Up at 4 a.m., on the corner by 5 a.m. to catch the bus downtown. No one on the bus looked happy. About one-half of them didn’t even look awake.

I wasn’t all that sharp myself, which is why I got off at a stop two blocks past the light-rail station. Just missed a train but it didn’t matter; starting at 6 a.m. they run about every eight minutes.

The flight is overbooked — surprise! — but for obvious reasons I’m not giving up my seat.

Two new airline wrinkles:

  • If I agreed to have my carry-on (and only luggage) checked here at the gate, I could get on the plane early. But…It would not be a true gate check, i.e., in Houston I’d have to go to baggage claim and then back through security. Thanks, but no thanks.
  • They’re flogging their new in-flight DirecTV service. If I chose, I could watch sitcoms for four hours, instead of napping or reading. It would cost only $6! Um, no.

I watched a guy order and consume a Frosty at 7 a.m. Ack. And I thought I was depraved for wanting a Diet Coke.

A couple of little kids are already crying, even though we haven’t started boarding yet. I know how they feel.

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Frugal sniffles.

Last summer I did a guest post over at Bargaineering called “Sick happens: How to prepare for an illness or injury.” For the past week I’ve been in the grip of la grippe and practicing what I preached.

It’s not actually la grippe, but rather some other kind of virus: sore throat, headache, malaise and a cough that snaps me forward like a willow tree in a high wind. I’m acutely aware that my Aunt Elna was alleged to have broken ribs while coughing.

At least I was ready for it.


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Unavocis was chosen as the winner of the $20 Amazon.com gift card. Respond to my e-mail, Unavocis, and I’ll send the prize your way.

This Friday’s giveaway will have a slightly shorter entry period. Since I leave for my trip very freakin’ early on Tuesday, I’m going to announce the winner on Sunday evening so that I can mail the prize before the post office closes Monday.

If you enter, check your e-mail before you go to bed Sunday or first thing Monday. Should you be tardy in your response, you’ll have to wait an extra three weeks to get the goods.

P.S. There will be giveaways while I am on vacation.

P.S.S. You’ll definitely have to wait a few weeks for those.

In other news:

Win free rent for a year: Eighty-seven percent of the adults surveyed by Rent.com don’t believe that home ownership is the basis of the American Dream. So what is? That’s up to you to decide – and if you do it right, Rent.com will pay your rent for a year (up to $10,000 worth). Make a 60-second video or write a 250-word essay describing the “New American Dream” before May 2; starting May 3, you’ll need to get family and social-media friends to vote for your entry. Register and learn more at http://www.rent.com/newamericandream/.

Hot deal on Netflix: If you’ve never subscribed, here’s a good way to do it – when it’s free. Netflix is the “store of the week” at the Mr. Rebates cash-back site. Now through Sunday you can get $20 in cash-back with a new subscription – that is to say, you will get $20 back even though your subscription costs as little as $7.99 per month. Netflix offers instant streaming whenever you want, including on-the-go with your mobile device. If you’re not yet a member, consider using my referral ID by clicking on this link. Here’s some fine print: You must be a new customer; gift subscriptions are excluded; the free trial and at least one successful charge to your credit card must both be completed to qualify for cash-back. If after that you decide the service isn’t for you, then  cancel it. (Note: The people I know who have it really love it. When I was in Phoenix visiting my daughter I got to watch a couple of seasons’ worth of “Eureka” that way.)

Carnival knowledge: Several of my pieces have been recognized in recent personal finance carnivals. “Fight rising prices by building your own food bank” (one of my Get Rich Slowly posts) made the Festival of Frugality at Money Obedience, “Garbage in, supper out” was chosen for the 295th Carnival of Personal Finance at Taking Charge, and “Cache some cash” is in the Carnival of Money Stories at Personal Finance Journey.

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Earlier this month the National Foundation for Credit Counseling shared the results of a new study. Apparently a whole bunch of U.S. residents are tired of budgeting.

“Majority of Americans have frugal fatigue,” the press release trumpeted. “Significant minority found lifestyle changes to be positive.”

That’s my new favorite oxymoron – “significant minority.” I know what it’s supposed to mean: That 21% rather than 2% of the respondents found frugal lifestyle changes to be a good thing. That is significant. But I still think it sounds funny.

About that significant majority: Sixty-six percent of those surveyed are feeling the strain of having to watch their dollars. Wait…Americans are unhappy that they can no longer spend like sailors on shore leave? There’s news.

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Cache some cash.

Yesterday I used a Groupon voucher to get myself a discounted massage. The practitioner didn’t take credit cards. Time to raid the cash cache.

For the past six years I’ve kept a stash of ones, fives, tens and twenties hidden in my apartment. I believe in having legal tender on hand for emergencies.

Call it pin money, bail money or get-outta-town money. If you’re a numismatist, call it a collection of state quarters. Having a little ready cash means you’re, well, ready.

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