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Buffalo was recently ranked the  No. 1 mid-sized arts destination by AmericanStyle magazine. Do you feel your high-culture entertainment dollar stretches all that far? How do we compare with other cities? Where do you feel you get the most for your money? ---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Do you gamble at the casino or play the lottery? How about poker with your friends? Do you feel it's worth spending a few dollars in hopes of a big return? Is it an economical source of entertainment? How much is too much? ---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Are you thinking about doing some early Christmas shopping or going to the Macy's parade in New York City? I wondered what are the cheapest ways to travel  to the Big Apple. Prices range anywhere from $2 round-trip on Neon Bus to $189 on JetBlue. Check out the price differences in the Comparison Shopper column in Monday's MoneySmart section.  And if you have any …

Where is your favorite place to spend a $10 bill in the city? How could you make 10 bucks last an entire day? Could you spend the day with less? ---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Ever overpay for a hairstyle you could have done better yourself--in the dark? Ever do your highlights at home to save money, only to have to pay someone to fix it later? We want to hear your hair and beauty horror stories. Are there steps you take now to prevent them from happening again? Do you have advice so others don't make the same bad moves? Have a great stylist to…

In terms of newspaper headlines, the just-concluded 2008 Thursday at the Square concert series in downtown Buffalo is likely better known for incidents of rowdiness and public urination than what bands headlined the shows.      But Buffalo Place, which organizers the 22-year-old music events, is betting its bottom line next summer's shows will remain fan f…

Remember those old Calgon commercials? A harried mom longing for escape from her hectic life would call to her  bubble bath: "Calgon, take me away!" How do you provide Calgon moments for yourself at home? Do you make homemade facials out of the food in your pantry? Or is lighting a candle enough to make you relax?--- Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Tod Martin said an interesting thing about his decision to convert the long-abandoned Wendy's on Main Street in the heart of downtown Buffalo into an office for his small ad firm. "It's the kind of creative environment that we flourish in." Condominium and apartment projects throughout the downtown area indicate other people have the same feeling. Being downtow…

In Monday's Discount Diva column, I shared a few of my favorite places to find books on the cheap. Now it's your turn. Where do you shop for books? Do you have a favorite library branch? How about a great Web site or book club? ---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

     Pano's restaurant, the iconic Greek eatery on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo, reopened today after closing briefly for a $1.3 million makeover.      What do you think of the new look?      Do you think the pricey renovations will inspire other Elmwood Avenue owners to invest in their properties? Will it attract development and…

The roof caved in on Wall Street this week, but thanks to the big rally on Thursday and Friday, the stock market ended up finishing the week just about where it started it.      It was a wild ride, nonetheless, sparking fear in investors, who watched the value of the 401(k) accounts and their stocks plummet early in the week as turmoil engulfed Wall Street.…

My brother-in-law gave me a 2-liter beer growler for Christmas from the Ellicottville Brewing Co. After I drained this  fancy container of its precious brew, I wondered where could I find a tap to refill this little brown jug? The results of my search appear in the "Comparison Shopper" column at the bottom of Monday's MoneySmart section. If you have a favor…

Janice Okun's article today serves as the ultimate shopper's guide to stretching your family's household budget. Going down the list of shopping venues, she lines up their pros and cons and busts popular shopping myths along the way. From farmer's markets and discount grocers to warehouse clubs and super centers, she tells you how to make the most of each. Now it's your t…

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An execution of sorts took place in Niagara Square on Tuesday. Leaders of unions and contractors cut up the giant inflatable rat that has shown up at many work sites where strikes were under way or the use of nonunion workers was being protested. Union leaders say they came to see the rat as antiquated and a negative image for labor. Will you miss seeing the rat? -- …