thOne harried late-October evening, I rushed through a store’s costume section in a frenzy of last-minute preparations. To my horror, the reds and greens of Christmas cards and wrapping paper beckoned from a nearby aisle.

“Oh, spare me,” I said aloud. “I haven’t finished feeling guilty about Halloween yet.”


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Some of you helped send me to the SaveUp 2010 conference by voting for me. Now it’s time to give back.

Within reason.

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I didn’t have a lot of reading time this week because I stayed in Chicago for a few days after attending SaveUp 2010. Thus my recommended reading list is short and sweet.

A cheaper Christmas? at I Pick Up Pennies

Get a bigger check from Social Security at Kiplinger’s (hint: timing is everything)

25 a-peeling uses for fruit and veggie scraps at The Daily Green

Bulk buying and cooking for singles at My Friend Kelly

Income distribution and inequality in the United States at The Digerati Life

Backing up your information for nothing at Almost Frugal

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I just spent a few days in Chicago at the SaveUp 2010 conference, sponsored by Savings.com. All of us DealPros shared tips on holiday shopping and celebrations.

I took notes.


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That’s how one guy described discounted gift cards — the subject of my current column, “Instant savings on holiday shopping,” over at MSN Money. (Edited to add: That column is no longer available on the MSN Money platform. Read on for the basics.)

These cards become available for various reasons, usually because their owners need the money or because the gift was unsuitable. Resellers like Plastic Jungle or Cardpool make them available to consumers at less than face value.

You can save 3% to 30% (or more) on cards for places you plan to shop for the holidays. There’s an aggregator site called Gift Card Granny that pulls up the best deals from eight different sources.

But these aren’t just for gift-shopping. You can use this “new coupon” to provide consistent discounts for your everyday purchases.

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