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 Shopping 
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Rent-to-own sucks and you should never, ever do it

Rent-to-own is a terrible deal for consumers and you should avoid it at all costsThere’s no disputing the appeal of buy now, pay later. I myself can attest to the temptation to get the latest and greatest without having to bother with figuring out where the money will come from.

Nowhere is that kind of thinking more dangerous than with rent-to-own. Usually rent-to-own outfits advertise nothing more than a weekly payment — pay us $20 per week and you can have rent this large and desirable item until you finally own it. A measly $20 a week? Sure!

The problem is, long-term wealth is often won or lost in small increments like that. Did we learn nothing from Superman 3? Even tiny fractions of a penny taken from us enough times amount to huge thefts.

And so it is with rent-to-own.


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 Shopping 
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Do e-gift cards sent on social media make good holiday gifts? Not always

Giving e-gift cards doesn't mean your gift can't be personalizedOver the last couple of decades, gift cards have become the gift of choice for many. It’s not hard to see why: They are convenient to give, and recipients often enjoy them more than a gift you’d pick out for them, since it allows them to get what they want.

Gift giving is even easier now, thanks to the fact that it’s possible to send e-gift cards through social media. Over the summer I sent an Amazon gift card to my brother-in-law via Facebook. It was a huge hit, since he loves shopping on Amazon, and we keep up with each other through Facebook. It was the perfect way to send him a birthday gift he could use. But Facebook isn’t the only social media gift source. Now Twitter has gotten into the act, allowing users to send Starbucks e-gift cards to other Twitter users.

But what do e-gift cards mean for etiquette? Do we run the risk of alienating friends and family by sending gifts through Facebook and Twitter?


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 Shopping 
24
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Your take: Could you live on food stamps?

Could your family make it on food stamps?Today the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, popularly known as food stamps, will take a fairly substantial hit, with the maximum benefit from a family of four falling from $668 to $632, amounting to $432 less per year in benefits. Overall, the cuts will shrink the average payout per meal from around $1.50 now down to about $1.40, according to CBS Moneywatch.


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 Shopping 
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Does it make sense to buy NFL tickets on the secondary market?

2008 NFL Thursday Kickoff GameMy husband grew up near Albany, New York, so he’s a big fan of the New York Giants.

He’s never been to a game, though. Right now, it’s difficult for us to attend a game because we live 2,000 miles away. But even if we were once again living in New York, we would be hard-pressed to get to a game, mostly because it would be so expensive.


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 Shopping 
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Free layaway: Is it a good deal?

Is free layaway actually a good deal?In the next few weeks, stores and online retailers will be bombarded with holiday shoppers. In an effort to encourage spending, some stores are offering free layaway programs.

Toys ‘R’ Us, for example, boasts, “No upfront fees!” on their website. And in August, Walmart introduced “free layaway with no opening fee,” according to a press release.


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 Shopping 
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Precise offers and the art of haggling

Specific offers might make haggling easierNegotiating prices is an important skill to have, and not just for those times when you visit countries where haggling over small purchases is common practice.

While most day-to-day purchases aren’t negotiable in this country in the same way they are in Latin America and Asia, most of the really significant ones are. In many cases, skillful haggling can knock thousands of dollars off the price of a car and tens of thousands off the price of a house, which can have long-lasting effects on your finances. And when you’re sitting down for an interview with a potential employer and talking salary, you’re really negotiating arguably the most important price out there: the price of your labor and, ultimately, your time.
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 Shopping 
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Before buying something on sale, know the flaw

Sales can be dangerousI promised myself I would never write a post about an airline travel experience because lots of journalists do it and it’s mostly really annoying. But promises are made to be broken, so here it goes.

When booking a last-minute flight recently, I went to pick out my seat and saw a whole row of plum front-of-the-plane seats still available. It almost felt like finding something on sale; instead of having to pay the “price” of booking early, or shell out extra money for an exit-row seat, I was getting the perks of being one of the first to exit the plane for free. Huzzah!

But after takeoff, I realized I’d picked a lemon.
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 Personal Finance, Shopping 
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How to Overcome Buyer’s Remorse

buyers remorseChances are that at some point you have made a purchase that you regret. You spent money on something, and later came to realize that you didn’t actually want it. Now, you’re stuck with something you don’t want, and you’re out the money you paid on top of it.

“Buyer’s remorse is a complicated topic, and one that comes up in my practice with people who struggle with anxiety and impulsivity,” says Alicia Clark, a licensed clinical psychologist. Even if you aren’t terribly impulsive, you can still occasionally feel the pangs of buyer’s remorse.

So, you can you get over your buyer’s remorse and avoid it in the future? Clark has a few ideas:

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