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This week: Smart ways to use credit cards, affordable ways to treat yourself, DIY holiday gift bags, the worst money mistakes you can make and saving while pregnant.

1. 5 Smart Ways to Use Credit Cards During the Holidays

[Credit.com] “As another hectic holiday shopping season approaches, perhaps the biggest differences between this year and years past are that some retailers are scaling back their Black Friday events, and that shoppers may be inserting their smart-chip-equipped credit cards into a terminal, rather than swiping an old magnetic stripe.

As we did a few weeks ago, this story offers specifics on how to keep credit card bills in check for the holidays. Advice includes buying only what you can afford, properly understanding offers for store credit cards before applying, not overspending to earn rewards and more. A good primer before you head out the door with that plastic.

2. Affordable Treats to Counteract the Stress of Tough Times

[The Dollar Stretcher] “With four children under the age of 10 and a husband who worked 50- to 60-hour weeks, Elsa’s life could easily have spun out of control. But she managed to survive those stressful years by releasing expectations and treating herself on a daily basis.”

The point of this post is to suggest inexpensive things to do that have been proved to relieve stress. The list includes watching movies, taking the dog for a walk, reading a book, visiting a park and lots more. Feeling stressed? Calm down and read this one.

3. Why Buy New Ones? Here’s How to Make Your Own Holiday Gift Bags

[The Penny Hoarder] “Don’t let gift-wrapping become an extra headache and an unnecessary expense in your holiday budget. Save money and add a personal touch to your presents with these fun DIY gift bags.”

We’ve done stories on how to make your own gift-wrap, but this post offers advice on DIY gift bags. It basically describes how to turn unused boxes into colorful bags. Pretty clever: Check it out.

4. 25 Worst Financial Mistakes Anyone Can Make

[Debt.com] “After talking to financial experts and others who have either experienced or seen other people make the worst financial mistakes of their lives, we compiled the following list of 25 of them. Many are common after graduating from college and starting a financial life on your own, but they can still happen to anyone at any age.”

We’ve offered 10 Money Mistakes Everybody Makes, and last week’s roundup pointed to an article that listed 20, but this one raises the ante by listing 25. They run the gamut from not going to college and not having health insurance to buying new things vs used and taking on too much risk.

5. 5 Surprising Ways to Save Money During Your Pregnancy

[Wise Bread] “When you’re expecting, it’s as if you have a bull’s-eye painted on that growing belly — and marketers of products and services are all aiming at it. My husband and I didn’t have a lot of spare cash, so it was a relief to realize that being pregnant didn’t have to cost as much as it seemed.”

Having never been pregnant or married to someone who was, this is a topic I’ve thought little about. But if you have a baby in your future, it’s a good read. Ways to save include skipping maternity clothes, controlling medical expenses, not skipping dental care, avoiding expensive nursery stuff and saving on prenatal vitamins. See the story for details.

Stacy Johnson

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