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thRecently I mentioned that I was working on a book and that I planned to take DF’s advice to provide periodic progress reports. The theory is that this will keep me from slacking.

The book’s focus, smart money hacks during tough times, is pretty familiar territory. I’ve been writing about this since January 2007 when my first post, “Surviving and thriving on $12,000 a year,” went up on MSN Money.

But “familiar” doesn’t mean “simple to achieve.” For my first writing update all I can say is, “It’s complicated.”

 


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thPersonally, I would argue that in the United States just about every day is Superhero Day. Life is an endless stream of movies, TV shows, TV, graphic novels and, of course, “licensed” merchandise from T-shirts to figurines to underpants.

About that last: Recently my daughter weighed in on Twitter and Facebook about the apparent existence of, I swear to God, men’s undergarments bearing the logo of The Flash. “Superhero undies are cool and all, but hey, guys… maybe ‘The Flash’ underwear sends the wrong message?”

My response: “You’d think most guys would go for The Incredible Hulk. (‘You’ll really like me when I’m angry.’)”

But back to today’s celebration: I noticed a funny Facebook item from humorist and standup comedian Michele Wojciechowski. In honor of Superhero Day she decided her own alter ego would be “Wojo Woman.”

“My hair could catch bad guys and tangle them up. I could also send death rays through my eyes … And I could use my humor to make them laugh so hard that they would be totally incapacitated.”

She invited others to chime in, so of course I did.

 


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FrugalityforDepressives_250Those of you who follow my daughter’s blog already know this, but: Abby has been working on a book lately. You’d also know this if you read my late-March post, “Watching a book be born.”

Happy to announce that “Frugality For Depressives: Money-Saving Tips For Those Who Find Life A Little Harder” is here, and happier still to be giving away a couple of copies of the electronic version.

(Edited to add: Hannah at Unplanned Finance is also giving away a copy. Use the link to find out how to enter; the deadline is May 9.)

(Note: The above link is for the Kindle version. Anyone who wants an ePub or PDF version can check the ad on the right-hand side of this page. It’s the same price – $7.99 –  for all these editions.)

During her post-illness years of poverty and struggle, Abby looked for money advice but couldn’t find anything that worked. Personal finance blogs were popping up like mushrooms after a rain but they all said the same stuff over and over:

  • “Drink one less coffee a day and you’ll retire rich!” (Many days Abby was too sick to leave her apartment – and she doesn’t like coffee anyway.)
  • “Get a second job to help pay off debt!” (Depressives with chronic fatigue sometimes can’t even get a first job, let alone a second one.)
  • “All those toys you bought during the good times? Put them on Craigslist and watch your fortunes rise!” (It took her a year and a half to save up enough rewards points to get herself a basic MP3 player. Toys R Not her.)

She often saw a phrase I’ve come to loathe: “If I can do it, anyone can.” Gah. Basic money hacks do work for a lot of people, but they don’t work for everyone.

Abby tried – oh, how she tried. “Each failure drove the shame and despair deeper. Each new twist focused my mind on my inability to be the good frugal girl I was raised to be.”

[Sorry about that, kid.]

Since she couldn’t become a perfect frugalist, Abby decided to hack the hacks.

 


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Fairbanks haiku.

 thHeaded north today

Too early, but one must think:

Construction season.

 

Road breakfast first, though:

Eggs, spuds, bacon, pancakes and

Diet (duh) cola.

 

Clouds, gloom: Were we cursed?

Look! Denali lifts chador

Of cloud and smiles big.

 

(Who is Denali?

You knew her as McKinley.

But you knew nothing.)

 


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thIt begins: Yesterday I bought my first stocking stuffers.

They were in the clearance bin, as stocking stuffers often are: a trio of Crayola scented markers for 17 cents apiece. The markers will go to a flamboyant young relative who’s all about creativity; at age 9, the dude is using YouTube to learn how to knit an infinity scarf.

In years past I’ve hit post-holiday sales to buy the next year’s holiday gifts and even some items for the house. This year I’ve been curiously inert when it comes to bargain-hunting.

The Crayolas may have gotten me off my own mark, however, since I’ve begun to notice yard-sale signs. 

 


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thSpring means rebirth, transformation and beauty. How about translating that kind of positive energy to your professional and/or personal life?

The Thriver’s Edge: Seven Keys to Transform the Way You Live, Love and Lead,” by Dr. Donna Stoneham, might be just what you need to make this year your best ever.

Stoneham is a “transformational leadership expert” who’s spent three decades helping individuals, teams and entire organizations to “unleash their power to thrive.” She’s worked with non-profits and Fortune 1000 leaders alike to get to the bottom of the fears, negative beliefs or self-denigrating ideas that keep them from realizing their full potential.

That potential, by the way, can be happiness and peace — and you don’t have to be a captain of industry to take to heart the lessons from this book.

 


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GetAttachmentThumbnailOver at the Budgets Are Sexy blog, host J. Money shared a startling fact: He almost gave away his coin collection.

The mohawked numismatist is known throughout the personal finance blogosphere to be someone completely devoted to what he calls “tiny pieces of metal.” Yet he’s reflecting on whether such attachments are entirely healthy.

“That’s right – the guy who only has one main hobby left, and created an entire blog dedicated to these historic beauties, almost gave up collecting entirely,” he wrote in a post called “When it’s time to detach yourself from your things.”

The collection was “the last remaining ‘thing’ I owned that I was still overly attached to and didn’t want to be anymore.”

I get it. Marie Kondo and her “Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” is all the rage right now. The underlying theory is good: Get rid of what you don’t use/may never use/no longer matters.

But allow me to point out that fads come and fads go. Minimalism may be one of them, and joining in could mean shooting yourself in the frugals.



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thSome very interesting reader comments appeared on my April 6 post, especially as regards grown sons and daughters who expect help with down payments and furnishings.

“Just got an email from my stepson who wants us to co-sign on an FHA home loan because they don’t have enough income to qualify for the loan,” wrote Kandace.

She hasn’t said “no” yet, but she will. But she knows that won’t be the end of it.

“Then they will likely want us to co-sign on an apartment, but I’m not comfortable with that either. I’m thinking about what I would be willing to give – or lose – financially. It will probably be an amount that helps get them (he, his wife and their two kids), into an apartment. But no co-signing for me.”

Not everyone was able to make that kind of call – at least initially.

 


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thApparently I can’t read a calendar. Last week I offered a 40 percent discount on my Write A Blog People Will Read online course. At the end of the post I noted that the discount was good until “11:59 PDT Wednesday, April 8.”

Swell, except that April 8 is a Friday. Ooops.

Those who are still mulling it over (and I’ve heard from a couple of you) now have two extra days to make your decision. If you’re on the fence, feel free to e-mail me at SurvivingAndThriving (at) live (dot) com with any qualms.

For example, one reader wrote to ask how much experience was needed for the course. Although she does a lot of writing for her job it’s a very different type of scribbling. Thus she wondered if the course would be “too advanced” for someone who was new to blogging.

I responded with a note plus a couple of sample chapters so she could get an idea of what the course holds. If you, too, have specific questions (how can I know whether I’ll find enough ideas, what if I’m not sure there’s time in my life to maintain a blog, et al.), send them along and I’ll respond with advice*** and a course sample that helps address that question.

In other news:

 


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IMG_20150622_182817When I got back from Phoenix the house smelled like dirt. In a good way: While I was gone DF had started dozens of seeds in egg cartons and repurposed pots.

The containers completely cover a table in the utility room and a three-shelf unit that has displaced our dining table. We can eat anywhere, but baby plants need the south sun.

After a week of seeing flowers and orange trees and fully leafed trees, I came home to a typical Alaska breakup: gray skies, brown lawns and bare branches. The scent of soil helps make up for that.

So does the Renee’s Garden media kit, which arrived shortly before I left to visit my daughter. The 2016 New Introductions Sampler kicked off a response most Pavlovian. My mouth actually watered as I looked at things like Five Color Rainbow beets, Italian Pandorino grape tomatoes, Ruby & Emerald mustard, French Mascotte container beans and Harlequin Mix rainbow carrots.

 


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StartbloggingI subscribe to several writing-focused newsletters whose authors sell courses, books and other products. Sometimes the newsletters include educational or thought-provoking facts, or links to free videos or webinars.

Mostly, though, they sell. Oh, do they sell.

A subject line like “three simple steps that helped John change his life” or “she halved her work hours and quadrupled her income” might lead you to think the newsletter contains valuable advice.

Sometimes it does. Generally speaking, though, the advice is “if you buy my product you can change your life, too.”

This is all smart marketing. I understand that. I just don’t know how/don’t much care to do it myself. My background in print journalism taught me to keep myself strictly out of the story. The new paradigm, however, is to promote one’s “brand,” if not one’s products.

Which brings me to last week’s giveaway.



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thGreetings from Phoenix, where I’ve spent a lot of time editing the manuscript for my daughter’s upcoming e-book. The working title is “Frugality for Depressives,” and it’s designed to help people who experience depression figure out which money hacks will work and which won’t.

Fact is, not all tactics work for all people even if they aren’t depressive. Some folks are never going to soak beans, do online surveys or wash Ziploc bags.

“Frugality for Depressives” looks at money-saving tips in terms of common depressive symptoms and also suggests workarounds so that these tips could be used in at least some form.

As Abby knows from painful personal experience, depression and other mental illnesses make it hard to live on a budget. These diseases can also affect a person’s ability to earn, which means frugality isn’t just a lifestyle choice – it’s a survival mechanism.

The e-book should be out within the next four to six weeks. To my knowledge no one has written anything like it before. I believe the book will be a huge asset to those who can’t frugal* the way everyone else does but who still want to save money.

It’s been great (if time-consuming fun) and of course a writer always likes to see her offspring write great stuff. This is especially true if it keeps said writer from having to work on her own book.

 


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