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.


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thCohabit in haste, repent in poverty. Or at least in aggravation, according to a recent survey from Rent.com.

“How finances will be divided” is the top issue that survey participants wished they’d talked about before sharing space. What a surprise.

“He/she doesn’t pay enough of our expenses” is a recurring theme in advice columns and, I’d bet, in couples’ counseling offices. If I had one suggestion to anyone planning to move in together, it would be “talk about money – and keep talking.”


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thIn honor of Valentine’s Day, a shout-out to all engaged couples: You don’t have to spend the alleged “average” of $30,000 on your nuptials.

In fact, I think it’s smart to consider what you can afford – on your own or with help from family – vs. what wedding planners are so eager to sell to you.

Holly Johnson of Get Rich Slowly agrees with me. “Thirty Gs is a lot of money to everyone I know, and the last thing most of us want is to start a new marriage off with tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt,” she said in an article called “Wedding savings accounts: How I saved for my wedding.”

Johnson’s wedding was low-key, with a total outlay of about $3,000. And guess what? They’re just as married as folks who plan to spend 10 times that amount.


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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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thWhen it comes to paying off holiday debts, who finishes last? If you guessed “low-income shoppers,” you guessed wrong.

According to a study from the NerdWallet personal finance site, the middle class takes longer than anyone else to finish paying for its Christmas celebrations.

People who earn from $50k to $75k take an average of 2.6 months to finish paying for holiday expenses. Compare that to folks who earn $50k or less and take an average of two months.

“Those who spend more in an effort to ‘keep up’ end up paying the price later,” says Matthew Ong, senior retail analyst at NerdWallet.

“Middle-class households could end up in a risky position this holiday season if they have ample credit to make purchases but incomes too thin to comfortably pay the bills later.”


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