There’s no such thing as too prepared

Milles/Shutterstock
Milles/Shutterstock
You can’t be too prepared.

I understood that in the abstract sense — who doesn’t? — but it wasn’t until one day exactly 20 years ago that I learned what it really meant. That’s the drizzly, bitter cold Northern California day I discovered I was broke.

I lived in a rat-infested tool shed that had been turned into a spare bedroom in a run-down part of East Berkeley. Down to my last $20, I trudged up to Telegraph Ave., to visit my bank. There, an ATM delivered the bad news dispassionately: I didn’t have enough money in my account to cover next month’s rent.

Come March, I’d be homeless.
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Smart travel advice: Let the destination be your guide

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARolf Potts took his first extended trip — an eight-month journey across North America — two decades ago, and he hasn’t stopped. “I’ve traveled independently on every continent except Antarctica for as long as two years at a time, often for less money than it would cost me to live a rooted life in a major American city,” says Potts, the author of Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel. He’s walked across Israel, bicycled across Burma, piloted a fishing boat down the Laotian Mekong, and driven a Land Rover across the Americas. In 2010, to prove a point about traveling light, he trekked around the world for six weeks with no luggage or bags of any kind. “I’m a big believer in making time in your life to travel long-term and in taking things slow,” he adds. “It’s easier and cheaper than one might think.”
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Bad holiday travel advice – and the bad pundits who give it

I’m done with offering the same dry travel advice every year at about this time. Finished!

You’ve seen the tips: book your tickets early, travel on the holiday, spread your legs for the TSA and you’re guaranteed to have a good trip.

But the travel advice you’re likely to read around the holidays is growing mold, and not once in all of my years of offering it to my good readers has anyone written to say “thank you for recycling.”

You deserve better.
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12 things you shouldn’t do in 2012

They say 2012 is the year of the apocalypse, and while preventing the end of the world is beyond the power of this consumer advocate, there is one disaster I can definitely help you avoid: The apocalypse of your bank account.

Shady businesses are coming for your money, and they are developing more sophisticated ways of extracting it from your wallet and purse. I know because I spent most of this year researching a book about consumer scams.

Here are 12 things you should never ever do as a consumer if you want to avoid having a scammer or an unscrupulous company clear out your bank account.
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