Smart SpendingSmart Spending

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 ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

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 Bankrate.com, 66% of Americans have no holiday budget. And 44% of us are less comfortable with our savings now than we were 12 months ago.

 

A survey for a deals website identified the qualities of those who love and those who eschew online coupons.

By Karen Datko Dec 14, 2010 9:11PM

If you love online coupons, consider yourself among the best and brightest, and the well-off. Oh, and likely female.

If you don't, well, you might want to work on your attitude, if conclusions gleaned from a Facebook survey for coupon/deals site Deals.com are correct.

 

"Who isn't using coupons (other than the non-rich, that is)? Angry people aren't. Yes, people who identified with the sin of anger do not use online coupons. Angry people who are de-motivated, lazy and mostly male," Paula Sirois wrote in a post for Deals.com called "I'm a full price fool." (She doesn't seem angry but admits to not using coupons, either.)

 

Must we put up with bumper carts in the checkout line and people blocking the aisles to eat free food samples?

By Teresa Mears Dec 14, 2010 4:38PM

Nothing keeps me out of stores more than other shoppers.


Particularly in big-box stores, the noise level is often incredible -- even on the rare occasions when you're not surrounded by screaming kids and people shouting on their cell phones.

Curmudgeon that I am, I was delighted to see Ron Lieber's post at The New York Times Bucks blog on "4 guidelines for polite Costco shopping." Feel free to apply his advice to Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot and anywhere else you shop. He did a humorous commentary on the topic for MarketPlace. You can hear a podcast here.

 

Continental lets you hold airline tickets for up to a week, but you'll pay. Is this a useful new service or just another way to gouge fliers?

By Teresa Mears Dec 14, 2010 1:50PM

Perhaps you once paid a fee to "lock in" your mortgage rate.

Now you can pay a fee to lock in your airfare.


Leave it to the airlines to find yet another fee: Continental Airlines now will give you the option of locking in a fare for 72 hours or seven days, while you decide whether to buy the ticket -- for a fee starting at $5 or $9.

 

In a new poll, children rated the brand names that mean the most to them. Some are easy to guess. Others are shocking.

By Stacy Johnson Dec 14, 2010 1:00PM

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

 

Here's a scary thought: A new poll by market research firm Harris Interactive is recommending that corporations ramp up their marketing to children as young as 8.

 

Harris researchers asked 8- to 24-year-olds to rate brands for "familiarity, quality, and purchase consideration." The results for 18- to 24-year-olds were unsurprising: The top three most highly regarded brands were Google, Facebook and iPod.

 

But then it got a tad creepy.

 

More consumers say they're buying holiday presents that support a cause. What to watch out for.

By Karen Datko Dec 14, 2010 9:25AM

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

 

Which would impress your socially aware teenage nephew more: a set of high-performance headphones, sales of which support AIDS research, or a heifer in his name in Africa?

It's the kind of question a growing number of shoppers are asking this season, as they look for gifts with a charitable tie-in -- while trying to dodge those that only say they do good.

 

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