thToday is Sept. 1. Thought about your holiday shopping yet?

Yes, it’s early – we’ve still got about 16 weeks to buy and wrap – but the smart money is on early planning.

A cash-back shopping site called Dollar Dig stands ready to help you out – both by saving you money on purchases and by sponsoring a giveaway of Amazon gift cards. Five winners will be chosen, for one $50 and four $25 cards.

Regular readers of my site know that I’m a diehard cash-back user. Not ordering through one of these sites is like begging to pay more than you must.

You’ll get a $5 bonus when you sign up at Dollar Dig. Once you’ve earned an additional $20 in rebates you can request a withdrawal.

How do you get those rebates? By buying stuff you were going to buy anyway – and by starting your shopping tour at DollarDig.com. Here’s why.


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th-1My personal-finance pal J. Money started an interesting conversation over at Budgets Are Sexy. A reader asked if it were “a poor decision” to use an item for years, then return it for a refund.

(That’s even a question?)

In “Returning used stuff – cool or no?,” J. Money said he wrote back to the reader saying, among other things, that this was a question of personal ethics. The blogger added that he would not return anything unless it was broken or otherwise not delivering on its promise.

(In his wild youth he’d returned a used boombox two days before the return window expired, and was thoroughly shamed by the customer service rep before he got his refund. Lesson learned!)

The reader then shared that he’d needed to move and “just couldn’t throw out my bedroom set that was in perfect condition and 10 years old.” (Emphasis added.) So he took it back to Costco and, unbelievably, the store refunded his money.


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thI’ve noticed a lot of summer blooms lately. And by “blooms,” I mean “yard-sale signs.”

The hand-lettered, brightly colored notices are tacked to utility poles, taped to trees (really?) or stapled to big boxes that have rocks inside to keep them from blowing away.

Narrowly missed attending a couple of these this morning. My niece e-mailed to see if I’d be interested, but we were entertaining an unexpected guest and then working in the garden, so I didn’t get online until mid-afternoon.

In addition to her e-invite I saw “Tag sales: Don’t buy the fantasy,” a Time magazine column written by my former MSN Money colleague M.P. Dunleavey. It’s a darned amusing (and darned true) story of the ways we sometimes lose our minds in the face of a bargain.

Even a bargain we don’t need. Especially a bargain we don’t need.


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thHoly cow — a month has gone by without a giveaway! Work plus travel plus seasonal ennui can do a number on even the best of intentions.

Although I have a handful of books begging to be re-homed, I don’t have it in me today to do the careful write-ups they deserve. (Tomorrow’s not looking good, either.)


Thus I’m taking the path of least resistance and proffering an Amazon gift card. Easy for me to send. Easy for you to spend. I’d call that a win-win.


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thEver wonder why some frugality tips get recommended over and over? Here’s why: Because they work.

A handful of hacks helped DF and me save four hundred simoleons in just three days.

The biggest-ticket item was our stove, which has been faltering. Since the appliance is at least 30 years old, DF was disinclined to call a technician. Since both of us are disinclined to pay retail, I sent away for $550 in discounted gift cards to a certain home improvement center (which I bought through a cash-back shopping site) and we started watching for sales.

He’d figured that $550 would be enough for the stove he wanted. But then we got lucky.

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