Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Is this what friendship is all about?

By Karen Datko Dec 2, 2009 11:16AM

This post comes from Marla Walters at partner blog Wise Bread.

 

After my first Arbonne “party” last weekend, I made a list of the other product sales “parties” I have attended. Can you match this?

  • Pampered Chef.
  • Princess House.
  • Mary Kay.
  • Tupperware.
  • Christmas Around the World.
  • PartyLite.
  • Oriflame.
  • Amway.
  • Stampin’ Up.

As it turns out, I have been to 19 of these things (some two or three times). I guess that makes me quite the party animal.

 

“Network marketing is the future!” proclaimed the Arbonne representative. Network marketing and multi-level marketing are terms that can be used interchangeably. The concept is that products are sold by an individual, but a distributor network is needed to build the business.

Interpersonal relationships and word of mouth are relied upon to market and sell. If I like a moisturizer from Mary Kay, the idea is, I’ll tell my girlfriend about it. In multi-level marketing, sellers get paid for their own sales plus the sales of others whom they bring into the company. In “direct sales,” the agent deals directly with customers, usually in a party atmosphere. These aren’t new concepts -- I remember my mother going to Tupperware parties in the ’70s.

 

In case you haven’t attended one of these shindigs, here is the rundown:

 

Better yet, give a charitable gift card so the recipient can select organizations to help.

By Karen Datko Dec 1, 2009 8:59PM

To gift card or not to gift card? Everyone has an opinion about that. But research suggests that those pieces of plastic can in fact make the perfect gift.

 

Bob at ChristianPF found the information in Kiplinger’s magazine: University of Pennsylvania economics professor Joel Waldfogel estimates that Americans waste billions each year buying holiday presents that are underappreciated by the recipients.

Waldfogel, the author of “Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Presents for the Holidays,” said, “When I buy for myself, I spend $100 only if I see something that’s worth at least $100 to me. But if I buy gifts for other people, how do I know what they would have spent for them?”

 

He added that “surveys that I’ve conducted over the years show that recipients value gifts at about 20% less than what was spent. That’s about $13 billion a year wasted.”

 

Personal-finance writers have been guilty of buying too much house or too much car, or living too large.

By Karen Datko Dec 1, 2009 5:03PM

Don’t true stories like these just about make your hair fall out?

You can find these and other financial foul-ups -- housing and otherwise -- in a series of guest posts compiled by Brian, the 20-something blogger at My Next Buck. Being smart people, these bloggers learned from their blunders and often offer possible solutions.

 “The problem lies in the simple fact that we believed we needed things before we could actually afford those things,” Matt wrote.

 

Hot toy can be found online -- for a big price.

By Karen Datko Dec 1, 2009 3:32PM

This post comes from Lisa Wade McCormick at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

Relief is apparently on the way for frantic parents scurrying to find the hottest toy of the 2009 holiday season -- the Zhu Zhu Pets hamsters. But many buyers are finding themselves at the mercy of online vendors who are selling the toys at exorbitant prices.

St. Louis-based Cepia LLC, maker of the popular toys, has increased production of its "smart pets," and is now turning out some 200,000 Zhu Zhu hamsters daily.

 

"We have ramped up production of Zhu Zhu Pets in China," said Natalie Hornsby, the company's director of marketing and brand development. "We originally worked with one major factory. We are now working with four factories."

 

Zhu Zhu Pets hamsters do not make a mess, never die, and have no odor. But the toys move like real hamsters and can make more than 40 different sound effects, depending on their environment. Those sounds include toilet flushing, teeth brushing, and even alarm clock noises.

 

How much could he win -- and donate to charity -- with 100 lottery tickets?

By Karen Datko Dec 1, 2009 11:46AM

This guest post comes from J. Money at Budgets are Sexy.

 

For anyone who missed it, I recently decided to embark on the $100 Scratch-Off Lottery Project. At first it was purely for entertainment, but after generating some buzz on Twitter I decided to donate all my winnings to charity -- specifically Project Hopeful.

Before I get into the results, though, I just want to reiterate that this was for entertainment purposes only. (Aka don't try this out at home, kiddies!) The $100 I spent to buy the lottery tickets came straight out of November's entertainment budget, and I was totally prepared to lose it. While I get a little loosey-goosey at times, all sane people know you're much better off donating money straight to charity than trying to increase your winnings via the lottery. Some just have to learn the hard way.

 

And now, the results

Well, my friends, the party has ended and I feel hung over. For all the buildup (and hope), the results really blew.

 

Most of the information on a check would not pass the 'Internet safety test.'

By Karen Datko Dec 1, 2009 10:29AM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.

 

Recently, The Consumerist mentioned a story that said fewer retailers are accepting personal checks this holiday season. They cited check fraud as the big reason for not accepting checks.

 

I argue that check fraud is the big reason why many consumers should not write checks: The personal check is one of the most insecure methods of payment. 

Consider this test, which I call the Internet safety test. If you took an image of a completely filled-out check, how much of it would you have to black out before you’d feel comfortable posting it on the Internet?

 

Eating The Road covers every imaginable aspect of getting your money's worth.

By Karen Datko Nov 30, 2009 7:04PM

A post from "ETR" at Eating The Road -- “The All-Inclusive All-You-Can-Eat Buffet Guide” -- arrived with perfect timing, as a new Chinese buffet has opened in town.

 

Sick of turkey leftovers, we tried it out last night -- using a few of ETR’s best tips for getting our money’s worth. Why didn’t we try them all? ETR says his tips are “the best, quickest way to find yourself in a motorized cart.” 

Here are a few snippets from his post -- the most comprehensive and entertaining guide to all-you-can-eat buffet dining we’ve ever come across:

 

DealNews gives Amazon top marks for live price-matching.

By Teresa Mears Nov 30, 2009 5:38PM

Who were the winners and losers on Black Friday?

 

More shoppers came out this year than last year, but they spent less. Some of the popular small items were sold out before Cyber Monday sales. We’re not shopping from work today, but we do have our eyes on a few deals online if we finish our work in time.

 

Partner site DealNews has come up with its list of “cheers and jeers” for merchants for their Black Friday performance.

The big winner, they say, was Amazon, which cut prices live to match the best deals offered at Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy and nearly every other store. Blu-ray and DVD movie prices hit new lows, with popular films selling for $10 or less.

 

DATA PROVIDERS

Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

ABOUT SMART SPENDING

Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

TOOLS

More