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When times get tough, people tend to shift their giving toward groups that provide basic needs.

By Karen Datko Nov 2, 2010 10:24AM

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


Whether Americans are moved by the holiday spirit or just doing some last-ditch tax planning, the charitable-giving season starts now.

But with budgets tight, it's important to get the most out of your gift -- and you might get more mileage from your contribution by giving to smaller, local organizations, rather than to the big, brand-name charities.


Borrowing from your 401k or taking a hardship withdrawal will come with consequences.

By Karen Datko Nov 1, 2010 5:00PM

This post comes from Stacy Johnson at partner site Money Talks News.


The way things are going, the recession that's now officially over is still hurting people and may do so for decades to come.


And that's not just an opinion. A recent survey by SunLife Financial contained this depressing information:

Less than half of respondents (42%) are very confident that they will now be able to take care of basic living expenses in retirement, and only one in four have strong confidence that they will be able to take care of medical expenses. Just under 20% believe they will never fully rebuild from their financial losses.

One thing that might be contributing to the average worker's lack of gold for the golden years? The record number who have raided their 401k retirement accounts. 


The decision needs to be based on your goals and values, and on what brings you peace of mind.

By Karen Datko Nov 1, 2010 3:44PM

This post comes from J.D. Roth at partner blog Get Rich Slowly.


A Get Rich Slowly reader, Kristine, is trying to decide whether she should refinance her mortgage. Here's what she has to say:

I'm trying to decide if refinancing is the right choice for our family. We're living pretty tight right now and the idea of reducing our monthly payment is very tempting. I would love to be able to take the savings and put it toward retirement and possibly some other future goals. However, if we do that, then we'll be paying thousands of dollars extra in interest over the life of our mortgage.

Customers and bloggers have been complaining since August, but the retailer still hasn't solved the problem.

By Teresa Mears Nov 1, 2010 1:31PM

In a time when technology is sophisticated enough for advertisers to follow individual users from website to website with photos of a specific product, you'd think a major corporation would have long mastered the relatively simple technology of applying coupons at checkout.

But coupon users who shop at Target have been complaining for months that the retailer's registers don't calculate their savings correctly. And, while the company acknowledges the problem, it still doesn't have a solution.


Where she works, the customer is always right, and the employees are expendable.

By Karen Datko Nov 1, 2010 12:12PM

This guest post comes from I am the working poor.


Working with the public is always an adventure. You never know what the attitude of the day will be. Large corporations usually work hard to please all of their customers to keep a steady customer base. Some companies become overzealous in trying to make all customers happy at any cost.


I work for an overzealous company.


Nationwide program buys back Halloween candy and sends it to U.S. troops overseas.

By Teresa Mears Nov 1, 2010 10:57AM

It's the morning after, and reality has set in: What ARE you going to do with all that Halloween candy your kids brought home last night?


You certainly don't want them to eat that much candy. You can help out, of course, but it's way too early in the holiday season to sabotage your diet.


Your dentist may be able to help.


Dentists and orthodontists nationwide are paying $1 per pound for Halloween candy, which they will donate to troops overseas. Dates for this year's Halloween Candy Buyback vary by dentist. Some are collecting the candy today, Nov. 1, and others will be collecting all week. Some offices are scheduling special events, and lucky kids may even get a toothbrush or other freebies.


More consumers say they'll buy jewelry this year; here's what you need to know.

By Karen Datko Nov 1, 2010 10:09AM

This Deal of the Day comes from Sarah Morgan at partner site SmartMoney.


Call it the Beyonce effect. In spite of the sluggish economy and the tight job market, more consumers say they'd like someone to put a ring on it this holiday season. Jewelry ranks higher on holiday wish lists than laptops, smart phones, digital cameras or TVs, according to one survey, and it was the only category to grow more desirable since last year.


And to shoppers' surprise, in spite of the skyrocketing price of gold, it's not a bad year to be in the market for sparkle.


Dirty sheets and towels on my bedroom floor? Really?

By Donna_Freedman Nov 1, 2010 9:15AM

Since the end of May I've made two long trips, to Alaska and New Jersey, spending about 14 weeks away from home in all.

During that time I had two housesitters, each of whom sent me an e-mail I really didn't want to get:

"I'm leaving a month early," the first one wrote.

"Do you have a plunger?" queried the second. 


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