thA whole lot of U.S. residents are scared of outliving their money. According to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, 57 percent of clients called it their biggest money fear.

That doesn’t surprise me. Although nearly 8 in 10 full-time workers have some money for retirement, 28 percent of them report that the total value of household savings and investments is less than $1,000 (not including primary residence and defined benefit plans).

Certainly I’ve had my own share of bag-lady dreams, so this topic really resonated when I researched it for a NerdWallet article called “7 steps to deal with our No. 1 money fear.”

Funding a retirement plan can seem daunting, but it’s not something you can put off. Even if your future is decades away, your new best friend compound interest is here right now.


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Frugal re-entry.

thMy trip back from a couple of conferences and family visits took some 17 hours from door to door, thanks to the first plane leaving almost two hours late. Boy, was I ready to be home.

And boy, was I glad that we live only about six minutes from the airport. A guy with whom I chatted during the delay told me he still had to drive to Ninilchik, Alaska, after we landed. That’s more than 180 miles south of Anchorage. All I had to do was look for DF’s car outside the baggage claim area.

Thursday found me somewhat punchy, since long trip + fewer than five hours of sleep = dormant brain cells. But I made it a point to get back on track, money-wise. 


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thToday is National Thrift Store Day, which I’d forgotten. Strictly by coincidence I wound up discussing secondhand shops with my younger great-nephew, who is far more stylish than I.

B waxed rhapsodic while describing the leopard-print winter jacket he recently got at Value Village. Just $8 to be both warm and cool at the same time.

He also recently bought some really high-topped Converse sneakers (think “mid-calf”) there, along with a T-shirt emblazoned with cartoon sushi and a simple summer frock.

(B is a gender non-conforming kid who’s been wearing “girl” clothes full-time for several years, although his older brother explained to me that there’s no such thing as girl clothes or boy clothes.)

He loves the variety as well as the price. Where else is an 8-year-old in Anchorage, Alaska, likely to find affordably priced black Dr Martens boots of shiny patent leather black with pink stitching and laces?


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th-1Personal finance geeks like to plan ahead: retirement, emergency fund, college plan, new-car-with-cash fund, et al.

We actually find this fun, or at least satisfying. You should try it sometime.

A lot of us will also set an amount to be spent for the holidays and other occasions important to us (mom’s birthday, an annual 10k, the Talkeetna Bachelors Auction and Wilderness Woman Competition, whatever).

But how many remember what I call the “milestone gifts” – weddings, graduation, babies, bar mitzvahs and the like?

This could come out of the “entertainment” section of your budget, but if you have a big family and/or a lot of friends then pretty soon you’d have no money left for the movies.

Gift-giving can be a very touchy practice. Is it the right present? Will they thank me but roll their eyes later? Is everyone judging my choice?

And, of course, the biggie: Did I spend enough?


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th-1I can find personal finance advice just about anywhere, which is why I’ve posted articles like “6 financial lessons from ‘Godzilla’,” “Zombie consumerism” and “10 personal finance lessons from the Iditarod.”

Thus I was on the lookout at last Wednesday’s Metropolitan Opera’s HD re-broadcast of “The Merry Widow.” This is not an opera about bustiers. In fact, it’s not even an opera, but an operetta – lots of speaking roles but with enough musical numbers to keep an orchestra busy.

It’s pretty fluffy fare: The Paris embassy of the impoverished Grandy Duchy of Pontevedro plans a formal ball and invites the titular widow (played by Renee Fleming), who came into big bucks upon the death of her much-older husband on their wedding night.

Officials are terrified that she’ll marry someone outside their country and take her money with her, which could tip the country into bankruptcy. They scheme to fix her up with the ultra-eligible Count Danilo Danilovitsch. What they don’t know is that the two were once in love but his family forbade the marriage – at that time, Hanna was a country girl without a cent to her name.

Does she still love Danilo? Do you even have to ask? But things aren’t that simple.


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