thWe played a lot of Monopoly and other board games when I was a kid. Cable television hadn’t been invented and there were no movie theaters, arcades, skating rinks, bowling alleys or shopping centers in our little township.

Some of these things existed nearby, but they might as well have been on the moon: Not only was there no public transit in our region, there was not much disposable income in our lives.

Hence, hours and hours of board games. I don’t think that we understood Monopoly’s underpinnings: Get rich by ruining everyone else! One thing I’m sure we didn’t get was the square that read “luxury tax.” We groaned when we landed on it because it cost us money, but the word “luxury” was not in our vocabulary.

We had everything we needed, mind you, but much of it was homegrown, homemade or handed down. Luxury was something we saw on TV, maybe, but I never figured it could apply to people like us.

As adults, we can choose luxury if we’re willing to pay for it. Which brings me to the idea suggested by a Get Rich Slowly reader: a DIY luxury tax.


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thRecently the two bottles of Method foaming hand soap in our bathroom were on their last few squirts. They’d been there since I moved in almost three years ago. (Tempus fugit!)

We also keep bar soap by the bathroom sinks, which is probably why the bottles lasted for three years’ worth of handwashing. The foamy stuff is undeniably easier to use than the bars, though.

It’s also easier to use than regular liquid soap. You get exactly what you need, vs. squirting out a surplus that either slides off and down the drain or that takes too long for an impatient child to wash off all the way.

Neither DF nor I are exactly children. (Chronologically, anyway.) But we’ve been watching his granddaughter about once a week and my two great-nephews also visit. Given that children are two-legged petri dishes when it comes to the latest viruses, I’d like to make it as easy as possible for them to wash their hands.

Since I’d remembered reading a recipe for foam-refill soap, I went prospecting online rather than pay full price. Even if it were a relatively small saving I thought I’d give it a try.

Good news: It was an easy frugal hack.

Better news: We already had what we needed on hand.

Best news: The saving was actually pretty decent.


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thWhat a weird non-vacation it’s been so far. After arriving midday Monday I was pretty hazy. Far too much of Tuesday and Wednesday were spent doing interviews and writing up a last-minute freelance job that I couldn’t turn down. (Hint: It’s not only quite lucrative, it’s also leading to more paying gigs.)

Edits were waiting when I got up this morning, but the S.O.B. is finally done! At least until the copy desk comes a-knockin’. And we’re on our way to eat ribs at Bobby Q’s, so life is looking better all the time.

But that’s not what I came here to talk about.


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Finishing your holiday buying in person? Get ready for warfare on wheels – and not just as regards scoping for prime parking spots.

Combat shopping can be murder on your ride. Whether you leave it in a garage, on the street or in a mall parking lot, you’re at risk of being tagged by a clueless driver and/or having your purchases stolen before you can even get them home to be wrapped.

While some consumers prefer to shop entirely online nearly six in 10 will do at least some brick-and-mortar visits, according to the National Retail Federation. Excited, distracted or stressed-out shoppers may dent your fender or scrape some paint on the way into or out of a parking space.

The honest ones will leave contact information on your windshield. The others just keep driving, which is not only bad manners but could also be a hit and run, legally speaking. Most states don’t define this as taking place on roads or highways, and many include parking-lot incidents in the hit-and-run definition.

One of my recent NerdWallet articles can help.

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thThis morning I indulged my inner frugal sybarite with a hot, hot soak. Unlike the man in the song below, I don’t limit baths to the end of a tiring day. Sometimes a good dunk is the right solution for mid-morning writer’s block or midday slump.

I pop an already-cold Diet Coke into the freezer for 15 minutes to create little fizzy icebergs or fix myself a glass of iced tea. Then I lower myself into water that’s as hot as I can stand.

Steam floats in the air, my toes crinkle and the cold drink provides a shivery shock, the perfect foil to the boil of the tub. As soon as the water cools even a little I hit the hot-water tap again.

Most of the time I rush from the shower to the day’s chores, or stumble from the shower to the bed. Tub ablutions are relatively rare, which makes them more luxurious.

They’re great attitude adjustments, too, as Flanders and Swann can attest:

I don’t sing in the tub, but I do talk. Yes, really.

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