Money Insider: An early Christmas payday can be a godsend but there are downsides

The run up to Christmas is the most expensive time of the year for many of us, so it's a great help if your employer enters into the festive spirit and pays your December salary a week or two in advance.

Donald MacInnes: We're having a baby so I won't get the Banana Splits for Christmas

Somewhere in the minds of each of those people who share your bloodline or your name, there resides a number. This figure represents an amount of money that these people – your family, basically – are prepared to spend on you at Christmas. (This is assuming that both they and you follow either the Judao-Christian perception of Christmas, or the more economically fluid Argos-Amazon translation.)

Derek Pain: The high spirits have abated, but Marston's still has pedigree

Shares in Marston's, the brewer, pub owner and long- time constituent of the No Pain, No Gain portfolio, have suffered since hitting their high point.

Simon Read: Think your energy bill is high? You ain't seen nothing yet

There also appears to be another hidden sting in the Autumn Statement – this time one that will hit energy consumers, or anyone who pays for gas and electricity.

Bargain Hunter: Win a Bentley competition to be driving in a winter wonderland

Fancy driving a £250,000 Bentley Continental GT3-R – on ice? That's the €11,340 prize – in fact there are two up for grabs – in a seasonal competition from the luxury car maker.

How to raise money for charity this Christmas

There are so many ways you can raise money - and awareness - for charity. Rob Griffin explains how easy it is to donate and reap financial rewards

Mark Dampier: Keep the faith in M&G Recovery. The wheel could turn full circle

I have been asked the same question on a number of occasions over the past year: when will the M&G Recovery fund recover?

It is expected that the tax, to be introduced in April, will raise £1.3bn over the next five years

Weekly Money: round-up of the personal finance stories you may have missed 1-5 December

State pension rise; Overdraft charges; Phone scammers; Credit broker crackdown; Video banking; the stories we noticed this week

Christmas dinner to be cheaper this year as price falls for first time since 2006

Fresh food slipped 0.3% over the year, led by a fall in the price of vegetables

Bargain Hunter: It isn't a deal breaker if you didn't have a retail spree on Black Friday

Don't worry if you didn't find any great deals on Black Friday; the offers will just keep on coming as retailers get even more desperate to sell in the run-up to Christmas.

Mark Dampier: Holding on the line for a 'decent' bond yield could mean a long wait

It has been a while since I wrote about a bond fund. The yields of government and corporate debt are exceptionally low by historical standards and over the past four years, many investors have written the asset class off.

Questions of Cash: Charged interest for MBNA's mistake over extra payment

Q. I attempted to clear my balance of £5,810.72 on an MBNA credit card in October. I paid £5,400 on 9 October and left the balance to be collected by direct debit, which is processed in the last week of the month. At that time, I confirmed the balance on the account was £410.72 and thought all was well.

Donald MacInnes: Can you really put a price on magic? Even second-rate magic?

Why are we at all surprised when, at this time of year, we go through money like a canoe through water? Since when was Christmas anything at all to do with good financial sense?

Derek Pain: After a spate of profit warnings, I have to move to shore things up

Although shares, as measured by the FTSE index, have performed quite well and could even reach a new high before the year's end, the No Pain, No Gain portfolio has suffered a few hiccups.

Simon Read: Beware of buying just because the retailer says it's a bargain

With Christmas approaching, shops have been getting themselves into something of a frenzy this week hoping to attract us all in to spend our hard-earned cash on things we probably can't afford.

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