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FrugalityforDepressives_250Those of you who follow my daughter’s blog already know this, but: Abby has been working on a book lately. You’d also know this if you read my late-March post, “Watching a book be born.”

Happy to announce that “Frugality For Depressives: Money-Saving Tips For Those Who Find Life A Little Harder” is here, and happier still to be giving away a couple of copies of the electronic version.

(Edited to add: Hannah at Unplanned Finance is also giving away a copy. Use the link to find out how to enter; the deadline is May 9.)

(Note: The above link is for the Kindle version. Anyone who wants an ePub or PDF version can check the ad on the right-hand side of this page. It’s the same price – $7.99 –  for all these editions.)

During her post-illness years of poverty and struggle, Abby looked for money advice but couldn’t find anything that worked. Personal finance blogs were popping up like mushrooms after a rain but they all said the same stuff over and over:

  • “Drink one less coffee a day and you’ll retire rich!” (Many days Abby was too sick to leave her apartment – and she doesn’t like coffee anyway.)
  • “Get a second job to help pay off debt!” (Depressives with chronic fatigue sometimes can’t even get a first job, let alone a second one.)
  • “All those toys you bought during the good times? Put them on Craigslist and watch your fortunes rise!” (It took her a year and a half to save up enough rewards points to get herself a basic MP3 player. Toys R Not her.)

She often saw a phrase I’ve come to loathe: “If I can do it, anyone can.” Gah. Basic money hacks do work for a lot of people, but they don’t work for everyone.

Abby tried – oh, how she tried. “Each failure drove the shame and despair deeper. Each new twist focused my mind on my inability to be the good frugal girl I was raised to be.”

[Sorry about that, kid.]

Since she couldn’t become a perfect frugalist, Abby decided to hack the hacks.

 


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thThis year I’m not taking the advice from my friend Liz Weston, who says you should treat yourself with 10 percent of any windfall and then put the rest where it will do some good. My 2016 income tax refund will be deposited directly into savings and there it will stay.

Some people believe that tax refund = an interest-free loan to Uncle Sam. Personally, I think a refund makes sense for those who don’t have the discipline to save. Let me define that further: It makes sense if they use the refunds in smart ways.

Here’s an example of a not-smart way: Friends of my daughter’s planned to buy a race-car bed for their toddler son. This despite the fact that she didn’t work and his profession (drywaller) left him unemployed off and on.

A race-car bed. Sure, it would be fun to give that to your kid. You know what else is fun? Not having to worry about how you’ll feed him during during periods of little to no work.

 


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th-2A whole lot of people approach retirement with a serious misconception about credit scoring.

A recent study from TransUnion indicates that almost half of Baby Boomers think that credit scores don’t matter as much after age 70.

Guess what? They do.

Generally speaking, seniors aren’t applying for mortgages or refinancing existing ones in their eighth decades. But a low credit score affects insurance premiums, auto loan interest rates and, maybe, getting accepted for long-term care.

Folks edging toward retirement with moderate to poor credit – or no credit – need to think about how they might handle any financial surprises. Even if you think that Social Security plus pension/retirement plan will let you live a cash-only lifestyle, you’re better off owning and using credit cards.

Life does tend to throw curveballs. Suppose during retirement…

 


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thEver wonder why some frugality tips get recommended over and over? Here’s why: Because they work.

A handful of hacks helped DF and me save four hundred simoleons in just three days.

The biggest-ticket item was our stove, which has been faltering. Since the appliance is at least 30 years old, DF was disinclined to call a technician. Since both of us are disinclined to pay retail, I sent away for $550 in discounted gift cards to a certain home improvement center (which I bought through a cash-back shopping site) and we started watching for sales.

He’d figured that $550 would be enough for the stove he wanted. But then we got lucky.



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thWe played a lot of Monopoly and other board games when I was a kid. Cable television hadn’t been invented and there were no movie theaters, arcades, skating rinks, bowling alleys or shopping centers in our little township.

Some of these things existed nearby, but they might as well have been on the moon: Not only was there no public transit in our region, there was not much disposable income in our lives.

Hence, hours and hours of board games. I don’t think that we understood Monopoly’s underpinnings: Get rich by ruining everyone else! One thing I’m sure we didn’t get was the square that read “luxury tax.” We groaned when we landed on it because it cost us money, but the word “luxury” was not in our vocabulary.

We had everything we needed, mind you, but much of it was homegrown, homemade or handed down. Luxury was something we saw on TV, maybe, but I never figured it could apply to people like us.

As adults, we can choose luxury if we’re willing to pay for it. Which brings me to the idea suggested by a Get Rich Slowly reader: a DIY luxury tax.

 


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