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Swamp gravy? Yum. And did sloppy joes, mac and cheese, and 'tuna bread salad' keep you fed during lean times?

By Karen Datko Nov 19, 2010 3:14PM

This guest post comes from Len Penzo at Len Penzo dot Com.

 

When I was in college, I had cheap cooking down to a science. I had to: I was on an extremely tight budget and the money had to be intelligently allocated. Back then, dinner was No. 4 on my list of priorities, right after tuition, beer and rent. In that order.

 

Many people on limited incomes pride themselves on their ability to create some truly delicious and cheap dinner ideas.

I remember my grandmother, who was born in Italy, always being on an extremely tight budget. I also remember a dish Grandma used to serve that was nothing more than white rice mixed with her leftover homemade spaghetti sauce. Some people call that dish "red rice," but Grandma just called it "rice with sauce." Clever, huh? My grandma, God rest her soul, really had a way with words.

 

I recently polled a few co-workers and personal-finance blogger friends for some additional cheap cooking ideas that they use today or that their family served to them back when they were kids. Some were apparently more delicious than others. Here's a summary of the results:

 

Upcoming deals include 50% off at two stores via Groupon, plus a Thanksgiving cookbook, gourmet food sampling and free theme park admission for veterans.

By Teresa Mears Nov 19, 2010 1:35PM

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, and oodles of leaked Black Friday ads, you may be starting to think about holiday shopping.

To help keep you in the mood, Starbucks is offering a deal on its holiday drinks through Nov. 21: Buy one and get one free from 2 to 5 p.m. Also, text 12DAYS to 29943, and you'll get text message alerts for deals during Starbucks' "12 Days of Sharing," which begin Dec. 1.

 

If your family, like mine, has decided at the last minute that you're bringing the Thanksgiving turkey, you might want to download Martha Stewart's free Thanksgiving Hotline Recipes cookbook. Famous chefs will answer questions from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 22-24 as part of the Sirius Satellite Radio promotion. Call (866) 675-6675.

 

The holiday meal costs Americans an average of more than $40 -- but use these tips to trim the fat from your shopping list.

By Stacy Johnson Nov 19, 2010 1:12PM

This post comes from Brandon Ballenger at partner site Money Talks News.

 

There's a lot to be thankful for on Thanksgiving: good food, family, friends and more. But one thing that we're often less than grateful for is the price tag for this holiday feast.

According to the American Farm Bureau, the traditional Thanksgiving dinner for 10 costs an average of about $44 -- up about 50 cents from last year. But that number is based on a survey of "volunteer shoppers looking for the best possible prices" and probably lowballs the actual figure quite a bit.

 

Victim funds have problems of their own. But something's got to prevent the foreclosure logjam from bringing the economy down even further.

By Karen Datko Nov 19, 2010 12:23PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.

 

How do you like the 9/11 victim fund as a model for solving the robo-signing scandal?

 

Attorneys general from the 50 states are hinting that they're getting closer to settling with the nation's three biggest banks over damage done to homeowners from robo-signing.

Robo-signers, you'll recall, are (hopefully, were) low-level employees at banks' mortgage servicing departments. (Here's a Washington Post profile of robo-signer Jeffrey Stephan of GMAC Mortgage.)They were deputized to sign huge volumes of legal documents setting foreclosures in motion even though they had not read or reviewed the individual cases.

 

The Post says that the AGs are investigating:

 

My room in downtown Chicago was clean, convenient and cheap. So what if I had to share it?

By Donna_Freedman Nov 19, 2010 10:32AM

Last week I attended a conference in Chicago, a city where I used to live and where I still know a couple of folks. The classy hotel where the conference took place offered a "special" rate of $209 a night to anyone who wanted to stay and sightsee. That was a little too special for me, but I did want to stick around.

Years ago I used to drive past the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Hostel in downtown Chicago and wonder what it would be like to stay there.

 

Now I know: Clean, convenient and cheap.

 

About a third of fatal crashes will involve a driver who has been drinking.

By Karen Datko Nov 18, 2010 4:34PM

This post comes from partner site Insure.com.

 

The holidays are a deadly time to be on the road. Every year, hundreds of Americans die as a result of alcohol-related car crashes.

If this year's statistics reflect those of years past, more than 400 people will die Thanksgiving weekend -- many of them as a result of being involved in an alcohol-related car crash. 

There's a growing movement to shop local in the days between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

By Karen Datko Nov 18, 2010 3:18PM

This post comes from Melinda Fulmer of MSN Money.

 

You've heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But what about that weekend sandwiched in between? Now, for the first time, marketers have a name for it -- Small Business Saturday.

 

American Express, Yelp and a dozen nonprofits and advocacy groups have teamed up to push shopping on Main Street rather than at the mall or behind your computer that weekend between Saturday and noon on Sunday.

 

Be prepared for revised return policies, restocking fees and gift card gotchas. Plus, some holiday tipping tips.

By Karen Datko Nov 18, 2010 2:43PM

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

 

If you haven't started your holiday shopping in earnest yet, you're probably about to. And you know that finding the right gift at the right price can be challenging -- especially when deep discounts and doorbuster sales abound. 

The latest issue of Consumer Reports highlights five traps holiday shoppers can avoid. "Knowing how to navigate sales, comparison shop, and cut through salespeople jargon is half the battle to stress-free holiday shopping," said Tod Marks, senior editor at CR. "Shoppers need to take precautionary measures before purchasing gifts to make sure they are getting the right product, for the right price, with no strings attached."

 

The traps

Deep discount come-ons. Doorbuster sales promise big savings, and not just on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, when shoppers go online.

 

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