Money Minute: Networks Fined for Movie Ad; Retirement Plans Now Feasible?

"This is not a test" -- a warning that draws a big fine from regulators.

In an effort to promote the movie thriller "Olympus Has Fallen," media companies played a 30 second commercial last year showing the White House under siege, with the fake warning: "This is not a test." But the Federal Communications Commission says Comcast (CMCSA) (CMCSK), Viacom (VIA) and Walt Disney (DIS) violated federal law by improperly using the emergency alert system. The three companies were fined a total of nearly $2 million.

Workers are becoming a little bit more optimistic that they will be able to retire after all. A CareerBuilder survey finds half of all workers age 60 and above expect to be able to retire within four years. That's a slight improvement from a year ago. And fewer people say they are delaying retirement, but 10 percent still doubt they'll ever be able to retire. One reason for the improvement is that many workers have seen the value of their retirement accounts increase.

Prices for several key commodities are soaring on concerns about the turmoil in Ukraine -- everything from copper to corn and wheat. %VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Ukraine is one of the world's biggest grain exporters, and shipments could be disrupted. Exports from Russia could also slow, and in the short run that could benefit U.S. farmers if they can pick up the slack.

Stocks could rebound today as Russia withdraws troops from the Ukraine border.

Here on Wall Street Monday, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 153 points, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) fell 13, and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) lost 30 points.

Free checking is becoming an endangered species. Bankrate (RATE) reports just 38 percent of banks offer free checking. That's down from 65 percent just four years ago. Bankrate says the good news is that nearly 3 out of 4 credit unions still offer free checking, no strings attached.

Finally, banks are scrambling to protect their ATMs from hackers. According to CNNMoney, 95 percent of all ATMs run on Windows XP, but Microsoft (MSFT) will stop supporting the 13-year old software system next month. That could leave it vulnerable to hackers.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

8 Foolproof Ways to Grow Your Savings
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Money Minute: Networks Fined for Movie Ad; Retirement Plans Now Feasible?

This is my personal favorite! Think of yourself as a regular monthly bill you have to pay. All you have to do is arrange to have a set amount of money directly deposited from your paycheck into a savings account each month.

I recommend using a separate savings account because if you have access to your funds in your checking account, you're more likely to spend them. Again, it might hurt a bit at first to take home a little less every month, but trust me, after a while you won't even notice it's gone. Here's a moment when the "set it and forget it" strategy works wonders.

It feels great to be rewarded for your hard work. And it feels even better to spend that hard-earned bonus on something you’ll enjoy, like a trip to France or an iPad. At the same time, the pleasure of a vacation or new gadget is short-lived compared to financial security.

So make a pact with yourself to put every bonus you get from here on out to good use. If you direct 90 percent of your bonuses straight into your savings account as a rule, you’ll still have 10 percent to treat yourself with (plus the comfort of knowing that you're building a well-earned safety net). I live by this rule.

OK, OK, this seems like an obvious one -- and easier said than done. Actually, most people spend money on more unnecessary items than they think. So take time to look at where your money is going in detail and begin to cut back. Saving $10 here and there could help you put a lot away in the long run.
Many banks offer seasonal accounts meant to save for holidays like Christmas. These accounts give you reduced access to your accounts, charging a hefty penalty each time you withdraw more than permitted. Since emergencies don't occur often, a seasonal account could make sure you're touching it only when needed (just make sure you're not tempted to blow it all on Christmas gifts).
I love this one. Chalk it up to my massive craving for organization, but I'm all about getting rid of things I no longer use. Rather than throwing these unused goods away, start selling them, and put that money into your emergency fund. All you need to do is post them to a site like eBay or Craigslist or Amazon and you can get rid of items from the comfort of your home. You can also take your clothes to a consignment shop to have them sold for you.
Instead of saving your pennies, put aside any $5 bills that come your way. Never spend a $5 bill again, and you'll be surprised by how quickly this silly trick will help you come up with a few hundred dollars to add to an emergency fund.
You could pick up odd jobs via websites like,,, or
If you get a cash-back reward for any spending on your credit card, just make it a rule that those dollars will be dedicated to your freedom fund. It may only add up to $100 extra each year, depending on your spending, but every little bit counts.
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