Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Millions of people will overpay to file their taxes this year. Don't be one of them.

By Stacy Johnson Feb 8, 2010 11:09AM

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


Imagine owning a business where you charge people $50 to $200 to do something they could just as easily get totally free.


You would think such a business would be bankrupt in minutes, but you'd be wrong. Tax preparation and software services rake in hundreds of millions of dollars every year for tax help that could be had for nothing.


A poll is one thing, but what are your thoughts?

By Karen Datko Feb 8, 2010 9:24AM

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


On a recent Friday night, we had some good frugal fun. Kris and I got together with a group of my old high school friends to go bowling and eat pizza. It was just like the good ol’ days -- but with a bunch of grade-school children added to the mix.


Over pepperoni pizza and root beer, the conversation turned to the economy. I asked my brother Jeff how the family box factory is doing. “To be honest,” Jeff said, “we’re about to finish our best month since October 2008. And if you look at actual daily sales, this will be our best month since February 2008. It’s our best month in two years.”


“That’s great,” I said. “Maybe this means the economy has finally turned a corner.”


New voluntary program gives a bigger employee discount to those who meet certain health criteria.

By Karen Datko Feb 5, 2010 6:01PM

Upscale grocer Whole Foods has a new voluntary program to reward workers who don’t use nicotine and meet specific numbers for body mass index, blood pressure and cholesterol during in-store screenings. Have the right numbers, and you get up to 30% off stuff you buy at the store. Kinda fat? You’re stuck with the regular employee discount of 20%.


It’s no surprise that CEO John Mackey, who has already railed against government involvement in health care -- let the all-knowing corporations take care of that! -- is getting more heat.


Jezebel appeared to be the first to share the news: Anna North wrote, in part:


Pizza, wings and a chance to cover up men without pants.

By Teresa Mears Feb 5, 2010 1:42PM

We hear there is a big football game this weekend, which has inspired a number of Super Bowl food deals. Here is our Super Roundup of food freebies and deals, thanks to our friends at Cities on the Cheap and a few others.


The pizza deals we’ve written about before are in effect for the big game, including any pizza for $10 at Pizza Hut, any large pizza for $10 or extra large for $11.99 at Papa John’s, and two medium two-topping pizzas for $5.99 each at Domino’s.


Deciding among sales, discounts and deals isn't always about the price.

By Karen Datko Feb 5, 2010 12:31PM

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


A steep discount doesn’t mean a thing when the item or service you’re paying for isn’t worth that amount of money.


“Price is what you pay -- value is what you get,” says Steven Cohen, president of The Negotiation Skills Company, a Massachusetts-based for-hire consultancy that helps clients negotiate for better deals. Comparing prices is an important first step, but smart shoppers should ask four more questions, he says: Why do I want this? How much do I need it? Is there a more affordable or more appropriate alternative? What kind of value will I get?


Price and value intersected for me on a recent weekend at the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival in New York.


Do it right or pay the price.

By Donna_Freedman Feb 5, 2010 12:26PM
A tenant just moved out of the building I manage. He did a bunch of things wrong and it cost him, both literally and figuratively.

Things like: 

One of the frustrating things about money is that our goals are often years away.

By Karen Datko Feb 5, 2010 11:27AM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller


Wouldn't it be great if you could boil down into one simple goal everything you need to get your finances on the right track? Like what they call a swing-thought in golf, what one thing should we keep in the front of our minds when it comes to money?


The possible list may seem daunting. From retirement to mortgages and credit cards to insurance, our financial lives have become increasingly complicated over the last 20 years. So how can we possibly boil everything down to just one idea? Let me explain.


The company is taking a beating right now, but the recalled cars will likely regain value.

By Karen Datko Feb 4, 2010 7:59PM

Everyone we can think of who has had a Toyota loved that vehicle. We loved ours too -- a used four-cylinder 4Runner that took us places we’d never have gone without it, including a boulder-encrusted, switch-backing, cliff-hugging strip of dirt imitating a road in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico. (Our knuckles were white.)


Years later, when we sold that rig to a DIY mechanic type, we cried as it drove away.


So, like many who’ve considered Toyota a more-than-dependable brand, we’re amazed at its sudden fall from grace -- massive recalls for gas pedals and dangerous floor mats, and now concerns about brakes in the 2010 Prius. And we wonder, if you own one of the millions of recalled Toyotas, should you trade it in and buy a different vehicle? Clearly, other automakers are willing to deal.


Here’s what the experts say:



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.