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More employers plan to reward workers with gifts, bonuses and parties. But some are more generous than others.

By Karen Datko Dec 9, 2010 9:15PM

All 12,400 employees of Ikea US got a bicycle from their employer as a holiday gift this year.

 

Meanwhile, Googlers (that's what employees of Google are called) are getting a $1,000 Christmas bonus -- and that's after the notably generous employer picks up the taxes on the gift. (Other employers take note: Googlers are getting a pay raise of at least 10% next year too.)

 

What's in store for the rest of us -- at least those of us who are on a company payroll?

 

With constant updates on social media, who needs an end-of-year message? Yet some folks see hope for paper cards.

By Teresa Mears Dec 9, 2010 5:32PM

Back, oh, about a decade ago, I found the perfect holiday cards. But then I got busy, and I never sent them, so I put them away for next year. Next year came, and the next, and those cards are still sitting in a closet somewhere.

 

Sound familiar?

Between your excuses and mine, fewer people are sending Christmas cards. Holiday greetings on paper haven't yet gone the way of white gloves, but they are getting less popular, particularly among younger people. Some people, to save money or save paper, send e-mail greetings instead.

 

Chocolate, digital music, ammo and lots of your other favorite things have become more expensive in 2011.

By Karen Datko Dec 9, 2010 2:24PM

Updated: May 19, 2011, 8:30 a.m. ET

 

This post comes from Beth Pinsker at dealnews.com.

 

The cost of technology goes down steadily, making HDTVs and Blu-ray players today a much better deal than they were a year ago. It's too bad that most other things rise in price.

 

Here's a list of 10 things that cost more this year than they did in 2010:

 

Online merchants are offering lots of shipping deals this year. More than 1,100 will be part of Free Shipping Day.

By Teresa Mears Dec 9, 2010 2:21PM

I ordered some custom-printed items the other day. When it came time to check out, the company wanted $16.95 for shipping. I had a coupon that would give me 25% off the purchase price or free shipping, but not both. I wanted both.

I dropped by the website FreeShipping.org and found a separate free shipping coupon. I got 25% off plus free shipping.

 

This may be the year of the free shipping wars. But if, like me, you find that every merchant is offering free shipping except the one you want to order from, you may want to wait for Free Shipping Day, which is Dec. 17.

 

RadioShack makes it possible this week, but there are conditions.

By Karen Datko Dec 9, 2010 12:45PM

This post comes from Matt Brownell at partner site MainStreet.

 

The iPhone 4 came out earlier this year, and it's still a hot enough product that you'll have a hard time getting it for less than $200 with a new or renewed contract. But RadioShack earlier this week announced it will be offering it for just $25.

 

Are there conditions? You bet there are conditions.

 

Set the stage for a year of better money management by figuring out where you are right now.

By Karen Datko Dec 9, 2010 12:16PM

This post comes from Trent Hamm at partner blog The Simple Dollar.

 

I've always viewed the five weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's as a time for reflection and setting the stage for a successful year to come.

 

This year, I thought I would fill the month of December with posts about the activities and preparations I undergo, both to put some closure on the current year and prepare for a better year to come.

First task: Calculate your net worth

There is no better snapshot of your financial health than your net worth. With one single number, you can get a glimpse of your financial state, good or bad.

 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is considering whether new safeguards are needed to protect borrowers from abusive industry practices.

By Karen Datko Dec 9, 2010 10:48AM

This post comes from James Limbach at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

The growing market for reverse mortgages is raising concerns that an increasing number of seniors are being misled into signing up for a complicated financial product that may squander their equity prematurely or put them at risk for losing their homes.

In a new report, advocates for consumers and seniors are calling for stricter oversight of the reverse mortgage market and new consumer protections for borrowers.

 

After weeks of Washington back-and-forth, President Obama and GOP leaders have reached an uneasy agreement. But will what helps families now hurt them later?

By Money Staff Dec 8, 2010 7:40PM

This post comes from MSN Money's Liz Pulliam Weston.

 

Liz Pulliam WestonI'm feeling some tax-cut whiplash.

 

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were contemplating a tax bill that would rise at least $6,500 next year if the Bush-era tax cuts expired or weren't extended for households, including ours, that make over $250,000.

Today, we stand to benefit from a deal that not only preserves our current tax breaks, but also gives us an additional $4,200 tax cut -- a giveback much bigger than that enjoyed by the vast majority of workers.

 

What the hell?

 

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