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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.

 

When you pick the food up yourself, do restaurant workers act as if you're still supposed to tip?

By Karen Datko Dec 10, 2010 4:04PM

This guest post comes from J. Money atBudgets are Sexy.

 

How much do you tip for takeout when you pick food up at a restaurant?

 

We talked a lot about holiday tipping the other week, but I think this question is much more interesting because it affects each and every one of us -- or at least the ones who enjoy splurging on takeout every now and then.

I've heard pros and cons to both sides here, so I'm kind of curious to see what you all think.

 

Here's the comment that prompted this post (thanks, Linda):

What about tipping for takeout? They seem like they want the full 20% and get angry if they don't get it. How do other people handle this?
 

Shoppers report longer waits for ordered gifts. How to make sure yours arrive on time.

By Karen Datko Dec 10, 2010 2:21PM

This Deal of the Daycomes fromKelli B. Grantat partner site SmartMoney.

 

Every night of Hanukkah, Barbara Adler gave one gift to each of her three sons. Until the last night of the eight-day holiday, when she presented an electronic puzzle game to the trio, "for all of us."

 

The other gifts, ordered from Amazon.com affiliates, hadn't arrived at their Roslyn, N.Y., home -- even though she'd ordered them some 11 days before.

No one keeps track of real-time complaints like these, but anecdotal evidence suggests that plenty of shoppers are still waiting on holiday gift orders placed weeks ago.

 

Restaurants are giving bonuses with gift cards, plus coupons for subs, bagels, soup and a deal on pizza.

By Teresa Mears Dec 10, 2010 2:00PM

This seems to be the year for days of deals, as in "The 12 Days of Christmas."

Starbucks' "12 Days of Sharing" ends Saturday, but the "12 Days of Whataburger" goes on through Dec. 22, since it happens only every other day.

 

Now Chili's has joined the movement, with "Holidaily Specials" through Dec. 24. The special changes every day, but you can see the whole schedule now. This coupon will give you free chips and queso through Dec. 23.

 

Many restaurants are offering specials on gift cards this year, with the most likely bonus being a free smaller gift card. Miami FL on the Cheap has a list of restaurant gift card bonuses and freebies.

 

A lot of folks unwittingly -- and repeatedly -- make misguided money decisions based upon well-intentioned beliefs.

By Karen Datko Dec 10, 2010 12:37PM

This guest post comes from Len Penzo at Len Penzo dot Com.

 

The other day I was at the gas station and I observed a soccer mom topping off the tank of her bright yellow Hummer.

And when I say "topping off," I mean really topping it off. She must have squeezed that hose handle a dozen times. Each time she did, the gas pump reacted with one of those obnoxious attention-getting retorts warning her that the tank was full.
 

Thunk. Thunk, thunk, thunk. Thunk. Thunk, thunk. Thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk.

 

Oh, brother.

 

Maybe I am being a bit snooty, but I find that kind of behavior extremely annoying, not to mention just a wee bit ignorant.  Don't you?

 

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