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thHere’s today’s neologism, and it’s a great one: “pre-solvent.” It comes from a comment on one a Money Talks News article called “The real reason Americans struggle to save.”

The article cited a couple of surveys that put the fault not in our stars, but in our cards: “Lifestyle spending” and “lack of financial discipline” kept anywhere from 44 to 71 percent of respondents living paycheck to paycheck and/or prevented them from achieving financial goals.

I’d like to point out that underemployment, lack of education and impossible-to-pay medical bills can also hinder the ability to save. But I agree that the “buy now, figure out how to pay for it later” attitude is definitely nudging some folks toward insolvency.

Which brings us to pre-solvency. A commenter named “Y2K Jillian” writes that she and her husband lived paycheck to paycheck for years and loathed the lifestyle. But change happened.

How? “Gradually, gradually.” Which is how I’d bet it happens for a lot of people.

 


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StartbloggingRecently I added a sixth way to enter the giveaways on this site: subscribing to my Write A Blog People Will Read newsletter. The weekly(ish) newsletter is writing-focused, but that doesn’t mean that non-writers shouldn’t read it.

Sure, it includes info like how much freelancers should charge and why blogging matters. But general-interest topics show up as well, such as why walking can change a bad day, how “Moose: The Movie” can inspire us all and the ways that fear can actually be good for people.

So even if you aren’t itching to start your own website, give the newsletter a try. Here’s how to do it:

  • Go to WriteABlogPeopleWillRead.com/blog.
  • Look for the “Free Writing Tips” box on the right-hand side.
  • Enter your name and e-mail address and you’ll be subscribed.

Every time you enter a Surviving and Thriving giveaway, be sure to leave a separate comment stating that you’re a newsletter subscriber. It’s just one more chance to win.

 


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th-1If money is piling up in your checking account, here’s one way to divest yourself of the burden: Ignore both the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance tips and the “check engine” light.

According to CarMD.com, a faulty oxygen sensor is the most common reason for that check-engine light to pop up on the dashboard. The fix could be as simple as changing out a dirty air filter, but you could also be on the hook for a $259.30 (on average) sensor replacement.

Some folks push the envelope on maintenance visits or ignore the manufacturer guidelines entirely. They think that’s frugal, but it isn’t.

The oxygen sensor is a good example. Sure, you’ll save almost $260 by not fixing it. But you’ll pay for it in other ways. Expensive ways.

 


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thWhat’s the weirdest thing you ever did to save money? That’s a question that the GO Banking Rates blogger Christine Lavignia asked of me and 29 other personal finance writers. Here’s my answer:

“As a 21-year-old single mom, I was a clerk at a big-city newspaper, where an editor would ask me to run to the cafeteria for coffee for reporters, ‘and get something for myself, too.’

I would pocket the 35 cents it cost to buy an orange drink and purposely get more sugar packets than necessary; that way, I’d get an extra buck or so a week (these were 1979 dollars) plus sugar to take home for my oatmeal.

“I don’t know about ‘weird,’ but it’s certainly sad. … Just one more reminder that since I had very few resources, I’d better be creative about meeting needs for myself and my baby. My various hand-to-mouth coping strategies were pretty useful much later, when I was a mid-life college student and broke divorcee.”

Edited for clarity: I would get two or three sugars per cup of coffee. Some reporters used that much, others didn’t. At times certain writers would cut back to zero sugars for a while (maybe because they wanted to lose weight). No matter what, most weeks I brought at least a few sugar packets home.

The other answers can be seen at “The weirdest thing I did to save money.” In my opinion only a few of them are truly weird.

My favorite? “I scrounged in the Lost and Found for a free swimsuit.”


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How to avoid takeout.

thYesterday I woke up with this phrase in my head: “Something about the bridge.” Not the conveyance type of bridge, but the kind in my mouth.

Unfortunately, my dentist appointment proved that my precognitive flash was correct. The X-rays showed decay in a place that can’t be fixed unless the dentist removes the cantilevered bridge (aka a “Maryland bridge”) to do it.

That bridge was on borrowed time anyway. It was installed 31 years ago. When I said as much, the dentist’s eyes widened. It’s had an impressive run, but time for it to go. And for a crown to be placed on that tooth.

My self-funded dental insurance covers only preventive work like X-rays and cleaning. The work needed will run a little over $1,200 if I pay by check. Which I will, of course.

My decidedly non-frugal reaction was to say, “Let’s go out to eat.” You can see that I wasn’t thinking clearly.


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