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Make sure you're getting your money's worth when buying holiday gifts.

By Money Staff Dec 13, 2010 5:51PM

This post comes from partner blog Investopedia.


Investopedia on MSN MoneyIt's December, and if you're like the rest of the country, you're probably making your shopping list. Maybe you should check it twice: some items include outrageous markups, often selling at many times more than it costs the retailer to get them to the store.

So how can you spend your hoilday dollars more wisely this season? Here are seven holiday items with the biggest markups, and some alternative ways to give this year.


Retailers are using shipping deals to compete for shoppers. Most deadlines are this week for delivery by Dec. 24.

By Teresa Mears Dec 13, 2010 2:31PM

Today may be the biggest shipping day of the year for holiday purchases, but that doesn't mean you have to finish all your online shopping just yet.

Amazon has become the latest retailer to extend the deadline to order an item in time for delivery by Dec. 24. The new deadline is Dec. 17 for free "Super Saver" shipping on orders over $25.


When it comes to holiday gifts, you don't have to blow your budget to wow your children. Here's some proven advice.

By Stacy Johnson Dec 13, 2010 1:29PM

This post comes from Michael Koretzky at partner site Money Talks News.


Who better than a financial planner for doling out advice on how not to spend money this holiday season?


The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards has released its strategies (.pdf file) for "making a child happy this holiday season." And all of them are frugal.

"Even with a sour economy, many parents will continue to agonize over finding their child just the right present, whatever the cost in time and money," the board says. Here are their tips:


Too often people are willing to go into debt or at least overbuy to satisfy someone else's idea of the perfect holiday.

By Karen Datko Dec 13, 2010 11:45AM

This post comes from Donna Freedman of MSN Money.


An old friend of mine -- call him "Frugalbert Humperdinck" -- once riffed on the song "A Man Without Love." Unfamiliar with that late 1960s hit? Sit patiently through a video of Engelbert Humperdinck singing the first verse in order to get to the chorus that's about to be parodied:


Christmas bills are scare-ful,

But one can be careful.

Lovely is a man without loans.


Should you feel any shame in giving used designer handbags to your nieces for Christmas?

By Karen Datko Dec 13, 2010 10:25AM

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


The holiday season can test a frugal person's patience: There are so many temptations to spend. Sure, we all want to enjoy the festive nature of this time of year, but where do you draw the line? And how fugal is too frugal?

Michelle wrote with a terrific question. She has the sort of dilemma I can picture myself facing. Here's her story:

Like you, I am a big proponent of thrift store shopping. It saves money, and it's just more fun than going to the mall -- at least for me. Because I live in the New York City area, I'm fortunate in that many of the area thrift stores are filled with fantastic stuff, including designer and name-brand quality clothes, many of which are barely worn.
On a recent thrift store trip, I picked up two designer handbags as Christmas gifts for my college-aged nieces, but now I'm having second thoughts.
On the one hand, there's no way they would ever really acquire Coach and Kate Spade handbags on their own. On the other hand, I don't know if they share my acceptance and love for thrifting, and they may not react well to the thought of being gifted someone else's castoffs.

A survey shows that will be the average monthly income from what Americans in their 50s are saving for retirement.

By Karen Datko Dec 10, 2010 5:58PM

This post comes from Fred Yager at partner site


It seems as if every financial services company in the world conducts its own retirement survey and each one is more depressing than the last.


The most recent one comes from Wells Fargo, which says that most Americans in their 50s should be prepared to live on $190 a month, because that's all the personal saving they'll have to look forward to.

Now, granted, the survey didn't take into consideration Social Security or possible pensions, which are becoming extremely rare these days.


But the point is clear: Wake up or be prepared to spend your retirement years living in a van down by the river, as the late great comedian Chris Farley used to say.


When you pick the food up yourself, do restaurant workers act as if you're still supposed to tip?

By Karen Datko Dec 10, 2010 4:04PM

This guest post comes from J. Money atBudgets are Sexy.


How much do you tip for takeout when you pick food up at a restaurant?


We talked a lot about holiday tipping the other week, but I think this question is much more interesting because it affects each and every one of us -- or at least the ones who enjoy splurging on takeout every now and then.

I've heard pros and cons to both sides here, so I'm kind of curious to see what you all think.


Here's the comment that prompted this post (thanks, Linda):

What about tipping for takeout? They seem like they want the full 20% and get angry if they don't get it. How do other people handle this?

Shoppers report longer waits for ordered gifts. How to make sure yours arrive on time.

By Karen Datko Dec 10, 2010 2:21PM

This Deal of the Daycomes fromKelli B. Grantat partner site SmartMoney.


Every night of Hanukkah, Barbara Adler gave one gift to each of her three sons. Until the last night of the eight-day holiday, when she presented an electronic puzzle game to the trio, "for all of us."


The other gifts, ordered from affiliates, hadn't arrived at their Roslyn, N.Y., home -- even though she'd ordered them some 11 days before.

No one keeps track of real-time complaints like these, but anecdotal evidence suggests that plenty of shoppers are still waiting on holiday gift orders placed weeks ago.



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