At first you might mistake it for a large, stringed musical instrument. It’s not, but the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP 2.0) could be music to your ears if your home mortgage is still underwater.

First announced in March 2009, the federal government program designed HARP to help underwater or near-underwater homeowners refinance into a fixed loan with a lower monthly payment.


The first HARP was not that successful. It was difficult to qualify to refinance under the terms of the program and contained too many roadblocks for the typical homeowner who needed the service so badly.

The program was revised in 2011 to be much more successful and available to many more needy homeowners. Read more


If the terms Snowden, NSA and “top secret information” ring a bell, it’s possible that you follow the national news and understand the issues of privacy—both national and personal.

I’ll be honest. I find it a bit creepy to think that someone out there may be monitoring my emails, phone calls and financial history. That’s one thing, but should that “someone” actually make a move to harm me in any way because of that knowledge? Well, that’s where I know I can do something about it. And I would much rather choose prevention than face the daunting task of repair.

Here’s the problem:

How can I prevent someone grabbing my Social Security number, using it to open a credit-card account and running that baby to the moon—before I know what’s happening?


How can I prevent someone from financing a car in my name using my identity—then crashing it and causing all kinds of damage and personal liability for me, before I can even figure out what on earth happened? I can’t. I wish I could, but I just do not have the resources, network or ability to track and monitor my personal identifying information to stop someone from stealing it. And you know what? No individual does. That would be logistically impossible. Read more


I love autumn. And I mean everything about it—the colors, the smells, the feel in the air and the food. Oh, the food. I’m talking apples—apple cider, applesauce, apple pie and apple cobbler. And who could possibly leave out the caramel apples?


Now look at that list again. It’s all fabulous, but all sweet. I know what you’re thinking: How about savory apple dishes? That’s what I’m thinking, too! Read more


I am so excited. In just a few weeks my new book will be released. The Smart Woman’s Guide to Planning for Retirement has wormed its way into my heart and become very precious to me for two reasons:

First, the entire process turned out to be a very hard-fought battle and I don’t mean so much with the subject matter, but with myself. But more importantly, this book changed me in ways that have been stunning to the point of breathtaking.

I will tell you more about that in coming weeks. But for now, just imagine what this book may do for you as you are facing your own future. While our lives may be very different, the challenges we will face are very similar. If you do nothing to start planning for your future now, as a woman, you have a 50-percent chance of living in poverty in your retirement years. Should you be worried? Only if you don’t start doing something about it now.

Being willing is the first step. The second step is to get the book. Then we can get this conversation started and the “doing” will follow.

With only a few weeks to go to the Nov, 5, 2013 release date, I find myself recalling what it’s like to give birth. I’ve done that twice and it feels a little bit like I’m about to do it again.

However, this gestation as been far longer than nine months. In fact, now that I think about it, I’m identifying more with elephants who take 22 months! Instead of my babies weighing in at about 7 pounds, I’m hoping for something in the thousands for this baby. No. Wait. “Million” sounds so much better, doesn’t it?


You know that I don’t often ask you for favors. Today is different. I’m asking you to pre-order this book. Like right now when you finish this column. Read more


Got pets? Then you also have costs for everything from food to toys, grooming and perhaps even daycare from time to time. But that doesn’t mean your little friends need to break the bank to be happy. Today I want to share some great tips and tricks that readers have sent in that just might get you in the groove to save some dough. Woof!


NO-TIP WATER DISH. Use an old Bundt or angel food pan for your dog’s water bowl. Push a wooden stick through the hole in the middle of the pan into the ground to keep the pan from turning over. The pan can be lifted off for cleaning but the dog can’t tip it over.

SHREDDED PILLOWS. If you love for your large dogs to sleep in comfort but do not love the cost, maintenance and smell of the doggy beds, stuff old clean pillow cases (the ones with zippers) with shredded paper from your shredder. Once a week wash the pillow cases and refill with new shreddings. Now each dog has a plump and fresh pillow every week. They sleep in comfort and there are no doggy smells or costs involved. Read more


Something’s wrong. According to a 2012 survey, 92 percent of women of all ages in this country don’t feel they’re educated enough to plan for retirement. This lack of education can’t be because there aren’t enough books on the subject. And for sure there’s no shortage of workshops, speakers, advisors, brokers, counselors and financial planners offering retirement planning services. Retirement planning has become a mega billion-dollar industry in the US.

bright sunrise grass blue sky

Yesterday I told you about my new book. Yep, it’s a book about retirement planning.

With so many resources already available on the subject, you may be wondering why on earth I’d consider adding another retirement book to the already crowded field. Because I think women need a different kind of a book, one without all the jargon, charts and mind-numbing data―one that simply and honestly cuts through the miles of complicated information that’s out there and gives you just the facts and the motivation you need―in a warm and conversational way, the way we’d chat over coffee about something that is very important to both of us.


The long process of writing The Smart Woman’s Guide to Planning for Retirement—and now living it—has changed my life.

You may think I say that about every book I’ve written, but this is different. I’ve written other books about the changes in my life. But this time, writing it changed me. I am a different person than I was when I began the process. That is just how powerful it is—and I mean in a practical, doable way.  Read more


I have been waiting for this day because I have something to tell you. I’ve been holding a secret. For the past year I’ve been on a very lonely, dark and scary journey.

pier night dark stormy uncertain scary

I knew that when today arrived I would have either come through the pain and agony or died trying. I am so excited because today has  arrived and look—I’m still here! I made it and now I can tell you.

For the longest time—more than a decade—my book editor has been urging me to write a book on a subject I thought was boring, if not distasteful. Every time she brought it up I’d laugh it off and change the subject. Ha ha ha! Not me, please pass the salt.  Read more


If you read the list of ingredients on the back of prepared food products and wonder what they are really (and how to pronounce them), you’re going to love the idea of making your own groceries, whenever possible.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that there’s anything wrong with these mystery ingredients in so many prepared and pre-packaged items. But they do seem to make those grocery items cost a lot.

You can make some of your own groceries for pennies, not dollars. The bonus is that you’ll know for sure what you and your family are eating.

Today I have some really neat recipes for you to make your own salad dressings.

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