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April 2006


When preparing taxes, one challenge is collecting all of the necessary documents. Tax-related papers flow into a home at all times of the year, not just in the spring. It’s easy to lose important papers. I’ve found a method to eliminate the headache completely. I have a bill-paying area at my desk: a small cubby-hole specifically designated for bills, financial statements, and receipts. Each January I take a small manilla envelope and label it —…

New automobiles are generally poor investments for a number of reasons. That’s a topic for another post. Some people don’t want the hassle of buying a used car, or prefer the features of a new model. If you’re going to buy a new car, how much should you pay? There’s some great advice to be found in this AskMetafilter thread, including the obvious “check with Consumer Reports“. When we bought my wife’s Civic a decade…

This is the first in a series of practical examples of how people put frugal notions to use in real-life. I often claim that the back porch is “my favorite room in the house”. It’s true. This is partly because it’s situated at the home’s northeast corner, which is perfect for Portland weather. But mostly I love this place because I’ve been able to furnish it cheaply and effectively. This is a self-portrait I took…

Here’s a site that lists 450+ useful free utilities for Microsoft Windows that do specific jobs well, allowing you to save time and money. The site lists: 19 anti-malware utilities 24 audio utilities 27 business utilities 18 communication utilities 45 desktop utilities 11 text editors 60 file manipulation utilities 4 financial utilities 27 graphics utilities 13 reference utilities 39 internet utilities 6 macro utilities 61 system enhancement utilities 20 productivity utilities 9 programming utilities 2…

Users Manual Guide is an on-line database of hundreds of user manuals for electronic devices: Panasonic air conditioners, Sharp microwave ovens, CASIO calculators, Motorola phones and more. The next time you have a problem with an electronic device, check here first for a downloadable PDF of the user manual.

The official Get Rich Slowly position on credit cards is: DON’T USE THEM. Credit cards are a trap. They’re designed to make money for banks, not to be convenient for consumers. There’s a reason that credit card companies are making record profits. There’s a reason that banks are eager to offer consumers new credit cards. You have to question anything that a bank is eager to do for you; you can be sure it’s not…

Here are two lists of tips for buying at garage sales. First, PR Leap offers Five Myths of Garage Sales (and how they are keeping you from finding garage sale gold). The five myths are: Stuff at garage sales has all been used. It’s true that much of the stuff for sale at garage sales has been used, but it’s generally in good condition. There’s also a lot of stuff that is brand-new. When we…

Cribnotes has created a guide to selling stuff on eBay. (Which, in turn, is an outgrowth of his eBay FAQ.) I recently sold a couple of thousand dollars worth of old books and games using the methods he describes here. Selling on eBay or craigslist is an excellent way to simultaneously declutter your life and generate a little extra cash. Selling does require an investment of some time and energy, but since eBay allows you…

Money can’t buy you love. It can’t buy you happiness either. Hedonistic Adjustment and Seattle Simplicity have linked to a wonderful paper outlining the road to happiness. This paper is from an investment strategy company, but guess what? They admit that money isn’t the answer. If you are after specific investment advice, stop reading now. We seek to explore one of Adam Smith’s obsessions: what it means to be happy. We also discuss why that’s…

Gas prices are rising, and there’s no end in sight. Thankfully, you can find the cheapest gas prices in your neighborhood with GasBuddy. Gasoline prices change frequently and may vary by as much as twenty percent within only a few blocks it is important to be able locate the service station with the lowest priced fuel. GasBuddy web sites allow motorists to share information about low priced fuel with others as well as target the…

Nearly every financial adviser — from accountants to brokers to books — advises that debts should be paid off in a particular order: from highest interest rate to lowest interest rate. While this method makes sense from a mathematical point of view, it makes less sense from a psychological point of view. Assume a typical young woman in her mid-twenties who awakes one morning to realize that she’s in debt and who decides to do…

In today’s CNNMoney “Ask the Expert” column, a 33-year-old reader wants to know if he can can count on an early retirement. I’m 33 years old and have $75,000 saved in my 401(k). I make $70,000 a year and contribute 10 percent of my salary to my 401(k). My company then matches the first 6 percent. Am I on track to retire at 55, or should I open a Roth IRA to supplement my 401(k)?…

Check your tax refund status easily with this simple web-based tool from the IRS. You’ll need to provide your social security number, marital status, and exact refund amount in order for your request to be processed.

The Get Rich Slowly discussion forum is now open. Anyone may register to ask questions, or to post hints and tips regarding investing, saving money, using credit wisely, and learning to live a simple, frugal life. As with this weblog, the discussion forum is currently in an early testing form. If you have questions or recommendations, please post them. Enjoy!

Liz Pulliam Weston suggests that you may want to consider using cash instead of a debit card. Weston admits that debit cards offer plenty of advantages, including: They’re convenient. They’re easier to track. They may offer some protection. They may offer some rewards. Despite these advantages, she suggests that it may be better to move to a cash-only system. It’s just too easy to overspend with a debit card. She cites one family that uses…

I realize that I’m a day late and a dollar short with this particular news, but last week’s issue of Newsweek (April 17th — the one with Katie Couric on the cover) has an article by Jane Bryant Quinn about retirement called “When Your Paycheck Stops”. With longer life spans in our future, many of us will need to save even more than our parents and grandparents in order to meet the needs of the…

Here’s a brief roundup of some personal-finace related stories: Maxed Out is a new film that explores America’s addiction to credit cards. Newseek takes a look at the movie and talks with the filmmaker, James Scurlock. PracticalMoneySkills.com is a free site intended to help teachers, parents, and students learn life-long money management skills. The site boasts an impressive array of resources, including financial caluclators, school lesson plans, games, and a banking tutor. This project has…

What really goes on in the back rooms of car dealerships across America? What does the car salesman do when he leaves you sitting in a sales office and goes to talk with his boss? What are the tricks salespeople use to increase their profit and how can consumers protect themselves from overpaying? Find answers to these questions and more in Confessions of a Car Salesman at edmunds.com. Edmunds sent one of their new hires…

Today’s Sound Money Tip is about saving when moving. When it comes to moving, most people buy their boxes from the movers because of the convenience factor. If you think ahead a bit, you can get your moving boxes for free by asking at stores (I’ve always had great success with stationary and office supply stores). If you a haven’t thought ahead or don’t feel like making the effort to find boxes for free, you…

“Track everything you spend” is one of the key steps to getting rich slowly. It’s easy to do this after the fact using a personal ledger or software such as Quicken. But how do you plan for expenses? A budget is the best way to see where your money needs to go. Some people keep detailed budgets, and adhere to them religiously. Others — such as myself — keep loose budgets, and use them simply…

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