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More consumers say they're buying holiday presents that support a cause. What to watch out for.

By Karen Datko Dec 14, 2010 9:25AM

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

 

Which would impress your socially aware teenage nephew more: a set of high-performance headphones, sales of which support AIDS research, or a heifer in his name in Africa?

It's the kind of question a growing number of shoppers are asking this season, as they look for gifts with a charitable tie-in -- while trying to dodge those that only say they do good.

 

New rules require that airlines provide on-time performance data for flights and that booking sites identify which airline is flying the plane.

By Karen Datko Dec 13, 2010 8:25PM

Would you hesitate to book a flight if you knew it was late 76% of the time? How about 45%?

 

Airlines are now required to put that information at your fingertips on their websites, but a review by The New York Times shows that some make that information difficult to find.

It's not the only mandatory disclosure that some travel websites appear reluctant to embrace.

 

Make sure you're getting your money's worth when buying holiday gifts.

By Money Staff Dec 13, 2010 5:51PM

This post comes from partner blog Investopedia.

 

Investopedia on MSN MoneyIt's December, and if you're like the rest of the country, you're probably making your shopping list. Maybe you should check it twice: some items include outrageous markups, often selling at many times more than it costs the retailer to get them to the store.

So how can you spend your hoilday dollars more wisely this season? Here are seven holiday items with the biggest markups, and some alternative ways to give this year.

 

Retailers are using shipping deals to compete for shoppers. Most deadlines are this week for delivery by Dec. 24.

By Teresa Mears Dec 13, 2010 2:31PM

Today may be the biggest shipping day of the year for holiday purchases, but that doesn't mean you have to finish all your online shopping just yet.

Amazon has become the latest retailer to extend the deadline to order an item in time for delivery by Dec. 24. The new deadline is Dec. 17 for free "Super Saver" shipping on orders over $25.

 

When it comes to holiday gifts, you don't have to blow your budget to wow your children. Here's some proven advice.

By Stacy Johnson Dec 13, 2010 1:29PM

This post comes from Michael Koretzky at partner site Money Talks News.

 

Who better than a financial planner for doling out advice on how not to spend money this holiday season?

 

The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards has released its strategies (.pdf file) for "making a child happy this holiday season." And all of them are frugal.

"Even with a sour economy, many parents will continue to agonize over finding their child just the right present, whatever the cost in time and money," the board says. Here are their tips:

 

Too often people are willing to go into debt or at least overbuy to satisfy someone else's idea of the perfect holiday.

By Karen Datko Dec 13, 2010 11:45AM

This post comes from Donna Freedman of MSN Money.

 

An old friend of mine -- call him "Frugalbert Humperdinck" -- once riffed on the song "A Man Without Love." Unfamiliar with that late 1960s hit? Sit patiently through a video of Engelbert Humperdinck singing the first verse in order to get to the chorus that's about to be parodied:

 

Christmas bills are scare-ful,

But one can be careful.

Lovely is a man without loans.

 

Should you feel any shame in giving used designer handbags to your nieces for Christmas?

By Karen Datko Dec 13, 2010 10:25AM

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

 

The holiday season can test a frugal person's patience: There are so many temptations to spend. Sure, we all want to enjoy the festive nature of this time of year, but where do you draw the line? And how fugal is too frugal?

Michelle wrote with a terrific question. She has the sort of dilemma I can picture myself facing. Here's her story:

Like you, I am a big proponent of thrift store shopping. It saves money, and it's just more fun than going to the mall -- at least for me. Because I live in the New York City area, I'm fortunate in that many of the area thrift stores are filled with fantastic stuff, including designer and name-brand quality clothes, many of which are barely worn.
On a recent thrift store trip, I picked up two designer handbags as Christmas gifts for my college-aged nieces, but now I'm having second thoughts.
On the one hand, there's no way they would ever really acquire Coach and Kate Spade handbags on their own. On the other hand, I don't know if they share my acceptance and love for thrifting, and they may not react well to the thought of being gifted someone else's castoffs.
 

A survey shows that will be the average monthly income from what Americans in their 50s are saving for retirement.

By Karen Datko Dec 10, 2010 5:58PM

This post comes from Fred Yager at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

It seems as if every financial services company in the world conducts its own retirement survey and each one is more depressing than the last.

 

The most recent one comes from Wells Fargo, which says that most Americans in their 50s should be prepared to live on $190 a month, because that's all the personal saving they'll have to look forward to.

Now, granted, the survey didn't take into consideration Social Security or possible pensions, which are becoming extremely rare these days.

 

But the point is clear: Wake up or be prepared to spend your retirement years living in a van down by the river, as the late great comedian Chris Farley used to say.

 

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