These guidelines will help, but it's really about how much you can afford.
The holidays are about spending time with family and friends, being thankful for the things we’ve accomplished and the lives we’ve led, and showing appreciation to everyone who has made the year possible. Sometimes the year ends on a high note, as we celebrate the achievements. Sometimes we simply want to turn the page on a difficult 12 months.
- Bing: Cheap celebrity tippers
For many, this year will seem more like the latter, but it’s important to remember that as difficult as it was for you, chances are many were facing much tougher challenges.
It’s on this more somber note that I present to you the 2009 Holiday Tipping Guide, which hopefully will give you an idea of what is considered customary when it comes to showing appreciation to those in the services industry who have gone above and beyond. These are merely guidelines; it’s up to you to decide what makes sense for both your area and your own finances.
A new study shows that nearly half of workers do when they lose or change jobs.
What’s the best type of 401k to have? One that you don’t cash out when you lose your job or move on to the next one.
- Bing: Best 401k plans
A new survey by Hewitt Associates of 170,000 people whose employment changed last year showed that 46% did in fact cash out -- and the percentage was higher among the youngest investors. The amount they lost to taxes and early-withdrawal penalties -- often 30% or more -- apparently wasn’t a disincentive. And neither was the loss of substantial compound interest over time.
An employee who cashes out a $5,000 retirement balance at age 25 would get a check for just $3,500 after taxes and penalties. Left in an account, that $5,000 may have grown over decades to $75,000 at retirement, Hewitt said.
American, United start new round of discounts.
If you missed last week’s airfare sales, don’t despair.
American Airlines and United Airlines have launched some new sales, and some of their low-fare deals are even good around the holidays, Smarter Travel reports. Not only that, other carriers have matched the sale prices on some routes, with fares as low as $104 round-trip (plus taxes and fees). These fares can be booked through Nov. 12, or whenever the cheap seats are sold out. Fares are higher on the most popular travel dates, of course.
If your landlord doesn't offer you a deal to stay, ask for one.
If the lease on your rented house or apartment is up soon, you may get a little gift from your landlord: a flat-screen TV, lower rent or even a cash payment.
For example, UDR, a Denver-based rental company, is offering tenants who renew their leases a choice of a flat-screen TV, new carpet, a kitchen upgrade or $300 in cash. Cash is the most popular choice.
They're no substitute for insurance, but, for the uninsured, every little bit helps.
With so many people going without health insurance, why not give the benefit of health care via a gift card?
Tackle trouble BEFORE it begins.
Ron Lieber writes the excellent “Your Money” column for The New York Times. Recently, he shared a list of four money talks to have before marriage. Lieber writes:
Divorce tends to be emotionally gut-wrenching for the people who go through it (not to mention those around them). But most couples don’t realize that divorce can also be among the most ruinous financial moves anyone can make.
This article struck home for me. No, Kris and I are in no danger of getting a divorce (I love my wife!), but we’re at that stage in life where the people around us are passing through rocky stages of their marriage. Some are even getting divorced.
- Bing: The costliest divorces
I recently spoke with a friend -- let’s call him Mike -- whose marriage is floundering. Mike and his wife are wrestling with a variety of issues. The acute crisis was caused by infidelity, but the chronic crisis -- the ongoing problem -- involves a conflict over money.
Depression-era lessons aren't always applicable today.
When the going gets tough, it's tempting to invoke our grandparents and their tribulations during the Great Depression. A Smart Spending message board reader posting as "jestjack" started a thread called "Where are my grandparents when I need them?"
"These were some of the most thrifty, smart, industrious, hard-working, and honorable folks," he wrote. "Boy, could we use their wit and wisdom in these troubled times."
I'm about to commit cultural heresy: Not everything our grandparents had to offer would be helpful.
How to make your produce last a little longer.
Last week I noticed that some Braeburn apples I'd bought were getting kind of tired. I sliced one up and tried to eat it but the slightly softened texture made the fruit really unappetizing. Given how high food prices are getting, the idea of throwing out fruit really annoyed me -- and I had another five apples in the bag.
A childhood riddle popped into my head: How do you divide five apples among nine people?
The answer: Make applesauce. So I did: Peeled and sliced the other apples, simmered them with a little water, pulverized them with a potato masher, and added cinnamon and a tiny amount of brown sugar. The result was delicious.
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Nevertheless, a new study says, young working women says men are more likely to get the top jobs.