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thWhen I was a kid we got one pair of sneakers each year – always in the springtime, and always a size too big so we could grow into them. Invariably they were either red or blue, because black was considered a “boy” color and white sneakers would get dirty too quickly.

While researching this month’s post for Retail Me Not, I learned just how big a fashion statement sneakers can be. To paraphrase the poet, April may be the coolest month when judged solely (pun intended) on the stylin’ sneaks of today – especially since they’re among the best deals of the month.

I also learned about the existence of vegan sneakers. And here I thought vegan condoms were startling.


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1491708069_bHaving trouble getting started with your goals? Can’t seem to get it in gear to build the business, create the service, learn the skill or write the book you know will make a difference? Motivational speaker and accountant Onyx Jones can help.

She knows a little something about change and growth. Once a homeless single mother, Jones now has a master’s degree in accounting and is a motivational speaker.

She’s turned the latter into a book called “The Unofficial Guide to Achieving Your Goals,” which is this week’s giveaway.

“(After) committing to following all seven steps, you will see improvement in your quality of life in just 30 to 90 days,” says Jones.

This slim paperback (66 pages) is designed to “motivate, inspire and provide you with tools for achieving your goals and living a life of passion.” And those seven steps mentioned above? If you’re not the kind of person who likes to follow directions, maybe this book isn’t for you.


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thYesterday I made a bowl of raspberry Jell-O because cooking – even if it’s just boiling some water – is a great work-avoidance tool. So much easier to postone sitting down at the computer if you can tell yourself, “I’m fixing dessert.”

I ate so much Jell-O as a kid that I rarely indulge, save for turning the powder into a scary-looking (but delicious) rhubarb cake. But it’s a big treat to DF. Whenever he opens the fridge and sees a bowl of the stuff he’ll sigh happily and say, “You made Jell-O!” as though it were a tremendous culinary achievement.

We didn’t have bananas or even fruit cocktail to jazz up the gelatin, let alone Cool Whip (another of DF’s faves). That’s when I remembered Amy Dacyzcyn’s recipe for homemade whipped topping.

Oil or cream?

I’d been fascinated by the idea – DIY Cool Whip! – since I noticed it in “The Tightwad Gazette II” a couple of months ago. Nobody kicked frugal patoot like Amy Dacyczyn, so I was inclined to follow where she led.

The ingredients: powdered milk unflavored gelatin, sugar, oil and water. Lots simpler than commercial Cool Whip, whose label contains more than a dozen ingredients – including high-fructose corn syrup, skim milk, light cream, sodium caseinate, natural and artificial flavors, xanthan and guar gums, sorbitan monostearate and polysorbate 60.

Yum.


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thI am officially an Alaskan once more: The state has determined me eligible to receive the 2014 Permanent Fund Dividend.

During my previous residence here (1984-2001) we used to joke that the PFD checks paid for our obligatory visits to visit family back on the East Coast. Now that I’m on a tighter budget, I’m going to follow the sage advice of Liz Weston: Keep 10 percent for whatever you want, and send the rest where it can do some good.

In my case that means 90 percent will wind up in my Roth IRA. The rest? We’ll see.

How much money are we talking? The ballpark estimate for 2014 is $1,800. That’s a lot of money just for staying put.


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thOver at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff, Crystal writes about a friend with a problem that plenty of people wouldn’t mind having.

“They are now earning more than they need to pay their bills, and they wanted my advice on what to tackle next.  I love those kinds of conversations!” says the blogger.

Among her suggestions: emergency fund, retirement, various types of insurance, paying down existing debt, and health savings and/or flexible spending accounts. All good choices.

What would you do with extra cash? Maybe you haven’t thought about it, being too focused on keeping the books balanced or paying down debt. But there could come a day when you either get more money (a raise, a windfall, a side gig) or need less money (debts paid off, kids leave home).

Start thinking now about what you’d do with it, for two reasons:

  • It helps keep you focused on your goals (prepaying a mortgage, helping a child through college), and
  • It will help you spend when the time is right.

You might think that second one sounds silly. “Help me spend? I can’t wait for the day when I don’t have to agonize over every dime!”

Then again, you might be surprised.


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