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There's nothing scary about these deals.

By Teresa Mears Oct 26, 2009 4:52PM

Halloween is coming, and that’s as good an excuse for free stuff as anything. This year, merchants have all kinds of freebies for us.


Monroe on a Budget has a good list of sales on costumes and candy at national chain stores. Nestle has printable coupons good for $1 off Nestle and Wonka candy products. (Look for the boxes on the right.) You can get coupons for $2 off larger bags at

Other deals are as wide-ranging as coupons for free bowling, yogurt for used candy wrappers and free burritos for anyone who dresses like one.


The downturn arrived late or hardly at all in some U.S. metro areas.

By Karen Datko Oct 26, 2009 3:48PM

What does San Antonio have besides great food and the Alamo? The right stuff to beat back the Great Recession.


San Antonio ranks No. 1 in a BusinessWeek ranking of the top 40 strongest U.S. metropolitan economies, based on a Brookings Institution MetroMonitor survey.


In Texas' second-largest city (yep, San Antonio is now bigger than Dallas) the unemployment rate in June was just 6.9%, two points higher than a year ago, according to BusinessWeek, which produced a slideshow of its top 40 cities. San Antonio, it says, "has one of the strongest job markets in the nation."


No. 2 on the list is the Austin-Round Rock area in Texas, the last state to experience the recession. Also representing Texas on BusinessWeek's list are Dallas, Houston, El Paso, and McAllen, despite that metropolitan area's 11% unemployment rate.


Company spokeswoman rails against 'propaganda groups.'

By Karen Datko Oct 26, 2009 11:43AM

This post comes from Jon Hood at partner site


A chastened Disney is offering refunds to consumers who own copies of the company's Baby Einstein videos, bowing to pressure from a parents group that says the video is more likely to turn children into Baby Alfred E. Neumans.


Disney's move allows anyone who bought a Baby Einstein video between June 5, 2004, and Sept. 4, 2009, to get their money back. Alternatively, consumers can trade their DVD in for a Baby Einstein book or CD, or redeem it for a 25% discount on future Baby Einstein purchases. The offer is good through March 4, 2010, and is limited to four per household.

For years, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a group fighting to "reclaim childhood from corporate marketers," has said the videos don't live up to Disney's promises.


Want to be happy? Sometimes there is no place like home.

By Karen Datko Oct 26, 2009 9:01AM

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


My wife recently spent a long weekend touring eastern Oregon with two of her co-workers. They drove from small town to small town, shopping for antiques and visiting museums.


On Saturday -- with an early October snow falling outside -- Kris and her friends stopped to eat lunch at La Laguna in the small town of Joseph (population 1,054). As part of the worst job I ever had, I spent several weeks selling insurance door-to-door in Joseph, so I know the locals are friendly. Such was the case at La Laguna. Kris's party struck up a conversation with their waiter.

He told them that he was raised in Joseph. When he was a young man, he moved to Portland; the big city seemed exciting. He had a good time, and is glad to have had the experience, but after a few years he moved back to small-town life in Joseph.


"Life is simpler here," he said. "And it's less expensive. When I lived in Portland, I couldn't save anything; there was always something to spend my money on. There just aren't as many temptations here."


If you want to sleep better, readers say, dump your debt.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 26, 2009 4:54AM

Frugal people sleep better.

That’s a recurring theme in a Smart Spending message board thread called "Why are you frugal?" Readers say it’s hard to beat the contentment of a good night's slumber, untroubled by debt.

Some readers say they're frugal because they love finding great deals, but most have more complex reasons. They're thrifty now to meet future goals: a car, a house, a family. They've chosen to reject hyperconsumerism. They're called to careers (e.g. the arts) that are fulfilling but require careful money management. Or they simply enjoy the peace of mind that comes with having an emergency fund.


The lesson: Wait before you splurge on that new toy.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 26, 2009 4:31AM

A year ago, a regular reader who calls herself "SC CDF" really wanted an ice-cream maker. These days she can barely remember having wanted it. She proposed that we write down what we want and then check back later to see if we still want it. That's why in April I started a Smart Spending message board thread called "What do you want? Will you still want it a year from now?" 

Readers posted their burning desires: a great camera and printer, electronic gadgets, new cookware, computers, automobiles, furniture. Most of those who reported back later on the updated thread said they did not get what they wanted. But all of them were OK with that. 


If it's not stinky or stained, why wash it?

By Donna_Freedman Oct 26, 2009 4:14AM

I've got a dirty little secret: sometimes I wear a shirt twice before washing it.

Before you hold your nose and run screaming from the room, hear me out. I'm not talking about a shirt in which I've done a day's worth of hard manual labor in the hot sun. It's usually a shirt I've worn for half a day or less.

The other day, for example, I didn't dress to leave the house until close to lunchtime. Before that I was the stereotypical freelance writer sitting around in sweatpants and a T-shirt my daughter bought to celebrate entering the eighth grade. (My daughter is now 29. Freelancers really don't care what they look like.)


Don't expect big smiles when you show up with jars of pennies.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 26, 2009 4:03AM

Putting all your change in a jar each night is a time-honored frugal hack. One guy bought himself a new pickup after setting aside coins for years. A Smart Spending message board reader named "Amberstorck" wasn't aiming that high -- she just wanted to save some money. 

But now she's having trouble unloading the lucre. Local grocery stores refused her rolled change. Her bank charges a 6% coin-counting fee. "What is the point of saving coins if nobody will take them?" Amber wrote in a message board thread

The fact is, banks are legally allowed to charge a counting fee or to refuse to accept Miracle Whip jars full of pennies and nickels.



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