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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


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.


It's making a debut in California and Colorado.

By Karen Datko Nov 30, 2009 4:26PM

The weirdest prepaid card news to date: A company is offering a prepaid debit card for medical marijuana users.

“There may be no greater sign of marijuana's rising profile in the national economy than this,” David Morrison wrote at Credit Union Times.


The card -- dubbed the GreenCard -- will debut in California and Colorado and double as a photo ID for members and users of legal medical marijuana collectives and dispensaries. Expect it to spread to other states where use of marijuana to treat various illnesses and conditions is legal with a doctor's note. No word yet on a medical marijuana gift card.


Popular gifts range from GPS to winter clothes

By TracyC Nov 30, 2009 1:52PM

More shoppers headed out to the malls and onto the Web this year for Black Friday shopping, but once there, they didn’t exactly load up their carts.


The National Retail Federation estimated that 195 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend, up from 172 million the year before, but spending dropped 7.9% to $343.31 per person from $372.57 in 2008.


Some of the drop can be attributed to shoppers focusing on smaller-ticket electronics such as cell phones, rather than computers and huge flat screens, and more practical gifts such as


Reader gets lots of grief at work because he doesn't have a TV.

By Karen Datko Nov 30, 2009 12:34PM

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


Your friends and family influence you. They affect the way you view life. If your friends are frugal, it’s easier to be frugal yourself. But if they’re wrapped up in consumerism and materialism, it can be difficult to resist the urge to join them. It’s only natural to want to fit in.

Rob wrote recently to ask how to handle a situation where he wants to lead a simple life, but those around him aren’t supportive. How can he cope with peer pressure? Here’s his story:



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