While I recently managed to pull myself out of debt, I’ve reached a nadir with my health. I’m in bad shape. I had to buy fat man pants the other day. I’m not putting it off any longer — it’s time to set my Get Fit Slowly project in motion. Meanwhile, here are some recent personal finance stories from other sites:

  • My favorite personal finance piece this week came from Trent at The Simple Dollar. He wonders: Does peer pressure keep us from succeeding? He makes some excellent points. When your friends and family have poor habits, they can really drag you down. Conversely, if you can find people with good habits, you can form a support group, a mutual fan club, and drive each other to success. Your mom was right: your friends matter.
  • My second-favorite piece this week has nothing to do with personal finance. Or maybe it does. In the current issue of The New Yorker, Atul Gawande describes how the checklist is transforming medical care in the ICU. Using a simple list, doctors and nurses have reduced death rates and saved millions. Sounds dull, doesn’t it? It’s not. This is a long article, but I couldn’t put it down. (I read it in the magazine, not online.) The perceptive reader may see ways to apply some of these lessons to her own life.
  • JLP at All Financial Matters explains how to determine how much mortgage you can realistically afford. This is a question I hope to tackle someday, and I’ll be certain to reference the work JLP’s already done.
  • At Consumerism Commentary, Flexo shares a story that really gets my hackles up. A young Philadelphia couple has been charged with identity theft after they were caught stealing documents from their neighbors (and others). They used their ill-gotten gains to lead a lavish lifestyle. This burns me up.
  • Kris and I went cell phone-only earlier this year. It’s been great so far, though call quality sucks. (One of my big beefs is how moving from analog to digital hurt call quality, but everyone pretends differently.) Jonathan at My Money Blog recently wrote about considerations for going cell phone-only.
  • Free Money Finance ponders taxes and the leading Presidential candidates. You’re not likely to see much political discussion at GRS, so check this out if that’s something that interests you.
  • The Mighty Bargain hunter explores the question: Why do customers and retail employees hate each other so much?
  • NCN has set his goals for 2008. I like the idea that he sets “definite” goals and “stretch” goals. When I say that I’m going to save $10,000 for my emergency fund, but would really like $20,000, the latter is a stretch goal — difficult to obtain, but something I’m going to strive for.
  • Five Cent Nickel has a heads-up on how you can get compact fluorescent light bulbs on the cheap from Lowe’s home-improvement stores. How does a buck a bulb sound?
  • Jim at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity lists seven responsible ways to spend your holiday bonus. Mine is going into my Roth IRA.

It’s the time of year that I play Santa Claus for the customers of the box factory. As a result, the posting pace around here may slow for a couple weeks. Or I may fast-track a couple of guest articles. In either case, I have plenty planned for the new year!