Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Debtors' prisons may have been outlawed in the 1800s, but residents of some states are being arrested over unpaid bills.

By Teresa Mears Jun 17, 2010 5:00PM

Deborah Poplawski was feeding a parking meter in downtown Minneapolis when city police pulled up, arrested her and took her off to jail. She was forced to change into jail-issue underwear and an orange uniform and sleep in a room with a dozen women, one of whom offered her drugs. She spent 25 hours in jail.


Her crime? She failed to pay $250 in credit card debt. 


Debtors' prisons were outlawed in the U.S. in the 1800s, but more debtors are being sent to jail through the efforts of aggressive third-party debt collectors, who are using the courts and the police to collect old debt they bought for pennies on the dollar.


It was easier than I thought to dump cable and go online for all my television needs.

By Kim Peterson Jun 17, 2010 2:16PM

For as long as I can remember, I've paid for cable. But as the years have gone by, I found myself watching less and less of it while my monthly bill crept higher.

I was finally at the point where my family was paying $65 a month for cable -- just so my son could watch an hour of the Disney Channel each day. Wow, that was a pricey hour!

It didn't take me long to come up with a plan. First, call up Cox Communications and cancel. Resist urge to say nyah-nyah-nyah to polite customer service agent. That was the easy part. Then I had to get creative.


Or you could pay for the right to display your love for your team on an electronic plate.

By Karen Datko Jun 17, 2010 1:48PM

Here's where technology and California's hulking budget deficit may make a happy match. The Legislature there is considering a bill to study the benefits of selling advertising on electronic license plates.

The advertising or another message of the driver's choice would appear on a rear license plate only after the vehicle has stopped for four seconds. Otherwise, we'd have a new form of distracted driving: "Sorry, officer, I was mesmerized by the ad for the (strip club, cheeseburger and fries, Los Angeles Dodgers, etc.)"


The extra cost per month for driving to work is all about flexibility and saving time. How valuable is that to you?

By Karen Datko Jun 17, 2010 12:12PM

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


Aaron writes in:

I love your cost breakdowns when you calculate the real truth behind some financial choice. I've got one for you. Is it really cheaper to ride public transportation to work? I have a bus stop about a block from my house. For about $2 each way, I can use public transportation to get to work, which is about 15 miles away. But I have a car that gets about 28 miles per gallon and gas is about $3, so I'm breaking even to make the commute and I have a lot more flexibility. I just don't see how the numbers add up.

In the numbers you give above, you're neglecting a whole bunch of factors.


Think April 15 is taxing now? If you own a small business, you haven't seen anything yet.

By Stacy Johnson Jun 16, 2010 7:16PM

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


Laws as complex as the recently enacted 2,000-page health care reform bill often bring about unexpected consequences. Example? To help pay for health care, tucked inside it is a provision that will release a potential tidal wave of unwanted paperwork for businesses ranging from huge corporations to mom-and-pop shops.


You can be assured that the 'investor' has no intention of paying your lender a dime.

By Karen Datko Jun 16, 2010 6:56PM

This post comes from Mark Huffman at partner site


Foreclosures remain near record levels, causing an increasing number of desperate homeowners to grasp at straws. All too often, these straws are nothing more than cruel scams.

A growing trend in hard-hit areas like Florida, California and Nevada is the "rent-buy back" scheme. To someone about to lose his home to foreclosure, it sounds heaven-sent.


Here are 11 ways to keep cool near the water this summer for less.

By Karen Datko Jun 16, 2010 5:00PM

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


Sticking close to the air conditioner is one way to stay cool during the dog days of summer. Heading to the nearest pool, beach or water park can be even more satisfying -- and budget friendly, too.


The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center expects a summer of above-normal temperatures for states in the West and Southeast, as well as for Alaska. The service also predicts slightly below-normal temperatures for the Midwest.


Here’s how to beat the heat with cheap water access:


Do what you love, invest in yourself, and it's not all about money. Plus, we've got a few Father's Day deals.

By Teresa Mears Jun 16, 2010 2:02PM

We could give you one of those same old lists of what to buy your dad for Father's Day on Sunday, June 20, but does he really want another tie, tool or gadget? OK, maybe he wants a new iPhone 4G, but can you afford it, even if all your siblings chip in?


Once my father left his advertising job and quit wearing ties, I never knew what to get him. This year, he has sent out a note telling his children not to get him anything but he does have a whole list of chores he'd like done. Maybe your dad has a similar list. Or maybe he'd like to go out to dinner, golfing, fishing, to a movie or a ball game or over to your house for dinner.

My father, who doesn't want things that aren't useful, raised a daughter who refuses to buy things that aren't useful just because society says it's a gift-giving occasion. Tell society no! My father encouraged free-thinking, too.


When it comes to our attitudes about money and how we live our lives, many of us can thank (or blame) our fathers.



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.