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Restaurants are giving bonuses with gift cards, plus coupons for subs, bagels, soup and a deal on pizza.

By Teresa Mears Dec 10, 2010 2:00PM

This seems to be the year for days of deals, as in "The 12 Days of Christmas."

Starbucks' "12 Days of Sharing" ends Saturday, but the "12 Days of Whataburger" goes on through Dec. 22, since it happens only every other day.


Now Chili's has joined the movement, with "Holidaily Specials" through Dec. 24. The special changes every day, but you can see the whole schedule now. This coupon will give you free chips and queso through Dec. 23.


Many restaurants are offering specials on gift cards this year, with the most likely bonus being a free smaller gift card. Miami FL on the Cheap has a list of restaurant gift card bonuses and freebies.


A lot of folks unwittingly -- and repeatedly -- make misguided money decisions based upon well-intentioned beliefs.

By Karen Datko Dec 10, 2010 12:37PM

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


The other day I was at the gas station and I observed a soccer mom topping off the tank of her bright yellow Hummer.

And when I say "topping off," I mean really topping it off. She must have squeezed that hose handle a dozen times. Each time she did, the gas pump reacted with one of those obnoxious attention-getting retorts warning her that the tank was full.

Thunk. Thunk, thunk, thunk. Thunk. Thunk, thunk. Thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk.


Oh, brother.


Maybe I am being a bit snooty, but I find that kind of behavior extremely annoying, not to mention just a wee bit ignorant.  Don't you?


Readers share unbelievably dense comments about personal finance they've heard. Got any to add?

By Donna_Freedman Dec 10, 2010 11:44AM

Talk about your latte factor! Smart Spending message board reader "AmberStorck" was told it would be silly to shell out 30 whole bucks for a coffee machine when you could just buy a cup for $3.50 at Starbucks.

Or how about this one: "I never redeem rewards points. It's just a waste of money."

Or: "I can't ride the bus because I don't know how." (Did this person fail "sitting down" in kindergarten?)


2010 sees home prices sink by $1.7 trillion. Falling taxes deprive communities of crucial services.

By Karen Datko Dec 10, 2010 10:33AM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.


Since housing values started plummeting in 2006, the U.S. housing market has lost almost $9 trillion -- enough to fund 12 Iraq wars. That's the news from researchers at Zillow, the online real estate marketplace.


A big chunk of that loss -- $1.7 trillion -- was shed in 2010 alone.

"That's 63% more than the $1 trillion in value that homes lost last year," The Wall Street Journal points out.


More employers plan to reward workers with gifts, bonuses and parties. But some are more generous than others.

By Karen Datko Dec 9, 2010 9:15PM

All 12,400 employees of Ikea US got a bicycle from their employer as a holiday gift this year.


Meanwhile, Googlers (that's what employees of Google are called) are getting a $1,000 Christmas bonus -- and that's after the notably generous employer picks up the taxes on the gift. (Other employers take note: Googlers are getting a pay raise of at least 10% next year too.)


What's in store for the rest of us -- at least those of us who are on a company payroll?


With constant updates on social media, who needs an end-of-year message? Yet some folks see hope for paper cards.

By Teresa Mears Dec 9, 2010 5:32PM

Back, oh, about a decade ago, I found the perfect holiday cards. But then I got busy, and I never sent them, so I put them away for next year. Next year came, and the next, and those cards are still sitting in a closet somewhere.


Sound familiar?

Between your excuses and mine, fewer people are sending Christmas cards. Holiday greetings on paper haven't yet gone the way of white gloves, but they are getting less popular, particularly among younger people. Some people, to save money or save paper, send e-mail greetings instead.


Chocolate, digital music, ammo and lots of your other favorite things have become more expensive in 2011.

By Karen Datko Dec 9, 2010 2:24PM

Updated: May 19, 2011, 8:30 a.m. ET


This post comes from Beth Pinsker at


The cost of technology goes down steadily, making HDTVs and Blu-ray players today a much better deal than they were a year ago. It's too bad that most other things rise in price.


Here's a list of 10 things that cost more this year than they did in 2010:


Online merchants are offering lots of shipping deals this year. More than 1,100 will be part of Free Shipping Day.

By Teresa Mears Dec 9, 2010 2:21PM

I ordered some custom-printed items the other day. When it came time to check out, the company wanted $16.95 for shipping. I had a coupon that would give me 25% off the purchase price or free shipping, but not both. I wanted both.

I dropped by the website and found a separate free shipping coupon. I got 25% off plus free shipping.


This may be the year of the free shipping wars. But if, like me, you find that every merchant is offering free shipping except the one you want to order from, you may want to wait for Free Shipping Day, which is Dec. 17.



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