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This is why you’re broke, going out to eat edition

by Claes Bell on January 15, 2014

going out to eat is expensiveGoing out to eat is great for a lot of reasons: no dishes, new culinary experiences, time to relax and share a meal with friends or my significant other, annoying the Internet by posting pictures of my food.

But those benefits come at a price. Going back to the days when I used to blow half my minimum-wage-landscaping-job paycheck at the local Chinese buffet, eating out has always been one of my biggest budget busters. I’ve been able to cut down on that over the years by learning to cook myself and having a wife who’s a really excellent cook (having two little daughters that aren’t amazing to take to restaurants also helps).
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McResource, McDonald’s employee site that offered finance advice, gets McMurdered

by Claes Bell on January 03, 2014

McDonalds McResource McMurderedLate last month, McDonald’s finally shut down its McResource website for employees, which collapsed under the weight of approximately a billion metric tons of Internet snark. The fry that broke the camel’s back? Advising employees not to eat too much fast food because it’s bad for your health.

A lot of the criticism of the site centered around its financial advice, which seemed to be aimed at helping workers scrape out the best possible lifestyle for a person making $7.25 an hour, but frequently missed the mark.
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The Czervik Principle: Why cash beats miles, points or other credit card rewards in 2014

by Claes Bell on January 01, 2014

When choosing between credit card rewards, here's why miles and points should take a backseat to cashSorry to be a buzz kill on New Year’s, but 2014 is shaping up to be a bad year for frequent flier mile fanatics and other collectors of “points” doled out by credit card companies, airlines and others. There’s a massive devaluation of points and miles going on, requiring consumers to spend more to get rewards like plane tickets and hotel stays. And that’s just one example of why the world needs the Czervik Principle.
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How to return a terrible gift without letting the giver know how much you hated it

by Claes Bell on December 25, 2013

It's not so easy to return a gift without a gift receiptAmericans will spend an average of $737.95 each on the holidays this year, according to research from the National Retail Federation, and a substantial portion of that will no doubt be spent by very nice people — with the best of intentions — on truly terrible gifts.

Yes, many of us will participate in the annual post-holiday ritual of hunting through the boxes that brought us that Big Mouth Billy Bass or unfunny novelty t-shirt, desperately trying to find some kind of clue about where it was purchased so it can be returned as quickly as possible before anyone sees it.
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Want to help a food bank? Give cash, not food

by Claes Bell on December 23, 2013

You wouldn’t go into the Red Cross and bring them a jumbo pack of bandages, right? You wouldn’t drive over to the Cancer Research Institute and offer to give them some of your leftover science, right?

But plenty of people will drive up to a food bank this holiday season and just drop off a bunch of food they chose at random from the grocery store or dug out of the back of their pantry.

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Walmart price-matching enthusiast banned for life, but you should try price-matching anyway

by Claes Bell on December 20, 2013

Walmart may have a great price matching policy, but one enthusiastic customer won't be able to enjoy it anymore.There is a right way and a wrong way to price match.

The right way involves showing up prepared with valid prices from competitors and walking out with a great deal. The wrong way involves showing up with an expired circular and going on a profanity-laced tirade that gets you arrested.

That’s my takeaway from a story about a former professional wrestler and Walmart price-matching enthusiast who is now banned for life from every Walmart store on the planet after an incident where the retailer refused to match a competitor’s price.
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UK man pays $735 for a photo of an Xbox One, or why I don’t use eBay

by Claes Bell on December 13, 2013

UK man pays $735 for a photo of an Xbox One or why I don't use eBayEver disregard a few little words in an eBay description and lose hundreds of dollars? No, me either.

But one UK man did. A19-year-old Briton bid $735 for what he thought was a Day One edition Xbox One for his young son for Christmas. What he was really buying, according to the listing, was a photo of an Xbox One.
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Are must-have Christmas gifts getting more expensive?

by Claes Bell on December 11, 2013

Are the gifts kids want for Christmas getting more expensive?It seems like the one constant around the holidays is people complaining about how spoiled kids are today, and how out-of-control holiday costs have become. But are the gifts we give kids really that much more expensive than the ones you’d find under the tree back in the “good old days”?

What got me wondering about this question was a really cool infographic, “50 years 50 toys,” created by Abby Ryan Design that’s been floating around the Web. While the infographic isn’t based on exact sales figures, etc., I think it gives a pretty good representation of what people were buying as their primary gift for kids throughout the years. So I set out to research the cost of all the toys that appear in the infographic in the year they were the hot toy to have.
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