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thSolstice isn’t until June 20, but I think it’s hot enough in some places to count as summer. Cold drinks are a fine antidote to heat and humidity, and Starbucks cards are always popular as giveaways. QED.

In addition, this is a fairly easy prize for me to mail from out of town. Yep, I’m on the road again — but this time in Alaska.

Specifically, I’m attending the 24th annual Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Valdez (that’s pronounced val-DEEZ, incidentally). For the next week I’ll be attending classes and staged readings, including a full-length work by my BFF Linda B, “The Cooter Creek Passion Play.”

 


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thWho knew the amount of work it takes to self-publish a book?!? Answer: Everyone who’s already done it or is working on it now.

I’m firmly in the latter camp. About 10 days ago I finished writing and editing “Your Playbook For Tough Times.” Sort of.

Even as I rejoiced that the work was done (a butt dance may or may not have been involved), I felt a bit uneasy. Within a day or two my subconscious was nagging: “Aren’t a couple of those chapters a little bloated?”

No! Shut up! It’s done and it looks GREAT!

In fact, I was so sure it was done that I sent it off to a few people who’d offered to read/critique the thing. And then last Saturday evening I sat down to take “just a quick look” at the manuscript. You can guess what happened next.

 


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thTell me: What is it you plan to do with your 30 wild and precious extra years?

Right now a man can expect to live to at least age 72 and possibly as long as 87; for women, the numbers are 79 and almost 89. (Hint: It helps if you’re rich.)

Back in 1916, the average life expectancy for men was 49.6 years and for women 54.3 years.

According to a new study from Allianz Life, most of us (93 percent) are excited about the fact that we’re living three decades longer than our ancestors did.

Among the top plans for those years are “travel extensively” (56 percent) and “live in a different place” (35 percent). Most interesting to me is the fact that almost one-quarter of those surveyed say they would “take more risks in life.”

In part, that’s because they’re steeped in remorse about the road(s) not taken.

 


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thI drove a friend to an outpatient procedure today. The appointment was for 1 p.m. but we left at 11:15 a.m., which timing was awkward: It was too early for me to have lunch and the procedure didn’t take place until 1:30 p.m.

Even if it hadn’t been too early, eating in front of someone who’d been fasting since midnight would have been cruel.

Even though I’d had oatmeal and homemade yogurt before the appointment, I was hungry long before it was over. Fortunately, I was also prepared.

 


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thI’ve noticed a lot of summer blooms lately. And by “blooms,” I mean “yard-sale signs.”

The hand-lettered, brightly colored notices are tacked to utility poles, taped to trees (really?) or stapled to big boxes that have rocks inside to keep them from blowing away.

Narrowly missed attending a couple of these this morning. My niece e-mailed to see if I’d be interested, but we were entertaining an unexpected guest and then working in the garden, so I didn’t get online until mid-afternoon.

In addition to her e-invite I saw “Tag sales: Don’t buy the fantasy,” a Time magazine column written by my former MSN Money colleague M.P. Dunleavey. It’s a darned amusing (and darned true) story of the ways we sometimes lose our minds in the face of a bargain.

Even a bargain we don’t need. Especially a bargain we don’t need.

 


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thWhen I gave away e-copies of “Frugality For Depressives: Money-Saving Tips For Those Who Find Life A Little Harder,” some of my readers (and my daughter’s, too) said they were waiting for the physical edition. Either they don’t have e-readers or they, like me, prefer to hold a book in their hands.

I can help with that. The trade paperback edition of the book is now available, and I’m giving away three copies.

Naturally a mom would think her kid’s book is splendid. But I’m not the only one who thinks the book can help depressives and the chronically ill.

 


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thThe first was a misrepresentation and the other a lie of omission. Since May 12 I’ve been on the East Coast, but I couldn’t tell my dad or my readers. To do so would have ruined the surprise 80th birthday party we’d planned.

When he recently asked if I’d be coming back East any time soon, I prevaricated. Since he reads my blog and follows me on Facebook, I couldn’t suggest meet-ups with Surviving & Thriving readers in Manhattan or South Jersey. What, and ruin the surprise?

And it was a surprise, especially since his 80th natal day took place back in March.

 


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th-2Dear Members of the Class of 2016,

You’ve gotten that diploma and landed a job – maybe even your dream job. Now that your career has officially begun, it’s time to think about how it will end.

Even though the ink is barely dry on your new business cards, you need to focus on retirement – specifically, on the need to save for it either through the workplace or on your own. Retirement is decades away but your new best friend, compound interest, is here right now.

Some financial experts say you need $1 million or more for your old age. The median starting salary for the class of 2014 was $45,478, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Your mileage may vary, of course. If you majored in something like early childhood education, music or communications your paycheck is more likely to be in the $31,500 to $39,800 range. Or maybe you haven’t landed the right job just yet and are making do with retail or other gigs.

Scary, huh? But you have a secret weapon: Time.

 


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A pullet surprise.

thMonths and months ago I wrote a post called “Ask me (almost) anything.” Among other things, it invited readers to send questions that I might (or might not) answer.

The questions came in, and remained unanswered. Sorry ’bout that.

Also sorry about maintaining radio silence since May 6. My book project plus an issue to be explained later have kept me from doing any writing for fun.

Today I’ll kill two birds with one stone (plus one really unappetizing picture).

 


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thGot travel plans for Memorial Day weekend? This week’s giveaway will make your trip through security a lot more affordable.

These little bags are always hugely popular, and for good reason: Who wants to pay $1.29 for the one-ounce tube of toothpaste that will get you and your carry-on bag through security?

But toothpaste isn’t the only thing in this bag. Here’s what the winner will take on his/her next trip:

 


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thWant a free ticket to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Art and Design, the Contemporary Jewish Museum or the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts?

You might have that ticket already, if you use a Bank of America/Merrill Lynch credit or debit card, or any card with the BofA logo. The Museums On Us program means gratis admission to 150 museums in 33 states and the District of Columbia.

Bring along that bank card and a photo ID and you’ll get in without paying on the first full weekend each month. Usually that’s Saturday-only, but not always. This year the first full weekend happens to coincide with Mother’s Day. If mom has a card, she’s in; if you have a card but she doesn’t, you’ll wind up paying for one instead of two.

The word “museums” may connote the fine arts. But old still-lifes aren’t the only things that you can see for free.

 


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thRecently I mentioned that I was working on a book and that I planned to take DF’s advice to provide periodic progress reports. The theory is that this will keep me from slacking.

The book’s focus, smart money hacks during tough times, is pretty familiar territory. I’ve been writing about this since January 2007 when my first post, “Surviving and thriving on $12,000 a year,” went up on MSN Money.

But “familiar” doesn’t mean “simple to achieve.” For my first writing update all I can say is, “It’s complicated.”

 


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