Blog Posts by Dory Devlin, Shine staff

  • Post-It nags: Hands off the microwave!

    Okay, so talking job layoffs on a Monday morning is not a light way to start the week. But this is. I adore this "to each his own microwave" post on True, a grimy, smelly microwave is a downer in any office, but these workers are pretty darn stingy with their office popcorn nuker. Check out the lockout on this microwave...

    photo credit: passiveaggressivenotes.comphoto credit:
    and the accountants' approach this one installed next to it...

    photo credit: passiveaggressivenotes.comphoto credit:
    Any microwave musings from your office this week? It sure makes you want to break your money-saving pledge to bring in homemade lunches and eat out every day of the week instead, no?

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  • Avoid pink slip anxiety: What to do if you're laid off

    Every day it seems as if there's another story about layoffs. Thousands or a few hundred, it doesn't matter how many if you're one of the very human statistics losing a job and forced into a job hunt. It's enough to set off a wave of free-floating pink slip anxiety on a Monday morning.

    Having a plan is always a good way to stave off anxiety and to be ready should you be on the unfortunate end of a somber supervisor's request to "step into my office."

    First, don't panic. Easy to say, hard to do, I know. But if word comes that a layoff is nigh, take a deep breath, then write down a quick list of your accomplishments, skills, and traits that got you this job and the ones that came before. And don't take it personally, hard as it would be not to. You'll need every ounce of your self esteem strong and in tact, so try not to let a big fat job loss eat into it, Get Rich Slowly wisely recommends.

    Go to the finances. There's no avoiding this first step. You've got to know where your assets and

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  • Downtime: Take a hike

    Just back from a brisk walk to clear my head and move my computer-bound body, and it felt good. So as we move into a holiday weekend that for many could involve feasting and lots of sweets, here's a suggestion for some weekend downtime to unwind from the work week without parting with loads of cash. Go for a walk. A really long walk.

    And if you got lots of time, make it a hike. No distractions, just the sounds and smells of the last breath of winter and the dawning days of spring. Go alone. Or go with family members or friends to catch up without hitting a send button or flipping open a cell phone. Just go.

    If you're not sure where to go for a good hike, you might find some trails near your home on this list on The American Hiking Society also has a trail finder on its web site, and if you live near a national park, you can search for hiking trails in parks on this National Park Service web site.

    Don't forget to pack some protein-rich snacks and water so you can keep

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  • Save $50 on a $200 grocery bill

    How? It takes more than coupons, and it takes planning and work. And maybe going to more than one store to get it done. So gas and mileage really should figure in there, too, but let's start with the groceries. I've rounded up some good advice from some terrific frugality and food bloggers around the web to give you some ideas.

    Amanda on Value for Your Life shares her "25 % grocery savings rule,"
    which she says helped cut her food bills by 50 percent in the past year, saving close to $5,000. (She reached the 50-percent mark by also cutting back on eating out, making coffee at home, and making extra portions of food to bring to work for lunch.) The rule: "I don't buy most of my groceries or household products unless they are on sale for at least 25% off of the regular price at the discount grocery stores."

    How she does it:

    • shops at three different discount stores within 10 minutes of each other
    • checks out the weekly store circulars online before going to the stores
    • looks for
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  • Retirement savings: Don't overinvest in company stock

    Thought we learned this lesson when Enron imploded: Don't put too much of your retirement savings into company stock, either through 401(k) plans or employee stock option plans. Then along comes the Bear Stearns flameout this week, and it turns out it's time for a refresher course in retirement savings.

    When JP Morgan swooped in to buy the investment firm for $2 a share before it hit bankruptcy, we learned that Bear Stearns employees, thousands of whom face losing their jobs, own one third of the company's disastrously devalued stock.

    Most companies adjusted their stock offerings in 401(k) plans after Enron employees lost their retirement nest eggs along with their jobs when the company collapsed in 2000. Despite the changes to retirement plans, here's what you should know:

    • One-third of employees who invest in company stock through their 401(k) plans have more than 20 percent of retirement savings in their company's stock
    • And 9 percent of them have more than 80 percent in
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  • Money poll: Is it worth an extra $50 or $100 to pack a second bag?

    Pack light or pay up. That's the word from major airlines, which are now charging for extra bags toted on trips. You're allowed one bag to check, along with a carry-on, but pack heavy and your trips will cost way more than the price of your not-so-cheap ticket. Airlines are charging between $25 and $100 for second bags that weigh 51-70 pounds.

    So the question is, how much is bringing every single thing you want with you on a trip worth to you?

    • $50? (JetBlue, Midwest, Airtran)
    • $85? (Northwest, US Airways)
    • $100? (Continental)

    For a look at how much each airline is charging for each bag, check out this USA Today chart. Then ask yourself, are those 10 extra pairs of shoes really worth another 85 bucks?

    Would you pay to bring another bag or two on a trip, or will you pack light even for long trips?
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  • Have we shopped to the last drop?

    Except for the members of our armed services and their families, most Americans have never been asked to sacrifice at home in the five years since the start of the Iraq war. We have not been asked to cut back on gas, even as fuel prices rise. We have not been asked to save money. In fact, the main thing our president asked us to do shop.

    And shop we did, until many can no more. As Barbara Ehrenreich writes on her blog in the way only Barbara Ehrenreich can, "we've shopped till we dropped alright, face down on the floor." Consumer confidence and spending is dipping, and since America has turned from making things to buying things as our major industry, we have overspent our way into a mess.

    You've got to read Ehrenreich's biting take on how seriously we Americans take our shopping role. Ehrenreich wonders whether we'll outsource shopping along with manufacturing, customer service, X-ray reading, and R & D:

    "But to whom? The Indians are clever enough, but right now they only

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  • One cube over: How to annoy an annoying coworker

    crazytales562/Flickrcrazytales562/FlickrDesperate times call for desperate measures. Is there an annoying coworker one cube over or several away who feels compelled to stop by your office digs to repeatedly bug the heck out of you? If straightforward requests to, please, just stop, go unheeded, the only course of action may be to return fire.

    eHow's Kristen Fischer has some ideas for your arsenal so you can give as good--or better--as you get in her "How to Drive an Annoying Coworker Crazy" post. Things you'll need, says Kristen:

    • A good imagination
    • A warped, sense of humor
    • A sneaky, underhanded nature

    She's got 25 oh-so-annoying moves to get you going. So if you don't want to burn popcorn (step 3) in the microwave so the bad smell willl ruin your day, too, you may want to hum showtunes every time you are near said annoying coworker (step 6), or borrow pens all day long and never return them (step 8).

    Here are a few more of my favorites, depending which way you want to play it.

    Mean: Print a phony memo from Read More »from One cube over: How to annoy an annoying coworker
  • Sex workers need stronger laws to protect them

    As the fallout from the Eliot Spitzer's prostitution story turns to the $1 million offers that Ashley Dupre aka Kristen, the high-priced prostitute linked to the ex-New York governor, is fielding for nude photo layouts and the 9 million hits her MySpace page is getting, it is so terribly easy to see prostitution as a benign, consenting adult kind of thing. Minus the adultery.

    Don't. Because the truth about prostitution in the United States is less about well-compensated call girls and more about abused and poorly if-ever paid young girls. Many of whom don't even warrant an Amber alert when they go missing, as the New York Times Nicholas Kristof writes in this excellent column.

    Juhu Thukral, director of the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center in New York, worked with Spitzer's administration to write the stricter laws against prostitution clients that Spitzer may soon face charges on. But she argued unsuccessfully with Spitzer to instead strengthen laws against human

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  • Office Post-It Nags: The drinks aren't all that need to chill
    Over at, the Refrigerator Stocking Angel gets her 15 minutes of fame. Got any crazy notes like this hanging on your office fridge? It makes you think someone's got a lot of time on their hands in the office.


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