th-1When I started Surviving and Thriving back in 2010 my life was very, very different. I’d recently gotten a university degree (at age 52 – better late than really late) and was making a living as a full-time writer for MSN Money plus an every-other-week staff writer at Get Rich Slowly. I freelanced for other publications as well, and traveled a lot.

Now I live in Anchorage, Alaska with the love of my life and am back to freelancing full-time because MSN Money fired all its writers on the same day back in autumn 2013.

Earlier this year I started an online course called Write A Blog People Will Read* and also hung out my shingle as a writing coach.

Tired? You bet.

Grateful? Indescribably so.

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thA whole lot of U.S. residents are scared of outliving their money. According to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, 57 percent of clients called it their biggest money fear.

That doesn’t surprise me. Although nearly 8 in 10 full-time workers have some money for retirement, 28 percent of them report that the total value of household savings and investments is less than $1,000 (not including primary residence and defined benefit plans).

Certainly I’ve had my own share of bag-lady dreams, so this topic really resonated when I researched it for a NerdWallet article called “7 steps to deal with our No. 1 money fear.”

Funding a retirement plan can seem daunting, but it’s not something you can put off. Even if your future is decades away, your new best friend compound interest is here right now.


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th-1We’re in a subzero cold snap that should last at least a few more days. The temperature was eight below when I got up and managed to make it only four degrees above the zero-mark before shivering its  way back down the thermometer.

But I don’t care (much), because the house smells so good.

After DF had his lunch he filled the five-quart West Bend slow cooker with the contents of the boiling bag, some vegetable cooking water from the freezer and the water left from last night’s boiled potatoes.

(That last included little bits of spud because I got distracted and let them boil perhaps a bit too long.)

This time around the boiling bag contained carrot tops, apple cores, the tough ends of romaine leaves, onion skins, potato peelings and a handful of very small, very green tomatoes from the greenhouse project. Although all of the bigger tomatoes and some of the smaller ones eventually turned red after we brought them indoors, the little ones were stubbornly bright-green and beginning to soften. Thus we sacrificed them to the soup and are already dreaming of next spring.


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sev_logo_tileBack in 2000, Scott Jordan got frustrated when trying to mix two of his favorite things: travel and tech. So he created what he called the “pocket revolution,” i.e., a line of clothing that would organize and protect his gadgets while leaving them easily accessible on the road.

Since then he’s sold more than 10 million pockets, in the form of “tech-enabled” clothing for men and women – everything from underpants to hoodies. Multiple pockets, some of them completely hidden, protect your gadgets, cash and other valuables.

Just for giggles and grins, here’s a video of best-selling author Amy Tan showing what she keeps in her SCOTTeVEST clothing:

The garment is a veritable clown car, isn’t it?

When a representative from SCOTTeVEST contacted me to offer a couple of samples, I jumped at the chance – and one reader will win two great-looking, comfortable and practical garments.


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thSo often we encounter lackluster, slipshod or outright lousy customer service. Not today, though.

I’ve had an AT&T Universal Mastercard since 1992. One of the things I appreciate is its connection to the Citi Thank You Rewards program. Since the holidays are approaching I checked today to see if I had enough points for a specific gift for my daughter and son-in-law.

Turned out that I needed 14,000 points for the item. I had 12,585 with 1,226 more points waiting to be credited on Nov. 21. In other words, I was 189 points short and the next batch wouldn’t hit my account until Dec. 21 — a little late for ordering the present.

I said, “Oh, well, I’ll give an IOU for the gift and order it on Dec. 22, then. Thanks anyway.”

The customer service rep said, “Let me talk to my supervisor.”


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thNorth Carolina photographer Eric Pickersgill was in a café when a family’s non-togetherness spooked him deeply.

The father and two daughters were on their phones while the mother looked out the window, seeming “sad and alone in the company of her closest family.” Ultimately she gave in and took out her own phone.

From this Pickersgill found the inspiration for a photo series called “Removed,” a series of pictures that were semi-staged, yet all too real. Pickersgill would ask device-users to hold their poses while he removed the tablets and cell phones from their grasp.

The result is, well, the same sort of thing we see all the time in public places: People ignoring everything around them to fixate on handheld pixel-makers. But its static nature – men, women and children staring blankly into empty space – makes the exhibit deeply unsettling.

A few examples:


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