What do marriage, the Army and car leasing have in common? All are much easier to get into than out of.
There are lots of things in life that are fairly simple to fall into, but much more complicated to extricate yourself from. Three examples? Marriage, the Army -- and a car lease.
When I started doing consumer news 20 years ago, there was basically no way to get out of a car lease: Either you paid it off (add up the total monthly payments remaining and send a check to the leasing company) or you ran an ad in the local paper on the off chance you'd find someone both willing and able to take over your payments.
Services offer regular delivery of socks and underwear to busy men. Sorry, women, no sock subscriptions for you.
We all know them, and perhaps we ARE them: men (and a few women) who search frantically through the drawer, trying to find two black socks that match and don't have holes in them. Yes, you meant to buy socks, but you forgot, and now THERE ARE NO PAIRS THAT MATCH.
Would you believe there's an app for that? Well, it's not exactly an app, but a sock subscription service that delivers a certain number of identical pairs of socks at specified intervals. If you really hate shopping, you can subscribe to underwear and T-shirt delivery, too.
Consumer groups are worried that banks are finding clever ways around new regulations designed to protect credit card customers.
In the wake of banking and financial reforms, banks -- including credit card lenders -- have regained their swagger. Profits are rising and financial institutions are aggressively seeking new customers.
It may be a good reason for consumers to display a certain amount of wariness in their dealing with credit card companies.
What often gets overlooked is that when the government gives a dollar to one person, it must take it from another.
Last week WalletPop broke the news that IRS data shows that some millionaires claimed unemployment benefits in 2008. Using the increasingly rare definition of millionaire as a person or household with more than $1 million in income, rather than net worth, it disclosed that according to IRS data (found here on Table 1.4) 2,840 returns showing more than a million in adjusted gross income reported some unemployment compensation.
So the secret is out. I certainly did not qualify as a millionaire under the income test in 2008, but, as I have previously confessed, using the commonplace net worth criteria I do clear the (lower) bar. And, if you must know, I drew unemployment benefits for pretty much the whole of 2008. Oh, the shame!
Textbook rentals have taken off. Here's how to decide when it's a good deal.
Going by the book for college textbook savings no longer requires buying the book. Students facing a hefty annual bill for books can save an average 30% to 50% by renting that required reading.
"This is the year of the textbook rental," says Charles Schmidt, a spokesman for the National Association of College Stores. About 1,500 of the trade group's more than 3,000 member stores will offer a rental program, up from 300 last year. That includes the 637 stores Barnes & Noble's college division operates nationwide.
Online rental companies are also reporting a spike. Comparison search site Cheap-Textbooks.com reports a 300% increase in book-rental orders compared with last year.
Just because you feel like a house doesn't mean you have to shop in the house department.
Recently, WC Porter shared three super ways to get by on a smaller budget when purchasing pregnancy duds. As someone who just gave birth to her fifth child, I've gotten pretty efficient with spending less for maternity wear.
Here are four clever tips you may not have known about.
New survey indicates some regions are more partial to new gadgets than others. Some are holding on to old technology.
- Bing: Favorite regional foods
In Massachusetts, it's baked beans, the Red Sox, Boston Harbor -- and e-readers like the Kindle and Nook.
Social media apps partner with businesses to offer discounts.
A vanilla cupcake with blueberry butter-cream frosting sealed the deal on Foursquare for New Yorker Twanna Hines. A blogger who writes about dating and relationships, Hines had already been using Foursquare, a social media app that asks people to "check in" on their phone each time they switch locations. Noting businesses people were frequenting, she would use the information as a way to alert followers to her picks for places to mix and mingle.
- Bing: Best cupcakes
When Hines walked into a local bakery, Butter Lane, a few months ago, she got a message upon checking into Foursquare. As one of the first 10 users to visit that day, she was entitled to a cupcake, gratis. Now, Hines is a Butter Lane regular -- both for the cupcakes and the offers the bakery gives her. "It's very rare that I don't go and get a free cupcake," she says.
Got a social media app? Look for a deal. Apps that track people's location are catching on, from Foursquare to Gowalla, to MyTown and Looptstar. In response, app companies are teaming up with retailers and other businesses to increase exposure for the apps and to win customer loyalties for both parties.
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
LATEST BLOG POSTS
If you worry about money after the streetlights come on, these actions may help you rest easier.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
BLOGS WE LIKE
MUST-SEE ON MSN
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'