Week of April 24


Friday, April 28, 2006

Clothes Encounters


            Here’s proof that you can always get something for less: Lauri Apple, a 30-year-old New York City law student, prides herself on recycling other people’s castoffs. Sure, a lot of us already do that when we buy our clothes at second-hand boutiques and thrift shops. Apple takes this mongo (slang for “valuables found in the garbage,” per The New York Times in an article about Apple this week) impulse one step further. Giving new meaning to the term “street clothes,” she picks up discarded items in the street, cleans them and wears them proudly. Visit her blog,, to check out some of her fashion finds and post your own snapshot evidence of our throwaway culture. The comments and fashion tips posted there since the Times article ran are priceless. Now if only Apple could figure out how to bring some of those shoes that dangle mysteriously from phone lines down to earth, she’d have her footwear needs covered, too.

            E-mail me and tell us where you’re finding your good clothing deals this spring. Happily, I’m finding mine hiding in the back of my own closet. Having lost some weight over the winter, I’m pulling old favorites out of storage. So glad I hung onto them! Now I have to decide whether to take my “fat” clothes to a thrift shop or keep them for when I (inevitably) end up gaining the weight back again.


Prosper & enjoy,

Gail Harlow


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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Make a Date with Yourself


            I have a bad habit: When I use my debit card for purchases, I stuff the receipts (often several a day) into my wallet and sometimes let a week go by before entering the amounts into my checkbook. I’m hereby reforming: I pledge to make a date with myself at the end of every day to spend five minutes recording my purchases and deducting them from the balance in my account. But that’s not all: on this exciting date, I will also log onto my bank account online and double check those amounts, just in case I misplaced a receipt.

             I figure this is a good way to stay in touch with my money. Knowing exactly how much I have will keep me from spending what I don’t have and get me thinking more about what I want to do with my dough. Try making a date with yourself to do the same thing every night, and watch your spending habits change.

            Wondering when that tax refund check will hit your mailbox? I am! Click here to go to the IRS’s handy-dandy refund tracker. You’ll have to fill in your Social Security Number, filing status (i.e. single, married filing jointly, etc.), and the refund amount you calculated when you sent in your form. Then hit submit, and the site will tell you what day your refund will be (or has been) mailed.

            For some smart suggestions for spending that refund, check out “What’s the Best Way to Spend Our Tax Rebate? She Says, ‘Pay Down Debt!’ He Says, ‘Take a Vacation’,” in our “Ask the Expert” department.


Prosper & enjoy,

Gail Harlow


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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Teach Your Children Well…


          Are your kids lobbying for a new kind of summer camp experience—one that doesn’t include a million mosquito bites, nightly sing-a-longs and camp counselors who remind them of their annoying big brother or sister?  To the rescue:  has a great article on summer camps for kids dreaming of becoming the next Martha Stewart or Donald Trump. Camp Start-Up, for instance, located on the campus of Philadelphia’s Drexel University, caters to female teens. Click on Camp for Tomorrow’s Mogulsto go directly to the article. For other accredited summer camp suggestions, visit the site of the American Camp Association (

            Teachers signing up to teach math, science or special education next September in New York City are about to get a BIG break: housing subsidies of up to $14,600. To be eligible, candidates must have a minimum of two years’ experience. Contact New York’s Department of Education, or visit for more information.

            And, sticking with the education theme, here’s a new word to add to your verbal repertoire, from the folks at oniomania (O-nee-uh-MAY-nee-uh): noun meaning “compulsive shopping; excessive, uncontrollable desire to buy things.” If you’re an oniomaniac, chant this word 10 times under your breath whenever you’re tempted to buy something you don’t need. You’ll get so many strange looks from other customers, you’ll scurry out of the store before you bust your budget.

            Sign up for Wordsmith’s free Word of the Day newsletter, and enrich your vocabulary every day.


Prosper & enjoy,

Gail Harlow


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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Ladies in Red


            “Lady in Red” is a Chris De Burgh song about a man in love. It’s also every woman today who chooses to raise awareness of the wage gap that still exists, 43 years after the Equal Pay Act declared unequal pay between the sexes illegal.

            April 25 is Equal Pay Day this year, the day when women catch up with the earnings of men working full time the previous year. Last year, the median earnings of women working full-time year-round were 77 percent of men's median earnings; for African American and Hispanic women the gap is even wider. It’s only a token protest, but the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) urges women to wear a red dress today to point out that women are “in the red.” So get out your red dress—and tell people why you’re seeing red today.

            But don’t stop with a wardrobe statement: The NCPE, in collaboration with Business and Professional Women/USA, is launching the WAGE Project today, a grassroots movement aimed at encouraging women across the country to form WAGE Clubs. The purpose of these clubs is to mobilize other women to talk about the wage gap and to give them the support they need to even the score in their workplaces. Visit to find out more about this great idea and to find resources and advice for forming your own WAGE Club where you live or work.

            Why should you be concerned? The wage gap costs the average American full-time female worker between $700,000 and $2 million over the course of her lifetime, according to economist Evelyn Murphy, president of the WAGE Project. As we’ve pointed out on this blog before, if the wage gap were closed, 40 percent of poor working women could get off welfare.

            For more information on the high cost of being a woman, mother and caregiver to elderly parents in our society, pick up a copy of this book just out: “Leaving Women Behind: Modern Families, Outdated Laws,” by Kimberley A. Strassel, Celeste Colgan and John C. Goodman. It provides some clear-cut legislative and other solutions to the problems we face and, too often, take for granted. It doesn’t have to be this way.

            For some practical financial solutions that you can implement in your own daily life, try “Making Bread: The Ultimate Financial Guide for Women Who Need Dough,” co-written by this writer and many of the wonderful women who have contributed to the content on this Web site.


Prosper & enjoy,

Gail Harlow


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Monday, April 24, 2006

Making Bread at the Box Office


            I want to like “Friends with Money,” which I went to see this weekend, for the same reason that I want to like Jennifer Aniston. She seems smart and nice, and she’s a fine actress, and you’ve got to feel a little bit sorry for her over the whole Brangelina affair. But the movie, like Aniston, leaves me kind of cold.

            “Friends with Money” follows four lifelong friends, three of whom are married (and rich) through several days in their painfully dysfunctional lives. Its message seems to be that money can’t buy happiness. Each of the wealthy characters, ably played by the wonderful Frances McDormand, Catherine Keener, and Joan Cusack, exhibits varying degrees of insecurity, rage and self-loathing; there is a lack of joy in their lives, despite their wealth.

            The problem is that Aniston’s character, who quit her job as a teacher to become a maid until she discovers what she really wants to do with her life (if only one of her friends will lend her the money to help her find out) is the most dysfunctional of all. She steals an overpriced jar of face cream from one of her employers and seems to think the world (or at least her friends) owes her something. Aniston improbably ends up dating an independently wealthy and likable guy. Doesn’t she know a man is not a plan? The real heroines of this movie, in my eyes, are the two women among her friends who worked hard, pursuing their talents, to earn their big homes and fancy lifestyles, one as a successful clothing designer and the other a screenwriter. I doubt “Friends with Money” will make big bucks at the box office.

            I was pleasantly surprised, on the other hand, when I rented “Fun with Dick and Jane,” recently released on DVD, starring Jim Carrey and Téa Leoni. It’s a smart, slyly funny take on Corporate America’s greedy ways. If you rent it, don’t miss the end credits, offering special thanks to various indicted executives of Enron, Tyco, World Com, Adelphia, and Arthur Andersen.

            Other movies where money (or the lack of it) drives the plot have done quite well at the box office over the years. There was 1987’s “Wall Street,” which made ”greed is good” a mantra for some. Arguably, any film based on a Jane Austen novel is a movie about women and money.  And, of course, who can forget every working girl’s revenge flick, 1980’s rollickingly funny “9 to 5.” Speaking of “9 to 5,” tomorrow is Equal Pay Day. Since equal pay is one of the issues that movie addresses, maybe we should all go out and rent “9 to 5.” Arrange for a screening in the conference room. Invite the boss. Then, ask for a raise!

          Send along your favorite money flicks, and we’ll post them here.


Prosper & enjoy,

Gail Harlow


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 For more savvy finance advice, buy 

“Making Bread: The Ultimate Financial Guide for Women Who Need Dough,”

 by Gail Harlow and Elizabeth Lewin, available on and at your local bookstore





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Last Updated 11/07/2006 03:39