th2 Change that changes lives.It was a good year for found money: a $20 bill, two fivers, a singleton, 13 quarters, 47 dimes, 15 nickels and 216 pennies, plus a ngwee from Zambia. (You find the most interesting specie in Coinstar machines.)  

That $41.86 will become a $50 donation to the Alaska Food Bank. As my 8-year-old nephew and I stacked and wrapped the coins, I pointed out that while it’s fun to find a $20 bill even the pennies add up over time. I’d be writing about this, I said, and maybe it would remind them that dimes add up to dollars.  

“Maybe it will remind them to pick money up,” he said. “Or not to drop it.”


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th9 150x150 Change your clock, check your finances.Every autumn we’re urged to change the batteries in our smoke detectors when we change our clocks back to Standard Time. Those batteries might be just fine, but why take a chance?

I propose another ritual, one that should be observed at both the spring-forward and fall-back time changes: Checking in with your personal financial goals.

Some people are organized enough to revisit their PF wish lists regularly. Some aren’t. If you’re in the latter group, the twice-annual clock change could be a good time to open the ledger.


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th7 Whats your financial bogeyman?When it comes to things that go bump in the night, poltergeists have got nothing on underfunded retirements.

According to a new survey from MoneyRates.com, 79 percent of respondents have had a specific “financial scare” in the past and 87 percent have money fears about the future.

Of those 87 percent, the top fear is not having enough for retirement. Some other fears:

Debt: 31 percent have had credit-card balances or other bills they could not pay off immediately.

Carelessness: One in 10 admit to having forgotten to pay a bill, thus incurring late charges.

Bounced checks: Three times as many men as women say that an NSF situation was their worst financial scare.

The underlying theme of many of the fears cited? Not having enough money to build an emergency fund, says study author Richard Barrington.


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th5 Why you can’t afford an apartment.If you want to find a place to rent, make sure you earn at least $18.92 per hour. Or so says the 2014 “Out of Reach” study from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.  

That amount represents the “housing wage,” the hourly amount a full-time worker needs to earn to afford a two-bedroom rental at HUD-estimated fair market rent, while spending no more than 30 percent of salary for lodging.

That wage is more than two and a half times the federal minimum wage – and 52 percent higher than it was in 2000. As study authors note, “in no state can a full-time minimum wage worker afford a one-bedroom or a two-bedroom rental unit at fair market rent.”

Think that’s depressing? According to the Center for Housing Policy, 25.4 percent of working renters spend at least half their income on housing.


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th2 Why are guys still expected to pay?A recent study from the NerdWallet consumer blog — love that name — indicates that men still pick up the tab way too automatically.

(Yes, I’m aware that men still tend to out-earn women; I’ll address that in a minute)

But seriously? I thought this kind of thing was supposed to have gone out after the 1970s:

77.4 percent of those surveyed thought men should pay for the first date.

Even in a relationship, 56.1 percent of men still pay for date nights.

Almost 40 percent of men cover all household bills; just 14.3 percent of women do.

Remind me: In which century are we living? I just don’t see how this is fair.


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