Friday, December 11, 2009

A beam of light at the end of the recession

By Alma Zhumagulova

Consumer spending amounts for about two thirds of the economy. This in effect implies that in order to recover from the recession people have to start spending. However, this is not so easy given the current unemployment rate. Even if it has recently gone down from 10.2% to 10%, it is still 15.4 million people who are out of job and barely making their ends meet.
Speaking of retail sales, November sales have shown a sign of optimism – a rise of 1.3% from October. This year, Black Friday spending went up from the last years; however much of it was due to the deep discounts offered by retailers in their battle for increasing their sales. The winners in this battle were electronics; the average price of laptops was $475 compared to $638 last year. Hence, the volume of sales increased while still leaving the retailers at a loss.
A relatively new sales tactic – Cyber Monday – Monday after thanksgiving holiday, when various retailers offer deep discounts to online shoppers, also contributed to this rise, when on November 30, the sales rose by 5% to $887 but almost immediately went down after the discounts were no longer offered.
Overall, U.S. retail sales have increased “for the 13th straight week in the beginning of December.” If the trend continues, this will at least give the US economy a beam of light at the end of the tunnel called recession.


Sales have increased

By Jameel Murray

It is reported that retail sales have increased this year, which indicates growth in the U.S economy. According to, consumer confidence is increasing more than forecasts have predicted. Because consumer purchasing backs the economy, there have been a significant increase in the stock market lately. The Dow has reported a new high and the S & P as well as Nasdaq have performed considerably well. Throughout the month of November, sales have increased 1.3 percent, twice the amount it was forecasted to be. One main reason for these increases are the spike in sales promotions from multiple merchants.
U.S retail figures have also displayed increases in inventories and exports, which encouraged economists to increase forecasts for the fourth quarter. This holiday, merchants are expected to offer a great deal of sales, which may increase retail sales, even more. Although retail sales are increasing, the unemployment rate is still significantly high. Many have not understood the contradicting facts. One reason for the stock market’s improved performance along with a high unemployment rate is due in part to the lay offs of many salaries for companies. Because companies cut many salaries, due to a decrease in costs they were able to produce higher revenues.

The great debate

By Jameel Murray

This holiday, parents would be faced with one of the most difficult decisions ever. This decision has haunted many consumers and even leads to an increase in blog reading. Consumers would have to make the ultimate decision of purchasing a Xbox 360 or a Playstation 3. Both systems have advantages as well as disadvantages. We would first examine the price line. The Xbox has recently offered customers a great deal, bundling two games with the much-improved Xbox 360 Elite console for a considerably cheap price of $299. In an attempt to match Xbox’s strategy, Playstation has also cut the price of their PS3 console to $299 without the two free games included. If consumers are searching for value, their best bet is to settle for an Xbox 360 just because you are able to enjoy two games straight out of the box for free.
The two consoles are considered high performance game consoles, boasting innovative game processors similar to high-end pc gaming machines. While graphics are similar, the Xbox 360 offers better games and a interactive online gaming experience. For consumers seeking the full gaming experience, the 360 should be the right choice.
The obvious difference between the Xbox 360 and the PS3 is the fact that the Playstation 3 offers consumers the chance to watch movies utilizing the new Blu Ray technology. For consumers who are movie fanatics and prefer to watch their movies in the best quality available, the PS3 is their choice. I hope reading this article makes your decision even more difficult because both consoles are great and extremely valuable.

How to save this holiday

by Jameel Murray

This holiday, people are expected to spend a vast amount of their budget on gifts for loved ones and in most cases themselves. Stores are gearing up to experience a sharp incline in their baseline sales by offering a ton of unbelievable deals particularly online. Similar to the Black Friday shopping event, Christmas is a holiday where many shoppers are brainwashed into squandering a great amount of their money. There are several options to help save money during this upcoming holiday season. One first suggestion in shopping online is to take advantage of free shipping options. Shipping usually adds a couple extra dollars that can be avoided to one’s purchase. Website such as offers coupons to over thousands of stores. Customers should mark down December 17th as free shipping day for online stores. A second suggestion for saving is to utilize the cash back option. Many stores offer money back. Stores also offer gift cards to customers. Customers can go to and purchase cheap gift cards to various stores. Other websites such as offers a list of deals to customers. Finally, compares prices on products from over 100,000 online stores. Expect to save a great deal of money this holiday.

Personal Branding Trend

By Ka Lee Angel Lee

Market powers are always in the hands of brand-name companies who have to determine the most effective use of their assets across markets. The value of brands can be seen in recent acquisition where prices have been many times over the book value of the company purchased. While branding for companies are becoming one of the most fierce contests in business, before going to anywhere, however, you are actually the first thing and most important thing to sell to the public. Therefore the first step is to brand manage yourself.

First of all, just like what business does, you have to find yourself a target market. That is “where you perceive yourself in?” “Do you regard yourself to be an aggressive athlete or loving social worker?” Then you need to access if you have all the assets i.e. education, experience, passion. Then you will need all the resources to build it like getting into the right network, finding the right companies. Remember, your brand is very important to you. Therefore brand protection is essential too. Be aware of the information you put online especially.

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By Ka Lee Angel Lee

A brand was said to be responsible for 18% of the total purchase decision by studies. Individuals can establish a brand-loyal psyche and that affects their choice of goods heavily. Branding thus is one of the most important beneficiaries of a well-conducted portfolio analysis. They shape customer decisions and ultimately create economic values. From the website, the top 100 global brands’ ranking was fluctuating every year. Some rocket to the top while some drop to the bottom all the time. Since the brandname phenomenon influence purchase decisions substantially, the different rankings of brands can be explained by their own company’s brand and product management which includes positioning, product, place, promotion and pricing decisions of the goods a particular company wants to provide.

The brand building competition between companies benefits not only to the companies but to the customers. Customers can then enjoy better and more advanced products. Many companies do market researches on customers’ needs and tastes. Therefore products are more tailored to our needs when companies fight to building brand loyalty in customers.

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Black Friday Mayhem, Is It Really Worth It?

By: Kelsey Hoffman
The second greatest things about the Thanksgiving break are the festivities the morning after the feast, Black Friday shopping deals. People line up hours in advance to get the deepest discounts on items for their holiday shopping needs, and this year was really no exception. More than $10.66 billion was spent on Black Friday this season. Sounds like a lot, but numbers showed that the amount of money that was spent relative to the amount of people who shopped was significantly lower than the numbers from last year. I guess that’s what happens when a recession hits!

This was not to say that stores did not still have strong sales on Black Friday. Walmart reported that their sales of Blu-Ray players were up 53% from the numbers last year. They also reported that the Playstation 3 sales hit record highs during the Thanksgiving week. Retail sales in general also jumped 1.3% in November, according to the Commerce Department, well more than the expected increase.

A new trend this year was the use of social media to spread the word about Black Friday deals. Because many companies did not have extensive advertising budgets due to the economy, many dedicated a small group of people to spreading word via Twitter and Facebook. They could have potentially reached 20% of their consumer base this way, and it seemed to have paid off.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

BCS System all about the $$$

Posted by Chris O'Sullivan

College football's postseason has been a frequent subject of debate on a regular basis due to a flawed system known the BCS. This computer system pairs the top two teams in the country to play for the national championship each year. However, many argue that system in simply in place to make sure the two "most popular" teams play in the game each year.

Many are now looking to the federal government for help in destroying this system. Just take a quick glance at the annual payouts of the 34 existing bowl games. The five BCS bowl games pay out $17 million a game ($85 million total), while the 29 other bowl games divide a total payout of less than half that ($41.8 million).

Not only are smaller, less popular schools missing out on the opportunity to play in these games, but the system is allowing the rich to get richer and the system to preserve itself on an annual basis. Without the money and exposure these games provide, smaller schools remain at the bottom and the larger, more prestigious schools collect massive checks used to further increase their competitive advantage over the "have nots." It is clear that this system is flawed and needs to changed as soon as possible.


Wendys Chain to Withdraw from Japanese Market

Posted by Chris O'Sullivan

Wendy's has announced that they will remove their restaurants from Japan after a seven year presence in the Asian market. Wendy's is currently the third most popular burger chain in the US behind McDonalds and Burger King. However, the Asian market apparently did not offer the same amount of support for the franchise. All restaurants will be closed by the end of December in a market that has been dominated by McDonalds.

Zensho, which has operate the 71 Wendys restaurants in Japan, claims it will now turn its focus to beef-bowl restaurants (whatever that is). While Wendys has generated modest profits in the Japanese market, it could not overcome industry giant McDonalds which currently holds a 65% market share in the country.

McDonalds first moved into the Japanese market in 1971 and there are currently over 3,700 stores in the country. In comparison, Burger King currently operates only 16 stores in Japan. It appears unlikely that any American fast food chain will be able to top McDonalds in its dominance of the Asian market.

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Video Games Sales Slumping

Posted by Chris O'Sullivan

The video game industry is apparently not immune to our current recession, as evidenced by declining sales over the past nine months. During the crucial holiday month of November sales were no different. According to industry analyst The NPD Group, sales across the entire video game business were $2.7 billion, down 7.6 percent from $2.92 billion a year earlier.

These figures are slightly misleading however because 2008 was the best year ever for video game sales. This means that game producers are still making a great deal of money although it may be less than what was earned last year. Sony has recently dropped the price tag on its premier console Playstation 3, but the system continues to lag in sales behind the Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360.

"Nintendo products top's most wished for and most gifted lists for video games, and Wii remains at or near the top of the most-searched for video game terms on Yahoo," Nintendo said in a statement. "As families and friends gather for the holidays, Nintendo games offer the best shared experiences." The top selling game was Modern Warfare for Xbox, which broke the single-day record for sales for any entertainment product when it launched November 10.


Tiger could cost PGA Millions of Dollars

Posted by Chris O'Sullivan

Unless you live under a rock, you have probably heard about Tiger Woods and his recent scandal involving his relationships with several women not named "Elin." While this ordeal has obviously cost Tiger in terms of his public image, the financial effects of this incident are trickling down to other aspects of his life, including the PGA Tour.

Tiger is undoubtedly the best golfer in the world and the primary reason many people watch golf. Most recently, Tiger missed his own tournament in California in the days following his car accident. In 2008, when Tiger missed the PGA Championship, TV ratings dropped 55 percent. In a time when corporate sponsors are becoming more stingy with their dollars, the PGA Tour needs Tiger to capitalize on the largest possible audience.

While many agree that Tiger's life will eventually return to normal, there is no arguing the immediate effects Tiger's scandal has had on the industry. Tiger currently earns around $130 million in TV commercials, and none of these ads have been aired recently.


"I'd Rather Be in Prison"

By: Zachary Pienkowski

With college campuses being bombarded with credit card booths and the cost of college life increasing, many students find themselves up to their ears in debt. One of the best lessons that a young person can learn in that piling up credit card debt can happen in no time, but paying it off may take a lifetime. MSNBC wrote an article about a college student that was in over $5000 of credit card debt and $50,000 of student loan debt before he even entered the workforce. This is not an unusual or rare situation anymore, as college tuition prices rising by double and sometimes triple the rate of inflation. The problem is not only are kids floundering in debt, but many cant find good jobs to even make any headway on the loans. The economic downturn has affected everything and everyone despite economic status. A growing number of students feel that going to college was the biggest mistake of their life because of how far back they set themselves in debt. Retirement or housing plans are not even in mind because there is no amount of money to be saved, only to pay off debt.There is an overwhelming feeling that students coming out of college or even in college can not get ahead because every time they make payments, another huge expense from school comes up. 9 out of 10 students have said they have used credit cards to pay for things like textbooks at school. Most of the cards are not paid of completely each month leaving students with enormous amounts of interest to pay off. A major reason for this problem is that the cost of education continues to skyrocket while financial aid has remained steady. In order to stay in school, many are forced to charge the difference and hope they can pay it off at some point, in many cases destroying credit ratings along the way.


Investing in Stocks

Post by David Held

Playing the stock market game with your money can be hit or miss. Consumers are looking for safe investments that will ultimately make them some money before retirement. Many people turn to stocks, but the way the economy has been for the past 18 months the stock market seems to be extremely volatile. Stocks such as Goldman Sachs, Apple, and Google have gone down over 50%, then came back up 100%. If you were one of the investors who could the market on the down slope, you could have potential lost half of your retirement savings, but catching the market on the way back up could have doubled your savings. As previously stated stocks are risky business. Depending on your monetary situation stocks might not be the move.

Mutual funds have also been proven to be volatile. The standard mutual fund, Vanguard 500 Index, which mirrors the S&P 500 also cut in half over the recession and has not made it completely back like the stocks have. The scary part is many retirement funds (401K’s) are tied into these mutual funds, so all these people can do is sit back and watch, but it doesn’t look like the funds are making it back too soon.

The safest way to invest is in treasury notes, bonds, and bills because all of these securities are backed by the US treasury. So the chances of a default are slim to none. Make sure you do your research before you invest!

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What type of car should I get?

Post by David Held

One of the most important burdensome financial decisions that you will have to make is purchasing a car. Now, the questions that arise are what type of car should I buy, should I buy it or lease it, and should I purchase an extended warranty with the car?

TYPE OF CAR: When deciding what type of car you should buy, you first have to access how much you are willing to spend. After figuring out your budget you have to consult what are your needs in a car. Do you need it to go to work and back, weekend mobility, for your child to go to school? Then, finally you have to look at the location that you reside in. If you live in Florida you do not need four wheel drive, but if you live in Vermont you need four wheel drive and maybe even an SUV for ground clearance issues.

LEASE OR BUY: Depending on your money situation is how you make a decision on whether to lease or buy. Most people do not have a lump sum of money to throw down for a car, so leasing will not cripple your financial position. Buying increases your assets (net worth), but once you go over your factory warranty, the costs of repairs can be burdensome.

Extended Warranties: If you lease for a modest amount of time (39 months or less), there is no need for an extended warranty. If buy a car and plan on having it for a while, you should definitely look for extra warranties for your car.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hollywood's 10 Most Overpaid Stars

Posted By Ahmed Al-Salem

What it all comes down to when paying actors to play a part in a movie is whether they will make that movie profitable. Paying a certain actor a big salary is a sort of investment on the part of the movie studios to make their movies more appealing to the public and therefor generate more revenue. What happens when you pay certain actors huge salalaries and their movies flop and end up making you a loss? Forbes generated a formula and a list based on that formula calculating each actor's return on investment.

"To create our list, we looked at the 100 biggest stars in Hollywood. To qualify, each actor had to have starred over the last five years in at least three movies that opened in more than 500 theaters. We calculated each star's estimated earnings on each film, including up-front pay and any earnings from the film's box office receipts, DVD and TV sales. We then looked at each movie's estimated budget (not including marketing costs, which are susceptible to accounting chicanery) and box office, DVD and television earnings to figure out an operating income for each film. We added up each star's compensation on his or her last three films and the operating income on those films and divided total operating income by the star's total compensation to come up with each return-on-investment number."

Based on this calculation Will Ferrel is number one. This summer's Land of the Lost flopped, earning only $65 million on an estimated budget of $100 million. That pushed Ferrell to the top of our overpaid list. For every $1 Ferrell was paid, his films earned an average $3.29.

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New Young Credit Cards

Posted By Pete Hill

As of Feb. 22, a new law will bar banks from a host of practices that consumer advocates have long blasted as unfair

The problem for consumers is that the prime rate is at 3.25%, a historic low. It will almost certainly go up. And so will credit card rates, which currently average 14.9%, according to the Federal Reserve.

While most credit card holders already have variable-rate cards, banks have been busy these past few months making sure nearly all customers have those kinds of cards. The credit card reforms outlawed some seriously abusive practices, but the cards will still be loaded with other tricks and traps

For a couple of months now, American Express has been running an ad campaign for its charge cards aimed in part at consumers who are trying to be more responsible with their money. Amex introduced the Zync card, a charge card aimed at people in their 20s. Here is how the card works. “The basic card costs $25 each year and includes participation in the Amex Membership Rewards Points Program, though it does require you to pay off your balance every month. You can choose from among four “packs” that yield extra goodies. The Go pack, for instance, costs another $20 annually and doubles the points you earn on airfare. The Social pack has the same price and doubles points for restaurant, concert and theater purchases.”


Average Debt for Graduating College Seniors Rises to $23,200



Yet another study has been released that will provide scant comfort to those college applicants, and their parents, who intend to take out loans to pay for their education.

Students who graduated from college in 2008 with loans carried an average debt of $23,200 — an increase of nearly 25 percent, or $4,550, when compared with those who graduated just four years earlier. These figures appear in the latest study by the Project on Student Debt, an initiative of the Institute for College Access and Success, a nonprofit organization.

The report also notes that “employment prospects for young college graduates have soured along with the economy.” Citing unpublished data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the researchers report that the unemployment rate for college graduates between the ages of 20 and 24 was 7.6 percent in the third quarter of 2008, “the highest third-quarter rate since 2002.” By the third quarter of this year it was 10.6 percent, “the highest on record.”

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Avoiding Airline Fees

By Leah Gorham

Air travel has become more and more inconvenient in recent years as lines become longer, delays become more prevalent, and fees become more widespread. However, by identifying some of the fees that airlines want to keep hidden from consumers, we can avoid paying surcharges that can ruin your travel budget.

Airline fees include fees for checked baggage, beverages, seating with leg room, increased fees for unaccompanied minors, and fees for award tickets. But there are ways to cap the cost of your flight at its ticket price with a little careful planning. For instance, the most common-sense solution for avoiding checked baggage fees is to carry-on instead. That will save you $15-$25 per bag depending on the airline. By packing light and carrying on, your ticket price will stay lower. If you need to check baggage, ensure that your baggage does not go over weight requirements. An overweight bag may cost up to $175 (Delta airlines). To avoid costs on seating, check in online just prior to your flight (most airlines open up online check-in 24 hours before scheduled departures), when non-assigned seating inventory usually opens up to all passengers.

Avoid fees on awards points and frequent flier miles by cashing in your frequent flier miles before the deadline or use your awards for something else. Several airlines — including United, American, and Continental — will waive baggage fees if you are an elite member of their frequent flyer program. So becoming a member of a frequent flier mile club is a good way to reduce extra costs on your airlines tickets over time.

Overall, it is important for consumers to be aware of these fees and to avoid the fees they can when traveling by planning ahead.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cyber Monday Gives Some Hope

By Mary Clare McGraw

Although Black Friday was a disappointment for many retailers, Cyber Monday certainly proved to be more promising. The Monday following Thanksgiving has been dubbed “Cyber Monday,” during which online retailers offer big discounts and free shipping to entice shoppers to spend enthusiastically online. This year, Cyber Monday sales rose 14% from 2008 and consumers bought nearly 30% more items per order, according to research firm Coremetrics. They also recorded information revealing that shoppers bought 10% more items per order online than that did on Black Friday of this year.
This increase in online sales, especially in relation to Black Friday in-store sales, could be attributed to the consumer’s willingness to spend more online because it is simply the most convenient way to shop. Online traffic surged 43% on Monday as Americans searched for deals from their homes or workplaces. Shoppers, this year, are focused on value and although online sales were up on Monday, November 30th, there is no saying how the remainder of the holiday season will pan out. The National Retail Federation expects holiday sales to decline 1% this year, which is a relative improvement from the 3.4% drop in holiday sales last year.

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Black Friday Shows Consumer Doubt

By Mary Clare McGraw

This year there was much speculation with how Black Friday would have an effect on the retailers nationwide. A record 195 million shoppers were out looking for deals in stores and online between Thanksgiving and Sunday, November 29th, which, according to the National Retail Federation, was up from the 172 million shoppers during the same time period in 2008. The troubling, yet perhaps expected, phenomenon that took place on the holiday weekend was that average spending dropped to $343.31 per person from last year’s $372.57. These statistics could be a reflection of a lack of consumer confidence due to a still high unemployment rate of more than 10% and a dwindling effect of the stimulus packages given out to companies in the United States.
With a continued weak job market, consumer discretionary spending will also continue to struggle and retailers will not get that big boost they were hoping for. Specialty stores such as Abercrombie & Fitch saw as much as a 17% slump in sales compared to the year before. With consumers increasingly turning to discount retailers and warehouse clubs, specialty stores are finding it difficult to appeal to the fundamental needs of Americans who are shaken by the current economy.

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Noise, Vibration, and Harshness: Rise and Fall of Consumer Finance

Article By: Jamie Kitman
Posted By: Srividya Srinivasan

Consumer Finance Scams

Article by: Srividya Srinivasan

When consumers encounter financial troubles, sometimes they sink too deep and credit problems arise as a result. Consumer finance scams often keep their fees at a relatively low rate to attract consumers facing financial burdens. These types of consumers are the primary targeted audience for fraud promoters since these specific consumers are most willing to pay money for these services. The result of affordable rates is that consumers that can pay for these services; however, they are often the individuals that can absorb the least amount of economic injuries caused by fraud.

FTC law enforcement efforts have been placed to emphasize fraud promoters that promise financial service assistance to consumers at high rates to take advantage of vulnerabilities. The consumers facing hardship would like nothing better than to rid themselves of these financial burdens; unfortunately, fraudulent activities usually target these consumers. These fraud promoters often charge high rates for a service they can not guarantee to provide in the end.

How can fraudulent scams earn promoters so much money when consumers are facing financial challenges? Consumer finance scams keep their fees low enough so that the aforementioned type of consumers can afford them. Fraud promoters usually receive a large profit by mass marketing their services to millions of consumers and, thus, reaping a higher monetary reward. Given these marketing techniques that enable fraudulent activities to generate more consumers, more law enforcement is clearly necessary.

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Consumer spending is up

Posted by Michael Rivezzo

More Shoppers Hit Stores, but Spend Less Each

Posted by Michael Rivezzo

Many more shoppers turned out for the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season over Thanksgiving weekend than a year ago, but they spent less each and favored lower-priced items.

That's a mixed bag for the beleaguered retail industry, which hopes that tight inventory combined with targeted bargains will ring up better results than last year's gloomy holiday season.

Roughly 195 million consumers shopped in stores and online over the Black Friday weekend, up from 172 million last year, according to the National Retail Federation. But average spending dropped to $343.31 per person from $372.57 a year ago.

Overall sales for the four-day weekend totaled $41.2 billion, up marginally from $41 billion last year, the NRF estimated. The trade group bases its figures on a survey, conducted Thursday through Saturday, of roughly 5,000 consumers and includes a projection for Sunday.

"The appetite among consumers this year seems to trend toward the lower-price items, the items they could literally afford with the money they already have in their wallet," said Ellen Davis, vice president of the Washington-based retail group, which has predicted a 1% decrease in November and December sales this year over last.

The holiday season—when many retailers make the bulk of their sales and profits for the year—is being closely watched by economists and others as an indicator of whether consumers are still deeply worried about the economy and unemployment, and are hampered by tight credit. After a disastrous season last year, retailers have ratcheted down sales expectations while slimming their stocks and filling the shelves with cheaper goods.
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What Does Santa Wants for Xmas?

By Quang Nguyen

It is that time of the year when children everywhere look forward to Santa for a gift. But have you ever wondered what does Santa want? Can you guess? Well for this year's Xmas, Santa's most wanted gifts are H1N1 flu shot and hand sanitizer.

Contacting with thousands of kids everyday until Christmas Eve, Santa does not want to get sick. Swine flu is becoming Santa's most dangerous work related hazard. The question is should all Santas get the H1N1 flu shot and answer is definitely yes. It is the top priority for Santas as well as their employers.

However, the flu shots are limited in many states, making it difficult for all Santas to get to the safe zone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Santas are not classified as the priority high risk group in order to get the vaccine.

What even more dangerous for Santas is the fact about their demographic. Many of them are currently facing health risk with overweight. 1/3 of all Santas are estimated to be morbidly obese. Research has shown that obesity is one of the risk factor for severe swine flu. Experts advise Santas to wash their clothes daily instead of weekly to prevent germs. In addition, they also say that Santas should not wear gloves this year so they can wash their hands more frequently.


Sample Sales: Now Online

By Quang Nguyen

Sample Sales are what many consumers, mostly women, looking forward to. The products of many famous brands will be sold with much lower price and with new styles people can't resist. However, customers usually have to stand in line for a long time in order to get into the stores on these sample sale events. Thanks to technology, now you can all buy sample products at home through online websites.

Get excited girls, you can all check out these wonderful websites:,,,, Customers love the new innovation strategy. They now can purchase their favorite items without the rush at the stores.

Traditionally, sample sales are on invitation only basis and the quantities of products are very limited. However, with the thrill of saving as much as 70% on new items, people are going crazy for sample sales. This is when online comes in. Often the sales would be for a limited time, usually 24-48 hours, and customers have to sign up an account in order to participate. Even signing up is a difficult task because you most often will need a referral from a current member. Once you sign in, you will get emails telling you the next sample sales.

People who are tagged as shopaholics works hard to get the best deals. To them, the online websites are designed as a game. To win the game is to successfully buy the items. High demand and low supply plus low price results in an online war. Good luck to you on the fashion hunting season.


New Rules for Gift Cards

Written by: Lisa Matthys

In the season of gift giving, many people struggle trying to find that perfect gift for their friends, family, or significant other. Why go through the heartache of trying to find that perfect gift when you could simply give them a visa or mastercard gift card? Consumers are able to spend it as a gift card but with fewer restrictions on where they can use it. However, the main concern with these type of gift cards is that they charge additional fees for its inactivity, diminishing the amount available.

The Federal Reserve has proposed new regulations aimed at limiting fees and expiration dates of gift cards. The new rules would limit card issuers to charge no more than one inactivity, dormancy, or service fee a month. It would also require funds to be usable for at least five years after a card is issued or last funded. The National Retail Federation expects that the changes will affect banks more than retailers as most retailers have pulled back from expiration dates and other various fees. Also, the new proposed regulation could hurt some state governments who depend on unused gift-card credit from issuers. But these implications will not be in place until August of next year too late for this years holiday season.

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Community Banks Have Operated the Right Way

Written by: Lisa Matthys

Posted by: Courier Post Online

In 1969, a short 40 years ago, there were 17,000 banks in this nation. Today, there are less than half of that number -- about 8,000 -- and 105 of them have failed so far this year.

Just don't blame your local community banks. We're not the problem. It was 19 of the mega-institutions that precipitated the current financial crisis. Unfairly, the federal government is punishing everyone. Worse than unfair, some of the actions the feds are taking are deepening the problem.

Blame bad banking practices. Blame the economy.

It's time for the larger banks to be responsible, getting back to banking basics. It's also time for the consumer to speak up, and by doing so they can protect their personal assets, support their local community and help bolster the national economy. We have to stop the financial bleeding now, and grow our economy back into good health.

As the bigger banks continue to struggle and curtail lending, and as the recession deepens, worsening the plights of the mega-institutions, the community banks still are accepting deposits and making loans supporting the people and communities we serve. We're owned locally and live locally. We're the ones buying uniforms for the Little League teams and sponsoring the local charity events. We know our customers and they know us and place their trust in us. We take that to heart.

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