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thThe first was a misrepresentation and the other a lie of omission. Since May 12 I’ve been on the East Coast, but I couldn’t tell my dad or my readers. To do so would have ruined the surprise 80th birthday party we’d planned.

When he recently asked if I’d be coming back East any time soon, I prevaricated. Since he reads my blog and follows me on Facebook, I couldn’t suggest meet-ups with Surviving & Thriving readers in Manhattan or South Jersey. What, and ruin the surprise?

And it was a surprise, especially since his 80th natal day took place back in March.

 


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th-2Dear Members of the Class of 2016,

You’ve gotten that diploma and landed a job – maybe even your dream job. Now that your career has officially begun, it’s time to think about how it will end.

Even though the ink is barely dry on your new business cards, you need to focus on retirement – specifically, on the need to save for it either through the workplace or on your own. Retirement is decades away but your new best friend, compound interest, is here right now.

Some financial experts say you need $1 million or more for your old age. The median starting salary for the class of 2014 was $45,478, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Your mileage may vary, of course. If you majored in something like early childhood education, music or communications your paycheck is more likely to be in the $31,500 to $39,800 range. Or maybe you haven’t landed the right job just yet and are making do with retail or other gigs.

Scary, huh? But you have a secret weapon: Time.

 


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A pullet surprise.

thMonths and months ago I wrote a post called “Ask me (almost) anything.” Among other things, it invited readers to send questions that I might (or might not) answer.

The questions came in, and remained unanswered. Sorry ’bout that.

Also sorry about maintaining radio silence since May 6. My book project plus an issue to be explained later have kept me from doing any writing for fun.

Today I’ll kill two birds with one stone (plus one really unappetizing picture).

 


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thGot travel plans for Memorial Day weekend? This week’s giveaway will make your trip through security a lot more affordable.

These little bags are always hugely popular, and for good reason: Who wants to pay $1.29 for the one-ounce tube of toothpaste that will get you and your carry-on bag through security?

But toothpaste isn’t the only thing in this bag. Here’s what the winner will take on his/her next trip:

 


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thWant a free ticket to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Art and Design, the Contemporary Jewish Museum or the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts?

You might have that ticket already, if you use a Bank of America/Merrill Lynch credit or debit card, or any card with the BofA logo. The Museums On Us program means gratis admission to 150 museums in 33 states and the District of Columbia.

Bring along that bank card and a photo ID and you’ll get in without paying on the first full weekend each month. Usually that’s Saturday-only, but not always. This year the first full weekend happens to coincide with Mother’s Day. If mom has a card, she’s in; if you have a card but she doesn’t, you’ll wind up paying for one instead of two.

The word “museums” may connote the fine arts. But old still-lifes aren’t the only things that you can see for free.

 


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thRecently I mentioned that I was working on a book and that I planned to take DF’s advice to provide periodic progress reports. The theory is that this will keep me from slacking.

The book’s focus, smart money hacks during tough times, is pretty familiar territory. I’ve been writing about this since January 2007 when my first post, “Surviving and thriving on $12,000 a year,” went up on MSN Money.

But “familiar” doesn’t mean “simple to achieve.” For my first writing update all I can say is, “It’s complicated.”

 


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thPersonally, I would argue that in the United States just about every day is Superhero Day. Life is an endless stream of movies, TV shows, TV, graphic novels and, of course, “licensed” merchandise from T-shirts to figurines to underpants.

About that last: Recently my daughter weighed in on Twitter and Facebook about the apparent existence of, I swear to God, men’s undergarments bearing the logo of The Flash. “Superhero undies are cool and all, but hey, guys… maybe ‘The Flash’ underwear sends the wrong message?”

My response: “You’d think most guys would go for The Incredible Hulk. (‘You’ll really like me when I’m angry.’)”

But back to today’s celebration: I noticed a funny Facebook item from humorist and standup comedian Michele Wojciechowski. In honor of Superhero Day she decided her own alter ego would be “Wojo Woman.”

“My hair could catch bad guys and tangle them up. I could also send death rays through my eyes … And I could use my humor to make them laugh so hard that they would be totally incapacitated.”

She invited others to chime in, so of course I did.

 


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FrugalityforDepressives_250Those of you who follow my daughter’s blog already know this, but: Abby has been working on a book lately. You’d also know this if you read my late-March post, “Watching a book be born.”

Happy to announce that “Frugality For Depressives: Money-Saving Tips For Those Who Find Life A Little Harder” is here, and happier still to be giving away a couple of copies of the electronic version.

(Edited to add: Hannah at Unplanned Finance is also giving away a copy. Use the link to find out how to enter; the deadline is May 9.)

(Note: The above link is for the Kindle version. Anyone who wants an ePub or PDF version can check the ad on the right-hand side of this page. It’s the same price – $7.99 –  for all these editions.)

During her post-illness years of poverty and struggle, Abby looked for money advice but couldn’t find anything that worked. Personal finance blogs were popping up like mushrooms after a rain but they all said the same stuff over and over:

  • “Drink one less coffee a day and you’ll retire rich!” (Many days Abby was too sick to leave her apartment – and she doesn’t like coffee anyway.)
  • “Get a second job to help pay off debt!” (Depressives with chronic fatigue sometimes can’t even get a first job, let alone a second one.)
  • “All those toys you bought during the good times? Put them on Craigslist and watch your fortunes rise!” (It took her a year and a half to save up enough rewards points to get herself a basic MP3 player. Toys R Not her.)

She often saw a phrase I’ve come to loathe: “If I can do it, anyone can.” Gah. Basic money hacks do work for a lot of people, but they don’t work for everyone.

Abby tried – oh, how she tried. “Each failure drove the shame and despair deeper. Each new twist focused my mind on my inability to be the good frugal girl I was raised to be.”

[Sorry about that, kid.]

Since she couldn’t become a perfect frugalist, Abby decided to hack the hacks.

 


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Fairbanks haiku.

 thHeaded north today

Too early, but one must think:

Construction season.

 

Road breakfast first, though:

Eggs, spuds, bacon, pancakes and

Diet (duh) cola.

 

Clouds, gloom: Were we cursed?

Look! Denali lifts chador

Of cloud and smiles big.

 

(Who is Denali?

You knew her as McKinley.

But you knew nothing.)

 


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thIt begins: Yesterday I bought my first stocking stuffers.

They were in the clearance bin, as stocking stuffers often are: a trio of Crayola scented markers for 17 cents apiece. The markers will go to a flamboyant young relative who’s all about creativity; at age 9, the dude is using YouTube to learn how to knit an infinity scarf.

In years past I’ve hit post-holiday sales to buy the next year’s holiday gifts and even some items for the house. This year I’ve been curiously inert when it comes to bargain-hunting.

The Crayolas may have gotten me off my own mark, however, since I’ve begun to notice yard-sale signs. 

 


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thSpring means rebirth, transformation and beauty. How about translating that kind of positive energy to your professional and/or personal life?

The Thriver’s Edge: Seven Keys to Transform the Way You Live, Love and Lead,” by Dr. Donna Stoneham, might be just what you need to make this year your best ever.

Stoneham is a “transformational leadership expert” who’s spent three decades helping individuals, teams and entire organizations to “unleash their power to thrive.” She’s worked with non-profits and Fortune 1000 leaders alike to get to the bottom of the fears, negative beliefs or self-denigrating ideas that keep them from realizing their full potential.

That potential, by the way, can be happiness and peace — and you don’t have to be a captain of industry to take to heart the lessons from this book.

 


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GetAttachmentThumbnailOver at the Budgets Are Sexy blog, host J. Money shared a startling fact: He almost gave away his coin collection.

The mohawked numismatist is known throughout the personal finance blogosphere to be someone completely devoted to what he calls “tiny pieces of metal.” Yet he’s reflecting on whether such attachments are entirely healthy.

“That’s right – the guy who only has one main hobby left, and created an entire blog dedicated to these historic beauties, almost gave up collecting entirely,” he wrote in a post called “When it’s time to detach yourself from your things.”

The collection was “the last remaining ‘thing’ I owned that I was still overly attached to and didn’t want to be anymore.”

I get it. Marie Kondo and her “Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” is all the rage right now. The underlying theory is good: Get rid of what you don’t use/may never use/no longer matters.

But allow me to point out that fads come and fads go. Minimalism may be one of them, and joining in could mean shooting yourself in the frugals.



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