Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Life and money lessons from the pandemic. Also in the news: Life insurance shoppers lose interest when COVID-19 cases drop, how to save the holidays, and how to spend your extra FSA money.

Life and Money Lessons From the Pandemic
We’ve taken stock of procrastination’s costs, embraced virtual work and play, and are growing our emergency funds.

Life Insurance Shoppers Lose Interest When COVID-19 Cases Drop
Some Americans say they skipped life insurance as cases fell in their area, a survey finds — but the need may still exist.

How to Save the Holidays: More Joy, Less Cash
If your gift list exceeds your budget, try these tips for discounts, rewards, cash back, creativity and delight.

How to Spend Your Extra FSA Money
You have more spending options.

Holiday tipping: what you really need to know

Holiday tipsWriting about holiday tipping for MSN was always a bit fraught, mostly because a fair number of people every year seemed to think I invented the practice–and resented me deeply for it.

Here’s the scoop, per the Emily Post Institute: Holiday tipping exists. It’s a thing, in every region of the country. Who you tip and how much varies by your situation, your budget and where you live (“Tipping averages tend to be higher in big cities,” the Post Institute advises.)

In the Weston household, we tip the people who make our lives easier throughout the year who aren’t regularly tipped at the time of service. That includes newspaper deliverers (yes, we still have those), the mow-and-blow guys (called “gardeners” elsewhere), our house-sitter and our cleaning lady. The tips generally equal the cost of one week’s service, with something extra for the folks who have been with us a long time.

I’d feel pretty weird about not tipping them, to be honest. If I can afford to pay for their services throughout the year, I can certainly come up with a little “thank you” at year’s end.

If your budget really can’t accommodate cash tips, the Post Institute says it’s okay to substitute a handmade gift or (at the very least) a handwritten note of thanks. It’s all about taking a minute to say “I appreciate you.”

But nothing says that quite like cash.