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2009


This is a guest post from Dylan Ross, a certified financial planner and a long-time GRS reader. If you’re new to investing, recognize the merits of using low-cost index funds, but you’re not sure how to allocate your long-term savings among various types of index funds, this information is for you. Asset allocation basics While there are many ways to divide investment assets into different categories, there are two main classifications: stocks and bonds. Here’s…

This article is the final installment of a 14-part series that explored the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. Here’s the opening paragraph from my forthcoming book, Your Money: The Missing Manual. It’s the sum of everything I’ve learned during my five-year journey to get rich slowly: You don’t want to be rich — you want to be happy. Many people mistakenly believe that the former leads to the latter. While it’s certainly true that…

This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the advisor for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. I must confess to a new habit: I collect discarded ATM receipts. It all started when I walked by the bank in the building next to Motley Fool Intergalactic Headquarters, and found one such…

This article is the 13th of a 14-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. Five years ago, I was a different man. I had no savings, retirement or otherwise. I was literally living paycheck-to-paycheck on $42,000 a year. (Meaning: I had between $0 and $20 every time I got paid.) I was over $35,000 in debt. I had a job I hated because it had no meaning in my life. I…

This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker recently listed the Top 10 Money Movies of the Decade. Baker and his family are spending their holiday season hiking around the south island of New Zealand. I have some potentially shocking news for you: Christmas is coming! No, I’m not talking about the one in a few days; I’m referring to the one that’s coming just twelve months down the road. Far too many people…

This article started out as the individual experience of one personal finance blogger as he successfully haggled with his cable company to reduce his bill by 33% back in 2009. Unfortunately, that sinking feeling you are overpaying for services such as cable is still alive and well in 2016. But other things have changed dramatically. In 2009, Netflix was still known by many as the company with the red and white DVD sleeves that came…

This article is the 12th of a 14-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. I’ve read a lot of stuff lately about how scammers take advantage of other people. (Here, for example, is a brief summary of seven psychological tricks con artist use.) It’s easy to think that those who lose their money are just unfortunate suckers. That’s not always true. Often they’re folks just like me and you who get…

This is a guest post from Sierra Black, a long-time GRS reader and the author of ChildWild, a blog where she writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale. Previously at Get Rich Slowly, Black told us about sweating the big stuff and the pitfalls of buying in bulk. My mother’s family is Catholic. They’re working class people from Buffalo: nurses, drugstore clerks, steel mill workers. Even though they never had…

This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker recently listed the Top 10 Money Movies of the Decade. For years now, Dave Ramsey has recommended ditching credit cards and paying with cash. (Specifically, Ramsey advocates the use of an envelope budgeting system.) In fact, this anti-credit card stance is one of the biggest problems critics have with his philosophy; they often point out that “responsible” credit card use would yield a higher credit score….

I’m getting more requests this year for holiday tipping info than ever before. For example, Nina wrote: “Can you provide some guidelines for Holiday Tipping Etiquette for the holiday season? I’m at a complete loss…” To be honest, I don’t know much about holiday tipping. It’s not something I was raised with. I covered it briefly in my guide to how much to tip, but I’m basically as in the dark as Nina is. To…

This is a guest post from Mike Piper, who blogs at The Oblivious Investor, where he reminds readers that investing doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful. Mike is a long-time GRS reader and the author of Investing Made Simple. Like many other investors, J.D. and I are fans of taking the slow, sure path to wealth. We invest much of our money in index funds. An index fund is a low-maintenance, low-cost mutual fund…

In May, I wrote about how to negotiate your salary. I argued that following the advice in Jack Chapman’s Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1,000 a Minute is one of the best ways to improve your financial well-being. I still believe it. If you’re looking for work or looking for a raise, you should absolutely read his book. But negotiation is a skill you can use in other parts of your life, too. In…

This article is the 11th of a 14-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. It originally appeared at Soul Shelter in a slightly different form. For more than a decade, I was buried in debt. My relationship with money was poor. I earned a decent salary, but I couldn’t seem to get ahead. I lived paycheck-to-paycheck on $40,000 a year. I’d frequently find myself standing in a store, holding a stack…

This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the advisor for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. I’ve already told you how the wife and I weed out our closets every summer and have a yard sale with the results. Last weekend, we did some big off-season pruning because — in…

This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. I haven’t tracked our expenses since June. Not to appear completely incompetent, I do check our accounts on a regular basis to verify the charges and withdrawals. But I can’t tell you how much we spent on groceries in August or how much we spent on fuel in October without printing out some statements and manually doing the math. For a long time, I dutifully downloaded…

This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker recently reflected on just how much money affects our internal values. When booking airfare online, most people think of the popular online aggregation sites. You know the ones: They have the fancy commercials, catchy jingles, and washed-up celebrity pitchmen. While those sites aren’t inherently bad, there are a few well-documented problems with relying solely on these larger engines: Many of the aggregation sites neglect to include smaller,…

This article is the 10th of a 14-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. Yesterday, for the first time in my 40-1/2 years on this earth, I went ice skating. Initially, I was scared to try, but I eventually gave in to the taunts from my eight- and ten-year-old friends. I love roller skating and I’m not too bad at it, but the ice skating…well, it sucked. It took me eight…

This is a guest post from Tyler Tervooren, a long-time GRS reader. Tyler is a practical environmentalist who writes about the overlap of money, sustainability, and personal development at Frugally Green. Have you accepted yet that you’re going to die? Have you? Honestly? We’ve been doing it for thousands of years but, for some reason, most of us won’t figure out how to deal with it until it’s too late. This is something every one…

This article is the ninth of a fourteen-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. You want the best — for yourself, for your spouse, for your family. You want the best car, the best house and mortgage, the best job, the best mutual funds, and the best savings account. You want things to be perfect. We all do. But perfection comes with a price. Research has shown that those who are…

This morning, April wrote about trying to figure out how much house you need. In the comments, Tyler K. shared a photo of the house he and his wife live in. It has 450 square feet: “Last year our joint gross income was about $170,000,” Tyler wrote, “but we still find this house plenty adequate, and it means our housing costs are proportionally half of the 30-35% of income that people generally recommend.” I was…

This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. For more than a decade, Jay Shafer of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company has lived in an 89 square-foot home. His decision to live in a tiny house came from concerns about the effects a larger house would have on the environment, and his desire to not maintain a lot of unused or unusable space. Obviously Jay’s home is at the extreme low end of how small…

This article is the eighth of a fourteen-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. One reason I got into financial trouble during my early twenties was that I wanted everything right now. I looked at what my parents had, and it didn’t occur to me that they’d been working their entire lives to get to that point. I wanted the same level of comfort, and I wanted it today. I wanted…

This is a guest post from Sean Ogle, a former portfolio analyst who is now pursuing his goals of starting a business and seeing the world. You can read more from him at Location180. You can also follow him on twitter @seanogle.  Have you ever thought about doing something different with your life? Maybe you’ve decided that you’d like to do more world traveling. Perhaps you want to explore that entrepreneurial idea that has always…

Starting a Roth IRA is one of the easiest — and best — steps you can take to save for retirement. But you should understand the Roth IRA rules before investing in them. I know I’ve written a lot about the Roth IRA in the past, but I still get questions all the time. People find them intimidating. For example, Lynn wrote last week: I’m a 36-year-old single mother of two. I want to start investing…

This is a guest post from Adam Jusko, founder of IndexCreditCards.com, an information and comparison site for credit cards that maintains a list of over 1200 cards. You can follow Adam on Twitter for quick credit tips and opinions. I’ve previously featured IndexCreditCards as “The Only Credit Card Guide You’ll Ever Need” as a source for credit card offers Among recently-passed credit card regulations is a command that issuers stop giving credit cards to adults…

This article is the seventh of a fourteen-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. I struggled with debt for over a decade. I made several attempts to tackle the trouble, but nothing seemed to work. Compulsive spending was part of the problem — I bought anything I wanted, even if I couldn’t afford it — but there was another factor, too. Everything I’d read gave the same advice for debt reduction:…

“It’s been a long time since you shared a recipe at Get Rich Slowly,” I told Kris last week. “What about that pot roast recipe?” she asked. “You love that.” “Yes. Yes, I do,” I said. This guest post from my wife may be the best thing I’ve ever shared at Get Rich Slowly. It’s certainly the tastiest. I’m usually a from-scratch kind of cook, and the sort of “semi-homemade” ingredients for this pot roast…

This article is the sixth of a fourteen-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. Last winter, Kris and I re-financed our mortgage. In one fell swoop, we trimmed our monthly payments for principal and interest from $1386.60 to $1137.69, boosting our cash flow by $248.91 per month. If we had consumer debt, that’s $248.91 per month we have could used for our

This is a guest post from Sierra Black, a long-time GRS reader and the author of ChildWild, a blog where she writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale. Previously at Get Rich Slowly, Black told us about sweating the big stuff. Buying in bulk is great, right? You get the things you want and need, and pay less for them. As an added bonus, you don’t have to shop as…

Getting your hands on a free copy of your credit report and checking it for errors is one of the easiest ways to help your financial health. Correcting even a small mistake can make a huge difference to your score. A higher score means lower interest rates, insurance quotes, and can even help you land some types of jobs. And it’s never been easier to get a copy of your free credit report. AnnualCreditReport.com is…

This article is the fifth of a fourteen-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. Getting started with smart personal finance isn’t always easy. It’s one thing to read about the steps you should take, but it’s another thing to actually do them. Your debt is so overwhelming or your saving goals so lofty that you begin to believe that the only way you’ll ever get where you want to be is…

As important as I believe National Save for Retirement Week is, I have to confess that after four days (five, if you count Sunday), I’m bored of it. My short attention span has dwindled. (Imagine the difficulties I’m having as I try to concentrate on writing a book for three months solid!) Instead, I want to shift gears for a moment and talk about a subject with immediate real-life implications: the dangers of perfection. Good…

This article is by GRS staff writer Adam Baker. In addition to his work at Get Rich Slowly, Baker blogs over at Man Vs. Debt, where he compiles the most famous and inspiring quotes on debt. This article is a part of National Save for Retirement Week, and a sort of follow-up to yesterday’s post about the choice between retirement or a down payment. Whether you should halt your retirement contributions in order to focus…

This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. It’s also a part of National Save for Retirement Week A few weeks ago, J.D. asked me to consider writing a post on retirement for National Save for Retirement Week. As it was intended, National Save for Retirement Week made me reflect on the state of my and my husband’s retirement accounts. Currently, our retirement savings are a tad pitiful. I have a 403(b) through my…

This article is the fourth of a fourteen-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. It’s also a part of National Save for Retirement Week. One of the oldest rules of personal finance is the simple admonition to pay yourself first. All the money books tell you to do it. All the personal finance blogs say it, too. Even your parents have given you the same advice. But it’s hard. That money…

On Thursday, I featured a guest post from Free Money Finance that proved to be surprisingly controversial. His five steps to six figures in seven years offered solid common-sense career advice for those looking to boost their incomes. Many readers disliked the post. (Though they didn’t hate it as much as FMF’s previous guest article.) Though I don’t share all of your complaints, I do think some of you made an excellent point: Just as…

This is a guest post from FMF at Free Money Finance, a personal finance blog designed to help you grow your net worth. You can subscribe to Free Money Finance here. Historically, “making six figures” has been to income earners what “becoming a millionaire” has been for those tracking their net worths — a lofty goal achieved by only a select few. And while neither a six-figure earner nor a millionaire can bask in the…

This article is by GRS staff writer Adam Baker. Currently, Baker is fat and in debt. We all know how to rent a typical, cookie-cutter apartment or house. Find a contact number. Set-up a walk through. Fill out the application. Pay your fee and wait for a response. But sometimes typical just doesn’t cut it. Maybe you’re looking to secure a unique apartment in an irresistible location. Or you might be seeking the only house for rent in a certain…

This is the third of a fourteen-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.” — Charles Dickens, David Copperfield When people ask me for my top tip on personal finance, they’re often disappointed. My top tip isn’t sexy. “To get out of debt and to build wealth,”…

Yesterday I shared a guest post from Leo of Zen Habits. His guide to minimalist money was a sort of overview of good financial skills, useful information for those in the first stage of personal finance. But some long-time GRS readers couldn’t relate to Leo’s post. Today’s post goes in the opposite direction. It’s a meditation for those in the third stage of personal finance (or beyond), and it’s probably going to seem foreign to…

This is a guest post from Leo Babauta of the simplicity blog, Zen Habits. Leo also recently started a new blog about minimalism, mnmlist.com. Finances are one of the most complicated things in many people’s lives … and yet, they don’t have to be. With a little effort, you can simplify your financial life and end the money headaches most people face. I consider myself a minimalist. As such, I shy from all kinds of…

A couple of weeks ago, we had a fine discussion about how much we should save for retirement. But how much should we have saved for today? How much should we have in cash reserves? As I write my own book, I’m reading (and re-reading) dozens of other money manuals. While perusing Bert Whitehead’s, I came across his table of “minimum base liquidity.” (Whitehead is a highly-educated financial advisor. He uses terms like “minimum base…

This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. A couple of years ago, I had a Great Closet Clean-Out. My clothing racks and drawers were overflowing at the time, and some of it still had price tags. Hoping to accomplish that European knack for owning less and looking better, I donated, consigned, and gave away about 75 percent of my wardrobe. Today it’s 100 times more functional. These are the best tips I picked…

This is the second of a fourteen-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. Yesterday I completed my first marathon. It didn’t happen exactly as I’d planned, but it happened. Instead of running 26.2 miles, I walked the entire course. Some might view this as a failure. Not me. I’m ecstatic to have finally, at the age of forty, met one of my life-long goals. Though I had hoped to run the…

This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. My husband and I are in the early stages of building a house. As we modify our floor plans, the amount we’ll need to borrow to build is on our minds. It’s probably going to be the most expensive thing we’ll ever purchase, and we need to decide what we want to borrow and what loan term we’ll want. The main differences between 15- and 30-year…

Mark Frauenfelder is the co-founder of my favorite sites, Boing Boing (which is a “directory of wonderful things”). Mark’s also a GRS reader. He dropped me a line the other day to tell me about a new project he’s been following. Today, Credit.com is launching a free new online financial tool called Credit Report Card. This tool is designed to provide users with a quick snapshot of their credit reports. According to the site’s FAQ,…

This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the advisor for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. Quick! If you had to choose just three types of assets that should be in a well-diversified, long-term investment portfolio, what would they be? If we polled the Get Rich Slowly audience, we’d get…

This is the first of a fourteen-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. I had a group of old high-school friends over to the house last weekend. As the daylight faded and the cool of the evening settled, we sat around a blazing fire talking about life. We shared the good things we’ve done over the past twenty years — and we shared the bad. Inevitably, the conversation turned to money….

This is a guest post from Karawynn Long, who writes about personal finance at Pocketmint. Karawynn is a semi-regular contributor for Get Rich Slowly. She has been blogging since before “blogging” was a word. Here at the Koke-Long house we’re in the market for some furniture. Our living room is currently semi-furnished with a comfortable but deteriorating Ikea couch and some leftover dining chairs; we’d like a nice armchair or two and some tables. I’ve…

This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. On 02 August 2005, my friend Frank and his partner awoke at 2:45 a.m. to the dog barking and a neighbor knocking on their door. The apartment complex was on fire. They grabbed their dog and whatever they could carry and ran from the building. “We lost everything,” he says. Later they’d find out that it was arson. A former employee of the apartment complex stole…

A few days ago, I released The Get Rich Slowly Guide to Roth IRAs as a free e-book. Readers who are interested in opening a retirement account can download this short book — which draws from a series of articles I wrote two years ago — and use it as a reference as they work through the process. Though this is my first e-book (it won’t be my last), there are a variety of other…

This is a guest post from Kerry K. Taylor, author of Squawkfox, a blog where frugal living is fun. On today’s episode of The Personal Finance Hour, Jim and I will be discussing job-hunting skills. First, though, here’s Kerry’s advice about résumés. If you’re anything like my friends, your résumé is probably a little stale and perhaps a lot rotten. I’m sure your skills are not rotten and don’t deserve to be trashed as rubbish….

In early 2008, I put together an e-book. I collected my series of articles about the virtues of the Roth IRA, cleaned them up, added new information, and drafted a 30-page document to serve as a sort of introduction to this important retirement plan. The great folks at Web Warrior Tools took my work and made a polished e-book. For the past 18 months, it’s been available for $7 from their website. But this information…

How much should you save for retirement? Carla dropped me a line because she’s puzzled where the standard “save 10% of your income for retirement” advice originated. She’s afraid that ten percent isn’t nearly enough. Carla writes: The financial experts always say to save 10% for retirement (for example, in your review of The 1-2-3 Money Plan). Buy why 10%? It doesn’t make sense to me. I’m 25. If I retire at the normal age…

This article is by Adam Baker, a GRS Staff Writer. In addition to writing for Get Rich Slowly, Baker blogs over at Man Vs. Debt, where he discusses ways to simplify your financial life. A thriving emergency fund is an essential piece of a healthy financial picture. You’ve heard this a million times before. The basics of emergency funds have been covered in depth. We’re used to hearing discussions on why they’re important and how large…

The October 2009 issue of Consumer Reports contains an article extolling the virtues of generic store-brand products. While shoppers used to sacrifice quality when choosing generic, that’s no longer the case. From the article: If concern about taste has kept you from trying store-brand foods, hesitate no more. In blind tests, our trained tasters compared a big national brand with a store brand in 29 food categories. Store and national brands tasted about equally good…

With the arrival of the GRS staff writers, the semi-regular “ask the readers” column has a new home. Look for this feature most weekends. “Ask the readers” is your chance to get (and give) advice about real-life financial dilemmas. An anonymous GRS reader submitted a question last week that hits close to home: I have a family member that this past year has been in serious financial trouble. He is one of the most ambitious…

This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. My husband and I are in the process of building a home on 4.5 acres in the Texas hill country. At the moment, we’re still in the planning phase — not quite ready for blueprints. Last month, our architect asked us to start thinking about the make and model of the kitchen appliances we want for our home. Visions of sleek, Thermador cooktops and double ovens danced…

A couple of months ago, I posted a list of 16 alternatives to Microsoft Money. GRS readers left nearly 200 responses evaluating the various personal finance programs available on the web and for the desktop. One feature that many users crave is the ability to project their future cash flow. While it’s important to track where your money’s gone, some folks find it valuable to predict where money will go in the weeks or months…

Long-time readers of Get Rich Slowly know that I’ve been waging an ongoing battle against Stuff — the clutter and crap I managed to collect during 20 years of wanton spending and debt. Though I’ve managed to curb my spending (and have slowed the influx of Stuff), I’m still surrounded by constant reminders of my old habits. Last week, Colleen wrote to ask for an update on this seemingly-endless war: I was wondering if you…

This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the advisor for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. With the S&P 500 still down more than a third from its 2007 high, we’re all a little unsure about our retirement plans these days. So it’s time for some good old-fashioned elbow grease….

It’s a big day at Get Rich Slowly HQ. Later this morning, I’ll speak with my book editor for the first time. This project is about to devour large chunks of my life. Fortunately, the new Staff Writers will pick up the slack. (Actually, to be fair, I think they’ll more than pull their own weight.) Here, then, is the first contribution from Adam Baker, Get Rich Slowly’s first-ever Staff Writer! Receiving a “mini-windfall” of…

Note: Although I try to keep GRS a politics-free zone, today’s topic is inherently political. I’ve stayed as neutral as possible in the article, but I know that there’ll be some political discussion in the comments. Please keep conversation civil, as always. Because I was frustrated with my own ignorance about the U.S. federal budget and our tax system, I recently spent twelve hours researching a variety of tax topics. From my research came two…

How many of you consider the effects of compound interest (or “compound returns”, if you prefer) when you make financial decisions? I mention the concept from time-to-time — and I’ve even devoted whole articles to the extraordinary power of compound interest — but I don’t know if others keep the notion in mind when they work with their finances. When I was younger, when I was struggling with money, I only had a fuzzy notion…

On my first day of college, I chose a checking account because the bank was handing out free Frisbees. This was my only bank account for nearly 20 years. Eventually I opened a savings account at the local credit union. Then I discovered the benefits of a high-yield savings account. Last autumn I opened my first certificate of deposit. And just a few months ago, I started a money market account. Why so many accounts?…

This is a guest post from Liz Freeman, who writes about mortgage and finance issues. Freeman is the spokesperson for ShopRate.com, an online tool for finding the lowest mortgage rates since 2000. “If I’m willing to pay X for the home, it must be worth X, right?” There’s a lot of truth to that statement. Most accountants will tell you that the proper value of anything is either the lower of what it cost to…

Earlier today, I wrote about Brett Wilder’s The Quiet Millionaire. It’s different than most personal finance books I’ve read. It’s targeted at those who are further along their financial journeys rather than at those just starting out. Still, there are bits and pieces in The Quiet Millionaire that are applicable to everyone. I particularly liked Wilder’s list of the seven enemies to financial success (which is my phrase, not his). Over the past few weeks,…

Despite what you see in the media, financial success generally doesn’t come with a lot of glitz. The wealthiest people I know are the ones you’d least expect. They’ve built their wealth slowly — and quietly. Certified financial planner Brett Wilder has observed the same thing, and has written about the phenomenon in his book, The Quiet Millionaire. Along the way, he shares real-life examples of quiet millionaires. These are the same sorts of people…

Note: Although I try to keep GRS a politics-free zone, today’s topic is inherently political. I’ve stayed as neutral as possible in the article, but I know that there’ll be some political discussion in the comments. Please keep conversation civil, as always. Recently at The Simple Dollar, Trent posed the question, “How much do taxes matter to you?” As might be expected, his readers responded with passionate comments from both sides of the political spectrum….

At 10am yesterday morning, Kris and I climbed into the Mini Cooper and to head for the county fair. We’d only been driving for a few minutes when Kris pointed at a sign. “Look! An estate sale,” she said. “Let’s stop.” Kris and I like estate sales better than garage sales because they usually feature nearly everything a person has ever owned — not just the cast-offs. Family members have generally pulled the plum pieces,…

I don’t often post follow-ups to previous articles, especially after just a few days. But following Tuesday’s post on two-cycle billing, a couple of things happened that deserve mention. Understanding Grace Periods Several readers suggested that what I experienced was not two-cycle billing but the lack of a grace period. Special thanks especially to Kitty, who linked to the American Express document on understanding grace periods. Kitty wrote: If you didn’t pay your previous month’s…

In June, a user at Ask Metafilter wondered: What are the differences between someone who makes $100,000/year and someone who makes $30,000? As you might expect, this question generated a lot of discussion — all of it interesting. Many commenters noted that, from their experience, high-income earners generally exhibited several of the following traits: They maintain a strong work ethic. They don’t watch the clock. They seek to improve their skills. They do quality work….

Important note: Despite what the credit card company told me, and despite my own mis-information, this story below apparently does NOT relate to two-cycle billing. Instead, my frustration stems from the way some credit card companies handle their grace periods. Thanks for all of the commenters who pointed out the error. Here’s a follow-up to this situation. For almost a decade, I refused to use a personal credit card. I knew that I couldn’t control…

I’ve always been a car guy. It’s not that I’m mechanically inclined or that I get into the latest makes and models — neither of these is anywhere close to the truth — but that a car has always been my primary mode of transportation. When I was a boy, my family lived in rural Oregon, six miles from the nearest town. Automobiles were our only real option for getting around. Even when I went…

This is a guest post from Karawynn, who writes about personal finance at Pocketmint. Karawynn is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. In her first article, she visited the Island of Misfit Foods. Karawynn has been blogging since before “blogging” was a word. My parents taught me nothing about money management. My dad opened a checking account for me in high school and showed me how to use the checkbook register. Beyond that,…

This is a guest post from April Dykman, an avid GRS reader, and a writer and editor by trade. April is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. In her first article, April described how she discovered freedom from mindless spending. April is an active commenter at this site. When my husband and I went to Italy in 2006, we spent $2500 on plane tickets. We’re planning to spend much less for our next…

This is a guest post from Neal Frankle, a Certified Financial Planner and the blogger at The Wealth Pilgrim. Neal is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. His first post explored the benefits of starting a side business. For background on Neal’s personal story, check out his recent article about how he went from homeless to homeowner. Have you ever sat down at a restaurant, reviewed the menu, wanted to leave but stayed…

This is a guest post from Jason Barr, who writes about personal development at Start Being Your Best. Jason is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. His first post described what he learned from failure. Jason is 32 years old, has been married for seven years, and has a 2-1/2 year old son. He’s now a financial analyst, but he spent five years in the army as a Chinese linguist. What is the…

We interrupt this series of Staff Writer auditions to bring you a brief success story from a Get Rich Slowly reader. I receive several of these a month (often several a week), and sometimes wish that I had a place to share them all. Instead, I just make the time to share a handful every year. This morning, Jay wrote to share his own tale of dedication: Hey JD! I am very excited to tell…

This is a guest post from Neal Frankle, a Certified Financial Planner and the blogger at The Wealth Pilgrim. Neal is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. For background on Neal’s personal story, check out his recent article about how he went from homeless to homeowner. You can start a business even if you don’t have any money. You should do it even if you don’t need to earn more money. I was…

This is a guest post from Lynn, a long-time reader of personal-finance blogs. Lynn is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. She is the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) of her family, and is working hard to increase her financial health after years of many poor financial choices. Our family has been going through a transformation from a paycheck-to-paycheck family to a family that has money in the bank.  While I wouldn’t say we…

This is a guest post from Karawynn, who writes about personal finance at Pocketmint. Karawynn is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. Karawynn has been blogging since before “blogging” was a word. About a mile from my house there’s a slightly shabby strip mall housing a Dollar Store, a Ross Dress for Less, and something called a ‘Grocery Outlet’. For two years I’ve driven past that sign — on my way to Costco,…

This is a guest post from Baker, who writes about personal finance at Man vs. Debt. Baker is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. Along with his wife and 15-month-old daughter, Baker has recently moved overseas to New Zealand, where his young family is passionately continuing their own personal “war” on debt. What if I told you there was a different way to travel? A way to see the world outside of the…

Sometimes the best personal finance books aren’t about personal finance. In June 2006, for example, I shared a brief review of Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. Ostensibly this book is about creativity and overcoming procrastination, but I found its lessons valuable for pursuing my financial goals. Last year I read Mastery by George Leonard. On the surface, this book has nothing to do with money, yet it’s one of the best books about money…

This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the advisor for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. I don’t want to dump on your boss. She/he/it gives you a job (assuming you still have one). Besides a paycheck, you also get some benefits. One perk might be a retirement plan such…

The August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research arrived in my mailbox yesterday. It contains an interesting article from Nicolao, Irwin, and Goodman entitled “Happiness for Sale: Do Experiential Purchases Make Consumers Happier than Material Purchases?” This is a topic we’ve skirted at Get Rich Slowly, but never fully explored. Many readers have offered anecdotal evidence that they get more “bang for their buck” by spending money on experiences instead of Stuff. This new…

I’ve been a full-time professional blogger for more than a year now. It has been a fantastic experience, a sort of dream come true. But blogging for dollars is not without its drawbacks. As I’ve shared before, I feel socially isolated. I spend most of my time in this office, writing about money. Also, the income can be irregular. For some bloggers, it is very irregular. One month you might have record earnings — and…

The American housewife! Who has a more important or more responsible occupation? Wife, mother, laundress, counselor, maid, chef, purchasing agent. All of these are her duties at one time or another. So begins Buying Food, a home economics film from 1950. Buying Food is fascinating not just for its shopping tips, but also for the inside look at a grocery store from 60 years ago. (Self-service grocery stores were introduced in 1916 and grew in…

Previously in my semi-regular Extreme Personal Finance series, I’ve highlighted: A couple who paid off their $220,000 mortgage in three years People who live on $12,000 a year Don Schrader, the man who lives on $10 a day Rina Kelley, the reporter who lived for one month as a freegan Yesterday, my friend Castle sent me the story of a man who makes these other folks look like spendthrifts. The man without money Writing for…

“Did you listen to Rick Steves this afternoon?” Kris asked me on Sunday. I shook my head. “That’s too bad,” she said. “It was about the relationship between money and happiness. I think you would have liked it — and so would your readers.” “But I just wrote about happiness!” I said. “J.D.,” she said. “You can never write too much about happiness.” And so I tracked down last weekend’s episode of Travel with Rick…

I’ve been half-heartedly looking at bicycles lately. Part of me pines for a new city bike, but the rational side of my brain knows that I have two decent bikes already. Still, I’ve killed a lot of time by paging through the Craigslist bike ads. At the top of every ad is the following warning about scams: I’ve always wondered exactly how these scams work, but I’ve never taken the time to look it up….

Personal finance organizers are plentiful, but how do you know they work? Last summer, Mark Gavagan mailed me a copy of his It’s All Right Here life and affairs organizer. This three-ring binder is big and unwieldy, but is amazingly comprehensive. It not only offers pages for credit card and saving account information, but also includes space to record family medical history, business information, and more. There are even several pages of vinyl or plastic…

After my post about mattress shopping the other day, Garrison contacted me. “My home just flooded and due to renters insurance I was thrown into the market for a new mattress,” he said. “I called up my long-time best friend whose entire family is in the mattress business. I used his advice in my purchase and I’ve been completely satisfied.” Here’s what Garrison’s friend, Justin, had to say. I’ve written a lot here to help…

On Monday, I mentioned that Kris and I are ready to replace our 15-year-old mattress. I don’t sleep well on it, though I sleep fine on other mattresses. I only mentioned this to illustrate a point, but I was surprised at how many readers commented on my situation. Jason’s comment was typical: I’ve found that sleep is the absolute root of everything. With decent sleep, I’m a better man, father, athlete, spouse, employee and all…

Last week, Diane dropped a line asking for information about American consumer spending. She wrote: I am trying to find sites that will provide average spending habits — such as how much an average person spends on food per week or how much a family spends on entertainment, that sort of thing. I am hoping to see where my habits line up with someone of similar means in the same part of the country. I’m…

In my recent review of Pam Slim’s Escape from Cubicle Nation, Chett left the following comment: I was talking with a good friend last week who is self-employed. I told him I envied his entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to “go it alone.” He told me he envied my work as a teacher and the set hours and guaranteed pay check and insurance. (I told him there was nothing “set” about the hours, so I…

Last week, I shared a list of 16 alternatives to Microsoft Money. These applications offer a variety of solutions for managing your personal finances. But not everyone wants to use a specialized computer program to track their spending. Many Get Rich Slowly readers (including my wife) are content to manage their money with a spreadsheet. Spreadsheets are easily customizable, and if you know what you’re doing, they can actually be a lot more powerful than…

Beginning tonight, public television stations in the United States will broadcast a four-part series from economist and historian Niall Ferguson, The Ascent of Money. This is an expanded version of a documentary that first aired in January. Here’s a description of The Ascent of Money from the official site: For millions of people, the recession has generated a thirst for knowledge about how our global economic system really works, especially when so many financial experts…

This is a guest post from Steve Martile, a life coach and the author of the personal-growth blog Freedom Education. Here he describes a money jar system for budgeting that actually reminds me of Elizabeth Warren’s balanced money formula, but with a little more detail. Managing money doesn’t restrict freedom — it creates freedom. While that’s probably not the first time you’ve heard this, you’ve got to start managing your money if you want to…

\ Here’s how to open a money market account, a type of savings account that offers the security of FDIC insurance, the higher interest rates of a savings account and the flexibility of access that comes with a checking account: Shop around. Find a bank or credit union that’s offering a competitive interest rate with the features you value the most — don’t just go for the bank down the street or where you have…

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