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2007


Did you get a lot of gift cards for Christmas? Would you rather have cash? Would you rather have a card for another store? Richard O. Johnson at the fascinating Beyond Barter has created a page highlighting smart gift card strategies: how to best acquire or dispose of them. This page offers a wealth of sound, practical tips about gift cards, including information on: Why you should beware of bank gift cards Gift card traps…

Yesterday I made a sales call to a local business, a nursery owned by one of my former high school classmates. Keith and I didn’t move in the same circles and were never friends, but I always appreciated his good nature and quick wit. In just twenty minutes yesterday morning, I got to know him better than I had the entire time we were kids. Like my father, Keith’s dad ran his own business. Both…

In 1973, Burton Malkiel published A Random Walk Down Wall Street, in which he argued that a blindfolded monkey could pick stocks as well as a professional investor. Though I bought a copy of Random Walk for $3.99 at the local Goodwill last year, I haven’t read it. It looks dense. I know it’s written for the layman, but it still seems rather academic. In 2003, Malkiel published The Random Walk Guide to Investing, “a…

Ah, winter. It’s the time of year that a young man’s thoughts turn to taxes. It used to be that I would rough out our tax situation as soon as the forms became available. Because I insisted on having too much withheld from my paycheck, I was anxious to know how large my tax refund would be. (This was the only way I could make myself save.) Paycheck calculator Next year my financial situation will…

Earlier today I wrote about using a home equity loan to pay off credit cards. I suggested that this may be a good option for somebody who has arrested her spending and is ready to focus on debt elimination. It’s a move that carries a big downside, though, and is certainly not a good choice for everyone. When I took out my home equity loan in 1998, I wasn’t aware of any other options. I…

This is a “dueling bloggers” post between me and Jim at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity. Read his post about not using home equity to pay off unsecured debt, and share your thoughts about this issue with us! You’ve spent the past few years being dumb with money. You realize that now. Your credit cards are maxed out, you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, and you cannot see a way out. You plan to sell some stuff and to…

This is a guest post from Plonkee Money. Plonkee lives in England, where she writes about personal finance. A friend of mine has a tendency to be swayed by conspiracy theories, his favorites being The Da Vinci Code and the fictionalization of the Apollo Moon Landings. I was talking to him the other day, and he asked if I knew that money held in savings accounts was loaned out to other people and that banks…

This morning’s post on the pros and cons of gift cards generated some great discussion. GRS readers seem fairly evenly divided on the topic. Some of you like gift cards, but many do not. My favorite parts of the conversation were the various gift card hacks people shared: Greg noted “You can frequently get 90-105% of the cash value of a gift card on eBay. For example: here and here.” I’ll suggest this to my…

There’s always a lot of fuss this time a year about gift cards. Some people love them, and some people hate them. I’m sort of in the middle. On the one hand, I continue to believe that anything a big company wants you to purchase is probably not in your best interest. That is, if a mega-corporation is all fired up to sell gift cards, you can bet they’re a profit center, which probably means…

This is a guest post from the Millionaire Mommy Next Door. At her blog, MMND shares her recipe for success, happiness, and financial freedom. This piece originally appeared on her site in a slightly different format. When my husband and I married (at age 23), I was working as an office assistant at a veterinary hospital earning $7.50 per hour. Unsatisfied with my low wages, I brainstormed ways to generate extra income. Going to the…

Bill wrote the other day looking for my opinion on Sharebuilder. Sharebuilder is an online discount brokerage that encourages automatic scheduled purchases of stocks and exchange-traded funds. In plain English, the company makes it easy to start investing. Here’s what Bill had to say: I was wondering what you thought about Sharebuilder. I am considering signing up for an Individual Retirement Account. I am not sure if Sharebuilder is a good place to start, or…

This is a guest post from Aaron Pinkston. He used to help other insurance agents understand insurance. Now he prefers dealing directly with the public. Insurance is an oft-misunderstood financial tool. I feel like it’s my responsibility to help folks out with their questions when I can. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m the patron saint of insurance, but I do think the world would be a slightly better place if I could…

Editor’s Note: This is a story about how to get out debt. While every situation is different, all financial experts agree that too much debt can cripple your future. It can prevent you from buying a home when you want to, make the cost of borrowing more expensive and turn everyday transactions into tomorrow’s nightmare. This is the story of J.D. Roth, founder of Get Rich Slowly. Twenty years ago, I was a freshman in…

Three years ago, I decided to get out of debt. I hit the books, reading one personal finance title after another, searching for answers. Two books — Your Money or Your Life and The Total Money Makeover — were perfect for my situation. They gave me the tools I needed to tackle my problems. Now I’ve found a third book that would have been useful at the start of my journey to financial freedom. All…

This is a guest-post from Free Money Finance. It’s a follow-up to Mrs. Micah’s post earlier today. A few weeks ago, J.D. and I were chatting when he asked me what it felt like to be debt-free. He’d read on my blog that I had no debt and was curious if I’d write about it for Get Rich Slowly. In particular, he asked me to communicate both how I managed to pay off my mortgage…

This is a guest post from Mrs. Micah of Finance and Life. Look for a related post later today. Getting an interest-only mortgage can seem like a great idea when you’re trying to buy a house and can’t afford a down payment (or if you have bad credit). Earlier this week, I read the story of a couple who are celebrating home-ownership under just such a situation. But while they’re happy, odds are that this…

Cold cold cold — I am cold. Remember George Bailey’s “drafty old barn” in It’s a Wonderful Life? Our place is like that. This 100-year-old farmhouse is cold all winter long. There are drafts at the doors, there’s inadequate insulation, and we have 30 windows in 1800 square feet. (Our old house had eight windows in 1400 square feet.) Every year, we do a little more to make this place energy efficient, but it’s a…

This is a guest post from Jeff Sackmann, a GMAT tutor based in New York City. Jeff runs the blog GMAT Hacks.  He is the author of The GMAT Math Bible and several other GMAT-related resources. Are you looking for a way to earn some extra money?  Did you do well in school, or on standardized tests?  Offering tutoring services may be a good bet for you. I’ve been a private tutor for the better…

In 1978, Don Lancaster — a computer and electronics geek — published a book called The Incredible Secret Money Machine. Though the title smacks of get-rich-quick schemes, The Incredible Secret Money Machine is really about starting and running a small business. To Lancaster, a “money machine” is any venture that generates “nickels”. Nickels are small streams of revenue from individual customers. If your goal is simply to earn a comfortable income for yourself by doing…

Earlier today I wrote that I like to prepay my monthly bills. I acknowledged that some people might think this was dumb, but that I liked to do it anyhow. It’s not often that I share something with which GRS readers vehemently disagree. This is one of those rare cases. Because there’s so much opposition to this idea, and because each of these points is valid, I’ve combed the comments to compile a list of…

Note: While I think this is a good idea, it’s clear that many readers strongly disagree. Before deciding whether to try this, please read the arguments in opposition. Earlier this year, on a whim, I did something a little odd: instead of just paying my monthly cable and internet bills, I wrote large checks, pre-paying for several months of service. I didn’t have a reason for doing it at the time. I had a momentary…

I had dinner with my friend Sue the other night. Over pasta and clams, we talked about life and money. She told me about her brother. “He’s a compulsive spender,” said Sue. “He spends money even when he doesn’t have any.” “What do you mean?” I asked. “Well,” she said, “for one thing, he spends his money before he gets it. For example, when he was still working with Big Computer Company, Inc., somebody told…

Think you need to spend a fortune to tie the knot? It’s just not so. Kris and I got hitched for a couple grand in 1993. In this guest post from JerichoHill, he explains how he kept costs down for his wedding last summer. Weddings are expensive affairs. Couples often spend tens of thousands of dollars for an event that lasts only a day or two. I know, I know — the memories last a…

Yesterday, Brent wrote with a question regarding the types of investments one can have in a Roth IRA: Is there such a thing as a Roth IRA “savings” account that gets rates comparable to a good “regular” savings accounts (5% APR or higher)? Is there a reason this is so difficult to find information on (at least for me)? It seems like any place that I want to take my Roth IRA to will require…

Is it better to buy or rent? It’s one of the eternal personal finance questions, and one that each person has to decide for herself. There are lots of non-financial factors that affect this decision, of course, including your hobbies, lifestyle, and personal psychology. Despite these non-financial considerations, often the choice comes down to money. What makes the most financial sense? In July, guest-author Tim Ellis shared his thoughts on the rent vs. buy debate…

There are certain aspects of personal finance that I’ve never had to deal with. Student loans are one of these. But student loans are a huge concern for many people. This guest-post from SJean is an introduction to repaying these debts. There are really two things to know about student loans: How to get them, and what to do when you have to start paying them back. I’m going to write about the latter, as…

It’s that spooky haunted time of year — my annual post about estate planning! Last year I shared a brief guide to creating a will. Today I’m going to look at a recent New York Times article by Christine Larson that provides an overview of will preparation software. Larson writes, “Recently, the increasing sophistication of software and services for estate planning, combined with growing consumer comfort with online financial management, has led to a boom…

I’m often asked, “Which is best, a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA?” There’s no one right answer. Which option you choose depends on your goals, and it depends on what you think your income will be like in the future. In theory, there’s no difference between the eventual returns. In practice, there are a variety of factors that can affect your decision, of which tax rates are perhaps the most notable. Walter Updegrave at…

This is a guest post from Dough Roller, a Washington D.C. blogger who writes about building wealth, one dollar at a time. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit. — Aristotle We tend to define our lives by the big events: graduation, marriage, children, a big promotion, retirement. What often gets neglected are the little things we do every day, the little things that make the big…

David Bach is perhaps best known for coining the term the latte factor, a phrase that has almost become a joke in personal finance circles. That’s too bad, really, because Bach has some good ideas. And the latte factor is a marvelous concept, applicable to many people who casually spend their future a few dollars at a time. Bach’s most popular book is The Automatic Millionaire. I’ve referred to it often, but never reviewed it…

I recently mentioned two Liz Pulliam Weston articles in passing. They’re good enough to merit closer attention. Both articles profile couples who found the courage to save money when they were young so that they could enjoy the freedom of early retirement. Weston writes: Think it’s impossible to retire in your 40s? I’d like you to meet some ordinary folks who have done it. “Ordinary” may be a misnomer, because retiring after just 20 years…

Recently I wrote about the transition from “becoming debt-free” to “living debt-free”. One reader e-mailed me some advice that I felt did a good job summarizing what everyone had said. The following was written by James Crocker, and is an excerpt from a much longer message. This post has been edited for clarity. Congratulations! You’re about to accomplish something many people have never done, and something that many others never will do: become debt-free. (Well,…

I had lunch with my friend Cameron a few weeks ago. Over plates of Kung Pao Chicken and Mongolian Beef, the conversation drifted toward personal finance. We began to talk about the repairs and upgrades we’ve been making to our homes. Kris and I bought our current house three years ago; Cameron and his wife bought their home two years ago. Both were big upgrades from what we had previously owned. And though neither couple…

I met some friends at a local restaurant Monday night. While chatting, we found ourselves bopping to the music playing on the radio. For more than hour, great song followed great song: U2, Eurythmics, The Police, Elvis Costello, The Clash, New Order. But the ambient noise made it impossible to know what station we were hearing. “I have to know what this is,” I said at last. “This could be my new favorite radio station.”…

This is a post by Michael Mihalik, author of Debt is Slavery (and 9 Other Things I Wish My Dad Had Taught Me About Money). Wouldn’t it be great to be financially secure — to never have to worry about money? What would it take to get there? In fact, what exactly is financial security? Ask ten people to define how much money it takes to attain financial security and you will probably get ten…

A few weeks ago I wrote about my realization that I have too much Stuff. For two decades, I had been a willing participant in our consumerist culture, buying books and magazines and video games and compact discs and George Foreman grills. After twenty years of this, all I had to show for it was a mountain of debt and a home filled with Stuff. Recently, Kris and I have been working to purge our…

Kris and I joined some friends last weekend for a 40th birthday celebration at Bluehour, a swanky Portland restaurant. While the other couples spent $150 to $250 for their meals, we escaped paying only $52, including tip. We hadn’t planned to do this, but our unintentional parsimony taught us a few ways to save the next time we dine out at a fancy restaurant: Eat a healthy snack before you go to take the edge…

The November 2007 issue of Kiplinger’s has a great article from James K. Glassman called “The Upside of Risk”. Glassman’s explanation of market risk is wonderful. Normally, I’d post an excerpt from the online version of the article and then point you to it, but I can’t find this piece anywhere on the web. Instead, I’ll post a longer excerpt than normal. Imagine a world in which stock investments performed the same year after year….

This is a guest post from Mike Panic, a freelance photographer and network administrator. In his spare time, Panic runs three sites: Randomn3ss, iPhotoForum, and iLikeCheapStuff. Over the past eight years I have been buying and selling items on eBay for myself and, more recently, for small businesses. In that time I’ve learned a few tricks to help get maximum profit for items with just a few tweaks during the listing process. Here’s a checklist…

This is a guest post from Shiva, who wrote to offer some advice on how to shop for prescription medicine: don’t assume that the new new stuff is better! I am a general internist — a physician who provides primary care to adult patients — and am on the faculty of a medical school, where I teach medical students and residents. One of my interests is the excess marketing and use of expensive yet marginally effective prescription drugs. I have…

When you shop, you are manipulated in myriad subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways. Everything from store layout to background music to package design is carefully planned to make you more likely to part with your hard-earned dollars. New Scientist reports that marketers are now learning to “recruit smell for the hard sell“: Scent, marketeers say, is the final frontier in “sensory branding”. Of all our five senses, smell is thought to be the most closely linked…

What if you’ve reviewed the compromises required to pay your mortgage early and the idea still appeals to you? You might pay a bank to set up a bi-weekly payment plan or a money merge account. But you can do just as well by taking mortgage acceleration into your own hands. Here are three options I’ve considered: Rather than pay my mortgage, I could deposit my money into a high-yield savings account earning roughly 5%…

Over the past few weeks, I’ve received several questions about money merge accounts (sometimes called “Australian mortgages”). I haven’t paid much attention to these because I’m unfamiliar the products. But when Abbie wrote last week, I decided to do some research. Here’s what she said: My financial guy handed me a DVD for United First Financial the last time I spoke with him.  Apparently they are a company that uses “sophisticated algorithms” to compute how…

Lady Kemma recently wrote with a question about money and ethics: Last week I went out with my work department. After feeding 30 people, all with individual checks, I left the harried waitress a generous tip. My colleague said, “You’re leaving too much tip.” I said, “The poor lady earned it.” I left the money on the cash tray and got up to leave. My colleague proceeded to take some of the money off my…

I am a procrastinator. I always have been. It’s a character flaw, and I admit it. I’ve tried all sorts of things to beat the habit — Getting Things Done, e-mail reminders, dozens of list systems — but the only thing that seems to work is to: Do it now. This is blindingly obvious, I know, but many people lose sight of this fundamental skill. It’s not that we don’t know that we should do…

I hate plumbing. Whenever a faucet begins to leak or a drain clogs, my stomach sinks. I know it means hours of frustrating work. It’s not that plumbing is difficult — it’s just that I’m not well-versed in the ways of home-improvement. Somehow I missed that part of Manhood Training. Despite my apprehension, over thirteen years of homeownership, I’ve made it a point to do as much repair work as I’m able. It has saved…

Food budgets vary widely, even for similar families living in the same city. As we’ve discussed in the past, one family of four might budget $800/month for food, while another budgets $300, and a third spends $520. Many people wonder how it’s possible to eat so inexpensively. Mallow’s recent post in the forums is typical: I have no idea how you guys are living off of $120-$150 a month for food. Either the groceries around…

When I picked up The 4-Hour Workweek, I was worried it was some sort of “get rich quick” book. The first few pages didn’t do much to change my mind. The author, Timothy Ferriss, makes a lot of bold claims, such as: “How do you create a hands-off business that generates $80,000 per month with no management? It’s all here.” But something happened during the first few chapters. When I read a book, I use…

For years, Kris and I have used coupons as one tool to get lower prices when shopping for groceries. Some people are opposed to coupons, but we’ve found that they help us to save money. (Number one tip: don’t use a coupon to buy something you wouldn’t normally purchase.) In the Get Rich Slowly forums, we’ve been discussing how much the average family spends on food. MITBeta wrote: Our budget (two adults and a seven-month-old)…

Last year I asked, “How much do you spend on food?” Answers varied widely. Some commenters couldn’t comprehend that others could spend so much — or so little. I’ve always believed that buying produce at the farmers market is a good way to cut food costs. But is it really? This weekend I decided to find out. Over the past two days, I’ve surveyed produce prices at five different locations: the farmers market, a produce…

A couple of readers have mentioned that they’re nervous about the stock market’s recent volatility. I’ve read similar concerns on other blogs and financial news sites. People are worried that the stock market’s performance over the last month portends an impending bear market, and they don’t know what to do. Reading these concerns reminded me of Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes, which I reviewed last week. In the book, the authors discuss panic…

Money is more about mind than it is about math — that’s one of the key tenets of this site. People make financial decisions based not on mathematical ideals, but on emotion. There’s actually a branch of economics called behavioral finance devoted exclusively to this phenomenon, exploring the interplay between economic theory and psychological reality. On a recent train ride across Ireland, I read a book on behavioral economics called Why Smart People Make Big…

Some readers are worried about my change in stance regarding credit cards. Misuse of best rewards credit card was the chief reason I came to be buried in debt. For years after coming to my senses, the only way for me to cope with credit cards was not to have one. I still believe that this is the proper course of action for anyone who hasn’t gained control of her finances, and I would never…

This guest post from Justin McHenry is sure to be controversial. Though I just spent three weeks using a credit card while on vacation, I’m still wary of them. McHenry has some thoughts for people like me. When people ask me what I do and I tell them I run a credit card comparison site, they generally look away, as if I’ve just said I’m a pimp. Or a crack dealer. Or a crack-dealing pimp….

My friend Lisa is something of an eBay addict. I’ll be at her house admiring something or other and she’ll smile confidentially and whisper, “I got it off eBay.” She recently showed up at a dinner party wearing a smart cocktail dress. When the other women admired it she smiled confidentially and whispered, “I got it off eBay.” At Christmas she made some crafty little things that amazed and delighted the recipients. When we asked…

This is a guest post from Kim McGrigg of Money Management International, the nation’s largest nonprofit credit and debt counseling firm. I often warn consumers about the little things that can have a big impact on their credit score. Today, I’m in more of a “don’t sweat the small stuff” kind of a mood. It is apparent that some people take this credit reporting stuff very seriously. In fact, one consumer recently took time out…

This is a guest post by Mehdi, author of StrongLifts.com. If you enjoy this post, check out his site. Eating healthy is important. . Eating healthy: Lowers disease risks Increases productivity Gives you more energy Makes you stronger You probably think eating healthy is expensive. I’ll be honest — it is. But there are tricks to spare your savings account and keep it low cost. Here are sixteen ways to eat more healthy while keeping…

This guest post is by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, one of my favorite blogs. Most of the time, the standard advice about debt elimination is to pay it off incrementally, over a period of time. We’re advised to be patient, and to hold on tight until the day comes when we pay off our debt. That’s good advice, and I endorse it — however, many people have trouble doing things gradually. For them, I…

This is a guest post from JerichoHill. Recently my fiancée and I have engaged in a bit of home-renovation. Several years ago, Julie bought half of a duplex in a suburb of Washington, D.C. It is rather small for a house today, with two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a finished basement. The bedrooms were small because the duplex was constructed in the early 1960s. Her place was large enough for a spoiled-rotten dog and the…

This is a guest-post from Chris Heiska, The Yardsale Queen. Some people believe the myth that there’s only junk at yardsales and thrift stores. That is absolutely not true. Buying at yardsales doesn’t necessarily mean that you are buying someone’s used, dirty castoffs. I often find Christmas wrapping paper still attached to the box, or a wedding card tucked inside of a box that was probably a duplicate wedding gift (and now the present that…

This is a guest-post from Free Money Finance. J.D. is on vacation in Europe. This guest-post has had some very passionate comments. I felt it appropriate to reference J.D’s thought on the matter included in this article “I’ve intentionally kept my political and religious leanings obscure at Get Rich Slowly — they have no bearing on personal finance.” However, FreeMoneyFinance disagrees and took time out from their very busy schedule to post a very lengthy…

“The Tim” is in a bind. He’d like to help his brother-in-law out of a tight spot, but he’s not interested in loaning him money. What are his options? Here’s his story: My brother-in-law is currently in his third year of college at a private university. He is paying for his schooling without any financial assistance from his parents, as they had somewhat of a falling-out a few years ago. Recently, his job came to…

The series on Roth Individual Retirement Arrangements (Roth IRAs) has covered a number of topics — what they are, how (and where) to open one, and which investments are best. Now, in the final part, we turn to some of your questions. Remember: I am not a financial adviser. I’m just a regular guy trying to gather information to help you. If you need more specific answers, please consult a CPA or an investment professional. All of the questions…

During our ongoing discussion of buying a car, somebody pointed to a handy little tool at Edmunds.com. (Edmunds is an excellent resource, sort of like Bankrate, but for cars.) Here’s how their site describes this tool: You’ve narrowed your choices to two new cars, but you can’t seem to decide which one is really the better deal. The purchase price of each car is nearly the same. The features are similar, and you like the…

Eleanor wrote with a question that could test even the mightiest personal finance expert. “What,” she asks, “can you do when you want to save money and your roommates don’t care?” I share a house with four roommates.  This saves me at least $200 a month from what I would be paying if I lived in an apartment.  But roommates raise expenses in other, unexpected ways.  I have been trying to cut down on monthly…

Sometimes you can find personal finance tools in the most unlikely places. The University of Illinois Extension Service offers a collection of consumer money resources, including tips for thrifty living, credit card smarts fact sheets, and a guide to consumer and family economics. I was most impressed with A Working Woman’s Guide to Financial Security. This series of planning guides has been designed to help women of all ages develop skills they need in order…

This is a guest post from Lisa Lessley Briscoe. My friend (and fellow Bearcat) Lisa writes: “I was just poking around on GRS (I don’t usually read) and noticed that you’d posted an entry for college graduates recently. Funny how summer rolls around and you start thinking about stuff.” She’s passed along some additional advice for those just entering the workplace. Congratulations, you just graduated from an excellent liberal arts college! You worked incredibly hard…

Credit cards ruined my life. Between 1989 and 1998, I accumulated nearly $25,000 in credit card debt. During that time, I added about $2,500 of new debt every year (over $200 each month). I was a compulsive spender. Eventually, the debt load became so great that I was forced to face the problem. I cancelled my credit cards, rolled the debt into a home equity loan, and haven’t carried a personal credit card for the…

Because of Opt-Out Prescreen, I no longer get credit card offers at home. From time-to-time, though, I get them at work. A few weeks ago, I received an offer that puzzles me: Seems pretty normal, huh? Well, let’s look more closely. Here’s the address: And the fake card: (Why do they include fake cards, anyhow? Do they really induce more people to apply?) I have no idea how anyone found a database in which my…

So you are in the market for a Roth IRA, that popular, flexible, tax-advantaged vehicle that can be used to save for retirement — smart choice — but here comes the next question: which investments are best for a Roth IRA? Roth IRA mutual fund options for investment There are three basic options for your Roth IRA investments: Index funds Exchange traded funds (or ETFs) Managed mutual funds It’s essential whatever you choose it has as low an…

I graduated from college in 1991 with a degree in psychology and a minor in English lit. I was one course shy of a second minor in speech comm. With credentials like these, it’s no surprise that my first job out of school was knocking on doors, selling crummy insurance to little old ladies in Eastern Oregon. I hated the job, but I could not quit. I was trapped by debt. After I was hired,…

Recently I wrote how I’ve been able to live a more fulfilling life by saying “yes” to opportunities and experiences instead of being afraid of them. Another way to look at this is that I’ve developed self-reliance — I’ve learned to take responsibility for my own happiness instead of being passive, leaving my happiness in the hands of others. Here’s a short educational film from 1951 that explores the subject of self-reliance. “If you’re not…

For much of my adult life I’ve been shackled by fear. I’ve been afraid to try new things, afraid to meet new people, afraid of doing anything that might lead to failure. This fear confined me to a narrow comfort zone. Recently, however, I made a single small change that has helped me to overcome my fear, and allowed me to get more out of life. Last fall somebody at Ask Metafilter posted a question…

This article is by contributor Lisa Aberle.

Have you ever hosted a yard sale with dismal sales? You made a dollar per hour for your efforts. No fun. If you want to add to your savings account or start an emergency fund by throwing a yard sale, use these tips to host an epic event. Yard Sale Tip Sections Define your goal Scheduling your sale Merchandise Differentiate your event Advertising Supplies Pricing Staging Avoiding…

In my review of The Secret, I complained about the get rich quick mentality the book espouses. I was particularly cranky at the financial “advice” to visualize checks coming in the mail. That tip came from David Schirmer, an Australian financial “expert”. Here’s the complete passage from The Secret: When I first understood The Secret, every day I would get a bunch of bills in the mail. I thought, “How do I turn this around?”…

When I asked recently for topics you’d like to see covered at Get Rich Slowly, many of you expressed interest in learning more about how to purchase a home. Jason sent the following question: What’s the best vehicle to save money for a house? I’m probably more than a year from purchasing my first real estate. While maxing out my Roth IRA and building a nice emergency fund, I need to start saving specifically for…

You’ve heard how awesome Roth IRAs are and how starting one now can mean big bucks when you’re older. You’ve even done some research so you have a vague idea of how a Roth IRA works. Now what? How do you actually open a Roth IRA for yourself? The good news is that it’s surprisingly easy to set up a retirement account and begin investing in your future. Here’s what to do… How to open…

  IRAs are tax-advantaged accounts that can hold your retirement investments. It’s easy to get intimidated by IRAs. Here is an example of a common email we receive on the subject of IRAs: “I’m going to open a Roth IRA on my own, and I’d like to know what online sites you or your readers would suggest. I want to invest in index funds, having heard they are the bee’s knees, but books and the…

Paul writes with a common question that illustrates how challenging personal finance can be, even when you’re doing the right things. Sometimes it’s difficult to choose between several good options. Here’s his dilemma: I refinanced my house a few years ago at a great rate (5-3/8%). At the time, we had a lot of equity in the house so we borrowed against it in order to build an addition. After we were finished, we had…

// < ![CDATA[ digg_url = 'http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2007/05/30/how-to-improve-your-gas-mileage-23-top-tips-for-better-fuel-economy/'; // ]]> Fuel prices have been hovering at record levels around the United States for the past few weeks. Now is a good time to review of the best ways to improve your gas mileage and save money at the tank. I scoured dozens of web sites and read hundreds of tips — these are the best of the bunch. >> Save Money With Your Vehicle << Purchase a...

An anonymous poster at AskMetafilter wonders should parents finance grad school? Should parents help their children pay for grad school if they can afford it? My parents are divorced, but both are in households considered in the top 1% of the US in terms of income and net worth. After limited financial assistance from them during undergrad, I am getting no help at all for grad school. Am I out of line to expect that…

Your credit score is like a pet monster under the bed. Feed it and care for it, and it will do your bidding. But if you neglect it, it will turn against you. But beware! Taking good care of it can bring you dangerously close to its sharp teeth. Your credit score determines the types of credit you can obtain, and how much you will be charged in interest. Last year I described the anatomy…

When you buy a home, you learn there are many little costs that accumulate over time: mortgage, interest, insurance, utilities, maintenance, etc. Many of these are recurring expenses about which little can be done. There is one expensive, however, that homeowners can eliminate, and should do so as soon as possible. Lenders require private mortgage insurance (commonly called PMI) from homebuyers who take out loans that are more than 80 percent of a property’s value….

The discussion yesterday about how to earn money when you’ve lost your job got me thinking about ways to earn extra income outside regular employment. None of these are quick fixes, but they’re ways to generate cash in your spare time. Get a second job vslide_var1 = ‘vslide-extracash’; A second job can be an excellent way to earn extra money if you have the time and energy. Why have a second job? To pay off…

April was National Financial Literacy Month. Get Rich Slowly did its part by featuring a video series that explored saving and investing. Here are links to each part in the series: Introduction The power of compounding Providers and users of capital The difference between debt and equity What is leverage? An introduction to financial statements Why do financial markets exist? What is a bond? What is a stock? What is a stock market index? The…

Several months ago I mentioned in passing that my wife and I keep separate finances. I promised to eventually explain why, and to discuss the pros and cons of doing so. Our story When I was a boy, my parents fought about money often. And loudly. They had joint finances, but it didn’t seem to matter. Each accused the other of being financially irresponsible. (Both were right.) Their example left me disenchanted with the notion…

Last week Dylan Ross, a certified financial planner, explained what a financial plan is and why it’s important to have one . Today he discusses why you might want to hire somebody to help you create one. Typically people seek the help of a planner when they don’t have the time, know-how, or desire to do create their own financial plan. In its 13 February 2006 issue, Newsweek featured a great article by Jane Bryant…

This is part sixteen in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. During the first fifteen days of this video series, Michael Fischer explained the basics of saving and investing, introducing us to stocks, bonds, and compound returns. This week he pulls this information together to show how these concepts affect our investment decisions and our use of credit. He begins…

I grew up in the country — gardening meant a large plot, plowed and raked, and then planted with long, widely-space rows of vegetables. It also meant weeding and hoeing, weeding and hoeing. Gardening was a chore. When Kris and I bought our first home, we both wanted a vegetable garden, but we didn’t want the drudgery that came with it. Besides, we didn’t have a big space in the country — we had an…

This is part thirteen in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. Yesterday Michael Fischer explained how mutual funds allow individual investors to pool money in order to achieve goals that would otherwise be out of their reach. Today he looks at different kinds of mutual funds: Types of mutual funds (2:10) There are several thousand mutual funds available in the…

In the past, I’ve shared how to use purpose-driven investing and a financial wishlist to meet your goals. Today Dylan Ross, a certified fianncial planner, lends his expertise to explain what a financial plan is and why it’s important to have one. Having a financial plan is a lot like having a travel plan — it identifies where you’re going, how and when you’ll get there, how much it’ll cost, and things do along the…

This is part ten in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. Have you ever wondered what all of those numbers on the nightly business report actually mean? Michael Fischer explains: What is a stock market index? (3:44) Just as you cannot accurately gauge the health of a garden from the growth of a single plant, you cannot gauge the health…

Because I love a big tax refund, I filed my return long ago, received the money, and used it to pay down debt. But like many people, my cousin Nick hasn’t even started. He doesn’t get a refund, so he waits until April to do his taxes. He’s been skulking around the office for the past week muttering, “I need to start my taxes,” and, “You should write an entry reminding people to start their…

This is part nine in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. Yesterday we learned about bonds, which are small slices of debt. Today Michael Fischer defines stocks, or small slices of equity: What is a stock? (2:37) The stock market has its own unique vocabulary, with “puts” and “calls”, “preferred stock” and “P/E ratios”, “dividends” and “spread”. I’ll cover more…

This is part eight in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. Today’s episode of “Saving and Investing” moves us from the introductory material to the details of common investments. To begin, Michael Fischer explains bonds: What is a bond? (2:38) This video left me wanting more. Bonds, like leverage, have been a blank spot in my financial education. I’ve never…

This is part seven in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. In today’s episode of “Saving and Investing”, Michael Fischer explains why we have financial markets. If you’ve been following along, you can probably guess that their primary function is to encourage interaction between providers of capital (savers and investors) and users of capital (companies and governments). Why do financial…

This is part six in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. (Now with correct videos!) Today’s episode of “Saving and Investing” features three short videos, each of which is an introduction to a particular financial statement. Learning to read financial statements can help you evaluate the companies in which you would like to invest. (These statements are mandatory parts of…

I’ve accumulated $3500 and I don’t know what to do with it. As you may recall, I am carrying the remainder of my credit card debt in the form of a home-equity loan (or HELOC). The current balance on this debt is $15,000 and I’m paying a 9.25% finance charge. I intend to have this debt eliminated by March 2008. It’s an ambitious goal. In order to make this happen, I’ve had to forego investing…

After writing that the road to wealth is paved with goals, I realized that my own list of goals looks a little ragged. Some of the goals are outdated. Many have been met. And I’ve developed new priorities for which new goals should be set. I recently discovered an old internet meme that involves setting goals: the “101 things in 1001 days” list. Participants make a list of 101 things they’d like to accomplish over…

Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich, recently shared his thoughts on a New York Times profile of Russ Whitney, a real estate mogul who charges thousands of dollars to learn the secrets of his success. (Whitney helped inspire Casey Serin’s foreclosure odyssey. John T. Reed has extensive information on Whitney, not all of it negative.) Ramit’s post prompted me to read the original New York Times article. I began the…

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