Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Consumers stay on the sidelines, expecting rates to remain low and housing prices to fall further.

By Teresa Mears Aug 12, 2010 1:00PM

It's Thursday, and that means it's time for another story reporting that mortgage rates have dropped to record lows, for the seventh time this year -- so far. But, despite the lowest rates most of us have seen in our lifetimes, people are not rushing to refinance or buy homes.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.44% this week, the lowest since Freddie Mac began keeping records in 1971. That's down from 4.49% last week and from 5.19% a year ago. The rate is the lowest recorded since 1953, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, when loan terms were shorter.


Wells Fargo is ordered to return $200 million in overdraft fees a federal judge says were obtained through deceptive manipulation.

By Karen Datko Aug 12, 2010 12:21PM

This post comes from Jon Hood at partner site


A federal judge has ordered Wells Fargo to shell out more than $200 million in restitution to California customers for "massive" overdraft fees.

In a spirited 90-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup wrote that "Wells Fargo has devised a bookkeeping device to turn what would ordinarily be one overdraft into as many as 10 overdrafts, thereby dramatically multiplying the number of fees the bank can extract from a single mistake."


Line add-ons and phone requirements make it tough to get a good deal.

By Karen Datko Aug 12, 2010 10:37AM

This Deal of the Daycomes fromKelli B. Grantat partner site SmartMoney.


Cell phones have joined the ranks of back-to-school necessities, and if it seems like the family cell phone bill gets pricier each year, it's not your imagination.

Sprintrecently notified account holders on family plans that it will no longer extend employee discounts to additional phone lines or add-on services priced at less than $30.


Which little expenditures really brighten your life and which ones can you put on the chopping block?

By Karen Datko Aug 12, 2010 9:11AM

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


The other day, I had a conversation with an Associated Press reporter who was writing a story about teaching children how to be frugal. The discussion wound through several topics, eventually coming back to the idea that many people (for example, Ramit) do not like frugality because it doesn't give you the "big win" and that people don't like giving up things like lattes.


She gave herself as an example of this. She lives in a small apartment in a major metropolitan area, which means that in order to entertain friends she has to do it outside the apartment.


My response to her was simple:


Leaving a pet at home can be as expensive as traveling with one. How to decide.

By Karen Datko Aug 11, 2010 6:21PM

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


Pet owners planning a trip face a tough decision: leave their four-legged friend at home, or bring him along. Either choice is expensive and potentially dangerous.


Last week, seven puppies died in the cargo hold of an American Airlines plane heading from Tulsa, Okla., to Chicago. The airline says it is investigating possible causes, including pre-existing health conditions and heat stroke.


The American incident was not an isolated one.


Jamba Juice takes a shot at McDonald's with 'cheeseburger smoothie' video. It's taking McDonald's coupons, too.

By Teresa Mears Aug 11, 2010 3:50PM

It's the Great Smoothie War of 2010.


At least there are coupons involved.


Jamba Juice has taken exception to McDonald's entry into what it considers Jamba Juice turf: real fruit smoothies.


McDonald's introduced the smoothies last month and spread around some coupons, though a planned giveaway was canceled. Diners apparently are responding warmly to the cool smoothies and iced frappes; McDonald's July sales posted the biggest increase in more than a year.

But Jamba Juice is not taking McDonald's smoothie success lying down. In fact, it has created a tongue-in-cheek video in which it introduces its "Cheeseburger Chill" smoothie. The video isn't really all that funny, but it does reward viewers with a coupon. Post continues after video.


The fed-up flight attendant's heated departure was a blaze of glory to some folks, but such bold antics can backfire.

By Karen Datko Aug 11, 2010 1:36PM

Flight attendant Steven Slater is a hero to many people. But, we have to wonder, would anyone have cared about his "take this job . . . " moment before airlines turned planes into cattle cars and Wall Street nearly blew up the economy?

And, more important for him, does Slater have any job prospects now that he "fired the 'I Quit!' shot heard round the world"? You can't survive on compliments, even if the way you quit your job enters the popular lexicon. MSNBC writer Allison Linn referred to it as "pulling a Steven Slater." "Hit the slide," The Washington Post reports, is now in the Urban Dictionary: "To quit one's job in a truly stunning fashion."


For those of you who missed the news, here's Slater's bizarre story (post continues after video):


Does it make more sense to buy or rent a home where you live? Three websites help provide answers.

By Karen Datko Aug 11, 2010 11:12AM

This post comes from Little House at partner blog Wise Bread.


I recently made the decision to continue renting as opposed to rushing into homeownership. Of course, my ultimate goal is to own my own home and I've been tenaciously working toward this goal for more than a year.

However, the more I research renting versus purchasing a home, the more resources I find that confirm I've made the right choice.



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.