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Still visiting my daughter and drinking the weird water of Phoenix. She and my son-in-law cope by using a reverse osmosis system to turn the hard H20 into something approaching potable agua.

Probably I’d get used to it if I lived here; for now, I cope by turning it into iced tea.

What I really resent, though, is the weirdly random stains the mineral-saturated water makes in the toilet bowls. I made it my mission to eliminate them.

And, as Abby noted in “The beauty of a clean toilet,” I succeeded. That’s because I had a secret weapon.

Oh, vinegar: Is there anything you can’t do?

 


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Found money in 2016.

I waited a little longer than usual to count my found money. For those unfamiliar with the concept: All year long I pick up coins from lots of places: stores, sidewalks, parks, the return bins of Coinstar machines.

Usually I add up my found money around Thanksgiving, then add some more and donate it to the Food Bank of Alaska. This year I decided that the holidays are when people most like to donate to food banks, so why not wait a while?

Here’s what I found this year:

 


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The concept of a “spending freeze” pops up every so often in the personal finance blogosphere. January is prime time for this tactic, given the joyful excesses of the holiday season.

Spending freezes have been announced at a couple of blogs I follow, Jana Says and The Frugalwoods. They’re slightly different: Mrs. Frugalwoods wants to help you “restructure your frugal mindset,” while Jana invites us to join her as she learns “to start paying attention again.”

While leaving a comment on Jana’s post I used the phrase “hypothermia of the budget.” That’s where DF and I are this January, and probably for the next six months. Or maybe longer.

 


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thSome people are into experiences rather than gifts. Physical presents take up space and need to be dusted, whereas a massage or a theater ticket is a one-and-done event.

I suggest that a personal finance book is both a gift and an experience. Sure, it takes up a little space – but it can lead to life-altering changes and literal enrichment. And if you get the Kindle or PDF version, it doesn’t take up any room in your domicile.

When you give the gift of personal finance, you’re giving people tools that can get them out of current money troubles and/or help them build the lives they want. Doesn’t that beat the heck out of a scented candle or a cheese log?

 


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Yep, holiday posts two days in a row and it’s not even Black Friday. Before you regard me as part of the problem, let me say that:

I always preach intentional spending during the holidays, and

I regularly suggest ways to spend intentionally, such as using cash-back shopping sites, buying early and paying with discounted gift cards.

Today I’m talking about a fourth intentional-spending category: rewards programs. In this case, that’s shopping through the Swagbucks rewards website.

Right now Swagbucks is offering heightened rewards for buying décor, gifts, special foods, airline tickets and other holiday-related items. A few examples of points (SBs) per dollar spent:


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