AmEx tries to convince us that not being able to borrow money is a feature.
Investing was actually my second career. For the six years between college and B-school I wrote software. Back then, we Dilberts had a phrase we used to parody the marketing types who sold what we made. "It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!" In other words, that obvious flaw in the software is not, in fact, a mistake that makes it less useful, it is a brilliant design decision that actually makes it better and worth more to you, the customer.
- Bing: Worst credit cards
I also, at this time, had an American Express card, paying, I think, $50 or $75 a year for the privilege. I honestly forget why. I think I got it while still in college under some kind of special deal. And there was this store I frequented that in those days only took AmEx. Anyway, by the time I was 25 I came to my senses and canceled the thing. They sent me a nice letter saying that if I ever came back I could still have a card that said "Member Since 1986."
So I’ve got that going for me.
I was reminded of both these things from my past by a brilliant new marketing campaign from American Express.
Many of these 36 ideas will work in a pinch. You likely have many of these materials in your home.
Trying to maintain eco boundaries in the middle of winter holiday chaos? It can be tough, particularly with all of those ribbons and bows tempting us at every turn. If your tastes lean more toward silk and satin than burlap and tin foil, here are 36 green gift-wrapping ideas to get you started.
Some use less plastic. Others recycle materials that might otherwise go to waste, or include something that can be reused time and again. The overall theme is that they all take planetary impact into consideration in some way. Feel free to contribute your additional thoughts and ideas below so we are armed with strategies that will let us celebrate with style.
Here are some ideas for presents that will save the recipients money.
British clergyman's advice to the destitute ignites a firestorm.
The Poverty News Blog called this “news of the weird”: With a “heavy heart,” a British pastor said it’s OK to shoplift from big chain stores -- but only if you have no other choice. It’s a “least worst option,” preferable to robbery or prostitution, he said.
- Bing: Most shoplifted items
The hometown Press in York reported on what Father Tim Jones told parishioners:
"I do not offer such advice because I think that stealing is a good thing, or because I think it is harmless, for it is neither. I would ask that they do not steal from small, family businesses, but from large national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices. I would ask them not to take any more than they need, for any longer than they need."
His advice wasn’t well-received in many circles. The Press called what ensued a “furious controversy.”
Think young people know technology? They're not learning what they need for the jobs of the future.
We have this perception that today’s young people are all great with technology. But just try to find a young relative who can set up your wireless network. In my family, the people over 50 provide all the tech support.
The fact that most young people don’t learn any but the most basic computer skills in school is a problem, The New York Times reports.
The U.S. economy needs more nerds.
Spending conservatively during the holidays is a good idea, except when it comes to your flexible spending account.
Consumers with a flexible spending account, or FSA, may have just days left to use funds in these pretax accounts -- or lose them for good.
These accounts let you put aside pretax dollars for payment of out-of-pocket medical expenses. But the funds don't usually carry over year to year, so come Dec. 31, you could forfeit any unspent funds. (You may have as late as March 31, 2010, to submit expenses for reimbursement, depending on the plan.)
"Having $200 to $300 left at this point is not uncommon," says Tom Billet, a senior benefits consultant at Watson Wyatt, an employee-benefits consulting firm. "Then, panic sets in."
You never know when you'll need this service. Here's how to easily find one.
When I bought my house a few years ago, I was introduced to the idea of a notary public. In most capacities, a notary public is a “public official” given the right to administer oaths and affirmations. In many of the cases where you’ll need a notary public to “notarize” a document, they are there to affirm that the person signing the document is in fact the person who is supposed to be signing it.
When you get a document notarized, you provide proof of your identity, you sign the document in their presence, and then they sign and stamp the document, usually with a raised seal (depending on the state).
More recently, I had to get a notary to notarize my Pennsylvania claim form after I found some unclaimed property about a month ago (an old Best Buy rebate, I think). It was a little trickier than when I still worked at a company, but eventually I found one. Now I’m going to write it down so I don’t make the same mistakes again.
Policies about the same as last year, says Consumer World.
Consumer World says that most policies are the same this year as they were last year, partially reversing a trend toward more restrictive return policies. However, many stores have different return policies for different types of items, making returns more complicated.
- Video: Countdown to Christmas
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