Trying to find the right holiday gift for someone who has everything? Consider a gift that helps a worthy cause.
First, the bad news: Even rich people are feeling the pinch in this recession -- and the poor are paying for it. Charitable donations are down more than a third among the wealthiest Americans.
In 2009, nearly all -- 98.2% -- of Americans with a net worth above $1 million gave to charity. But the amount of their giving dropped significantly from just two years earlier. After adjusting for inflation, average charitable giving by millionaires plummeted 34.9%, from $83,000 to $54,000.
"Charitable giving follows the overall economy," said Una Osili, director of research for the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, which conducted the 2010 Bank of America Merrill Lynch Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy (.pdf file). "When economic conditions improve, charitable giving improves as well."
But average Americans may be picking up the slack. A new survey by Christian relief agency World Vision found that 51% of Americans said they'd be more likely to give a charitable gift -- a gift that benefits a charity -- as a holiday present this year.
Think inside the box and put used cardboard back to work.
Cardboard boxes are part of our visual vernacular -- trash to shopkeepers, treasure to eBay sellers, an annoyance to blade-wielding stock boys (and girls) around the world. Whether we're breaking them down or taping them back together, we are awash in a sea of these multisized corrugated work horses.
The list below is a love letter to the cardboard box -- 30 tips to reinterpret, reinvent and reuse it either temporarily or permanently. Take some tongue-in-cheek, take some to heart, and the next time you can -- take a few home from the curb.
The hard drive holds images of copied documents, and they could end up in the wrong hands.
When potential exposure to identity theft comes to mind, how often do you think about the office copy machine?
Don't feel bad. A survey by Sharp Document Solutions some time back found that 54% of consumers didn't know that many copy machines have a hard drive that stores photocopied documents. Think payroll information, Social Security numbers, medical records -- important stuff that in the wrong hands can lead to ID theft.
Whether you're fond of real or fake fir, here's what you need to know about finding the right Christmas tree.
Nothing says holidays like a Christmas tree. If you haven't picked one yet, here are some quick tips to buy it right. If you have purchased a tree, we also have tips to keep it fresh through New Year's.
When I was a boy growing up outside Atlanta, for several years my father bought live Christmas trees, then planted them in the yard after the holiday. Both my youth and my father are now gone, but those trees remain.
Airlines and airports see a chance to make money by increasing liquor sales. Will we get stuck in the air with rowdy drunks?
We've written a lot about how airlines and airports are giving us less and less, while charging more fees.
Here's something they're giving us more of (besides scrutiny): alcohol, or at least opportunities to buy it.
That's right: Airlines and airports are making more alcoholic drinks available, USA Today reports.
The celebrity sisters end their relationship with a prepaid card criticized for high fees. There are still plenty of those cards out there.
The Kardashian card is over.
Let this be a lesson to consumers: Don't listen to financial advice from people whose main claim to fame is being famous. You can bet Kim, Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian, known for their "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" reality show on the E! network, didn't get rich using prepaid cards larded with fees, as theirs was.
We're happy to report that most consumers ignored the Kardashian card. Only about 250 were sold. The card's launch less than a month ago was followed by a wave of publicity over what a bad deal the Kardashian card was for consumers. The publicity caused the Kardashian sisters to end their relationship with the card, issued by MasterCard and University Bank of St. Paul, Minn.
You have to make the decision based on how it helps you and your family.
A lot of people are "underwater" on their mortgages -- that is, the value of their home is below the amount they still owe on their mortgage. Other people simply can no longer afford their monthly mortgage payments.
Regardless of the reasons, some homeowners are considering walking away from their home and their mortgage, and it's important to understand what the actual costs are going to be.
Why you should walk:
- It's simple math.
People are not good at multitasking, and that includes members of the Millennial generation.
Our minds spend 46.9% of the time wandering.
That's according to a new study by Harvard psychologists Dan Gilbert and Matthew Killingsworth. The two developed an iPhone app that asked 2,250 volunteers at random intervals what they were doing, how happy they were, and whether they were thinking about the task at hand or something else that was pleasant, neutral or unpleasant.
Of the 22 activities that the app let them choose from --including walking, eating, and watching TV -- the volunteers' minds were not focused on their present tasks no less than 30% of the time for every activity but having sex.
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