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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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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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The frugal sybarite.

thSome habits that I consider opulent would make other people sneer. To each her own, I suppose. Myself, I happen to think taking a long, hot bath with a good book in (dry) hand is a tremendous luxury – especially if there’s a glass of iced tea or a Diet Coke handy.

(Hint: Even if the soft drink is already cold, put it in the freezer for 15 minutes or so before you run the bath. The contrast of the hot-as-you-can-stand water and the icy beverage is delightful.)

Hanging our laundry to dry in the sun leads to another luxury: falling asleep surrounded by the fragrance of the sun and the wind. Some people would say the sun has no odor. I beg to differ.

DF and I sometimes joke about being “frugal sybarites.” The fact is, a sumptuous lifestyle doesn’t necessarily require a lot of dollar signs.

 


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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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