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There are many options for reducing the monthly cost of your phone use.

By Karen Datko Dec 22, 2010 6:50PM

This post comes from Trent Hamm at partner blog The Simple Dollar.


Throughout December, I've been posting a series focusing on activities you can do to set the stage for a great 2011. Today we'll focus on reducing your phone bill.

Two episodes in my own life are relevant here. A couple years ago, I canceled my business phone line and moved to Skype. It reduced the monthly cost of my business-related calls by about $30 a month.


You don't have to show your receipt before you leave most stores. So why do they get so upset if you refuse?

By Money Staff Dec 22, 2010 6:07PM

This post comes from MSN Money's Liz Pulliam Weston.


Liz Pulliam Weston on MSN MoneyReceipt checks -- where store employees review your receipt at the exit to make sure you've paid for everything in your cart or bags -- are typically voluntary.


Somebody needs to let the store employees know that.

For a few years now, The Consumerist has been documenting skirmishes between customers and employees who refuse to take "no thank you" for an answer. Shoppers reported being physically detained, having their paid-for items taken away, and being threatened with arrest (although sometimes it was the shopper who called the cops, as one guy did after a manager took his merchandise).


Parents have been surprised by large charges on their iTunes account when kids play Smurfs' Village and other games.

By Karen Datko Dec 22, 2010 4:01PM

This post comes from Sara Huffman at partner site


Would you pay $99.99 for a wagon of smurfberries?


If your answer is "yes," you might be one of the growing numbers of adults addicted to Smurfs' Village, an interactive game featuring the little blue gnomes popularized in the 1970s and '80s.


Or you might be a 4-year-old playing on Mom's iPad.


Electronics store seeks to compete by easing returns policy. Will customers take advantage?

By Teresa Mears Dec 22, 2010 3:31PM

Best Buy is the latest retailer to try a novel approach to attract customers: Let customers return items without penalty.


The big-box electronics store quietly dropped its 15% restocking fee for most items this week, perhaps in response to lackluster sales so far this holiday season.


The end to the restocking fee officially came Dec. 18, but The Consumerist reports that store associates have been instructed to refund restocking fees paid between Nov. 17 and Dec. 17 to anyone who asks.


The Insurance Institute picked a record 66 vehicles for its 2011 top safety award.

By Karen Datko Dec 22, 2010 2:53PM

This post comes from Ken Thomas of The Associated Press.


South Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia and German car maker Volkswagen lead the insurance industry's annual list of the safest new vehicles, used by safety minded consumers looking to buy a new car.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has recognized 66 vehicles with its "top safety pick award" for the 2011 model year, the most-ever awarded by the Virginia-based group. The number was more than double the 27 vehicles selected last year. (You can find the entire list here.)


'Tis the season to evaluate your policies and look for potential savings.

By Money Staff Dec 22, 2010 1:19PM

This post comes from John Wasik at partner site Reuters' Prism Money blog. 


Reuters on MSN MoneyI doubt if many year-end checklists include the item "insurance policy review." It's about as exciting as road salt.


Yet this is a great time of year to see how you can save on all of your policies. Since my homeowner's policy is up for renewal the end of the month, I usually check to see how I can cut my premium.

Last year I took the plunge and pulled nearly all of my policies from one insurer. I got a better deal, surprisingly enough, through a college-savings program in which I'm enrolled (


Bosses should be losing sleep over a new study that shows 85% of office workers said they'd be more productive if they could get more sleep.

By Stacy Johnson Dec 22, 2010 1:09PM

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


On the same day a Miami newspaper reported that bosses are loading down their employees with even more work, a multinational electronics corporation released a survey showing that more than half of all office workers don't get enough sleep.


Connection, perhaps?


The Miami Herald reported:

Unemployment remains high in part because fewer people are doing more jobs. Employers consolidated positions during the recession, and aren't eager to spread out the work again.

Meanwhile, Philips Consumer Lifestyle, a division of the electronics manufacturer best known for TV sets, announced that "56% of office workers don't consistently get a good night's sleep."

Here are three excerpts from its Workplace Power Outage study that should give employers nightmares:


Oh, yes, and there's an app (or apps) for that.

By Karen Datko Dec 22, 2010 9:57AM

This post comes from Paul Michael at partner blog Wise Bread.


It's that time again. You think you have presents for everyone on your list, but somehow you forgot Great-Aunt Noonie. Or your neighbor pops over with a gift and now you want to return the sentiment. What do you get?


The Internet is usually my first resource for finding gifts, but now you have the dreaded shipping-and-handling issue to deal with. Sure, you could get it in time, but pay through the nose to get it overnighted. Plus, the stores are emptying faster than a beer keg at a frat party. But don't despair.


Here are 11 last-minute gift ideas that can help you spread some cheer without giving yourself an ulcer in the process.



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