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Sweating the small stuff is good, but true savings come from making wise choices on big-ticket items.

By MSN Money producer Nov 9, 2009 2:27PM

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

Last winter, my wife and I re-financed our mortgage. In one fell swoop, we trimmed our monthly payments for principal and interest from $1,386 to $1,137, boosting our cash flow by $249 per month.

If we had consumer debt, that's $249 per month we have could used for our debt snowball. It’s $249 per month we could stick in our retirement accounts, or to put into savings accounts for our trip to France next year -- or to pursue other hobbies and interests. Really, it's $249 we could use for anything we wanted. (As it happens, we chose to use that money to accelerate our mortgage payments.)

There's no question that frugality is an important part of personal finance. It's good to clip coupons and to mend broken furniture and to turn the thermostat down. But it's even better to shop around for the best deal on a mortgage. Everyday frugality can save you a little money consistently, but by making smart choices on big-ticket items, you can save thousands of dollars in one blow. Or you can boost your cash flow by hundreds of dollars per month.


Taxing sugary drinks might improve the nation's health, supporters say.

By MSN Money producer Nov 9, 2009 2:25PM

This guest post comes from Andrea at Fools and Sages.

Politicians are tossing around a few ideas to help pay for health care reform, and one of the possibilities is to create a sin tax on sugary beverages.


Supporters point to obesity rates and the success of such taxes (and strong public awareness campaigns) in reducing smoking rates. Detractors say that the government should stay out of the nanny business, and that it would be a regressive tax, unfairly impacting lower-income Americans.


Expect to see more recycled gifts under the tree this year, survey finds.

By Kim Peterson Nov 9, 2009 12:50PM
Santa on a budget © 2008 MSN MoneyI have an brand new Nescafe Dolce Gusto machine sitting in the garage, a beautiful gift from a friend. But I already have a Keurig coffee maker, so I've decided to give the Dolce Gusto to my coffee-lovin' dad for Christmas.

Do I feel guilty about regifting? A little. But my dad won't care. And my friend probably won't either. It's going to a good home. And, I admit, I am relieved at having one less present to buy this holiday.

More Americans are doing the same thing, a new survey shows. About 36% of us plan to recycle a gift this year, up from 31% last year and 24% in 2007, according to Consumer Reports. 

A study shows that four different types have emerged from the Great Recession.

By Karen Datko Nov 6, 2009 7:54PM

This post comes from James Limbach at partner site


One fact often ignored in the current debate on the lasting effects of the recession is the wide variation in the way American consumers are dealing with the downturn.

A new study -- "Marketing to the Post-Recession Consumers" -- by the marketing strategy and research firm Decitica has identified four distinct consumer segments emerging from the recession:

  • Steadfast Frugalists
  • Involuntary Penny Pinchers
  • Pragmatic Spenders
  • Apathetic Materialists

How does applying for a balance-transfer card affect your credit rating?

By Karen Datko Nov 6, 2009 3:28PM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.


About two weeks ago, I signed up for Equifax's free trial of Score Watch. With Score Watch, you get your three credit reports and your FICO credit score as reported by Equifax for free for 30 days (you do need to cancel the service before Day 30 to avoid paying for the Score Watch service). I had recently signed up for MyFICO's free credit score program, and I wanted to compare the two.

One thing I immediately noticed was just how many credit cards I have. Only one has a balance, which is from a 0% APR on balance transfers offer I took advantage of last December. But the reason I have so many cards is because of the many balance-transfer deals I've used over the years. And that got me to wondering whether applying for a balance-transfer offer will hurt your credit score.


Children can learn to make holiday gifts.

By Teresa Mears Nov 6, 2009 2:34PM

Ah, the idea of children making gifts for their friends and relatives for Christmas or Hanukkah. It sounds great, if they only knew how to make something. And if you’re not crafty yourself, it may be hard to teach them.


Several chain stores offer free crafts workshops for kids. Send your kids to the November and December workshops, and perhaps they can learn to make a few holiday gifts. Be sure to check with your local store in case the management has decided to deviate from the national schedule.

Some of those handmade gifts have staying power, too. I’m still using the recipe cards my little sister wrote out for me, in her child’s printing, when I left home 34 years ago.


Here are some places where your children can learn a few crafts:


Veterans and military personnel honored with free meals, discounts.

By Teresa Mears Nov 6, 2009 1:21PM

Wednesday, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day, when all Americans remember those who have served their country.


In our family, we remember my mother’s brother, who died in World War II, one nephew in Iraq and his brother who has just returned from Iraq. My father served in the Army, but he was lucky enough to serve in peacetime and have the job of booking entertainment for troops at Fort Knox, Ky. There he met my mother, who was a music teacher, and here I am.

In honor of Veterans Day, the National Park Service is offering free admission to all national parks for everyone on Wednesday. Other federal agencies also are offering free entry to public lands. The Park Service also has information on sites tied to the nation’s military history, and some parks plan special events.


Several stores and restaurants are offering special deals to veterans:


If you're not hungry, get free family portraits and visit a museum.

By Teresa Mears Nov 6, 2009 12:09PM

It’s time to celebrate Friday with a few freebies and food deals.


If you don’t like these choices, has its $25 gift certificates, good at local restaurants, for $3 each until Nov. 9 with promo code DINE. Be sure to read the fine print before you choose a restaurant because some of the coupons require minimum purchases, are good for dinner only or have other limits.

Remember that not all local restaurants participate in all national promotions. If you have doubts, call ahead.


Here are the latest food deals, courtesy of our friends at Cities on the Cheap:



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