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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The bonus turkey.

th The bonus turkey.If you’re still seeing good prices on Meleagris gallopavo in your local supermarket, buy an extra one. In fact, buy the biggest one your freezer can hold.

Here’s why.

Last month we bought a bonus 20-pounder, i.e., one not for Thanksgiving. After DF cooked it on the Weber we wound up with 18 pounds of meat and more than a quart of broth for future soup or gravy.

We gave ourselves extra Frugal Points for skimming the cooled fat off the top and freezing it for future sautéing purposes, and for picking tiny bits of meat off the boiled-down carcass. Hey, we got enough for three turkey salad sandwiches – and we ate them that week, because we weren’t sick of the bird yet.

That’s because it was the week before Thanksgiving and we hadn’t already undergone an unending series of turkey leftovers, hot turkey sandwiches, creamed turkey, turkey soup and turkey surprise. Those 18 pounds of bonus turkey went first into quart-sized canning jars and then into the pressure canner.


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th 1 A simple way to save $159k.Credit card use is on the rise, according to the recent “State of Credit” report from Experian. But there’s a group of consumers who are bucking that trend: millennials, of whom increasing numbers are eschewing credit in favor of debit.

Problem.

Using debit and cash means you’re essentially opting out of the credit reporting system. Without a healthy credit score, you’ll likely pay more than you should for insurance and for auto or mortgage loans.

How much more? An average of $159,464 in extra interest paid over your lifetime, according to Credit.com’s Lifetime Cost of Debt Calculator.


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th6 300x300 Black Friday 2014, done very quickly. Our Black Friday has come and gone, a reprise of last year’s experience at the loneliest drugstore in the world: Two of the stores we visited were practically tomblike.

The third, Play It Again Sports, held the possibility of new skis for DF at 50 percent off. However, it also held googols of optimistic winter sports enthusiasts (we have maybe a quarter-inch of snow on the ground) and determined-looking hockey parents. We backed off quickly due to our shared Claus-trophobia.

But at the other two? We walked in, bought what we wanted and walked back out. No pushing and shoving, no pepper spray and no buying things we didn’t need.

(Well, I did buy one thing I don’t need. More on that in a minute.)

That’s the kind of Black Friday I prefer, especially since a study from NerdWallet bears out what a lot of us already suspected: that those BF “deals” often aren’t as good as they’re made out to be.


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th1 150x150 Whose Christmas costs more? When it comes to paying off holiday debts, who finishes last? If you guessed “low-income shoppers,” you guessed wrong.

According to a study from the NerdWallet personal finance site, the middle class takes longer than anyone else to finish paying for its Christmas celebrations.

People who earn from $50k to $75k take an average of 2.6 months to finish paying for holiday expenses. Compare that to folks who earn $50k or less and take an average of two months.

“Those who spend more in an effort to ‘keep up’ end up paying the price later,” says Matthew Ong, senior retail analyst at NerdWallet.

“Middle-class households could end up in a risky position this holiday season if they have ample credit to make purchases but incomes too thin to comfortably pay the bills later.”


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