th 1 How secure is your identity?Here’s a startling stat: Nearly one in three persons surveyed by Experian believe they’re not at risk of identity theft because “thieves only want wealthy people’s identities.”

Wrong. It’s not how much money you make, but rather how much cybercrooks could make from you. 

“Identity thieves use data as their commodity, selling it to the highest bidder or for personal gain, so it’s important for consumers to protect their personal information,” says Becky Frost, senior manager of consumer education for Experian’s ProtectMyID.

Put another way: My long-unemployed mother was a victim of identity theft, and another relative who is self-employed had to get a credit freeze after someone tried opening credit cards in his name.

Both cases seem to have stemmed from credit-card applications filched from mailboxes. The bigger risk these days is cybercrime, if the Experian survey is any indication. 


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th2 150x150 Talkeetna in December: Join us!Once again the Talkeetna Bachelors Auction and Wilderness Woman Competition is approaching — and once again, Linda B. and I have rented the entire top floor of the Latitude 62 hotel and restaurant.

We’re lining up some other wild wimmen to accompany us, but there’s always room for a few more. Why not make this the year that you throw caution (and possibly good sense) to the winds and join us?

The actual event is Saturday, Dec. 6, but we always go up on Friday afternoon. This year the bachelors of Talkeetna have an actual theme for the party, along the lines of the Roaring ’20s/Great Gatsby/Talkeetna Speakeasy. “We haven’t settled on a title, but you get the idea,” said my e-mailed invitation.

“Dress the part if you’d like, or come as you are. We will take your donation no matter what you’re wearing.”


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th9 150x150 Change your clock, check your finances.Every autumn we’re urged to change the batteries in our smoke detectors when we change our clocks back to Standard Time. Those batteries might be just fine, but why take a chance?

I propose another ritual, one that should be observed at both the spring-forward and fall-back time changes: Checking in with your personal financial goals.

Some people are organized enough to revisit their PF wish lists regularly. Some aren’t. If you’re in the latter group, the twice-annual clock change could be a good time to open the ledger.


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th9 Traveling for Thanksgiving? You need this bag.Heading to your family of origin for turkey day? Or going somewhere as un-familial as possible?

Either way, it’s irritating to have spend big bucks for teeny-tiny toiletries in order to satisfy the Transportation Security Administration.

Thus I’m offering yet another TSA-friendly travel kit, in plenty of time to receive it before your long Thanksgiving weekend trip with a carry-on bag.


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th8 Paycheck too small? Maybe youre just ugly.If you’ve got a face made for radio or a body that doesn’t fit Madison Avenue’s image, you may feel that you’re not getting a fair shake. And you may be right.

For example, tall people earn more than shorter ones. Overweight men earn less (and overweight women earn a lot less) than non-obese coworkers.

And this one really frosts me: A Harvard University study indicates that women who wear makeup are seen as “more trustworthy and competent.” Hey, not all of us want to put on war paint each day.

Unfair, but true: How your looks affect your pay,” on Money Talks News, discusses the ways bosses can legally discriminate against you.

Sometimes those ways are pretty ridiculous. One employment law expert has heard from people who got canned because supervisors didn’t like their shoes. Seriously.


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th7 Whats your financial bogeyman?When it comes to things that go bump in the night, poltergeists have got nothing on underfunded retirements.

According to a new survey from MoneyRates.com, 79 percent of respondents have had a specific “financial scare” in the past and 87 percent have money fears about the future.

Of those 87 percent, the top fear is not having enough for retirement. Some other fears:

Debt: 31 percent have had credit-card balances or other bills they could not pay off immediately.

Carelessness: One in 10 admit to having forgotten to pay a bill, thus incurring late charges.

Bounced checks: Three times as many men as women say that an NSF situation was their worst financial scare.

The underlying theme of many of the fears cited? Not having enough money to build an emergency fund, says study author Richard Barrington.


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A misstep in Manhattan.

th6 150x150 A misstep in Manhattan.The good news: I was reminded how nice New Yorkers can be. The bad news: I had to take a monumental fall near 31st and 7th to rediscover this.

I mean a full-tilt, face-down, wind-knocked-out-of-me fall. Damn curbs.


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th5 Why you can’t afford an apartment.If you want to find a place to rent, make sure you earn at least $18.92 per hour. Or so says the 2014 “Out of Reach” study from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.  

That amount represents the “housing wage,” the hourly amount a full-time worker needs to earn to afford a two-bedroom rental at HUD-estimated fair market rent, while spending no more than 30 percent of salary for lodging.

That wage is more than two and a half times the federal minimum wage – and 52 percent higher than it was in 2000. As study authors note, “in no state can a full-time minimum wage worker afford a one-bedroom or a two-bedroom rental unit at fair market rent.”

Think that’s depressing? According to the Center for Housing Policy, 25.4 percent of working renters spend at least half their income on housing.


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th 1 150x150 In which I fight with Weird Al Yankovic.I have a huge geekcrush on Alfred Matthew Yankovic. Love his songs, love his videos, love his twisted sense of humor, and most of all love the fact that his parodies are equal parts silliness and intelligence.

Don’t believe me? Go watch the “Word Crimes” video. I love the fact that he included some of my own word-related peeves, such as “literally” and “I could care less.”

He’s a man after my own heart. As my friend Linda B. would say, I want him to have my children.

But while his parody of Pharrell’s “Happy” mostly made me giggle like mad, I also have to take issue with one of the lyrics. Watch the video and see if you can guess which one it is. (Note: It’s even funnier if you watch Pharrell’s original music video first.)


So did you guess which one it was?


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th1 150x150 Return of the Coffeehouse Cliche giveaway.I had every intention of making my next two giveaways about conference swag. Having been to three cons in the past three months, I have enough tchotchkes — some useful, some goofy — to create two medium flat-rate boxes of oddness.

But I’m getting ready to go out of town yet again, and the idea of sorting and listing all those things made me want to lie down and scream. Thus I came up with a compromise: yet another “Coffeehouse Cliche” giveaway with a couple of items from the Financial Blogger Conference. That is to say, the two easiest ones to grab.

This time around the notebook is a real conversation-starter: Its cover says “NerdWallet” in blue and lime-green.


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th4 150x150 Is orange and black the new black?Before I forget: Women can get a bunch of free medical tests from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11 (that’s today) at any Sam’s Club with a pharmacy.

Among them: thyroid, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, glucose and blood pressure. You don’t have to fast for these tests. For more details, see my previous post on the subject.

Now: Back to All Hallows Eve. According to the National Retail Federation, just over one-third of U.S. adults plan to do the Monster Mash this Oct. 31, either at private homes or bars. Remember when Halloween used to be about kids and cavities?

That’s the main topic of my monthly gig at Retail Me Not. “What to buy in October: Look for boo-coup Halloween steals and denim deals” notes that while the Grinch may have stolen Christmas, adults have purloined Halloween.


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The boiling bag.

th3 The boiling bag.We had a marvelous soup the other night, based on a friend’s recipe for sausage-potato-kale soup. Ours utilized some of the kale we dehydrated last year (boy, has that stuff hung on), some potatoes freshly dug from our garden and some sausage bought months ago at a deep discount. (I love my freezer.)

It was supposed to have been kielbasa but spicy Cajun links were what we had. I sliced two links into coins and sauteed them until slightly crisp in a cast-iron skillet in which onions had already caramelized. Decided that a finely diced carrot wouldn’t hurt a bit, either.

The base was the real star, however — a rich homemade stock the likes of which we will never taste again. No two of our stocks ever taste exactly the same. That’s because the contents of the boiling bag vary every time.

The boiling bag is a bag in the freezer that receives vegetable scraps, bones and sometimes even bits of fruit. This batch had several apple cores and there was a slight sweetness under the richness of the other ingredients — which this time included beet and turnip greens and stems, onion skins, carrot tops, and both pork and chicken bones. Put it all in the slow cooker overnight and you wake up to a lovely, intriguing aroma.


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