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Cheapskate Etiquette

Want to split the check or regift that present? Here's the right way to be cheap — and courteous.

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Gift giving and regifting. As the holiday season approaches, many of us are experiencing some Wallet Anxiety Disorder about gift shopping. If you're looking to cut back on gift giving this holiday or maybe adopt an alternative gift exchange plan, Peggy Post suggests writing to friends and family members well before the holiday shopping season starts to suggest scaling back. (And by the way, if someone with whom you normally do not exchange gifts happens to give you a present, there's no need to reciprocate; a simple thank-you card will suffice.)

The good news is that regifting is now officially "in," so much so that the classic book Emily Post's Etiquette has been updated to include regifting protocols. "The most important thing is to be honest with yourself and ask yourself if this item will truly be appreciated by the intended recipient," Post says. It's a question of motivation: The priority shouldn't be that you want to unload something you've been given, but rather that you're certain someone else will appreciate and enjoy it. Obviously, regifted items should be in good condition, freshly wrapped and, oh yeah, not something you received from the same person you're intending to regift it to.

Potluck etiquette. Potlucks have become the black-tie dinners of the new economy, at least in my social circle. But here's something I didn't know: According to Mary Hunt, author of Debt-Proof Living, the leftovers from a dish you bring to a potluck always belong to the host. "The dish was your contribution to the host's party," she writes. "However, if the host invites you to take what remains, you are free to do so." Fair enough, but nobody gets to keep my Tupperware.

Jeff Yeager is the author of The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches and The Cheapskate Next Door. His website is www.UltimateCheapskate.com and you can friend him on Facebook at JeffYeagerUltimateCheapskate or follow him on Twitter.

You may also like: Get a Cheapskate Makeover

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