Smart SpendingSmart Spending

The holiday meal costs Americans an average of more than $40 -- but use these tips to trim the fat from your shopping list.

By Stacy Johnson Nov 19, 2010 1:12PM

This post comes from Brandon Ballenger at partner site Money Talks News.

 

There's a lot to be thankful for on Thanksgiving: good food, family, friends and more. But one thing that we're often less than grateful for is the price tag for this holiday feast.

According to the American Farm Bureau, the traditional Thanksgiving dinner for 10 costs an average of about $44 -- up about 50 cents from last year. But that number is based on a survey of "volunteer shoppers looking for the best possible prices" and probably lowballs the actual figure quite a bit.

 

Victim funds have problems of their own. But something's got to prevent the foreclosure logjam from bringing the economy down even further.

By Karen Datko Nov 19, 2010 12:23PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.

 

How do you like the 9/11 victim fund as a model for solving the robo-signing scandal?

 

Attorneys general from the 50 states are hinting that they're getting closer to settling with the nation's three biggest banks over damage done to homeowners from robo-signing.

Robo-signers, you'll recall, are (hopefully, were) low-level employees at banks' mortgage servicing departments. (Here's a Washington Post profile of robo-signer Jeffrey Stephan of GMAC Mortgage.)They were deputized to sign huge volumes of legal documents setting foreclosures in motion even though they had not read or reviewed the individual cases.

 

The Post says that the AGs are investigating:

 

My room in downtown Chicago was clean, convenient and cheap. So what if I had to share it?

By Donna_Freedman Nov 19, 2010 10:32AM

Last week I attended a conference in Chicago, a city where I used to live and where I still know a couple of folks. The classy hotel where the conference took place offered a "special" rate of $209 a night to anyone who wanted to stay and sightsee. That was a little too special for me, but I did want to stick around.

Years ago I used to drive past the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Hostel in downtown Chicago and wonder what it would be like to stay there.

 

Now I know: Clean, convenient and cheap.

 

About a third of fatal crashes will involve a driver who has been drinking.

By Karen Datko Nov 18, 2010 4:34PM

This post comes from partner site Insure.com.

 

The holidays are a deadly time to be on the road. Every year, hundreds of Americans die as a result of alcohol-related car crashes.

If this year's statistics reflect those of years past, more than 400 people will die Thanksgiving weekend -- many of them as a result of being involved in an alcohol-related car crash. 

There's a growing movement to shop local in the days between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

By Karen Datko Nov 18, 2010 3:18PM

This post comes from Melinda Fulmer of MSN Money.

 

You've heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But what about that weekend sandwiched in between? Now, for the first time, marketers have a name for it -- Small Business Saturday.

 

American Express, Yelp and a dozen nonprofits and advocacy groups have teamed up to push shopping on Main Street rather than at the mall or behind your computer that weekend between Saturday and noon on Sunday.

 

Be prepared for revised return policies, restocking fees and gift card gotchas. Plus, some holiday tipping tips.

By Karen Datko Nov 18, 2010 2:43PM

This post comes from James Limbach at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

If you haven't started your holiday shopping in earnest yet, you're probably about to. And you know that finding the right gift at the right price can be challenging -- especially when deep discounts and doorbuster sales abound. 

The latest issue of Consumer Reports highlights five traps holiday shoppers can avoid. "Knowing how to navigate sales, comparison shop, and cut through salespeople jargon is half the battle to stress-free holiday shopping," said Tod Marks, senior editor at CR. "Shoppers need to take precautionary measures before purchasing gifts to make sure they are getting the right product, for the right price, with no strings attached."

 

The traps

Deep discount come-ons. Doorbuster sales promise big savings, and not just on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, when shoppers go online.

 

If you're shopping for that special baby this holiday season, you might want to cross educational DVDs off your list.

By Stacy Johnson Nov 18, 2010 12:52PM

This post comes from Brandon Ballenger at partner site Money Talks News.

 

New parents are always looking for ways to make sure their child is smart from the start. A whole industry has grown up around the idea, promising to do just that. It seems like a new -- and expensive -- generation of educational books, movies, games and toys comes out every year.

But at least part of that industry seems to be misleading parents with its marketing, according to a new scientific study conducted at the University of Virginia.

 

Credit card issuers and stores are offering special rewards programs for the holidays.

By Karen Datko Nov 18, 2010 11:54AM

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

 

During November and December, consumers are expected to buy $447 billion worth of holiday gifts. That's a 2.3% increase over last year and, if each dollar generates a single rewards point, enough to cover more than 17 million free plane tickets, $28 million in cash back or a whopping $4.4 billion in store credit.

This holiday season, stores and credit card issuers have rolled out temporary reward bonus programs that, in concert, can generate meaningful savings.

 

DATA PROVIDERS

Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

ABOUT SMART SPENDING

Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

TOOLS

More