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What(1)Physical health is more than merely the absence of symptoms. Ditto financial health.

Just being not-sick doesn’t mean you’re actually well. Ever know someone who seemed fine until the heart attack? It’s likely he had underlying issues such as poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle.

Now: Ever know someone who seemed fine until the bankruptcy? Chances are he had issues, too, such as compulsive spending or champagne tastes and a tap-water budget.

He’s not alone: According to the Center for Financial Services Innovation, 57 percent of U.S. adults struggle financially.

We get annual physicals because catching a problem early beats trying to cure an entrenched ailment. Our finances need checkups, too.

 


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The unfriendly skies.

th-1Dreading being seated next to or near a baby on your next flight? You should probably be just as concerned about the adult passengers. Recently I’ve read two accounts of teen-aged girls (one of them an unaccompanied minor) being molested by adult men at 35,000 feet.

As we used to write from the city desk, “Police said alcohol was a factor.” Then again, plenty of people drink on planes and don’t grope strangers. Liquor may break the chain and free the beast, but only if the beast was already there.

The family of one girl (just 13 years old!) is suing American Airlines. The other, aged 16, kept pushing the guy away until another passenger intervened.

The moral of the story: Save the stinkeye for creepy drunken dudes and give parents of small children the benefit of the doubt.

 


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th-1My personal-finance pal J. Money started an interesting conversation over at Budgets Are Sexy. A reader asked if it were “a poor decision” to use an item for years, then return it for a refund.

(That’s even a question?)

In “Returning used stuff – cool or no?,” J. Money said he wrote back to the reader saying, among other things, that this was a question of personal ethics. The blogger added that he would not return anything unless it was broken or otherwise not delivering on its promise.

(In his wild youth he’d returned a used boombox two days before the return window expired, and was thoroughly shamed by the customer service rep before he got his refund. Lesson learned!)

The reader then shared that he’d needed to move and “just couldn’t throw out my bedroom set that was in perfect condition and 10 years old.” (Emphasis added.) So he took it back to Costco and, unbelievably, the store refunded his money.

 


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th-1Some observations about the town of Valdez, Alaska, where the 24th annual Last Frontier Theatre Conference is winding up:

Coming into town were greeted by one of those temporary electronic signs, the kind that road crews put up. However, it wasn’t advising us of “ROAD WORK NEXT FEW MILES” or “ABRUPT EDGE MOTORCYCLES USE EXTREME CAUTION,” however.

No, this warning included the phrase “GRIZZLY BEARS MOVING THROUGH TOWN.”

Sad to say, I have not seen ursus arctos horribilis myself. Kind of hoped to do so, from within a vehicle moving past said critter. But I did hear about someone whose yard was monopolized by a mama grizz and three cubs for several days.

Finally she called Fish and Game to beanbag ’em out of there. She was tired of not letting her own kids go outside to play, lest they become Scooby snacks for the charismatic megafauna next to the swing set.

 


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thSolstice isn’t until June 20, but I think it’s hot enough in some places to count as summer. Cold drinks are a fine antidote to heat and humidity, and Starbucks cards are always popular as giveaways. QED.

In addition, this is a fairly easy prize for me to mail from out of town. Yep, I’m on the road again — but this time in Alaska.

Specifically, I’m attending the 24th annual Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Valdez (that’s pronounced val-DEEZ, incidentally). For the next week I’ll be attending classes and staged readings, including a full-length work by my BFF Linda B, “The Cooter Creek Passion Play.”

 


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thWho knew the amount of work it takes to self-publish a book?!? Answer: Everyone who’s already done it or is working on it now.

I’m firmly in the latter camp. About 10 days ago I finished writing and editing “Your Playbook For Tough Times.” Sort of.

Even as I rejoiced that the work was done (a butt dance may or may not have been involved), I felt a bit uneasy. Within a day or two my subconscious was nagging: “Aren’t a couple of those chapters a little bloated?”

No! Shut up! It’s done and it looks GREAT!

In fact, I was so sure it was done that I sent it off to a few people who’d offered to read/critique the thing. And then last Saturday evening I sat down to take “just a quick look” at the manuscript. You can guess what happened next.

 


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thTell me: What is it you plan to do with your 30 wild and precious extra years?

Right now a man can expect to live to at least age 72 and possibly as long as 87; for women, the numbers are 79 and almost 89. (Hint: It helps if you’re rich.)

Back in 1916, the average life expectancy for men was 49.6 years and for women 54.3 years.

According to a new study from Allianz Life, most of us (93 percent) are excited about the fact that we’re living three decades longer than our ancestors did.

Among the top plans for those years are “travel extensively” (56 percent) and “live in a different place” (35 percent). Most interesting to me is the fact that almost one-quarter of those surveyed say they would “take more risks in life.”

In part, that’s because they’re steeped in remorse about the road(s) not taken.

 


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thI drove a friend to an outpatient procedure today. The appointment was for 1 p.m. but we left at 11:15 a.m., which timing was awkward: It was too early for me to have lunch and the procedure didn’t take place until 1:30 p.m.

Even if it hadn’t been too early, eating in front of someone who’d been fasting since midnight would have been cruel.

Even though I’d had oatmeal and homemade yogurt before the appointment, I was hungry long before it was over. Fortunately, I was also prepared.

 


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thI’ve noticed a lot of summer blooms lately. And by “blooms,” I mean “yard-sale signs.”

The hand-lettered, brightly colored notices are tacked to utility poles, taped to trees (really?) or stapled to big boxes that have rocks inside to keep them from blowing away.

Narrowly missed attending a couple of these this morning. My niece e-mailed to see if I’d be interested, but we were entertaining an unexpected guest and then working in the garden, so I didn’t get online until mid-afternoon.

In addition to her e-invite I saw “Tag sales: Don’t buy the fantasy,” a Time magazine column written by my former MSN Money colleague M.P. Dunleavey. It’s a darned amusing (and darned true) story of the ways we sometimes lose our minds in the face of a bargain.

Even a bargain we don’t need. Especially a bargain we don’t need.

 


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thWhen I gave away e-copies of “Frugality For Depressives: Money-Saving Tips For Those Who Find Life A Little Harder,” some of my readers (and my daughter’s, too) said they were waiting for the physical edition. Either they don’t have e-readers or they, like me, prefer to hold a book in their hands.

I can help with that. The trade paperback edition of the book is now available, and I’m giving away three copies.

Naturally a mom would think her kid’s book is splendid. But I’m not the only one who thinks the book can help depressives and the chronically ill.

 


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thThe first was a misrepresentation and the other a lie of omission. Since May 12 I’ve been on the East Coast, but I couldn’t tell my dad or my readers. To do so would have ruined the surprise 80th birthday party we’d planned.

When he recently asked if I’d be coming back East any time soon, I prevaricated. Since he reads my blog and follows me on Facebook, I couldn’t suggest meet-ups with Surviving & Thriving readers in Manhattan or South Jersey. What, and ruin the surprise?

And it was a surprise, especially since his 80th natal day took place back in March.

 


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th-2Dear Members of the Class of 2016,

You’ve gotten that diploma and landed a job – maybe even your dream job. Now that your career has officially begun, it’s time to think about how it will end.

Even though the ink is barely dry on your new business cards, you need to focus on retirement – specifically, on the need to save for it either through the workplace or on your own. Retirement is decades away but your new best friend, compound interest, is here right now.

Some financial experts say you need $1 million or more for your old age. The median starting salary for the class of 2014 was $45,478, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Your mileage may vary, of course. If you majored in something like early childhood education, music or communications your paycheck is more likely to be in the $31,500 to $39,800 range. Or maybe you haven’t landed the right job just yet and are making do with retail or other gigs.

Scary, huh? But you have a secret weapon: Time.

 


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