L.A. Times columnist Tom Petruno has been writing about the economy for more than 30 years. He shares what he's learned about economic cycles, human nature and investing. And with Christmas around the corner, we offer tips on how to explain to kids why Santa didn't get them everything on their wish lists. There is a cheap, but significant gift you can give your child: a digital trust fund. Domain names, social media and e-mail accounts. And when's the last time you visited a bank branch? More branches are closing down, but some communities are fighting to get them back. Plus, an Irish family discusses what it's like to experience more belt-tightening.