th6 150x150 Want some extra Amazon buying power?If you’re ordering any holiday gifts from Amazon, this week’s giveaway will boost your budget somewhat.

Specifically: I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift card, and doing so earlier than usual to allow for on-time shipping. The drawing will be on Saturday evening instead of Tuesday evening.

Rather than mail the card I’ll simply e-mail the code for the scrip. Those with Amazon Prime memberships could order gifts as late as Monday and have them delivered in time for wrapping on Christmas Eve.

(That is, if the requested items are in stock, you procrastinator.)


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th4 150x150 13 ways to use unwanted gift cards.Wise Bread recently posted an article called “What can I do with the gift cards I don’t want?” Sounds like a flawed premise, right? Who wouldn’t want a gift card?

Not so, according to writer Holly Johnson.

“You might end up with a gift card to a store or restaurant you unquestionably dislike,” she says.

“Even worse, you might get an inexpensive gift card to a place where nothing is cheap — like a $10 gift card to a restaurant where entrees start at $19.”

She suggested half a dozen ways to deal. I’ll see her those six, and raise her another seven.


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th3 150x150 A life altering holiday gift.Not everyone is ready for a book about personal finance, even if it’s desperately needed. Some potential recipients believe they’ll figure things out for themselves. Some don’t believe that the economy will ever really work for folks like them. Some know they’re taking the last train to Brokesville but are frankly enjoying the trip too much to consider getting off at the next station.

That doesn’t mean you can’t give the gift of personal finance. It just means you need to be thoughtful about how you do it, including picking a time when the person is in a receptive frame of mind.

Which might not be on Dec. 25. But it also might be, which is why I’m once again offering a list of books to consider gifting.


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th1 A look back (and forward) at credit.What was the best card of 2014? According to two reputable sources, it was the Citi Double Cash Back.

Both NerdWallet and Cardratings.com praise the card’s unique conceit: Consumers get 1 percent cash-back on the items they buy and an additional 1 percent cash-back when they pay off the card.

“It’s the first (and, so far, only) card on the market that provides a lucrative incentive to make monthly payments in full,” notes Lindsay Konsko of NerdWallet, who calls the card “a game-changing product.”

Citi also is putting EMV chips in all of its consumer and student credit cards, making them safer than the typical magstripes. Other card issuers are putting EMV in some of their products, and apparently EMV chips for debit cards are also on the way.


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th1 150x150 Unfamiliar area code? Its probably a scam.Unless you’re really lucky you’ve probably gotten spam/scam calls, often robotic ones. The smart money is on refusing to pick up the phone if it displays an unfamiliar area code (especially a toll-free one).

But if you have friends or family in places like Detroit (313), Houston (713) or Fort Lauderdale (954), you might pick up.

Those three cities are three of the top 10 area codes used by spam callers, according to a company called Whitepages. The others are:


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2015 Wall Calendar 257x350 1 220x300 Giveaway: 2015 Tundra calendar.I know you guys like Chad Carpenter’s “Tundra” comics, because the response is quite enthusiastic whenever I give away one of his books.

And why not? His is one of the fastest-growing comic strips on the planet — and the third-fastest on Jupiter, according to his home page.

So here’s a gift for the person who has everything: a 2015 “Tundra” calendar, signed (and doodled!) by the author.

Just think: an entire year of silliness hanging on your kitchen, office or workplace wall. That is, unless you decide to make it one of your holiday presents.

My personal favorite is the August illustration, which features a TSA agent looking askance at a porcupine. Caption: “I’ll opt for the pat-down.”


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