th1 150x150 Another Coffeehouse Cliche giveaway.Picture yourself sitting in a coffeehouse and writing the Great American Novel. Or next year’s Pulitzer for Best New Play. Or just sucking down some java and pretending to be all sensitive and deep.

I can help.

This week I’m having a second Coffeehouse Cliche giveaway, with three essentials to literary pretentiousness:

A notebook. Not the electronic kind, obviously. This is a 5-by-7-inch navy blue book with lined pages and an attached pen. Go ahead. Fill it up.

Starbucks e-gift card. This is good for $10 worth of whatever caffeine you need to jump-start the muse.

Coffee mug. This stainless steel Cutter & Buck mug has a lid with a handle and a leather sleeve if you’re not a handle-holding kind of sipper. The sleeve bears a discreet logo for Bankrate Insurance — yep, I got it at last year’s Financial Blogger Conference.


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th10 Celebrate the Iditarod start: Win a hat!The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has its ceremonial start in downtown Anchorage on the first Saturday in March. People line the streets, which have been prepared by having snow put on them and which are aflame with barking, leaping, howling dogs.

If you happen to speak Canine, you’ll be able to hear what they’re saying: Let’s GO! Let’s GO! Let’s GO!

Come to think of it, you don’t need to know what a dog’s saying — just check his body language (See “barking, leaping, howling,” above.)

I hope to be there myself, although it will be a late night on Friday — I’m reviewing the touring company of “The Addams Family” for The Anchorage Daily News (my former long-time employer), and I’m expected to put the review up on the Arts Snob blog that same evening. The show probably won’t let out until about 10:30 p.m., which means I won’t even start to write until 11 p.m. Who knows what time I’ll get to bed?

I’ll be there in spirit if nothing else, having attended Iditarod starts in the past and enjoyed them hugely. I’ll also check out photos on the Daily News website of both the ceremonial start and then the next day’s re-start in Willow, Alaska. You should, too: The ADN shooters are masters of the art.

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


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144056972X b 150x150 Trending: The post work world.It’s all retirement, all the time around here lately. Ever since I posted a giveaway of Mary Hunt’s “The Smart Woman’s Guide to Retirement,” various once-you’ve-quit-working items have drifted my way. One of them, an upcoming TweetChat, could win you a nice big prize.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.


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th9 Traveling for spring break? You need this bag. This winter has been a real bear for much of the Lower 48. If you’re lucky enough to have the time and the money to plan a little break, it will feel soooo nice.

Except maybe when it comes time to pack. More of us are choosing to go carry-on vs. paying to check a bag — but that means you can’t take your giant economy-size bottles of shampoo and conditioner, or the big tube of toothpaste you got on sale.

This is one time when frugality is frustrating. Why pay big bucks for teeny toiletries?

Win this bag instead and you’ll have that much more to spend on wherever your spring break takes you.


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guidetoretirement 201x300 A book that could change your life. Ladies: How’s your retirement planning going? Have you even started? Do you fear you’ll never be able to stop working?

Have I got a book for you.

Mary Hunt’s “The Smart Woman’s Guide to Planning For Retirement” is designed for women of all ages. Yes, I’m looking at the 40- and 50-somethings who don’t really have a clear plan except, “I hope Social Security isn’t gutted by the time I retire.”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 55 percent of women have no savings at all and thus depend entirely on Social Security. Since the average monthly check is $1,130, that would be like working for $6.40 an hour, the author notes: “Could you live on that?”

Those who retire with some savings don’t fare much better. The average account has less than $30,000 in it; assuming you live to 85, it works out to just an additional $125 a month.

Want to take charge of your own finances? Enter for a chance to win a copy of this book.


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