Smart SpendingSmart Spending

The agency doesn't look kindly on the "taxes are voluntary" and other frivolous arguments against paying.

By Karen Datko Feb 18, 2010 12:49PM

This post comes from Mark Huffman at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

Now that we're well into another tax-filing season, the Internal Revenue Service is engaging in one of its annual rituals -- debunking the numerous, creative arguments citizens give as a reason they don't have to file a tax return.

With the rise of the Internet, these tax myths have gained new currency as they spread with lightning speed around the Web. The IRS says they are all bogus and that anyone who relies on them will end up in trouble.

 

For example, one argument claims that the law describes the tax system as "voluntary," and therefore no one really has to pay taxes.

 

New gadgets promise to enhance your workout. Are they worth the price?

By Karen Datko Feb 18, 2010 11:31AM

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

 

Has watching the 2010 Winter Olympics inspired you to get fit? New gadgets that coach couch potatoes to be more active can help, but only if you stick to a training schedule.

The latest fitness trackers promise to keep you motivated by helping you monitor the calories you’ve burned and the progress you’ve made toward fitness goals like losing weight, perfecting yoga poses or running a marathon. “Anything that gets people moving is a good thing,” says John Rowley, director of fitness at the American Institute of Healthcare & Fitness, an integrated wellness facility based in Raleigh, N.C. “These make it a little more fun and interactive.”

 

A writer who used to believe that every waiter deserved at least a minimal tip explains why he's changed his tune.

By Karen Datko Feb 18, 2010 10:35AM

This post comes from Trent Hamm at partner blog The Simple Dollar.

 

I don’t believe in the idea of a “minimum tip.”

 

There, I said it. It’s a big change from my previous belief on tipping.

 

A few weeks ago, my family and I ate at a restaurant where the service was extremely poor. We sat for 25 minutes waiting for our server (my wife was literally putting on her coat).

 

After we ordered, we spied our server sitting at a table with other restaurant employees (where the server had also been while we were waiting). We did not get our drinks until after our meal arrived and we had requested them again (to our server’s annoyance).

 

When the plates were being served, mine was bumped on the edge of the table, knocking a portion of my food off the plate onto the floor.

 

Please Rob Me points out how vulnerable you can be when using location-sharing services like Foursquare.

By Karen Datko Feb 17, 2010 9:50PM

We’re not really interested that you’ve just spent $1 on a double cheeseburger at Burger King (going to $1.19 in April, by the way) so we won’t be tracking you on Blippy. And we don’t really care where you are right now, so while you might be sharing your location with your social-networking friends, Foursquare isn’t for us.

 

But someone else might care and, a new Web site points out in a somewhat humorous way, that someone might be a burglar. “Please Rob Me mocks all of the Foursquare users that have told Twitter to automatically broadcast their whereabouts,” Chris Gaylord wrote at The Christian Science Monitor.

 

TechCrunch explains how Please Rob Me works:

 

Consumers continue to report that mortgage servicers are difficult to work with.

By Karen Datko Feb 17, 2010 7:13PM

This post comes from Mark Huffman at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

Under pressure from the Obama administration, Bank of America says it has stepped up its efforts to modify mortgages through the White House's Home Affordable Modification Program.

 

Bank of America now says more than 12,700 of its mortgage holders have a permanent Home Affordable modification, up from nearly 3,200 a month earlier. Another 13,700 permanent modifications are pending, meaning final modified loan terms have been approved and documents have been sent for the customers' signatures, which will be their final step to a completed modification.

 

A reading of the Federal Reserve regulations suggests the law won't do what you think it will.

By Karen Datko Feb 17, 2010 6:43PM

This guest post comes from Frank Curmudgeon at Bad Money Advice.

 

In some ways, the CARD Act of 2009 was everything health care reform was not. It enjoyed broad bipartisan support, passing the House and Senate by 361-64 and 90-5, respectively. It dealt with topics familiar to most Americans in simple terms. And it was refreshingly short, at only 33 pages.

 

A person might think that would make it a model for other legislation, an example of how effective government can be if reasonable people cast aside their partisan differences and write simple rules to make our lives better.

 

Then again, maybe not.

 

Music can affect our financial behavior, so don't take Lady Gaga shopping at Macy's. She could be helpful at Kroger.

By Teresa Mears Feb 17, 2010 3:57PM

We all know about the importance of the right music for workouts, the best music for a romantic evening and maybe even the most effective music to lull the baby (or yourself) to sleep. But who knew that music can make a difference in your financial life?

 

Numerous studies have linked music to spending behavior, writes Gina Roberts-Grey at CreditCards.com. “In fact, the kinds of music you listen to can impact your opinion of your finances, the likelihood you'll blow your budget at the grocery store and your approach to balancing your checkbook or paying credit card bills.”

Who knew?

 

So what kind of music is best for various times in one’s financial life?

 

Airline fees are on the rise, but there are ways to save money on tickets that you probably didn't know.

By Karen Datko Feb 17, 2010 1:13PM

This Deal of the Day comes from Elizabeth Trotta at partner site SmartMoney.

 

Newsflash: Flying isn’t cheap.

 

As airlines have come under greater pressure from elevated fuel prices and a decline in travel demand, many have rolled out new fees that only begin when you purchase your ticket. Depending on your carrier, bags, leg room and even pretzels could cost you a premium.

 

“Their most lucrative area, business travel, was hit hard -- instead of cutting people, businesses cut travel,” says Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.com, an airfare comparison shopping site. “They’re having to figure out other ways to make up shortfalls in revenue.”

 

Although you might feel nickel-and-dimed, roughly 20% of all flights would have empty seats if the carriers didn’t discount, Seaney says. That means there are opportunities for savvy shoppers. The key to saving on air travel is to understand a few basic rules.

 

DATA PROVIDERS

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

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.

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

TOOLS

More