th-1Today I wrapped and deposited $16.50 worth of quarters, dimes and pennies from my piggy bank. Dropping all my change in there is just one of my savings challenges, i.e., a way to set a few dollars aside without too much pain.

Lately I’ve been enjoying another form of stealth savings: Digit, a personal finance app that automates withdrawals.

You link your account — some 2,500 banks and credit unions are currently set up for this — and the software figures out how your money comes in and goes out. It also figures out how much you can afford to spare, and every few days it sends money to an online bank account (Digit’s partners are Wells Fargo and BofI Federal Bank).

What interests me is the amount Digit has decided I can afford. Whereas my blogging colleague J. Money of Budgets Are Sexy reported total withdrawals of just under $200 the first month, my dealings with Digit started started small.

Very small. That first week Digit siphoned off just $7.46 – for a good reason.


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th-1Some money experts come across as professional scolds who harangue us about the bad things we’ve done and the good things we haven’t done.

No wonder some people prefer to unload their money woes to friends. Even if our pals gently point out our goofs, at least they’re not telling us how stupid we are.

The problem is that not all friends will hold us accountable, either because they don’t want to hurt our feelings or they don’t know much about money themselves. Thus we run the risk of getting advice that’s well-intentioned but not really in our best interests.

Ever confess to having gone a little off the rails at the mall only to have your BFF blithely chirp, “Oh, well, it happens to all of us!” Or fret about how you shouldn’t have gotten such an expensive car and have some other dude say, “Aw, come on! Live a little!”

Beverly Harzog won’t tell you anything like that. Instead, she’ll be the friend everyone should have: One who cares enough to convince you to get control of your spending and who offers to stand by you every step of the way.

Harzog recently released a new book, “The Debt Escape Plan,” and it’s up for grabs in this week’s giveaway.


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thToday I got my first paycheck since Nov. 29. At times this self-employment thing is for the birds.

My tax guy suggested I pay myself four times a year instead of monthly. It makes the paperwork easier, but part of me believes the quarterly system stinks.

That would be the part that’s been monitoring the checkbook balance – and suffering periodic panic attacks – since Thanksgiving.

Yet another part of me is glad that I’m not collecting 12 paychecks a year. The quarterly payouts help me keep my frugal edge.


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thLast year a line leapt out at me from, I believe, an MSN Money article: “Saving is the new sexy.”

I read it out loud to DF. His response: “It’s the old sexy as far as I’m concerned.”

That tickled me so much that I wrote both statements on a piece of scrap paper and taped it to my work station. Sooner or later, I knew, I’d be writing about this.

Finally I am, thanks to a survey from Ally Bank. It found that three out of four people believe it’s important for mates to share a similar financial philosophy. And the most appealing financial habit?


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thWant to get a glimpse of what young people are facing? “The Millennial Next Door Revealed: How to Be Financially Successful in Your 20s,” a free e-book from MoneyTips.com, is available starting today. (Click on the link to get your free copy.)

Author Katie Holmes notes that millennials (those born between 1981 and 1994) face a faltering economy and high student debt, along with a lot of withering generalizations (entitled, narcissistic, lazy). Mostly I agree with her; in fact, I believe that millennials have gotten a raw deal, economically speaking.

Although I have an issue with the ways its conclusions were drawn (more on that in a minute), I think “The Millennial Next Door” offers some valuable info on the mindsets of this cohort. And I’d say that even if I weren’t one of a couple of dozen personal finance writers contributing money tips to the work.


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