We wouldn't be so rude as to say Sioux City, Iowa, SUX, but the Federal Aviation Administration would. The FAA denied the city's petition to switch its three-letter airport code to anything but SUX, stating it is policy to change an identifier only for reasons of safety or other special circumstances.

"This is a very community-oriented town, with good, strong, traditional Midwestern values," City Manager Paul Eckert told The Chicago Tribune. "We have great pride in our city, and in our quality of life. So when people fly in here, and the first thing they see about the town is..." You guessed it.

The FOOL 50, awaiting a runway permit to open Fool International (TMF) on the roof, was down over 2% today.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

Slow Christmas for Cisco

Cisco's (Nasdaq: CSCO) earnings report yesterday is a reflection of the times: Profit is growing once again, but that's due more to cost-cutting efforts and improved efficiency than any real increase in demand.

The networking equipment maker earned $0.08 a share in the first quarter, turning around a year-ago loss of $0.04. Although revenue increased by 9% to $4.9 billion, it has been mostly flat over the past three quarters. But the big news from CEO John Chambers is that sales for the current quarter will be flat, or even lower.

Many pundits were obviously hoping for better news; a Forbes.com headline read, "Chambers Cancels Christmas." He didn't do much to lift the gloom, noting in the conference call that many of Cisco's customers are still having trouble gauging business conditions over the short term.

Still, the company generated nearly $1 billion in cash flow this quarter, and saw improvements in gross margin and market share. "We are well positioned for an upturn," Chambers said, "regardless of when it occurs."

Investors who've watched the stock fall some 85% from its all-time high hope he's right.

Quote of Note

"Sooner or later I'm going to die, but I'm not going to retire." -- Margaret Mead (1901-1978), American anthropologist and writer

Tax Shelters Yield Returns

Have you ever walked into a grocery store to find a brand-name product on sale for less than the generic? Or driven to a fast-food joint to find cheeseburgers selling for less than hamburgers?

These are rarities, sure, but they happen. It's not every day that value bucks conventional wisdom, but it's not without precedent. Yet you probably never expected to see tax-free money market funds yielding more than their taxable counterparts -- before taxes.

IMoneyNet reports the unlikely this week. The average tax-free fund is yielding 1.22%, while the typical taxable money market vehicle is producing a yield of just 1.21%.

Face it. The payout levels are pathetic. The Fed slashed rates by 50 basis points yesterday, and they will probably follow the limbo stick lower in the weeks to come. No one views tax-free funds as a get-rich-quick scheme, but has short-term fixed income become so jaded that tax-free municipals can't command a yield discount due to their tax-advantaged features? Or, in a more likely scenario, have yields fallen to the point where expense ratios matter more than ever, and some taxable funds are skimming a bit too much off the top?

The popular, low-cost Vanguard Prime Money Market Fund (Mutual Fund: VMMXX) is yielding 1.47% right now. While its efficient 0.33% expense ratio has typically kept its yield 30 basis points or so above the industry average, now that the payouts are getting this low, the differences on a percentage basis are significant. The Vanguard Tax-Exempt Money Market Fund (Mutual Fund: VMSXX), which charges just 0.18% in annual expenses, is yielding 1.65%.

Can it be? Are tax shelters becoming the house built of bricks? It may just be a temporary blip, but keep an eye on this if you're parking idle funds. Most brokerage houses offer taxable and tax-free funds, so look into which option best suits you.

When the better parking spot also comes with a taxman bypass option, it might be time to make the switch.

Discussion Board of the Day: Investing for Income

Is income high on your investing priority? Are capital gains not enough, even in these low-yielding times? All this and more -- in the Investing for Income discussion board. Only on Fool.com.

Retirement Fact of the Day

According to a 2002 Gallup Organization poll, 83% of 1,000 non-retired American investors plan to work in retirement. Of those polled, 67% plan to continue working -- not for money, but for fun.

Worried about how to have the kind of retirement you want? Our Rule Your Retirement online seminar can help!

'Tis the Season For Saving

'Tis the season -- for profligate spending, that is. Unfortunately savings is not at the top of most people's lists during this officially sanctioned shopping season.

Still, socking money away for college, retirement, and a gold-leaf fake fir should never leave the forefront of your mind. The non-profit Consumer Federation of America agrees. They just released a four-step savings strategy as part of their America Saves program. We're happy to help spread the word.

Step 1: Set goals. This is the fun part. Think about what you want for you and your family in the short term (one to five years) and long term (10 years or longer). Chances are, a few of those goals require some money to achieve. What better time to think about the future than when you're surrounded by family and friends stuffed to the brim with turkey and cranberry creations? Load the dishwasher and start brainstorming.

Step 2: Just do it. Yeah, we know -- easier said than done. But it's easier to reach your goals if you consider them an automatic part of your budget. Here's a 60-second snapshot on planning for near-term expenses. And for those with dreams of retirement dancing in their heads, check out our Rule Your Retirement Online Seminar for a step-by-step guide on making your golden years truly shine. A cautionary note for those who feel savings zeal: If you find your monthly budget pinched to the bone, don't abandon the idea of saving. Assess, adjust, and carry on. This may mean scaling back your goals or delaying a few.

Step 3: Choose sav ing s and investment products wisely. Hear, hear! There's nothing worse than watching the down payment for your next house dwindle because the market enters a slump. Conversely, don't get too conservative with your long-term stash. Inflation has a nasty way of turning nest eggs into a pile of twigs. Time is the No. 1 factor in determining where to put your savings. Familiarize yourself with this concept, and you'll be the most popular person at the office party punch bowl.

Step 4: Give your plan an annual checkup. We're talking once a year, people! If you've automated your saving's plan (technology and direct deposit is a wonderful thing, no?), your checkup should go smoothly. Shuffle funds around where needed, and go back to addressing your Christmas cards. When next year's spending season rolls around, you'll be amazed by how flush you feel.

Shameless Plug: Get More From Your Savings

You can't put all your money in the stock market. Sometimes you need a safe, guaranteed return. So what are your options? Our Short-Term Savings Center can help you figure out how much you need to save, where to put it, and where to get the best interest rates. There's even some special yields for Fools.

Quick Takes

General Electric (NYSE: GE) says Sun Microsystems'(Nasdaq: SUNW) CEO Scott McNeally and Fiat Chairman Paolo Fresco (Al's brother) will depart GE's board. CEO Jeffrey Immelt wants two-thirds of the board -- now 17 strong but slated to drop to 15 -- to qualify as independent. Sun is a GE customer, supplier, and financial partner, while Fresco is former GE vice chairman. Good move, but given GE's reach, they will have to hire my sister to find someone without a conflict. Her business with GE falls under its 1% of total revenue guidelines.

October produced mixed news from retailers, as same-store sales disappointed at Wal-Mart(NYSE: WMT) and -- surprise! -- Sears (NSYE: S). Wal-Mart reported its first drop in over two years -- 1.6%, and Sears' sales slipped 10%. But sales rose 11% at Gap(NYSE: GPS), 14% at J.C. Penney(NYSE: JCP), and 18% at Kohl's (NSYE: KSS), reportedly on sales of cold-weather clothing.

Dean Foods (NYSE: DF) reported its Q3 earnings were over twice that of a year ago, on revenues up almost 50%. Suiza Foods bought Dean in Dec. 2001 and gave up its name. The combined branded-foods company is trying to charge higher prices for various products, including such familiar names as International Delight coffee creamers and Hershey's flavored milks. To build stronger brands, it will increase promotional spending almost 50% in 2003, mostly in the first half of the year. The possible negative impact of that increased expense on earnings growth pushed the stock down 4%.

The Labor Department reported that Q3 non-farm labor productivity increased 4%, up from Q2's 1.7% rate. Unit labor costs rose 0.8%, after a 2.2% rise in Q2. Yet compensation per hour jumped 4.8%, the highest gain since Q3 2000. Let's see. We are more efficient, so they pay us 4.8% more. So how can we only cost our employers 0.8% more? Is there a statistician in the house? Meanwhile, the four-week moving average of new unemployment claims stayed above 400,000 for the 10th consecutive week.

And Finally...

Today on Fool.com: What's your biggest retirement concern? Weigh in by answering our poll.... Rex Moore says it's time for Microsoft to share some of that $40 billion war chest.... In Fool's School, how to make your kids millionaires.... Our Community discusses what Berkshire Hathaway might look like if the General Re merger never happened.... A guest Fool writer makes the case for Franklin Electric.... And today's Money Tip: the cost of retirement.

Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Tom Jacobs, LouAnn Lofton, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Matt Richey, Jackie Ross, Reggie Santiago, Dayana Yochim