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th-1On the back cover of “Live Your Life For 1/2 The Price,” prolific personal finance author Mary hunt perfectly sums up my feelings about frugality:

“It’s the money you don’t spend that ultimately gives you the freedom to live the life you love.” 

You tell ’em, girl.

Hunt, who’s written a couple of dozen books and created the Debt Proof Living program and the Mary Hunt’s Everyday Cheapskate website, gives readers the tools to do things like reduce costs, get control of spending, avoid fees, retire the mortgage off early and pay a fair sum for the right car. And she does it with her trademark humor, compassion and pragmatism.

In other words, she’s fun to read and she knows what it’s like to be in debt — boy, does she know! — but she won’t let you off the hook for any of it. Instead, she’ll throw you a lifeline.

 


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th(Recently a reader wrote to ask me to re-run this post. So I did. And a happy Throwback Thursday to you all.)

Yesterday I had the use of a car so I stopped at the Division of Motor Vehicles to get my driver’s license switched over. The clerk asked if I’d been licensed in Alaska previously, and was in fact able to find me in the system. Fill in form ABCXYZ, take the written test and you’re good to go.

Written test? Really? Couldn’t I be grandmothered in, based on the fact that I was once a licensed Alaska driver?

Nope. Moments later questions like “How much liability insurance is an Alaska driver required to carry?” were flashing before my eyes.

The answer is “$50,000/$100,000/$25,000.” Who knew? Not me, apparently, because I got four questions wrong and the testing system kicked me out.

I’ve been driving for 38 years and I flunked the blankety-blank written test. Still can’t quite believe that. The real surprise of the day, however, came from filling out the form.

 


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thToday was a true Sabbath: We kicked back and  didn’t do anything we didn’t want to do. In fact, DF and I didn’t leave the property once he’d returned home from early Mass.

It was a day for naps, a bit of gardening in between rain squalls, reading and eating stuff from our own yard: cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, raspberries and rhubarb.

It was also a day for pie. Although I love the confection dearly I rarely make it. Today I decided pie was the perfect way to get rid of some of last year’s raspberries, some of this year’s rhubarb and all the blueberries that DF got in prison.

All the best stories include the word “prison” in them, don’t they?

 


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thOur house smells of smoke thanks to a wildfire just south of town. The recent unusually sunny and warm weather has left the area ready to burn.

The linked video above shows an uninhabited, mountainous area. Unfortunately the blaze is spreading toward a part of town with wonderful homes – and no utility infrastructure.

That’s the trouble with living in an isolated area: Even if fire trucks can get up there, they can use only the water they brought with them.

Residents are packing their bug-out bags and creating what the fire folks call “defensible spaces” around their homes (e.g., removing trees and mowing down brush) and everyone’s sort of on tenterhooks. I expect even the atheists are praying for a downpour right about now.

Down here on the flats I’m feeling sad for anyone in the fire’s path and also experiencing a bit of survivor’s guilt. Our house lot is mostly treeless; if fire broke out in tree-heavy areas nearby, we have two hose hookups that would let us squirt out any embers that blew our way.

Thanks to the city water system we’d have a steady supply. One of us could be on the ground watching for hot spots and the other on the roof to protect the shingles. Since this is a one-story house it would be a simple scramble up the ladder; DF does this every year when he sweeps the chimney.

Right now I’m praying (for real) for rain.

 


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th-1Saw the “Ghostbusters” reboot on Friday and laughed quite a bit, especially at the antics of Kate McKinnon. While she didn’t actually steal every scene in which she appeared, McKinnon certainly borrowed some of them without permission.

The woman is damned funny. Since we don’t have a television, I’ve never seen her work on “Saturday Night Live” or “The Big Gay Sketch Show.” I might go see the movie again just to watch her. (The others were great, too.)

As for the fanboy bro-haha about the reboot being a heretical sacrilege against all that’s good and holy about dude films, all I can say is “Grow up.” Movies get rebooted all the time. You either go see them or you refuse to go see them. What you don’t do is wail about how this has ruined your childhood.

Seriously. Some guys, and maybe some gals, actually say this. If the first 18 years of your life are rendered meaningless by a movie remake, I suggest you seek help. Or maybe some anti-hyperbole tablets.

In keeping with my theory that personal finance lessons are where you find them, I went to “Ghostbusters” in full money-geek mode and with a notebook. Here’s what I found.

 


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