Smart SpendingSmart Spending

But it is important that you get the basics right.

By Karen Datko Nov 27, 2009 1:33PM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.

 

You’ve seen this e-mail:

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae.The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit any porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Whlie it's not at all clear wheehtr a Cmabrigde Uinervtisy stduy rellay exsits, the concpet has treeemnduos aplpication to presoanl finncae and ivnsetnig.

Get the important things right. While we don't have to be perfect, we do need to get the important things right. Just like the first and last letters of a word need to be correct, there are some core personal-finance and investing concepts that we must get right:

 

Found coins add up slowly, but they DO add up.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 27, 2009 11:53AM
I'd planned to wait until mid-December to count my dropped change. By Nov. 18, the old vase in which I keep the coins was about to spill over. Eleven months' worth of found funds came to $34.54: a $5 bill, three $1 bills, 25 quarters, 117 dimes, 46 nickels and 629 pennies.

In the past week I've already found $1.05. Looks like it's going to be a good year for what blogger Candace Baltz-Smylie calls "Dirty Money."

She means that in a good way, of course.  

Under the right circumstances it is, but you'd better know what the recipient likes.

By Karen Datko Nov 25, 2009 9:53PM

Several questions come to blogger Abigail Perry’s mind when she sees one of those commercials with a car in the driveway topped by a big bow. You know -- where the wife goes outside and there it sits, all nice and pretty.

 

Abby (the daughter of MSN Money "Living With Less" columnist Donna Freedman) wonders how the car got there without the wife noticing. Did they bring it in the middle of the night? Did they check with the husband to make sure she’s asleep? “Does that mean the husband gets a walkie-talkie and gets to say things like ‘The bear is in hibernation’ and ‘Roger’ and ‘Over’?” Abby writes at I Pick Up Pennies.

 

OK, that’s the silly stuff. But Abby also raises some good questions. Is a car really an appropriate holiday present? No, she says, and here’s why not -- from the hypothetical wife’s point of view:

 

The season is filled with lots of traditions that were recently invented.

By Karen Datko Nov 25, 2009 8:39PM

This guest post comes from Frank Curmudgeon at Bad Money Advice.

 

We are now in what we Americans call the Holiday Season. And it is a season: not just one holiday, but a joyous period in which every day is special. A few of those days don’t have names yet, but I am sure that in time that gap in our culture will be filled.

 

Here’s a rundown of the next week or so.

 

The traditional fun begins with Travel Nightmare Wednesday. Observed the day before the last Thursday in November, this holiday is celebrated around the nation by crowding into planes and spending quality time with loved ones inside cars crawling along interstates.

 

Then comes Thanksgiving, when we solemnly thank the Almighty for football and giant balloons in the shape of cartoon characters. Some families also give thanks that once again they deep fried the turkey without burning the house down.

Things pick up a bit with Black Friday, a holiday that celebrates the simple pleasures of buying stuff. Traditionally, it is observed by talking about how everybody else is going to the mall that day and recounting how it is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year. It is not, nor has it ever been. That honor usually goes to Most Busy Saturday, which falls this year on Dec. 19.

 

Sure, times are tough, but think about how life was for those who came before us.

By Karen Datko Nov 25, 2009 4:01PM

This guest post comes from “vh” at Funny about Money.

 

How lucky we are. How incredibly lucky we are to have been born when we were born and where we were born.

 

Every now and again, I cruise the Web looking for my grandparents and great-grandparents, whom I never saw and about whom I know only some tantalizing hand-me-down legends. Because the pool of public records online grows deeper with each passing day, occasionally I come across something new.

The other night, what should I find but the 1900 census records listing my father’s parents, living way to hell and gone out in some godforsaken patch of east-central Texas. My father was not yet a proverbial twinkle, but both of his brothers had come into being in the early 1890s.

 

Some owners say it's been difficult to get the repair kit.

By Karen Datko Nov 25, 2009 3:13PM

This post comes from James Limbach at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

The recall of more than 2.1 million Stork Craft drop-side cribs, including about 147,000 Stork Craft drop-side cribs with the Fisher-Price logo, is just the latest in a series of actions involving cribs this year.

 

In January, Stork Craft announced the recall of more than 500,000 cribs. And this summer, Simplicity announced it was recalling more than 500,000 cribs.

As part of the most recent recall, involving about 1.21 million units distributed in the United States and 968,000 units distributed in Canada, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is urging parents and caregivers to stop using the recalled cribs immediately, wait for the free repair kit that converts the drop side on these cribs to a fixed side, and not to attempt to fix the cribs without the kit. The recalled cribs have been linked to four deaths.

 

It also is advising parents to find an alternative, safe sleeping environment for their baby.

 

However, obtaining the repair kit has not been easy for everyone.

 

Don't let lack of time, fear of failure, and The Damn Dishes hinder your efforts.

By Karen Datko Nov 25, 2009 1:37PM

This guest post comes from Kris at Cheap Healthy Good.

 

When it comes to eating healthier and saving money on food, we've established time and time again that few strategies are more effective than cooking at home. Making meals in your own kitchen gives you total control over nutrition, flavor, ingredient quality, and expenditures, among other things. Plus, making a mess with flour is fun.

Still, for many, home cooking is nigh inconceivable. Maybe you work 80 hours a week, and can't find 20 minutes to make a sandwich. Maybe you live in New York's East Village, where your apartment galley doubles as your bathroom and your bedroom. Maybe you never learned to cook, and are afraid of blowing $10 on a chicken, then charring it beyond recognition.

Fortunately, we here at the CHG laboratory (translation: my bathroom) have the answer.

First, we isolated a handful factors that most affect people's ability to fire up their own stoves. They are: time, space (in the capacity sense, not the extraterrestrial sense), inexperience, fear of failure, and The Damn Dishes. More than anything else, these five elements drive the average folk to takeout, restaurants, and pilfering fruit from sweet old ladies.

 

How many Bahamas vacations could you get instead? Those questions put big purchases into perspective.

By Kim Peterson Nov 25, 2009 1:15PM
Bargain Hunter © Hill Street Studios / Blend Images / Getty ImagesAs we head into a big spending season, Dan Ariely of Duke University suggests thinking about money in terms of sacrifice.

In other words, what are you giving up in order to buy that Christmas gift? In economics terms, that's called the opportunity cost, and it's something people don't think about enough, Ariely said.

Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics, once went into a Toyota dealership and asked people what would they not be able to do in the future if they bought that car they were eyeing.

"You would expect people to have an answer," he said in a video essay. "But people were kind of shocked by the question. They never thought about it before." 

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