th8 Paycheck too small? Maybe youre just ugly.If you’ve got a face made for radio or a body that doesn’t fit Madison Avenue’s image, you may feel that you’re not getting a fair shake. And you may be right.

For example, tall people earn more than shorter ones. Overweight men earn less (and overweight women earn a lot less) than non-obese coworkers.

And this one really frosts me: A Harvard University study indicates that women who wear makeup are seen as “more trustworthy and competent.” Hey, not all of us want to put on war paint each day.

Unfair, but true: How your looks affect your pay,” on Money Talks News, discusses the ways bosses can legally discriminate against you.

Sometimes those ways are pretty ridiculous. One employment law expert has heard from people who got canned because supervisors didn’t like their shoes. Seriously.


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th7 Whats your financial bogeyman?When it comes to things that go bump in the night, poltergeists have got nothing on underfunded retirements.

According to a new survey from MoneyRates.com, 79 percent of respondents have had a specific “financial scare” in the past and 87 percent have money fears about the future.

Of those 87 percent, the top fear is not having enough for retirement. Some other fears:

Debt: 31 percent have had credit-card balances or other bills they could not pay off immediately.

Carelessness: One in 10 admit to having forgotten to pay a bill, thus incurring late charges.

Bounced checks: Three times as many men as women say that an NSF situation was their worst financial scare.

The underlying theme of many of the fears cited? Not having enough money to build an emergency fund, says study author Richard Barrington.


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A misstep in Manhattan.

th6 150x150 A misstep in Manhattan.The good news: I was reminded how nice New Yorkers can be. The bad news: I had to take a monumental fall near 31st and 7th to rediscover this.

I mean a full-tilt, face-down, wind-knocked-out-of-me fall. Damn curbs.


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th5 Why you can’t afford an apartment.If you want to find a place to rent, make sure you earn at least $18.92 per hour. Or so says the 2014 “Out of Reach” study from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.  

That amount represents the “housing wage,” the hourly amount a full-time worker needs to earn to afford a two-bedroom rental at HUD-estimated fair market rent, while spending no more than 30 percent of salary for lodging.

That wage is more than two and a half times the federal minimum wage – and 52 percent higher than it was in 2000. As study authors note, “in no state can a full-time minimum wage worker afford a one-bedroom or a two-bedroom rental unit at fair market rent.”

Think that’s depressing? According to the Center for Housing Policy, 25.4 percent of working renters spend at least half their income on housing.


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th 1 150x150 In which I fight with Weird Al Yankovic.I have a huge geekcrush on Alfred Matthew Yankovic. Love his songs, love his videos, love his twisted sense of humor, and most of all love the fact that his parodies are equal parts silliness and intelligence.

Don’t believe me? Go watch the “Word Crimes” video. I love the fact that he included some of my own word-related peeves, such as “literally” and “I could care less.”

He’s a man after my own heart. As my friend Linda B. would say, I want him to have my children.

But while his parody of Pharrell’s “Happy” mostly made me giggle like mad, I also have to take issue with one of the lyrics. Watch the video and see if you can guess which one it is. (Note: It’s even funnier if you watch Pharrell’s original music video first.)


So did you guess which one it was?


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th1 150x150 Return of the Coffeehouse Cliche giveaway.I had every intention of making my next two giveaways about conference swag. Having been to three cons in the past three months, I have enough tchotchkes — some useful, some goofy — to create two medium flat-rate boxes of oddness.

But I’m getting ready to go out of town yet again, and the idea of sorting and listing all those things made me want to lie down and scream. Thus I came up with a compromise: yet another “Coffeehouse Cliche” giveaway with a couple of items from the Financial Blogger Conference. That is to say, the two easiest ones to grab.

This time around the notebook is a real conversation-starter: Its cover says “NerdWallet” in blue and lime-green.


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th4 150x150 Is orange and black the new black?Before I forget: Women can get a bunch of free medical tests from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11 (that’s today) at any Sam’s Club with a pharmacy.

Among them: thyroid, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, glucose and blood pressure. You don’t have to fast for these tests. For more details, see my previous post on the subject.

Now: Back to All Hallows Eve. According to the National Retail Federation, just over one-third of U.S. adults plan to do the Monster Mash this Oct. 31, either at private homes or bars. Remember when Halloween used to be about kids and cavities?

That’s the main topic of my monthly gig at Retail Me Not. “What to buy in October: Look for boo-coup Halloween steals and denim deals” notes that while the Grinch may have stolen Christmas, adults have purloined Halloween.


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The boiling bag.

th3 The boiling bag.We had a marvelous soup the other night, based on a friend’s recipe for sausage-potato-kale soup. Ours utilized some of the kale we dehydrated last year (boy, has that stuff hung on), some potatoes freshly dug from our garden and some sausage bought months ago at a deep discount. (I love my freezer.)

It was supposed to have been kielbasa but spicy Cajun links were what we had. I sliced two links into coins and sauteed them until slightly crisp in a cast-iron skillet in which onions had already caramelized. Decided that a finely diced carrot wouldn’t hurt a bit, either.

The base was the real star, however — a rich homemade stock the likes of which we will never taste again. No two of our stocks ever taste exactly the same. That’s because the contents of the boiling bag vary every time.

The boiling bag is a bag in the freezer that receives vegetable scraps, bones and sometimes even bits of fruit. This batch had several apple cores and there was a slight sweetness under the richness of the other ingredients — which this time included beet and turnip greens and stems, onion skins, carrot tops, and both pork and chicken bones. Put it all in the slow cooker overnight and you wake up to a lovely, intriguing aroma.


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th2 Why are guys still expected to pay?A recent study from the NerdWallet consumer blog — love that name — indicates that men still pick up the tab way too automatically.

(Yes, I’m aware that men still tend to out-earn women; I’ll address that in a minute)

But seriously? I thought this kind of thing was supposed to have gone out after the 1970s:

77.4 percent of those surveyed thought men should pay for the first date.

Even in a relationship, 56.1 percent of men still pay for date nights.

Almost 40 percent of men cover all household bills; just 14.3 percent of women do.

Remind me: In which century are we living? I just don’t see how this is fair.


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th3 Giveaway: Cold and flu package 2014.Even if you get a flu shot — and I think you should — you still run a chance of getting the flu. According to Consumer Reports, vaccination prevents the illness 80 percent of the time in adults younger than 65.

But a non-flu virus — including the common cold — can make you feel pretty crummy, too. The insult to such injury is the price tags on cold/flu nostrums.

That’s why I put together a cold and flu package giveaway each year. Judging from the numbers of comments the package always gets, you folks don’t like paying retail, either.


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th1 150x150 Two signs of fall: One financial, one unearthly.Autumn had been surprisingly warm but temperatures have dropped into the 20s and 30s, which is were we expect them to be at this time of year. The high-pressure systems have made for some gloriously sunny days and postcard-perfect views of the Chugach Range.

Clear days tend to mean clear nights, which provide the best viewing for the aurora borealis. On Wednesday night I got my first glimpse of the year. Unearthly, compelling, fascinating stuff even here in town, where light pollution tends to blunt the impact.

Then again, it was the middle of the night and I had no interest in driving to a darker area for a better view. Standing on the back deck in just a bathrobe was a bit chilly but I still got a good look and as always, seeing the northern lights felt like a privilege.

If they’re not visible where you live, check out these two links:


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th Free womens health screenings on Oct. 11.Thyroid issues can wreak havoc with your health and well-being, causing problems like low energy, depression and weight gain. Seven years ago. I was crawling through the days, attributing my severe fatigue to the work-plus-university schedule. (Or maybe just a failure of will.)

Then a friend suggested I have my thyroid tested. Seems it wasn’t a question of willpower after all. Now a tiny daily pill takes care of things.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11, women can get a free TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test at any Sam’s Club that has a pharmacy (about 600 locations nationwide).


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