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Expect to see more recycled gifts under the tree this year, survey finds.

By Kim Peterson Nov 9, 2009 12:50PM
Santa on a budget © 2008 MSN MoneyI have an brand new Nescafe Dolce Gusto machine sitting in the garage, a beautiful gift from a friend. But I already have a Keurig coffee maker, so I've decided to give the Dolce Gusto to my coffee-lovin' dad for Christmas.

Do I feel guilty about regifting? A little. But my dad won't care. And my friend probably won't either. It's going to a good home. And, I admit, I am relieved at having one less present to buy this holiday.

More Americans are doing the same thing, a new survey shows. About 36% of us plan to recycle a gift this year, up from 31% last year and 24% in 2007, according to Consumer Reports. 

A study shows that four different types have emerged from the Great Recession.

By Karen Datko Nov 6, 2009 7:54PM

This post comes from James Limbach at partner site


One fact often ignored in the current debate on the lasting effects of the recession is the wide variation in the way American consumers are dealing with the downturn.

A new study -- "Marketing to the Post-Recession Consumers" -- by the marketing strategy and research firm Decitica has identified four distinct consumer segments emerging from the recession:

  • Steadfast Frugalists
  • Involuntary Penny Pinchers
  • Pragmatic Spenders
  • Apathetic Materialists

How does applying for a balance-transfer card affect your credit rating?

By Karen Datko Nov 6, 2009 3:28PM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.


About two weeks ago, I signed up for Equifax's free trial of Score Watch. With Score Watch, you get your three credit reports and your FICO credit score as reported by Equifax for free for 30 days (you do need to cancel the service before Day 30 to avoid paying for the Score Watch service). I had recently signed up for MyFICO's free credit score program, and I wanted to compare the two.

One thing I immediately noticed was just how many credit cards I have. Only one has a balance, which is from a 0% APR on balance transfers offer I took advantage of last December. But the reason I have so many cards is because of the many balance-transfer deals I've used over the years. And that got me to wondering whether applying for a balance-transfer offer will hurt your credit score.


Children can learn to make holiday gifts.

By Teresa Mears Nov 6, 2009 2:34PM

Ah, the idea of children making gifts for their friends and relatives for Christmas or Hanukkah. It sounds great, if they only knew how to make something. And if you’re not crafty yourself, it may be hard to teach them.


Several chain stores offer free crafts workshops for kids. Send your kids to the November and December workshops, and perhaps they can learn to make a few holiday gifts. Be sure to check with your local store in case the management has decided to deviate from the national schedule.

Some of those handmade gifts have staying power, too. I’m still using the recipe cards my little sister wrote out for me, in her child’s printing, when I left home 34 years ago.


Here are some places where your children can learn a few crafts:


Veterans and military personnel honored with free meals, discounts.

By Teresa Mears Nov 6, 2009 1:21PM

Wednesday, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day, when all Americans remember those who have served their country.


In our family, we remember my mother’s brother, who died in World War II, one nephew in Iraq and his brother who has just returned from Iraq. My father served in the Army, but he was lucky enough to serve in peacetime and have the job of booking entertainment for troops at Fort Knox, Ky. There he met my mother, who was a music teacher, and here I am.

In honor of Veterans Day, the National Park Service is offering free admission to all national parks for everyone on Wednesday. Other federal agencies also are offering free entry to public lands. The Park Service also has information on sites tied to the nation’s military history, and some parks plan special events.


Several stores and restaurants are offering special deals to veterans:


If you're not hungry, get free family portraits and visit a museum.

By Teresa Mears Nov 6, 2009 12:09PM

It’s time to celebrate Friday with a few freebies and food deals.


If you don’t like these choices, has its $25 gift certificates, good at local restaurants, for $3 each until Nov. 9 with promo code DINE. Be sure to read the fine print before you choose a restaurant because some of the coupons require minimum purchases, are good for dinner only or have other limits.

Remember that not all local restaurants participate in all national promotions. If you have doubts, call ahead.


Here are the latest food deals, courtesy of our friends at Cities on the Cheap:


Haste really can make waste.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 6, 2009 7:42AM
Recently I almost paid what Dave Ramsey calls the "stupid tax." There I was in the university computer lab, trying to jam as many things as possible into the few available minutes: answer work-related e-mails, read a departmental notice, update my Twitter page, take down a voice mail message from a potential renter. Oh, and use my asthma inhaler -- I was breathless from having rushed across campus in order to get in as much computer time as possible before class.

I did a Swagbucks search and won, bringing my total to the 45 points that I needed for a $5 gift card. So I ordered it -- except that I was so distracted I wound up ordering an card, good only in Canada.

Did I mention that I live in the United States?  

Time extended, and credit added for some owners of existing homes.

By Teresa Mears Nov 5, 2009 6:25PM

While extending unemployment benefits this week, Congress also made a few moves its members say are designed to stimulate the housing market. If you're planning to buy a house, this could be good news for you.


Congress took two significant steps that will benefit certain homebuyers:

  • Extended the $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers (defined as those who haven’t owned a home in the last three years) through April 30.
  • Added a new $6,500 tax credit for people who buy a new home after owning and living in their homes five of the last eight years.

The president is expected to sign the bill, which you can read here. The National Association of Realtors also has put together a helpful chart comparing the new and old tax credit provisions.



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