more about: kate ashford

Re-Gifting? Avoid These Mistakes

We’ve all gotten a gift we didn’t love. Maybe it’s not your size. Maybe it’s not your style. Maybe you’ve got a gift-giving occasion coming up (are there any of those coming up?) and you’re short a gift, and you’re thinking of paying your gift forward. Literally. Don’t be shy. A lot of people re-gift—about 1 in 3, according to a Consumer Reports holiday poll. I’ve definitely done it. I once received a really nice wine bottle opener, but I already had one just like it. Ta da—a housewarming gift! Re-gifting isn’t entirely evil, as long as you follow a few basic rules of conduct.

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What’s Your Time Worth to You?

During the holidays, I’m always struck by how much I have to get done. December is like any other month—just as much work, just as many responsibilities—except that I also have to send out holiday cards, buy presents for pretty much everyone I know (and wrap and ship them), and juggle holiday parties and travel. So every year I make decisions about what’s important to me and what’s worth my time.

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Do You Set a Spending Limit on Gifts?

My husband and I used to go hog wild during the holidays. If I saw something I thought he’d like, I bought it. If he saw something he thought I’d like, he bought it. It wasn’t a very money-sound situation. Last year, we decided to set a limit—we were each allowed to spend up to (but not more than) a certain amount on the other one, and we’d spend the rest of our family gift budget on something we could both enjoy, like a home theater system or a weekend away.

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Why I Love the U.S. Postal Service (and Why You Should, Too)

If there’s one thing that I don’t love about the holidays, it’s shipping packages. The schlep to the post office, the long lines…is there anyone out there who enjoys that part? And then I discovered something. The post office will pick up packages. From your home. For free. (No kidding!)

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Four Rules for Rebate Success

It’s shopping season. If you haven’t picked up on that fact, you’re just not paying attention. And retailers are trying to get your business any way they know how. One of the more popular methods: rebates. “Buy this marvelous thingamabob for JUST $50! (After $100 mail-in rebate that will be a pain in the neck to send in and which you may or may not ever receive. Restrictions apply.)” Rebates are such an annoyance that 4 in 10 people end up never receiving theirs, either because they didn’t follow the rules, forgot about it entirely, or just found the process too tedious to complete. Here are 4 ways to avoid rebate regret.

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