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I've managed to thrive after bottoming out financially.

By Donna_Freedman Sep 30, 2009 12:42AM

Not that long ago I had about $130 to my name. I was struggling to balance a handful of part-time jobs with re-entry into college after 30 years away from higher ed. 


Going back to school terrified me. But my life was already turned upside down: I'd left a long-term marriage and run through most of my savings to support myself while I dealt with health problems and also to help support my adult daughter, who is disabled. Why not throw college into the mix? As scared as I was, I knew if I didn't do it then I'd never do it.


Fast-forward to now. I managed to get through both logic and algebra, was accepted to the University of Washington on full scholarship, was awarded short-term alimony and was hired part time to write for this blog. I paid off all my divorce debt, started a Roth IRA, and have been able to help family  

Doing car repairs yourself pays off -- even for beginners.

By Donna_Freedman Sep 30, 2009 12:26AM

Frankly, auto maintenance has always scared me. All I've ever "fixed" are wiper blades, headlights and taillights. The extent of my under-the-hood knowledge is how to check and top off oil, antifreeze and windshield washer fluid. I've never changed my own oil because I didn't want to deal with the waste material.


That's why I recently found myself using an Entertainment Book coupon to get a lube, oil and filter service for $15.88. When I paid, the counter guy said my battery was on its way out. A replacement would retail for about $119.99, but he could get me one for $89.99.


I know less about cars than about doing my own taxes. Still, that seemed a little high. Maybe I could do better on my own -- but that would mean installing it myself.

 

Man has a new view on life and money.

By Karen Datko Sep 29, 2009 7:48PM

Here's something you don't see every day: a personal-finance post by an ex-con. "Prison taught me everything I need to know about personal finance" was written by Roger, a 34-year-old former client of "MGL" and posted at MGL's site, MoneyGrubbingLawyer. (Thanks to Financial Reflections for the link.)

It's an unusual perspective on PF topics. For instance, while we all know that debt causes stress, most of us don't have to worry that "your creditor will settle things with a shiv." 


Here are a few more of Roger's observations:

 

Team sues 125 season ticket holders.

By Karen Datko Sep 29, 2009 7:34PM

You've lost your job or your business has slipped? Thank your lucky stars if you don't have a Washington Redskins season ticket contract.


The Washington Post reported that the team has sued 125 season ticket holders who wanted out of their contract in the last five years, including a struggling 72-year-old grandmother, no less, who didn't hire a lawyer and now faces a default judgment of $66,364. That includes $5,300 for two premium seats for every year through 2017. 

Another fan who was sued cannot work because he's a paranoid schizophrenic. (That suit was later dropped.) Many of the 24 or so defendants interviewed by the Post said they're hurting financially.


Seems heartless, no?

 

Over the years, small fees add up.

By Karen Datko Sep 29, 2009 7:21PM

This post comes from J.D. Roth at partner blog Get Rich Slowly.


On the first day of college, I opened my first bank account.


The gym was filled with registration tables, not just for classes and clubs, but also for local businesses wanting to sell themselves to the students. There were even a couple of banks. Because I was getting a small payment from the school to cover living expenses, I needed to open a checking account.


The two banks had very different methods of attracting students. One displayed a sign that said "free checking." The other was handing out Frisbees. My choice was easy. I wanted the Frisbee. (Free checking? How boring.)

 

Blogger says store atmosphere as a big factor.

By Karen Datko Sep 29, 2009 7:12PM

How does positive-thinking blogger Steve Olson really feel about Wal-Mart? A positive-thinking tip in one of the most popular posts at his site is "Visit Target frequently and stay out of Wal-Mart."


He's not the only blogger to share his opinion on the big-box titans. Several lately have posted comparisons of the two stores.


Steve, of Steve-Olson.com, back in 2006 listed 10 reasons why he prefers Target, including "I've never seen anyone wearing a NASCAR shirt, purple sweat pants, and pink fluffy slippers at Target." Also, the aisles at Wal-Mart are too narrow, the employees are surly and not helpful, and the customers look depressed. (Read his anecdote about shopping for a lunch box at both stores.)

 

Give up smoking and sex? Many say they would.

By Karen Datko Sep 29, 2009 7:04PM

This shocking bit of news on a radio talk show this morning got the attention of one of our partner bloggers: Nearly half of British men surveyed said they would give up sex for six months to get a 50-inch plasma TV.


The survey -- done, incidentally, by an electronics retailer -- found that only a third of women responded in kind. Also, 25% of the 2,000 respondents said they would give up smoking, and about 25% would stop eating chocolate.

 

It's easy to eat healthier and waste less food.

By Karen Datko Sep 29, 2009 6:47PM

This post comes from Carrie Kirby at partner blog Wise Bread.


I used to consider myself a frugal shopper, without following the cardinal rule of setting and sticking to a grocery budget. Inspired by Wise Bread and other personal-finance blogs, a few months ago I finally took the plunge and set an $80-a-week budget.

I know that some people manage to spend as little as half that to feed a family of four (the two kids are little enough that they don't eat much), but for us $80 has been a challenge.


Despite the challenges, I was pleased to find that the budget goal (some weeks it's been merely a goal) has taught me a few things about shopping and about myself.

 

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