Money Minute: Microsoft Releases Bug Fix; Rent Is Too Darn High

After a tense week of waiting by many computer users, Microsoft finally has a fix.

Many of us have been afraid to use Internet Explorer this week after a warning from Homeland Security, but now Microsoft (MSFT) is out with a fix for its Web browser. The company says most computers have automatic updates and the fix has been downloaded and installed without users having to do anything. Microsoft says the fix even applies to its outdated Windows XP software, which the company said it stopped supporting early last month. There are an estimated 300 million computers still using that platform.

The computer security firm FireEye (FEYE) says attacks against Internet Explorer have been aimed at government networks, as well as defense, finance and energy companies. It says the attacks seem to be coming from in or near China.

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%A growing number of people are spending way too much of their income on rent. According to RealtyTrac, many low income renters in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Miami spend as much as half of their income on rent. That's partly because rents have increased significantly in recent years, as fewer people buy their own homes -- while income has not kept pace with those rising costs. Many financial advisers say you should budget no more than 30 percent of income toward housing.

Here on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 22 points yesterday, retreating from Wednesday's record high. But the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rose 13 points, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) was virtually flat.

Finally, General Motors (GM) is back in bankruptcy court today. It wants the court to enforce a provision of its reorganization plan that would protect GM from class action lawsuits stemming from accidents that occurred before the plan took effect nearly five years ago. That would protect the company from suits stemming from the recall of 2.6 million cars this year due to defective ignition switches. But many potential plaintiffs object, saying the company committed fraud and should not be exempt from lawsuits.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

7 Simple Habits to Save a Pretty Penny (or $100)
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Money Minute: Microsoft Releases Bug Fix; Rent Is Too Darn High
Have you ever heard of the 30-day rule? As a frugal guy, this is one of my favorite rules in spending. If you’re about to spend any more than $20 on something that is unnecessary, don’t. Instead, put the item down and wait 30 days to buy it. You’ll be amazed at how much money you save by not making unnecessary frivolous purchases.
I literally mean freeze your credit cards. It seems a bit extreme, but think of it this way. The average credit card comes with a 13 percent or higher interest rate. By simply not using credit cards as often, you’ll save a ton. So, get a plastic sandwich bag and put your credit cards in it. Fill it with water, zip it up and throw it in the freezer. Without easy access to those tempting pieces of plastic, you probably won’t use them as much. However, they’ll still be around -- in an emergency, you can retrieve them from the ice.
Have you ever looked around your house, seen a few items and thought, “I could have made that!” You probably could have. The only thing is, you didn’t. Instead you paid for it. From now on, before you buy something you think you can make on your own, give it a shot. I saved a little over a hundred bucks about two weeks ago. I needed a new bird cage for my fiancé’s doves. Instead of buying a cage for $200, I made one that was far bigger for less than $80.
Did you know that a clean air filter in your car can lead to 7 percent more fuel efficiency? That means at current gas prices, with a clean air filter, you’ll save about $100 a year, if you drive the average 10,000 miles.
How often on the way home from the office do you want to stop for a convenient quick meal? You’ve had a long day, and it feels justified. But it costs much more than a home-cooked meal. The answer is your slow cooker. Use it to prepare your meal in the morning on days you know will be rough. This way, you can skip the fast food and rush home to an already ready home-cooked meal.

Do you pay a maintenance fee for your bank account? Why? Tons of banks offer checking and savings accounts without them. Look to your local credit union or even switch to an online bank. When comparing your options, also look at the interest you can earn. Currently, I get about 3 percent on checking and about 3.4 percent on savings, but who knows what kind of great deals you can find?

I’ve had tons of options to sign up for customer rewards programs and I was just too busy. So, I didn’t sign up. Then one day, I realized that I was paying for rewards I wasn’t getting. The cost of the rewards obviously trickles down to the end consumer. So, if the end consumer doesn’t take part, he or she loses money in the process. Since I’ve signed up for every reward program around me, I’ve saved at least 20 or 30 bucks a month in rewards.

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