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Loose Change

THE COST OF IMPROVING: Those New Year's Resolutions could be expensive. SmartMoney magazine did a lighthearted survey of the price of self-improvement products and services. Using a personal trainer biweekly for a year would cost you $2,400 in Fresno, Calif., a bargain compared with the $4,320 you would have to pay in Wilmington, Del.

A CLEAN PATE: Tired of that tattoo? If you're in Tampa, wiping it clean will cost you $2,400, but people in Topeka, Kan., and Fresno will pay just $1,000. Can't handle all your monthly bills? Good news _ credit counseling is free in all the cities SmartMoney sampled.

NO BONUS THIS YEAR? Many traditional year-end payments to employees are being replaced by year-round incentives. Management Recruiters International Inc., an executive search firm, says that while bonuses used to be based primarily on a company's profitability, now they are more likely to be tied to an employee's individual performance and achievement of goals.

THE BIG CHEESE IS DOING JUST FINE: Runzheimer International surveyed 385 companies and found that 63 percent of executives have a chauffeur and limousine, and 56 percent are entitled to use company aircraft.

NO PAY FOR THE CHORES: A survey of 1,059 children ages 8 to 14 found that only 43 percent receive a weekly allowance. The survey, by Zillions, the Consumer Reports magazine for children, found the average allowance is $5.82 a week.

BOOK 'EM: Publishers scramble to churn out management books based on the lives of people like Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln. Here are a few titles that we're not likely to find: Management by Fiddling Around: Leadership Lessons From Emperor Nero; A Three-Hour Cruise: Team-Building Ideas From "Gilligan's Island"; and Kill the Competition: Leadership Lessons from John Gotti.

_ From staff and wire reports.

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