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thWant a free ticket to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Art and Design, the Contemporary Jewish Museum or the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts?

You might have that ticket already, if you use a Bank of America/Merrill Lynch credit or debit card, or any card with the BofA logo. The Museums On Us program means gratis admission to 150 museums in 33 states and the District of Columbia.

Bring along that bank card and a photo ID and you’ll get in without paying on the first full weekend each month. Usually that’s Saturday-only, but not always. This year the first full weekend happens to coincide with Mother’s Day. If mom has a card, she’s in; if you have a card but she doesn’t, you’ll wind up paying for one instead of two.

The word “museums” may connote the fine arts. But old still-lifes aren’t the only things that you can see for free.

 


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thRecently I mentioned that I was working on a book and that I planned to take DF’s advice to provide periodic progress reports. The theory is that this will keep me from slacking.

The book’s focus, smart money hacks during tough times, is pretty familiar territory. I’ve been writing about this since January 2007 when my first post, “Surviving and thriving on $12,000 a year,” went up on MSN Money.

But “familiar” doesn’t mean “simple to achieve.” For my first writing update all I can say is, “It’s complicated.”

 


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FrugalityforDepressives_250Those of you who follow my daughter’s blog already know this, but: Abby has been working on a book lately. You’d also know this if you read my late-March post, “Watching a book be born.”

Happy to announce that “Frugality For Depressives: Money-Saving Tips For Those Who Find Life A Little Harder” is here, and happier still to be giving away a couple of copies of the electronic version.

(Edited to add: Hannah at Unplanned Finance is also giving away a copy. Use the link to find out how to enter; the deadline is May 9.)

(Note: The above link is for the Kindle version. Anyone who wants an ePub or PDF version can check the ad on the right-hand side of this page. It’s the same price – $7.99 –  for all these editions.)

During her post-illness years of poverty and struggle, Abby looked for money advice but couldn’t find anything that worked. Personal finance blogs were popping up like mushrooms after a rain but they all said the same stuff over and over:

  • “Drink one less coffee a day and you’ll retire rich!” (Many days Abby was too sick to leave her apartment – and she doesn’t like coffee anyway.)
  • “Get a second job to help pay off debt!” (Depressives with chronic fatigue sometimes can’t even get a first job, let alone a second one.)
  • “All those toys you bought during the good times? Put them on Craigslist and watch your fortunes rise!” (It took her a year and a half to save up enough rewards points to get herself a basic MP3 player. Toys R Not her.)

She often saw a phrase I’ve come to loathe: “If I can do it, anyone can.” Gah. Basic money hacks do work for a lot of people, but they don’t work for everyone.

Abby tried – oh, how she tried. “Each failure drove the shame and despair deeper. Each new twist focused my mind on my inability to be the good frugal girl I was raised to be.”

[Sorry about that, kid.]

Since she couldn’t become a perfect frugalist, Abby decided to hack the hacks.

 


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thIt begins: Yesterday I bought my first stocking stuffers.

They were in the clearance bin, as stocking stuffers often are: a trio of Crayola scented markers for 17 cents apiece. The markers will go to a flamboyant young relative who’s all about creativity; at age 9, the dude is using YouTube to learn how to knit an infinity scarf.

In years past I’ve hit post-holiday sales to buy the next year’s holiday gifts and even some items for the house. This year I’ve been curiously inert when it comes to bargain-hunting.

The Crayolas may have gotten me off my own mark, however, since I’ve begun to notice yard-sale signs. 

 


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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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