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thSome very interesting reader comments appeared on my April 6 post, especially as regards grown sons and daughters who expect help with down payments and furnishings.

“Just got an email from my stepson who wants us to co-sign on an FHA home loan because they don’t have enough income to qualify for the loan,” wrote Kandace.

She hasn’t said “no” yet, but she will. But she knows that won’t be the end of it.

“Then they will likely want us to co-sign on an apartment, but I’m not comfortable with that either. I’m thinking about what I would be willing to give – or lose – financially. It will probably be an amount that helps get them (he, his wife and their two kids), into an apartment. But no co-signing for me.”

Not everyone was able to make that kind of call – at least initially.

 


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thApparently I can’t read a calendar. Last week I offered a 40 percent discount on my Write A Blog People Will Read online course. At the end of the post I noted that the discount was good until “11:59 PDT Wednesday, April 8.”

Swell, except that April 8 is a Friday. Ooops.

Those who are still mulling it over (and I’ve heard from a couple of you) now have two extra days to make your decision. If you’re on the fence, feel free to e-mail me at SurvivingAndThriving (at) live (dot) com with any qualms.

For example, one reader wrote to ask how much experience was needed for the course. Although she does a lot of writing for her job it’s a very different type of scribbling. Thus she wondered if the course would be “too advanced” for someone who was new to blogging.

I responded with a note plus a couple of sample chapters so she could get an idea of what the course holds. If you, too, have specific questions (how can I know whether I’ll find enough ideas, what if I’m not sure there’s time in my life to maintain a blog, et al.), send them along and I’ll respond with advice*** and a course sample that helps address that question.

In other news:

 


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IMG_20150622_182817When I got back from Phoenix the house smelled like dirt. In a good way: While I was gone DF had started dozens of seeds in egg cartons and repurposed pots.

The containers completely cover a table in the utility room and a three-shelf unit that has displaced our dining table. We can eat anywhere, but baby plants need the south sun.

After a week of seeing flowers and orange trees and fully leafed trees, I came home to a typical Alaska breakup: gray skies, brown lawns and bare branches. The scent of soil helps make up for that.

So does the Renee’s Garden media kit, which arrived shortly before I left to visit my daughter. The 2016 New Introductions Sampler kicked off a response most Pavlovian. My mouth actually watered as I looked at things like Five Color Rainbow beets, Italian Pandorino grape tomatoes, Ruby & Emerald mustard, French Mascotte container beans and Harlequin Mix rainbow carrots.

 


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StartbloggingI subscribe to several writing-focused newsletters whose authors sell courses, books and other products. Sometimes the newsletters include educational or thought-provoking facts, or links to free videos or webinars.

Mostly, though, they sell. Oh, do they sell.

A subject line like “three simple steps that helped John change his life” or “she halved her work hours and quadrupled her income” might lead you to think the newsletter contains valuable advice.

Sometimes it does. Generally speaking, though, the advice is “if you buy my product you can change your life, too.”

This is all smart marketing. I understand that. I just don’t know how/don’t much care to do it myself. My background in print journalism taught me to keep myself strictly out of the story. The new paradigm, however, is to promote one’s “brand,” if not one’s products.

Which brings me to last week’s giveaway.



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thGreetings from Phoenix, where I’ve spent a lot of time editing the manuscript for my daughter’s upcoming e-book. The working title is “Frugality for Depressives,” and it’s designed to help people who experience depression figure out which money hacks will work and which won’t.

Fact is, not all tactics work for all people even if they aren’t depressive. Some folks are never going to soak beans, do online surveys or wash Ziploc bags.

“Frugality for Depressives” looks at money-saving tips in terms of common depressive symptoms and also suggests workarounds so that these tips could be used in at least some form.

As Abby knows from painful personal experience, depression and other mental illnesses make it hard to live on a budget. These diseases can also affect a person’s ability to earn, which means frugality isn’t just a lifestyle choice – it’s a survival mechanism.

The e-book should be out within the next four to six weeks. To my knowledge no one has written anything like it before. I believe the book will be a huge asset to those who can’t frugal* the way everyone else does but who still want to save money.

It’s been great (if time-consuming fun) and of course a writer always likes to see her offspring write great stuff. This is especially true if it keeps said writer from having to work on her own book.

 


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Bunny boots: Don't leave Nome without 'em

Bunny boots: Don’t leave Nome without ’em

(Note: This was written Saturday evening. Thanks to a tech glitch, it wasn’t published when it should have been. Oops.)

It’s snowing, finally – just in time for spring equinox. About seven inches are on the ground right now and it’s still coming down madly.

Earlier today the neighbor across the street had a pair of preschoolers working on the front steps with little kid-sized shovels while he attacked the driveway with a snowblower.

The children loved it so much that once the steps were clear they were out in the front yard, shoveling paths to nowhere. Just being able to fling the snow around was fun, I guess. It’ll be interesting to see if they find it fun a few years down the road or whether they’ll be moaning and griping: “I shoveled the steps last time! It’s his turn!”

Me, I’m just happy to be sitting upright. On Wednesday I came down with the intestinal bug that’s been making its way through (as it were) half of the city. Today I was able to tolerate solid food (rice, dry toast, yogurt, applesauce) during the day. In a little while we’ll know for sure whether I’m healed, because I had some of the turkey that DF roasted: hot, juicy and deliciously worth the relapse risk.

So far, so good: I’m sipping tea and watching thick curtains of snow silvering the night sky. DF is lying on the couch, also watching the picture window as though it were the most engrossing movie in the world. He was so hypnotized by the weather that he almost forgot to preheat the oven for the bread he’d left to rise.

A few days ago it was in the mid-40s and yards, while not green, were at least not white. Today it looks like December, not March. If this keeps up the Easter Bunny will have to wear bunny boots.

 


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thThis time last year I tried something completely different: creating an online course. It turned out to be an education for me as well as for those I hoped to teach. (In a good way.)

To celebrate the first anniversary of Write A Blog People Will Read, I’ve decided to give away a copy.

You may be thinking, “But I don’t have a blog, so why would I care?” However, the course will help you become a better writer in general – even if all you do is an annual Christmas letter.

 


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thGiven that my most recent giveaway had 243 entries, I’m guessing you guys like to win gift cards. That’s why you should all head over to my daughter’s website, because she’s giving away a $100 Amazon gift card.

Well, she isn’t. DollarDig is. Abby’s just the host. The cash-back site is sponsoring the giveaway of the gift card and will also donate $100 to a charity of the readers’ choice (and 10 T-shirts in addition to the Amazon scrip).

That’s not the only site you should visit, though.

 


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thThis year I’m not taking the advice from my friend Liz Weston, who says you should treat yourself with 10 percent of any windfall and then put the rest where it will do some good. My 2016 income tax refund will be deposited directly into savings and there it will stay.

Some people believe that tax refund = an interest-free loan to Uncle Sam. Personally, I think a refund makes sense for those who don’t have the discipline to save. Let me define that further: It makes sense if they use the refunds in smart ways.

Here’s an example of a not-smart way: Friends of my daughter’s planned to buy a race-car bed for their toddler son. This despite the fact that she didn’t work and his profession (drywaller) left him unemployed off and on.

A race-car bed. Sure, it would be fun to give that to your kid. You know what else is fun? Not having to worry about how you’ll feed him during during periods of little to no work.

 


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thHoly cow — a month has gone by without a giveaway! Work plus travel plus seasonal ennui can do a number on even the best of intentions.

Although I have a handful of books begging to be re-homed, I don’t have it in me today to do the careful write-ups they deserve. (Tomorrow’s not looking good, either.)

 

Thus I’m taking the path of least resistance and proffering an Amazon gift card. Easy for me to send. Easy for you to spend. I’d call that a win-win.

 


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th-2A whole lot of people approach retirement with a serious misconception about credit scoring.

A recent study from TransUnion indicates that almost half of Baby Boomers think that credit scores don’t matter as much after age 70.

Guess what? They do.

Generally speaking, seniors aren’t applying for mortgages or refinancing existing ones in their eighth decades. But a low credit score affects insurance premiums, auto loan interest rates and, maybe, getting accepted for long-term care.

Folks edging toward retirement with moderate to poor credit – or no credit – need to think about how they might handle any financial surprises. Even if you think that Social Security plus pension/retirement plan will let you live a cash-only lifestyle, you’re better off owning and using credit cards.

Life does tend to throw curveballs. Suppose during retirement…

 


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Keeping it real online.

thYesterday I read a long, painful and moving essay on the LoveLifeEat blog called “When you can’t be the person the Internet wants you to be.” It affected me so much that I wrote to its author, Felicia Sullivan.

Short form: I told her that writing about the dark places in her life make her honest, not self-indulgent.

I also said that her words matter. By daring to tell the truth about life, i.e., that sometimes it is horrible, she has helped and will help an unknowable number of people.

Some readers will be bolstered by the fact that they aren’t the only ones dealing with depression, unemployment, the loss of a parent, a difficult relationships with the surviving parent, the search for meaning. I’d bet my next freelance paycheck that her essay encouraged some readers to examine their own dark places and get help for them.

What a refreshing change from the everything-is-awesome drumbeat that makes up so much of the Internet. So many blogs resemble a never-ending, humblebragging stream of fake Christmas letters: Look at me! Look at me and my perfect life!!!

Riiiight.

 


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