When times get tough, people tend to shift their giving toward groups that provide basic needs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
LATEST BLOG POSTS
Nearly half of family caregivers spend more than $5,000 a year, plus caregiving affects their jobs and retirement plans.
- America's most counterfeited products
- Driver survey: Men irked by phone talkers, women by lane cutters
- 5 reasons to take the company buyout (and 5 not to)
- Tired of Fed-watching, saver? Check out these banks instead
- New software targets credit card thieves at gas pumps
- Thinking of holiday shopping? Do a reality check first
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
BLOGS WE LIKE
MUST-SEE ON MSN
- Video: Easy DIY smoked meats at home
A charcuterie master shares his process for cold-smoking meat at home.
- Jetpacks about to go mainstream
- Weird things covered by home insurance
- Bing: 70 percent of adults report 'digital eye strain'