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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


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.


If you're shopping for that special baby this holiday season, you might want to cross educational DVDs off your list.

By Stacy Johnson Nov 18, 2010 12:52PM

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


New parents are always looking for ways to make sure their child is smart from the start. A whole industry has grown up around the idea, promising to do just that. It seems like a new -- and expensive -- generation of educational books, movies, games and toys comes out every year.

But at least part of that industry seems to be misleading parents with its marketing, according to a new scientific study conducted at the University of Virginia.


Credit card issuers and stores are offering special rewards programs for the holidays.

By Karen Datko Nov 18, 2010 11:54AM

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


During November and December, consumers are expected to buy $447 billion worth of holiday gifts. That's a 2.3% increase over last year and, if each dollar generates a single rewards point, enough to cover more than 17 million free plane tickets, $28 million in cash back or a whopping $4.4 billion in store credit.

This holiday season, stores and credit card issuers have rolled out temporary reward bonus programs that, in concert, can generate meaningful savings.


Her parents supported her family while her husband pursued various business opportunities.

By Karen Datko Nov 18, 2010 10:22AM

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


Recently, I had a long e-mail exchange with a reader who asked me not to reprint her story, but gave me permission to discuss it in general terms.


The reader -- let's call her Annie -- is 38 years old. For almost all of her adult life, she was a stay-at-home mom while her husband tried to start several businesses, failing each time.

Yet, they not only survived but thrived, thanks to a large amount given to them each month by her parents, who were exceptionally well off.


It wouldn't be the same financial boon to airlines as luggage fees, but it'd make your travel quicker and easier.

By Money Staff Nov 17, 2010 6:46PM

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


In some ways, air travelers' experiences are far better than in the past.


Airlines are less likely to bump you or lose your luggage and more likely to stick to their schedule than in previous years, according to U.S. Department of Transportation reports. And thanks to hefty new fines, you probably won’t get stuck on the tarmac for hours with overflowing toilets and no food.

But most airlines still make travel unnecessarily annoying because of their absolutely backward approach to luggage fees.


Target doesn't match prices on BF; other retailers strongly suggest you have a competitor's ad in hand.

By Karen Datko Nov 17, 2010 4:40PM

This guest post comes from Ashley Watson at


Good shoppers know how to find the best deals, but expert ones know how to get the best deal no matter where they are shopping -- thanks to price matching. Put a little legwork into research, and you can go to a convenient store and get the best deal possible, even if it's not what they've advertised.

The trick is to know the store policies on price matching, and that's where we come in. We also did a little investigating to find out if there are any restrictions regarding price matching on Black Friday. Here's what we learned:


Imagine how you'd feel if your mortgage lender bought a new homeowners insurance policy for your home -- then billed you $33,000.

By Stacy Johnson Nov 17, 2010 3:53PM

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


If you don't buy insurance on your house, your mortgage company can legally do it for you. This makes sense because your home is the collateral for your home loan; without insurance, an accident or natural disaster could wipe out their security. So your lender ensures that you have insurance, and if you don't, they buy it and bill you for the premiums.

It's called forced-place insurance, and it's been around for a long time. But some are now accusing lenders of using these policies to generate excessive profits at the expense of hapless homeowners.



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