Quantcast
 

IMG_20150503_130130I saw “Moose: The Movie” again on Saturday, on the drive back from Fairbanks. The first time was at the world premiere of this goofy horror-film spoof, the brainchild of cartoonist Chad Carpenter, creator of the “Tundra” comic strip.

In the past I’ve given away “Tundra” books, playing cards and a calendar. Reader interest has always been high because Carpenter’s work is syndicated in some 600 newspapers worldwide. Not bad for a homegrown cartoonist.

Carpenter was on hand at the Saturday screening and was giving away “Tundra” 2016 calendars. In addition to signing the calendars he added a little moose drawing. Look to the left and you’ll see the result.

Enter to win and you may wind up owning the result.


read more

How to avoid takeout.

thYesterday I woke up with this phrase in my head: “Something about the bridge.” Not the conveyance type of bridge, but the kind in my mouth.

Unfortunately, my dentist appointment proved that my precognitive flash was correct. The X-rays showed decay in a place that can’t be fixed unless the dentist removes the cantilevered bridge (aka a “Maryland bridge”) to do it.

That bridge was on borrowed time anyway. It was installed 31 years ago. When I said as much, the dentist’s eyes widened. It’s had an impressive run, but time for it to go. And for a crown to be placed on that tooth.

My self-funded dental insurance covers only preventive work like X-rays and cleaning. The work needed will run a little over $1,200 if I pay by check. Which I will, of course.

My decidedly non-frugal reaction was to say, “Let’s go out to eat.” You can see that I wasn’t thinking clearly.


read more

th-1The typical U.S. resident will pony up big-time on or around May 10. According to a recent survey from the National Retail Federation, we’re planning to spend an average of $172.63 on things like brunch, jewelry, gift cards and, of course, flowers.

That’s about $10 more than we spent last year. It isn’t clear whether that’s due to an improvement in the economy of just plain old guilt.

Or maybe the things we want to give (more on that below) are pricier this year?

My mother died in 2003. I never came anywhere close to spending an adjusted-for-inflation $172.63 for a Mother’s Day gift. If I had, she would have raised the roof.

On the other hand, I did visit her whenever I could – and since I was coming from Alaska those were some pretty pricey tickets. Travel definitely averaged out to more than $172.63 per year, especially when I brought my daughter and/or then-husband along for the ride.


read more

thYesterday I used every clothespin we own to fill the line-on-a-pulley that DF put up last fall. The sun was out, the temperature was in the mild mid-40s and our laundry was going outside.

The comforter, blanket and pillows went outdoors, too. That’s something we do year-round because fresh air = wonderful sleeping. But right now we don’t hang things out until after 10 a.m., when cottonwood, aspen and willow pollen levels drop.

Although I developed seasonal allergies in my late 40s, I’m not complaining: Pollen in the air means spring is finally here. Real spring, not calendar spring.


read more

th-1Today I wrapped and deposited $16.50 worth of quarters, dimes and pennies from my piggy bank. Dropping all my change in there is just one of my savings challenges, i.e., a way to set a few dollars aside without too much pain.

Lately I’ve been enjoying another form of stealth savings: Digit, a personal finance app that automates withdrawals.

You link your account — some 2,500 banks and credit unions are currently set up for this — and the software figures out how your money comes in and goes out. It also figures out how much you can afford to spare, and every few days it sends money to an online bank account (Digit’s partners are Wells Fargo and BofI Federal Bank).

What interests me is the amount Digit has decided I can afford. Whereas my blogging colleague J. Money of Budgets Are Sexy reported total withdrawals of just under $200 the first month, my dealings with Digit started started small.

Very small. That first week Digit siphoned off just $7.46 – for a good reason.


read more

A coupon miracle.

Want to save 50% at the supermarket? Here's help.The last time I visited my daughter I lost my coupon holder, a black nylon wallet with pasteboard dividers. FLOUR/SUGAR. CRACKERS/SNAX/DESSERTS. DAIRY PRODUCTS. TOILETRIES. FROZEN FOODS.

I emptied my backpack and suitcase. Nothing. We took the place apart but couldn’t find it. Abby called the stores we’d visited. No luck.

This truly bummed me out, and not just because of the coupons it held. I’d had the holder for at least 25 years after ordering it from a Parade magazine ad, and it had seen a lot of hard use.


read more

thAnimation artist Chuck Jones, the guy who invented Pepe Le Pew and the Road Runner/Coyote binary, once noted the existence of a vast conspiracy to keep people from getting where they need to go. It’s called the Anti-Destination League, and it was out in force for me yesterday.

My to-do list contained eight errands when I set out at 1 p.m. When DF called me at 6 p.m. only four of the to-dos were to-done and I was nearly spitting with frustration.

Our conversation included something I could never have imagined I’d say: “It’s not as easy to buy a dongle as you might think.”


read more

thSavings.com recently gave away a batch of $50 Kohl’s gift cards. Last night the online coupon code website announced another prize opp.

This time it’s the Sears Spring Fashion Giveaway, and a grand’s worth of gift cards will be up for grabs.

You can’t win if you don’t enter. Why not give it a try?

Twenty people will be chosen at random to win $50 Sears cards. You can enter one time only between now and 11:59 p.m. EDT Saturday, April 11. Winners will be notified on April 14.

In addition, Savings.com is highlighting a one-day-only coupon code, good for 15 percent off already reduced spring fashions. The code is BUNNY, and it’s good April 8 only – in other words, you need to shop today.

I’ve already taken a peek over there and found something I could use.


read more

thI’m not a coffee drinker, but friends of mine are. That’s why I keep an open mind about the bean, and why I give away Starbucks cards fairly regularly.

Two more reasons I give them away:

  • They’re so darned easy to mail — envelope vs. box, and no need to have a non-flat-rate box weighed and postaged.
  • They’re enthusiastically welcomed. Next to movie gift cards and those TSA-friendly toiletries kits, the Starbucks GCs are my most popular giveaway.

“Easy” is particularly important to me right now. I’m keeping busy promoting my new business, including having to work out the bugs in the ordering platform and the accompanying blog, setting up a newsletter and writing a free download (“10 Proven Ways to Generate Blog Topics”) to give to those who sign up for that newsletter.


read more

thDuring a business-related trip to Texas last summer, I met up with a blogger who goes by the name “empressjuju” and blogs at (the) Vegas in Austin. Along with her husband we enjoyed a delightful regional brunch (think “breakfast tacos”) and talked about money and life.

Homeownership was definitely on their minds. But months went by and they kept discovering swell new restaurants and activities. Austin can do that to you.

This kind of overspending is insidious, she noted later, and it can feel oddly necessary because we’re all such busy people. In fact, her husband was inclined to think that it wasn’t really a problem.

The empress begged to differ. “How are we ever going to buy a house if we keep spending like this on food? We are eating our house!”


read more

thA couple of weeks back the doorbell rang but no one was there when DF answered. That is, he didn’t see anyone until he looked down. The solid part of the storm door had blocked his view of a small, sturdy youngster.

“I’m Orion, and I’m meeting my neighbors,” the boy announced.

Seems he was ringing doorbells up and down our cul-de-sac. Orion and DF chatted for a few minutes. Their conversation brought me up to the front of the house to listen in.

Orion is almost four years old and proud owner of the scooter lying at the foot of our driveway. He hoped we would come over and say “hi” to his mom some time.

Then he hopped on his scooter and kick-glided away, no doubt in search of more neighbors.


read more

th-1Some money experts come across as professional scolds who harangue us about the bad things we’ve done and the good things we haven’t done.

No wonder some people prefer to unload their money woes to friends. Even if our pals gently point out our goofs, at least they’re not telling us how stupid we are.

The problem is that not all friends will hold us accountable, either because they don’t want to hurt our feelings or they don’t know much about money themselves. Thus we run the risk of getting advice that’s well-intentioned but not really in our best interests.

Ever confess to having gone a little off the rails at the mall only to have your BFF blithely chirp, “Oh, well, it happens to all of us!” Or fret about how you shouldn’t have gotten such an expensive car and have some other dude say, “Aw, come on! Live a little!”

Beverly Harzog won’t tell you anything like that. Instead, she’ll be the friend everyone should have: One who cares enough to convince you to get control of your spending and who offers to stand by you every step of the way.

Harzog recently released a new book, “The Debt Escape Plan,” and it’s up for grabs in this week’s giveaway.


read more