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Vanilla finances.

Many LOLs were LOLed once I discovered a post called “Vanilla sex: Here, have another helping” on the How To Write Better website.

Writer, coach and humorist Suzan St Maur posted the piece as a way of poking fun at the idea of “vanilla sex,” i.e., conventional, ordinary (subtext: boring) physical love.

St Maur (not a typo – she doesn’t use the period after “St”) wondered if the adjective could be used for other things.

Apparently it can. A few of her examples:

 


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(Happy Throwback Thursday, everyone! This article originally ran on July 3, 2015. Its sentiments are as valid to me today as they were back then.)

Here’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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Found money in 2016.

I waited a little longer than usual to count my found money. For those unfamiliar with the concept: All year long I pick up coins from lots of places: stores, sidewalks, parks, the return bins of Coinstar machines.

Usually I add up my found money around Thanksgiving, then add some more and donate it to the Food Bank of Alaska. This year I decided that the holidays are when people most like to donate to food banks, so why not wait a while?

Here’s what I found this year:

 


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Yesterday I hand-wrote two thank-you notes. In doing so I was reminded that while decent penmanship is important, it’s also hard.

Very hard. Since I was 21 years old I’ve been making a living through typing; for about 20 of those years, as a newspaper reporter, I mixed keyboarding with furious note-taking.

The cumulative effect manifests as numbness, tingling and hands that tire/hurt quickly when holding a pen.

Then there’s the fact that I’m in my sixth decade of life. No machine runs for 59 years without some maintenance issues.

So why not just type those notes? Because they were being sent to people whose opinions matter to me, and I wanted to express my thanks the way Miss Manners would. Of course, she has a staff for that sort of thing.

 


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th-2More than nine years ago my editor gave me a black fleece jacket with the MSN Money logo. The garment has seen some seriously hard use over the years, to the point where it’s no longer midnight-black but rather more of a pre-dawn slate.

A bit worn but still warm, the jacket has reached the end of the line because its zipper is kaput. Yet I’m having a tough time throwing it away, even though it’s no longer wearable and even though I no longer need it. My black fleece Mr. Rebates pullover keeps me plenty warm, thanks; it’s softer and cozier, too.

The other day I tried to throw the MSN jacket in the trash but couldn’t unclench my fingers. Two reasons why:

 


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