thAnimation artist Chuck Jones, the guy who invented Pepe Le Pew and the Road Runner/Coyote binary, once noted the existence of a vast conspiracy to keep people from getting where they need to go. It’s called the Anti-Destination League, and it was out in force for me yesterday.

My to-do list contained eight errands when I set out at 1 p.m. When DF called me at 6 p.m. only four of the to-dos were to-done and I was nearly spitting with frustration.

Our conversation included something I could never have imagined I’d say: “It’s not as easy to buy a dongle as you might think.”


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thSavings.com recently gave away a batch of $50 Kohl’s gift cards. Last night the online coupon code website announced another prize opp.

This time it’s the Sears Spring Fashion Giveaway, and a grand’s worth of gift cards will be up for grabs.

You can’t win if you don’t enter. Why not give it a try?

Twenty people will be chosen at random to win $50 Sears cards. You can enter one time only between now and 11:59 p.m. EDT Saturday, April 11. Winners will be notified on April 14.

In addition, Savings.com is highlighting a one-day-only coupon code, good for 15 percent off already reduced spring fashions. The code is BUNNY, and it’s good April 8 only – in other words, you need to shop today.

I’ve already taken a peek over there and found something I could use.


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thI’m not a coffee drinker, but friends of mine are. That’s why I keep an open mind about the bean, and why I give away Starbucks cards fairly regularly.

Two more reasons I give them away:

  • They’re so darned easy to mail — envelope vs. box, and no need to have a non-flat-rate box weighed and postaged.
  • They’re enthusiastically welcomed. Next to movie gift cards and those TSA-friendly toiletries kits, the Starbucks GCs are my most popular giveaway.

“Easy” is particularly important to me right now. I’m keeping busy promoting my new business, including having to work out the bugs in the ordering platform and the accompanying blog, setting up a newsletter and writing a free download (“10 Proven Ways to Generate Blog Topics”) to give to those who sign up for that newsletter.


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thDuring a business-related trip to Texas last summer, I met up with a blogger who goes by the name “empressjuju” and blogs at (the) Vegas in Austin. Along with her husband we enjoyed a delightful regional brunch (think “breakfast tacos”) and talked about money and life.

Homeownership was definitely on their minds. But months went by and they kept discovering swell new restaurants and activities. Austin can do that to you.

This kind of overspending is insidious, she noted later, and it can feel oddly necessary because we’re all such busy people. In fact, her husband was inclined to think that it wasn’t really a problem.

The empress begged to differ. “How are we ever going to buy a house if we keep spending like this on food? We are eating our house!”


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thA couple of weeks back the doorbell rang but no one was there when DF answered. That is, he didn’t see anyone until he looked down. The solid part of the storm door had blocked his view of a small, sturdy youngster.

“I’m Orion, and I’m meeting my neighbors,” the boy announced.

Seems he was ringing doorbells up and down our cul-de-sac. Orion and DF chatted for a few minutes. Their conversation brought me up to the front of the house to listen in.

Orion is almost four years old and proud owner of the scooter lying at the foot of our driveway. He hoped we would come over and say “hi” to his mom some time.

Then he hopped on his scooter and kick-glided away, no doubt in search of more neighbors.


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th-1Some money experts come across as professional scolds who harangue us about the bad things we’ve done and the good things we haven’t done.

No wonder some people prefer to unload their money woes to friends. Even if our pals gently point out our goofs, at least they’re not telling us how stupid we are.

The problem is that not all friends will hold us accountable, either because they don’t want to hurt our feelings or they don’t know much about money themselves. Thus we run the risk of getting advice that’s well-intentioned but not really in our best interests.

Ever confess to having gone a little off the rails at the mall only to have your BFF blithely chirp, “Oh, well, it happens to all of us!” Or fret about how you shouldn’t have gotten such an expensive car and have some other dude say, “Aw, come on! Live a little!”

Beverly Harzog won’t tell you anything like that. Instead, she’ll be the friend everyone should have: One who cares enough to convince you to get control of your spending and who offers to stand by you every step of the way.

Harzog recently released a new book, “The Debt Escape Plan,” and it’s up for grabs in this week’s giveaway.


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thToday I got my first paycheck since Nov. 29. At times this self-employment thing is for the birds.

My tax guy suggested I pay myself four times a year instead of monthly. It makes the paperwork easier, but part of me believes the quarterly system stinks.

That would be the part that’s been monitoring the checkbook balance – and suffering periodic panic attacks – since Thanksgiving.

Yet another part of me is glad that I’m not collecting 12 paychecks a year. The quarterly payouts help me keep my frugal edge.


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KohlsSpring Giveaway

Every so often Savings.com gives things away through its affiliates, the DealPros. I’m happy to give readers a chance at the latest promotion: a $50 Kohl’s gift card.

Twenty of these cards will be given away. Here’s how to enter to be one of the winners.


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thFrequent flier miles? Trading in hotel loyalty points? Those all work. So do the tips I offer in a guest post called “Destinations on a dime: 10 tips that will change your wandering ways,” a guest post over on The Real Deal, the house blog at Retail Me Not.

Anyone who’s read me knows that I’m more likely to go for hostels, museum reciprocity, buddy passes public transit and the Megabus.

Rewards programs, too; in fact, I recently cashed in points from a rewards credit card to get a Buffalo Wild Wings gift card for my trip to Phoenix next month (more on that in a minute), and will also cash in Swagbucks points for gift cards to Red Robin and Cracker Barrel. That way I can treat my daughter and son-in-law to a few meals out. After all, they’re getting me to and from the airport.

What else have I been writing lately? So glad you asked.


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th-1The Academy Awards have come and gone. Seen the prize-winners yet?

The summer movie season is nearly here. Got your must-see list going? (I’m looking at you, “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Might even spring for a midnight screening.)

Ticket prices are a bummer, but I can help. That is, I can help if you live near an AMC theater and win this week’s giveaway. I can even offer you something to drink.


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thCohabit in haste, repent in poverty. Or at least in aggravation, according to a recent survey from Rent.com.

“How finances will be divided” is the top issue that survey participants wished they’d talked about before sharing space. What a surprise.

“He/she doesn’t pay enough of our expenses” is a recurring theme in advice columns and, I’d bet, in couples’ counseling offices. If I had one suggestion to anyone planning to move in together, it would be “talk about money – and keep talking.”


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Eaters of pie.

thToday being Pi Day I joined the who-knows-how-many folks across the country (and maybe around the world) celebrating mathematics through pastry.

I rarely jump on bandwagons, probably because so few involve pies.

What I should have done was kick back with a book, given how hard I’ve been working on my just-launched writing course. Yet every time I bake a pie I think, “Damn, this is good! Why don’t I do this more often?”

Probably because I’m busy with other things, or because desserts like rice or tapioca pudding are so much simpler. However, since our springlike weather (temps in the 30s) disappeared and we’re back to zero or thereabouts, I decided a little comfort baking was in order.


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