thIt was 8 degrees Fahrenheit this morning, and I got my usual chuckle thinking of Halloween in Anchorage. We generally see a parade of Disney princess, zombie and superhero costumes obscured by winter garb.

Nothing like the sight of an Ariel or Rapunzel wearing a down coat and moon boots.

Last year, long before “Suicide Squad” hit the theaters, one of my great-nephews dressed as Harley Quinn. His makeup was great, his hair was stiffened in pigtails – and his homemade costume, thankfully, had long underwear as its base. It was plenty cold last Oct. 31, too.

Apparently we might see some election-themed trick-or-treaters this year. An e-mail from the Savers group of thrift stores noted that the presidential election has affected costume sales. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump accessories are flying off the shelves.


read more

th-1It wasn’t anything like we thought it would be. In a bad way.

Abby got sick but we kept attributing the symptoms to other stuff, such as exhaustion, dehydration and her compromised body finding fresh ways to torment her. At one point she weakly mused, “What new indignity are you throwing at me?”

Fortunately, my FinCon16 presentation had been at 8:30 a.m. on the first day so I was able to spend most of the time in the room with her. Unfortunately, she and I missed most of the rest of the conference.

That’s not nearly as self-serving as it sounds. Both of us mourned the chance to attend educational sessions and to hang out with fellow money nerds. And obviously no one wants to be sick, especially so far away from home.

On Saturday we agreed to stay an extra day in San Diego, still believing she could regain her strength. By mid-afternoon Sunday she decided it was time to go to the emergency room.


read more

Cards and consequences.

th-1(I’ve decided to re-publish articles now and again in honor of what the kids call Throwback Thursday. Enjoy.)

On Tuesday I participated in a TweetChat sponsored by Ally Bank, on the topic of “teaching kids the value of money.” One of the responses from another participant frankly startled me.

The question: “When is the right time to talk to your children about credit card debt?”

The answer: “I’d say when they have their own card (and a real sense of consequences), most likely as a freshman in college.”

After picking my jaw up off the kitchen table, I sent out this response: “Waiting till they have their own card is like waiting til daughter gets pregnant to say, “Don’t misuse that thing, y’hear?”


read more

th-1Take a look at personal finance articles aimed at women. How many of them focus on topics like using coupons, getting the best prices for school clothes and cutting back on our purse collections?

Those are all good things to do. But why aren’t women getting information about building real wealth?

Women make 85 percent of consumer purchases. (Hint: Not all of them are of Jimmy Choo footwear.) Yet they are too often ignored, patronized or marginalized by the financial planning industry.

Kimberly Palmer, author of “Smart Mom, Rich Mom: How To Build Wealth While Raising A Family,” has a friend in that line of work. He told her about a colleague who talked to the husband and referred to the wife in the third person. The wife was sitting right next to her spouse.

That’s why we need books like this one. We do need to worry our pretty li’l heads about money.


read more

thYesterday I had a stimulating conversation with a Surviving and Thriving reader who was traveling with her family. It was a frugal meet-up: We talked for a couple of hours in the play area of a Carl’s Jr. restaurant, since I figured the two kids would be bored spitless by grownup blather about  money and frugality.

Both the reader and her husband have names that begin with the letter K, so henceforth they’ll be referred to as “K-she” and “K-he.” (Didn’t get permission to out their true identities.) We talked about not just how to save money but also about the sense of freedom that comes with taking control of your cash.

K-he revealed that initially he was nervous about his wife’s proposal to be a full-time parent, fearing it would deal a death blow to their finances. But now he’s not only in awe of his wife’s mad frugal skills, he’s on board with the whole idea.

He also asked an interesting question: “Why aren’t more people like you two?”


read more