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Online shopping is convenient but has its dangers. Make sure you're safe as you stuff those stockings.

By Money Staff Dec 21, 2010 2:27PM

This post comes from Ashleigh Patterson at partner site Reuters' Prism Money blog. 

 

Reuters on MSN MoneyHoliday shopping: It's down to the 11th hour and rather than jostling for a parking spot or fighting for a fitting room, more consumers are choosing to shop online or on their mobile devices.

 

Sure, shopping online can save you some coin on shipping costs, and using a smart phone certainly makes price comparisons infinitely easier. But consumers are trading convenience for safety, according to a new study sponsored by Norton and conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research.

"It's the amount of activity that makes people more vulnerable," says personal finance expert Jean Chatzky. "People just aren't being as careful as they should be in a number of different ways."

 

You have one-tenth of a second to make a good impression (and faking a firm handshake won't help).

By Karen Datko Dec 21, 2010 1:48PM

This guest post comes from Pop at Pop Economics.

 

You've heard that old yarn about having only one chance to make a good impression. You might have even heard that first impressions happen fast. Maybe you didn't know they happened this fast.

Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov had test subjects look at photos of various people and rate them on attributes like trustworthiness, likability and competence. Some participants got a second to see the photo. Others got only half a second or a tenth of a second. In a separate test, they didn't give the participants any time limit at all.

 

Well, it turns out, most people decided what their feelings were about a person (based on looks alone) in that first tenth of a second.

 

The majority of workers have taken sick days when they were well. Are you one of them?

By Karen Datko Dec 21, 2010 11:49AM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner site Bargaineering.

 

The other day, I was reading a Bloomberg Businessweek article about companies hiring sick-day bounty hunters to check up on people out on sick leave.

It gave me the idea for today's "Your Take" question: How many of you have taken sick days when you weren't actually sick?

 

While experts are generally skeptical about the employment picture for 2011, at least one new report says secretaries should find more work.

By Stacy Johnson Dec 21, 2010 10:57AM

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

 

Recently we reported on 11 promising jobs for 2011, but that was little comfort to those of us who don't have the skills to be a "senior business systems analyst" or an "ERP technical developer" -- if we even knew what those meant.

So it's nice to see new research that shows "administrative professionals" -- secretaries and office assistants -- getting some love. And some work.

 

Not one of the 100-plus pizzas tested by Consumer Reports earned an excellent rating.

By Karen Datko Dec 20, 2010 6:20PM

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

 

It's hard to beat the combination of pizza and football, particularly with the college bowls cranking up and the NFL playoffs just weeks away.

 

Now, you can order out -- often for a premium price -- or you can hit the supermarket and pick up a frozen pie. But, can frozen pizza truly satisfy?

Frozen vs. pizzeria

After buying and baking more than 100 cheese pies, Consumer Reports found that, yes, frozen pizza can satisfy. Amy's Cornmeal Crust 3 Cheese, Home Run Inn Classic and DiGiorno Rising Crust Four Cheese all garnered a CR "best buy" -- leading the ratings.

 

Social media changes the world of barter, and one mom gets a PlayStation 2, clothes and toys for $45.

By Teresa Mears Dec 20, 2010 5:16PM

As the holidays approached, the users of ThredUp, an online children's clothing exchange, wanted a place to trade toys. So they started exchanging toys on the site.

James Reinhart, one of the founders, heard their plea, and on Dec. 6 officially added toys to the service. It's one of many avenues resourceful parents have used this year to save money by trading toys their kids no longer use for toys they want.

 

"People are realizing that thrift isn't a bad word," John Gerzema, author of the new book "Spend Shift," told the Chicago Tribune. "And we're very comfortable using social tools. The old way of spending doesn't have to happen. We can rent it, borrow it, trade it."

 

Need a stocking stuffer? First Gold to Go machine in U.S. dispenses gold bars or coins in gift boxes.

By Teresa Mears Dec 20, 2010 2:23PM

If you're looking for a stocking stuffer for the man or woman who has everything, you may want to stop by the new vending machine at the Town Center mall in Boca Raton, Fla.

 

Just in time for Christmas, the mall has acquired a Gold to Go vending machine. That's right. For about $120 to $1,470, you can buy your mother, father, husband, wife or special friend a gold bar or coin from a mall vending machine.

 

We're not sure why you would want to do that, even if the gold does come in an attractive box, but you can. We can tell you now that if you are buying for a woman, she would really prefer jewelry.

 

E-books aren't cheap. In fact, depending on what you read, they may actually be relatively expensive.

By Karen Datko Dec 20, 2010 1:43PM

This post comes from J.D. Roth at partner blog Get Rich Slowly.

 

Google has opened its e-bookstore for business. The search giant joins Apple and Amazon (and Barnes & Noble) in a fast-growing field. Electronic books will never completely replace paper books, but they're going to make up a sizable portion -- and maybe even the majority -- of the market sooner than you think.

Naturally, more and more GRS readers are moving to e-books. In fact, I've had a couple of people ask me about them recently. For example, Peggy wrote last week to share her experience:

 

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