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Herding Cats: Our Favorite Savings Stories for the Week of November 29th

By (view all posts by derek70x7)
at 3:08PM Friday December 4, 2009
under Stuff We Like

I don't know about you folks, but I'm definitely relieved that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed. Here at Savings we lived and breathed the twin retail holidays since the beginning of October, so it was nice to finally survive them without spending an entire paycheck on epically-discounted electronics (as I feared I might).

This week's roundup is vaguely holiday-themed, with some tips on prospective gifts, modes of holiday transportation, and reasons why you should be thankful for your alma mater (especially you, UC alums).
The Big Money: Christmas Blather - Speculative consumer spending numbers clogged the tubes of the internet for much of November, and this week the virtual broadsheets were flooded with data on what actually transpired over the weekend. As you might have noticed, many of these economic reports were contradictory; some claimed massive increases in online shopping over last year's tallies, while others soberly explained that we actually spent a bit less. According to Slate (via The Big Money), "[W]e won't know if holiday shoppers were naughty or nice until well after the Christmas trees have been mulched."

Consumer Reports: Should Your Holiday Gift Be A Charitable Donation? - Shame on this article for not referencing "The Human Fund," the fake charity George Costanza came up with to weasel out of having to give his co-workers legitimate Christmas presents. While it's probably not a good idea to donate "money for people" in your boss' name, real charitable gifts can be a solid idea for the socially-conscious do-gooder on your list, especially when so many non-profits are hurting from the recession.

WalletPop: Read The Fine Print Before Canceling Your Flight Due To H1N1 - This article hits close to home, because I had a flight booked last month to visit a friend at school when I came down with a lovely combination of swine flu and pneumonia. I probably would have decided to suck it up and go anyways, but I didn't want to be "that guy" with the irritating black lung cough on a crowded flight, so I postponed my vacation. Most airlines handle illness-related cancellations on a case-by-case basis, and some screw you over with a mandatory $150 change fee, but a friendly Southwest customer service agent wished me a quick recovery and told me I could reschedule whenever I wanted to, free of charge. That policy pretty much wins by default.

CNN Money: Why Cheap Oil Is Here To Stay - If you're the John Madden type when it comes to holiday transportation, it looks like you won't have to worry about the price of gas this winter, and if we're lucky, not for the next few winters either. Many experts say that the sluggish economy coupled with more efficiency measures should keep a barrel of black gold "well below $100" for the foreseeable future. Once again, I have a reason to be thankful for the recession.

Wisebread: It Pays To Be True To Your School: 5 Ways Your Alma Mater Can Save You Money - My school, USC, is well-known for having an extremely close-knit alumni network. Whereas alums of other schools often dump their alumni newsletters straight into the trash, Trojans are well-aware of the advantages of being staying connected, especially when it comes to finding jobs and saving money. If you want to get insurance discounts, cheap gym memberships, career counseling, travel discounts, and local/national coupons, open those envelopes from your alumni association!

Gizmodo: Netbooks: What You Need To Know About The Next 6 Months - It was tempting to report on "Roboexotica," the Austrian festival that showcases "cocktail-mixing robots" (is it clear enough yet that I have an unhealthy obsession with robots that facilitate getting you drunk?), but I'll end this week with a more useful article from the epicenter of gadget awesomeness that is Gizmodo. I'll never understand why America is so obsessed with netbooks (if they made 24-inch laptops I'd buy one in a heartbeat), but nonetheless, here is a great guide to the new and exciting advancements coming to a tiny screen near you!

As the cuts and bruises heal from that 4:30am battle to get into a big-box store a week ago, try to relax and remember that there will be plenty more chances to blow all your money before Christmas. If you'll excuse me, I'm off to scour the interwebs for a great deal on a gift-for-my-parents-that-will-also-benefit-me!