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You can donate, re-gift or sell them online.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 6, 2009 5:57PM

Not all gift cards are welcomed by their recipients. Maybe you got a Nordstrom card although you're a thrift-store kind of gal. Maybe Uncle Fred gave you a Wal-Mart card, not knowing you're one of those folks who has problems with that merchandising giant's policies. Or maybe you, like MSN Money columnist Liz Pulliam Weston, simply don't like gift cards. 

Remember that the giver meant well, and go ahead and write your thank-you note. After that, you're free to dispose of that gift card in any of the following ways. 

(How to write a thank-you note for something you're planning to ditch? Try this: "Many thanks for your generous gift. It was so kind of you to think of me. The gift card will come in very handy."

And it will come in handy, though not necessarily in the way the giver might have envisioned.)


When you save money, you are earning money.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 6, 2009 5:47PM

Some readers thought the headline on "Earn $50 an hour: Change your own car battery" was misleading. Their basic gripe was semantic: "You're not earning the money, you're saving it."

That's not how I see it. When you do a project, the money stays in your pocket instead of landing in someone else's. You are paying yourself. You are earning money.

But when I thought it, I realized that the headline is misleading -- just not for the reason those readers thought.


Another person's trash becomes my free treasure.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 6, 2009 5:36PM

A few weeks ago I went out to gather blackberries. Something told me to leave by the back door rather than the front. I've learned to listen to these impulses, so into the alley I went.

Half a block away, I found the reason why. 

Someone had put a baby carriage and a personal shopping cart next to a Dumpster. I didn't touch the baby carriage; that ship has sailed, friend. But since I recently gave away my automobile I was delighted to score a wheeled cart in which I can carry home groceries.


Adjust your spending as your preferences change.

By Karen Datko Oct 6, 2009 5:25PM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


How many fixed expenses do you have each month? We have about half a dozen -- mortgage, utilities, cable and Internet, Netflix, insurance, and the gym. Of those, three are mostly non-negotiable (mortgage, utilities, insurance). For cable and Internet, Netflix, and the gym, we’ve considered downgrading our services to reduce their expense.

Over the last few years, our preferences and our life circumstances have changed the things we enjoy in our free time. When we first moved to the area, we would enjoy going out to bars and clubs to drink and dance the night away. Nowadays, we prefer going to someone’s house or to a lounge for a more casual night out. As our preferences changed, where we chose to spend our time changed.


We didn’t, however, apply this to the things we paid for each month. 


Be patient. Shots aren't widely available just yet.

By Karen Datko Oct 6, 2009 4:32PM

Smart spenders know that one of the keys to sound personal finance is maintaining good health.  With that in mind, here’s some helpful information about the H1N1 vaccine, how you can get immunized, and how much it will cost.


The first batch of vaccine -- the nasal mist type -- is being administered this week to health care workers for the most part. That makes sense because we need these folks to stay well. Also, the mist, which takes less time to make, can’t be used to immunize pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions, children under 2, and older folks.


As more vaccine -- the shot variety -- becomes available in huge batches starting in mid-October, here’s who will get it first, according to The Washington Post:


Or would you prefer to have an extra hour each day?

By Karen Datko Oct 6, 2009 1:52PM

If you had to pick among the following, what would you prefer -- more money, more time, less weight or more sex?


In a recent survey by and, the majority of people picked more money.


Our friend Sharon Harvey Rosenberg, also known as The Frugal Duchess, shared these results from the poll with her readers.


Survey: Cardholders think they've been treated unfairly.

By Karen Datko Oct 6, 2009 11:41AM

This post comes from partner site


Credit card holders are angry. About one-third (32%) have paid off and closed a card since January 2008, and half of those who canceled did so in direct response to the actions of credit card issuers, such as cutting limits, hiking rates, or imposing fees, according to a national poll by Consumer Reports.


Twenty-one percent of respondents said they were treated unfairly by card companies, and only 41% said they were highly satisfied with their card issuer, making credit cards one of the lowest-rated services that Consumer Reports covers.

The level of public anger about card issuers shows in the results of Consumer Reports’ nationally representative survey of 1,211 credit card users, conducted in July, as well as in scores of irate letters and e-mails Consumer Reports has received from readers.


Here are 5 ideas to consider.

By Karen Datko Oct 6, 2009 2:43AM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.

Regret over past financial decisions can have a powerful hold on you.

At 23, you may regret running up $20,000 in credit card debt during college. At 35, you may regret never having gone to college. At 45, you may regret having never started that consulting business you always dreamed of pursing. And at 65, you may regret not having saved more for retirement. In recent days, many financial chickens have come home to roost.

Regret, financial or otherwise, can have a powerful grip on your life. For most, the question is not whether you have financial regret. The question is how you harness the power of that regret to make sound financial decisions today that you will not regret tomorrow.

Here are some ideas to help you do just that:



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