Please sing this email to the tune of 'Santa Baby'

plus Christian Pulisic’s house + Sled Zeppelin
͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ 
Money
December 14, 2022 • Issue #173
Dollar Scholar
Hi y’all —

*sung to the tune of “Santa Baby”* 

Dollar Scholar, just slip an issue under the tree for me
Been an inflated year
Dollar Scholar, so open up my email tonight

Dollar Scholar, a high-yield savings account too, that’ll do
I'll wait up for you, dear
Dollar Scholar, so open up my email tonight

Think of all the tips we've learned
Think of all the interest that we now have earned
Next year, we could be just as sleek
If you read the newsletter every week

Dollar Scholar, I want a yacht, and really that's not a lot
Been a reader all year
Dollar Scholar, so open up my email tonight

Scholar, honey, one little thing I really do need
The deed to an affordable home
Dollar Scholar, so open up my email tonight

Scholar, cutie, and fill my stocking with checks — and pets
Don’t scroll past my hard work
Dollar Scholar, and open up in my email tonight

Happy Scholardays! It was touch-and-go there for a while, but we made it to December — and, boy, did we have a productive year at DSHQ. 

Over the course of 47 issues, we discovered the magic of Buy Nothing groups, the pros and cons of putting bills on autopay, what the deal is with cheap cell phone plans and whether online travel agencies actually save people money. We learned a life hack for spending less, what the Fed’s rate hikes really mean and the reason we can ignore shareholder reports. Most importantly, we saw several 401(k)ritters in costume and talked a lot about the Jonas Brothers.

Whew! Now it's time for our annual reader feedback issue, which includes money victories, tips and general Dollar Scholar commentary. Without futher ado...

On holiday shopping: In January, I make a list of family/ friends I buy gifts for over the course of the year (birthdays, holidays, Mother’s and Father’s Days, etc.). I allow myself a certain amount each month and purchase gifts and tuck them away, taking advantage of sales and specials. I’m prepared and not overspending! — Scholar Janice

On saving for retirement: If you are able to defer up to the maximum allowable for 401(k) deferrals, December is a good time to note that the maximums have increased for 2023 and you need to adjust accordingly to hit the new maximum levels for next year. — Scholar Smith

On Tom Holland: Tobey will always be Spider-Man in my mind. — Scholar Dale

On medical bills: Make sure you check those EOB (Explanation of Benefits) thingies from your insurance company! While they are tough to translate, you may find out that your doctor’s office is holding a credit on your account! I was able to get over $400 back this year without doing anything except call and ask them to refund that credit. — Scholar Mary

On checking 401(k)s: I usually check each payday, every two weeks, to make sure I had my money deposited into my employer-sponsored 401(k) account. I try to remind myself if the $$ in my account is lower due to plummeting stocks that I still own the shares… and bought more on sale. — Scholar Kevin

On financial advisors: While young, I did my investing myself. [Now I have] professionals manage my money, and here’s why: They’re educated. Money professionals look at indicators to see if [an investment] is a better bet than others. They just have experience and resources that I can’t/won’t learn. Yes, it costs more, but what professional doesn’t? — Scholar Roy

On tearjerkers: I still cry over The Notebook, It's a Wonderful Life, Gone With The Wind and Steel Magnolias! — Scholar Denise

On grocery shopping: I keep my bills low(ish) by using my grocery store's app to find deals. Joining the member programs (free) and using the card every time you shop is the way to go. I also keep a big spot open in my freezer to prepare for chicken going on sale so I can stock up (#bodybuilding) and avoid the huge ice cream gallon tub to be a bit healthier and make it more of a treat to go out. — Scholar Steven

Today I learned money is just future hot dogs
 

On roomies: if I had to live with a non-domesticated animal roommate, I would pick a river or sea otter. It would also mean I would need a really large and complicated environment for them to play in, which would add value to my property. — Scholar Karen

On freezing your credit: It’s very easy to “unlock” the credit freeze. I have had to do this twice in the last year for a car loan and for a new credit card. You can unlock for however many days you think are needed, and then it will lock again. We have had much fewer incidents of credit card fraud since I froze our credit five years ago. — Scholar Sandy

On travel hacks: Use one credit card for the majority of your expenses… as long as you pay the balance in full at the end of the month. Rack up points galore, and then use the rewards site with that credit card to purchase your travel. — Scholar Mary

On frozen drinks: Three small cans of frozen limeade, one small can of frozen lemonade, half of the water called for on all the cans, one quart of rum. Mix all; a deep flat pan seems to work well. Stir/freeze 24 hours ahead of serving. Stir halfway through and before serving the first time. — Scholar Sam

On finding affordable concert tickets: I've purchased a LOT of concert tickets on Groupon. It's cheaper to buy lawn seats and upgrade when you get there than it is to buy the tickets directly from Ticketmaster or Live Nation. I've also purchased in the past from Restaurant.com. — Scholar John

On cash: I love having a crisp $100 bill folded up in the card slot of my small cross over purse. I don’t spend my huns unless I am in a cash-only tight spot. — Scholar Donna

On Amazon Prime: I stopped my Amazon Prime and still order but just make sure [the purchase] is $25 so I get free shipping. As far as budgeting, I think I save more money, since I think about purchases more. — Scholar Debora

On booking travel: I normally start my search with Kayak, especially when flights are involved. For hotels only, I might use TripAdvisor or Hotels.com. Kayak usually takes me directly to the airlines website to book, so I know I am getting a good price. Hotels.com gives you a free night after you book 9 or 10. I have rarely noticed a bad room due to where my booking originated. — Scholar Dave

On autopay: I have all of my utilities and standard loan payments set up on autopay. But what I do for my credit card bills is set up an autopay of enough to cover the minimum payment plus some so that if I forget to pay it on time I don’t get a late fee. — Scholar Peggy

On the best pasta dish: Handmade whole wheat pasta covered with melted gorgonzola cheese. (only once a week please) — Scholar Giuliana

RECEIPT OF THE WEEK
check out this wild celebrity purchase
Pulisic
 
VIA INSTAGRAM
Despite not liking sports, I can’t stop watching the World Cup. Like most of America, I was rooting hard for Christian Pulisic, who I just learned has a reputation as the “Most Expensive U.S. Soccer Player Ever” due to a $73 million contract he signed in 2019. After leaving Qatar this month, Pulisic nursed his wounds in Jupiter, Florida, where he owns a house with a boat dock, a pool and a putting green. #GOALLLLLLLLLLLLLLS!

INTERNET GOLD
five things I'm loving online right now
1 It’s winter, which means 90ish salt trucks — also called “gritters” — have descended upon Scotland to clear the roads. As you can see on this map, they have some absolutely incredible names: Salt Disney, Carrie Bradthaw and Sled Zeppelin all appear in this year’s fleet.
2 I loved this fascinating story from Rest of World about how protestors in China often use puns in order to circumvent internet censors. Fullying banning discussion of, say, corruption or burnout is “not realistic or tenable,” one expert said. So people get creative: “Wherever there is censorship and control, there is resistance. There is no end to it. That’s how social life is.”
3 Dog in filing cabinet.
4 An archivist uploaded more than 500 PalmPilot games to the internet and made them playable, which is extremely cool but also reminds me that I should probably check on my Stardew Valley farm.
5 This is your annual reminder that the *NSYNC Christmas album is extremely good.
 

401(K)9 CONTRIBUTION
send me cute pictures of your pets, please
Lacey
 
VIA Margaret Bannerman
Meet Lacey, a sweetheart of a pup who thinks we’re having a staring contest. But I’m just reflecting on what a pawsome year Dollar Scholar had.

It’s time for me to settle my brain to take a looong winter’s nap. Dollar Scholar will be out of office for the next few weeks, but don’t worry — I’ll be back in January. 

See you in 2023!

Julia
 
P.S. What ice pun would you use if you got to name a gritter? What’s your favorite Christmas album? What’s the best thing you learned from Dollar Scholar this year? Send Santa letters to julia@money.com.
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