thAs you may have noticed, I haven’t been doing a lot of in-depth writing lately. In part that’s because I was ill for a while and then spent eight days visiting my daughter.

The real reason, though, is that I’m doing on a personal project that’s taking most of my attention. Not quite ready to talk about what I’m working on, except to say this: It’s neither a book nor a baby.


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thThat’s not right now, thank goodness. Current temps are in the mid-70s and the sun is benevolent rather than punishing. Flowers are blooming and the sky is blue and generally cloudless.

The grass is actually alive, vs. brown and spotted with swatches of gray snow mold (which is what we’ll see in Anchorage once our disappointing snowfall melts away).

Come March or April the Phoenix metro area will turn into Satan’s Fry Daddy and continue to sizzle until autumn. I expect those nice green lawns will sunburn themselves into dormancy pretty quickly. For the moment, however, I understand why so many people want to visit the place in the winter.

Walking around in shirtsleeves, not worrying about slipping on ice, feeling a breeze that doesn’t have teeth in it – I so wish that DF were here to enjoy it with me. Maybe when we retire we’ll become like so many other Alaska snowbirds and escape the Last Frontier for a month or so each winter. (No longer than that, probably, since he likes to ski.)


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thLast year a line leapt out at me from, I believe, an MSN Money article: “Saving is the new sexy.”

I read it out loud to DF. His response: “It’s the old sexy as far as I’m concerned.”

That tickled me so much that I wrote both statements on a piece of scrap paper and taped it to my work station. Sooner or later, I knew, I’d be writing about this.

Finally I am, thanks to a survey from Ally Bank. It found that three out of four people believe it’s important for mates to share a similar financial philosophy. And the most appealing financial habit?


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imagesI put a card on DF’s coffee cup this morning, even though we’d agreed to opt out of the Valentine’s Day hoopla.

“It’s a frugal card,” I assured him. “Hallmark sent it to me.”

Seriously: I’m a member of the company’s Gold Crown loyalty programs, and Hallmark recently mailed both a love-you card and a birthday card. I was supposed to have had them scanned at the store to earn extra points, but I keep forgetting to do that.

After two years of living together, DF and I still “delight in each other’s company,” as he puts it.

Do we ever. Whenever he walks into the room my heart still does a funny little dance, not unlike the kind you see in “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”


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thThe folks at H&R Block recently mailed out a couple of logo items for the 2014 tax season. Naturally I just had to turn mine into a giveaway – adding, of course, a few artistic touches of my own.

There’s a particularly high snafu potential this year due to the Affordable Care Act. Too, there was the customer service misstep by Intuit, which made major changes to the Deluxe version of its popular TurboTax software in a way some customers didn’t like. (H&R Block responded with an offer of a free replacement product; follow the link for details.)

So in advance of any issues you may or may not have, you should enter to win the 2014 Tax Season Survival Kit. It includes:


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thIn honor of Valentine’s Day, a shout-out to all engaged couples: You don’t have to spend the alleged “average” of $30,000 on your nuptials.

In fact, I think it’s smart to consider what you can afford – on your own or with help from family – vs. what wedding planners are so eager to sell to you.

Holly Johnson of Get Rich Slowly agrees with me. “Thirty Gs is a lot of money to everyone I know, and the last thing most of us want is to start a new marriage off with tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt,” she said in an article called “Wedding savings accounts: How I saved for my wedding.”

Johnson’s wedding was low-key, with a total outlay of about $3,000. And guess what? They’re just as married as folks who plan to spend 10 times that amount.


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i-heart-macys

I figured that would get your attention. The crew at Savings.com, which recently offered a chance at a Sony portable sound system, is at it once more: This time, they’re handing out 20 of those gift cards.

I’d love it if one (or more!) of my readers could win. You can try once a day from now through 11:59 p.m. EST Sunday, Feb. 15.


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thSince last Thursday I’ve eaten very little: toast, dabs of oatmeal, a cup of tomato soup, hard-boiled eggs, a bit of yogurt. In part that’s because nothing tastes good when you’re sick. But it’s also because prolonged coughing spells left my abdominal muscles so strained I frequently felt queasy.

All I could manage this morning was some cocoa, and nothing after that until almost 2 p.m. At that time I knew I should eat something, but what? More oatmeal? Yum.

That’s when I saw the German Butterball spuds DF had brought up from the basement storage. My mind went instantly to mashed potatoes with plenty of butter and salt and pepper.


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Sick.

thJust a heads-up that my head is stopped up and thus my writing may stop dead, at last for a while. I have the crud that’s going around: a serious, wracking cough, some sinus involvement (but no fever) and extreme weariness.

The cough hits me like a fungo bat between the eyes (yay sinus involvement), and it’s strained my torso muscles so much that it hurts to get out of bed.

I’m acutely aware that my Aunt Elna used to fracture her ribs by coughing too hard. Really, really don’t want to do that.


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10885543_664298643682852_7686765536487565737_nLast night DF and I went out to listen to live music from sax artist Rick Zelinsky and Melissa “Jazzmom” Fischer. Sadly, some people were once again yammering through jazz night but they sat far enough away that we could enjoy the evening.

The two performers just released a new CD called “Alone Together.” During intermission I bought a copy and had both of them sign it so that I can give it away this week.


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thBloggers and readers in the Phoenix area: Wanna talk about money, midlife, millennials or ‘most anything else? Hope you can attend a meet-up on Saturday, Feb. 21.

The do will be hosted by me and my daughter, who blogs at I Pick Up Pennies. When I say “hosted,” what I mean is that we’ll be there and we’ll save you some seats.


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soundsofsony-giveawayJust in time for the 57th annual Grammy Awards, the folks at Savings.com are giving away a trio of Sony portable party systems with Bluetooth and NFC.

It would be great if all three went to readers of Surviving and Thriving. Failing that, even one winner would do.

You have until 11:59 p.m. EST Saturday, Feb. 7 to try.


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