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You can make the process less stressful by learning 5 steps before you venture out.

By Stacy Johnson Dec 16, 2010 10:40AM

This post comes from Stacy Johnson at partner site Money Talks News.


Diamonds are a girl's best friend, the saying goes. Odd, because they can be a man's worst enemy. They're expensive, they're complicated and, as a retail experience, about as far as you can get from Home Depot.

To make matters worse, because they're always a popular holiday gift -- more than a third of diamonds are bought in December -- when you go to the jewelry store, you'll be in a pack of other dazed men being preyed upon by commissioned salespeople. Not a pretty picture.


The lawsuit by a consumer group alleges that toys bait children to eat junk food.

By Karen Datko Dec 15, 2010 4:50PM

This post comes from Truman Lewis at partner site


As it threatened in June, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has filed suit against McDonald's, charging that its Happy Meals use cheap toys as "bait" to lure children into gorging on "unhealthy junk food."

The suit, which seeks class-action status, was filed in California on behalf of Monet Parham, a Sacramento mother who said the Happy Meals make it "so much harder" for her to say no when her children beg her to take them to McDonald's.


National Regifting Day celebrates the fact that most people think giving a gift they no longer want is OK.

By Karen Datko Dec 15, 2010 3:49PM

This guest post comes from Lou Carlozo, Green Dad columnist at


Make it a green Christmas, you say? That can go a long way past decking the halls with boughs of holly, piney wreaths and all that Yuletide verdure.


This Thursday, Dec. 16, marks National Regifting Day and finally, we have a contrived holiday that avoids making you needlessly consume -- either by buying or eating. In fact, the message of National Regifting Day stresses quite the opposite: Consume less by passing on those ghosts, er, "gifts" of Christmas Past instead of buying more stuff.

Don't worry about being typecast as the Secret Santa Scrooge of your workplace, either. The folks at, which is promoting the itinerant holiday, insist you'll land in good company this year.


New giver carries on tradition of giving $100 bills to strangers in Kansas City, Mo. A small act of kindness inspired the original Santa.

By Teresa Mears Dec 15, 2010 3:02PM

For years, it was Kansas City's favorite Christmas story: An anonymous man, dubbed the Secret Santa, would go around town and give $100 bills to complete strangers.

For 26 years, no one knew who the Secret Santa was. But in 2006, as he was dying from cancer, Larry Dean Stewart revealed his identity. He died weeks later, at age 58.

But Secret Santa didn't die with him. Tuesday, Secret Santa II, with the aid of a few "elves," handed out $10,000 to people in shelters, thrift stores and food pantries in Kansas City, Mo.


In some cases, false attorney signatures have led to foreclosures being dismissed.

By Karen Datko Dec 15, 2010 2:13PM

This post comes from Sasha Chavkin at partner site ProPublica.


Many foreclosures have been thrown into question because of flawed documentation such as inaccurate affidavits describing a mortgage's history. But three recent court cases point to another type of flaw in foreclosure filings that could place thousands more cases in doubt: false attorney signatures on court documents.

Experts said that foreclosures that relied on court documents with the signatures of attorneys who in fact neither signed nor reviewed them are vulnerable to being thrown out in the 23 states in which foreclosures must be approved by a judge.


The tree will arrive at your door -- no bungee cord needed -- but it'll cost you.

By Karen Datko Dec 15, 2010 12:20PM

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


First the homemade eggnog disappeared. Then the handmade greeting cards. Now the family trip to the local tree lot could become a holiday relic.

Big-box stores are now selling live trees for delivery via the Web, tapping the small but growing market of shoppers who'd rather click than cut -- and will pay for the privilege.


Your kid's teacher doesn't need a coffee mug, a bottle of perfume, or a photo of your perfect child.

By Karen Datko Dec 15, 2010 11:28AM

This post comes from Marla Walters at partner blog Wise Bread.


While there is no requirement for your child to give a holiday gift to his or her teacher, it is a pretty nice way to tell an educator "thank you."

My parents, both teachers, have received a wide variety of gifts from their students, and over careers of 30-plus years they have amassed some interesting items. I have compiled some favorites of theirs, as well those of a friend who recently retired from teaching.


How about a mug imprinted with "#1 Teacher"? No. That teacher's coffee mug cupboard was probably full long ago.

What about perfume? Nope. There are only so many gallons of Jean Nate that a teacher can wear in a lifetime.


Wouldn't the teacher love a framed photo of your child? No. (One of those really showed up one Christmas, in a popsicle-stick frame.) Do you have framed photos of customers or clients around your home?


Here are 10 better ideas:


At the same time, many people feel insecure about their financial future. Go figure.

By Karen Datko Dec 14, 2010 9:24PM

This post comes from Fred Yager at partner site


If you ever wonder why so many Americans have money problems, consider this: Two out of every three of us have no limits on how much we intend to spend this holiday season -- even though more of us admit to feeling less comfortable about our financial security.

According to a study conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International and released on, 66% of Americans have no holiday budget. And 44% of us are less comfortable with our savings now than we were 12 months ago.



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