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We sifted through lots of suggestions on the Web to find you our favorites.

By Karen Datko Oct 27, 2010 11:25AM

Halloween is just days away, and you have not the faintest clue about your costume.


Not to worry, even if you don't have much cash. Lots of blogs have inexpensive suggestions, like "85 easy, frugal Halloween costume ideas" from our partner Wise Bread. If adult and edgy appeals to you, there's Coupon Sherpa's "30 trendy Halloween costume ideas for 2010."


But that's just the start. There's a lot to sift through on the interwebs. Some are throwbacks. (If you showed up in jammies and silk robe, with pipe in hand, how many people would guess "Hugh Hefner"? ) Some are silly. ("Wrap yourself in wrapping paper with a tag: 'From: God, To: Women.' What are you? God's gift to women." We think not.)

Since not everyone can be Lady Gaga -- or can they? -- a hugely popular choice this year, we've identified some of our favorite fast and frugal costumes to help you out.


Inexpensive doesn't have to mean boring, especially when bubbles and balloons are involved.

By Karen Datko Oct 27, 2010 10:27AM

This post comes from Craig Ford at partner blog Wise Bread.


My daughter recently turned 5. In case you don't know, birthday parties are a big deal to a 5-year-old.


Our family lives in a Third World country, so we knew we'd have to get creative when it came time to plan our frugal birthday games. In the end, we came up with some great games that the kids absolutely loved.


My wife and I loved the fact that we spent less than $10 on the games.


A report exposes the 'sins' of greenwashing. You might be surprised to hear where real environmentally friendly products are sold.

By Teresa Mears Oct 27, 2010 8:58AM

Do you try to buy "green" products?

According to a new report, many of those products aren't as green as we think they are.


More than 95% of consumer products claiming to be green are committing at least one of the "sins" of greenwashing, including vague claims, no proof for the claims or outright misrepresentation.


If you're looking for products that are truly green, you're more likely to find them at Wal-Mart or Target than at your environmentally correct local boutique.


Myths about the day after Thanksgiving have been exposed. And, no, it's not the biggest shopping day of the year.

By Karen Datko Oct 26, 2010 6:04PM

When you're born without the shopping gene, Black Friday is nothing to get excited about. But, according to a new post at, even if you love to shop, it's not all it's been cracked up to be -- certainly not a reason to fight crowds at 4 in the morning.

In fact, the benefit of camping out is No. 3 on dealnews' list of 15 Black Friday myths that don't match the facts:


When someone you know sets limits on what he eats or how much he spends, that can wear him out and have an effect on you too.

By Karen Datko Oct 26, 2010 4:25PM

This guest post comes from Pop at Pop Economics.


As I wrote recently, I've signed up for a contract with Stickk that penalizes me for not writing regularly. In other words, I've publicized my goal, but also have people following up to make sure I keep it.

What would happen if I didn't have that second part in place?


NYU psychologist Peter Gollwitzer ran an experiment on law students to see how announcing a goal publicly affected how well they accomplished them.


He asked them to rate a series of statements from "definitely yes" to "definitely no" about things like how hard they planned to study. Some of the students anonymously dropped the pronouncements in a box, but others were asked to personally hand it in to the person running the experiment. So, in effect, those who turned it in had simulated publicly announcing that they planned to be awesome students.


As a follow-up, the experimenters asked the students to work on 20 difficult law problems, but told them that they could quit at any time. The ones who had "announced" their goals consistently worked less hard and quit sooner than those who kept them private.


What did that mean?


Jamie Oliver and Chipotle are offering $2 'boo-rito' specials for diners who come as a 'horrifying processed food product' on Halloween.

By Teresa Mears Oct 26, 2010 3:16PM

Are you looking for a really scary costume for Halloween?


TV chef and healthy-eating advocate Jamie Oliver suggests you dress up as a "horrifying processed food product." He's teaming up with Chipotle Mexican Grill to provide a reward: $2 burrito, bowl, salad or order of tacos if you come into Chipotle after 6 p.m. Oct 31 in your scariest processed-food costume.

Proceeds, up to $1 million, will go to Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, which was the subject of a TV series earlier this year documenting Oliver's efforts to push West Virginia school cafeterias to serve healthier, less processed food -- and persuade the children and their parents to eat better.


Members-only travel sites offer big discounts, but you may be able to find a better deal.

By Karen Datko Oct 26, 2010 1:18PM

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


As vacation budgets have shrunk, discount luxury travel websites have flourished, attracting more than 500,000 members in the last year. But the tactics these sites employ -- limited-time offers, limited-availability sales and simple marketing psychology -- mean those bargains might not be as good as they look.

The lure is simple: Sites like Jetsetter, SniqueAway and Vacationist offer deals at hotels that cut room rates by up to 50%, but members have just a few days to sign up, or until available dates sell out, whichever happens first.


Hoteliers complain about slow action on near-libelous comments. But fake positive reviews have also been a problem.

By Teresa Mears Oct 26, 2010 12:49PM

When I travel, I often look at online reviews before booking a hotel. A number of sites include reviews, but the site with the most reviews is TripAdvisor, which is owned by Expedia.

The site says it has more than 40 million reviews and opinions of properties worldwide, including restaurant reviews. Usually you can find enough viewpoints to avoid being swayed by one or two customers who had a bad experience or, conversely, friends of the hotel owner who piled on unwarranted praise.


In the last few years, tensions have been rising between TripAdvisor and hotel owners, who say TripAdvisor allows online reviews that border on libel. Hotels in Britain, apparently in response to TripAdvisor's "Dirtiest Hotels" list earlier this year, are organizing to file a lawsuit.



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