thI’m a little late totaling up my 2012 found money. Okay, I’m several months late; normally I count the money around Thanksgiving.

Even though the money’s been counted, it’s still at my friend Linda’s house along with some other things I haven’t moved to my new place. Also still at Linda’s is the old vase in which I keep my finds, a gift from my daughter when she was very young. Abby found it in the “free” box at a yard sale. (That’s my girl!)

I’ve been using an old plastic container for all the coins I’ve picked up since Jan. 1. It doesn’t have the soul of that vase, which is actually pretty ghastly: fthe color of a Pepto Bismol tablet left out in the sun, embellished with gilt and bearing a painting of what looks like a 17th-century dude courting a 17th-century dame. But it was a gift from my kid, and I treasure it. Perhaps my descendants will take it to “Antiques Roadshow” and find out it’s worth a million bucks.

Last year’s final tally:

  • Six $1 bills
  • One 50-cent piece
  • 15 quarters
  • 71 dimes
  • 22 nickels
  • 286 pennies

I also found a single Canadian dime, which I’ll add to my stash. Who knows? I may drive the Al-Can again some day.

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9781615640881LInterested in the stock market? Have I got some light reading for you.

“The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Stock Investing” is designed to help novices learn more about the recent market. The authors are Sarah Young Fisher (a certified financial planner) and Susan Shelly (a business writer), and their goal is to clarify the “often confusing process” of investing.

It’s paired with “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Stock Investing Fast-Track,” which offers fundamental information on picking/valuing stocks and planning a portfolio for the long term. The author, Ken Little, promises to keep the “non-essential information” to a minimum, so that would-be investors can get started faster. 9781615642335L

If it were me, I’d read both books – and then keep looking for information. That’s because I think that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. It’s your money, and you need to be clear-eyed about where you put it. But what you learn from these two books will be a good start.

To enter:

If you do any (or all!) of these things, please leave separate, additional comments to get credit for each entry.

The deadline is 9 p.m. PST Monday, Feb. 25. If I don’t hear back from the winner by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26, I’ll pull another name.

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th-1When cleaning out a jammed-full junk drawer recently, my new roommate found several dozen pairs of chopsticks. His immediate thought wasn’t stir-fry, but rather “kindling.”

This evening’s fire was started with newspaper and plain wood eating implements. They worked quite well, and got me to thinking about their disposable nature. If you think plastic forks and spoons are awful, take a look at these chopstick stats, courtesy of The New York Times.

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thI find myself in the middle of a Lifetime movie: Middle-aged woman leaves long-term abusive marriage, goes broke, wins a scholarship, stumbles into an unexpected career – and finds a man who’s perfect for her.

A man who’s smart, kind, funny, well-read, musically talented, astoundingly physical and – bonus! – extremely handy around the house.

A man who only gets her jokes but embroiders on them, and who wrote a smutty double dactyl in honor of her birthday.

A man who wants her for who she is, not for the person he thinks he can turn her into.

The experience has been startling, and humbling, and oh so gratifying. I never knew emotions came in this size.

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thWondering how much you can afford to spend on your loved one this Feb. 14, or whether you can afford to spend anything at all?

Join me and some three dozen other personal finance bloggers as we address that very topic.

What’s in it for you, besides our ideas? A shot at a $500 cash prize, that’s what.

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