thAlmost seven in 10 people surveyed by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling say their biggest financial worry is credit card debt.

Of the 1,869 respondents, 69 percent cited plastic arrears as being much, much scarier than having enough for retirement and emergencies (13 percent), paying off student loans (10 percent) or finding affordable housing (7 percent).

About 19 people checked answer E: “Nothing, I have no financial worries.” Lucky them.

It’s likely that most of the people reading the nonprofit agency’s website are already having money issues. But it wouldn’t surprise me if a decent number of the general population were also worried about credit card debt. And if they aren’t, maybe they should be.


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thFor years I’ve been promoting the idea that personal finance tips can be found in all kinds of places:

Opera (“8 personal finance lessons from ‘Gotterdammerung’”)

Monster romps (“6 financial lessons from ‘Godzilla’”)

Westerns (“10 financial lessons from ‘True Grit’”)

Superhero flicks (“10 money lessons from ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’”)

And even sled-dog races (“10 personal finance lessons from the Iditarod”).

See? You just have to know where to look.

My latest example is the Meryl Streep/Hugh Grant film “Florence Foster Jenkins.” The chameleonic Streep is by turns jaw-droppingly self-absorbed and touchingly vulnerable, and Hugh Grant is her complex, conflicted companion.

The real-life Jenkins, a New York socialite, was a patron of the arts. Also sometimes their torturer: She had the idea that she could sing. But she couldn’t. She really, really couldn’t.



Not to give away too much of the plot, Jenkins suffered from a physical malady that may have affected her ability truly to hear her own voice. Or maybe she was just gloriously deluded. Either way, she played to sold-out houses.


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thIt’s the 150th anniversary of the first U.S. nickel, and Mary Hunt is weighing in. The queen of frugality has teamed up with Sunoco to celebrate the birthday of the humble half-dime, which not so coincidentally is the per-gallon amount saved  by Sunoco credit card users.

Given the reaction to a giveaway of Hunt’s “The Smart Woman’s Guide to Planning for Retirement” – or, heck, to anything she has written – I know that plenty of my readers are her fans as well. That’s why I jumped at the chance to chat with Hunt.

She’d given some tips to the Sunoco campaign, such as planning meals around each week’s grocery specials and making your own laundry soap for a cost of – you guessed it! – five cents per load.

That’s frugality, though: Little tweaks that add up to big results. And since like me she is a fan of small change, we chatted about the special power of specie. 


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YourPlaybookForToughTimes3DAfter several weeks of waiting for review blurbs and dealing with daily tech glitches, “Your Playbook For Tough Times” is finally here.

See? I really wasn’t pretending to write a book.

You can buy it as a PDF*, to be read on laptop or tablet, for $1 less than the Kindle version. Another discount is available if you purchase both a paperback and a Kindle product.

A frugal hack of a frugality book, you might say.


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Physics and frugality.

thRecently I had fun trying to recognize the desiccated ingredients of the boiling bag I was emptying into the slow cooker. After a few minutes of frugality CSI (cooking scene investigation), I identified the following:

Onion skins, Asian greens (they’ve gone to seed so I’m removing the last small leaves), teeny-tiny green apples (to avoid stressing our newly planted trees, DF took off most of the fruits), carrot tops and greens, potato peels, and small green tomatoes (jumpers from our greenhouse plants).

Also cucumber peels (from fruits too high in cucurbitacin to eat as-is), red romaine leaves (too bitter after bolting for salads, but fine for broth), green-bean ends, squash blossoms (from our blue Hubbard plant), dandelion greens and a little chickweed (because revenge).

After adding a freezer container of vegetable cooking water – from corn, peas, lentils, potatoes and green beans – I had quite the potage de garbage going. Cooked and drained, it smelled a lot like Campbell’s vegetable soup and tasted even better.

All this recycling reminded me of the notion that energy can’t be created or destroyed, but rather transformed from one form to another. In our home, food gets created – we grow the stuff as well as cook it from supermarket ingredients – but it never really goes away.


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