thIt was 8 degrees Fahrenheit this morning, and I got my usual chuckle thinking of Halloween in Anchorage. We generally see a parade of Disney princess, zombie and superhero costumes obscured by winter garb.

Nothing like the sight of an Ariel or Rapunzel wearing a down coat and moon boots.

Last year, long before “Suicide Squad” hit the theaters, one of my great-nephews dressed as Harley Quinn. His makeup was great, his hair was stiffened in pigtails – and his homemade costume, thankfully, had long underwear as its base. It was plenty cold last Oct. 31, too.

Apparently we might see some election-themed trick-or-treaters this year. An e-mail from the Savers group of thrift stores noted that the presidential election has affected costume sales. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump accessories are flying off the shelves.


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thAlmost seven in 10 people surveyed by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling say their biggest financial worry is credit card debt.

Of the 1,869 respondents, 69 percent cited plastic arrears as being much, much scarier than having enough for retirement and emergencies (13 percent), paying off student loans (10 percent) or finding affordable housing (7 percent).

About 19 people checked answer E: “Nothing, I have no financial worries.” Lucky them.

It’s likely that most of the people reading the nonprofit agency’s website are already having money issues. But it wouldn’t surprise me if a decent number of the general population were also worried about credit card debt. And if they aren’t, maybe they should be.


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thDue to my daughter’s mystery illness, we both missed huge chunks of the 2016 Financial Blogger Conference. Huge bummer for us both, especially since we’d looked forward to meeting with some local readers.

(I did get to say hello to Ro in San Diego, a regular reader/commenter. Thanks for dropping by, Ro.)

My daughter and I each managed to visit the expo hall, where a ton of organizations and businesses were handing out goodies. Obviously both Abby and I wanted to learn about new products and services, but I must admit to thinking how much fun it would be to share these items with a lucky winner.

FinCon swag giveaways have been popular in the past. Pretty sure that the big box of FinCon16 swag will keep that streak alive.


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thHow’d you spend your weekend? I got to be on local radio, where I talked about “Your Playbook For Tough Times” and acted in an on-air skit.

“The Big Alaska Show” is an every-Saturday event on KFQD-AM. It’s a mix of interviews and (alleged) comedy bits, some of which hit and some of which miss. The hosts, Steve Stripling and Mike Ford, cheerfully describe it as “the longest-running error-riddled radio program in Alaska.

And I did my part to help that along. Wouldn’t you?


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thNot that this Lower 48 journey has been much of a vacation. It started out as a business trip and morphed into a medical emergency.

I was supposed to have gone home on Sept. 29 but we didn’t get back to Phoenix until Sept. 28. Our original itinerary had included a short post-FinCon visit, and by gum we wanted to make it happen.

Figured I’d go home on Monday but something told me not to make a reservation. Given that lower-back spasms woke me early Sunday morning, I’m glad I listened.

Ice, ibuprofen and stretching have eased the initial holycowthathurtstooscaredtomove, but I’ll likely give it another day or two before I think about a long plane ride.

Here are some things I’ve learned and some random realizations that popped up since I got here.

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th-1It wasn’t anything like we thought it would be. In a bad way.

Abby got sick but we kept attributing the symptoms to other stuff, such as exhaustion, dehydration and her compromised body finding fresh ways to torment her. At one point she weakly mused, “What new indignity are you throwing at me?”

Fortunately, my FinCon16 presentation had been at 8:30 a.m. on the first day so I was able to spend most of the time in the room with her. Unfortunately, she and I missed most of the rest of the conference.

That’s not nearly as self-serving as it sounds. Both of us mourned the chance to attend educational sessions and to hang out with fellow money nerds. And obviously no one wants to be sick, especially so far away from home.

On Saturday we agreed to stay an extra day in San Diego, still believing she could regain her strength. By mid-afternoon Sunday she decided it was time to go to the emergency room.


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thFor years I’ve been promoting the idea that personal finance tips can be found in all kinds of places:

Opera (“8 personal finance lessons from ‘Gotterdammerung’”)

Monster romps (“6 financial lessons from ‘Godzilla’”)

Westerns (“10 financial lessons from ‘True Grit’”)

Superhero flicks (“10 money lessons from ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’”)

And even sled-dog races (“10 personal finance lessons from the Iditarod”).

See? You just have to know where to look.

My latest example is the Meryl Streep/Hugh Grant film “Florence Foster Jenkins.” The chameleonic Streep is by turns jaw-droppingly self-absorbed and touchingly vulnerable, and Hugh Grant is her complex, conflicted companion.

The real-life Jenkins, a New York socialite, was a patron of the arts. Also sometimes their torturer: She had the idea that she could sing. But she couldn’t. She really, really couldn’t.



Not to give away too much of the plot, Jenkins suffered from a physical malady that may have affected her ability truly to hear her own voice. Or maybe she was just gloriously deluded. Either way, she played to sold-out houses.


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thI was really looking forward to saying “hello” to some readers in person. Unfortunately, the plan has changed.

Abby has been sick for two days. We’re going to stay at the hotel until checkout time, so she can rest, and then head back to Phoenix.

The next time I’m in San Diego I’ll make it work. That is, unless that’s my turn to be sick.

Really sorry that this didn’t happen, but I can’t ask her to add an extra hour to the already long travel day — or to sit in a restaurant that smells like French fries.


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thSan Diego-area readers: Any chance you can have lunch on Sunday?

I’ll be at the Smashburger on Laning Road starting at about noon. My daughter, Abigail Perry, will be with me.

And if you’ve already eaten? Stop by anyway, have a cold drink and money-nerd-out with the two of us.

If you’re looking to do some early Christmas shopping, we’ll both have our books there:

Frugality For Depressives: Money-Saving Tips For Those Who Find Life A Little Harder” (hers)

Your Playbook For Tough Times: Living Large On Small Change, For The Short Term Or The Long Haul”  (mine).

Best of all: The FinCon16 discount will apply.


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th-1So sorry for the late notice! I know I’d sworn to have the Wednesday meetup site posted as soon as possible.

Wednesday as in Wednesday, Sept. 21. As in “tomorrow.”

So here’s the scoop: At 5:30 p.m., one hour before the Money Meetup — a free event at the 2016 Financial Blogger Conference — I’ll be sitting in the Starbucks at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel/Marina. Y’all come!


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Phoenix: Still hot.

th-2My trip to Phoenix went as smoothly as a red-eye can, for which I am grateful. Both flights were completely full but no one was a pig about overhead bin space and thus the planes left on time.

No crying babies, either, although several of them were nearby. I even slept for the entire flight – thanks, generic Benadryl* caplet!

The winds were with us from Anchorage to Seattle, and we made it in about three hours. As I walked into the terminal I checked a monitor and realized my next flight was leaving from the same gate. Easy enough.

I ate the breakfast I’d packed** (buttered roll, apple), walked around for a while to get my legs working, and then got back on the plane and went back to sleep. About two and a half hours later I was on the ground in Phoenix.

The captain announced the temperature at 79 degrees. Manageable, I thought. But by mid-afternoon, when my daughter and I went out in search of FinCon16 clothing, it had got a lot hotter.

Hot enough that I thought, “This is definitely warmer than 79.” But since desert heat is a tricky animal, I had no way of knowing it was 102 degrees. That is, until my daughter checked the weather.

Just as northerners chuckle at those who find 30 degrees so cold, no doubt Phoenix residents would snicker at my discomfort. “Oh, this isn’t hot. Wait until it hits 112!”


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thI feel so loved: A chapter from “Your Playbook For Tough Times” is the featured topic on this week’s Wise Bread Tweetchat – which regular readers know always includes prizes.

And this week’s prizes are pretty rich – much richer than I had originally posted. (See below.)

“Doing a financial fire drill” is the subject of the one-hour event, which takes place at noon PDT on Thursday, Sept. 15. (As in “tomorrow.”) We’ll be talking about how to do an extreme budget makeover in advance of anything going wrong.

Think of it this way: Relatively few homes or schools burn down each year. Knowing what to do if that should happen is still a good idea.

And if you need another incentive to participate? Wise Bread has that covered, too.


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