Some are a bit naughty, some are nice.
For all you slackers out there (myself included): Last year for Halloween I went as a rock star, but I'm thinking of going as a blogger this time around. According to a friend, though, that means I have to put on a pair of nerd glasses and hike up my pants like Urkel! I think my friend is confused. We're more like this guy. I mean, come on.
- Bing: Famous haunted houses
Actually, I have no idea how to dress as a blogger. I'm just being lazy. More than likely I'll paint the black nail polish back on and sharpen me up some rocker tattoos again. I already wear ripped jeans and T-shirts anyway, so it'll cost me a big fat $0. And I don't have to worry about any props getting stolen by drunkards!
Haven't picked a costume yourself? Check out some of these clever ideas from me and friends around the net (thanks, everyone):
Leftover Halloween treats will go to U.S. troops.
Do your kids usually get way more Halloween candy than you want them to eat? Did you buy more than you needed for trick-or-treaters who didn’t show?
Sell it back to your dentist.
Dentists and orthodontists nationwide are participating in this year’s Halloween Candy Buyback, in which dentists will pay people $1 to $2 per pound for their leftover candy. Some dental offices are throwing parties, giving out prizes (including toothbrushes) and donating additional money to local charities as well.
Common sense is called for, but "best by" is only a suggestion.
This week I ate canned pumpkin that was three years past its expiration date, and I didn't die. Not even once.
Why risk it? Why not throw it out? Because I was feeling both frugal and contrary.
Last week a Smart Spending message board reader started a thread about an "out of code" food market in her neighborhood. The outlet specializes in food that's super-cheap because it has passed its sell-by date. Some of the items -- canned goods, coffee, cake mixes and the like -- were four or five months beyond their suggested dates.
Some people who responded were grossed out by the very idea. One called such marketing "a step above a Dumpster dive."
That's when I decided to bake some pie.
Even adults can get a sweet treat if they wear a swirl top hat.
It’s time for Friday food freebies and deals. This week, a lot of our deals are for Halloween meals, especially for children in costume. But if you’re willing to wear a swirl top hat, even an adult can get a free frozen yogurt.
Remember that not all deals are good at all locations of chain restaurants.
Here are our latest food deals, gathered with some help from our friends at Cities on the Cheap:
Believing some of these untruths can waste bunches of money.
Salt helps water boil faster. An avocado pit will keep guacamole from browning. Soda will eat through basically anything, Alien-style.
We’ll hear hundreds of food myths in our lifetime. Some, thank Snopes, will be inarguably disproved, while others will remain as persistent as head colds, altering both what we eat and how we cook. And still more myths will be made up as we go along, as technology develops and kitchens change with the times.
- Bing: Top 10 urban myths
Today, we're focusing on a few of those newer myths -- modern-day legends spawned by newspapers, TV shows, and those accursed enemies of truth, e-mail forwards. Will açai berries speed up weight loss? Does microwaving plastic cause cancer? Are bananas really going the way of the dodo bird? We'll explore and answer these questions and more, once and for all.
Postal Service wants to offer other new products to stop the bleeding.
The U.S. Postal Service is struggling partly because fewer people use snail mail. So how's this for a fix? Post offices have begun selling greeting cards.
They are available at 500 post offices under a one-year contract with Hallmark and will be sold at 1,000 more after Jan. 1 as part of this experiment.
You may not find this service in your neighborhood. The USPS has 37,000 or so locations -- although several hundred will likely be closed as a cost-cutting measure. (Here's the latest list under consideration for the axe (.pdf file).)
And there's more news, The Washington Post reports:
Study suggests 'shopping guilt' is slowing economic recovery.
What is holding back our economic recovery?
Maybe it’s shopping guilt. The Wall Street Journal reported last week on a study that said “luxury shame” is keeping shoppers out of high-end stores. Until consumers can overcome their guilt about spending money on high-end products, those poor marketers of luxury goods will just have to suffer, The WSJ reported.
Guilt has always been part of the shopping experience. But retail executives say it has become such an overriding emotion among shoppers since the economic crisis set in last year that it is delaying the recovery of the luxury-goods industry. Shoppers are suffering from "luxury shame," consulting group Bain & Co. said in a research report.
The article cites as an example the guilt felt by 24-year-old Carolyn Hsu, founder of The Daily Obsession shopping blog, over her purchase of a Tod’s bag for $1,000 at a private luxury sale. Later, she hid the bag at the back of her closet. “I try not to have those moments anymore,” she told the WSJ.
Because it can.
The College Board (the SAT people) recently released its annual survey of college tuition (.pdf file) and found what it always finds. College got more expensive last year. This time ’round public colleges went up 6.5% and private ones 4.4%, both of which are pretty steep increases when compared with the 2.1% decline in the CPI over the same period.
- Bing: Tuition-free colleges
This was a particularly bad year for the tuition vs. inflation comparison, but the overall trend is striking. According to the College Board, over the past 30 years the average tuition cost has tripled in real inflation-adjusted terms. It’s hard to think of anything else we buy that has gone up as much. It would be like paying $12 a gallon at the pump.
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ABOUT SMART SPENDING
Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
LATEST BLOG POSTS
Children from lower income families are at greater risk of suffering accidental injuries and being sickened by food, according to a Consumer Federation of America study.