Postal Service wants to offer other new products to stop the bleeding.
The U.S. Postal Service is struggling partly because fewer people use snail mail. So how's this for a fix? Post offices have begun selling greeting cards.
They are available at 500 post offices under a one-year contract with Hallmark and will be sold at 1,000 more after Jan. 1 as part of this experiment.
You may not find this service in your neighborhood. The USPS has 37,000 or so locations -- although several hundred will likely be closed as a cost-cutting measure. (Here's the latest list under consideration for the axe (.pdf file).)
And there's more news, The Washington Post reports:
Study suggests 'shopping guilt' is slowing economic recovery.
What is holding back our economic recovery?
Maybe it’s shopping guilt. The Wall Street Journal reported last week on a study that said “luxury shame” is keeping shoppers out of high-end stores. Until consumers can overcome their guilt about spending money on high-end products, those poor marketers of luxury goods will just have to suffer, The WSJ reported.
Guilt has always been part of the shopping experience. But retail executives say it has become such an overriding emotion among shoppers since the economic crisis set in last year that it is delaying the recovery of the luxury-goods industry. Shoppers are suffering from "luxury shame," consulting group Bain & Co. said in a research report.
The article cites as an example the guilt felt by 24-year-old Carolyn Hsu, founder of The Daily Obsession shopping blog, over her purchase of a Tod’s bag for $1,000 at a private luxury sale. Later, she hid the bag at the back of her closet. “I try not to have those moments anymore,” she told the WSJ.
Because it can.
The College Board (the SAT people) recently released its annual survey of college tuition (.pdf file) and found what it always finds. College got more expensive last year. This time ’round public colleges went up 6.5% and private ones 4.4%, both of which are pretty steep increases when compared with the 2.1% decline in the CPI over the same period.
- Bing: Tuition-free colleges
This was a particularly bad year for the tuition vs. inflation comparison, but the overall trend is striking. According to the College Board, over the past 30 years the average tuition cost has tripled in real inflation-adjusted terms. It’s hard to think of anything else we buy that has gone up as much. It would be like paying $12 a gallon at the pump.
The retail behemoth follows Costco's lead by offering a selection of caskets and urns online.
Don't look for them on the shelves of your local Wal-Mart store, but Walmart.com is now selling caskets and urns at bargain prices online.
- Bing: Celebrity deaths in 2009
This is great news, we think, because the exorbitant prices charged by funeral homes have been one of our pet peeves for decades. Funeral homes are required by law to accept a casket you buy elsewhere -- and can't charge you extra if you do.
Her 24-year-old daughter returned home after college and hasn't left yet.
Margaret writes in:
I have a 24-year-old daughter who is still living at home. She went away to college, but moved back in after college while looking for a job. She’s had a good job now for two years, but has made no move at all to move out. She does give me money for groceries and for bills, but she spends the rest of her money as soon as she gets it on clothes and cell phones and laptops. I think it’s time for her to move out, but I know that if I kicked her out, she would have nothing to fall back on. What credit she has is pretty poor. So I’m stuck. What do you suggest?
I suggest putting the impetus back on your daughter.
Food stamp cards will be welcomed at half of its stores by Thanksgiving.
Costco, the warehouse club for the more sophisticated shopper, will begin accepting food stamps at all of its stores.
"It's a big about-face for a retailer that has catered to the bargain-hunting affluent -- and a sign of the grim reality facing retailers and their customers. Food-stamp users recently hit a record 36 million," BusinessWeek said.
Sounds like a smart move, for several reasons:
New study details card companies' increasingly punitive terms.
Need more proof that credit card companies aren’t treating customers with more consideration before the Credit CARD Act actually takes effect next year? A new Pew Charitable Trusts study has details.
Pew reviewed terms offered by nearly 400 credit cards in July and compared them with terms for those cards back in December. Card companies aren’t gradually adopting better behavior as the Feb. 22 deadline for many of the reforms draws near. In fact, the opposite is true.
Suze Orman chastises banks, and senator proposes freeze on rates.
Ann Minch, the California woman who got Bank of America to rescind its interest rate increase after she took her fight to YouTube, has recruited an unlikely ally: Suze Orman, the financial author and TV personality and advocate for protecting your FICO score.
Minch was featured on Orman’s television show on CNBC, where she told her story and Orman aired clips from her video. While Orman didn’t advise her listeners to quit paying their credit card bills and make YouTube videos instead, she did chastise banks for arbitrary increases in rates, fees and minimum payments and suggested that viewers move their money to credit unions.
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