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thA trending Twitter hashtag #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter really got my attention today. You can imagine why.

Some well-known writers (Jodi Picoult, Harlan Coben, S.E. Hinton, John Scalzi, et al.) dove in along with the rest of us lesser-known and unknown scribes. Collectively we whirled and howled about stuff like:

  • Low pay and no pay
  • Folks who question why we have to use so many cuss words
  • The assumption that we’ll never get published, i.e., be “real” writers
  • People who treat what we do as a hobby
  • Those who swear they could do this too, if only they had the time

Were we being thin-skinned? Check out a few of the tweets and let me know:

“It’s pretty impressive that you spend so much time on something that has so little chance of success.”

“I downloaded your book for free online. Could you please sign this printout of it?”

 


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th-1I can find personal finance advice just about anywhere, which is why I’ve posted articles like “6 financial lessons from ‘Godzilla’,” “Zombie consumerism” and “10 personal finance lessons from the Iditarod.”

Thus I was on the lookout at last Wednesday’s Metropolitan Opera’s HD re-broadcast of “The Merry Widow.” This is not an opera about bustiers. In fact, it’s not even an opera, but an operetta – lots of speaking roles but with enough musical numbers to keep an orchestra busy.

It’s pretty fluffy fare: The Paris embassy of the impoverished Grandy Duchy of Pontevedro plans a formal ball and invites the titular widow (played by Renee Fleming), who came into big bucks upon the death of her much-older husband on their wedding night.

Officials are terrified that she’ll marry someone outside their country and take her money with her, which could tip the country into bankruptcy. They scheme to fix her up with the ultra-eligible Count Danilo Danilovitsch. What they don’t know is that the two were once in love but his family forbade the marriage – at that time, Hanna was a country girl without a cent to her name.

Does she still love Danilo? Do you even have to ask? But things aren’t that simple.

 


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thSick of sharing the bathroom, and maybe even a bedroom? Understandable. But the solo life can cost you. The chance to walk around in your underpants and watch whatever you want on Netflix means paying up to 44 percent more for the single life.

That’s why I suggested this as a topic for Money Talks News: “Done with roommates? 48 ways to afford living solo.” Some of those 48 tactics are fairly easy things like researching the rental market, watching for move-in specials and entertaining at home vs. making every occasion an expensive one.

Others are simple, but not easy.

 


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Grocery GiveawaySavings.com recently gave away $1,000 worth of Amazon gift cards. Now they’re at it again, and upping the stakes.

The online coupon site will give away $2,000 worth of Visa gift cards, $20 at a time. They’re calling it a “Grocery Giveaway,” but obviously you can use the scrip any way you like.

Beat the heat with cold drinks or a double feature in a blessedly air-conditioned theater. Take advantage of summer clearance sales.

Buy that paperback thriller you’ve been eyeing. Put the money toward a facial or a pedicure. Purchase $20 worth of Snickers bars and freeze ’em all.

Your prize, your choice.

 


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thThe response to my early-June reboot of “Surviving (and thriving) on $12,000 a year” was humbling. It was great to see reader comments about the impact this piece had on their lives.

When the post originally ran (January 2007) it got more response than anything else MSN Money published that year. The editor immediately said, “Write another one.” So I did.

The headline I chose was the one you see above; it got changed to “Living ‘poor’ and loving it.” (I refrain from comment.)

I’ve decided to re-boot the second piece as well, again in its original format vs. the MSN-edited version. Once again, asterisks indicate that updates can be found at the end.

Comedian Dick Gregory grew hungry and cold in an impoverished home. Yet his mother always assured the kids, “We ain’t poor, we’re just broke.”

 


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thWe’re spending less on back-to-school shopping this year, according to the National Retail Federation: an average of $630.36 per family with kids in K-12. That’s about $39 less than last year.

Almost one in five families are already shopping, both to avoid crowds and to spread out the cost among multiple paychecks.

I’ve got another way for you to stretch your BTS budget: Win the $25 gift card I’m giving away this week.

The card is good at five different stores: Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, Athleta and Piperlime. Spend it all in one place, or go from store to store.

 


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The frugal sybarite.

thSome habits that I consider opulent would make other people sneer. To each her own, I suppose. Myself, I happen to think taking a long, hot bath with a good book in (dry) hand is a tremendous luxury – especially if there’s a glass of iced tea or a Diet Coke handy.

(Hint: Even if the soft drink is already cold, put it in the freezer for 15 minutes or so before you run the bath. The contrast of the hot-as-you-can-stand water and the icy beverage is delightful.)

Hanging our laundry to dry in the sun leads to another luxury: falling asleep surrounded by the fragrance of the sun and the wind. Some people would say the sun has no odor. I beg to differ.

DF and I sometimes joke about being “frugal sybarites.” The fact is, a sumptuous lifestyle doesn’t necessarily require a lot of dollar signs.

 


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PrimeS_300X250 To increase the already considerable buzz around Amazon Prime Day, the Savings.com deal site is giving away $1,000 worth of Amazon scrip.

The bad news: Prime Day is Wednesday, July 15, and gift-card winners won’t be drawn until Tuesday, July 21.

The good news: Amazon promises it will offer more deals this Wednesday than it will on Black Friday. (More on that below.)

Starting at 12:01 a.m. EDT Tuesday, July 14 you have the chance to win a $50 gift card. Twenty will be given away and I’d love it if one (or more!) of my readers were in the winners’ circle.

Here’s how to enter: 

 


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thThink you’ve got a book in you? Learn how to birth that brainchild at the “Self-Publishing Success Summit,” which continues through July 23.

Here’s the best part: You can attend for free.

Starting tomorrow (July 13), some three dozen author/entrepreneurs will share their best tips for writing, publishing, marketing and monetizing your work.

 


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thA couple of months ago I spoke at the New Media Expo conference in Las Vegas. While there I met a slew of podcasters, some of whom asked for my card and inquired as to my availability for interviews.

One of them recently followed up: Dot Cannon, an independent new-media broadcaster with TwoMaverix.com. In her Over Coffee podcast series she talks “with artists and innovators about the process of changing the world in terms of what they do.”

We set a date, did the interview and now “Game-changing the future” is available for your listening pleasure.

 


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th-1A new survey from MasterCard includes what sounds like a bizarre round of “Would You Rather…” More than half (55 percent) of respondents say they’d rather have naked photos of themselves leaked online than have their financial info stolen or compromised.

So would I.

Nekkid pictures would be pretty darned embarrassing for a while, but identity theft is for-evah.

Folks would have to go looking for photos of you in the altogether, but apparently ID thieves sell and re-sell their ill-gotten info. You get one case of fraud snuffed out and another one pops up across town, or across the country.

 


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thHot enough for ya? That’s what I figured. Although recent temperatures aren’t unduly onerous except in places like Phoenix, even an 80-something day can take the starch right out of you.

That’s why this week’s giveaway is a two-pronged approach to beating the heat: a literary getaway and a cold to drink, consumed in an air-conditioned place, to go with it.

 


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