Take 5: A Roundup of Reads From Around the Web

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This week: Dealing with debt collectors, reducing holiday stress, getting paid to be a bridesmaid, weird and cheap gift ideas and money mistakes everybody makes but nobody talks about.

1. How to Keep a Debt Collector From Ruining the Holidays

[Credit.com] “The holidays are swiftly approaching, and, while everyone’s generally happy to wait on Santa, there’s one person you surely won’t want calling this time of year: a debt collector. Fortunately, consumers on the receiving end of letters, phone calls, emails or other means of recouping a debt don’t need to let any correspondence ruin their holiday cheer.

We’ve written many times about how to get debt collectors off your back and even have a section of our Solutions Center devoted to it. Still, it never hurts to get some additional advice. If debt collectors come calling this season, this author suggests you verify the debt, understand your rights and send a written request to cease communications. See the story for more.

2. 10 Steps to Zap Holiday Stress

[The Dollar Stretcher] “The radio plays continuous Christmas music. The stores suddenly sprout six extra rows of decorations and triple their ads. Tension builds into a frenzy of buying. For many of us, the holidays herald feelings of dread. We have too many tasks and too little time.”

We’ve done similar stories, but when it comes to remaining relaxed, there’s never enough advice. This article suggests you make a detailed to-do list, then go over it, asking questions like: “Can I delegate part of this to my spouse?” “Can I cut down on parties?” “Are there traditions we no longer need to follow?” It’s a good exercise. Check it out.

3. Get Paid to Go to Weddings: This Woman Makes $1,000 a Day as a Professional Bridesmaid

[The Penny Hoarder] “Do you love weddings? Do you love them enough to attend ceremonies for couples you don’t actually know? You might if you were getting paid. Professional bridesmaid Jen Glantz earns up to $1,000 a day helping brides prepare for and enjoy their big days.”

This story describes a woman who makes money by doing the chores typically assigned to bridesmaids, up to and including actually standing by the bride at the wedding. It’s mostly about doing the myriad organizational tasks that accompany today’s weddings, and there must be a market: This woman says she’s already done it 30 times.

4. 5 Weird And Cheap Holiday Gifts

[Debt.com] “Every holiday season features many of the same gifts: the latest in toys, fashion, and electronics. Those items aren’t cheap, and some of them are obsolete the following year. This year, buy something unusual and save some money. Check out these eccentric gifts…”

This headline wasn’t lying: All these gifts are both cheap and a little (or very) strange. They include a “heavy-breathing” fake cat, a “Rub Away” bar that cleanses your hands of odors, a Star Wars R2 D2 Can Cooler, a solar-powered cell phone charger and a $20 earbud holder.

5. 20 Money Mistakes Everyone Makes But No One Talks About

[Wise Bread] “Our communal tightlippedness about financial problems keeps everyone in the dark. Because we are not able to learn from others’ mistakes, we blindly walk into impending financial disasters, without a word of warning. Our unwillingness to discuss money can result in terrible financial problems, emotional stress, and even heartbreak.”

This article is a great look at things we don’t know about money, but don’t know we don’t know. Included in the list are relying too much on Social Security, not understanding home loans, buying too much house, not properly educating our children about money, too much debt and not negotiating often enough. See the post for lots more.

Stacy Johnson

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