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th-1More than half of U.S. consumers (mistakenly) believe that carrying credit card balances will help improve their credit scores.

It won’t. It won’t. It won’t!

Yet according to the 2016 Capital One Credit Confidence Study, 52 percent of us still think it will. The study also mentioned a new (to me) credit score myth, one that’s believed by about the same number of people.

 


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thI’m heading to Phoenix for the holidays. Wanna have coffee?

Usually I try to organize a meet-up whenever I visit my daughter. This time around I plan two such get-togethers:

Wednesday, Dec. 28, from 9:30 a.m. to noon

Saturday, Dec. 31, from noon to 3 p.m.

(Note: Originally I’d said “9 a.m. to noon.” But that was before I realized/remembered that the restaurant doesn’t open until half an hour after that. D’oh!)

Yep, both times can be awkward: the Wednesday one because working folk may not be able to make it, and the Saturday one because New Year’s Eve. Still, I can offer two good reasons to be there.

 


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thMy pay-as-you-go flip phone regularly receives calls from numbers I don’t recognize. For a while I’d pick up any that began with 206 or 425; having lived in Seattle for eight years I figured it might be an old acquaintance or former classmate.

Each time, though, it was a robonotification about a great deal on a credit card, vacation or something else I didn’t need. Nowadays I don’t pick up, and guess what? Those unknown callers never leave messages!

I’m not alone in feeling pestered. Phone-spam victims received an average of 118 sales-pitchy or downright fraudulent calls this year, according to a new study from Hiya, a free caller ID/call-blocker app.

And there’s no place like your phone for holiday fraud. Seasonal scams are up by 113 percent over last year, the study notes.

Among them:

 


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thSome people are into experiences rather than gifts. Physical presents take up space and need to be dusted, whereas a massage or a theater ticket is a one-and-done event.

I suggest that a personal finance book is both a gift and an experience. Sure, it takes up a little space – but it can lead to life-altering changes and literal enrichment. And if you get the Kindle or PDF version, it doesn’t take up any room in your domicile.

When you give the gift of personal finance, you’re giving people tools that can get them out of current money troubles and/or help them build the lives they want. Doesn’t that beat the heck out of a scented candle or a cheese log?

 


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thPlanning to visit family and/or friends later this month? An app-based “shipping community” called Roadie could help you make the trip more profitable, or at least help pay for gas and tolls.

This app-based “shipping community” currently has more than 25,000 drivers in all 50 states. The premise is pretty simple: You sign up as a driver and wait to see if anybody wants you to deliver something to where you’re going.

Kind of like Uber or Lyft, except that drivers are transporting cargo rather than people.

How much can you earn? A surprising amount, actually.

 


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thSorry to have maintained radio silence lately. In the past week I’ve had one of those not-terribly-serious yet still life-sucking viruses.

The sinus-y kind that makes your head ache and your nose and eyes itch. The throat-y kind that makes it unpleasant even to sip water. The malaise-y kind that makes you want to lie down a lot, except that you can’t really get comfortable.

Blech.

Since during that time I’ve also been writing for pay and working on the sequel to “Your Playbook For Tough Times,” I haven’t had the brainwidth to come up with something thrilling for this blog.

However, I do have a few things to share. To wit:

 


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thGray Thursday is tomorrow and Black Friday is the day after that. Anyone without a specific plan runs the risk of blowing the budget and/or lying about it.

Ho, ho, no.

According to a survey from VitalSmarts, eight out of 10 people overdo it on Black Friday and 56 percent have a hard time talking about holiday spending with their spouses/partners.

Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield, who founded the corporate training company, cite these common tactics for avoiding the discussion:

 


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thThis week you have a chance to win one of three copies of my book, and the opportunity for a free preview.

First, the giveaway: The lovely and talented J. Money, of Budgets Are Sexy and Rockstar Finance fame, is giving away three copies of “Your Playbook For Tough Times: Living Large On Small Change, For The Short Term Or The Long Haul.”

He’s doing this in three different places:

 


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The scent of home.

thMy partner treasures memories of visiting his grandmother, whose home smelled delicious. That’s why DF likes to have the scent of cookies baking when his granddaughter comes to visit. He wants her memories to be quite literally as sweet as his.

For the past two days our home has been grandchild-free but has smelled delicious nonetheless. We roasted a small turkey and canned most of it, simmered the bones for stock, cooked down the contents of a boiling bag, made a batch of zucchini cookies* for me to take to the potluck that precedes “The Walking Dead” at a local bar** and baked a ham (much of which DF parceled into bags for the freezer).

I’ve needed both the figurative and literal warmth of such a setting, since the light is going away, the temperature has been in the low teens, and the election season left me exhausted and depressed. Being in a warm, deliciously scented place with a man whom I adore has been an absolute tonic.

 


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The divine up-yours.

th(In honor of Throwback Thursday and the recent election, I’m putting this piece — originally published Nov. 3, 2010 — back out there.)

Last summer a relative told me that the only way to “protect” our border would be to allow the Border Patrol to shoot to kill. This eventually resulted in my writing an essay called “Who would Jesus strafe?

Initially, though, it resulted in disbelief and sorrow. I cried as I drove away because his heart was so hard and so bitter.

I needed to do something to cleanse myself of that kind of hatred. And that’s when I came up with my evil plan:

 


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Yep, holiday posts two days in a row and it’s not even Black Friday. Before you regard me as part of the problem, let me say that:

I always preach intentional spending during the holidays, and

I regularly suggest ways to spend intentionally, such as using cash-back shopping sites, buying early and paying with discounted gift cards.

Today I’m talking about a fourth intentional-spending category: rewards programs. In this case, that’s shopping through the Swagbucks rewards website.

Right now Swagbucks is offering heightened rewards for buying décor, gifts, special foods, airline tickets and other holiday-related items. A few examples of points (SBs) per dollar spent:


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thI’ve been getting a bunch of holiday-themed press info lately: holiday spending, holiday hassles, holiday tips. Obviously I need to share it with readers.

Here’s a time-sensitive example: Erin Chase of the Grocery Budget Makeover website suggests that you might not want to shop for your Thanksgiving meal just yet.

Sure, all those displays look tempting and “sale” prices are being trumpeted. But they might not be the best prices of the season.

 


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