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He'd have shut up if I'd bought him the treat. Here's why I didn't.

By Donna_Freedman Mar 12, 2010 1:47PM
For the past week I've been hosting my niece and her two boys in my Seattle apartment. Two adults and two kids under age 8 in a two-room apartment with no yard -- good thinking, huh?

During a trip to the Burke Museum I informed the kids that I would not be buying anything at the gift shop. However, the older boy had a tiny amount of cash and purchased a small souvenir. Little bro decided he should have something, too, and came at me with a stuffed animal.

What happened next wasn't pretty.  

But be sure to check that sites selling the cards verify balances.

By Karen Datko Mar 12, 2010 12:17PM

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


Is there a way to squeeze even more out of pre-owned gift cards?


Yes, by pairing them with store sales and print-out coupons or online coupon codes. Secondhand gift cards are a growing market and are available from sites including, and even eBay. Discounts can be as high as 30%, depending on the popularity of the store. But if you stack them on top of other deals a retailer may be offering, you get an extra layer of savings.


A few caveats:


Riders find some glitches, but cyclists are happy to see the result of years of lobbying.

By Teresa Mears Mar 11, 2010 5:42PM

Responding to public demand, Google Maps has released a new feature: directions on how to get from one place to another via bicycle.


“With this launch, we’re showing our commitment to providing maps for people, not just cars. We’re really proud to be a part of this growing movement in helping to build greener and more sustainable communities,’’ Peter Birch, project manager for Google Earth, told the National Bike Summit, according to Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland.


Jobless Californian lost his home to foreclosure. Now he lives in hotels, thanks to rewards from his frequent corporate travel.

By Karen Datko Mar 11, 2010 4:47PM

A lingering benefit of his former well-paid and well-traveled corporate life is keeping a roof over the head of Jim Kennedy, who is now jobless, bankrupt and foreclosed on. He’s using his rewards from airline loyalty programs and hotel points to move from hotel to hotel.

And Kennedy knows how to work those points, says an amazing story in The Orange County Register.


Payday loan stores are doing very well, and their customer base is expanding.

By Karen Datko Mar 11, 2010 2:45PM

Several Texas mayors are battling a foe that the Lone Star State's legislature doesn’t have the will (or guts) to face: payday lenders. One city has put a moratorium on new payday loan stores. Others are trying to control their spread with zoning laws.


The effort is described in one of a series of articles at DailyFinance about the expanding payday loan industry. What’s most amazing about the story is that payday lenders are able to flourish -- and charge astronomical annual rates of 400% or more -- in a state that has tough limits on interest rates.


Bundle: Find out where your neighbors spend their dining dollars.

By Janet Paskin Mar 11, 2010 1:55PM

For many, an empty restaurant is a suspicious restaurant. If it were good, the logic goes, people would be there. Eating. If it's desolate, there must be a reason. A critic's review has nothing on the reassurance delivered by a happily crowded dining room. So, where are the crowds?


Now there's a better way to find out: New data from Bundle, an MSN Money partner Web site, lets you see which restaurants truly command local dining dollars.


Apple's device is available for orders Friday. How to weigh early adoption.

By Karen Datko Mar 11, 2010 11:47AM

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


Owning a cutting-edge gadget has a certain cool factor, but early adopters rarely get a great deal. Some observers say Apple’s new iPad, available to pre-order Friday for an April 3 release, isn’t likely to be an exception -- though there will probably be no shortage of shoppers wanting to go first.


Make a pre-emptive strike against being invited to another Tupperware/Princess House/etc. party.

By Karen Datko Mar 11, 2010 11:06AM

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


Awhile back, I wrote about the dangers of selling to friends and family. Recently, a reader wrote to me about wanting to  make a “pre-emptive strike” against these kinds of sales pitches, but didn’t know how to go about it.


Please feel free to copy and paste the following e-mail, edit it as you please, and send it to your friends. Trust me, almost all of them will thank you.



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