Use surplus sweets in frugal, educational or even charitable ways.
Base your purchase on how much you gave away last year, plus one extra bag just in case. Then observe these steps:
- Save all receipts.
- Open one bag at a time.
- Hand the candy out yourself, one or two pieces per child.
- Return all unopened bags the next day.
Protect Your Identity Week offers free workshops, shredding, cellphone recycling and tips on keeping private info secure.
A recent survey shows that 64% of Americans fear the possibility of identity theft. There's a reason for that, especially if you use a smartphone.
"People often become complacent, particularly with their mobile devices," says Gail Cunningham, a spokeswoman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
Critical financial information is stored on many smartphones. Yet a startling 62% of Americans don't use password protection, according to the same survey, conducted for Protect Your Identity Week.
Fast-rising use of mobile devices -- smartphones outsold computers last year -- is the reason that "ID theft protection on the go" is the theme of this year's event, which takes place Oct. 20 to 27.
Parents are looking for deals long before Thanksgiving -- and worrying about their ability to pay. Use these tips to take charge of the holiday.
Holiday shopping behaviors are changing. A new survey from the RetailMeNot coupon website indicates that 39% of parents start their shopping before November.
Why so early? Because "deal-seeking behaviors have become more of the norm within the consumer purchase cycle," note the authors of a a white paper recently released by RMN.
In other words: Only amateurs pay retail.
According to "OctoNovemCember: Why an unsteady economy is causing consumers to search for deals long before Black Friday," merchants are responding to those deal-seeking behaviors. They're floating hot deals long before Thanksgiving, a practice the authors call "Christmas creep."
Do these über-early-bird sales allow shoppers to feel confident about their holiday spending?
Carving a pumpkin for the holiday? Salvage the seeds for a savory, frugal treat.
A couple of days ago, I visited a friend who'd bought a giant squash at the farmers' market. We wondered if its seeds could be roasted like pumpkin seeds.
A little olive oil, some Johnny's Seasoning Salt and about 15 minutes in the oven and we had our answer.
The seeds were crisp and airy and savory, completely addictive and completely frugal: The salvaged snack was made from something that would otherwise have been thrown away.
Extra income isn't always possible. Controlling your spending usually is. And why not try for both?
A blogger named Edward Antrobus recently took out after a popular PF belief: that it's always better to earn more than to spend less.
Maybe so. But is it always possible? And are the two mutually exclusive?
"Why not try to earn more and spend less? . . . Besides, if you don't take action to control your spending, then lifestyle inflation can easily eat up all your income gains, if not outpace them," Antrobus wrote in a post on his eponymous blog.
But that's not the only reason the self-described "personal finance contrarian" was feeling so cranky.
Costumes, décor and party snacks can be cheap-y as well as creepy.
Halloween isn't just for kids. Almost one-third of adults dress in costume each Oct. 31, according to a survey from Nextdoor, a private social network for neighborhoods. Nearly one-quarter of those surveyed believed that you're never too old for trick-or-treating.
Even when kids are involved, it's probably adults doing the spending. Here are 13 tips to make sure your budget stretches for all ages on All Hallows Eve.
A Kansas couple, ages 57 and 68, had $120k worth of credit-card bills. Despite his illness, they did the honorable thing.
"We were just living above our means," she says now. "All of a sudden I realized that we had more going out than we had coming in."
By the time she was 57 and her husband was 68 they were using credit cards to pay for everyday expenses like groceries and utilities. They had to: There was nothing left in checking after minimum payments were made on their credit cards.
Franny, a custodial services manager at Kansas State University, knew that they couldn't go on much longer. Declaring bankruptcy was not her first choice, though.
Builders say homes are likely to shrink. It's about time.
Kind of rules out a 4,000-square-foot, cathedral-ceilinged, giant-windowed McMansion, doesn't it? That's why nearly 75% of the builders predict that the average home will be 2,152 square feet by 2015.
That's not much smaller. But it's a start -- and it's about time.
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WHAT IS FRUGAL NATION?
Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.
ABOUT DONNA FREEDMAN
Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's complaint database highlights the worst problems people have with collectors.