Monday, March 31, 2008

Ice cream recipes & links round-up

Below are some of the posts I've enjoyed this week, but first, by popular demand, homemade ice cream recipes:

  • Vanilla ice cream recipe: In a bowl, mix three eggs with one cup of sugar. Heat two cups of half-and-half on the stove until it is just starting to bubble (but before it boils.) Pour the hot half-and-half slowly into the egg mixture, stirring as you pour (you are basically raising its temperature slowly to avoid the eggs turning into scrambled eggs.) Then put the whole mixture back onto the stove on low heat and stir constantly for roughly 10-15 minutes until it starts to thicken up (the typical measure is "when it coats the back of a spoon, it's done.") As soon as it's done, pour another two cups of half-and-half into it to bring the temperature down. Stir in two tablespoons of vanilla, chill the mixture in the fridge (I leave it overnight), and then freeze it in your ice cream maker according the directions.
    • Yummy variation: substitute two tablespoons of Bailey's Irish Cream for the vanilla.
    • Feel free to adjust the sugar level to your taste, and also the fat content of the dairy (some people use only milk, others use mostly cream)-- that's the beauty of homemade ice cream.
  • For other ice cream recipes, I highly recommend Ice Cream Ireland-- we ate at their shops twice while in Ireland and they were absolutely delicious-- and there are some wildly creative, fantastic-sounding recipes on the blog (Green Tea and Ginger, Chocolate Whiskey, Brown Bread and Guinness, Strawberry and Sage, etc, etc.) Don't miss the Honeycomb Ice Cream, which was the favorite flavor of 3 of 4 tasters in my family when we visited out of the ten (!) flavors we shared (mine was their Mint Julep, which they don't seem to have a recipe up for yet!)
  • Now for some posts I enjoyed this week...

Saturday, March 29, 2008

10 ways you can use less artificial light-- lower emissions and your energy bill!

Tonight over a hundred cities worldwide and hundreds of thousands of individuals are observing Earth Hour. Participating is easy-- turn off your lights (and other non-essential appliances) for an hour, from 8 to 9pm local time. (And register on the website so they can track you!) Last year when the campaign was focused on Sydney, Australia, energy use in the city was 10% lower than normal during Earth Hour.

But if this sounds good to you, don't just participate one hour a year-- work on ways to decrease the energy you use on lighting year round, and it'll be better for the earth (and your wallet.) About 1/5 of the average household's energy costs come from lighting, costing more than $200 a year and causing more than 3000 pounds of C02 to be emitted. Here are some ways to cut that back:

  • It isn't news to anyone, but you should still turn off lights when you leave a room, and switch to energy-efficient CFL bulbs.
  • Use natural light during the daytime. Open your blinds wide and spend your time in rooms that have abundant natural light. Or go outside and take in the light directly.
  • Wait a little longer to turn your lights on at dusk. Do you turn on your lights at the first hint of dimming natural light? See how long you can wait and still be comfortable. Many people will feel temporary eye strain if they try to read in low light-- but most experts say that reading in dim light causes no permanent damage to your eyes, so if you're like me and your eyes feel fine even when those around you are saying "How on earth can you read like that?" why not wait another 15 minutes or half-hour to turn on the lights? Or if you can't read, try doing errands that don't require full lighting, like folding laundry, or the hobbies you always tell yourself "I could do that with my eyes closed!"
  • Find things to do in the dark. Test them out during Earth Hour, but then see if you can incorporate them from time to time throughout the year.
    • Go outside and stargaze. This will be particularly enjoyable during Earth Hour if there's significant participation in your area (less light pollution than usual) but it's enjoyable any night. (Check out my 16 Tips for a Great (Frugal) Stargazing Experience.)
    • Take an evening walk. Just be careful to be safe-- wear reflective clothing, etc. Try a flashlight that's powered by hand-cranking or by shaking to minimize your use of electricity.
    • Spend time with your friends and family in the dark. You don't need light to talk to each other. And kids especially may enjoy the novelty of talking and playing together in the dark inside the house (or "camping" in the back yard.)
    • Listen to music. Ever noticed that you enjoy and appreciate music more if you listen with your eyes closed? Skip a step and leave the lights off!
    • Eat dinner by (local, beeswax) candlelight. Candlelight can be fun and romantic-- but because of the environmental effects of transporting them, and because reguarly paraffin candles emit carbon when you burn them, you're really only coming out ahead if you use beeswax candles from a local source.
  • Use only as much light as you need. If you're sitting in the corner of the living room, do you really need the overhead lighting that illuminates the whole room, or can you get by with a small reading light nearby?
  • Change your sleep schedule to take best advantage of natural light. This is very hard for a night owl like me, but for every hour of daylight we sleep through in the morning and instead spend awake at night with the lights on, we're using unnecessary electricity.
Are you participating in Earth Hour? What will/did you do during the hour? Do you make an effort to use less artificial light, and if so, how do you do it?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Psychology of Money: We're happier spending on others than ourselves

An article published in Science last week included three studies from different angles all pointing to the same conclusion: people who spend their money on other people rather than on themselves are happier.

  • The researchers analyzed the responses of a representative sample of hundreds of Americans who were asked questions about their spending and their level of happiness. They found that while the level of personal spending had no connection to people's happiness, spending on others-- charitable donations as well as purchases for friends and family-- was correlated with their levels of happiness:
    "Regardless of how much income each person made," Dunn said, "those who spent money on others reported greater happiness, while those who spent more on themselves did not."
  • They also recorded the happiness levels of a small group of employees before and after receiving a $3,000-$8,000 bonus, and also asked what they'd done with the money. They found that those who gave to others reported higher levels of happiness after they'd done it. From the Boston Globe:
    What they found, said Michael I. Norton, assistant professor at Harvard Business School, was that "the size of the bonus you get has no relation to how happy you are, but the amount you spend on other people does predict how happy you are."

    The study is published in this week's edition of the journal Science.

    The researchers used a five-point scale, asking people, "Do you feel happy in general?" There were five answers provided: yes, most of the time, sometimes, rarely, or no.

    They found that people could expect to go up a full point on the scale if they spent about a third of the bonus on others, Dunn said, calling it prosocial spending.

    "So, if before receiving their bonus, both Tim and Dan said they were happy sometimes, and Dan spent a third of his bonus prosocially, while Tim spent none of it prosocially, then after spending the bonus, we would expect Dan to tell us he was happy 'most of the time,' " Dunn explained.

  • And the researchers also conducted a study with college students, giving them either a $5 or $20 bill to spend that day-- randomly assigning half of them to spend it on themselves and the other half to spend it on others. When the students returned that evening and reported on their happiness levels, those who'd given to others were happier than those who'd spent the money on themselves. In other words, these subjects were randomly chosen and gave money away because they were were told to-- and it still made them happier than spending on themselves.

It seems to me that there are a few things to learn from this study. There's the obvious conclusion that spending on others seems to improve happiness-- and while these particular studies focus on giving financially, there's evidence that other types of giving (like volunteering, or being a good listener for friends or family) make people happier, too. (Check out Free Money Finance's review of the book Why Good Things Happen to Good People, for starters.)

But it's also important to note what the research says about the effects of spending on yourself, and how it may differ from what we'd expect. The researchers described the "spend $5 or $20 in a day" study to another group of students, and most of them expected that they'd be happier after spending on themselves rather than on others. Yet we know that the researchers found the opposite... and the national survey found no correlation between people's personal spending and their happiness. So it's not just that spending on other people makes us happy-- it's also that spending on ourselves generally doesn't, even though we think it will.

Do these results ring true to you? Is this something you've noticed previously, and if so, have you made decisions based on it to improve your happiness levels? If this is new to you, are you thinking about making some changes?

The Psychology of Money is an ongoing series that highlights some insights we can gain about ourselves and our personal finance decisions from psychological research; click here for previous posts.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Family vs frugality: what would you do?

Background: My Dad went to the University of Arizona and has been a huge fan of their basketball team for as long as I remember. I always root for them because I know it's a big deal for my Dad, but I only follow them casually-- many years (like this one) I don't even know the names of any of their players. Anyway, Arizona made it to the NCAA tournament again this year-- not a surprise-- and their first game was in DC-- which is much more rare. My Dad had never seen Arizona play in the tournament in person before.

Dad: So Arizona's first-round game is at the Verizon Center in DC this Thursday night. I'm looking for tickets-- do you want to come with me and Mom?
Me (thinks): It would be kind of neat to see a live March Madness game, and to see Arizona in particular... if it's reasonably affordable. Like $25-$30 a ticket.
Me (says): Maybe-- how much do the tickets cost?
Dad: I think we can get them for $125 each.
Me (thinks): Yikes! No way.
Me (says): Nah... I'm sure it'd be fun, but at that price, I'm not really interested. Have fun, though!
Dad: Sure, okay.

An hour later...

Dad: It sounds like your Mom has a conflict and wouldn't be able to come to the Arizona game. If I pay for your ticket, would you want to come with me?
Me (thinks): Oh my. On the one hand it would be fun; on the other hand, I'd feel really bad about my parents buying me a $125 ticket, both on principle and because they have credit card debt that they need to pay down. But then again, if my Mom was going they'd be spending $250 anyway... but at least then she'd be getting something out of it; it's not fair to her to spend $250 on something she doesn't get to share. But I don't want to buy a $125 ticket! But if I say no, my Dad might not go by himself, since it sounds like he wants company-- and that'd be a shame, he's clearly very excited and I want him to take advantage of this rare opportunity and really enjoy it. I'm tempted to chip in $25, which is what I was willing to pay anyway, but that feels silly and cheap, and they'd still be spending $100 extra on me. I suppose I could pay a bit more; it's not my preference, but I want my Dad to be happy, and I can certainly afford it. Hmm...
Me (says): Sure, that sounds fun, I'll come. How about we split the cost of my ticket?

What would you have done? Have you been in a similar situation? Have you spent more money on a ticket than you otherwise would because it's a big deal to someone you care about? If they offer to pay for you, how do you react?

(By the way, Arizona lost, but we enjoyed the experience anyway.)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Delicious homemade ice cream means more for my money

I am a homemade ice cream convert, and loving it!

See, I've been working on adjusting my mindset on frugality-- rather than thinking of "spending less" as success and "spending more" as a failure, I'm trying to focus more on getting the most out of my money. And with that definition, making homemade ice cream is a frugal success for me on all counts. Sure, financially I'm barely breaking even. But it tastes better, lets me use ingredients I feel good about, allows for more creative flavors, and is just fun to make!

I should explain that I am an ice cream addict and am in the habit of ending most of my nights with a bowlful of ice cream. For most of my adult life, this meant picking up cartons of Edy's or Breyer's, whichever was on sale, at $3 each-- I'd buy roughly two a month, which adds up to roughly $72 on ice cream a year. (Not counting the $30-$40 on ice cream shop visits.)

I could make my homemade batches for about the same amount (I got my ice cream maker handed down for free, so I'm not factoring that in.) But I actually choose to spend another $1 or so to use the ingredients that fit my values-- fair trade sugar, fair trade vanilla, and certified humane eggs-- and I love having that choice. (Theoretically there are also certified humane dairy products, but I can't find any near me, so I use "normal" half-and-half.) So that brings it up to $4.50ish a batch, or $0.40 a serving, maybe 25% more than what I was previously spending. (Although it's still cheaper than the $0.60-$0.75 or so a serving for Ben and Jerry's fair trade vanilla, chocolate, and coffee ice creams, the closest thing ingredient-wise to what I'm going for, and they don't even use fair trade sugar in their US pints yet.)

But that's totally the wrong category to compare it to. I tell you, homemade ice cream tastes fantastic! It is in a different league from your ordinary ice creams. In fact, the taste is in the same ballpark as the top five ice cream shops I've ever been to. (By the way, the cat picture up top comes from Ice Cream Ireland, the awesome blog of one of the aforementioned top five.) So not only am I getting peak-experience ice cream on an everyday basis, but considering that ice cream places charge you $4-$5 a serving, I'm getting it at a 90% discount! And I've started turning down stops at ice cream shops, thinking to myself "Why buy that here when I've got great ice cream at home?" (Not to be confused with "Oh, I shouldn't buy ice cream here, I do have some ice cream at home, but maybe this once...") Doing that just three times a year would cancel out the extra I'm paying per homemade batch.

But figuring it all out in dollars and cents doesn't take into account how much fun it is to make ice cream, how nice it is to mix up a small handful of ingredients and know that's all that's in your ice cream, how exciting it is to be flexible and creative about flavors. (Next up on my list: banana chocolate chip.)

In a nutshell: I pay a little more, I get a lot more. As I was getting ready to make my first batch, I ran the numbers, realized it wouldn't save me any money, and thought that my first batch might be my last. Then I tasted it and all was forgotten...

So, who else makes homemade ice cream, and do you love it as much as I do? Or are there other things you make at home that technically may not save you money, but take you to another level of quality for less?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St Patrick's Day! Link Roundup

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Registering for what matters: Tips and resources for including non-traditional gifts in your registry

Are you putting together a registry for your wedding/committment ceremony, a baby registry, or any other sort of gift wishlist? Do you believe in emphasizing meaning more than "stuff" in gift-giving, but aren't sure how to translate that into gift-receiving?

There are a variety of different ways you can use a gift registry, some quite non-traditional; what it takes is thinking deeply and creatively about what you really want, and then, if you discover that what you'd appreciate receiving is not limited to brand new brand-name items, you may want to find a gift registry website that will help you convey that. One option is the Alternative Gift Registry website (by the non-profit Center for a New American Dream, which means no ads on the site!); it offers the key functions of a gift registry-- letting people know what you want and tracking what's already being given-- while allowing great flexibility in describing what you want.

Here are some traditional and non-traditional categories of gifts to consider including in your registry, all of which can be easily handled at the Alternative Gift Registry:

  • You can certainly request specific items you want with a link to any store on the web (or information about the specific item and brand so they can find it themselves at the best price and/or without favoring a specific corporate chain store.) This is especially important if you expect that different people are going to be buying parts of a matched set-- you can link to another registry that includes the set(s) and use the main list at AGR as a hub.
  • If you're more flexible, you can just list an item or category, giving them the opportunity to be more creative and personal-- and to shop wherever they like ("eight white napkins," "board games; we especially like word games, but we do already have Scrabble and Boggle.")
  • You can also ask for experiences rather than objects ("theater tickets would be wonderful," "we'd get a lot of use and enjoyment out of an annual National Parks pass.")
  • You can let people know you'd accept or even prefer gently used gifts ("good books-- used ones are fine," "a playpen, new or used," "used baby clothes, we'd feel wasteful if you bought new ones!")
  • You can even ask for non-material items like services ("we need someone to check in on our pets while we're on our honeymoon," "mowing the lawn for us one summer afternoon would be just as appreciated as any item you could buy," "if you could bring over dinner sometime in the first two weeks after the baby's born, that would be terrific") or donations to charity.

One thing I really like about this website is that it lets you convey that non-traditional gifts are just as welcomed and valued as the "normal" ones, in a way that registering on a traditional site and then saying "Oh, but X would be fine too" doesn't. If it's part of your life and your values to decrease the amount of "stuff" in your home; if you feel good about getting things used rather than new because it's better for the planet; if you want people to know that you won't think the amount of money they spend on you is a measure of how much they care; if there are favors people could do for you that would really be more appreciated than something they'd buy-- if any of these or similar statements is true, then communicating your desires and values about gifts can be freeing to your loved ones while helping you get gifts you feel good about. (The Alternative Gift Registry isn't the only way to do that; there may be other sites that can be used similarly and/or you may be able to handle it by word of mouth.)

So, what do you think? For those of you who've had a wedding/commitment ceremony/baby shower/etc, how'd you treat the gift registry? Did you welcome non-traditional gifts, and if so, how did you convey that to people? How about as a gift-giver-- have you ever seen an alternative type of gift registry, or otherwise been invited to give non-traditional gifts? If so, how'd it go? If not, how do you think you'd feel about it?

(Disclaimer: Although I'm gung-ho about this approach in theory, I've actually never created a registry myself since I've never been married or had a baby, so I am very interested in hearing the thoughts of those who have. But I've certainly bought wedding gifts off registries and wished I could give more non-traditionally but felt too presumptuous and awkward to do it; I'd really love getting the go-ahead from an alternative gift registry.)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Two years of Money and Values! Here are the highlights...

It's a little hard for me to believe, but as of today, it's been two years since I started Money and Values. Thanks so much to all of you who've joined me along the way! I've had a great time so far, and I hope you have too.

Without further ado, here are some hightlights of the last two years, my favorites and yours:

And don't miss the posts about the psychology of money, being eco-conscious, general financial planning and principles, and decreasing consumerism/materialism.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Links to some posts and projects of note

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Psychology of Money: We think higher-priced items are better

Do you ever buy higher-priced items because you think their higher quality makes them a good value? Are you sure they're actually higher quality?

It isn't news that consumers interpret higher prices as a signal of quality; for decades, studies have been demonstrating that we expect more expensive products to be better. But two recent studies have taken that conclusion a step further-- not only do prices affect our expectations of quality, but we may actually experience identical products as being better if they're priced higher.

In a study released in January, researchers from CalTech and Stanford told subjects that they were drinking five different varieties of wine and informed them of the prices for each as they drank. But in reality, they only tasted three types, because two were offered twice: a $5 wine described as costing $5 and $45, and a $90 bottle presented as $90 and $10. (There was also a $35 wine with the accurate price given.) Not only did the subjects rate identical wines as tasting better when they were told they were pricier, but brain scans showed greater activity in a part of the brain known to be related to the experience of pleasure. In other words, the experiment may be evidence that we genuinely experience greater pleasure from an identical object when we think it costs more (although we can't say for sure because the brain is so complicated and the increased brain activity could theoretically mean something else.)

And just this week comes news of a study in which participants were given an inactive dummy pill which they were told would provide pain relief, before going through the second of two identical sets of electric shocks. 85% of the subjects who thought the pills cost $2.50 reported feeling significantly less pain the second time around, compared with only 61% of the subjects who thought the pills cost $0.10. The authors speculate that this may help account for the fact that brand-name drugs are sometimes found to be more effective than perfectly identical, but cheaper, generic equivalents.

There is, of course, some logic to believing in an association between higher price and higher quality; they do often go together. Last year, an analysis (PDF) of 241 products in 46 categories found a correlation between price and "objective quality"-- as measured by Consumer Reports ratings-- of .16 (to put that in context, a correlation of 0 is random and a correlation of 1 is a perfect relationship.) But in more than a third of categories, they found that the relationship between price and quality was actually negative (higher prices generally related to lower quality.) And the same analysis found that the correlation between the average consumer's "perceived quality" and the products' price was much stronger than the relationship between price and objective quality.

What I find a bit disturbing is that these findings suggest that the price of an item can affect the way we experience its value. We all say that instead of being cheap (trying to get the lowest price), we want to be frugal (trying to get the best value.) But at least being cheap is straight-forward and mathematical; figuring out the best value requires subjective judgments of quality, and these studies suggest that prices themselves can skew what we believe are our rational judgments of quality.

How can we try to correct for this? The best way I can think of is to do a little blind testing of our own. If there are products you pay extra for because you think the higher quality makes it worthwhile, then maybe it's worth brainstorming ways to test whether it's true quality or just perceived quality. For some products this would probably be easy (blind taste-tests of food and drink) and others would take some creativity (maybe getting an accomplice to take the labels off of cleaning products and marking them #1 and #2)... but for other items it would be near-impossible.

I suppose the other argument would be that there's no point in destroying illusions of higher quality when we're actually reaping the benefit of them. If you buy $45 wine occasionally as a special treat because you really enjoy it, and then you do a blind taste test against your everyday $5 wine and discover they both taste equally good, have you now lost the ability to get increased pleasure from the $45 wine? I don't know, but I'd guess not-- I'd guess you develop a greater appreciation for the cheaper option rather than less appreciation of the more expensive one. (Although the study with the pills is murkier-- would I rather pay more and get better pain relief, or would I want to be convinced that the more expensive option is only worth the low price of the generic and perhaps actually experience less effective pain relief as a result?)

What do you think of all this? Have you or those around you experienced a perception of higher quality related to higher price that you believe is actually illusory? And if you've learned a pricier choice was no better than a cheaper option, do you feel like you "lost out" on the benefit you thought the expensive item had? Do you try to keep a handle on the way prices affect your perception of quality, and if so, how?

The Psychology of Money is an ongoing series that highlights some insights we can gain about ourselves and our personal finance decisions from psychological research; click here for previous posts.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Carnival of Ethics, Values, and Personal Finance

Thanks for checking out this edition of the Carnival of Ethics, Values, and Personal Finance! We have two dozen wonderful posts on a variety of relevant topics. Please link to the carnival and spread the word.

Editor's Picks

Being a conscious consumer/investor

Personal values and priorities

Society, values, and money

Business ethics


That concludes this edition of the Carnival of Personal Finance. Thanks for reading, and let me know if you're interested in hosting a future edition. Submit your posts for the next edition (April 3rd) using this form.

Technorati tags: ,

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Can spending more money on fun be a frugal choice?

Sometimes I have a really hard time spending money on things when I don't think I'm getting a good enough bargain.  I know, I know, some people would love to have that problem!  But honestly, it is a problem sometimes, especially when I hold back from having fun and enjoying myself because I don't like the price (or, worse, go ahead and then fret about the cost the whole way through.)  But luckily, I think I've found a partial solution.
One of the great things about living in the heart of Chicago was that every three months, without fail, a new set of coupons showed up in the mailbox with at least 4 or 5 buy-one-get-one-free coupons for great restaurants in the area.  As a result, my boyfriend and I would go out to eat maybe once every three or four weeks, almost always using the coupons, happy about the experience and the price and the value.  But here in DC, we don't get any coupons like that, and so we've eaten out much less often, even though we do value eating good food and having nice dates together.  It's not just restaurants, either; especially with the free Smithsonian museums in town, it's hard to choose other outings that have a pricetag (even when we're down to the last few museums which we're not really that interested in!)
So we decided to order the Entertainment Book for $20 [although we should've gotten it for $14 via Ebates, see below.]  I flipped through the offers online, did some mental calculations, and figured that it wasn't likely to save us much if any money.  While there are lots of offers that we can see ourselves using, there weren't too many of the "We go there/buy that anyway, so we're saving $X that we would have otherwise spent" variety.  (Although I didn't realize until it came in the mail that there's $20 of coupons to our grocery store-- $15, really, since one has expired-- so that actually goes a long way.)  In fact, since nearly everything in the book is "buy one get one free," paying half-price for something we otherwise wouldn't have paid for actually means spending more money.  That made me hesitate to buy the book at first.
But on reflection, I think it's going to be a good value for us.  Like I said, I often have a difficult time spending money on things unless I feel like it's a good deal (my boyfriend is similar although definitely less extreme.)  I'll tell myself that surely there's something else fun we could do for free or cheaper, and so it's my responsibility to find the cheapest entertainment and choose that instead.  And there are indeed other things to do, and we do them and we enjoy them-- I'll be the first person to tell you that there's a lot of free (or cheap), fun, fulfilling things to do out there.  But there are also some enjoyable things that you just can't do for free, and if you're too hung up on the cost you miss out on that fun.  And now we've got a whole bunch of "good deals" to lure us into doing them. 

For example, we went to a dinner theater for Valentine's Day and really enjoyed it, but we felt a little reluctant to do it again because we weren't sure it was quite worth the price (about $100 for the two of us, which is definitely at the high end of our usual entertainment costs.)  But in the Entertainment Book there's a buy-one-get-one-free coupon for that theater, and that means we'll probably go back-- at half the cost it goes from a probably-not to a great bargain.  There's a lot like that-- from eating out to bowling to mini-golf to boat trips on the Potomac, I feel like someone told me, "There's a 50% discount on fun this year!  You've paid for it already, now go out and enjoy it!" 

So in other words, thanks to the Entertainment Book, I think we'll be spending a little more on entertainment this year, but getting a lot more fun in return.  And isn't that what frugality's all about, anyway-- not merely spending as little as possible, but instead getting the most happiness you can out of your money?  Merriam-Webster says that frugality is "Middle French, from Latin frugalis virtuous, frugal, from frug-, frux fruit, value; akin to Latin frui to enjoy."  I think investing this extra money in fun will be a good value, and I'm looking forward to enjoying it!
Do you hesitate to spend money on entertainment when you're not sure you're getting a good deal?  Do you ever feel like you're taking that too far?  What ways have you found to address that?  (And for those of you who think that's crazy, you can just share your thoughts on the Entertainment Book!)
* By the way, I did a bad job of shopping around.  I should've bought the Entertainment Book through Ebates and gotten an extra $6 back.  (And if you haven't joined Ebates yet, you'll get an extra $5 on your first purchase-- if you want to join and don't mind using my referral link, click here-- or just go to 

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Lotsa links!

Free Money Finance is hosting a March Madness tournament again-- 64 great posts from the past year facing off in a series of match-ups until the winner is crowned and gets $500 for the charity of their choice. Stop by to read some great posts and vote for your favorites (in the first round, I'm playing in Game 16 and Game 24.)

From the Psychology of Money department, Get Rich Slowly had a post this week called How Shopping Momentum Leads to More Shopping, highlighting research that found that after someone decides to buy an item, they spend less time deliberating before deciding to buy a second (or third, or fourth) item.

The Carnival of Personal Finance was at Broke Grad Student. Some highlights:

The Festival of Frugality was at No Credit Needed. Some highlights: