thThe site was down for quite a while — most of the past three days, in fact — due either to its being migrated to a new server or to a “fatal error” in a plug-in. Or maybe it was just a case of virtual epizootic.

Whatever the problem was, it’s fixed now — except, as you may have noticed, the sidebars are all gone. A sidebar plug-in was where the fatal error was buried, so it had to be shut down.

Some days I long to go back to the era of typewriters.

As of Sunday evening it was back up and I decided to skip the now-two-days-late giveaway posting. I’ll start again on Friday.

But here’s the point I really hope to make: The end of the day Monday, Sept. 23 is your last chance to vote for the Plutus Awards, and I’m hoping that my daughter, Abigail Perry, will at least make the finals in the “Best Kept Secret” category. For more on why I think she’s a match, see my previous post on the subject.

All you have to is click on this link and her site’s URL will automatically be filled in. Then you just enter your own information (name, e-mail and whether or not you’re a PF blogger), scroll a bit further down and hit “nominate.”

That’s it! You’re done. Tell your friends how easy it is.

No, seriously: Tell them. I’d take it as a personal favor if you forwarded this piece to friends or shared it on social media. Neither Abby nor I could be called particularly adept at self-promotion (or, for that matter, at using social media) so I’m acutely aware that writers with more PR savvy could nudge her out of the running. That’s the nature of contests.

Here’s hoping that I report back from the 2013 Financial Blogger Conference that Abby got called to the podium to accept the award. If she doesn’t? We’ll still have a great time. But who doesn’t want a Plutus Award trophy badge on her website?

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When helping your parents hurts you.Last month I was contacted by Kira Reginato, an elder-care management specialist and host of a weekly radio program in Santa Rosa, California. She’d come across an article I did for MSN Money called “Are you your parents’ ATM?”

Reginato invited me to be on her program, “Call Kira About Aging,” to talk about this very sensitive issue. If you’d like to hear the result, you can access the podcast here.

No time to listen? Let me give you a few of the highlights, starting with some frightening stats regarding folks currently in their 40s and 50s. According to the Pew Research Center:

  • 27% provide primary support for a grown child.
  • 21% have provided financial support to a parent aged 65 or older in the past year.
  • 38% say both their grown children and their parents rely on them for emotional support.

Anybody but me think that sounds not only emotionally but financially exhausting?

Specifically: If you’re helping out parents whose money isn’t stretching far enough and/or picking up the slack for your under- or unemployed kids, what happens to your own finances?

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thBy rights, I should be giving away cans of something in honor of my having gotten canned.

But they’re a pain in the neck to mail, and I’m too frazzled* to write up giveaways for the other items I have. So let’s go with gift cards.

I’m giving away two $10 Amazon cards this week. Why two? Why not.

You can always use the cards to buy something canned online.

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 7 p.m. PDT Tuesday, Sept. 17. If I don’t hear back from the winners by 7 p.m. PDT Wednesday, Sept. 18, I’ll pull two other names.

*Re being frazzled: I’m spending a lot of time dealing with the fallout from the layoff. Interesting possibilities are opening up; if I choose to do any of them, I’ll eventually share details.

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Want to save 50% at the supermarket? Here's help.Recently I wrote about the “10,000 Reasons to Save” campaign and contest sponsored by Valpak and Savings.com. Coupon users are invited to share their short- or long-term goals and explain how smart coupon use supports those goals.

There’s still time to enter, since the deadline isn’t until 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern on Sept. 15. All you have to do is detail your dream in 250 to 500 words and enter it at this website.

And if you’re still not sure how to use coupons? There’s a webinar for that.

10,000 Reasons to Coupon,” a free program is co-sponsored by Savings.com and LearnVest, takes place on Thursday, Sept. 26. During the hour-long presentation Laura Harders of Beltway Bargain Mom and Lynette Rice of Cleverly Simple will walk you through the basics of “realistic” couponing:

  • Finding and organizing the Qs
  • Meal planning
  • Seeing through “marketing traps”
  • Tips to avoid overspending

In addition, certified financial planner Ellen Derrick will offer budgeting basics and information on LearnVest’s financial planning tools.

There’s no charge to sign up, and doing so will net you some money-saving techniques.

And enter that contest, will you? I sure would love to hear that a Surviving and Thriving reader won the $10,000 grand prize, or even one of the four $500 other prizes. If you make the finals let me know and I’ll do what I can to get readers over to look at (and vote on!) your entry.

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Termination dust.

Termination dust.Today dawned a typical September day: gray and foreboding. The sky was the color of a galvanized trashcan and the air tinged with a chill that whispered of summer’s end.

When the clouds lifted a bit I saw termination dust sprinkled on the Chugach Mountains. That’s the local parlance for the season’s first snow. The tail-end of the tourist trade clucks and points, taking numerous pictures of the shining whiteness while buttoning coats up to their chins.

Residents pretend they don’t care, but it can drive a little shiver into your day. Sure, the snow is still way up there. But we know it’ll make its way down to the flats fairly soon.

Even DF, who’s pretty cheerful about everything and a skier to boot, gets a little glum at the prospect. In fact, he sings about it (to the tune of Chopin’s Funeral March): 

Woke up this morning, looked out the door and cussed:

There on the mountains — behold! the whitish crust.

Termination dust. Summer is a bust.

Hate facing winter again, and yet I must.

That made me laugh. I needed to laugh: Termination dust showed up on the very day that I got terminated.

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