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My room in downtown Chicago was clean, convenient and cheap. So what if I had to share it?

By Donna_Freedman Nov 19, 2010 10:32AM

Last week I attended a conference in Chicago, a city where I used to live and where I still know a couple of folks. The classy hotel where the conference took place offered a "special" rate of $209 a night to anyone who wanted to stay and sightsee. That was a little too special for me, but I did want to stick around.

Years ago I used to drive past the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Hostel in downtown Chicago and wonder what it would be like to stay there.


Now I know: Clean, convenient and cheap.


About a third of fatal crashes will involve a driver who has been drinking.

By Karen Datko Nov 18, 2010 4:34PM

This post comes from partner site


The holidays are a deadly time to be on the road. Every year, hundreds of Americans die as a result of alcohol-related car crashes.

If this year's statistics reflect those of years past, more than 400 people will die Thanksgiving weekend -- many of them as a result of being involved in an alcohol-related car crash. 

There's a growing movement to shop local in the days between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

By Karen Datko Nov 18, 2010 3:18PM

This post comes from Melinda Fulmer of MSN Money.


You've heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But what about that weekend sandwiched in between? Now, for the first time, marketers have a name for it -- Small Business Saturday.


American Express, Yelp and a dozen nonprofits and advocacy groups have teamed up to push shopping on Main Street rather than at the mall or behind your computer that weekend between Saturday and noon on Sunday.


Be prepared for revised return policies, restocking fees and gift card gotchas. Plus, some holiday tipping tips.

By Karen Datko Nov 18, 2010 2:43PM

This post comes from James Limbach at partner site


If you haven't started your holiday shopping in earnest yet, you're probably about to. And you know that finding the right gift at the right price can be challenging -- especially when deep discounts and doorbuster sales abound. 

The latest issue of Consumer Reports highlights five traps holiday shoppers can avoid. "Knowing how to navigate sales, comparison shop, and cut through salespeople jargon is half the battle to stress-free holiday shopping," said Tod Marks, senior editor at CR. "Shoppers need to take precautionary measures before purchasing gifts to make sure they are getting the right product, for the right price, with no strings attached."


The traps

Deep discount come-ons. Doorbuster sales promise big savings, and not just on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, when shoppers go online.


If you're shopping for that special baby this holiday season, you might want to cross educational DVDs off your list.

By Stacy Johnson Nov 18, 2010 12:52PM

This post comes from Brandon Ballenger at partner site Money Talks News.


New parents are always looking for ways to make sure their child is smart from the start. A whole industry has grown up around the idea, promising to do just that. It seems like a new -- and expensive -- generation of educational books, movies, games and toys comes out every year.

But at least part of that industry seems to be misleading parents with its marketing, according to a new scientific study conducted at the University of Virginia.


Credit card issuers and stores are offering special rewards programs for the holidays.

By Karen Datko Nov 18, 2010 11:54AM

This Deal of the Day comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site SmartMoney.


During November and December, consumers are expected to buy $447 billion worth of holiday gifts. That's a 2.3% increase over last year and, if each dollar generates a single rewards point, enough to cover more than 17 million free plane tickets, $28 million in cash back or a whopping $4.4 billion in store credit.

This holiday season, stores and credit card issuers have rolled out temporary reward bonus programs that, in concert, can generate meaningful savings.


Her parents supported her family while her husband pursued various business opportunities.

By Karen Datko Nov 18, 2010 10:22AM

This post comes from Trent Hamm at partner blog The Simple Dollar.


Recently, I had a long e-mail exchange with a reader who asked me not to reprint her story, but gave me permission to discuss it in general terms.


The reader -- let's call her Annie -- is 38 years old. For almost all of her adult life, she was a stay-at-home mom while her husband tried to start several businesses, failing each time.

Yet, they not only survived but thrived, thanks to a large amount given to them each month by her parents, who were exceptionally well off.


It wouldn't be the same financial boon to airlines as luggage fees, but it'd make your travel quicker and easier.

By Money Staff Nov 17, 2010 6:46PM

This post comes from MSN Money's Liz Pulliam Weston.


In some ways, air travelers' experiences are far better than in the past.


Airlines are less likely to bump you or lose your luggage and more likely to stick to their schedule than in previous years, according to U.S. Department of Transportation reports. And thanks to hefty new fines, you probably won’t get stuck on the tarmac for hours with overflowing toilets and no food.

But most airlines still make travel unnecessarily annoying because of their absolutely backward approach to luggage fees.



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