Children can learn to make holiday gifts.
Ah, the idea of children making gifts for their friends and relatives for Christmas or Hanukkah. It sounds great, if they only knew how to make something. And if you’re not crafty yourself, it may be hard to teach them.
Several chain stores offer free crafts workshops for kids. Send your kids to the November and December workshops, and perhaps they can learn to make a few holiday gifts. Be sure to check with your local store in case the management has decided to deviate from the national schedule.
Some of those handmade gifts have staying power, too. I’m still using the recipe cards my little sister wrote out for me, in her child’s printing, when I left home 34 years ago.
Here are some places where your children can learn a few crafts:
Veterans and military personnel honored with free meals, discounts.
Wednesday, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day, when all Americans remember those who have served their country.
In our family, we remember my mother’s brother, who died in World War II, one nephew in Iraq and his brother who has just returned from Iraq. My father served in the Army, but he was lucky enough to serve in peacetime and have the job of booking entertainment for troops at Fort Knox, Ky. There he met my mother, who was a music teacher, and here I am.
In honor of Veterans Day, the National Park Service is offering free admission to all national parks for everyone on Wednesday. Other federal agencies also are offering free entry to public lands. The Park Service also has information on sites tied to the nation’s military history, and some parks plan special events.
Several stores and restaurants are offering special deals to veterans:
If you're not hungry, get free family portraits and visit a museum.
It’s time to celebrate Friday with a few freebies and food deals.
If you don’t like these choices, Restaurant.com has its $25 gift certificates, good at local restaurants, for $3 each until Nov. 9 with promo code DINE. Be sure to read the fine print before you choose a restaurant because some of the coupons require minimum purchases, are good for dinner only or have other limits.
Remember that not all local restaurants participate in all national promotions. If you have doubts, call ahead.
Here are the latest food deals, courtesy of our friends at Cities on the Cheap:
Haste really can make waste.
I did a Swagbucks search and won, bringing my total to the 45 points that I needed for a $5 Amazon.com gift card. So I ordered it -- except that I was so distracted I wound up ordering an Amazon.ca card, good only in Canada.
Did I mention that I live in the United States?
Time extended, and credit added for some owners of existing homes.
While extending unemployment benefits this week, Congress also made a few moves its members say are designed to stimulate the housing market. If you're planning to buy a house, this could be good news for you.
Congress took two significant steps that will benefit certain homebuyers:
- Extended the $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers (defined as those who haven’t owned a home in the last three years) through April 30.
- Added a new $6,500 tax credit for people who buy a new home after owning and living in their homes five of the last eight years.
The president is expected to sign the bill, which you can read here. The National Association of Realtors also has put together a helpful chart comparing the new and old tax credit provisions.
Is a text message all we really need to get us to save money?
There is a movement amongst earnest policy wonks that might be called Nanny State Light. It’s a compromise position between full-on centrally planned we-know-what’s-best-for-you control and you’re-on-your-own-kid libertarianism.
The idea is that instead of making people do the right thing or hoping that they do what’s best on their own, you give them a little nudge and hint in the right direction. This is, I am told, the topic of a clever and popular book, “Nudge,” which I haven’t yet gotten around to reading. (But I bought a copy a few weeks ago. That’s something, isn’t it?)
- Bing: Reviews of "Nudge"
The latest scheme along these lines to hit the media was in The Wall Street Journal this week. Apparently, all we need to do to get people to save more money is to send them a text message reminding them to save more money.
Frequent flier says he was denied seat upgrade because of his attire.
A United Airlines Red Carpet Club member -- a Best Buy corporate vice president, no less -- says he was denied a first-class upgrade on a flight last month because he was wearing a track suit.
- Bing: Try Bing Travel
He said he used his miles to upgrade to first class on a flight from Dulles to Connecticut. Alvarez said the gate agent called his name and when he walked up to the counter for his upgrade, the agent said he was dressed too casually for first class. "I was humiliated and embarrassed," Alvarez said.
Alvarez wore the same Puma track suit during a Fox interview and, in the video, his attire is very neat -- much nicer than a lot of sloppy-looking customers we’ve seen on flights.
Company targets high-end 'advanced devices' for price hike.
A memo leaked from Verizon Wireless confirms that the company is increasing its early contract cancellation fees to as high as $350 for what it calls its "advanced devices." That's double the current fee.
- Bing: Worst cell phone plans
Though the company did not specify what it meant by "advanced devices," Boy Genius Report's Andrew Munchbach speculated it was targeted at high-end smart phones like the recently announced Droid, which runs the open-source Android platform and was built by Motorola. It's scheduled to debut Nov. 15.
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Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
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