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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." 

You can keep food costs under control and save preparation time.

By Karen Datko Nov 25, 2009 1:09PM

This post comes from Trent Hamm at partner blog The Simple Dollar.


Recently, several couples in our community started a frozen-meal exchange. It’s a really simple idea.

On a certain day, everyone in the exchange meets for coffee and brings along a laundry basket full of frozen meals, one for each family, along with any needed instructions taped to the lids. The club members swap the meals so that everyone takes home one of each meal that they didn’t prepare.


It’s a very clever idea for several reasons.


Blogger excoriates women who expect men to pay for everything.

By Karen Datko Nov 24, 2009 9:25PM

The following story set off a thoughtful rant by “Fabulously Broke”: A judge this year granted alimony to a jobless woman despite the fact that she and her husband had waived any claim to alimony when they divorced 27 years ago.

This turn of events is one of the anecdotes in an excellent Wall Street Journal story about why some lawmakers think alimony laws are sorely in need of an update. (It appears that the economy is prompting more people to seek support from spouses they divorced years ago. We should also note that a large majority of alimony payers are men.)


Here’s the core of the WSJ piece:


Overcooked the pasta or charred the steak? It's not the end of the world.

By Karen Datko Nov 24, 2009 8:08PM

This post comes from Tisha Tolar at partner blog Wise Bread.


We've all likely burned a pot of something in our lifetime, but sometimes a ruined dinner may not be so ruined after all. Learn a few tricks of the trade and save yourself some time and money.

As more and more families go back to basics and choose to stay home to eat, there is big interest in the recipe industry and cooking shows. Catching a few episodes of those shows or investing in a new cookbook can certainly help to keep meals at home fresh and interesting. If you make a mistake during your experimentation, don't throw out the food. Use these five quick fixes to salvage a good meal.


Pasta's hardly al dente? Overcooking your pasta noodles is easy to do, especially when you have other things going on around the kitchen. Fear not. Simply run the pasta through cold water to halt the cooking process. Add tomato sauce and reheat. The acid in the sauce will help bring back a firm noodle.


The retail behemoth appears intent to dominate

By Karen Datko Nov 24, 2009 7:02PM

Psst! Want a great deal on an Easy-Bake Oven? Go to, where it’s on sale. No, wait. Check out, which just reduced its price. Hold on. Wal-Mart still has the better price.

Prices have fallen faster than Marines battling the Alien Queen as these two retail giants duke it out. What started as a competition over who can sell a handful of best-selling book titles for less has spread to a wider assortment of stuff --DVDs, video games and consoles, cell phones and, yes, Easy-Bake Ovens.


Cybercriminals are gearing up to take advantage of the holiday season.

By Karen Datko Nov 24, 2009 1:24PM

This post comes from James Limbach at partner site


As cybercriminals begin to take advantage of the holiday season, McAfee Inc. is warning consumers about the "12 Scams of Christmas" -- the 12 most dangerous online scams that computer users should be cautious of.


According to Consumer Reports’ 2009 State of the Net Survey, cybercriminals have bilked $8 billion from consumers in the past two years.

"Cybercriminals use their best schemes during the holidays to steal people's money, credit card information, Social Security number and identity," said Jeff Green, senior vice president of McAfee Labs. "These thieves follow seasonal trends and create holiday-related Web sites, scams and other convincing e-mails that can trick even the most cautious users."


The 12 Scams of Christmas are:


Sometimes bribery isn't a bad word.

By Karen Datko Nov 24, 2009 11:47AM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


I’ve always found that tipping, by far, is the best investment you can ever make in almost any situation. Anyone who has ever bellied up to a bar knows that a dollar a drink is all it takes to get the speediest service on even the busiest of nights. Want a nicer hotel room? I’ll tell you about a risk-free technique you can use to score complimentary upgrades, if they’re available.


'Happy Eid al-Adha' on a Thanksgiving ad stirs outrage, debate.

By Karen Datko Nov 23, 2009 7:51PM

Eid al-Adha sounds like a lovely holiday -- a happy occasion full of praise for God, lots of food -- which is shared with the poor -- and gifts for children. An imam interviewed by The Modesto Bee said the four-day Eid al-Adha is the Muslim holiday that most closely resembles Christmas.

So why is a small blurb wishing “Happy Eid al-Adha” in a Best Buy Thanksgiving ad stirring controversy and debate?



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