Trade your stuff for free -- but watch out for flaky friends.
Admiring other people’s possessions isn't necessarily a bad thing -- especially if you can trade them for it.
I’ll admit to a slight shoe obsession, although it takes a deal to get me to indulge. (For example, stacking sales, coupon codes and a reward certificate at DSW recently netted me a $55 pair for just $18, a 67% discount.) Instead, I’ve decided to throw a swap party with five friends of the same size. Voila -- new-to-me shoes for free while clearing my closet of pairs I don't wear.
That kind of one-on-one and group swapping has thrived in the struggling economy as consumers look for ways to cut their budgets and still get the things they want. “It’s like Christmas,” says Darcy Cruwys, the founder of community swap site SwapMamas.com.
Watch out for the flake-out factor:
It's a way for those without bank accounts to get their tax refunds sooner.
Direct deposit of a tax refund is great news for some. You get your refund added to your checking account in about two weeks rather than the six to eight weeks it takes for a paper check refund. And you avoid the hassle of schlepping to your bank to deposit the refund check.
For those who do not have a checking account, however, the benefits of direct deposit are elusive. According to the FDIC, about 30 million U.S. households are underbanked or unbanked, so this is no small issue.
To make matters worse, those without bank accounts often turn to tax refund anticipation loans. These short-term loans come with extremely high interest rates, and are really no better than a payday loan. While they do give you access to your refund immediately, the fees can eat into a substantial portion of it. Fortunately, there is an extremely low-cost alternative -- having your tax refund deposited on a prepaid card.
Free matchmaking, pizza buffet and a chocolate-covered Peep are among the offerings this week.
Once again, it’s time for Friday food deals and freebies.
This week, we’ve got deals both edible and inedible, with some help from our friends at Cities on the Cheap.
If you’re feeling lonely and want to find love, you can join the free communication weekend from Chemistry, from Friday, March 26, through Sunday, March 28. During this promotion, you can take a free personality test and find out which types of people you match best with. My cats hope my true love doesn’t have a dog.
Newspaper provides online tool that explains what reform means to your coverage and your taxes.
“This tool estimates what it could mean for your health coverage and taxes based on your income, family size and current insurance status,” the Post says (and a hat tip to the Post's Michelle Singletary for pointing it out).
The tool asks whether you have insurance now and who provides it, your household size, your adjusted gross household income, and marital status.
We tried out a variety of scenarios, and here’s what we found.
Many readers of Cheap Healthy Good said they are vehemently opposed to a tax on food that is bad for us.
Last week, we discussed the prospect of a junk-food tax, a hypothetical federal tariff that would be placed on ostensibly unhealthy edibles like soda, pizza and more. Ideally, it would curb obesity and prompt buyers toward making healthier grocery choices. Probably, it would make a lot of people angry.
I asked readers their opinions of the potential tax.
Bundle spending data reveals where the boys (and girls) are.
In teaching his son to play hockey, Walter Gretzky often told little Wayne (not to be confused with Lil Wayne) to "skate to where the puck is going to be." That wisdom helped turn Wayne into the most prolific scorer in hockey history, and it's not bad advice when it comes to dating, either. Go where the girls (or the boys) are.
And where might that be? I decided to use Bundle's spending data to find out.
Spring training games can be affordable -- if you're able to snag tickets.
Travelers looking to see their favorite baseball team in action before opening day may strike out unless they’re willing to get a little creative.
Major league teams practicing in the Grapefruit (Florida) and Cactus (Arizona) spring training leagues wrap up by April 3. Fans hoping to book a last-minute trip must battle spring-break tourists for hotels and airfare. There’s also reduced availability for tickets thanks to avid fans who booked trips months in advance.
Reader wonders if having higher deductibles on her insurance won't cost her more in the long run.
One common, painful bill that we all face is the insurance bill. Whether you’re talking renters insurance, homeowners insurance, or automobile insurance, the bill feels painful because it’s not something we can often see the benefit of. It just comes in handy when something goes wrong.
One of the most common tactics you’ll see in cost-cutting articles is calling up your insurance company and requesting an increase in your deductible -- the amount you have to pay before the insurance kicks in.
On the surface, this works well. If you increase your deductible, your premiums (the amount you pay each month/quarter/year) will go down, meaning your insurance bills are lower. You can chip a hefty percentage from your insurance bill just by making this move.
One of my longtime readers, Jeanne, has been writing to me about insurance this week. She has considered doing this, but something is convincing her that it’s not the best move:
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.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
LATEST BLOG POSTS
The self-employed have several ways to save more for retirement in tax-advantaged accounts. Here are 3 of the most popular options.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
BLOGS WE LIKE
MUST-SEE ON MSN
- Video: Easy DIY smoked meats at home
A charcuterie master shares his process for cold-smoking meat at home.
- Jetpacks about to go mainstream
- Weird things covered by home insurance
- Bing: 70 percent of adults report 'digital eye strain'