Blog Posts by Dory Devlin, Shine staff

  • Old credit card statements track road to debt

    iStockphotoiStockphotoBlogging Away Debt has a good post about how reading through past credit card statements can make the murky maze that leads to debt suddenly and shakingly clear.

    Tricia started writing the blog in 2006, when she and her husband became new parents and decided it was time to end a lifestyle of living beyond their income. They had $37,614 in credit card debt, which is now down to $13,699. Nice going. Her memory was short about the burst of home purchases after moves and buying a new home, but the card statements are pages long to prove it.

    "I'm glad that I am taking some time and reviewing old statements," Tricia writes. "Now it's fresh in my mind how we got into the situation we are in and I can work to make sure it doesn't happen again once our credit card debt is paid off."

    Wise words for everyone.

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  • Men do more at home! When will this not be news?

    These scenes play out more times than I can believe: I run into a friend who tells me in her most awe-filled voice she has seen my husband doing the week's shop at the grocery store, again! Or another marvels at how he has gladly volunteered to carpool a van full of boys to baseball tryouts a half hour away. What a keeper, they say. What a guy.

    And he is all that. But it takes everything I have not to say, "What year is this?" I'm constantly astounded that in 2008 it is still a big deal if a husband and wife share child-care, errand-running, meal-making, and house-cleaning responsibilities to get through the week.

    The latest round of reports signal we keep moving in the right direction. The Council on Contemporary Families summarizes several recent reports that show men are doing more to help with the kids and the home with every decade: "Men and women may not be fully equal yet, but the rules of the game have been profoundly and irreversibly changed." In one study, a sociology

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  • Personal office space: how to handle annoying co-workers

    Some days, personal space in the office doesn't seem to exist at all. Those cubicle walls are really for show, aren't they? You can hear everything going on around you even when co-workers have the best of intentions. And when they don't...well, dealing with annoying co-workers in cramped quarters is tough, but imperative.

    Author Stephen Viscusi says you need to do it head on in this CNNMoney/ piece.
    "Remember, they are peers, not the boss," says Viscusi, who wrote "On the Job: How to Make it in the Real World of Work."

    See if you can identify the annoying co-worker you know best. The TMI (too much information)? The Gossip? Then check out his tips for dealing with them. Got your own tips? Don't hold back.

  • Home prices lowest in four years

    If you're heading out to look at homes to buy this weekend, time, and the housing market, are still solidly on your side.

    Home prices have dropped so quickly
    in many housing markets that home valuations, the difference between what a home is valued at and its actual market price, are the lowest they have been in four years, reports.

    A report by the Cleveland-based National City Corp. and financial analysis firm, Global Analysis, finds more than 88 percent of the 330 housing markets have lower housing prices, making homes more affordable, at least for first-time home buyers.

    If you're selling your home and not getting the price you need to buy a new home, it's not good news. And if you're in the 21 markets (6 percent) where homes remain overvalued, it's as if the bubble never popped and foreclosures are not commonplace.

    Thinking about taking the plunge into home ownership? Here's a comprehensive mortgage calculator from Yahoo! Finance to help you square the numbers.

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  • 5 steps to tame financial 'piles of shame'

    iStockphotoiStockphotoUnless you're as anal as Monk, you know you've got some untended piles of financial papers hanging around, probably where they shouldn't be.

    The Motley Fool's Dayana Yochim knows it, too, because even she lets her bills, account statements, and business receipts roam from unfiled pile, to desk drawer, to closet box without any true order.

    She tackles "our piles of shame" in this terrific piece, "5 Steps to Taming Financial Clutter," just in time for taxes.

  • Re-entering the workforce takes planning

    NBC TodayNBC TodayIf you've been thinking about re-entering the work force after staying home full time with your kids for a few years, check out this NBC Today Show segment from this morning.

    The piece features a great option if you want to explore several job openings but tapping into your network of past colleagues and friends is not leading to anything right away: recruiting firms like Mom Corps, which focus on placing moms who have opted out of the work force for awhile into flexible jobs that harness their years of professional experience.

    Leslie Morgan Steiner, the Washington Post On Balance columnist and author of "Mommy Wars," stops by to provide some tips for stay-at-home moms who want to and/or need to reenter the work force.

    Top of the list: Be determined. "You cannot project ambivalence to potential employers or waste valuable interview time justifying your choices," Steiner says. Amen. Check out all of Steiner's tips, and get inspired.

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  • Enough about the latte! Re-evaluate your cell plan

    iStockphotoiStockphotoIf I read one more list of money-saving tips that starts with cutting out lattes as the way to fiscal security, I'll...spit up my latte. Of course, not spending $3 to $4 once or a gazillion times a week will save money. You can multiply. It's just that it's not an original idea. If you're a latte lover, by now you know what your habit is costing you.

    So Enough about the latte is all about searching out less-tired money-saving tips on the web, and from you. Got a money-saver that's working for your budget? Share! Meanwhile, here's a good one from Real Simple, which has devoted its March issue to "Save more, worry less."

    Make sure your cell phone plan fits your life: "Too many minutes and you're wasting money. Too few and the overages can send your cell-phone bill into the stratosphere," Real Simple wisely warns. "On average, according to the consumer research firm J.D. Power & Associates, cell-phone subscribers use only 64 percent of the minutes they pay for."

    You may not be able to

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  • HR nightmare: Everyone's got one

    Mine was a call from my newspaper's new HR director while on leave with my first baby to tell me I had exceeded my leave time. I hadn't. It was in the early months after President Clinton signed the federal family leave law, and I had worked out the details for some unpaid leave with my supervisors before the director arrived. Mixed with new mom hormones, that call freeeeaked me out.

    Not every HR nightmare is as crazy as Michael Scott's "Diversity Day" or "Safety Training" (check out the NBC "The Office" clip below.) But they're crazy, and you know it. Give us your worst.

  • New Jersey edges closer to paid family leave

    iStockphotoiStockphotoI'm proud to be a Jersey girl today. The state Senate here has approved a bill that would make New Jersey the third U.S. state to allow employees to take paid leave to care for a newborn or a sick relative.

    The federal Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees many employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn, an ill relative, or to recover from personal illnesses. That doesn't cover employees of small companies with 50 or fewer employees. And it doesn't help people who can't afford to lose even a week's pay.

    So it looks like New Jersey will join California and Washington in offering paid leave. (Our state Assembly is expected to approve the legislation this month, Gov. Jon Corzine says he'll sign it, and it would go into effect Jan. 1, 2008).

    What I like about this program is that it is employee funded, which means we would each pay 64 cents a week, or $33 a year, into a fund that would allow covered employees to take up to six weeks paid leave without losing their jobs

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  • Are you getting enough sleep? Most workers average 6 hours, 40 minutes a night

    iStockphotoiStockphotoMonday, and you're not as bright-eyed and charged-up as you'd hoped after cramming everything you couldn't get to during the work week into two short days?

    Mull on this as you gulp your caffeine of choice: This may be the most refreshed you feel all week.

    A survey of 1,000 people by The National Sleep Foundation released today found they get, on average, 6 hours and 40 minutes of sleep a night--even though most said they know they need another 40 minutes to be on top of their game.

    Even better, one out of three said they get sleepy or fall asleep (!) on the job. Now if you're drooling on your keyboard writing a blog post, that's one thing; if you're manning a nuclear plant, it's another.

    The sad, sad irony? Worrying about work may be what keeps many of us up at night, even though we're spending more time doing some work at home (4.5 hours a week, on average, the survey says). On a day-in, day-out basis, it makes more sense that we're trying to cobble some time for ourselves and

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