Cards and consequences.

th-1(I’ve decided to re-publish articles now and again in honor of what the kids call Throwback Thursday. Enjoy.)

On Tuesday I participated in a TweetChat sponsored by Ally Bank, on the topic of “teaching kids the value of money.” One of the responses from another participant frankly startled me.

The question: “When is the right time to talk to your children about credit card debt?”

The answer: “I’d say when they have their own card (and a real sense of consequences), most likely as a freshman in college.”

After picking my jaw up off the kitchen table, I sent out this response: “Waiting till they have their own card is like waiting til daughter gets pregnant to say, “Don’t misuse that thing, y’hear?”


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thThe response to my early-June reboot of “Surviving (and thriving) on $12,000 a year” was humbling. It was great to see reader comments about the impact this piece had on their lives.

When the post originally ran (January 2007) it got more response than anything else MSN Money published that year. The editor immediately said, “Write another one.” So I did.

The headline I chose was the one you see above; it got changed to “Living ‘poor’ and loving it.” (I refrain from comment.)

I’ve decided to re-boot the second piece as well, again in its original format vs. the MSN-edited version. Once again, asterisks indicate that updates can be found at the end.

Comedian Dick Gregory grew hungry and cold in an impoverished home. Yet his mother always assured the kids, “We ain’t poor, we’re just broke.”


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Termination dust.

Termination dust.Today dawned a typical September day: gray and foreboding. The sky was the color of a galvanized trashcan and the air tinged with a chill that whispered of summer’s end.

When the clouds lifted a bit I saw termination dust sprinkled on the Chugach Mountains. That’s the local parlance for the season’s first snow. The tail-end of the tourist trade clucks and points, taking numerous pictures of the shining whiteness while buttoning coats up to their chins.

Residents pretend they don’t care, but it can drive a little shiver into your day. Sure, the snow is still way up there. But we know it’ll make its way down to the flats fairly soon.

Even DF, who’s pretty cheerful about everything and a skier to boot, gets a little glum at the prospect. In fact, he sings about it (to the tune of Chopin’s Funeral March): 

Woke up this morning, looked out the door and cussed:

There on the mountains — behold! the whitish crust.

Termination dust. Summer is a bust.

Hate facing winter again, and yet I must.

That made me laugh. I needed to laugh: Termination dust showed up on the very day that I got terminated.

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Herding trolls.

thYesterday was a Suzy Homemaker* day for me: I made deviled eggs, a batch of soft oat rolls and some oatmeal cookies, then invited my niece and her kids over for a round of Café Awesome. After that we went out to glean feral raspberries.

During the day I also put up the first of those Swagbucks “Five for Five” promotional posts and wrote and scheduled the other four. I arranged for a couple of interviews, did some research for next week’s articles, rounded up and washed jam jars, and made a huge batch of raspberry-rhubarb jam.

(Note to self: Nine cups of rhubarb means lots of chopping. Find an easier recipe.)

However, I also made the mistake of visiting the comments section of “How to make a quick $50,” that day’s MSN Money post. Suffice it to say that the process sucked far too much time out of my day.

DF sympathized when he got home: “Herding trolls again?


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thOn Tuesday I participated in a Tweetchat sponsored by FT Press, an imprint of Pearson and publisher of books by my MSN Money colleague Liz Weston. If you missed the event, at least some of the Tweets can be found in the publisher’s Tweetchat room. A spokeswoman for the company says a .pdf summary of the questions and discussion is in the works.

To promote the chat, FT Press gave out a few copies of “Deal With Your Debt” to random questioners. (Did any of you win? Tell us!) Now it’s my turn to hand out the revised and updated version of this book, which I can happily say is written for people in the real world.

Just check the description: “Award-winning personal finance expert Liz Weston reveals why it’s simply impractical to ‘just pay off every dime’ and ‘live forever debt free’ — and why trying to do so can actually make you poorer. It’s smarter to control and manage your debt, and Weston shows you how.”

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