Gifts © by www.metaphoricalplatypus.com

You don’t have to use them on Black Friday, of course. Use them on Post-Turkey Thursday or Cyber Monday. Or just hoard them until you see something you want to buy.

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Telephone © by plenty.r.

Planning to shop online between Black Friday – which is increasingly more of a Post-Turkey Thursday – and Cyber Monday? A company called STELLAService has determined that the merchants with the shortest phone-support hold times are Nordstrom.com (18 seconds), Overstock.com (44 seconds), LLBean.com (46 seconds), Zappos.com (1 minute, 9 seconds) and Target.com (1 minute, 18 seconds).

That information is based on the 2011 shopping season. I bet it’ll be just as good this year, since retailers are scrambling to stand out among the din of the busiest shopping weekend of the year.

And if you’re buying from a place that leaves you languishing on hold for lonnnnng minutes? Here are six things to do while you wait:

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TSA Screener with Checkpoint Friendly Laptop Case © by Mobile Edge Laptop Cases

Show of hands: Who else hates paying $1.44 an ounce for toothpaste?

That’s what I thought. No wonder I get a ton of comments every time I put a TSA-friendly toiletries kit up for grabs.

This time around it’ll be delivered in time for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas travel.f

Here’s what you’ll get if you win:

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Paula Radcliff © by eviltomthai

Recently ING Direct did a survey asking about saving for retirement vs. training for a marathon. (The company sponsors the New York City Marathon.)

More than half the respondents think retirement is harder. I disagree, mostly because I do not choose to run.

Actually, I hate running. Walking is fine. Walking fast is OK. I even plan to learn cross-country skiing when enough snow falls to permit it. (Which could happen any minute: The sky is fluffy and gray and the temperature is inching into the high 20s.)

I’ve automated my retirement, living carefully so that I can save as much as possible. My work history does include an 18-year stretch of full-time employment, but I’ve spent about 14 years working only part-time (and earning very little indeed during five of those years).

But frugal living is a lot easier for me than running. I just don’t have the inclination. The only way I could ensure that I would run for health would be to hire someone to chase me.

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