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Samuel Freshman and Heidi Clingen: Be smart at holidays and enjoy …
During the holiday season, the temptation often is to let budgets and financial goals slide. The festivities and so many gifts to buy are a great excuse.

Playing Mr. Mom can be maddening…
Dear Smarties:
 I have been trying to find an after-school job, but everyone is cutting back on hiring. — Teen in Temple City

Samuel Freshamn and Heidi Clingen : Saving, not spending, is smart nowadays…
 My parents were children of The Depression. They taught my sisters and me to buy only what we could pay for and to not depend on credit cards. I have a friend who wants me to help her “stimulate the economy by shopping.” She wants me to go on a spending spree with her rather than to save.

Smarties: Now is not the time to indulge
Dear Smarties:
 I was recently laid off. I have a good severance package, and I know I’ll be able to find something eventually. But my finances are getting strained. 
Being jobless is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
—Depressed in Danville 

Samuel Freshman and Heidi Clingen: FICO Scores and credit card rates
 I feel very sorry for all people who were caught in Bernard Madoff’s scheme. Obviously, some very smart people were completely fooled by him, such as advisors to Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg . I like what Kevin Bacon said, “There are a lot of things I’m grateful for: my health, my family, my career, my family’s health. We’ll march on. We have to. There’s nothing you can do about it.” —Sympathetic in Sherman Oaks

Samuel Freshman and Heidi Clingen: Are consumers spending enough?
Dear Smarties:
 I’ve been feeling kind of guilty that I’ve been cutting back on my spending, as far as the economy is concerned. After 9/11, we thought it was our patriotic duty to go out and spend. We probably overdid it. But what about now, that the economy is sluggish? I read that economists are upset that consumers aren’t spending enough. — Guilty in Glendale

Smarties: Inheritance-to save or spend

DEAR SMARTIES: My husband and I both came from very poor families. Our childhoods were miserable. We both worked hard all our lives, and now are retired and fairly secure.
We recently received a large inheritance. My husband wants to spend it, as he always does.
I am scared to death, for fear we will need it someday.
 — Fearful in Frazier Park

Smarties: A priceless gift doesn’t cost much
 My wife’s birthday is coming up. I recently lost my job, so I only have a few dollars to spend on a gift. She has been so supportive of me in this difficult time, and I want to give her something special.
– Frustrated in Fresno

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Your partners in savings success,
Heidi and Sam
Authors of: The Smartest Way to Save: Why You Can’t Hang on to Money and What to Do About It