Lenders are likely to issue fewer credit cards and charge more.
As interest rates and fees rise, Americans’ love affair with credit cards appears to be waning. Credit cards may be ready for a break-up, too.
Constrained by both Congress and the economy from some of their most profitable practices, banks are trying to figure out how to make money under the new conditions. Already, it seems, one result is going to be that fewer people will be able to get credit cards, and even those with good credit may find using those cards more expensive, The New York Times reports.
On a per-minute basis, you might find a cheaper option.
When you think of prepaid cell phones, what do you think of? If you’ve watched "The Wire" on HBO, a gritty drama about life in Baltimore, you associate them with drug dealers. If you were a fan of "The Sopranos," you knew they were good for avoiding wiretaps. If you haven't seen either, chances are you don’t associate them with anything.
Most people don't use prepaid cell phones because we naturally think to a nice buffet-type minute plan with a major carrier.
For our vacation to Europe, we used a pay as you go phone. We couldn't use our own phones since we didn’t have compatible technology but our friend lent us her old phone. We went to a local Orange store (a pay-as-you-go service company), bought a SIM card and loaded it up with some minutes.
The cost of the chip? Zero.
Recession-battered retailers have reduced inventories, making many must-haves hard to find.
If toys are on your Christmas shopping list, you might want to hit the stores now as many of the season's hottest items are already in short supply, The Associated Press reports.
Don't blame overeager parents and collectors. Retailers stung by the recession have cut inventories in anticipation of a repeat of last year's dismal shopping season.
The hot toys this year, according to the AP:
If you want the best bargains, you have to show up early.
The Kohl's Black Friday sale ad was leaked Sunday morning. There are a few standout deals buried in its whopping 64 pages -- mostly toy, jewelry and home items. Coupons, rebates and Kohl's cash make the deals even better.
As usual, all of the truly smoking deals are early bird specials, available only on Friday, Nov. 27, from the time the store opens at 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. (The ad does say some deals will be available online.) For every $50 you spend, you get $10 in "Kohl's cash" to use in the store the first week of December.
Here are some of the better bargains:
Facebook and MySpace games are rife with shady advertising, blogger says.
Trouble's brewing in FarmVille.
A small online firestorm was stirred up recently by technology blogger Michael Arrington at TechCrunch when he called out free Facebook and MySpace games for their deceptive advertising practices.
In the post "Scamville: The Social Gaming Ecosystem Of Hell," Arrington says games such as Mobsters and Farmville are raking in big bucks from ads that promise in-game currency in exchange for signing up for often dubious services. To make matters worse, the games that feature the most egregious scams have become the most popular with users, edging out games that don't feature such trickery.
Potluck dinner, minimal decor, early shopping can all help.
Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away. If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to start shopping and planning to make your holiday frugal as well as fun.
The Sunday newspaper fliers are filled with coupons for such items as chicken broth, butter and other ingredients for Thanksgiving cooking. Many grocery stores also are putting these items on sale, so keep an eye on store deals and look for good sale/coupon combos to really save.
Sweating the small stuff is good, but true savings come from making wise choices on big-ticket items.
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.
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.
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ABOUT SMART SPENDING
Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
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