O, happy day! The FedEx man brought me a package this morning containing The King is Dead, the new record album from The Decemberists. The Decemberists are a Portland band, and have been my favorite group for several years. I love that they put their new music out on vinyl, so that I can listen to it on my ancient phonograph player.

The King is Dead is mellower than much of their past stuff. I like it better than their last album (The Hazards of Love), but not as much as The Crane Wife or Her Majesty. But it’s still new to me, and it’ll take a while for me to learn all of the songs. I’m up to the challenge!

Still, you folks don’t come here for music reviews. You come to read about personal finance. Here, then, are some of the stories I’ve been reading elsewhere this week:

First up, Kiplinger Personal Finance is again sponsoring Jump-Start Your Retirement Days. From 9:00 to 18:00 Eastern on January 21st and 25th, you can get free advice from a real-life financial planner by calling 888-919-2345. GRS readers have reported mixed success with this service in the past, but it certainly cannot hurt to call if you have questions about your future.

Next, I enjoyed this discussion at Ask Metafilter about eating at fancy restaurants when broke. I’ve written before about how to eat at a swanky restaurant without blowing your monthly food budget, and many of the suggestions at Ask Metafilter echo mine. In fact, I’m going to put some of these tips to work tonight; Kris and I are joining some friends at an expensive restaurant for a birthday dinner.

SVB at The Digerati Life has a tip for handling your New Year’s Resolutions. In order to get organized for 2011, she recommends setting up a personal financial calendar. I think this is a great idea, actually, and it’s something I’ve been meaning to do. (I was just telling Liz Weston yesterday that I can never remember when I last pulled my credit report, which makes it hard to know when to do the next one!) I’ve bookmarked SVB’s post so that I can refer to it when I find time to make my own calendar.

Wallet Pop has a nice article about what you need to know before paying cash for a new vehicle. Paying cash isn’t as straight-forward as it sounds. This article explains a few of the things you should consider.

Finally, I enjoyed this story from One Frugal Girl, who says, “I am not stealing!” She says she’s not an extreme couponer, but she does find some creative ways to get good deals now and then. She finds it frustrating that when she plays by the rules, sometimes the stores get cranky. (Well, not the stores, but certain cashiers.)