thI’ve taken a two-month contract job and my head, she is spinning. At 8 a.m. Monday I had my first conference with the editor and by 9 a.m. I had four assignments, all due within one week.

The articles are all based on insurance, a topic about which I know as much as any other freelance personal finance writer. Translation: I’ve spent a lot of time researching this week.

By the end of the first day I was utterly wrung out and wondering just what I’d done. The only thing that kept me going was the memories of my first day at The Chicago Tribune and the first few weeks at MSN Money. In both cases I felt completely at sea but I managed to survive, and to thrive.


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Frugal re-entry.

thMy trip back from a couple of conferences and family visits took some 17 hours from door to door, thanks to the first plane leaving almost two hours late. Boy, was I ready to be home.

And boy, was I glad that we live only about six minutes from the airport. A guy with whom I chatted during the delay told me he still had to drive to Ninilchik, Alaska, after we landed. That’s more than 180 miles south of Anchorage. All I had to do was look for DF’s car outside the baggage claim area.

Thursday found me somewhat punchy, since long trip + fewer than five hours of sleep = dormant brain cells. But I made it a point to get back on track, money-wise. 


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POSTERRegular readers know how I feel about the “Tundra” comic strip, created by Alaska cartoonist Chad Carpenter. Not content with being syndicated all over the world, Carpenter recently branched out into filmmaking with “Moose: The Movie.”

At one of the screenings Carpenter handed out autographed calendars. I promptly re-gifted mine for the May 3 giveaway (whose write-up included my impressions of the film).

Now that “Moose: The Movie” is available for home viewing, I’m reinstating the weekly giveaways with a copy of the DVD.

Is it great cinema? Of course not. But it’s good, goofy fun and very Carpenterian; witness the wildlife protection poster glimpsed in the Gangrene Gulch ranger station. Anyone who’s visited (or wants to visit) the Last Frontier will fall in love with the cinematography.

Don’t just take my word for it, though. A review from The Alaska Dispatch News calls it “bright, fast-paced, well-produced, utterly entertaining and very amusing,” among other things.


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th-1The lovely and talented J. Money has apparently had enough. In a blog post called “What haters are like,” he details some of the bummer-speak he’s encountered with regard to finances.

Stuff like:

I just paid off my debt! (You shouldn’t have had any to begin with.)

I just invested in my first stock! (You need to diversify more.)

I just saved for retirement! (Why? YOLO!)

I just bought a used car! (It’s gonna break down, you know.)

I just bought insurance! (You would have been better off saving it.)

I just saved $20.00 doing it myself! (My time is worth way more than that.)

As the kids say: Srsly????


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ImageProxy-1As regular readers already know, Swagbucks is my favorite rewards program. That’s why I post special offers every so often – and today’s offer, the $100 Million Day, is a good one.

Since I’m currently on the road I was unable to get the post up first thing this morning. Thus by the time you read this the first couple of Swag Codes have already come and gone. But you’ve got a shot at four more before 5 p.m. PDT, and you’ve got until 11:59 p.m. PDT to earn up to 400 extra points (called “SB”) in several other ways.

What ways? So glad you asked.


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thThat’s Saturday as in “tomorrow,” and yes, I should have given everyone more notice.

My apologies: When I’m in New Jersey I just lose track of time.

Late last night I suddenly realized, “Holy cow* — it’s Thursday!” I went to the McDonald’s website and found a place just two miles away from where I’m staying.

Despite the late notice, I hope that those of you who expressed an interest can make it.


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thThe conference is all over, including the shoutin’, and I am as flat as week-old cola. Time-zone changes have never bothered me before but this time around I simply couldn’t fall asleep on time.

The four-hour time difference meant that even a midnight bedtime felt like mid-evening to me.

Bonus: I developed a charming habit of waking up every hour or so to see if it was time to wake up yet.

To make a short story long – a talent that came in really handy when I went back to school – I’m too tired to promise that I’d get myself to the Panera tomorrow, as I’d tentatively planned. But that doesn’t mean I’m giving up on the idea.


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thThe 2015 Financial Blogger Conference starts today in Charlotte, NC, and once again I’m among my people.

Not rich people necessarily, but people who are nerdy enough about money and blogging not to be bored by conversations about compound interest and Google algorithms.

Is it any wonder that some relationships — and at least one marriage — have resulted from this annual money geeks meetup?

Last year I wondered how these romances began. Was it finding someone with similar financial values? Noticing that this person’s eyelids didn’t droop when you mentioned retirement planning?

Or maybe it was just the two free drink tickets that come with the receptions.


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thGot questions about the post-work world? Get answers for free during an eight-hour online chat this Thursday.

It’s sponsored by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern, 20 money professionals will tackle your questions on topics such as:


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thIt’s been far too long since I wrote for fun. But I’m still underwater, work- and project-wise, and thus don’t have the time and focus for a decent post.

I wish I could rise above the buzzing and busy-ness, because I don’t want to neglect the community that’s developed here. Sometimes you just don’t have it in you.

Hang in there, and thanks for checking back in.

In other news:


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Not dead, just busy.

th-1This morning I realized it’s been nine days since I posted. That’s not good, but it’s sometimes inevitable. Times are I get too bound-up in real life and can’t find time first to come up with a topic and then to write it.

Unfortunately, I may maintain radio silence for another week or so. Blame a combination of visiting relatives (they get here Sunday and will stay for a week), everyday deadlines, some fill-in child care for two families and a couple of special projects.

And, of course, the tail-end of a particularly amazing Alaska summer.

None of those things is particularly onerous (especially the summer part). Taken together, they’ve usurped all my waking hours. Occasionally they follow me into my dreams, e.g., waking up with a start and thinking, “Is that piece due today or tomorrow? Do I have enough research to finish it? Did I ever get in touch with that specialist?”


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th-2My recent “Tell me about yourself” post produced some very interesting responses. One of the commenters, Michelle, asked whether I’d answered the questions myself.

I guess I could do that. But another thought crossed my mind: Since I got to ask you guys questions, maybe it’s your turn to ask me some.

How does that sound? Here’s how I propose to do this:


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