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Upselling, crouching next to tables, smiley faces on the check are all part of a smart server's arsenal.

By Karen Datko Sep 26, 2009 2:46AM

Do you feel warm and fuzzy -- and more generous -- when your waiter draws a smiley face on your check? Do you feel a bond when your server engages you in chitchat? According to Richard at Student Scrooge, these are devices waiters employ to pump up the tip.

When he researched them, Richard said, "I had a whole series of flashbacks to all of these moments at the end of a meal where I undoubtedly was influenced by some of these strategies. Is tipping some sort of game of psychological warfare?" 


Anti-meat group says processed meat poses serious health risk.

By Karen Datko Sep 26, 2009 2:40AM

This post comes from Jon Hood at partner site

Many modern-day baseball stadiums prohibit smoking, but cancer danger apparently still lurks around the corner: An anti-meat consumer group alleges in a class-action that hot dogs pose serious health risks and need to carry warning labels.

The lawsuit was filed in Essex County, N.J., by The Cancer Project on behalf of three New Jersey residents. Among the named defendants are Nathan's Famous; Kraft Foods, which manufactures Oscar Mayer wieners; Sara Lee; ConAgra, which makes Hebrew National franks; and Marathon, manufacturer of Sabrett, "the frankfurter New Yorker's [sic] relish."


Toys R Us is focused on lower-priced holiday toys

By Karen Datko Sep 25, 2009 6:48PM

Toys R Us released its list of prospective hot toys for the holidays, and guess what: Most retail for less than $100.


The toy getting the most media attention is the Zhu Zhu Pets Hamster, which retails for a very attractive $9.99. "With more than 40 different sound effects and artificial intelligence, these pets will dart around the house, play in hamster tubes, run on wheels and more," Toys R Us said. This sounds fun.


Among those on the higher end, The Associated Press reports, are "Mattel's Mindflex, about $90, which measures brain activity through a helmet and uses it to move a ball through an obstacle course." Great. We'll bring that one out whenever anyone questions our brain power.


Frugality shouldn't be trendy.

By Donna_Freedman Sep 25, 2009 2:58PM
Inside a neighborhood newspaper recently I found a coupon section with the headline, "Frugal is hip. It's OK to clip."

Hip? Suddenly I'm hip? For years people debated my sanity, sometimes openly, because I shopped thrift stores, used coupons, made soup stock from chicken bones. Turns out I was just a bit early to a party that others have finally deemed cool enough to attend.

At various times in recent history it has also been hip to wear shoulder pads, cook with oat bran and turn rocks into pets. I don't want frugality to be hip. I want it to last.  

Maybe it's not your employer's fault

By Teresa Mears Sep 25, 2009 2:05PM

Chalk up another casualty of the recession: workers' health.

A new study released this week found that, despite all the concern over health care costs, the health of people with jobs is declining.


"Workers are putting in longer hours, afraid of losing their jobs. With less time to exercise, more than a third of employees report that work drains them of energy, leaving nothing for their personal lives,'' writes Cindy Krischer Goodman, who does the Work/Life Balancing Act column and blog for The Miami Herald.


Are fewer promos a sign of better times ahead?

By Teresa Mears Sep 25, 2009 12:00PM

We couldn't find many new food and restaurant deals this week. Could this be a sign that the recession is easing, or is it just a lull?


Sit-down casual chain restaurants still have ongoing deals. You can download local restaurant coupons from Valpak, find online deals for pizza chains and be notified of deals via Facebook


Remember, not all local franchises participate in all national promotions, so be sure to ask at your local store.

Here are this week's deals, courtesy of our friends at Cities on the Cheap:


Changes made to thwart counterfeiters.

By Karen Datko Sep 25, 2009 3:12AM

This post comes from partner blog Blueprint for Financial Prosperity.

Check out the latest super-anti-counterfeit bill to hit the streets: It's none other than the fiver, and it debuted last week with much fanfare over its added security features and that humongous purple "5" on the back.


Great deals can be found, but should you be concerned about possible health risks?

By Karen Datko Sep 25, 2009 2:58AM

If you track the blogosphere, it seems that the popularity of the humble dollar store is soaring, and that these stores aren't as humble as they used to be. 

Imagine this: The extremely picky "Mrs. Badger" at Lipstick is my Crack has even switched from body wash to bar soap because she found soaps she loves at the dollar store.

"Yeah! It's not all Irish Spring and Lifebuoy up in there anymore, y'all! And it's not all no-name generic soaps made out of battery acid and bacon grease (I just made that up; don't e-mail me) anymore, either," she writes.



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