and deals for Father's Day.

By Teresa Mears Jun 18, 2010 12:16PM

Not only is today Friday, but it's National Flip-Flop Day. Wear your flip-flops into a Tropical Smoothie Café, and you'll get a free 24-ounce Jetty Punch smoothie. The deal is limited to the first 500 customers per location.


RadioShack has joined Saturday's Mother of All Father's Day Sales, in which all T-Mobile phones will be free (with contracts, of course). For some customers, RadioShack is offering an even better deal, Nicole Lee points out at CNET's Dialed In blog, with T-Mobile phones free on all plans, not just family plans, plus instant rebates and an activation credit.

With some help from our friends at Cities on the Cheap, we've rounded up more new food deals. Some of last week's deals are still good, too.


That's not as dangerous as it sounds. Free how-to clinics teach small fry the joys of DIY.

By Donna_Freedman Jun 18, 2010 12:09PM
My niece, Alison, is all about the affordable family fun. As an elementary school teacher, she has summers off and has already mapped out this one: free summer movies, library programs, coach-pitch Little League, free outdoor concerts, and heavy use of annual family memberships to the Alaska Zoo and the Anchorage Museum of History and Art.

And twice a month her two boys grab hammers and don goggles for free how-to clinics at Home Depot and Lowe's. Lucky mom: She gets two jewelry organizers, two miniature Adirondack chair flowerpot stands, two pet-treat keepers, etc.

Since the family's ancient cat has passed beyond the treat stage, what exactly is a pet-treat keeper good for?  

Today's graduates may not find a job, but they should find it easier to be insured.

By Stacy Johnson Jun 18, 2010 8:18AM

This post comes from Donna Gehrke-White at partner site Money Talks News.


Just graduating from high school or college and don't have health insurance? You're not alone. Almost one-third of Americans under 26 lack health insurance, the largest group in the U.S., Uncle Sam estimates.



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.