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Regulators cap late fees at $25, ban 'inactivity fees' and other piling-on tactics.

By Karen Datko Jun 15, 2010 5:41PM

The Federal Reserve has issued several new consumer-friendly rules for credit cards, which will take effect Aug. 22. If you've been blasted with high late-payment fees, newly minted inactivity fees or interest rate hikes, take note. 

The fine-tuning is in addition to other credit card rules that have already altered the often-strained relationship between credit card companies and their customers. "The rules respond to public and congressional outrage over practices by credit card companies," The Associated Press said.

 

Here's what you can look forward to as a result of the Fed's latest move:

 

One study finds college students less empathetic, but other studies disagree. Maybe their elders are just curmudgeons.

By Teresa Mears Jun 15, 2010 3:11PM
As if there weren't enough slamming of Generation Y as self-centered slackers, here comes another study that shows that today's college students are 40% less empathetic than the generations before them.

 

"Many people see the current group of college students -- sometimes called 'Generation Me' -- as one of the most self-centered, narcissistic, competitive, confident and individualistic in recent history," said Sara Konrath, one of the researchers at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. Researchers there analyzed data on empathy among almost 14,000 college students over 30 years, and found the greatest drop after 2000.

 

We'd advise everyone to run for the nearest retirement (oops, active adult) community but we should probably point out that other studies have found the millennial generation to be MORE civic-minded.  Since one day they'll be paying our Social Security and leading our country, we need them to care.

 

The Gulf Coast comprises hundreds of miles of shoreline, and many areas remain largely unaffected.

By Karen Datko Jun 15, 2010 2:01PM

This Deal of the Daycomes fromKelli B. Grant at partner site SmartMoney.

 

It could be time for travelers who were planning to vacation along the Gulf Coast this summer to reassess.

 

BP has been struggling to contain oil flowing from one of its deepwater wellheads damaged in an April 20 drilling rig explosion. Nearly two months and numerous containment efforts later, the equivalent of 30,000-plus barrels of oil is still escaping daily, according to government estimates. Despite efforts to deflect it, some of that oil has reached beaches in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Slick shores and tar balls don't make for an idyllic vacation, but travelers shouldn't be too quick to cancel, says Anne Banas, executive editor for advice site SmarterTravel.com. The Gulf Coast comprises hundreds of miles of shoreline, and many areas remain largely unaffected.

 

All kinds of information about you can be purchased online. Here's how to opt out, if possible, and protect your privacy.

By Karen Datko Jun 15, 2010 12:32PM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.

 

Now that the Facebook privacy firestorm has, for the most part, eased up, people seem to be a little more concerned about Internet privacy. The scary thing is that of all the things that should worry you, Facebook probably has the least amount of information about you.

When it comes to personal information, who your friends are, what your hobbies are, and how many hours you spend on Farmville are the icing on the cake. The cake itself is made up of your actual personal details (name, address, age, Social Security number, e-mail addresses), your purchasing behavior (where you shop, when, and what you buy), your borrowing behavior (loans, credit cards), and other juicy bits.

 

You can buy a lot of that data from data brokers and marketers.

 

A New York company recently announced a plan to collect 1% of the sale price of a home each and every time it's sold for the next century.

By Stacy Johnson Jun 15, 2010 10:40AM

This post comes from Stacy Johnson at partner site Money Talks News.

 

Fee to use another bank's ATM: $2. Fee to check a bag when you fly: $35. Fee to the guy who built your house 50 years ago when you decide to sell? Outrageous.

Many consumers are rightfully upset at the explosion of charges they now face when doing anything from not using their credit card to getting water on an airplane.

 

Well, as the saying goes, "You ain't seen nothing yet."

 

A company called Freehold Capital Partners has introduced a plan that will put all other fees to shame: a 1% "transfer fee" split between Freehold and the developer of your house every time it's sold over the next 99 years. So if you sell your house for $300,000, you'll owe $3,000. And if 20 years later it's sold for $600,000, that seller will owe $6,000. And if 30 years later the house has fallen down but the lot is sold for $1 million, the developers and Freehold get another $10,000.

 

Blogger does the math on what it would cost to install and maintain a swimming pool -- $67 for each day it's used.

By Karen Datko Jun 15, 2010 9:54AM

This guest post comes from Darwin at Darwin's Finance.

 

It's that time of year again when the weather is nice and the pool parties are starting. We recently went to our first one of the year and, as always, my wife said, "Boy, the kids would love a pool. We have the room. Would it be crazy if we did a pool?"

 

In years past, I immediately replied that she was in fact crazy. More recently, though, I've started to at least give credence to the notion of either footing the bill for a new inground pool or perhaps even moving to a house that has a pool already.

 

There are some key hurdles I continue to struggle with, though, and it's clearly a mix of tangible costs and intangible costs and benefits.

 

What does a pool cost?

 

Taxpayer supports for homeowners are three times the bone that government throws to renters.

By Karen Datko Jun 15, 2010 7:09AM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.

 

Should nearly everybody be a homeowner? It's a discussion -- OK, argument -- going on in Washington, D.C., and at a lot of water coolers and dinner tables.

The National Association of Realtors, not surprisingly, is a big fan of widespread homeownership. The NAR website elaborates on the benefits, including "financial gain, stability, health benefits, benefits the children" and "social benefits."

 

Health benefits? The NAR doesn't explain.

 

Should they take anything they can get, or will future bosses hold a stint at Starbucks against them?

By Teresa Mears Jun 14, 2010 5:43PM

In a wry "Lament for the Class of 2010," Wall Street Journal writer Joe Queenan tells us the sad story of his son's friend, graduate of an Ivy League university with a degree in drama and music, who is working as an intern at a New York street fair for $250 a week.

 

Far from seeing this as a problem, we think Ivy League graduates SHOULD work at street fairs, Starbucks, McDonald's, etc., to learn something about the world from which they have been insulated all these years. Queenan warns these young graduates they'll have to work with people who believe in UFOs and play in REO Speedwagon tribute bands. We think they need that experience.

But stories about the difficulty 2010 graduates are having finding jobs raise an interesting question:

 

When should new graduates take a job, any job, rather than keep looking for the right job?

 

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