Surviving and thriving

A few years ago I had about $130 to my name and 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 and my disabled adult daughter. Why not throw college into the mix? As terrified as I was, I knew that if I didn't do it then I'd never do it.

Somehow I got through the first year, surviving on a crazy-quilt of gigs:

  • babysitter
  • apartment house manager/handyma'am
  • work-study grunt (I moved a lot of tables and chairs)
  • freelance writer
  • paid medical research volunteer
  • mystery shopper
  • oldest living cub reporter on the college newspaper

(That last one amused me greatly, since my previous job had been on the city desk at the Chicago Tribune.)

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More about...Frugality

Why I Fought to Save Three Bucks (and Why You Should Too)

This guest post comes from Donna Freedman, a blogger at MSN Money's Smart Spending blog. Donna is one of my favorite personal finance writers.

On Friday I visited Office Depot for school backpacks at the killer price of $2.99. Along with other loss-leader school supplies, they'll be donated to a local social services agency. At the checkout, I handed over a "20% off all backpacks" coupon from an Office Depot mailer. The cash register wouldn't accept the coupon. "These are already on sale so the coupon won't work," the salesclerk said.

I noted, politely, that the coupon did not say "not good on sale-priced items." The cashier tried again. No dice. "It's not letting it go through," she said, and waited. I got the distinct impression she wanted me to say, "Oh, that's OK." But I wasn't going to say that, because my belief is that a store should honor its published offers.

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More about...Uncategorized