Want to give your kids a shot at financial freedom? Jean Chatzky can help.

Aimed at the middle-school set, “Not Your Parents’ Money Book” arose from Chatzky’s talks with students across the United States. What they wanted to know was fairly pragmatic: How much does it cost to live independently? What kind of job would I need to do that? What’s wrong with the economy? What’s a recession? Why can’t the government just print more dollars?

“Kids haven’t learned that money is a limited resource,” Chatzky told me.

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Pam F. is the winner of the $20 Amazon.com gift card. She’ll use it to birthday gifts for her little sister. (Cue the girl noise: Awwww!) Thanks to all who entered.

I entered two blog carnivals this week and was happy to get into both:

On the train ride to Cornwall today I met a delightful woman who has traveled extensively and once shot photos of a tiger while riding on an elephant. She suggested accompanying me to Paris on a day trip (boy, does that sound weird) this weekend or, if the Chunnel train tickets are too costly, to tour me around Windsor (the region, not the castle).

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When the Megabus from Cardiff dropped me off last week, I headed toward Victoria Station and found myself trudging along in lockstep with thousands of Underground commuters. I followed the crowd into the subway car, carrying my suitcase in front of me. Then people stopped moving. I could see there was room elsewhere in the car, but apparently these folks liked being close to the doors.

“Excuse me, could I get by?” I said.

No one moved.

“I’m not quite in, please let me get by,” I said, louder.

This was met with a peculiarly British inertia. People looked at advertising placards, or their shoes. A few looked at their cell phones, as though scanning texts. Nobody looked at the tired American tourist who was carrying way too much baggage. (Physical, not emotional.)

Then the doors shut on me.

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A credit card issuer e-mailed me to warn of potentially fraudulent activity. My immediate thought was that the company had simply forgotten that I was traveling, even though I’d notified them.

Nope. Somebody had gotten hold of my number and used it twice. Guess where.

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I’m writing this from the Westminster Reference Library in London, because I needed a quiet place to work. I have another MSN Money deadline and the hostel’s “common room” is too noisy even when I’m wearing earplugs.

Because I didn’t trust the very vague directions given by the hostel staff, I asked a man on the street for help. After a couple of false starts he realized he could go there but he couldn’t tell me how to go there – so he walked me over.

We chatted while we walked. He turned out to be an actor from Perth, Scotland, in town to audition for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s upcoming production of both Henry plays.


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