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The retail behemoth appears intent to dominate

By Karen Datko Nov 24, 2009 7:02PM

Psst! Want a great deal on an Easy-Bake Oven? Go to, where it’s on sale. No, wait. Check out, which just reduced its price. Hold on. Wal-Mart still has the better price.

Prices have fallen faster than Marines battling the Alien Queen as these two retail giants duke it out. What started as a competition over who can sell a handful of best-selling book titles for less has spread to a wider assortment of stuff --DVDs, video games and consoles, cell phones and, yes, Easy-Bake Ovens.


Cybercriminals are gearing up to take advantage of the holiday season.

By Karen Datko Nov 24, 2009 1:24PM

This post comes from James Limbach at partner site


As cybercriminals begin to take advantage of the holiday season, McAfee Inc. is warning consumers about the "12 Scams of Christmas" -- the 12 most dangerous online scams that computer users should be cautious of.


According to Consumer Reports’ 2009 State of the Net Survey, cybercriminals have bilked $8 billion from consumers in the past two years.

"Cybercriminals use their best schemes during the holidays to steal people's money, credit card information, Social Security number and identity," said Jeff Green, senior vice president of McAfee Labs. "These thieves follow seasonal trends and create holiday-related Web sites, scams and other convincing e-mails that can trick even the most cautious users."


The 12 Scams of Christmas are:


Sometimes bribery isn't a bad word.

By Karen Datko Nov 24, 2009 11:47AM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


I’ve always found that tipping, by far, is the best investment you can ever make in almost any situation. Anyone who has ever bellied up to a bar knows that a dollar a drink is all it takes to get the speediest service on even the busiest of nights. Want a nicer hotel room? I’ll tell you about a risk-free technique you can use to score complimentary upgrades, if they’re available.


'Happy Eid al-Adha' on a Thanksgiving ad stirs outrage, debate.

By Karen Datko Nov 23, 2009 7:51PM

Eid al-Adha sounds like a lovely holiday -- a happy occasion full of praise for God, lots of food -- which is shared with the poor -- and gifts for children. An imam interviewed by The Modesto Bee said the four-day Eid al-Adha is the Muslim holiday that most closely resembles Christmas.

So why is a small blurb wishing “Happy Eid al-Adha” in a Best Buy Thanksgiving ad stirring controversy and debate?


Consumer Reports unveils survey of top holiday shopping turnoffs.

By Karen Datko Nov 23, 2009 4:32PM

This post comes from partner site


Consumer Reports has unveiled a public education campaign that takes aim at pushy holiday season retail practices. The campaign’s centerpiece is a full-page ad in USA Today on Tuesday, Nov. 24, that highlights top holiday shopping annoyances as determined by a nationally representative survey of Americans by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

The list of holiday annoyances that Americans were asked about was generated by readers of The Consumerist, a member of the Consumer Reports family.


The ad takes the form of a “Dear Shopper” letter highlighting pushy holiday season practices and the percentage of Americans who find them annoying:


The supermarket may have some of the best buys of the day.

By Karen Datko Nov 23, 2009 2:58PM

Julie Parrish, CEO of, has some unusual advice for Black Friday shoppers: Go to the grocery store.


“Not everyone will do it, but my savings at Albertsons and Safeway beats the heck out of the $5 I'm going to save chasing the 4 a.m. sock sale at Fred Meyer,” Parrish said.

According to Parrish, many stores on Black Friday knock down the price of perishable holiday foods -- like roasts, fresh turkeys, baked goods and produce -- that didn’t move out the door before we all sat down to gorge ourselves on Thanksgiving.


J.D. finds inspiration in a children's fable -- and an episode of 'The Biggest Loser.'

By Karen Datko Nov 23, 2009 11:54AM

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


One reason I got into financial trouble during my early 20s was that I wanted everything right now. I looked at what my parents had, and it didn’t occur to me that they’d been working their entire lives to get to that point. I wanted the same level of comfort, and I wanted it today. I wanted what I saw in the magazines and on TV. I wanted to start at the end, not the beginning.


In order to afford that sort of lifestyle, I went into a lot of debt. But even then, I couldn’t manage for long. I lived high on the hog for a couple of years, and then found myself back in the real world -- but with lots of extra bills to pay. In an attempt to reach the “finish line” of life sooner, I’d put myself further behind.


Californians aren't the only ones saddled with higher college costs.

By Karen Datko Nov 20, 2009 6:42PM

A 32% increase in tuition approved by the University of California regents is being met with student protests -- and arrests -- throughout the system.


It’s the most stunning development we've yet seen as many states, struggling with sagging revenues, continue to cut funding for higher ed. Consider this: State support  per student in the UC system is half what it was in 1990, a university official said.

We can’t blame students for being upset, considering what college will cost in the UC system. The Los Angeles Times reports:



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