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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thEveryone complains about the boredom and the bad coffee. But have you ever thought about the potential hit to your finances?

The folks over at NerdWallet (I do love that name) sure have. According to “The cost of jury duty,” some 32 million people are called each year. Only about one-eighth of those actually serve – and those who do may wind up in the hole.

The article notes that in five major cities – Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York and Seattle – jurors earning minimum wage will lose anywhere from about $16 to $78 per day. That’s because companies generally have the option of not paying employees for days spent on jury duty.

Obviously lots of folks who get called are making more than minimum wage. If that’s the case they might have the financial resources to withstand the hit. But maybe they don’t, especially if they live in high cost-of-living areas or are the only people in their households who work.

Bonus: Imagine earning, say, $25 an hour ($200 gross) and seeing your income drop down to as little as $10 a day, which is what Seattle jurors earn. Ask me how I know.


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31bj+FtE-zLReaction is always enthusiastic whenever I give away one of the “Tundra” comic strip collections. Why shouldn’t it be? Chad Carpenter is a very funny guy.

He’s also resourceful, having come up with an extremely portable and dual-use version of his best-selling anthologies: “Tundra” playing cards. (Insert your own “playing with a full deck” joke here.)

A set of the playing cards are up for grabs this week. As the artist suggests, use these for a poker game and see if anyone at the table can keep a straight face.


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ImageProxyRegular readers know that I’m a fan of the Swagbucks rewards program, which randomly awards points (“Swag Bucks”) for searches and also gives out rewards for watching videos, playing games, shopping and other activities.

As of March 2 the rewards redemption process will morph slightly – a change I believe is to the good.


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thI’m going to be in Phoenix for about a week starting midday Feb. 16. Although my daughter and I have several jaunts planned, we’re also interested in having a blogger and/or reader meet-up.

Anybody interested?

It would almost certainly take place after the workday ends at 5 p.m. or so, although we’d certain push it further if other folks work later. We know that several other PF bloggers live in Phoenix, but are there other writers, too? And would readers be interested in hanging out with us?


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thThat is, it will cost more if you’re an “average” consumer. According to the National Retail Federation, the tab will run $142.31.

That’s $8.40 more than last year, and a lot more than we plan to shell out. How about you?


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A mess of beans.

th-1The temperature is about five below zero, which isn’t unusual for an Anchorage winter. Even though we’re hard by Cook Inlet, it still gets chilly in the winter.

This hasn’t been an ordinary winter, though. We’ve had hardly any snow and temperatures in the 30s and even the low 40s, which is just against God. When it finally started snowing the other day even non-skiers like me were greatly relieved.

But apparently my blood has thinned, because as the thermometer settled toward the zero mark I was unreasonably cold. Wool socks weren’t keeping my feet warm. A fleece layer was necessary even in the car. I considered pulling out the long johns and maybe even zipping my coat.

Clearly what was needed was a mess of beans.


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thThe last movie-based giveaway drew 135 entries. That shouldn’t have surprised me, because relatively few people would turn down a free movie ticket. I’d like to win a free movie ticket myself.

But this week it’s your turn, not mine. The giveaway prize is a $10 card to AMC Theatres.

Think of it: At least one (and maybe more than one) movie you don’t have to pay to see. Just swipe that card and enter your local palace of dreams.


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thRegular readers already know about my daughter’s blog, I Pick Up Pennies. They probably also know about her 19th year, when she nearly died from a rare neurological disease.

Since then Abby has gone through a lot of physical and psychological torment. She spent a couple of years on disability due to a lack of jobs that meshed with the residual effects of Guillain-Barre syndrome. (The fact that she found not her “dream” job but the World’s Best Boss is miraculous.) Post-traumatic stress disorder and a mental health issue that’s finally been diagnosed as Bipolar II have made it hard to get through some days.

Her husband lost his job shortly before the wedding, and his own health issues have worsened to the point where he is now on disability. The two of them bought a house before they were really ready (i.e., before they had a big enough down payment) in order to take in his bankrupt parents.

A careless driver hit them and totaled the car that was supposed to have lasted them another four or five years. Home, car and other issues have continued to pop up (almost $17,000 in 2014 alone). In the past few years she has endured five miscarriages and is considering whether or not to try again.

So how’s she handling all this? With an astonishing perspective, if her current blog post is any indication.


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thWhat were you spending on gasoline six months ago? Nationwide, the cost of gasoline dropped for more than three months in a row starting in late September 2014.

According to the American Automobile Association, we’re paying an average $1.11 per gallon less than this time last year.

A question for long-haul commuters and casual drivers alike: Where’s that money now?

How to save money from falling gas prices,” my recent post on Get Rich Slowly, suggests that you don’t let this opportunity slip away.


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th-1Recently at the recycling center I found a few Box Tops For Education coupons in the mixed-paper bin. As I walked back toward my vehicle a woman rolled down her window and said, “Why are you going through the garbage?”

I told her I was looking for Box Tops For Education for my nephews’ schools. Also that I prefer to think of it as mixed paper.

The woman frowned. “Well, I don’t like it. Some of the stuff we throw in there is kind of sensitive. Private.”

Um. What?

It took me a couple of seconds to form a coherent response. “You should be shredding that stuff! If you throw personal information away without cutting it up you could have your identity stolen.”

She sniffed audibly, then drove off.

Readers: Do you ever throw away things like bank or credit card statements or health insurance info? If so, please stop it. Right now.


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