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Super Savers

I recently surveyed my friends, business associates and long-time Bottom Line contributors asking them to share their favorite ways to save money. While I was looking for new ideas, nearly all of them were tips that we've already published over the years in our newsletter and I was ready to scrap the column.

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Everyone Needs a Good cry?

I have a friend who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer and who recently went through a very difficult divorce. Despite all this, she hasn't been able to cry.I have a friend who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer and who recently went through a very difficult divorce. Despite all this, she hasn't been able to cry.

Bye Bye to the Wave (Radiation, That Is)

I don't usually make dramatic changes in my life, but after reading the cover article of the November 15, 2009 issue of Bottom Line/Personal, "Don't Stand in Front of the Microwave: Radiation Dangers from Phones, Plasma TVs and Computers, Too!" -- I've done just that. Our houses have become electromagnetic hubs and it's affecting our health. So, as radical as it sounds, I've replaced the cordless phones in my house with old-fashioned corded ones... turn off my cell phone at night -- and have been sending more texts rather than making calls on my cell phone during the day... shopped for a new cell phone based on it's SAR rating (a measure of the radiation it gives off) rather than its bells and whistles... stopped standing in front of the microwave and make sure my kids are far away from it when it's on…and unplug our wireless modem when we're not using it. Whew!

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366 Days of the (Leap) Year

This is completely ridiculous, and yet it totally intrigued me. Rich Marini, a writer I know just launched the "Song for Every Day of the Year Project," with the aim of building a "really cool, really long list of song titles that either directly or indirectly refer to all 366 days of the Leap Year." (For your information, the next leap year is 2012.)

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A New Way to Pay

Marketing maven Joe Polish (www.joepolish.com/) is planning to test a new business model -- what he calls "pay me whatever you think it's worth" for on-line information. Hearing about this got me thinking... what if everything we purchased was priced on this same "pay what it's worth to me" basis, including clothing, televisions, home repairs, going to the movies or an amusement park. Think about this next time you go to buy something. If what you think it's worth is less than what you're about to pay, then maybe you shouldn't be buying it. Or maybe you should be nervy and negotiate for a lower price.

A Senseless Tragedy

Today, I am still numb. Last week, I was touched by one of those tragedies that you read about in the news and see on TV, and always happens far away. But this time it happened near me. A disgruntled employee caught stealing from his employer set off on a shooting rampage that killed eight other employees, including my neighbor. I didn't know him well, but I knew him well enough. Well enough to know that he was a good man, loved by his family, respected in the community, accomplished in his career. My husband taught two of his children... my daughter went to school with one of them. It was difficult -- impossible -- to explain the events to our children that night. Today we and too many others are living in disbelief. I can't imagine what his widow and children are going through.

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Big Box Store Rip-Offs

Don't assume that Big Box stores have the best prices. The toner ran out on my friend's laser printer at home, so he went to his neighborhood big-box store (happened to be Micro Center; he lives in Minnesota) to get a new cartridge. $90 they wanted! They had a new laser printer in the store for only $70! This could not be right. So he went home and went online. Not only could he get the cartridge for $24, but he could get a "toner refill kit" (a bottle of toner and instructions) for $13. Okay, shipping was $5 and he had to wait a few days to receive the refill, but that's less than the tax would have been on the $90 cartridge.

A Good Cry

I just finished reading The Book Thief, a beautifully written (remarkably beautiful) book by Markus Zusak about the experiences of a German girl growing up in Hitler's Germany. I cried numerous times throughout the book-- real tears, not a mere lump in my throat or moist eyes with no drips -- but increasingly so as the book drew to a close and the ultimate fate of the characters that I had come to love was being revealed. Once I finished the book, I blew through half-a-dozen tissues crying not just for these fictional characters, but for the real people who inspired the story. The last time I cried so much from a book was Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt -- about McCourt's difficult childhood growing up in Ireland. When reading such books, it is impossible for me to not imagine myself in such situations, which gives me a much deeper emotional response than I would otherwise have at the mere facts of the story.

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Better Seen Than Read

My children "discovered" YouTube (the popular, free video-sharing Web site) a long time ago, but I've only recently come to use and enjoy it. The exuberant performance of Do Re Mi at a railroad station in Belgium perks everyone up. A Scottish bicyclist's tricks are truly awesome. The Cimorellis' video -- one brother and five sisters singing in glorious harmony -- is a family favorite. And Susan Boyle's singing debut on Britain's Got Talent continues to inspire. It was YouTube's most-watched video in 2009.

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90-Second Dizziness Cure

Since suffering from a two-week dizzy spell three years ago (brought on by a week-long cruise), I've been shocked at how many other people I know suffer from dizzy spells. I'm thinking about this now because in the past two weeks, I have successfully helped two suffering friends with the method that cured me: the Epley maneuver.

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