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As the holiday season approaches, here come the predictions about where and how much we'll spend. Also, is Black Friday becoming passe?

By Stacy Johnson Oct 12, 2010 9:16AM

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


You know the holiday season is almost here when economists and forecasters start predicting just how much we'll spend on gifts -- and they all contradict each other. Take a look at these new reports:

  • "After a ho-hum 2009 and a disastrous 2008, holiday retail sales are expected to increase a more moderate 2.3% this year," proclaims the National Retail Federation.
  • "In almost every category this year, there is a drop-off in intended purchases," cautions market research firm NPD Group.
  • "The overwhelming majority of shoppers will maintain a tight grip on their wallets as they hit the stores this holiday season, with 83% expecting to spend the same or less on holiday gifts compared to 2009," says business consulting firm Accenture.

Even though the experts don't know exactly what will happen by the end of the holiday shopping season, their reports give the rest of us some tips on what to do -- and not do -- as we  begin to shop. 


Does it matter that people didn't like the compostable bag? And was it really that environmentally friendly? Many voices weigh in.

By Teresa Mears Oct 11, 2010 4:24PM

We apologize that we're a little late getting to last week's top news development, which was that Frito-Lay is no longer selling most Sun Chips in compostable bags because customers found the bags too noisy.

And maybe the bags weren't that environmentally friendly after all.


What does this mean for the future of the planet?


Temp work is the new normal. But you can still position yourself for full-time work if and when that's a possibility.

By Karen Datko Oct 11, 2010 4:17PM

This guest post comes from Pop at Pop Economics.


Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics told us how bad the job market was in September. The economy shed 95,000 jobs, many of which were temporary census jobs that we expected to lose all along. But local governments, which are struggling to balance their budgets, also shed 76,000 people.


In a few months, we'll probably move to positive job growth, but even that doesn't necessarily mean the unemployment rate -- which stands at 9.6% -- will drop. Every year, about a million new adults enter the workforce as students graduate and immigrants start looking. That doesn't even count the discouraged workers who've temporarily given up looking and might try again as the jobs picture looks better.

The bottom line is that the economy needs to add 100,000 to 125,000 jobs per month just to keep the unemployment rate even. Anything less than that, and the unemployment rate will go up, despite jobs being added.


Even in the best-case scenario, where job growth hits the high rate it did in the late 1990s (about 200,000 per month), it would take until 2017 before we got back to the 5% unemployment rate we enjoyed before the recession. Of course, very few economists expect jobs to grow nearly that fast.


Instead, employers are stocking up on part-time, temporary, and contract workers.


Caution: Shipping clubs and other deals can be costly. Here's what to consider before you sign up.

By Karen Datko Oct 11, 2010 2:23PM

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


Nothing is more annoying than seeing a great online deal upended by high shipping and handling costs. Shoppers abandon almost half of their potential purchases at checkout, and high shipping charges are the No. 1 reason.

In response, stores have stepped up free shipping promotions and formed "shipping clubs," which charge an annual fee to cover postage on all your orders, no matter how small. The most recent entrant, ShopRunner, launched last week with an offer of unlimited shipping at a consortium of stores, including Toys R Us, The Sports Authority and GNC -- for $79 per year. And Borders and Barnes & Noble launched clubs earlier this year as part of their store loyalty programs, priced at $25 and $20, respectively.


A break on shipping seems like a welcome respite, but the math works out solidly in favor of the retailers.


Beverly Hills wants to capitalize on its reputation (and help the city budget) with its own line of perfume and cosmetics.

By Teresa Mears Oct 11, 2010 12:23PM

As cities struggle to raise revenue, Beverly Hills has come up with a unique strategy: sell its own branded perfume.

If everyone from Lady Gaga to Bruce Willis is marketing a signature scent, why not Beverly Hills, the symbol for all things rich?


Wouldn't you rather your city be identified with a perfume than a Chihuahua?


Should your gift equal the cost of your reception meal?

By Donna_Freedman Oct 11, 2010 11:00AM

I want to get married. That is, I want to get married after I've finagled an introduction to J. Money of the Budgets Are Sexy personal-finance blog. Once he and I are best buds, I want to get married a whole bunch of times, because J. Money's wedding gift of choice is a $100 bill.

"Nothing more, nothing less -- just a straight-up Mr. Benjamin for all our friends and family," he wrote in this post.

All right, I'm not actually looking to get married. (Unless it were for something really romantic, like health insurance.) But I have to say I'm tempted by J. Money's largesse, which is, well, large.


Transferred military couple didn't sell Vegas home at the height of the bubble. Now they're struggling to rent it out from afar.

By Karen Datko Oct 11, 2010 7:48AM

This post from Jolyn is part of the reader stories feature at partner blog Get Rich Slowly.


My husband and I bought our first home when he was stationed in Las Vegas with the Air Force. This was right after 9/11, when the economy was stagnant and the real estate market uncertain.

In the spirit of our new hometown, we took the gamble and plunged into homeownership, banking on the economy recovering before it was time for us to move again in a few years.


Fast-forward to 2004: The market was on fire. Houses were selling mere hours after being listed. Our house had appreciated by $120,000. It was also time for us to move again -- and time for us to take the money and run, right? Wrong.


Do you feel guilty about using those return-address labels from charities, or for neglecting to write thank-you cards?

By Karen Datko Oct 8, 2010 2:04PM

This guest post comes from J. Money at Budgets are Sexy.


Almost a year ago I started a post about money-related things I've done that I feel bad about, but for whatever reason I couldn't finish it. Maybe it had to do with thinking they're small and aren't all that exciting, mixed with feeling guilty about them -- and probably more so of the latter. (Who likes admitting to thousands of people that they aren't perfect?)

Lately though, I figured it was about time to bare my soul. And something tells me I'm not the only one who's done these things.


Five things I feel bad about doing:

  • Using those "free" St. Jude's stickers. You know, the ones with your address preprinted on them so you never have to write another return address again because you have 500-plus of them. That will last you 150 years. Unless you move.


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