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Ask the Readers


  • Ask the Readers: Is financial ability intrinsic or learned? (13 comments)

    This article is a guest post by Maggie O’Neill. Thanks to my big brother — and by that I mean my oldest brother — I’ve always had an interest in savings and retirement planning, although I haven’t been able to do much more than think about it until lately. That oldest brother, Pete, is the person responsible for opening my eyes to investing and, in fact, made the first financial stake for me when I was…

  • Ask the readers: Should we get married sooner to lower our taxes? (58 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. Landen and his fiancé are planning to get married in the fall of 2015 and they’re starting to think about how to blend their financial lives together as they tie the knot. There are always a lot of decisions to make when you get married: Will you keep your finances separate or merge them together? Will you add each other onto your existing bank accounts or close them…

  • Ask the readers: Are home security systems worth the money? (55 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. The small, rectangular ceramic flower pots I kept in the two window sills of my bathroom had never budged an inch in the 14 years I owned the home, but one day I saw that one was close to falling out onto the counter below. I wondered if a small earthquake had caused it to move as I pushed it back in place. About a week later, I…

  • Ask the readers: Would you try meditation to improve your finances? (14 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. For years I’ve tried to keep a daily meditation habit. Every time I read a new study about how meditation can improve your health, I vow to start again and to do it every day. Sadly, the habit lasts for about a week. But I recently learned about a non-health reason to meditate: Some money experts credit it with their financial success. For instance, Reuters reported that…

  • Ask the readers: Whom do you turn to for money advice, humans or robots? (34 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. My personal finance education began here at Get Rich Slowly. I went from owing more money than I had to being debt-free (although now I have a mortgage). And along the way, I learned about money on websites and blogs. I used Mint to get my spending aligned with my goals and to track debt repayment. I opened and started managing my husband’s and my Roth IRAs…

  • Ask the Readers: What is your personal finance calculus? (31 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. When Donna Freedman tackled the subject of teaching our children about money last week, GetAGrip challenged the premise that parents teach and children learn: “All sounds pretty, teach them all this information and they will use it, right? “I’m not advocating not teaching, but just don’t be surprised if they somehow seem to ‘forget’ much if not all of what they were taught and run up the credit…

  • Ask the Readers: How do you know if a vet procedure is really necessary? (58 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. On Monday at 8:30 a.m., I found myself at the veterinarian’s office — where, unknowingly, I would spend the next three hours. The night before, my cat Mia threw up at least five times. In the morning, I found her wedged into a corner of the bathroom. I could tell how she felt just by looking at her. I called the vet’s office near my house right…

  • Ask the Readers: When was the last time you went to the bank? (98 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. It used to be part of everyone’s existence, like going to the grocery store once a week. You’d stand in a teller’s line and hope everyone in front of you had uncomplicated transactions. Then you’d hand over your cash and the teller would stamp your passbook to record your deposit. It all felt very solid and respectable, even sort of fun knowing you were adding to your savings….

  • Ask the Readers: How can we improve Get Rich Slowly? (146 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. I think 2012 was the last time we “checked in” with readers to ask “How can we improve Get Rich Slowly?” Last week, we asked the Facebook readers what they thought, and we got some great comments. Jenny Fox wrote that “The personal stories are always good to read and you have excellent, thought-provoking articles, so carry on with that!” A few people would like to get rich…

  • Ask the Readers: Do singles need to plan differently for retirement? (33 comments)

    This article is by editor Ellen Cannon. I’ve been single since I was divorced in my 30s, and I’ve been planning my retirement on the assumption that I will be single till the end of my days. I’m feeling comfortable financially with where I am in my plan. Yet when I was offered the opportunity to talk to Jacob Gold, a Certified Financial Planner and retirement coach with Voya Financial, about women and retirement, I…

  • Ask the Readers: Are there 1776 ways to get rich slowly? (50 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. In honor of Independence Day, I thought it would be fun to see if we could come up with 1,776 ways to get rich slowly. After all, reaching “financial independence” these days does require some of the spirit our founding fathers had when they stood up to a tyrannical king and announced to the world that they were going to create a new nation. Freedom is worth the…

  • Ask the Readers: Are these good enough reasons to buy life insurance? (89 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. There are a lot of really good reasons to have a life insurance policy, no doubt. If you have children, they’re dependent on your income. You want them to be taken care of should something ever happen to you. If your spouse stays at home with the kids, he or she is dependent on your income. If you stay home with the kids, your spouse is dependent on…

  • Ask the Readers: How do you monitor and improve your credit? (24 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. Holly Johnson’s post (“The high cost of keeping up with the Joneses”) got me thinking about a number of things this week, but mostly about how people manage their credit. Obviously, if you’re intent on keeping up with the Joneses and you’re living above your means, that house of cards is going to fall, right? And the reality is that time and good behavior are what it will…

  • Ask the Readers: Are the “golden handcuffs” real or self-imposed? (44 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. Last December, Honey Smith was in the throes of some major life changes – her husband started his own business, only to sell it and start a new job, adding to the pressure to move and possibly buy a house. She wrote about it in her blog post “When the right choice isn’t obvious” and basically asked the readers which direction she should take. “I’ve been steadfastly against…

  • Ask the Readers: What Do You Do When You’re Broke? (144 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D. recently launched the Get Rich Slowly course, a year-long guide on how to master your money. His non-financial writing lives at More Than Money. Last week, Mr. Money Mustache visited the Pacific Northwest. While he was in Portland, he and I joined Tyler Tervooren (of the Riskology website) to host what we called “Three Blog Night”. About 100 readers of…

  • Ask the Readers: How do you dream? (20 comments)

    This post is from editor Linda Vergon. “I’m just a dreamer. I dream my life away. I’m just a dreamer who dreams of better days.” Ozzy Osbourne We can be so romantic about things. Take dreams, for instance. A dream is like a magnet. Once we set our hearts and minds on something, we’re happily drawn to pursue. You hear it all the time: Pursue your passion! Chase your dreams! So by opening up this…

  • Ask the Readers: What is your most pressing financial issue (this year)? (62 comments)

    This post is from editor Linda Vergon. We asked this question back in 2012 at a time when the political process was in full swing, demanding that we decide if we were any better off than we were four years prior. While the mere thought of election ballyhooing is enough to make me roll my eyes, the underlying question of whether we’re making progress on our financial goals is at the heart of personal finance,…

  • Ask the Readers: Should you transfer a Class A mutual fund savings account to a Roth IRA? (13 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. This week, one of our Facebook readers asked the question: “Is it advisable to transfer money from a Class A mutual fund savings account to a Roth IRA in order to maximize my contributions? I saved money in the past in an American Fund mutual fund; but now I don’t make as much money at work, so I thought I should use my saving to add to the…

  • Ask the Readers: Do you stress-test your finances? (23 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. As J.D. Roth put it, “Failure is okay.” We all experience it, and we each have to figure out how to deal with it. Some people even study it. In fact, studying failure is a very productive thing to do. A stress-test can be used to study failure in a proactive sense. It can help predict how and when failure will occur within the confines of a safe,…

  • Ask the Readers: What’s your embarrassing money moment? (49 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. A few weeks ago, I had an embarrassing money moment. I was in a checkout lane. The cashier had just scanned several heavy boxes that held my to-be-assembled bookshelf, and my debit card was declined. Being declined while in the checkout line is one of those little anxieties that I can’t seem to shake, even though it’s only happened to me twice and both times were issues…

  • Ask the Readers: How do you control your time? (14 comments)

    We’ve been discussing the value of time a lot lately. For me, it’s been an appropriate topic. Lately, my work-life balance has been out of control. There are a few reasons for this: I’ve been giving into time-sucks. I’m struggling to organize a few new writing gigs into my schedule. I don’t give myself any breathing room. The result of my poor time management? One, I’ve been working a lot at night. Long after my boyfriend…

  • Ask the Readers: What benefits have you seen from the Affordable Care Act? (134 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. The healthcare landscape has certainly changed in the two years since J.D. asked “What Do You Want to Know About the Economics of Health Care?” back in August 2012. Now that the Affordable Care Act is being implemented, we’d like to hear what your experience has been so far and what benefits you’ve seen. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently updated “How the Health Care…

  • Ask the Readers: What’s on your personal finance syllabus? (45 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Happy Financial Literacy month! I’ll be honest. Four or five years ago, “financial literacy” meant nothing to me. I was far from being financially literate, and I didn’t really understand why it was important. I’ve always been pretty good at being frugal. But I never truly understood it. And I never understood just how much there is to learn in order to achieve financial security and, ultimately, financial…

  • Ask the Readers: How many wedding gifts should you buy? (85 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Earlier this week, I wrote about the problem with trying to buy the perfect gift. Sticking with that gift theme, there’s a question that’s been on my mind: If you’re invited to an engagement party, a bridal shower, and a wedding ceremony all for the same couple, and you attend all three, do you give a gift at each event? See, I’ve been invited to a few weddings…

  • Ask the Readers: What do you do if you can’t make ends meet? (Part 2) (72 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. Part 1 is “What do you do if you can’t make ends meet? (Part 1) “ There are so many people desperately trying to make ends meet and failing at it – whether because of their own failures or because of terrible misfortune. And it’s hard. Still the problem remains that we must get through it, get past it so we, and everyone else in our lives, ultimately…

  • Ask the Readers: What do you do if you can’t make ends meet? (Part 1) (85 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. Part 2 is What do you do if you can’t make ends meet? (Part 2) There are times when it doesn’t work. You lost your job or you can’t get a job. Your ex-wife takes you to court. Your partner absconds with the money in your business account. Your business fails. Your car dies. Your health takes an unexpected turn for the worse. Sometimes you’re actually just trying…

  • Ask the Readers: 5 questions about your taxes (55 comments)

    It’s that dreaded time of year, but we all must face it. So let’s talk about taxes today. I’ve got some questions (and offer my answers). 1)      Do you get a refund or max out your withholding? A recent Moneyrates.com survey found that 31 percent of the 2,000 people surveyed prefer to get a refund. I confess – I get a refund every year. If you want to stop the refund madness for tax year…

  • Ask the Readers: How will you woo your Valentine? (49 comments)

    Have you ever just gone all out for Valentine’s Day? I mean, have you ever hired a skywriter to tell your sweetheart that you’re hopelessly in love? There are so many ways to say “I love you” that it’s mind-boggling – and most of them don’t cost much, as you know. In fact, some of the best ways to woo your Valentine are also the least expensive.The trick is to make it unique and meaningful….

  • Ask the Readers: What do you do when someone constantly hits you up for money? (105 comments)

    A few years ago, I wrote about how to lend money to friends without letting it ruin the friendship. To quickly recap, a friend needed help paying the rent. She had never asked me for money in all the years we’d been friends, so I knew she had to be in a pretty desperate situation. In fact, she was even on medical leave and tried to return to work early, but her doctor (and therefore her…

  • Ask the Readers: How do you get past the money taboo? (49 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. Reading the comments on Kristin’s Wednesday post, Money lessons I’ve learned since writing for Get Rich Slowly, it’s very clear that being able to talk with family about money is as difficult as it is beneficial. And while we’ve discussed the topic before (Ask the Readers: How to talk to friends and family about money), it’s a big enough problem that updating it could be helpful. A 2012…

  • Ask the Readers: How much are you willing to spend to save a sick pet? (104 comments)

    This article is by managing editor Ellen Cannon. Four years ago, my beloved kitty Zito developed kidney problems. She was only five years old, and her littermate, Mikey, was fine and healthy. But Zito had stopped eating and wasn’t drinking much water. I took her to the vet. An x-ray by the veterinarian showed that one of her kidneys was tiny and the other was not the normal size it should have been. The vet…

  • Ask the Readers: Big decisions for 20-somethings (69 comments)

    This question comes from a regular Get Rich Slowly reader who needs some help making some life-changing decisions. She’s reaching out to the GRS readers for some advice. Between the two of us, my then-boyfriend and I had a moderate amount of savings. We had both paid off all of our debt – cars, student loans and all credit cards. We were proud of ourselves and felt ahead of other 26-year-olds we knew. About 25…

  • Ask the Readers: What was your financial turning point? (47 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. At eighteen, I wanted a pair of hundred dollar Doc Martens. Not only could I not afford them, I couldn’t even afford to look at them. Dr. Marten should not have even been in my broke, teenage vocabulary. That spring, I got my very first credit card offer. I also got my very first pair of $100 Doc Martens. Of course, my parents had no idea. That’s the…

  • Ask the Readers: What brings out the Scrooge in you? (46 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. As I mentioned last month, Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday. It’s about food and togetherness, not gifts. Sometimes I think this makes me sound like a Scrooge. But it’s not the idea of gift-giving that I dislike, it’s all the stress that surrounds it. Here’s an example. My husband and I have been together for almost 10 years. During the first four or five years, we did…

  • Ask the Readers: How do you handle irregular income? (40 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Those of you who have read GRS for a while know that when I started writing here more than four years ago, I was gainfully employed as a writer-editor-project-manager type. I had a steady paycheck, and every two weeks, I knew exactly how much money would magically appear in my checking account. Two years later, I gave up that predictable paycheck to pursue life working on my own…

  • Ask the Readers: If I could turn back time… (62 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. First things first: I hope everyone read the title of this post and immediately heard Cher’s voice singing it. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here you go. Enjoy having that stuck in your head all day. Okay, now that we know what Cher would do if she could go back in time, let’s talk about other kinds of regrets. Money regrets. Most people have them, and if…

  • Ask the Readers: Best Banks of 2013 — Do you agree with Money magazine? (31 comments)

    Banking is something Get Rich Slowly readers take very seriously. While it can seem like a 0.85 percent to 0.90 percent APY isn’t anything to get excited over, that’s more than 4x the current national average of 0.18 percent APY (according to the MoneyRates Index, a sampling of 100 banks that includes the top 50 retail banks by total deposits and 50 smaller banks). Also if you’re putting your savings with a large bank in…

  • Ask the Readers: 2014 wedding planning: What can you do to save money? (130 comments)

    One of  my colleagues just got engaged to his longtime girlfriend, and they’ve planned their wedding in record time, in my mind: a November 2014 date. They’re trying to pay for as much of the wedding themselves, instead of asking parents to pay for it, without going into any debt. They’ve booked a great Jersey Shore location on the beach, chosen menus, flowers. My colleague still has to talk to DJs for music and pricing;…

  • Ask the Readers: High-deductible health insurance: yea or nay? (94 comments)

    Last week reader David  posted a question on Get Rich Slowly’s Facebook page, asking what our thoughts are on high-deductible health insurance plans. We turned to Barbara Marquand, staff writer at Insure.com, to answer his question. Here’s her answer: High-deductible health plans (HDHPs) have become more prevalent in the last few years, but whether one is right for you depends on your health care needs and financial situation. The reason we’re seeing so many of…

  • Ask the Readers: Are you involved in your parents’ finances? (56 comments)

    It felt awkward to bring up the subject at first, but I could see my dad was starting to struggle with managing his house and everyday affairs. My husband and I pitch in where we can. Still the changes we’d been noticing over the past year kept nagging at me until I finally asked, “Is there a better living situation for you?” I was glad I phrased the question so innocuously because it kept us…

  • Ask the Readers: Should you move for work? (35 comments)

    These days, if you’ve got work, you’re among the lucky. And not to be picky, but the sad fact is that even if you have work, there’s a real chance you may be “under-employed” – where you either can’t get enough hours to meet your expenses or the jobs that are available to you are far below your abilities. There are a lot of situations out there: from the long-term unemployed to those who keep…

  • Ask the Readers: What’s the best way to prepay your mortgage? (45 comments)

    Recently, Mandy sent a question via our Facebook page (like this site, it’s a really active community with more than 35,000 followers). We turned to our colleague Keith Gumbinger, vice president of HSH.com and a mortgage expert who is regularly interviewed by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and many other publications, for an answer to her question. Others who want to pay off their mortgage faster may also benefit from this guidance….

  • Ask the Readers: Have you ever fallen for a scam? (43 comments)

    Every day, my dad gets his mail and reads every last thing – no matter what it is. The process can take an hour, sometimes two. There are advertisements, bills, surveys, requests from charitable organizations – and notices of winnings and awards. Tonight, he received a “notification of delivery” that declared he was the “Sole Recipient” of a 2013 Mercedes-Benz CLS automobile if he would return the “property recipient certificate” with a $20 processing and…

  • Ask the Readers: What personal finance skills should college students learn? (70 comments)

    Last Friday, J.D. asked you what concepts have contributed to your financial success, and you responded with lots of good thoughts. Today, reader D. Post has a question for you about personal finance skills college students should learn. Here’s his situation: GRS, I’ve just about made it through college and am about to start my senior year! I’ve had a fun time at school and still have a good-sized chunk of change in the bank,…

  • Ask the Readers: Which Concepts Have Contributed Most to Your Financial Success? (57 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. After a year off, J.D. is once again writing here at GRS. His non-financial writing can still be found at More Than Money. Over the past few months, I’ve been brainstorming ideas about future book projects. It’s been four years since I started writing Your Money: The Missing Manual, and I’m eager to delve deeper into the subject of personal finance….

  • What Are the Best Financial Accounts and Tools Available? (49 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. After a year off, J.D. is once again writing here at GRS. His non-financial writing can still be found at More Than Money. As a personal-finance blogger, it’s my responsibility to keep up-to-date on the latest in the financial industry. Whose advice is worth heeding? (And whose advice sucks?) What are the current tax rates? Where’s the best place to save…

  • Ask the Readers: Do you review your credit card regularly? (62 comments)

    This story and Ask the Readers question comes from Madeline Roche, who blogs at Ballingonabudget.org. I recently celebrated my one-year anniversary with my first and only credit card. Instead of popping some bubbly, I paid my $69 annual fee. Though not astronomical, this charge was unexpected and motivated me to evaluate my relationship with the little piece of plastic. I had pretty clear goals when I applied for the card, and there was no better…

  • Ask the Readers: Would you let your insurance company monitor your driving for a discount? (103 comments)

    Privacy is a big issue for people these days, what with every website able to see where you go, what you’re searching for and serve up ads. With the NSA looking at emails and phone calls from regular folks, the issue is bigger than ever. But would you elect to be monitored if it would save you money? You’ve probably seen the commercials for Progressive insurance’s Snapshot pay-as-you-drive device. State Farm has a similar program…

  • Ask the Readers: Post-divorce — buy out wife or sell house? (72 comments)

    This reader question comes from Rick. He’s asking for the readers’ advice on this common dilemma that many divorced people face. My wife and I had a pretty good handle on our finances and were on track for meeting all of our major financial and life goals…college for the kids and retirement for us. We are both 43 and have two kids, ages 10 and 8. My wife went through a mid-life crisis last year…

  • Ask the Readers: What will you repair this month? (36 comments)

    This post is from personal finance writer Gwendolyn Pearce, who, since contributing at GRS, has learned that you don’t haggle at farmers’ markets. You just don’t. It’s time for another monthly challenge. This month, we want to challenge you to look for opportunities to repair something. As with all of our challenges, this is open to some interpretation. Whether this is bringing an appliance back from the brink, taking steps to repair your credit rating…

  • Ask the Readers: How much do you dare to bare? (93 comments)

    This is a guest post from Ashley, who blogs at skintinthecity.com, a site which reveals how you can live the high life even when your budget’s tighter than your skinny jeans. Last weekend my husband and I went to dinner with my two closest and oldest friends and their partners. These days, the six of us nearly always meet up with our kids in tow, but that night was a rare adults-only evening. We were…

  • Ask the Readers: What will you donate this month? (32 comments)

    We are frugal for a reason. We are trying to maximize our money to buy a quality of life, and that quality looks different for everyone. For some, it means being able to travel the world; for others, they’d like to stay home with their kids. Many would like to know the feeling of owning something outright. We’ve shared experiences for almost half the year on earning, saving, investing and trading and negotiating. We’re hoping…

  • Ask the Readers: What would it take to quit your job and pursue your passion? (86 comments)

    This guest post is from Michelle who blogs at Making Sense of Cents. Lately I have been thinking a lot about whether I should pursue what I love and enjoy my life more, or stick it out with my job that provides stable income. Recently, I was reading a post about how one reader quit her very promising and high-paying career so that she could enjoy life instead. After I read that post, I read about how…

  • Ask the Readers: What lifestyle changes have you made to improve your finances? (83 comments)

    Newish GRS reader Jennifer is beginning her financial journey, and she shared her strategy so far. So here I am, mid-30s, buried in an obscene amount of credit card debt, and very little to show for it other than my piles and piles of STUFF. Man, I love me some stuff. I’ve lived in denial for years… “Yes, I have a lot of credit card debt, but so long as I can pay my bills…

  • Ask the Readers: What will you negotiate this month? (41 comments)

    This month’s challenge comes from Gwendolyn Pearce, who would rather be doing almost anything else than buying a car. Each month, we’ve been giving you financial challenges. Big or small, that’s up to you. But we believe that exercising these different financial skills will help to open up new possibilities of earning and saving. This June, we’re challenging readers to negotiate something. “You like it?” the man asks. “Yes, it’s very pretty.” “I’ll give you…

  • Ask the Readers: How can I help my father get financially set? (74 comments)

    Dealing with family members who aren’t as financially savvy or frugal as you are is a common problem. Reader Mike in New Hampshire wrote to tell us his dilemma, and he wants your thoughts on what he should do. Here’s his story (and here is the update to his story): In college I majored in Communication and Journalism, so when it came time to choose electives to meet the requirements for math and science I…

  • Ask the Readers: Do you plan for the good times as well as the bad? (53 comments)

    This is a guest post from personal finance writer Gwendolyn Pearce, who has written previously on chicken coops and cooking challenges. In a recent post, staff writer Lisa Aberle provided an excellent outline of the kind of financial information and preparation you should provide for your loved ones in the event of your incapacitation or death. It’s no fun to prepare this information, which may be why so many people avoid it. But as we’ve…

  • Ask the Readers: What will make you feel financially secure? (78 comments)

    If you’re a regular reader of Get Rich Slowly, you are focused on getting out of debt, saving, retirement goals – all of those money issues we all deal with. But at what point would you or do you feel financially secure? I think my own sense of financial security came once I had paid off all of my debts (excluding my mortgage) and had enough money to save a chunk each month. Certainly, having…

  • Ask the Readers: Do you ever pay more to support a local business? (115 comments)

    Reader Jennifer Gwennifer raises a timely question: When I can, I try to support small, family-operated businesses instead of “big box” stores like Walmart. However, I live in a coastal area of New England that is overrun with tourists in the summer, which means I end up paying slightly higher “tourist” prices for some things in the summer months. Some hotels and businesses shut down completely from November to April, so my range of choices…

  • Ask the Readers: What will you trade this month? (27 comments)

    Our monthly challenges to the GRS community are meant to push you to flex those frugality muscles and think creatively about money. For those who are just starting their financial journeys, learning and practicing new ways to increase your income and hacks to save some cash each month are vital. However, for those of you who find that old hat, we want you to take creative action to break out of the burnout that can…

  • Ask the Readers: 4 options for the next step (56 comments)

    Ken is sending his financial situation into the GRS ether to see what you have to say. Here’s a snapshot of his finances: I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article “What Next” and the “Ask the Readers: What is the Next Step?” because that is my situation. I have been struggling for the past year to figure out where to focus my attention. I am married with no children. My wife and I are 43 and…

  • Ask the Readers: Do you save more or less than your parents? (111 comments)

    This post is from Ollie Geiger, a personal finance writer who contributes to MoneyRates.com. Whenever we visit my grandmother-in-law’s house, we always leave with paper towels. Lots of them. Because our car is typically packed with vacation items when we visit, and because we usually have plenty of jumbo packs of paper towels waiting for us in our garage, there’s no good reason we should cram 14 rolls of these things into our back seat for…

  • Ask the Readers: What will you invest in this month? (47 comments)

    And before you know it, it’s April, and hopefully, you’re starting to see some signs of spring where you live. Our first two challenges were about sowing some seeds, and now maybe we can watch them grow. Here’s our challenge to the GRS community for April: What will you invest in this month? Now, let’s be clear, we’re not telling you to sink your hard-earned dollars into your brother’s plan to design a “Business Snuggie”…

  • Ask the Readers: Would you give a child a credit card? (122 comments)

    I’m personally a proponent of making teenagers authorized users on credit cards. My thinking is that it gives the parent the opportunity to teach their kids about managing credit while they’re at home and how to read a credit card statement (explain what the different interest rates mean, how fees are applied, etc.) while starting to build a credit file for their children. Of course, I don’t have kids, so I have never had to…

  • Ask the Readers: What is the next step? (92 comments)

    J.D. wrote about the three stages of personal finance often. His definitions were: The first stage of personal finance involves learning the basics: understanding compound interest, reducing debt, beginning to save. The second stage is putting the basics into practice: choosing to live frugally, saving in earnest, and pursuing financial goals. The third stage — the “what next?” stage — comes after we’ve mastered the fundamentals. It’s at this point that we begin to ask…

  • Ask the Readers: What can you do this month to earn an extra $150? (93 comments)

    And here we are in March! We’d like to check in with a series of challenges to help us achieve some goals this year. In February, we gave you the challenge of giving up something (or a series of somethings) for one month to save $250. How did you do? One of our staffers (and her partner) gave up alcohol, soda, a daily hot-chocolate habit, and suspended their gym membership for the month and resolved…

  • Ask the Readers: What are your favorite personal finance blogs? (159 comments)

    Of course, you’re a loyal reader of Get Rich Slowly – and we certainly appreciate it! But what other blogs do you read, and why do you like them? Many readers have mentioned Mr. Money Mustache as a new fave. What do you like about his style? What have you learned from him? Then there are the long-time PF sites like WiseBread, Consumerist, Consumerism Commentary, Money Crashers, I Will Teach You to Be Rich, and…

  • Ask the Readers: Can you retire without a pension or 401(k)? (57 comments)

    This short reader post from GRS reader A Single Saver caught our eye. A 401(k) or IRA fund seems almost mandatory by personal finance standards, and yet, here a reader writes how her retirement looks good without them. What do you think? Would you be able to provide a retirement for yourself without retirement investment accounts? Can a single woman retire without a pension or a 401(k)? That was my dilemma. As a contract worker,…

  • Ask the Readers: Will you spend $130 on Valentine’s Day this year? or Stop laughing and tell us your plans for Valentine’s Day (66 comments)

    This short post is from personal finance writer Gwendolyn Pearce, who last wrote about no-money fun. According to the National Retail Federation, the average person is planning to spend $130.97 this Valentine’s Day. If you’re a male in love, that number jumps to $175.61. Females, however, are only projected to spend $88.78. The NRF’s report forecasts that consumers are playing down Valentine’s Day this year by only spending $18.6 billion. (It made me curious what…

  • Ask the Readers: What will you give up this month to save $250? (101 comments)

    Welcome to February! In early January, we asked people what are their savings goals this year. But reading El Nerdo’s post on Tuesday made me think about how focusing on a short-term goal could help us achieve a long-term goal. So we’ve come up a series of challenges to help us achieve some goals this year. Here’s the February challenge for our GRS community: What will you give up for just one month to save…

  • Ask the Readers: Is credit monitoring worth the money? (46 comments)

    Reader Bryce wrote to us this week with this question for the readers: “What are your thoughts on companies like freecreditreport.com, where they charge $16.95/month to have access to your Experian credit report? Is checking your credit weekly/monthly worth the $16.95/month?” First of all, you are legally entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the main credit reporting companies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can get them via the government’s official…

  • Ask the Readers: How much rent should I charge my in-laws? (122 comments)

    Money issues among family members are difficult, to say the least. A reader named The Lessor wrote to us recently about his sticky family situation: I have a brother-in-law who decided to pursue ministry work overseas. He is married to a European girl and they live with her mother most of the year. Each year they return to the U.S. to keep citizenship/residency, visit with family, and fundraise for additional money to keep them living…

  • Ask the Readers: How do you manage your clothing expenses? (133 comments)

    It seems like the fight against Stuff is ongoing, whether it’s toys, electronics, books, CDs, tools or anything we consume. Yesterday, Holly talked about fighting the battle of the toy bulge. Recently, reader Adrian G. posed this question for the readers: How many clothes do your kids have? My 14-year-old son was out of town, so I sneaked into his room to catch him up on some laundry and weed out the too-small clothes. Even…

  • Ask the Readers: What should you consider when buying a house at 25 (or any age for that matter)? (78 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jenna Forstrom. I always wanted to have my own house.  My parents flipped houses while I was growing up and I like creating spaces and using my hands, plus it always sounded like a good investment.  I graduated college at 21 and decided my next goal was to buy a house by 25.  So, after graduation, I moved back home to Portland to live with my mom. Some people…

  • Ask the Readers: Why will you teach your children frugality? (46 comments)

    This is a guest post from Suba. She believes in living life instead of existing and she shares her thoughts at Wealth Informatics, a personal finance blog focused on living a high quality of life by intelligently leveraging knowledge, time and money. “Kids these days feel so entitled,” said my childhood friend. “Remember the good old days when we never asked our parents for anything?” she added, as we sipped a cup of coffee and…

  • Ask the Readers: Is traditional advice killing your job search? (25 comments)

    “Vince” was halfway through his MBA program and struggling to find an internship. So, he took his career counselor’s advice and blasted his resume and cover letter to 30 companies.”I just tried to shoot out as many resumes as possible,” says Vince. Nine companies called him back, but the interviews didn’t go well. He only got one offer, and it wasn’t for a particularly great internship. If Vince followed his career counselor’s advice, why was…

  • Ask the readers: Do you repair your own car to save money? (82 comments)

    This post is from Ollie Geiger, a personal finance writer who contributes to MoneyRates.com. As a former auto mechanic and service manager, my dad’s car expertise has saved our family from countless binds. Over the years, he’s done everything from replacing my wife’s broken timing belt in the parking lot of her apartment complex to rebuilding our truck’s toasted alternator at a motel high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. A master of seeing mechanical possibilities,…

  • Ask the Readers: Do you lend money to friends? (108 comments)

    “What’s a little money between friends?” That common question has wrecked more than a few friendships. Reader Alexa (who blogs at Single Moms Income) is in that situation now. She recently sent us a story and a question. Here’s her tale. I moved back home near the end of July where I immediately reconnected with one of my old friends — we’ll call him J — whom I hadn’t seen in several years. In just…

  • Ask the Readers: How can we help pay for nieces’ and nephews’ education? (40 comments)

    Strategies for saving for college haven’t been discussed much on Get Rich Slowly over the years. And yet student debt has been a regular and pressing problem for many. Saving before you get to college seems like an important financial step. Reader Lynn K. wanted to ask the readers several questions about saving for college – for her coming nieces and nephews, not even her own children. How generous is that? So here are Lynn’s…

  • Ask the Readers: How can you help children appreciate delayed gratification? (35 comments)

    This post is from Ollie Geiger, a personal finance writer who contributes to MoneyRates.com. I had it pretty good as a kid. While I didn’t get everything I wanted for birthdays or Christmas, my parents always gave it a good shot, and most importantly, they were always there when I opened the boxes. Still, in the instances I wanted a big-ticket item from my parents, I had to be patient. Coming from a single-income family…

  • Ask the Readers: How do you build an inexpensive care package? (39 comments)

    This guest post was written by Jenny Saikwa who was inspired by Veterans Day. I’m not exactly sure how Spit made his entrance, but the little stuffed camel certainly meant a lot to my son during the waning days of his first deployment in Afghanistan. The object of countless “missions,” Spit’s uncanny ability to sneak into a photo or weasel his way onto a helicopter was the stuff of legends. Spit celebrated his first Christmas…

  • Ask the Readers: What is your favorite ‘no-money fun’? (89 comments)

    This is a guest post from personal finance writer Gwendolyn Pearce. While I’ve never seen J. Lo. wearily balancing her checkbook in the “Celebrities are just like us” section of the tabloids, I assume most of us deal with frugality burnout occasionally. And even though we know that we’re supposed to budget for fun and allow some wiggle room for the sake of our sanity, I know far too many people right now who say…

  • Ask the Readers: How do you keep holiday tipping in check? (243 comments)

    This post comes from J. Whiton. I’m preparing a holiday gift budget for family and close friends and realize I should factor in year-end gifts and bonuses to myriad people who provide services to us throughout the year. I’ve gotten the memo that “it’s the thought that counts,” but I’m not sure my newspaper delivery person has. He continues to enclose a self-addressed envelope with our paper in early December, and I’m pretty sure he…

  • Ask the Readers: What is your most pressing financial issue? (98 comments)

    As Election Day draws (mercifully) near, that old question “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” comes up again and again. I’m not going to talk politics. However, I think the better question at any time (and one that is worth asking a few times a year) might be “What is your most pressing financial issue?” Facing foreclosure? Deep in credit card debt? Shopping for health insurance? Lost your job? Can’t make…

  • Ask the Readers: Should you comment on a friend’s overspending? (114 comments)

    This post is from Ollie Geiger, a personal finance writer who contributes to MoneyRates.com. My wife has a friend who likes to talk about how broke she is. This friend – let’s call her “Amber,” since that’s her real name – is fond of complaining about the dire state of her finances each month, even though her income is higher than many of our mutual friends. But here’s the rub in Amber’s complaints: She is…

  • Ask the Readers: What is your hobby worth to you? (115 comments)

    This guest post was written by Jenny Saikwa. Our friends’ weeks and weekends are crammed full of various pursuits – soccer, baseball, gardening, scrapbooking, calligraphy, swimming, dressage, sailing … the list goes on and on. And let’s face it: No matter what the hobby is, it’s going to involve the wallet. There is a price of entry for virtually every hobby, beyond which the sky is the limit. And after watching the Olympians compete this…

  • Ask the Readers: What odd things have you done to save money? (254 comments)

    This is a guest post from David Bakke. David is always looking for ways to save money and live frugally. He shares his tips and strategies on Money Crashers Personal Finance. During my journey to escape $30,000 worth of personal debt, I wore my frugality like a badge of honor. I had no problem bragging to people about all the ways I saved money, regardless of their quizzical reactions. I was on a mission, and…

  • Ask the Readers: If parents are paying for college, are any majors off limits? (257 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jacqueline Whiton, who self-financed her undergraduate education and MBA. She is interested in personal finance and is saving to fund her three teenagers’ anticipated college expenses. After saving since your child was in preschool, you celebrate euphorically when your son or daughter is accepted to the college of his or her choice. You’d always imagined that your math whiz would become a chief financial officer (CFO), but are surprised…

  • Ask the Readers: Do Your Morals Cost You More? (163 comments)

    This is a guest post from personal finance writer Gwendolyn Pearce. I’m considering building a chicken coop. I’m thinking about this choice because paying over $5 for a dozen eggs seems ridiculous. Especially when compared to the carton of bleach-white generic eggs beside them for $1.04. But I take the $5 eggs every time because they are free-range and organic and (despite the debate on whether organic is actually better) I feel they are worth…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Maximize Store Loyalty Cards? (58 comments)

    Today’s “Ask the Readers” comes to Get Rich Slowly from Luke Landes, founder of Consumerism Commentary. Retailers are eager to turn their customers into raving fans, and business owners, whether proprietors of the local delicatessen or CEOs of multinational corporations, will do whatever it takes to bring shoppers back into the store. Customer loyalty is a prized asset, and companies are finding more sophisticated methods of tailoring their specials to the needs of each shopper….

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Do You Spend on Charitable Giving? (220 comments)

    The deeper I get into the third stage of personal finance, the more I think about my responsibilities to help others who are in need. For years, Get Rich Slowly readers have been encouraging me to contribute to charity, but I’ve always been reluctant to do so. This wasn’t part of my family culture as a boy (we were the ones in need), so it’s been a struggle to come to terms with it as…

  • Ask the Readers: What Do You Want to Know About the Economics of Health Care? (240 comments)

    Today’s “ask the readers” is a little different. Instead of giving another GRS reader advice, we’re asking you to give us advice. For years, GRS readers have been asking for more information about health insurance and health care. We spend a lot of our money on health care, and that will only increase as we age. With all of the political wrangling recently over the Affordable Care Act, it’s difficult to know exactly what’s really…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Handle Money Mistakes? (64 comments)

    Getting started with smart money management can be tough. It can be frustrating. For one, you have to discard so many old habits. Plus you have to develop new habits. And, toughest of all, you have to deal with the constant small (and large) mistakes you make as you’re getting the hang of saving and investing. In a lot of ways, learning to be smart with money can be like learning to ride a bike….

  • Ask the Readers: Should I Buy a New House? (162 comments)

    Sometimes personal finance problems have clear solutions: There’s a right answer and there’s a wrong answer. When you’re new to money management, these answers might not seem clear, but they become clear with time. But my favorite personal finance dilemmas are those to which there are no wrong answers, only good solutions. For example, an anonymous GRS reader recently wrote wondering what to do with a large chunk of money. Here’s her story: This has…

  • Ask the Readers: Best Alternatives to Cable Television? (179 comments)

    I’ve written two major articles here at Get Rich Slowly about how to cut costs on cable television. In March 2007, I wrote about cheap alternatives to cable television, and in February 2009, I followed that up by describing how I cut my television bill in half. But it’s been more than three years since I visited this topic, and I’ve started to get email from readers who want an update. But it’s not just…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Do You Spend on Self Improvement? (160 comments)

    I’m a firm believer in personal development. Self-improvement is part of living a rich life. In fact, when I started this blog six years ago, the self-improvement category was one of the first I implemented. Over the years, I’ve published dozens of articles on the subject, including: Getting to now: How to beat the procrastination habit The power of yes: A simple way to get more out of life Luck is no accident: 10 ways…

  • Frugal or Foolish? Our Cruise-Ship Wedding (201 comments)

    For the next week (or two), we’ll be sharing “audition” pieces from folks interested in being new staff writers at Get Rich Slowly. Your job is to let us know what you think of each of these writers. Pay attention, give feedback, and after a couple of weeks we’ll ask which writers you prefer. This article is from Honey Smith, who says she’s at the beginning of her debt-reduction journey. How much should you spend…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Do You Spend on Fun? (93 comments)

    Over the past year, I’ve occasionally used the “Ask the Readers” feature at Get Rich Slowly to poll people about their budgets and spending habits. So far, I’ve asked folks: How much do you spend on food? How much do you spend on clothes? How much do you spend on gifts? How much do you spend on health insurance? How much do you spend on housing? How much do you spend on kids? For today’s…

  • Ask the Readers: Why Don’t People Talk About Money? (291 comments)

    On Wednesday, I visited a fifth-grade class in McMinnville, Oregon to talk with the kids about money. I had a great time, and I’ll share more about the experience on Monday. Today, though, I want to start by sharing a question I received from one of the students. “How much money do you have?” Hannah asked when I called on her. “I’m not going to answer that?” I said. “Nobody answers that,” said a boy…

  • Ask the Readers: Items Worth the Extra Money? (171 comments)

    From time to time, I get queries from reporters asking me to comment on particular personal finance topics. I do my best to help these folks, especially when they ask something interesting. Recently, Katie from CNBC dropped me a line with a question that actually stumped me: For which things should people be willing to spend extra money? Here’s an edited version of her e-mail: I’m working on a piece for our personal finance section…

  • Ask the Readers: What Do You Wish You’d Learned About Money? (178 comments)

    When we’re young, we think we know it all. We make decisions — financial and otherwise — based on what little we know of the world, and these decisions are colored by a relentless optimism that comes from not having to deal with the harsh realities of the world. Realities like the high cost of health insurance, steep interest rates on credit cards, and trouble finding a job. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could…

  • Ask the Readers: One Expense Leads to Another? (111 comments)

    Have you ever bought something only to discover that this one purchase led to another? And another? And another? I have, and it’s frustrating. Andrew thinks this sort of problem is frustrating, too, and he recently wrote to ask for advice on handling situations like this. What do you do when one expense leads to another? How do you put a stop to it? How do you predict problems like this so they don’t happen…

  • Is Your Spending Normal? (112 comments)

    Over the past year, one of the most popular features here at Get Rich Slowly has been the monthly “how much do you spend on X?” question. I started these informal and unscientific surveys on a whim. I wanted too see what sort of spending ranges we held as a population of relatively money-savvy citizens. In the past year, we’ve looked at the following spending categories: How much do you spend on food? How much…

  • Saving Without a Goal (206 comments)

    For the past few months, I’ve been in a strange place with my financial journey. My retirement needs are met, as are my daily living expenses, so all I need to worry about is saving for short- and medium-term goals. That’s great — except I don’t have any. I can’t decide whether this is a problem or not. When I was younger, not having financial goals absolutely caused problems. Because I didn’t have anything specific…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Merge Finances and Philosophies? (132 comments)

    Everyone is different. That’s the beauty of life — but also one of its greatest complications. When two people fall in love, the meshing of these differences can be both fun and frustrating, especially when it comes to personal finance. That’s what Elaine has discovered. She’d like some advice on how to merge finances and philosophies with her fiancé. Here’s her story: My fiancé and I are both very responsible with money — neither of…

  • Ask the Readers: Which Credit Cards Do You Use? (237 comments)

    Though I steer clear of writing about credit cards at Get Rich Slowly, I use them all the time. I used to be an anti-credit card zealot. Because irresponsible use of credit cards had led me to tens of thousands of dollars in consumer debt, I thought they couldn’t possibly be used for good. My attitude toward credit cards has changed over the years. First, my wife showed me that it was perfectly possible to…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Save Money While Making Minimum Wage? (147 comments)

    It can be tough to get out of debt and build savings even if your income is above average. If it’s average (or less), the challenge becomes even greater. And what if you’re earning only minimum wage (or something a little over)? In cases like this, is saving even possible? Yesterday, a reader named Andrew asked this question on the Get Rich Slowly page at Facebook: Andrew’s question from Facebook I love this question. Andrew…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Do You Spend on Kids? (271 comments)

    The “Ask the Readers” feature has always been popular at Get Rich Slowly. It’s a great way for people like you to ask questions about money, and, best of all, it’s a chance to help others solve their problems. But there’s no doubt that the “how much do you spend?” questions get the most responses. Maybe that’s why Kate wrote recently to ask a question that hadn’t ever occurred to me. She wants to know…

  • Ask the Readers: Income? Or Negative Savings? (92 comments)

    I’ve been fielding reader questions at Get Rich Slowly for almost six years now. In that time, we (you and I) have answered 202 questions, most of which have been about the Big Picture, about things that apply to everyone. Sometimes, though, it can be interesting to get a bit more specific. For instance, Julie wrote recently with a question that, by her own admission, is technical and fussy. Well, let’s be technical and fussy…

  • Ask the Readers: All I Ever Worry About is Money (183 comments)

    Though I try to keep the “Ask the Readers” column general so that the advice can apply to many people, sometimes I get specific questions that seem important enough to be addressed. That’s the case this week. A young GRS reader named Rebecca dropped a line the other day looking for help. She’s just getting started in life, but feels overwhelmed by personal finance. She worries about money all of the time. Here’s her story:…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Retire Early? (123 comments)

    Though many readers of this site have modest financial goals, others are more ambitious. Many want to get rich. (That’s not surprising; after all, this blog is called Get Rich Slowly.) But I think most GRS readers are aiming at something in between. For instance, Charlotte wrote recently to ask about a goal that many of us have. She wants to know how to make early retirement a reality. Here’s Charlotte’s message: My husband is…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Do You Spend on Housing? (459 comments)

    Over the past few months, I’ve occasionally used the “Ask the Readers” feature at Get Rich Slowly to poll people about their budgets and spending habits. So far, I’ve asked folks to share their spending on food, clothes, gifts, and health insurance. Now I want to look at a bigger item in your budget — probably the biggest. Let’s talk about how much you spend on housing. More than other expenses, your housing costs are…

  • Ask the Readers: Basic Financial Frameworks? (81 comments)

    One common request from new GRS readers is some sort of central location where they can find a list of introductory articles to guide their progress. This is a great idea, and I’m working on it. Some of the GRS elves are working on a “Guide to Money” that will provide some of this info, but I envision a single page that collects all of the relevant articles for folks starting out. In the meantime,…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Should I Save (and What Should I Save For)? (107 comments)

    Many of the reader questions I get here at Get Rich Slowly follow a familiar formula. The person sends me a breakdown of her income and expenses, also sharing how she’s allocating her savings. From these figures, my correspondent wants to know if I’d make changes to her budget. Unfortunately, I’m not qualified to answer questions as specific as these. (And I don’t have time to answer them all!) That said, there are often certain…

  • Ask the Readers: When Is It Okay to Use Your Emergency Fund? (101 comments)

    It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a person in want of a good fortune must be in possession of an emergency fund. Hilarious literary allusions aside, the emergency fund — or rainy-day savings, or whatever you want to call it — is one of the bedrocks of basic personal finance. A solid savings account is like self-insurance; it can offer some protection when life seems intent on drowning you with one financial crisis after…

  • Ask the Readers: How Can I Talk to My Parents about Money? (90 comments)

    In many families, money is a taboo subject. It’s not something that’s discussed openly. But this weekend, as people gather to celebrate Christmas, there will be lots of opportunities to bring up the topic with parents — and other loved ones. But how do you do it? That’s what Sean wants to know. He feels it’s important to understand his parents’ finances, but they’re not willing to share. What should he do? Here’s Sean’s question:…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Do You Spend on Health Insurance? (335 comments)

    Behind the scenes, the GRS elves and I have been working to streamline the process for submitting reader stories, guest posts, and financial questions. As part of this, I’ve been reading through every question submitted over the past year. I’ve noticed some patterns. One topic I’m seeing over and over again is health insurance. We’ve explored health insurance a few times in the past, but we don’t do so often. For one, it’s complicated. For…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Help a Homeless Friend? (117 comments)

    As the U.S. economy enters its fourth year of turmoil, average folks continue to struggle. At GRS, we’ve shared questions and stories about people who can’t make ends meet, who are losing their homes, and who find themselves out of work. But we’ve never tackled the homeless before. Today, though, Evan wrote with a tough situation. One of his friends is out on the street, and he feels guilty because of it. Should he help?…

  • Ask the Readers: Staying Motivated to Save? (82 comments)

    Sometimes you do everything right — you work hard, you cut back on spending, you invest for retirement — but all of your effort seems for nought. You get sick. You wreck your car. Or, as has been the case for the past several years, the entire global economy seems determined to thwart your long-term plans. What happens when you do all the right things, but the right things don’t seem to work? That’s what…

  • Ask the Readers: Black Friday Shopping Secrets? (98 comments)

    With Thanksgiving less than a week away, the holiday shopping season is about to move into high gear. In the past, I’ve consciously steered clear of holiday shopping, and especially of Black Friday. I’m not fond of the frenzied zeal with which Americans spend their money at this time of the year. For more than a decade, I’ve elected to observe Buy Nothing Day. I choose not to spend a single penny on the day…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Money Do You Need Before You Have Kids? (268 comments)

    For the most part, this site reflects my values and my experiences. That’s natural. One of the first rules of writing is to “write what you know”. This is one of the main reasons I’ve brought staff writers aboard here at Get Rich Slowly — their experiences are different than mine, and they bring different perspectives into play. Sometimes I have big blind spots in my life (financial and otherwise). One rather large blind spot…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Do You Spend on Gifts? (126 comments)

    As Kris and I near the end our trip to Peru, we’ve begun to make preparations for our return home. That means shopping. I spent some time today buying books, for instance. Keeping in mind my recently-drafted guidelines of what to buy, I picked up a couple dozen Spanish translations of classic novels and popular children’s books. These books are all tiny (about the size of a religious tract) and cost only S/1.50 each, which…

  • Ask the Readers: Which Financial Products Do You Actually Use? (143 comments)

    The financial blogging conference last week was great. My colleagues and I had a lot of thought-provoking discussions, not only in the planned sessions but also late at night in the hotel lobby. One of these impromptu chats focused on the financial products we actually use. Financial bloggers do a lot of product reviews. (I do them too, but I think they’re tedious. Besides, I think there are some ethical grey areas with product reviews,…

  • Reader Story (and Question): Saving Time and Money with Autopay (95 comments)

    This guest post from Jason is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. Jason and his wife run Gravity Switch, a company that does web development and iPhone/iPad development. In addition to doing the grocery shopping, I…

  • Ask the Readers: How Would You Sell a Collection? (80 comments)

    I am a collector. I always have been. When I was a boy, my parents gave me one closet in the trailer house to have as my very own. They called it the “rat’s nest” because I’d fill it up with all the sorts of things a boy might collect: bugs and twigs and baseball cards and comic books, among other things. As an adult, I’ve remained a collector. It’s both a joy and curse….

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Do You Spend on Clothes? (340 comments)

    The “Ask the Readers” feature is well-loved here at Get Rich Slowly, but by far the most popular question I’ve ever asked came at the end of July. “How much do you spend on food?” I wondered, and GRS readers posted 367 comments sharing their buying habits and the costs in their cities (and countries). Several readers sent me e-mail after this question asking for more. “You should do a whole series of questions like…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do I Get Started with Investing? (79 comments)

    I’ve begun to sort through the batch of questions GRS readers submitted a few weeks ago. Surprisingly, many of them are about the basics of investing. But looking at the archives, GRS hasn’t covered investing much in the past couple of years; I assumed that the articles in the archives were enough. Maybe it’s time to revisit the subject. As an example of the sorts of questions people sent in, here’s one from Becky about…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Cope with Financial Mistakes? (88 comments)

    Nobody’s perfect. This should be obvious, but we all tend to forget it — and often. We judge other people for their mistakes, and often we judge ourselves even more harshly. I do this too. When I do something that I know is wrong (or merely foolish), I get down on myself, which often leads me to make further mistakes. Lately, for instance, I’ve been struggling with my diet and exercise. I spent eighteen months…

  • How to Submit a Reader Story or Question to Get Rich Slowly (16 comments)

    Sunday morning is “reader story” time at Get Rich Slowly. Every week, I share a story sent in by a reader like you. Today, though, I’m going to take a time out to do some housekeeping. This morning, I’m sharing info on how to submit a reader question or story for future publication. At noon-ish, I’ll republish the GRS comment policy. And in the late afternoon/evening, I’ll share mini bios of all the GRS writers…

  • Ask the Readers: When Is It Not Your Fault? (256 comments)

    In popular American mythology, the rich work hard for their wealth. They’ve earned it. They deserve it. While this is often true, everyone can cite instances of people who have money due to fate and circumstance, not because of hard work and perseverance. The same holds true for folks at the opposite end of the spectrum. Yes, there are plenty of people who are poor or in debt due to their own bad choices. But…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Do You Spend on Food? (399 comments)

    Five years ago, I posted the first-ever “Ask the Readers” question here at Get Rich Slowly. “How much do you spend on food?” I asked in a short post (the likes of which one never sees around here anymore). For five years, people have been posting their food budgets for others to see. Shauna wrote earlier this week asking for an update: Would you consider doing an update to the “How much does your household…

  • Ask the Readers: Financial Success Stories? (325 comments)

    It’s been a long, dark week for me. My mother is now safely ensconced in the “memory care” unit at a managed-care facility, but she’s confused and scared. The staff says this is normal, and that she’ll adjust with time. I hope so. I want to turn my attention to something more positive. Normally on Fridays, I share a reader question, but I haven’t had time to sort through to find a good one. Instead,…

  • Ask the Readers: Is a Used Car Still a Good Deal? (138 comments)

    Because new cars tend to lose value rapidly, the conventional wisdom is that it usually makes more sense to buy a used vehicle instead of a new one. But is this rule of thumb always true? Has it changed in the past few years? That’s what Lily wants to know. She writes: Time Moneyland recently reported that used vehicle prices have hit a 16-year high. On the radio, car companies are asking people to trade…

  • Ask the Readers: But HOW Do You Track Every Penny You Spend? (186 comments)

    It’s tough to dig out of debt (or make other changes to your spending habits) if you don’t know where your money goes. I tried for years to turn things around, but was unsuccessful until I started tracking every penny I spent. Armed with info about my actual spending habits (instead of perceived patterns), I was able to make a realistic budget. But getting started with expense tracking can be overwhelming. There’s so much data!…

  • Best Savings Accounts for 2014 (104 comments)

    J.D. first posted this online savings account article back in March 2007, when interest rates were well over 1 percent. Since then, of course, interest rates at online banks have run under or just at 1 percent, making it hard for savers to make headway on their goals. Our sister site, MoneyRates.com, does a quarterly analysis of savings rates, called America’s Best Rates, which shows the highest interest rates offered during the previous quarter. The…

  • Ask the Readers: How Can I Earn Extra Money? (122 comments)

    The realm of personal finance blogs is large. It’s filled with general money blogs like Five Cent Nickel and The Simple Dollar and Get Rich Slowly. But there are many smaller corners of this world where writers cover smaller pieces of the personal finance puzzle. For instance, there are: Investment blogs like Crawling Road, Oblivious Investor, and Seeking Alpha (which has grown beyond mere bloghood). Economics blogs like Greg Mankiw’s Blog, the always-awesome Marginal Revolution,…

  • Ask the Readers: Pay Off the Mortgage or Keep the Money in Savings? (226 comments)

    It’s tough to write a personal-finance blog for five years without repeating topics. New readers come and old readers go. Meanwhile, the needs of existing readers are constantly changing. I try not to repeat material too often, but sometimes it’s clear it’s time to revisit a subject. Now is one of those times. Lately, I’ve received several questions like this one from Robin, who wants to know if she should pay off her mortgage: I’ve…

  • Ask the Readers: I’m Getting Older — Should I Save or Should I Travel? (112 comments)

    Long-time GRS reader Sheila (aka PawPrint) dropped a line earlier this year because she’s facing a financial dilemma. She and her husband want to be responsible — to save for retirement — but they’re afraid that doing so means they won’t be able to pursue other passions, such as travel. Sheila writes: My husband is nearly 60. As we watch friends and relatives succumb to cancer (mostly) in their late sixties, I wonder about our…

  • Reader Story (and Question): Financial Health vs. Mental Health? (191 comments)

    This guest post from “NotPollyanna” is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. This week’s submission is a reader story and a reader question rolled into one. Hi. My name is Not Pollyanna. (Okay, that’s not…

  • Ask the Readers: How Can I Handle “Required” Office Spending? (215 comments)

    “Money is more about mind than it is about math.” — That’s one of the fifteen tenets of the Get Rich Slowly philosophy. By this I mean that psychology and emotion and relationships play a bigger part in our financial choices than the pure mathematics of any given situation. This manifests itself in lots of ways. Sometimes, it even crops up in the workplace. A reader we’ll call Erin wrote recently with the following dilemma:…

  • Ask the Readers: But What If I *AM* Materialistic? (225 comments)

    I’ve received a lot of interesting out-of-the-ordinary questions from GRS readers recently. Two weeks ago, for instance, Rita asked about the moral implications of spending. This week, Crystal wants to know: What if she is materialistic? Is that wrong? If so, how can she change? Here’s what she has to say: I’ve read your blog for a while now, and it always inspires me, but I stop just short of embracing the frugal lifestyle. Why?…

  • Ask the Readers: What Is My Financial Obligation to My Family? (256 comments)

    Last Friday’s question about the moral implications of spending prompted a great discussion, as well as a few personal messages. One of those e-mails was from Dave, who wrote with his own ethical dilemma. Instead of looking at the world at large, Dave wants to know how to handle a financial dilemma closer to home: with his own family. Here’s his story: I read your site though I no longer need it. I did a…

  • Ask the Readers: What Are the Moral Implications of Spending? (241 comments)

    Most reader questions I share at Get Rich Slowly are meant to solve a problem — somebody has a financial dilemma they’re hoping you folks can help them fix. But Rita sent a different kind of question. She doesn’t want to solve a problem — she wants to stir debate. Rita writes: I ask myself “How much is enough?” several times daily. My husband and I make good money — over $100,000 in combined income…

  • Ask the Readers: Should We Rent or Should We Buy? (100 comments)

    Is it better to rent or buy? We’ve discussed this age-old housing question several times in the past, but it’s always been on a theoretical level. Sometimes what seems simple in theory is tougher to figure out when you have to make a decision in Real Life. That’s the case for Erik, who dropped a line yesterday to ask whether, based on his personal circumstances, he should rent an apartment or buy one. Here’s what…

  • Ask the Readers: I’ve Tracked My Expenses — Now What? (103 comments)

    At the end of August, a very patient Stephanie sent me an interesting question. When I didn’t answer her e-mail, she sent it again in January. I replied, promising to post her question while I was in Africa — but I didn’t get to it. Now it’s April. I think it’s time to set things right. Here’s what Stephanie has to say: For a year now, I’ve tracked every single penny that comes and goes…

  • Ask the Readers: A Fool and His Money… (138 comments)

    It’s April Fool’s Day, one of my favorite days of the year at Get Rich Slowly. It’s the day I get to share the story of some foolish thing I’ve done with money in the past. This year, though, April Fool’s Day falls on a Friday, which is when I traditionally field reader questions. So, I thought it would be fun to mix things up. Instead of me telling you how stupid I can be…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Talk to Friends and Family About Money? (82 comments)

    Last spring, Andy submitted a question he hoped readers could help him with. I promised I’d post it…and then went to Alaska for ten days and forgot. Well, Andy’s a patient man. And persistent. Last week, he dropped me a line again because he’s still wondering: How do you give advice about money to your family (and friends)? Here’s Andy’s story: My family had plenty of money when I was growing up, but we never…

  • Follow-Up: Save More or See the World? (29 comments)

    I get a lot of requests for follow-ups to reader stories and reader questions. People want to hear how things turned out. Because I want to know how things turned out, too, I’ve started a semi-regular feature at Get Rich Slowly. Whenever I hear back from a previous poster, I’ll share an update so that we can all know what happened. Max wrote in July of 2009 to ask if he should save more or…

  • Ask the Readers: Saving vs. Debt Reduction (99 comments)

    The tone and content at Get Rich Slowly have shifted a lot in the past five years. When I started this site, I was a financial novice. I was learning about smart money management. Now, I’m in what I call the third stage of personal finance, and the basics come naturally. (Most of the time, anyhow.) I’m glad that GRS has evolved with me. At the same time, though, I sometimes forget to focus on…

  • College Is a Big, Fat, Hairy Rip-Off! (But Save for It Anyway) (109 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He also has a newly reinvigorated blog, and you can have your day interrupted once or twice by his Twittering. Robert contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. A few weeks ago, the proprietor of this establishment (J.D. “The letters in ‘Get…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Should You Spend on Self Improvement? (89 comments)

    Ah, it’s good to be home and finally getting back into something of a routine. As part of that routine, I’ve been reading hundreds of e-mails, including quite a few reader questions — like this one from Annie. Annie writes: I’m 25, and starting to take personal finance seriously. I’m in graduate school, and am very fortunate to have an educational trust that allows me to do this without loans. Knowing how lucky I am,…

  • Ask the Readers: Best Non-U.S. Personal Finance Sites? (51 comments)

    People are the same all around the world. Everyone struggles with the same things — including money. Because of this, financial advice from one country is generally applicable to other countries, as well. Sort of. While general advice is easy to transfer from one culture to another, the specifics are often lost in translation. In the U.S., we have a Roth IRA. But in Canada, they have an RRSP. And in the U.K.? Well, I’m…

  • Ask the Readers: Should I Sell My Car? (180 comments)

    The Friday “Ask the Readers” column generally follows a set format: I introduce the topic, share a reader e-mail, give my best advice, and then ask for your feedback. Today’s column is a little different. Sarah sent me a 1000-word question, and rather than write any sort of response, I’m just going to let her have the entire space. Everything that follows is from Sarah. I have a question for other GRS readers. It’s a…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do I Motivate My Boyfriend to Save Money? (104 comments)

    Although we cover the topic once or twice a year, I constantly get questions from people who are frustrated by the financial habits of their spouses and partners. Some people are Spenders, and some people are Savers. What can you do to get both partners on the same page? Linda is the most recent GRS reader with a relationship issue. She wrote to ask how to get her boyfriend motivated to save money. Here’s her…

  • Ask the Readers: Should We Move to a More Expensive Part of the Country? (175 comments)

    The Friday “Ask the Readers” column generally follows a set format: I introduce the topic, share a reader e-mail, give my best advice, and then ask for your feedback. Today’s column is a little different. Jennifer sent me a 1000-word question, and rather than write any sort of response, I’m just going to let her have the entire space. Everything that follows is from Jennifer. My husband and I are in our mid twenties (no…

  • Follow-Up: Thrifting for Holiday Gifts (16 comments)

    As I mentioned earlier this week, I get a lot of requests for follow-ups to reader stories and questions. People want to hear how things turned out. Because I want to know how things turned out, too, I’m going to start a semi-regular feature at Get Rich Slowly. Whenever I hear back from a previous poster, I’ll share an update so that we can all know what happened. Note: I suspect most of these will…

  • Ask the Readers: The Best Online Bank for Service and Security? (147 comments)

    It’s been a while since I’ve written about the best online bank accounts. Usually when I cover online banks, I’m focused on their interest rates, such as in this constantly-updated list of which online high-yield savings accounts are best. But interest rates have been low for nearly three years now, and there’s not much difference between earning 1.11% on your savings at one bank and 1.09% at another. In an environment like this, how do…

  • Ask the Readers: Should We Buy Our Dream House? (213 comments)

    What happens when a great opportunity comes along, but you don’t quite have the resources to take advantage of it? That’s what Greg wants to know. He and his wife have found their Dream House. They think they can buy the place — but only if they’re willing to take on some short-term debt in addition to the mortgage. Greg wants to know if this is a smart move. Here’s his story: My wife and…

  • Ask the Readers: Is It Okay to Buy a Christmas Gift from a Thrift Store? (169 comments)

    The holiday season can test a frugal person’s patience: There are so many temptations to spend. Sure, we all want to enjoy the festive nature this time of year, but where do you draw the line? And how fugal is too frugal? Michelle wrote with a terrific question. She has the sort of dilemma I can picture myself facing. Here’s her story: Like you, I am a big proponent of thrift store shopping. It saves…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Negotiate with Credit-Card Companies? (55 comments)

    A reader calling herself Florida Girl dropped a line recently to share her story of financial woe. Though she’s beginning to get a handle on her finances, she’s struggling to cope with the cost of her past choices. She needs help. I’m struggling to keep up with the minimum payments on my credit cards. Unfortunately, I’m paying for past mistakes. I no longer shop and spend recklessly, but the aftermath of my past life left…

  • Ask the Readers: How Can We Afford to Buy a House? (176 comments)

    Though they could fall farther, housing prices are starting to seem reasonable again in many parts of the United States. Mortgage rates are cheap, too. Naturally, that means some GRS readers are beginning to express an interest in buying a home. But prices are still high in a lot of places — including Washington, D.C., which is where William lives. He recently dropped a line to ask for advice: He’d like to buy a home…

  • Ask the Readers: Is It Okay to Refinance a Mortgage to Get Cash for Other Goals? (59 comments)

    I have a backlog of “ask the readers” questions since I didn’t publish any while I was vacationing over the past month. As soon as possible, I’ll get to those I’ve promised to post. Today, however, I wanted to share a question from Kristine, who wrote to me earlier this week. Kristine is trying to decide whether she should refinance her mortgage. Here’s what she has to say: I’m trying to decide if refinancing is…

  • Ask the Readers: Help! I’m Overwhelmed! How Do I Get Started? (153 comments)

    I’ll admit it: I’m way behind on posting reader questions. I get tons of questions, and can never reply to all of them. I do ask a handful of folks if they’d like to put their problems to the general readership. But even after sifting these through, I still have about a dozen dilemmas to put before you. I had hoped to write up one “ask the readers” column per week that I’ll be in…

  • Ask the Readers: What Are Your Favorite Finance Books? (92 comments)

    Well, Book Week has come to a close at Get Rich Slowly, and while it was an interesting experiment, it’s not likely to happen again any time soon. For one thing, I learned that doing book reviews takes more work than doing regular posts. To do a review, you have to read the book (sometimes twice), decide how it’s relevant to readers, and then write a normal article. And while an occasional book review is…

  • Ask the Readers: Financial Advice for an 18-Year-Old? (114 comments)

    Last week, Isaac asked Get Rich Slowly readers for advice on how to handle life after grad school. He’s about to enter the workforce and needed tips on what to do until he gets his first paycheck. Isaac was very pleased with your helpful responses. This week, we’ve got a chance to help somebody even younger than Isaac. Nico is 18, a sophomore in college, and financially clueless. He needs help! Here’s his story: I’m…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do I Survive Until I Get My First Paycheck? (95 comments)

    Isaac wrote recently with a question about how to make the transition from college to the Real World. He has a good degree, but it’ll take him time to find a job, especially since the economy is still sluggish. He’s worried about how he should handle is finances in the meantime. Here’s his question: I recently graduated from college with a degree in electrical engineering. I’m currently living at home with my family while I…

  • Ask the Readers: Should I Sell My Home to Pay Off My Debt? (99 comments)

    Yesterday we had a great discussion about some of the financial choices I’m facing, but today it’s time to look at a decision a GRS reader is trying to make. Catherine wrote to ask if it makes sense to sell her home so that she can become debt-free and have the freedom to pursue a simpler life: I’m in my mid-forties, self-employed in a high-cost city where I live in a one-bedroom condo that I…

  • Ask the Readers: “Help! I Co-Signed on a Loan and Now I Wish I Hadn’t!” (146 comments)

    Ah, relationships. Without other people, money management would be easy! Easy-er, anyhow. But love, family, and business relationships tend to make people do things they know they really oughtn’t. Take Patrick, for example. He fell in love, and it led him to commit a financial faux pas. Here’s Patrick’s l-o-n-g story and his questions: A couple years back, I met a girl, fell in love, and we moved in together. A few months into our…

  • Ask the Readers: Which Credit Cards Do You Use — and Why? (219 comments)

    I’m always reluctant to cover credit cards here at Get Rich Slowly. There are other sites that do it better. Besides, I’m still not wholly convinced they’re a good idea. Plus, my wife — who is always right — told me the other day, “I don’t like it when you write about credit cards. Credit cards are boring.” Still, in today’s world, effective use of rewards credit card is an important part of personal finance….

  • Ask the Readers: Should I Invest or Prepay My Mortgage? (181 comments)

    Kelley wrote recently with the sort of dilemma I get asked about all of the time: Is it better to invest or to prepay a mortgage? We’ve covered this topic in the distant past, but it’s time to review the debate for current readers. First, let’s look at Kelley’s e-mail: My husband and I are on the right track. At age 25, our only debt lies in our home mortgage. We have the six-month emergency…

  • Ask the Readers: Methods for Effective Money Management? (132 comments)

    On Monday I confessed that since I stopped tracking my spending, I’ve actually had some trouble paying my bills. It’s not that I don’t have the money — I have plenty! — but that I no longer have a system in place to remind myself to take care of routine financial tasks. Quicken was my system, and when I stopped using it, order vanished. In the comments on Monday’s post, Rob Bennett made an astute…

  • Ask the Readers: From London to Los Angeles? (74 comments)

    When Kris was young, her family moved all of the time. Her father was in the Air Force, so they were rarely in one place for long. I, on the other hand, have always lived within the same 25-mile radius. For 41 years. More and more, I feel the itch to live somewhere new, if only for a little while. In fact, I wish I’d lived elsewhere when I was younger. But moving (and living…

  • The Calculus of Cats and Dogs (172 comments)

    The other day, I made a passing comment in my article about judging (or not judging) others. I mentioned that although my friend Michael is in dire financial straits, he’s still making life decisions based around the fact that his family has two dogs. (They’re renting a larger, more expensive home than they otherwise would, for example.) “What about getting rid of the dogs?” I asked. Well. This suggestion struck a nerve with a lot…

  • Ask the Readers: Should I Take Out a Loan to Buy a Car? (114 comments)

    If smart money management were just about math or opening the highest interest savings account, this stuff would be easy. But there are a variety of complex factors that come into play when we have to make financial decisions. For example, Alyssa wrote recently to ask for advice. She needs to buy a car at the end of the summer, but she doesn’t know whether to take out a loan or pay cash. Here’s her…

  • Ask the Readers: Am I Being Foolish for Saving So Much? (132 comments)

    Some of my favorite questions come from readers who are worried that they’re saving too much. This is a great problem to have. For example, Henry wrote recently with this dilemma: I’ve been reading Get Rich Slowly since I was 15. At that time, it inspired me to save 20% of everything I earn for retirement. I’m almost 20 now, and I currently max my Roth IRA each year. (Well, I did in 2008 and…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Choose a Savings Account? (45 comments)

    Here’s a little twist to the typical Ask the Readers column. Yesterday, I exchanged e-mail with financial writer Liz Weston. She gave me advice for this Friday’s post, and in return she asked the following question: I’m writing about all the bonuses you can get for opening a savings account or other financial account (like $50 to open an ING checking account, for example). Is this something your readers like to do? How do they…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Talk About Money with Teenagers? (66 comments)

    Most readers here at Get Rich Slowly have their own tale of a financial turnaround. Many of us were just plain dumb with money when we were younger, and it took us years (or decades!) to realize the error of our ways. But what if somebody had cared enough to intervene before we got into serious trouble? Corinne wrote yesterday looking for help. She’d like to help steer her younger sister in the right direction…

  • The Perils and Pangs of a Pricey Purchase (95 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. I must begin this tale of consumer conflict — both internal and external — with four caveats: I’m on the other side of 40, gaining weight, out of shape, and from a family with…

  • Ask the Readers: Should I Stick With My Adjustable-Rate Mortgage? (55 comments)

    In February, Get Rich Slowly reader Abby wrote with questions about her adjustable-rate mortgage (or ARM, for short). She’s had an ARM for seven years now, and the rate is due to reset in 2010. She wants to know what her best course of action is. Abby writes: In Fall 2003, I began my career as a teacher and bought my first house at 23. I shopped around for a home loan, borrowing a little…

  • Ask the Readers: Sell the Car or Keep It? (141 comments)

    I love the sometimes-weekly Ask the Readers feature, even if I’m not great about sticking to my intended schedule. And usually I’m able to work with folks to condense their questions to a small space, which leaves me plenty of room to share my thoughts. This week, Martina sent me a lengthy e-mail that does a better job of laying out the pros and cons of her situation than I could. Read on to hear…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Figure the Calculus of Kids? (163 comments)

    I keep intending to retain “ask the readers” as a regular Friday feature — and I keep failing. You folks send me tons of great questions, and I’d love to share more of them. This week, for example, Lisa wrote with the following. “Having kids has made spending choices much more emotional and complex,” she says. “You can’t always calculate a return on investment.” Here’s her predicament: My husband and I are looking to purchase…

  • What Did Your Parents Teach You About Money? (122 comments)

    February was National Parent Leadership Month, which highlighted the role parents play in shaping the lives of their children. As a sort of tie-in, the most recent poll in the Get Rich Slowly sidebar asked: “Did your parents prepare you well for financial independence?” Over 1000 GRS readers responded; the results surprised me: 17% of you said, “Yes, they did a great job in preparing me.” 17% said, “They did well — I learned the…

  • What Does It Take to Make You Switch Banks? (170 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker, whose own blog featured the hit post 42 Ways to Radically Simplify Your Financial Life. When I was 14 years old, I opened my very first checking account at Bank One. That’s where my Dad banked and so that’s where he drove me when I asked to open an account. Over the years, I continued to give them my business. By 16, I had opened another checking…

  • Reader Question: How Much Life Insurance Do You Need? (84 comments)

    This is a guest post from Sanford Ellowitz, a New York State licensed insurance agent. He has over 25 years experience in the insurance and financial services industries. He’s also a Certified Financial Planner and a Certified Employee Benefit Specialist. Penny recently wrote with the following question: I’m interested to find out how one sets out a financial plan for life and how much insurance does a person really need because there are so many…

  • How to Get the Best Rates on Your Savings — Safely (64 comments)

    Over the past year, one of the frequent questions I get is: “Where I can safely invest my money to get a decent return?” For example, Joseph wrote in November: Around February/March I should have $5,000 to invest. My debts are under control and my wife and I have lowered our monthly expenses. I was wondering if you had any advice on ways to invest $5,000? I don’t want a savings account because the interest…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do I Pick the Best Credit Card? (128 comments)

    Sometimes I get questions that are out of my league. In the past, I’ve just sort of ignored these, but I’d like to try to answer more of them. To do this, I’m going to start asking for tips from some of the experts I’ve met through GRS. For example, my good friend Mac from Get Fit Slowly (where I may eventually write again some day), came to me this week with a question about…

  • Ask the Readers: Life After a Maxed-Out IRA? (82 comments)

    It’s been a long time since we had an Ask the Readers around here. Time to remedy that situation! Jeff recently wrote with a question about saving. The lucky dog has saved so much that he doesn’t know what to do next! Two years ago I started getting smart about my finances and in the time since, I’ve been able to put away enough money to max out my Roth IRA. I’m a grad student…

  • Ask the Readers: Do You Buy Christmas Gifts For Your Spouse? (165 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker recently listed the Top 10 Money Movies of the Decade. At this point, I hope you’ve done most of your Christmas shopping (and/or making). Only the brave or the foolish have yet to form a holiday shopping plan of attack. *looks around* Alright, so I have a minor confession to make: Courtney and I don’t buy gifts for each other. To put it more bluntly, we just…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Handle Peer Pressure? (207 comments)

    Your friends and family influence you. They affect the way you view life. If your friends are frugal, it’s easier to be frugal yourself. But if they’re wrapped up in consumerism and materialism, and can be difficult to resist the urge to join them. It’s only natural to want to fit in. Rob wrote yesterday to ask how to handle a situation where he wants to lead a simple life, but those around him aren’t…

  • Is There a Generation Gap in Saving? (122 comments)

    I’m old-school: I went to the bank to make a deposit today. (I make most of my deposits in person, inside the branch.) While I waited, I chatted with the teller, whom I know from many previous visits. “I’m writing a book about money,” I told him. “What’s the one thing you wish you could tell people about banking?” “Save!” he said. He told me there’s a huge generation gap between savers and spenders. “The…

  • Ask the Readers: What Do You Do for Frugal Fun? (144 comments)

    I used to wonder why my colleagues’ blogs became strangely silent when they were working on their books. Haha. I don’t wonder anymore. Writing a book is an all-consuming process that’s difficult to describe. I’m thankful I recruited April and Baker as staff writers before I began working on my own book. Progress on Your Money: The Missing Manual actually ground to a halt this week. Well, that’s not strictly true. I did miss my…

  • Ask the Readers: Why Are YOU Saving for Retirement? (125 comments)

    As I shared yesterday afternoon, although I believe National Save for Retirement Week is important, I find the topic dreadfully dull when stretched out for a week of blog posts. Lesson learned. Still, I don’t think all retirement discussions have to induce snores or tears. In fact, when you think about it, retirement — especially early retirement — ought to be something to celebrate. When a person has managed to save and make smart choices,…

  • Ask the Readers: What If Your High-Paying Job Makes You Miserable? (109 comments)

    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…

  • How Much Should You Have in Savings? (117 comments)

    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 Why Smart People Do Stupid Things With Money, I came across his table of “minimum base liquidity”. (Whitehead is a highly-educated…

  • When Is It Okay to Finance Fun? (103 comments)

    At AskMetafilter last week, a user asked a question I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Now that I have my finances firmly under control, now that I’m building wealth, is it ever okay to finance fun? Here’s the question (with minor edits for clarification): When is it okay to finance Toys? We have a budget, all bills are paid, we are saving $100 every month, the only debt we have is our cars and…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Should You Save for Retirement? (153 comments)

    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…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Face a Family Financial Crisis? (91 comments)

    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…

  • Compound Interest: One Percent Can Make All the Difference (43 comments)

    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…

  • What Got You to Get Better? Reasons for Change (86 comments)

    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. (And note that this post is much less controversial than yesterday’s!) Let’s face it: Most of us weren’t born eager to delay gratification, invest in IRAs, diversify our assets, and give a hoot about…

  • Ask The Readers: What Is Your Appetite for Risk? (75 comments)

    This is a guest post from A.J. Clark, a long-time lurker at Get Rich Slowly. A.J. is a potential Staff Writer for GRS. He is a recent college graduate who writes software in the financial services industry, while trying to find his financial footing in the Real World. In his first post, A.J. explained that he’s hoping to finish ahead by starting behind. As I mentioned in my previous post, I recently transitioned into my…

  • Ask the Readers: What Happens *After* You Use Your Emergency Savings? (64 comments)

    A comfortable “rainy day” fund is a key component to most personal financial plans. The experts don’t agree on the exact amount to keep in an emergency fund — advice ranges from three to twelve months’ of expenses — but they do agree everyone should have one. An emergency fund is self-insurance: It’s a way to cope with the unexpected without resorting to debt or other expensive options. But what happens after you use your…

  • Employee or Entrepreneur? The Pros and Cons of Self-Employment (114 comments)

    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…

  • Ask the Readers: Save More or See the World? (166 comments)

    I’ve written a lot lately about finding balance. It’s important to save for the future, but how do you balance that with enjoying today? Each of us has to address that question in our own way. A reader named Max wrote to share his own dilemma: I’ve been working as a web designer since I was 18. I made a few financial mistakes in my early days: leased a car for four years, bought a…

  • Good-Bye, Microsoft Money! 16 Powerful Personal Finance Programs (288 comments)

    As of today, Microsoft Money is no longer available for purchase. Microsoft has essentially conceded that there’s no demand for the product. From the website: With banks, brokerage firms and Web sites now providing a range of options for managing personal finances, the consumer need for Microsoft Money Plus has changed. After suspending annual updates of Money Plus in 2008, Microsoft is announcing today that we will no longer offer Microsoft Money Plus for purchase…

  • The First Three Steps to Financial Freedom (54 comments)

    The hardest part of money management is just getting started. Once you have some momentum, it’s easier to make the right choices. Kay has been reading personal finance blogs for almost a year now, and she knows that she needs to make some changes, but she doesn’t know how to begin. She writes: I want to get serious about being good with my money, but I don’t know where to start. I never developed good…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Handle a Windfall? (79 comments)

    It’s been a while since we touched on the subject of windfalls: money that unexpectedly falls into your lap. It’s been so long, in fact, that I’ve started to receive questions about them, including this one from Aaryn: I wanted to get your advice as far as the distribution of windfalls. Would you put a certain percentage in a savings account? Invest it? Keep some in your regular checking account? What is your recommendation? Would…

  • Ask the Readers: Tips for Tackling Big Financial Goals? (50 comments)

    Lance wrote recently with some questions about goals. First, he’s worried that he should have more than just one. Second, his only goal seems daunting. He’s looking for advice: I wanted to get some help on setting financial goals. Growing up, I did not have many luxuries, so items such as vacations, new cars, televisions, clothes, furniture, etc do not mean much to me at all. The only personal goal I really have is to…

  • The GRS Money Mailbag #1 (86 comments)

    This week’s “Ask the Readers” is a little different. After reading Trent’s weekly “mailbags” at The Simple Dollar for the past year, it occurred to me that a similar format might work for Get Rich Slowly, allowing me to answer more of the reader questions I receive. This is a test of the concept. What I’d actually like to do is keep the regular “Ask the Readers” for Friday mornings, but add a reader mailbag…

  • Ask the Readers: What Makes You Feel Rich While Being Frugal? (162 comments)

    Earlier this week, Aaron asked whether repaying debt should be an obsession. I replied that for some people, “gazelle intensity” makes more sense. (Trent from The Simple Dollar is one of these folks.) For others — including myself — it’s important to exercise balance, to allow a budget for fun. Everyone who opts for a life of thrift can benefit from finding one or two things that make them feel “rich”. These indulgences don’t have…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Choose a Mortgage Broker? (58 comments)

    For most of us, buying a home is the largest purchase we’ll ever make. There can be a lot of pressure to get things just right; you don’t want to pay more than you have to. A good broker or lender can help — but how do you find a good broker or lender? That’s what Erin wants to know: My husband and I are in the market for a house as first-time homebuyers. We’ve…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Save Money on Books? (127 comments)

    Most of the questions I receive from readers are about their specific financial situations. But occasionally somebody writes with something a little different. Yesterday, for example, Joshua wrote to ask my advice on shopping for books. He wants to know how to find personal finance books for cheap. He writes: I’m big book fan, mostly financial, entrepreneur, leadership, personal development, etc. Sometimes I buy books off Amazon, but I visit the local library first to…

  • Ask the Readers: Debt Consolidation or Consumer Credit Counseling? (79 comments)

    One of my favorite parts of Get Rich Slowly is the weekly “Ask the Readers” section. It’s fantastic to see how well this community pulls together to help each other find solutions to financial dilemmas. Most of the questions come via e-mail, but last week I met a man named Aaron who reads the site. He told me that he could use some reader advice for his situation. Here’s Aaron’s story: My girlfriend has managed…

  • Ask the Readers: Help! I’ve Been Laid Off! (109 comments)

    In December, I shared a guest post that provided 10 essential steps to take before you’re laid off. But what if it’s too late? What if you’ve already lost your job? In this economy, more and more people are facing that situation, including long-time GRS reader Allen. He writes: I was laid off yesterday. If it weren’t for Get Rich Slowly, I wouldn’t have any money set aside. As it is, I have a small…

  • Ask the Readers: Where’s the Fun in Personal Finance? (101 comments)

    I’ve received a ton of great questions and comments recently that probe beyond the basic mechanics of money management and get to the heart of why we do these things. For example, Brent dropped a line last week wondering if making smart financial decisions ought to make him happy. Here’s his message: You and many of your readers clearly get joy from financial planning. My wife and I have gone through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace…

  • Ask the Readers: What Do You Do When Frugality Gets You Nowhere? (166 comments)

    In general, the frugal person who saves and invests will slowly build wealth, and will find herself far ahead of her peers. But sometimes the progress is slow — or even non-existent. When this happens, good financial habits can seem frustrating. Sara wrote to ask what to do when frugality seems to be getting you nowhere: Although I practice extreme frugality, I feel that I cannot get ahead financially. Every month I seem to be…

  • Finding a Good Job in a Bad Economy (73 comments)

    Plonkee, my colleague from “across the pond”, e-mailed me recently with a question about the recession. She wonders what job prospects are like for recent (or soon-to-be) college graduates. Unfortunately, with unemployment at its highest rate in a generation, prospects are not good. And those who are unhappy in their current positions are reluctant to quit because they’re afraid they won’t be able to find a replacement. Last week, for example, Jill shared the following…

  • The High Cost of Cats and Dogs: Are Pets Worth the Money? (235 comments)

    Kris and I don’t have kids. We have cats. We have four of them.    Our “children”: Nemo, Simon, Maxwell, and Toto. We’d have more, but Kris won’t allow it. She says I’m in danger of becoming the Crazy Cat Gentleman. On the whole, I cannot imagine my life without these animals. They bring us joy and fulfillment, and the cost is minimal. Under normal circumstances, our four cats cost us a total of about $750…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Organize Your Account Information? (86 comments)

    Between my personal accounts, my business accounts, and the joint accounts I have with my wife, it’s difficult for me to keep track of my essential information. As we’ve been working to refinance our house, for example, there have been several times I’ve had to dig for needed account numbers and statements. I’m not the only one with this problem. Earlier this month, Meghan wrote to ask: How do you compile a comprehensive list of…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Prioritize Savings Goals? (72 comments)

    Once you’ve paid off your debt, it’s time to save. But for many of us, it’s difficult to know where to start. Via Twitter (and edited slightly), @funkyknitwit asks: How do you set priorities with savings? I have so many things I want to save for, but I don’t know where to start! What I mean is, how can I decide which thing I should work towards first? My budgeting is already in order. This…

  • Ask the Readers: Two Questions About Saving (93 comments)

    I’ve been swamped lately. As a result, the reader questions have been piling up. There’s a huge backlog. Today I’m going to tackle two related questions at once. Do you have an opinion on the best place to save your money? Chime in below! Where should I start saving? First up, ashleyD commented on my recent post about using financial spreadsheets. She’s beginning to get control of her finances, but she doesn’t know where to…

  • Ask the Readers: Is It Unethical to Work a Second Job? (212 comments)

    To build wealth — or to get out of debt — you must create a positive cash flow. That is, you must spend less than you earn. One way to do this is to cut costs. Another is to increase your income. Because it has worked so well in my own life, I encourage people to boost their income whenever possible: ask for a raise, make money from hobbies, change careers. For many, the most…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Rent Out Your Spare Room? (118 comments)

    Last month, Alison from Diamond-Cut Life shared a guest post about providing lodging to a housemate in exchange for work (instead of rent). Her story prompted a number of readers to ask about the mechanics and practicalities of actually renting an extra room to generate income. For example, Penny wrote with the following: In August, my brother-in-law moved in with us. By December, he couldn’t find a job, so moved back out. While I had…

  • Ask the Readers: When Is It Okay to Spend Your Savings? (85 comments)

    Amanda wrote with a question this week that I think many GRS readers can relate to: When is it okay to spend your savings? My husband is currently unemployed so we’re just living on my salary, but at least we don’t have to pay for child care.  However, we are spending more than we make.  We had a fair amount stashed away from savings and some inheritance, and we’ve been dipping into this to help…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Money Would it Take For You to Compromise Your Principles? (207 comments)

    An Allegory There was once a man who became a vegetarian. Because he believed that all living creatures have souls, he swore he would never again consume animal flesh. For three years, he ate only vegetable matter. People offered him money to eat meat, but he steadfastly refused. “Will you try a turkey sandwich for $2?” a woman asked one day. “No,” he said. “Will you try this hot dog for $20?” a little boy…

  • Reader Survey: Which Personal-Finance Books Should I Review? (86 comments)

    My personal-finance library is growing at an alarming rate. Authors and publishers send me preview copies of their works. I pick up cheap copies of old books at thrift stores. And, it’s true, Get Rich Slowly (the company) actually buys new books about personal finance and success. As a result, I have a stack of unread books, and not enough time to read them all. Worse, I can’t decide which to read first. I thought…

  • Ask the Readers: When Does It Make Sense to Refinance a Mortgage? (111 comments)

    So much for vacation. I just can’t keep myself away from you guys! While surfing around this evening, I found a story at USA Today about how mortgages are at a 37-year low. A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averages about 5.28% right now. I don’t usually pay much attention to these stories. We refinanced our first house (from a 9% 30-year loan to a 5.75% 15-year loan), but our current mortgage is in a kind of…

  • Ask the Readers: Are Local Banks Better Than Big Banks? (109 comments)

    Personal finance is about more than just money. People make financial choices because of emotion, of course, but they also make decisions based on their principles. Some people are guided by their faith. But that’s not the only way a person’s conscience can guide him. Josh recently wrote with a question about finding a bank that better matches his personal philosophy: I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the economic crisis, and about the…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do Children Affect Financial Priorities? (90 comments)

    When you’re on your own (or even with a partner), money decisions are generally straight-forward. You set personal goals and you work toward them. But what happens when you add children to the mix? How do you plan for them and for yourself at the same time? Kat is expecting her first child this month, and needs advice on how to prioritize her finances: My partner and I are just finishing the first phase of…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Talk to Your Loved Ones About Money? (80 comments)

    What happens when you take control of your finances, but the other people in your life continue to struggle? I’ve heard this question from two people lately. During the Q&A of my talk at the library last Saturday, one audience member asked: You mentioned during your presentation that you had two friends give you books [when you were having financial trouble]. Is that how you recommend approaching the discussion to friends and families who need…

  • Ask the Readers: How Can I Know Whom to Trust? (60 comments)

    Joleen wrote this week with a unique situation. She’s a Canadian who has been working overseas in China for the past six years. She has accumulated substantial savings in the local currency, but has no idea what to do with her money. She writes: I was recently approached by a financial advisor who works for a large international brokerage. He wanted me to think about investing in an offshore account and/or the stock market. I’ve had one…

  • Ask the Readers: Twenty-Something Needs Help! (191 comments)

    In general, when I share reader questions, I try to keep them as broad as possible. I get a lot of requests for advice about specific situations, but I try to steer those to the Get Rich Slowly discussion forum. I like for the questions on the blog to be relevant to a lot of readers. Here’s a small exception. Christine wrote for help with her specific circumstances. She’s a twenty-something student overwhelmed by her…

  • What’s in the Ideal Personal Finance Book? (98 comments)

    After months on the back-burner, I’ve begun to think about a potential Get Rich Slowly book again. The main problem is that there are already hundreds of personal finance books already on the shelves. How would mine be any different? Why would you (or your Aunt Josephine) pick up Get Rich Slowly: The Book and what would she get out of it? I know what I like in a personal finance book, and I know…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Cash Do You Stash? (260 comments)

    “How much cash do you carry in your wallet?” my friend Michael asked at lunch last Sunday. “I don’t know,” I said. “Somewhere between $40 and $100, I guess. That’s how much I take out of the ATM when I need it. Why do you ask?” “Well, I read something the other day that said the average person keeps about $175 on hand. That seems like a lot.” “That does seem like a lot,” Kris…

  • Ask the Readers: Choosing a Bank During the Credit Crisis? (72 comments)

    The more the credit crisis spreads, the more it affects the average person. Kristen wrote last week looking for advice. She’s not in a panic, but she is wondering what she should do: I wanted to ask your thoughts on the recent seizure and sale of Washington Mutual. All of my accounts are at WaMu, including my 3.75% APY online savings account, and my 4.5% APY 12-month CD. I think these are great rates for…

  • Are You Worried About Today’s Economy? (44 comments)

    I drove to the box factory earlier this week to chat with my former co-workers. While I was there, I asked my cousin Nick (the bookkeeper) for info on the company retirement plan. I still have $80,000 that I need to roll over once I set up my new 401(k) for the blog. Only, it seems I don’t have $80,000 in retirement savings anymore. It’s more like $60,000. 2008 has not been kind to American…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Cope with Spending Addiction? (94 comments)

    Nicki wants to get out of debt, but she can’t — she has a spending addiction. She’s hoping that other Get Rich Slowly readers can give her advice. Here’s an abridged version of her story: I am writing for advice on managing debt. I’ve been reading your website for the past month because my boyfriend recommended it after he noticed I spend a lot of money. Here’s a summary of my debt: Visa: $9900 at…

  • Ask the Readers: How Should We Spend Our Inheritance? (74 comments)

    Most of the questions I receive are from readers in their twenties and thirties. Many of them are just starting out in life. But money issues nag everyone. Donald wrote the other day with the sort of question most of us have not yet faced. He’s getting near retirement, but doesn’t have much saved. He just inherited a bunch of money, and he wants advice about what he should do with it. I am 55…

  • Ask the Readers: The Psychology of Credit Cards? (105 comments)

    Cory is a young man who wants to do the right thing. He’s been making smart financial choices, and he wants to continue to do so. But he’s worried that using his credit card is too easy. He’s come to ask GRS readers for help: I’m 21. For three years, I’ve had a debit card and loved it. No more borrowing my parents’ credit card to make purchases! I can use it anywhere, just like…

  • Reader Survey: How Did You Get Into Debt? (187 comments)

    Last week, National Public Radio’s “On Point” program highlighted credit cards, consumers, and a nation in debt. I was honored to be a guest on the show. Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren, an expert on the credit card industry, was the main guest, however, and she had a lot of great things to say. (I admire Warren and her work, including the personal finance book, All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan.) After hearing…

  • Energy Conservation in Alaska: What Worked? What Did Not? (30 comments)

    Last April, Dan wrote to ask GRS readers for help with a sudden energy crisis. Because of a natural disaster, electricity costs in Juneau, Alaska jumped from $0.11 per kilowatt-hour to $0.53 per kilowatt-hour. In this follow-up, Dan explains how his family coped with high energy costs. It’s been over three months since an avalanche knocked out our hydropower supply in Juneau. At that time, Get Rich Slowly readers provided plenty of great comments and…

  • Ask the Readers: How Can I Get My Wife to Talk About Money? (91 comments)

    Money management can be difficult, even when you’re on your own. Throw a life partner into the mix and things get more complicated. What can you do if you and your spouse just aren’t on the same financial page? Hal recently wrote with a question: I got married about a year ago to a wonderful girl who is up to her ears in debt, including medical bills and student loans (including federal loans) which have…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Get Started with Investing? (70 comments)

    Christina sent a question that puzzles many people — including me. Once we’ve established good personal finance habits, we know that it’s time to begin investing. But how? Christina writes: I’ve had an ING direct account for a few years now, and today I decided to take the plunge and open a ShareBuilder account. No sooner had I gotten to the “What do you want to do?” page did I realize that I have absolutely…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Cope with Socially Obligated Spending? (147 comments)

    Allen recently attended a family wedding that put a hole in his budget. He wonders how to cope with societal pressure to spend: How do you deal with social situations where you have to spend? I just had to spend $300 to go to a cousin’s wedding. I couldn’t not go — it’s family. But I couldn’t get in wearing what I own, because it wasn’t “good enough” and I couldn’t just go rent something…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Cope with Financial Disaster? (22 comments)

    The floodwaters in Iowa have crested and begun to recede, but they’ll leave a swath of devastation in their wake. Trent at The Simple Dollar — who lives near the flooding — recently shared a list of seven things you can do to help flood victims. But Elisabeth wants to know what these people can do to help themselves. She writes: I live in eastern Iowa (yes, you’ve seen my town on TV recently), and…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do I Find Who My Creditors Are? (18 comments)

    Even during my bleakest financial periods, I was able to make payments to my creditors on time. Not everyone is so fortunate. Some people give up and eventually lose track of where they owe money. Nick wrote last week wondering what to do when you’re done running and ready to take responsibility for your debts: I’ve made some bad choices financially in the past, and now I know that I owe companies money, but I’m…

  • Ask the Readers: Can College Students Save Money? (100 comments)

    Stephanie wrote with a common question: How can a college student save money when she doesn’t make enough to make ends meet? Here’s her story: I am a full-time college student living on my own for the first time. I moved out of the house about nine months ago, and have found that even though I have a great job, I’m not making enough to support myself. I saved up a lot last summer when…

  • Ask the Readers: Buy a Car or Pay Off Debt? (124 comments)

    Earlier this week, April wrote with a personal finance predicament. She and her husband need to buy a car, but it’s not something they’d budgeted to do any time soon. Fate intervened: My husband and I are trying to pay down our debt and to save money. This morning he called to tell me that he had been rear-ended in traffic. He’s fine, thankfully, but he thinks they’ll total his car, which was paid for….

  • Ask the Readers: “I’m Doing Well Financially But My Family Is Not” (147 comments)

    Personal finance would be easy if it were only about the numbers. But it’s not. Money management not only requires that we master our own whims and emotions, but that we navigate the sometimes rocky waters of our personal relationships. Rachel wrote looking for help with a stormy situation. What happens when you gain control of your finances but the people around you continue to struggle? Here’s her story: I’m having issues because I’m doing…

  • Ask the Readers: Pay Down Debt or Save for Retirement? (75 comments)

    Personal finance is filled with tough decisions. Prepay the mortgage or invest the money? Pay down high interest debt first or use a debt snowball to tackle the small balances? Roth IRA or traditional IRA? Sara wrote recently with another dilemma I think many of us have faced: is it better to pay down debt or to begin investing for the future? I’m 28. I work at a job with no retirement benefits and I…

  • Ask the Readers: “Help! I’m Living on Credit!” (75 comments)

    Jason sent me a question yesterday that neatly encapsulates a lot of the mail I receive, as well as rounding up some of the topics we’ve been discussing this week regarding life after school. “I’m living on credit,” he wrote. Here’s his story: I graduated a year ago with a useless degree but what I thought was a good job.  I had recently purchased a new car, but only had $8800 in student loans and around…

  • Ask the Readers: Advice for College Grads? (157 comments)

    Tomorrow I’ll be giving a short presentation about personal finance to a group of seniors at Western Oregon University. I’ll begin by providing a brief version of my own post-college financial failures, but I want to spend most of the talk providing two or three great take-aways that these young adults can put to use as they enter the “real world”. I’ve considered discussing the dangers of lifestyle inflation and the value of goals, but…

  • Ask the Readers: Energy Conservation Tips? (76 comments)

    Dan wrote with a question unlike any I’ve received before. He lives in Alaska, where the residents of Juneau have been confronted with a sudden energy crisis (more here). Here’s Dan’s story: I am facing a unique energy situation. I live in Juneau, Alaska. Last Wednesday, we had an avalanche which affected the electricity generation within our community. Our energy costs went from $0.11 per kilowatt-hour to $0.50 per kilowatt-hour instantly. Imagine your electricity bill…

  • Ask the Readers: What If Somebody You Know Steals Your Identity? (111 comments)

    Recently in the Get Rich Slowly discussion forums, SouthernGent posted a perplexing problem. Here’s his story: My wife and I have been debt-free for over three years now, meaning no credit card debt and only our mortgage. When I ran our credit report the other day (which I do annually), I noticed three cards under my wife’s name with balances of $2,000, $3,000, and $12,000. This shocked and worried me for obvious reasons. My wife…

  • Ask the Readers: What Do You Splurge On? (161 comments)

    I write a lot about frugality, about saving for the future. But what about enjoying life today? My friend Matt recently asked, “Amid all the saving and sacrifices you make to keep your financial life in order, what is your one extravagance that you deem worth spending money on? I know with you it’s that Filson clothing stuff, right? Maybe Apple products?” He’s right. I love both Filson and Apple. I don’t often splurge on…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Keep from Losing Control? (59 comments)

    Jay wrote with a question that I think most of us have had to face at one time or another: What do you do when you feel like you’re slipping into bad financial habits? Here’s his story: I have no real debt besides some student loans on which the monthly payments and interest are negligible and well under control.  My credit card gets paid in full every month.  I’m building an emergency fund. I recently…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Manage Your Money? (193 comments)

    Tomorrow I’ll be participating in a brainstorming session about online personal finance tools. The people behind this workshop want to know what the average person is looking for when she chooses a tool to manage her money. I promised to poll GRS readers for suggestions. How I manage my money For years, I’ve used Quicken to manage my money, both on Mac and PC. I’m using the Mac version now, and it’s way behind its…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Live Frugally Without Seeming Like a Loser? (164 comments)

    In Wednesday’s discussion about how to live on less and love it, Steve left an interesting comment: One topic I never see covered is “extreme finances” or even simple frugality in relationship to being single. I’m not talking about being a cheapskate during dinner, but maintaining a low-powered lifestyle while seeking a mate. Like it or not, first impressions count and first impressions are often based on superficialities, even by nice and otherwise deep people….

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Prepare for Enormous Debt? (74 comments)

    Consumer debt is bad. Buying lots of Stuff on credit cards is a sure path to financial woe. But while some people argue that all debt is bad, most experts agree that certain debts are acceptable (good, even). The two most common examples are mortgage debt and college loans. The average person cannot afford to pay for either of these outright; borrowing money allows one to invest in her future. So what happens if you’ve…

  • Ask the Readers: What Can I Do If My Girlfriend Isn’t Serious About Money? (90 comments)

    In the Get Rich Slowly forums, DannyBoy has a question that I think many people face: “What can I do if my girlfriend isn’t serious about money?” He writes: I’m the sort of person who essentially looks into every area of his life to save, start investing, and be smart about money as much as possible. Do you think that somebody like myself, who cares so much about where his money goes, can be happy…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Choose VOIP Telephone Service? (78 comments)

    Lauren recently wrote with the sort of technical question I usually route to the Get Rich Slowly forums. (The forums are a great place to get help with your specific financial situation.) She’s looking to ditch her landline for VOIP (voice over IP) telephone service. I’ve had several friends ask me about this subject, so I figure it has fairly broad appeal. Lauren writes: I’m trying to find real information on savings for phone service…

  • Ask the Readers: What’s the Best Way to Compare Credit Cards? (43 comments)

    In October, Michael wrote with a question about credit cards. Because I try to discourage credit card use, I haven’t posted it. But my attitude is beginning to soften. Michael’s question now seems perfectly reasonable, and I suspect other readers have similar concerns. He writes: I have a credit card account which I got with Wells Fargo when I started college. I’d like to switch over to a card with some sort of bonus (miles,…

  • Ask the Readers: Quality Early Retirement Resources? (42 comments)

    Most of the advice at Get Rich Slowly is targeted to people like me: middle-class Americans in their mid-thirties who have struggled with debt. But many other people have money questions, too. Christine is 54 and her husband is 62. They’re seeking quality resources about planning for retirement: You and most of your readers are at a different life stage than I am.  I’ve done the heavy frugality thing already. From a couple of decades…

  • Ask the Readers: I’m Not Good With Money — How Should I Handle a Windfall? (76 comments)

    Mitch recently wrote to me with one of the toughest reader questions I’ve seen yet. He lives a paycheck-to-paycheck existence, but will soon be coming into a lot of money. He wants to know what he should do: It is now 11:45pm on 14 January 2008, the day before payday! It’s also about three days before being broke. With no savings and poor credit, I’m living paycheck-to-paycheck. For now, I bring home about $400 a week….

  • Ask the Readers: Is Now a Good Time to Buy Index Funds? (64 comments)

    A shaky stock market makes people nervous. Naturally, they’re scared of losing money. Alex, a reader in the U.K., wrote to say that he’s finally ready to begin investing, but he’s not sure that now is the time to do so. Should he wait? I recently switched jobs to one that pays me better (and makes contributions to a pension!). My current savings are healthy enough to be considered an emergency fund; if I lost…

  • Ask the Readers: Should I Prepare My Own Taxes or Go to an Accountant? (90 comments)

    Earlier this month, I mentioned that I haven’t prepared my own taxes since 2001. I pay somebody else to do them. I did them on my own for fourteen years before they became too much for me to handle. This comment prompted several GRS readers to write for advice about finding a good accountant. Here’s an amalgamation of recent questions: I’ve never looked into having an accountant prepare my return — what’s reasonable to pay…

  • Ask the Readers: How To Find Work That You Love? (93 comments)

    During yesterday’s discussion about the value of a college education, several people noted that it’s difficult to decide what to study when you don’t know what you want to do with your life. This reminded me of a recent question from the Get Rich Slowly discussion forums. Shaun wants to know: How do you find work that you love? It’s been said, “If you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life.”…

  • Ask the Readers: Personal Finance Books as Gifts? (74 comments)

    I’ve deftly managed to avoid Christmas hype so far in 2007, but that ends this weekend. We’ll pick a tree on Saturday. On Sunday I’ll start my (virtual) shopping. My family exchanges $5 gifts, and it’s always fun trying to see how far I can stretch that five bucks. (Hint: summer garage sales can yield terrific deals.) This year I’m hunting for on-line bargains. GRS readers are beginning to buzz about the season, too. In…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Keep Frugality Fun and Interesting? (55 comments)

    Thrift is an essential skill for overcoming debt and building wealth. Even a billionaire like Warren Buffet preaches the virtues of pinching pennies. But can a frugal life be fun? What do you do when smart spending gets boring? That’s what Sarah wants to know: How do you stave off frugality-induced boredom?  In the short-term, I always find frugality to be a challenge, and I enjoy saving money and finding bargains where I can, but…

  • Ask the Readers: What to Do When Money and Ethics Clash? (51 comments)

    Here’s a personal finance truism: if your employer offers a 401(k), be sure to take advantage of any matching funds. That’s a terrific idea, but what if doing so presents an ethical dilemma? Eric wrote looking for advice on a sticky situation: My employer is moving our 401(k) accounts from one investment firm to another. The new investment house is condemned by human rights groups because their investments facilitate the genocide in Darfur. What am…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do I Find a Good Lawyer (or Accountant)? (26 comments)

    Jonathan recently wrote with a common question: How does one find a good lawyer or accountant? I’ve heard from several sources — including The Millionaire Next Door — that wealthy people generally have an accountant and a lawyer that they trust. I’ve been asking friends and family members, but none are very confident in their recommendations. How do I go about finding these people? I’m fortunate. I didn’t need to search for competent help: I…

  • Ask the Readers: Buy a Home, or Max Out Retirement Savings? (78 comments)

    The toughest personal finance choices are those where your heart wrestles with your mind. Justin wrote because he’s found a great place to live, but it’s just on the edge of what he can afford. He wants help deciding what to do: I’ve been renting for the past two years (and several years before that in college). My roommate recently bought a place, and that’s thrown me into the hunt for new housing. Either I…

  • Ask the Readers: Best Brick-and-Mortar Banks? (94 comments)

    Last March I shared a list of the best online high-yield savings accounts. Rates have been dropping, and I intend to post an update. Meanwhile, I’ve received a couple of questions recently about the best choices for brick-and-mortar banks. Alex wrote, “I would love to see a write-up on the best banks for regular checking accounts (in terms of customer service, minimum balances, overdraft fees, etc.).” Paul has a similar question: My wife and I…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Live Debt-Free? (101 comments)

    I will be debt-free by Christmas. In just a few weeks, I will have repaid all my consumer debt. Only my mortgage will remain. It’s taken a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but the end is near. I’m wondering, though, if I’m ready for the transition. For three years, I’ve focused on becoming debt-free. Many of you are making the same journey, and you’ve begun to e-mail me the same question: What’s it like…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do Couples Combine Finances? (60 comments)

    Most young couples must eventually decide whether to keep separate or joint financial accounts. We’ve discussed the pros and cons of each method, but we’ve never explored the practical considerations: how do you make each system work? More importantly, how do you make each system work well? Recently, I’ve received a couple of questions about the details of combining finances. For example, Patrick writes: I am getting married next year, and know that our W-4…

  • Ask the Readers: Am I Saving Too Much? (71 comments)

    George, who has been reading Get Rich Slowly since it was a single entry on my personal blog, writes with a curious question. By adhering to sound personal finance practices, he’s reached the destination we’re all striving to reach. But he wonders if he might have gone too far. If you’re just beginning your journey out of debt, saving too much may seem like a nice problem to have. You’d sure like to have all…

  • Ask the Readers: Tips and Tricks to Save on Food? (119 comments)

    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…

  • Ask the Readers: Help! I’m in Debt! (66 comments)

    I’ve received several questions lately from young adults, just out of school, who are finding it difficult to make ends meet. Here’s one from Ryan, who is feeling overwhelmed by debt: I’m 21 years old, working a full-time job and a part-time job, and going to school part-time on weekends and evenings. After high school graduation, I immediatley fell into credit card debt, which I’m still drowning in. I had barely any financial guidance from…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Manage Health Care Costs When You’re On Your Own? (42 comments)

    Sometimes reader questions force me to learn about aspects of personal finance that are outside my realm of experience. For example, I don’t deal directly with health insurance. We’re covered under my wife’s plan, and I’ve never had to think about it before. But insurance is a pressing issue for many people. New reader Eric writes with his predicament: My wife and I are both self-employed — we value the freedom to continue working for…

  • Ask the Readers: How Can You Help a Family Member in Financial Trouble WITHOUT Loaning Them Money? (73 comments)

    “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…

  • How To Escape the Gift Trap (60 comments)

    This is a guest-post from my wife. Amanda recently sent J.D. an e-mail looking for advice about gift-giving: My husband and I have made huge lifestyle changes since our son was born with congenital heart disease four years ago. He’s had five open-heart-surgeries, and we’ve had some killer medical bills. My husband stays home with both of our kids to help prevent Liam from getting sick too often, so we’ve gone down to one income,…

  • Ask the Readers: Should You Carry a Loan When You Can Afford Not To? (76 comments)

    Monday’s collection of car links sparked more discussion than any link dump I’ve ever posted. A lot of you have strong opinions on the subject. Katie writes that all the talk about cars made her think about her own situation. My husband and I have both saved enough money to cover the price of the new car that we want (plus taxes and fees) and have a comfortable amount left over — at least three…

  • Ask the Readers: What if You’re Frugal But Your Roommates Aren’t? (62 comments)

    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…

  • Ask the Readers: Personal Finance During a Health Crisis? (28 comments)

    What would you do if you knew you were dying? How would a cancer diagnosis affect your personal finance decisions? The Travelin’ Man from Stuff You Oughtta Know isn’t dying yet, but he’s had a scare. Here’s his story (this is not written by J.D.): I was given my very first cancer scare last week. I have to tell you — it freaked the hell out of me. For that matter, “scare” may not be…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Find a Job? (46 comments)

    Mandy from Personal Finance 101 needs advice on job-hunting. She recently moved across the country, and now finds herself looking for work. She could use some tips. I’ve decided to break down and get a “real job” (my mom’s words) while I’m growing my business out here in Portland and I’m finding the job hunt to be less than thrilling. I’ve never had to really look for a job before, so I think I have…

  • Ask the Readers: What’s the Best Way to Save for a Down Payment? (50 comments)

    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…

  • Ask the Readers: Is It Better to Invest or to Prepay a Mortgage? (194 comments)

    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…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Get a Job When Nobody Will Give You a Chance? (38 comments)

    Last fall I wrote an entry entitled “What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?” I described how it’s difficult to know what you want to do when you’re 21. (And how sometimes it’s difficult to know what you want to do when you’re 41!) Tonya discovered that discussion last week, and it prompted to share some of her frustrations. She’s stuck in a job she hates, and she can’t see a way…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Should I Spend on an Engagement Ring? (177 comments)

    Jim N. writes with a question that most frugal young gentlemen eventually face. How much should I pay for an engagement ring?  I realize that the ideal answer is, “Don’t spend a lot on the ring because she shouldn’t need material objects to realize you love her.”  I agree, but that’s not very realistic.  I want to buy her something very nice that she’ll be proud of, but I don’t know if I should try…

  • Ask the Readers: Cheap Places to Live? (91 comments)

    Money Minx has decided to make a frugal leap of faith, to move to another city in order to save money. But she has one stipulation that’s causing problems. She’s come to Get Rich Slowly readers for help: My fiancee and I have cut back on spending and gotten better paying jobs and in addition have each taken on 2nd and 3rd jobs.  It’s still not enough, so the only thing left to do is…

  • When Did You Start Caring About Your Finances? (59 comments)

    Cap at Stop Buying Crap recently asked: “When did you start caring about your finances?” This is an interesting question. I’ve always believed that my finances were important to me, but I never actually acted on this belief until a few years ago. My parents set poor examples for managing money. In high school, I ignored the mandatory personal finance class. When I was offered credit cards in college, I signed up, and I used…

  • Ask the Readers: When Does This All Pay Off? (97 comments)

    Annie is a young woman who seems to be making all of the right moves. She has an emergency fund, she’s saving for retirement, she’s living frugally, and she’s paying off her debt. But she’s beginning to find the lifestyle overwhelming. She wants to know when the payoff comes. (And what should she do in the meantime?) I’m 28, I make $43k per year, and I’ve been putting 9% away in a 401(k) since age…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much in an Emergency Fund? (91 comments)

    Andrea writes with a question about emergency funds: Does it make sense to keep six to eight months of expenses in an emergency fund? I always thought so. However, when I was doing my MBA, a classmate told me that emergency funds are unnecessary if you have a home equity line of credit. She said it makes more sense to use it to pay down your mortgage. If you lose your job, use the line…

  • Ask the Readers: Save for a Down Payment, or Put Money into Home Equity? (27 comments)

    Matt has a question about the best way to save for upgrading his house: My wife and I bought a small house before our wedding, and we know that eventually (say, within the next five years) we’ll need to move. We’ll want to start a family and will need more space. We purchased our current home with an 80/20 loan, instead of putting down the traditional 20% down-payment. At the time we could afford the…

  • Ask the Readers: Credit Emergency! (42 comments)

    Jana writes in with a credit emergency. She’s been following Get Rich Slowly, and is learning how to handle her own personal finances, but she has a friend who is in a predicament beyond her realm of knowledge. (And beyond mine, as well.) Can any of you offer advice? She writes: Kerry is a 23 year old living in Utah. She works a full time job, pays rent on an apartment, and has a car…

  • My Parents Ruined My Credit! (27 comments)

    Last month a reader wondered how her family’s credit history affected her own. This month Daniel has a slightly different problem: his parents did ruin his credit, though indirectly. He writes: When I was 19/20 years old, my credit was ruined. I had a decent job and got a few credit cards. I went to college, which my parents said they would pay for and support me during, so I quit my job. When money…

  • Ask the Readers: Finding a Financial Advisor? (33 comments)

    Last week we helped a reader get started with stocks. This week Rebecca asks how to take the next step. Where should she go for help? For my birthday this year my Grandmother gave me some stocks. She uses Edward Jones, but tells me that I can go anywhere. Would anyone be able to recommend a good “financial advisor” company? I’m looking for someplace: Local (in Portland, Oregon) or maybe something that has a good…

  • Ask the Readers: Where to Start With the Stock Market? (42 comments)

    Jono is ready to dive into stock investing, but he doesn’t know where to begin: I currently attend UCLA and am just a first year (undergraduate), but I am extremely interested in investing in stocks after reading some of your articles. Doesn’t hurt to start early right? I am skeptical as to how to start the process though, and I don’t really want to turn to my parents because I don’t feel like they have…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Buy One Home While Selling Another? (13 comments)

    Ryan recently wrote with a question: What things should you consider when you’re buying a new house while trying to sell the one you own? What’s the best way to coordinate closing dates to allow yourself a comfortable time to prepare for the move but while also minimizing financial impact? How can you calculate what sort of house you can buy outright (or nearly outright) elsewhere for what you can sell your house for now?…

  • Ask the Readers: How Will My Family’s Credit History Affect My Own? (15 comments)

    An anonymous reader is worried about her family’s poor credit history: How will my family’s credit history affect my own? My family has an awful credit history. My father was once a very successful business man and sold his company years ago for a hefty sum. Not long after this, my parents divorced and my father got in a very nasty accident. He was in hospital for a year receiving treatment and surgery and has…

  • Ask the Readers: Escaping from an Upside-Down Loan? (29 comments)

    Many of us are in similar positions: we’ve discovered sound personal finance skills, but only after making some dumb decisions. I’m still paying down a $16,000 home equity loan that represents my residual credit card debt. John writes with a similar problem, one that he hopes he might escape. A little over a year ago, I bought a new VW Jetta. I now have a hefty car and insurance payment, which I’ve been making every…

  • Ask the Readers: Advice for the Old and Wise? (31 comments)

    Most financial advice is meant for those starting out in life, or for those who have made mistakes and are looking to recover. But what if you’re already on top of things? The Saint recently wrote for advice: I read The Wealthy Barber years ago and was floored with the simple concepts and much-needed advise. I have read the Rich Dad, Poor Dad books, and listen to Dave Ramsey from time-to-time, but as with Dave…

  • Ask the Readers: Best Tools for Tracking Resolutions? (19 comments)

    Kathy W. writes: Do you know of any websites to help track progress on financial (and other) New Year’s Resolutions? These sites would be excellent for tracking goals in 2007: General Joe’s Goals is an east-to-use goal-tracking app. It lets you track positive and negative goals, and keeps a daily record of your progress. It’s free! 43 Things is a social-networking site where users can create lists of goals and dreams and share them with…

  • Ask the Readers: So Much Debt, So Little Time? (26 comments)

    Joseph and his partner have made all the right moves. They carry no credit consumer debt, but they’re still burdened with student loans and a mortgage. They’re barely able to make ends meet, and are worried about what this means for the future. I am 30 years old and in my last year of a Master’s program. I will graduate with $125,000 worth of student loans, whose monthly payments will be approximately $925/month for 25…

  • Ask the Readers: Emergency Fund or Debt Snowball? (40 comments)

    Ben writes with an interesting predicament, and he hopes GRS readers can provide some guidance. He’s trying to dig out of debt and establish an emergency fund, but which is more important? I recently accepted an offer for a 0%-for-12-months Citi credit card. (That’s 0% on both purchases and bank transfers.) I opted to get the money in a check, which I intend to disperse to my other cards in the debt snowball method. However,…

  • Ask the Readers: Help for a Broke New Yorker? (37 comments)

    Amanda is in a bind. She’s making all the right financial moves, but they’ve left her feeling broke. She’s come to the Get Rich Slowly readers for help. I’m 23. I’ve been out of college and working for a year-and-a-half now. I have only $300 in credit card debt, which I will pay off this month. I also have an ING Direct account that I opened last month with $300 in it. Starting this paycheck,…

  • Ask the Readers: What if You Have No Credit History? (71 comments)

    Elizabeth writes with a common question: what do you do if you have no credit history? Here’s her story. What would you recommend for a young person who has no credit history, but would like some (without having the long-term hassle of credit cards and credit card debt) because it would make identity verification easier? I’m a college student trying to get my savings and IRA account (started as custodial accounts when I was 11)…

  • Reader Survey: Shopping Malls or Thrift Stores? (40 comments)

    When I was young, I loved to go to the mall. In high school, if I needed to shop for clothes, I shopped at the mall. If I wanted to buy books, I went to the mall. If I wanted new records or tapes (remember those?), I made a trip to the mall. The mall was a magic wonderland filled with fabulous prizes. In college, when I began to use credit, the mall became even…

  • Reader Question: Methods for Tracking Expenses? (19 comments)

    One excellent way to spend less than you earn is to track every penny you spend. But how detailed should you be? Jamie’s been struggling with this question. He writes: I have begun to track all my spending. I want to break things into budget categories, but I’ve run into a couple hurdles. Can you offer some insight on how to deal with them? The proliferation of big box retailers (such as Target and Wal-Mart)…

  • Ask the Readers: Non-U.S. Personal Finance Sites? (27 comments)

    Chris writes with a great question: I am an avid reader of [your site] for a long time now! Since I will start my first full-time job in about four months, I am interested in an investing strategy, especially in retirement funds. You wrote about it before, but of course with the focus for the situation in the U.S. That is why I am looking for other personal finance blogs from Germany. Do you know…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Get Started in Life? (18 comments)

    Over the past week, I’ve received a barrage of messages from people seeking specific personal finance advice. While I’m willing to offer help where I can, many times the questions lay outside my area of expertise. I’m just a regular guy who is learning about personal finance and sharing the information with the world. I’m not a trained financial advisor. I can offer generalities, but the specifics are sometimes beyond me. Lifehacker has a feature…

  • Reader Question: Socially Responsible Investments? (6 comments)

    A Get Rich Slowly reader recently submitted a question: “What options exist for socially responsible investment?” My husband and I save, and we own a house and may invest in more property later, but one thing we won’t do is play the stock market.  We spend a lot of time thinking about the ills of the world and the way to live our lives to make things even a little better. It seems to us…