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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happiness of pursuitSix months ago I gave away a copy of Chris Guillebeau’s “The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life.” Just over 70 entries were tallied for that one.

Clearly the interest is there, so I’m giving away another copy.

The book is based on Guillebeau’s own grand challenge (visiting every country in the world before he hit age 35) as well as other people’s personal tests.

Or, as Guillebeau calls them, “ordinary people working toward extraordinary goals.”


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th-1Recently a reader named Laura H. e-mailed to ask if I could re-run “Surviving (and thriving) on $12,000 a year,” an article I wrote for MSN Money back in January 2007.

When I wrote that I was 49 years old, back in college and coming off a two-year-long divorce. At the time the assignment seemed like a one-off freelance gig. I had no way of knowing that it would ultimately lead to a career as a personal finance blogger; at that point I didn’t even know what blogs were.

People still mention that $12k piece. Some ask me where they can find the piece. Unfortunately, MSN Money changed platforms and the work I did there between 2007 and 2013 can no longer be accessed.

Fortunately, I keep copies of everything I write.

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thAlaska is full of kick-ass women, and I was privileged to meet a bunch of them during my 17 years of working for the Anchorage Daily News. That’s because I wrote for the features section, which meant getting sent out to interview women who’d either suffered great losses or done something intriguing. Sometimes both.

I learned something from all of them, and was fortunate enough to get to know some of them better. When I met Dana Stabenow she was at the tail-end of a carefully chosen yet potentially disastrous decision: to quit her lucrative job, get a master’s degree in creative writing and become an author.

She went broke in the attempt, but that’s not the end of her story.

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thLady Liberty is back. Or, rather, some dude wearing a Statue of Liberty costume is back, and standing outside a local tax-prep place. Instead of lifting a lamp beside the golden door, he’s waving a get-your-taxes-done-here sign at the passing traffic.

I’ve seen at least two dudes dressed this way lately, greenish robes bulging over winter wear and spiky crowns sitting uneasily atop messy mops. The facial hair is a bit jarring, since the real Lady Liberty is clean-shaven.

Being willing to don a silly costume and stand outdoors in the cold tells me something about these guys: They want to work.

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