How much should you tip around the holidays?
And more of the week's best financial advice
Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial advice, gathered from around the web:
A guide to holiday tipping "The holiday season is prime time to give back to the people who make your life easier throughout the year," said Lisa Gerstner and Miriam Cross at Kiplinger. For service providers you go to regularly, like hairstylists, dog groomers, or personal trainers, the cost of one visit is standard, while a tip of up to $30 is appropriate for newspaper deliverers and trash collectors. The U.S. Postal Service forbids mail carriers from accepting cash, but they are allowed to receive up to $50 worth of gifts each year, which includes gift cards. Your child's teacher may face similar restrictions, "but a small gift accompanied by a note or drawing from your child is a nice thank-you." And don't forget to tack on a few extra dollars for waiters, taxi drivers, and others working Christmas and New Year's.
Credit card perks hidden in plain sightYour credit card may come with some handy perks you didn't even know existed, said Beth Pinsker at Reuters. A CreditCards.com study of the 100 most popular credit cards found that 81 offered some kind of extended warranty, meaning customers can pass on the pricey warranty offers pushed by retailers. Just over half the cards studied had purchase protection for lost or stolen items, and 47 cards had price protection, in which the card issuer offers to match the price of a purchase if it drops within a certain amount of time. More than a quarter of cards "guaranteed returns even when the merchant does not." One quick way to tell if your card offers added protection is to look at the bottom right-hand corner of the card. "A Visa card with the 'Signature' or 'Infinite' tag will likely have the best protections. For MasterCard, look for 'World Elite.'"
You've inherited stock. Now what? Inheriting stock can be more complicated than receiving cash or even real estate, said Charlie Wells at The Wall Street Journal. First, there's the emotional aspect. Shares in a deceased parent's longtime employer, for example, might come with a "sympathetic attachment" that clouds an otherwise straightforward financial decision. Still, resist the temptation to sell the stocks quickly. Take the time to work out what your potential tax liability for selling may be, and how the windfall will fit into your larger financial goals. After that, most average investors are probably better off selling their stocks in individual companies, and using the money to construct a diversified portfolio.