th 1 150x150 In which I fight with Weird Al Yankovic.I have a huge geekcrush on Alfred Matthew Yankovic. Love his songs, love his videos, love his twisted sense of humor, and most of all love the fact that his parodies are equal parts silliness and intelligence.

Don’t believe me? Go watch the “Word Crimes” video. I love the fact that he included some of my own word-related peeves, such as “literally” and “I could care less.”

He’s a man after my own heart. As my friend Linda B. would say, I want him to have my children.

But while his parody of Pharrell’s “Happy” mostly made me giggle like mad, I also have to take issue with one of the lyrics. Watch the video and see if you can guess which one it is. (Note: It’s even funnier if you watch Pharrell’s original music video first.)


So did you guess which one it was?


read more

th5 The first class stinkeye.I never expected to eat a delicious meal on an airplane. Frankly, I never expect to have a reasonably edible meal on a plane – that’s why I bring my own food.

But flying back from the Financial Blogger Conference I was given a chance to eat celeriac puree for the first time, along with beef short rib bordelaise and green beans.

These things were prefaced by an appetizer salad: a few strips of hot-smoked salmon, a small pile of chopped cucumber and tomato, a few fancy salad greens and a dab of dill crème frache. Oh, and a pecan tart for dessert.

Celeriac puree is pretty tasty, and the appetizer salad was so good that I wanted it to be the entrée. In fact, the foods almost made up for getting the first-class stinkeye. Almost.


read more

20140909 MoneyTips Fincon The retiree screen Res FINAL 207x300 Toward a care free retirement. (This post is part of the “Retiree Next Door Movement,” created by MoneyTips.com. More than 70 personal finance bloggers committed to write about a single issue on the same day to raise awareness.)

When MoneyTips.com surveyed 510 retired and semi-retired persons about their financial habits, I was surprised that just 30 percent considered themselves “frugal” before retiring, whereas 67 percent said they spent “enough to live comfortably.”

Now that they’re not working or working a lot less, the numbers haven’t changed much: 65 percent live comfortably and 35 percent live frugally.

Those numbers should give hope to people who might fear they won’t have the resources to retire. That’s because terms like “comfortably” and “frugally” can mean just about anything you want them to mean.


read more

th1 150x150 In which I reveal my paycheck.Almost four years ago I wrote a post called “I’ll show you my salary if you’ll show me yours.” In it I explained why I declined to reveal how much money I earned:

“Is there no such thing as privacy any longer? Are we required to tell everything? Myself, I’d sooner talk about my sex life than my salary – and I believe that either one would be an overshare.

“Maybe it’s because I’m in my 50s and am thus a couple of generations removed from the new tell-all culture.  I was raised not to talk about money and certainly never to brag about what you have.

“… Personal finance is exactly that: personal. No one needs to know what I earn or how much my 401(k) lost in the crash. It’s bad enough that people can Google my home address. I don’t want to give away any additional details of my private life.

Well, last week I had a piece up at Get Rich Slowly that revealed all. “Why I voluntarily slashed my salary” talked about my decision to downsize my worklife after Microsoft fired all its writers on the same day.

That decision represented a salary cut of almost 58 percent, possibly more. Would that be worth maybe eating cat food and saying “Welcome to Wal-Mart” when I’m 80? That’s all I could think of at first, but then I did the math and it’s not as scary as I’d feared.


read more

th8 Should you boycott restaurants?Over at Midlife Mom Musings, a blogger named Sharon wrote about an unpleasant surprise. The July food budget for her family of four was supposed to have been $700. Instead, they spent nearly $1,700 on groceries and meals away from home.

“I just don’t remember spending that much,” Sharon said.

(Few of us do.)

More than $400 of that was spent at places like Manhattan Bagel, McDonald’s, Tropical Smoothie, Chipotle, Texas Roadhouse and Ciros.

“Not even nice restaurants,” she lamented.

They ended the month with a $1,000 negative cash flow, which she freely admits could have been avoided if they’d just stayed within their food budget. To help make up for that loss, Sharon is boycotting all eateries in August.

A no-restaurants month is a common meme in the personal finance blogosphere. Just like “no-spend week” and “cash-only quarter,” it works if you work it – and if you do, you can learn a lot.

Like, say, how to cook with what’s on hand. How to pack a lunch. How to say “no,” whether that’s to kids who want to stop for a smoothie or to yourself when you really, really want a blueberry bagel.

Hey, I love a serving of McDonald’s fries as often as I can get away with it. But eating them every day would torpedo my budget and, maybe, my arteries.


read more