Smart SpendingSmart Spending

In real life, jail is not a safe harbor, and bankruptcy is not the end of the road.

By Karen Datko Jun 22, 2010 11:17AM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


When it comes to games, Monopoly is probably one of the most iconic. While I haven't played Monopoly in years, the game and its rules are still fresh in my mind. Nowadays the board games we play are slightly more complicated than Monopoly -- games like Settlers of Catan or Dominion -- but Monopoly still holds a special place in my heart.

If, however, you were to look at the game itself and compare it to real life, you'd find a lot of differences. Some of the differences are inconsequential: The prices for properties ($400? $120?) reflect both an earlier time and a need to improve playability (no sense having people count out $50,000 in increments of $500, a bill that doesn't even exist). Others are more subtle and, if a child were to use Monopoly as a proxy for the real world, really misrepresent the world.


They are, in short, lies.


If you have a debit card, the cost for using it is likely to drop -- for your local merchant.

By Stacy Johnson Jun 22, 2010 9:50AM

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


Wall Street reform is coming -- and a compromise has been reached regarding one of its most hard-fought provisions.


Negotiators from the House and Senate have agreed to allow the Federal Reserve to regulate fees for debit card transactions. The fees, known as "swipe" or interchange fees, are paid by merchants in exchange for accepting debit cards. 


Credit card swipe fees will remain unregulated.


A survey by identifies readers' thoughts on the rudest flight attendants and other flight-related topics.

By Karen Datko Jun 21, 2010 5:22PM

There's nothing scientific about reader polls, but sometimes the results can be quite satisfying. Take Airfarewatchdog's first -- and they hope annual -- subscriber poll. We appreciated the sentiments behind this finding:

83% of respondents have traveled with children in the past 12 months; however, 68% think there should be a separate section of the plane for passengers traveling with kids.

And what if little Johnny is incessantly kicking the back of your seat?


Proceeds from a class-action settlement could be sitting in your account.

By Karen Datko Jun 21, 2010 4:06PM

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


Current and former users of travel booking site might have a little extra in their site accounts.


As part of a class-action lawsuit settlement, Expedia paid out $123.4 million in cash and site credits earlier this month. The lawsuit, filed in 2005 and settled in 2009, alleged that the company's bundled tax and service fees were excessive and that bundling the charges unfairly prevented consumers from assessing the amount and nature of individual fees. Expedia denies any wrongdoing. (Expedia responded by directing SmartMoney to its public filings on the lawsuit. Seattle firm Hagens Berman, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of consumers, did not return calls for comment.)


So, what's in it for travelers?


People who lose their jobs today don't get a 65% government subsidy for their COBRA health insurance payments.

By Stacy Johnson Jun 21, 2010 3:20PM

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


If you lost your job on May 31, Uncle Sam will pay 65% of your COBRA health insurance bill for up to 15 months. But if you lost it on June 1, you're on your own.


The 65% subsidy was part of the $787 billion stimulus legislation passed in 2009. The subsidy was originally slated to last nine months, but was later increased to 15 months. It applied to those who lost their jobs between Sept. 1, 2008, and May 31, 2010. There was talk of extending the benefit until the end of 2010, but Congress ultimately concluded the nation couldn't afford the additional $7.8 billion it would have cost.


If you build it yourself, a cat enclosure can be an inexpensive way to keep your felines happy. And you want to keep them happy.

By Teresa Mears Jun 21, 2010 1:39PM

We could dismiss the latest "catio" craze story in The New York Times as just another waste of money on pets.


Except that we have cats. And we have a catio of sorts, a small screened porch built by the previous owner for humans. Living in a small space with cats, we can't tell you how valuable that tiny porch is. But the felines really want a bigger one.


While you can spend hundreds of dollars on ready-made cat enclosures or kits to create them, you can build your own catio using common, inexpensive materials.


Chains are offering free games to children, and some offer cheap games to adults who come along.

By Teresa Mears Jun 21, 2010 12:04PM

Are your kids already driving you crazy with wails of "I'm SO bored"? And summer has just started.


We suggest you meet those laments with a list of household chores that need doing, and your kids are likely to find something wildly interesting to do within minutes.

Maybe you can send them bowling. Several chains are offering "kids bowl free" summer promotions.


He's ashamed to admit that over the past few months, his personal finances have come to resemble his unkempt, neglected yard.

By Karen Datko Jun 21, 2010 10:25AM

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


I had a great weekend. In fact, it was probably one of the best weekends I've had in years. I spent all day Saturday and Sunday doing chores. (Well, I watched the World Cup a little, too.) I spent nearly 16 hours doing yardwork, and I loved every minute of it.


This passion for pruning may seem strange to you, but it seems even stranger to me. I generally don't like yardwork. But here's the thing: When we bought this house in 2004, I was fairly diligent about performing routine maintenance. I pruned the hedges, mowed the lawn, cleaned the gutters, and did dozens of other little things to make sure the house and yard remained at peak form.


For several years, I stayed on top of things around Rosings Park (which is what we call our two-thirds of an acre). But about two years ago -- just as Get Rich Slowly began to take over my life -- I let things slide.



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.