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Consumer Reports unveils survey of top holiday shopping turnoffs.

By Karen Datko Nov 23, 2009 4:32PM

This post comes from partner site


Consumer Reports has unveiled a public education campaign that takes aim at pushy holiday season retail practices. The campaign’s centerpiece is a full-page ad in USA Today on Tuesday, Nov. 24, that highlights top holiday shopping annoyances as determined by a nationally representative survey of Americans by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

The list of holiday annoyances that Americans were asked about was generated by readers of The Consumerist, a member of the Consumer Reports family.


The ad takes the form of a “Dear Shopper” letter highlighting pushy holiday season practices and the percentage of Americans who find them annoying:


The supermarket may have some of the best buys of the day.

By Karen Datko Nov 23, 2009 2:58PM

Julie Parrish, CEO of, has some unusual advice for Black Friday shoppers: Go to the grocery store.


“Not everyone will do it, but my savings at Albertsons and Safeway beats the heck out of the $5 I'm going to save chasing the 4 a.m. sock sale at Fred Meyer,” Parrish said.

According to Parrish, many stores on Black Friday knock down the price of perishable holiday foods -- like roasts, fresh turkeys, baked goods and produce -- that didn’t move out the door before we all sat down to gorge ourselves on Thanksgiving.


J.D. finds inspiration in a children's fable -- and an episode of 'The Biggest Loser.'

By Karen Datko Nov 23, 2009 11:54AM

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


One reason I got into financial trouble during my early 20s was that I wanted everything right now. I looked at what my parents had, and it didn’t occur to me that they’d been working their entire lives to get to that point. I wanted the same level of comfort, and I wanted it today. I wanted what I saw in the magazines and on TV. I wanted to start at the end, not the beginning.


In order to afford that sort of lifestyle, I went into a lot of debt. But even then, I couldn’t manage for long. I lived high on the hog for a couple of years, and then found myself back in the real world -- but with lots of extra bills to pay. In an attempt to reach the “finish line” of life sooner, I’d put myself further behind.


Californians aren't the only ones saddled with higher college costs.

By Karen Datko Nov 20, 2009 6:42PM

A 32% increase in tuition approved by the University of California regents is being met with student protests -- and arrests -- throughout the system.


It’s the most stunning development we've yet seen as many states, struggling with sagging revenues, continue to cut funding for higher ed. Consider this: State support  per student in the UC system is half what it was in 1990, a university official said.

We can’t blame students for being upset, considering what college will cost in the UC system. The Los Angeles Times reports:


The gratuity was mandatory for large parties, but what if the service stinks?

By Karen Datko Nov 20, 2009 2:38PM

Bizarre story of the week: Two restaurant patrons were arrested on a charge of theft when they refused to pay a $16 mandatory tip that was part of their bill.


College student Leslie Pope told a TV reporter that the service was so bad at the Bethlehem, Pa., establishment that she had to get the table’s silverware and napkins and walk to the bar to refill her soda. An hour after the group of eight ordered chicken fingers and other bar grub, the food arrived.

The menu says an 18% tip is included in the bill for parties of six or more. The tip on their bill amounted to $16.35 (inexplicably higher than 18%).


NBC Philadelphia reports:

After the $73 bill came, the group paid for food, drinks, and tax but refused to pay the tip. After explaining the bad service to the bartender in charge, Pope claimed he took their money and called police. The couple was handcuffed and placed in the back of a police car. 

The Dough Roller explains why this approach to retirement savings works for him.

By Karen Datko Nov 20, 2009 12:35PM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.


Last week my family had dinner with good friends of ours. After dinner our conversation turned to investing. Our friends told us about a money manager they were going to use to manage a small portion of their investment portfolio. The wife was fed up with the buy-and-hold investment strategy, she told us, and was looking to become more aggressive with their investments. I cringed.


The money manager charges 2% of invested assets and regularly takes short positions (bets against the market). He is also partial to ProShares, a mutual fund that uses leverage to boost returns (and losses!), as if investing weren’t risky enough.

Anyway, the wife’s basic beef with long-term investing strategies was that the market over the past 10 years had failed to produce positive returns. In her view, the market goes up and down, but in the end, finishes right where it started. One might say the market is "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."


Discount coffee and chocolate for shoppers, plus Quiznos coupons.

By Teresa Mears Nov 20, 2009 12:17PM

We don’t have too many new Friday food deals and freebies this week. Perhaps the restaurant management thinks we’re all too busy at home cooking. If you want to go out, do check your local restaurants for Thanksgiving deals.

Some of last week’s freebies and deals are still valid. If you’re traveling, don’t forget you can get free Wi-Fi at airports during the holidays. And, Bass Pro Shops and other chain stores have ongoing free craft workshops for kids.


Here are a few new food deals:


When times are tight, small luxuries feel -- or taste -- particularly swell.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 20, 2009 12:03PM

This week has been a series of minor irritants, including but not limited to constant rain, leaky apartment house windows, 52 pages of really dense course reading, a hot freelance deadline, and making the 50-minute trip to campus one day only to find that the class had been canceled. (It was pouring that day, too.)

Haunting just about every waking minute is the fact that the undergraduate thesis that's due in mid-December is nowhere close to being done.

Once my wet shoes squished across the threshold on Thursday evening I wanted to lie down and scream, as some of my relatives might say. Instead, I ordered takeout.

That is very unlike me. And you know what? It was sooo worth it.



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