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The Basics


  • Get Rich Slowly turns 10! Celebrating our first decade (18 comments)

    My name is J.D. Roth. Ten years ago today, I started a little blog about money. This blog, in fact. When I started Get Rich Slowly, I had no idea what it would become. Just a year earlier, I had summarized all the best advice from the personal-finance books I’d been reading into a single article for my personal site. It’s when I first began to recognize that all the books had a common thread:…

  • Should Cash be Part of Your Emergency Fund? (59 comments)

    When I was in college, one of my co-workers at my part-time, on-campus job gave me a funny little gift that I use to this day. What was it? It’s called a “wallet fairy.” According to the note that came with my little talisman, you put it in your wallet and “you’ll never be out of money when you need it.” I can’t honestly say that the “magic” has been foolproof. I believe I’ve mentioned…

  • What’s the definition of success? (22 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Just because two people hear the same word or phrase, doesn’t mean that they are conceptualizing the same thing. For example, I live in the desert, so when I say that it’s “cold,” it’s a pretty safe bet that I’m talking about something different than the person who lives in Vermont. Similarly, if I say it’s “humid,” I am probably not thinking about the same thing as…

  • What to do during the “What’s Next?” stage of finance (43 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. When I first started writing for Get Rich Slowly, I’d just become interested in my finances. While I’ve always been frugal, I started to realize there was much more to personal finance than finding ways to save money. Here’s where I was, financially, at that time: I was rebuilding my recently depleted emergency fund. I had just started to earn more. I was working hard for my money,…

  • The power of profit margin (40 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money, where he recently wrote about how to be happy. After six months of work, my guide about becoming the Chief Financial Officer of your own life is ready for launch! Be Your Own CFO will be released on April 22. Over the next couple of weeks at Get Rich Slowly, I’ll…

  • Reader Stories: The Notebook (Part 2) (23 comments)

    Jim, a reader of our Facebook page, shared some of his personal finance journey in Facebook comments a while back. We reached out and asked him if he would elaborate so we could share his story with the Get Rich Slowly website readers. This is Part 2. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial…

  • Why paying with cash hurts (and why it should) (58 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. These days, my monthly budget is on the boring side. Aside from our regular spending, I’ve got a mortgage payment to fork over, groceries to buy, and utility bills to pay. Throw in some payments to my kids’ 529 plans and my SEP-IRA and I’m basically done for the month. After all of the bills are paid, the key for us is making sure that the rest…

  • Big wins: The quickest way to wealth (106 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money, where he recently wrote about the difference between tenacity and talent. There’s a divide in the world of personal finance. On one side are the folks who offer advice for scrimping and saving your way to financial success. On the other are the experts who scoff at frugality and champion big…

  • Book review: “Personal Finance for Dummies, 5th Edition” (18 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. There are many personal finance books and tools out there, useful to people in all stages of personal finance. I have a lot to learn before reaching financial independence, and the editorial elves thought it would be useful if I shared some of what I learn with you. My recent reviews include “FlexScore, Part I (The Book)” by Jeff Burrow, CFP, and Jason Gordo, AIF as well…

  • The one-page guide to financial freedom (74 comments)

    This year, I learned a lot about money. I think the biggest breakthrough I had in 2013 was to connect the ideas of personal and financial freedom. I spent a week in Ecuador talking with folks about this subject, and then I spent a couple of months putting my thoughts onto paper. I’ve done a lot of writing and thinking and speaking on this topic. But you know what? I’ve come to realize that the…

  • Money lessons from the Grinch, Scrooge, and Buddy the Elf (35 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Every December, my husband and I have a Christmas movie marathon. We watch as many holiday movies as we can between December 1 and December 31, which is a fun way to get into the spirit. (Here in Texas, we often have 70-degree days in December, so we have to get into the spirit somehow…) This year, I started thinking about all of the great 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…

  • Talk about money: The key to financial literacy? (54 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sarah Gilbert. April’s post about financial literacy struck something in me, especially the part about the “Fallacy of Financial Literacy.” The idea here is that we are sold tools to increase our financial literacy, when in fact they only increase our knowledge of products the banks who create the tools can use to their profit and our detriment. The reason we don’t know enough to object seems to be rooted…

  • Reader Story: Finding Hope In The Bleakest Of Situations (99 comments)

    This guest post from Sam is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Sam writes at Financial Samurai and is one of the esteemed colleagues with whom I’m exchanging ideas this weekend at the second annual Financial Blogger Conference. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want submit…

  • Signs of Financial Relationship Trouble? (179 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Sarah Gilbert. With my husband across the planet in Kuwait for most of the past two years, we don’t fight a lot. When we do fight, it’s about three things: what I’m doing with the kids. What things are going to be like when he comes back (for leave, or for good). And money. We started out so well? At the beginning of our relationship, I had a great…

  • 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,…

  • Four-Week Financial Boot Camp (6 comments)

    Yesterday I wrote about three 30-day challenges that can help you start forming new habits, and I recently learned about one more. MyMoneyCircles is offering a four-week personal finance boot camp, starting on January 9. The site aims to combine expert money-management advice with social circles to make success quick and easy. Leading the boot camp is The Money Coach, nationally known personal finance expert and New York Times best-selling author Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, who teaches…

  • 12 Steps to Financial Freedom (46 comments)

    Editor’s Note: This article on attaining financial freedom was originally published in 2012 but was updated in October 2016. We discuss many aspects of personal finance at Get Rich Slowly. We explore ways to earn more money, get out of debt, and build an emergency fund. We talk about the psychology of money management, and we share tips and tricks for making the most of your savings and your career. Basically, we do our best to help…

  • Why Financial Literacy Fails (and What to Do About It) (166 comments)

    One of my resolutions since returning from Peru is that I’m going to be more responsive to requests from reporters. I’ve generally tried to weasel out of interviews in the past because they always made me uncomfortable. I’ve done enough of them now, though, that I’m able to answer questions without having a panic attack. Most interviews are pretty formulaic, really. And my message doesn’t change, so it’s easy to say things like “spend less…

  • How Did My Phone Bill Get So High?!? Why You Should Pay Attention to Your Bills (45 comments)

    This is a guest-post from Tim Ellis, author of Seattle Bubble, a blog and forum dedicated to real-estate market conditions in the Seattle area. Tim is a long-time GRS reader. Previously on GRS, Tim has written about renting vs. buying, renting in a new city, setting homebuying priorities, and gaming without breaking the bank. Recently my wife and I sat down for the first time in a couple of years to review and update our…

  • 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…

  • Putting First Things First (74 comments)

    The morning is my time. Five days a week, I’m up at 5:30. I come downstairs, sip a diet soda or a cup of tea (lapsang souchong), and spend a few minutes checking e-mail and approving comments. By 5:45, I’m in my gym clothes and out the door. I walk through the quiet streets of my neighborhood, greeting the birds and the cats and the dogs. I admire the flowers. I notice all the small…

  • Why I Hate “New, Unique” Money Tips (123 comments)

    Today I’m going to rant. I get a lot of requests from reporters who want quotes for their stories about personal finance. That’s fine. I’m happy to help when possible. What bugs me, though, is that nearly every single reporter pitches her story with the same caveat: “I need tips about saving, but I don’t want the same old stuff. I need new, unique ways to save money.” sigh “New, unique ways to save money”…

  • The Financial Literacy Toolkit (15 comments)

    It’s critical to have a financial literacy toolkit when planning your finances. You need first to learn the basic skills like setting smart financial goals. But once you have that ground work, you move onto  budgeting, bank accounts, credit, credit cards, investing, insurance and estate planning. That’s where a financial literacy toolkit comes in — and we have it all for you here in this article. Here’s a list of financial literacy resources to help…

  • Five Years of Get Rich Slowly (77 comments)

    Five years ago today, I started a new blog. Inspired by the success of a popular post at my personal site, I sat down to create what I thought would be the first personal-finance blog on the internet. I was wrong, of course; there were plenty of similar blogs before mine. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. In the Beginning… In April 2006, I was still deep in debt. I’d begun…

  • Setting Smart Financial Goals (25 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com This article is part of Financial Literacy Month at Get Rich Slowly. Goals are critical to financial success. We’ve written about them a lot here at GRS; in fact, one of J.D.’s core tenets for getting rich slowly is “The road to wealth is paved with goals.” Not all goals are created equal, however. A bad…

  • Earning, Spending, and Saving: The Building Blocks of Personal Finance (62 comments)

    Note: This article is part of Financial Literacy Month at Get Rich Slowly. A couple of weeks ago, Robert Brokamp explained how living below your means is like saving for retirement twice. On the surface, his advice was pretty conventional: The more you save today, the more you’ll have tomorrow. This is similar to a point I’ve been repeating for the past five years. Smart personal finance can be reduced to one simple equation: [WEALTH]…

  • You Can Have It All (Just Not All At Once) (63 comments)

    This post is from new GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Living With Less personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. Like J.D., Donna has been traveling lately — but she’s in merrie olde England, not Africa. Earlier this month, I attended a candlelit baroque concert at the historic St.-Martin-in-the-Fields Church. The Festive Orchestra of London was delightful. My seat cost £8 (about…

  • Underachievement and the All-or-Nothing Mindset (67 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. There have been a slew of great articles lately on why resolutions fail, and I agree wholeheartedly with them. I’ve never had much success with resolutions myself — they always fall by the wayside after a few months, and by summer I don’t even remember that I’d set resolutions in the first place. Nevertheless, I set a lot of goals in 2010 that I reached. For example,…

  • Three Posters About Personal Finance (16 comments)

    I’m a sucker for charts and graphs. I once attended an Edward Tufte course just for kicks. Though I don’t do much with charts and graphs around GRS, I always admire the work of others. For example, last year when I shared my guide to understanding the federal budget (and the follow up on the truth about taxes), I pointed to Jess Bachman’s annual Death and Taxes poster, which attempts to visualize the entire U.S….

  • DIY Personal Finance: How to Take Control of Your Financial Life (30 comments)

    This story originally appeared on Boing Boing in slightly different form. It’s my favorite article I’ve ever written. I’m not a trained financial professional; I don’t have a degree in finance, and I’m not a certified financial planner. I have no formal training. I’m just an average guy who was deep in debt, and finally got fed up with his situation. After deciding to turn things around, I read dozens of financial books, and used…

  • Unemployed? Underemployed? Here’s How to Get Help (54 comments)

    For a long time, GRS readers have been requesting a list of resources for low-income families struggling to get by. I haven’t put anything together because I don’t know much about the subject. Fortunately, I know somebody who does. In this guest post, Donna Freedman lays out the nuts and bolts of finding help when you’re in financial distress. Plenty of people who once made a good living are joining the ranks of the poor…

  • 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…

  • Three Things the Amish Taught Me About Money (65 comments)

    Yesterday, a couple of readers pointed me to a CNN Money article about why Amish businesses don’t fail. Good timing, because today’s guest post is from the author profiled in that piece. This is a guest post from Erik Wesner, who researched the Amish for his new book Success Made Simple: An Inside Look at Why Amish Businesses Thrive. He blogs about Amish culture at Amish America. Most people associate the Amish with certain things:…

  • The Get Rich Slowly Philosophy (44 comments)

    There’s been an influx of new readers at Get Rich Slowly lately. To serve as an intro the new folks (and to celebrate the site’s fourth anniversary, and in honor of Financial Literacy Month), today I’m going to review my financial philosophy. Although we covered each of these points in turn last autumn, it’s been a while since I collected these core values in one location. Based on my research — and my experience with…

  • How to Talk with Your Spouse About Money (74 comments)

    This is a guest post from Sierra Black, a long-time GRS reader and the author of ChildWild, a blog where she writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale. Talking about money is one of the great taboos of our culture. I know more about my friends’ sex lives than I do about their bank statements. Many of us find it hard to discuss finances under the best circumstances. When we’re…

  • Learning to Use Money as a Tool (82 comments)

    It’s pretty clear by now that I have a different relationship with money than when I started Get Rich Slowly. I’m by no means perfect with the stuff, but I’ve become firmly entrenched in the camp that sees money as a tool. (I used to see it only as a means to instant gratification.) Here’s a tiny example. Taking a page out of Trent’s book, Kris has been on a crock pot kick lately. This…

  • It’s More Important to Be Happy Than to Be Rich (72 comments)

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

  • Action Beats Inaction (50 comments)

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

  • Nobody Cares More About Your Money Than You Do (44 comments)

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

  • A Brief Guide to Holiday Tipping (95 comments)

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

  • Financial Balance Lets You Enjoy Tomorrow AND Today (75 comments)

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

  • Failure is Okay (55 comments)

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

  • The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good (54 comments)

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

  • Slow and Steady Wins the Race (56 comments)

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

  • Do What Works for You (56 comments)

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

  • Large Amounts Matter Too (46 comments)

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

  • How to Get Your Free Credit Report Online: A Step-by-Step Guide (49 comments)

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

  • Small Amounts Matter (60 comments)

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

  • Pay yourself first (63 comments)

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

  • Spend less than you earn (50 comments)

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

  • Minimalist Money: 6 Steps to Simplify Your Financial Life (98 comments)

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

  • Money is More About Mind Than It Is About Math (88 comments)

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

  • Compound Interest: One Percent Can Make All the Difference (44 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…

  • The Seven Enemies of Financial Success (55 comments)

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

  • A Small Mistake (129 comments)

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

  • How Money-Transfer Scams Work (54 comments)

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

  • The Ascent of Money (31 comments)

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

  • Why Pursue Financial Freedom? (58 comments)

    Your financial choices do not stand in isolation. They have a cumulative effect. As you pay off debt, as you save for retirement, as you reduce your spending, you are creating a snowball of right action. Or, to use a better metaphor, each smart choice you make creates ripples throughout your life. As you work toward financial freedom, you make it easier for yourself to accomplish other goals. With the help of my Twitter followers,…

  • The First Three Steps to Financial Freedom (55 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…

  • Credit Union Service Centers Provide Shared Branching (30 comments)

    Note: Oops. I accidentally had comments closed on this post. Not even sure how that happened. They’re on now. Chris M. sent me e-mail last week to share some thoughts on rewards checking and on credit unions. I’m a fan of both. In his message, Chris offered a handy tip for those of us who use credit unions instead of banks: In reviewing your past posts, I realized that you might not know about something…

  • Un-Broke: What You Need to Know About Money (40 comments)

    I don’t watch much television; I’m more of a books and magazines and newspapers kind of guy. But I’ll make an exception this Friday. ABC will be broadcasting a special entitled Un-Broke: What You Need to Know About Money. According to the website: Schools teach us almost everything, but not “Money 101.” For the basics on finance, turn to UN-BROKE: What You Need to Know About Money. It’s an unconventional look at the fundamentals of…

  • What Fourth-Graders “Know” About Money (50 comments)

    Financial Literacy Month begins today. What better way to kick things off than with a story from the trenches? This is a guest post from Chett Daniel, who writes about improving your life through personal fitness and personal finance at 5k5k.org. Every day when I go to work, I have a chance to influence the lives of children. I left a well-paying corporate job nearly two years ago, taking a 50% cut in pay to…

  • Book review: I Will Teach You to Be Rich (40 comments)

    Today I am reviewing a new book written by a colleague. As you read this review, please remember that I am friends with author. For comparison, you can see my reviews of two other books by friends here and here. I’m often asked to recommend personal-finance books for young adults. I’ve read a few (and have more in my to-read stack), but there are only two that I promote in my presentations to students: Debt…

  • 9 methods for mastering your money (76 comments)

    2008 was a miserable year for money. The stock market tumbled, unemployment soared, the housing market continued to crumble, and retirement savings shriveled away. Whew! Here’s hoping 2009 will be better! But hope can only do so much. Hope cannot bring change. Action brings change. If one of your goals for 2009 is to take control of your money (instead of letting it keep control of you), this crash course in financial basics can help…

  • Personal Finance 101: How to Pay Your Utility Bills (17 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation. This is a guest post from Wanda, who wrote to tell me that a shocking number of people have trouble paying their utility bills correctly. How do you pay your bills? My father taught me to pay them on time and in full. That’s great advice, but there is so much more to correctly paying your bills. As a small town municipal employee, I have assisted people with their water bills…

  • Investing 101: An Introduction to Index Funds and Passive Investing (57 comments)

    This is a guest post from ABCs of Investing, a new site for novice investors. ABCs of Investing offers two short and simple investing posts each week. Personal finance bloggers are vocal proponents of passive investing in index funds and exchange-traded funds. But not everyone knows much about these, and not a lot of bloggers do a good job of explaining the basics of passive investing. This post is intended to explain the basics —…

  • You Can’t Always Get What You Want: The Dark Side of Personal Finance (127 comments)

    I drove down to clean the moss of the roof of my mother’s house last week. I spent several hours on top of the house with my cousin Nick, scraping and hosing and blowing away years of green growth. We chatted as we worked. I told him that I was going to speak with a literary agent on the following day, and that I hoped I might soon have a book deal. “How does that…

  • Creating a Will: It’s Not as Scary as You Might Think (42 comments)

    My friend Sparky called the other day. We chatted about work, we chatted about the economy, and we chatted about investing. We also chatted about our families. We talked about my mother and her health problems, and then we talked about his parents and their health problems. “I can’t believe they haven’t updated their wills,” said Sparky. “What?” I said. “Are you kidding me? How old are they?” “They’re both about 65,” he said. “Maybe…

  • The Millionaire Quiz (46 comments)

    How much do you know about millionaires? Kris recently had dinner with her friend Linda, who is a high school social studies teacher. As they ate, Linda bemoaned the lack of personal finance and economics education in the United States. She mentioned that every year she gives her economics students a short “Millionaire Quiz” to see just how much they know about wealth and where it comes from. They do poorly at it, which surprises…

  • Net Worth: The Most Important Number in Personal Finance? (50 comments)

    Do you know your net worth? Your net worth is a snapshot of your financial life at one moment in time, a single number representing your financial health. It’s the total of everything you’ve earned and spent until today. In The Wall Street Journal Complete Personal Finance Guidebook, Jeff Opdyke writes: Knowing your net worth is important…if only for one reason: It forces you to interact with your financial life, keeping you in touch with…

  • The Sunk-Cost Fallacy: Good Money After Bad (97 comments)

    My mother spent three weeks in the hospital in August. Her extended stay affected me in lots of little ways I couldn’t anticipate. To escape my daily worries, I went searching for a little solace — I re-activated my World of Warcraft account. World of Warcraft is a subscription-based online computer game. As a player, you become immersed in a virtual fantasy world, interacting with thousands of other players from around the globe. It’s great…

  • How to Win the Lottery (132 comments)

    Ray Otero cannot buy a break. For the past three years, he’s spent $500 to $700 a week playing the lottery, but he’s only won big a few times: $1,000 once and $2,000 twice. Still he keeps playing. He’s sure his luck is bound to change. Otero’s story, told in a recent New York Times article, is simultaneously funny, poignant, and exasperating. This New York City building superintendent simply wants the “easy life” for his…

  • Leverage, Luck, and Living Well: A Conversation with Financial Columnist Scott Burns (16 comments)

    During the first week of July, I had the privilege to chat with financial author Scott Burns. What was intended to be a brief interview about his new book, Spend ’til the End [my review] lasted for nearly two hours. Burns was fascinating. It has taken weeks to edit this conversation into something digestible for the web. It’s still quite long, but I hope it’s as interesting to you as it is to me. You…

  • The Best Advice I Ever Got: 40 Great Money Tips (28 comments)

    CNNMoney has posted a gallery of money tips from 40 “great minds”, ranging from Derek Jeter to Tim Ferriss to Burton Malkiel. Each participant provided an anecdote about the best piece of financial advice they ever received. I’ve listed some of the highlights below. Remember: this is the best advice given to these people. It’s the financial advice they feel has made the biggest difference in their lives. Dean Kamen, Segway inventor: “Find work in…

  • Back to Basics: A Guide to Traditional Skills (39 comments)

    Based on reader suggestions, Kris and I made a trip to Costco on Friday to buy bulk yeast and a fifty-pound bag of bread flour. (We’re serious about this whole home-made bread thing.) While I waited for Kris to pick up some other groceries, I leafed through Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills edited by Abigail R. Gehring. “Wow,” I thought. “I am the target audience for this book.” I bought it….

  • Financial Advice from My Father (When I Was Nineteen) (44 comments)

    Today is Father’s Day in many countries, including the United States. While sorting some old letters and photos recently, I stumbled across a letter my dad wrote to me during my sophomore year of college. This is my father’s financial advice to me when I was nineteen years old. I haven’t attempted to edit — any misspellings are his. J.D.’s Points to Ponder Warning — Make sure you read them all. There may be some…

  • The New Reader’s Guide to Get Rich Slowly (40 comments)

    Get Rich Slowly — recently named most inspiring money blog by Money magazine — is devoted to sensible personal finance. You will not find any get-rich-quick schemes here. Nor will you find multi-level marketing fads or hot stock tips. I am not pitching any product or book. Instead, you’ll find daily information about personal finance and related topics. I share stories about debt elimination, saving money, and practical investing. I also post occasional reviews of…

  • What’s the Reason for Saving and Investing? (35 comments)

    Yesterday, in his final piece for The Wall Street Journal, Jonathan Clements shared what he learned from writing 1,008 columns about personal finance in 26 years. What is the reason for all this saving and investing? The short answer is, you save now so you can spend later. But what will you spend your money on? People dream of endless leisure and bountiful possessions. Unfortunately, after a few months, endless leisure often seems like endless…

  • The extraordinary power of compound interest (129 comments)

    If you are young, you may not think you need to invest or open a retirement account. You probably think it is easier to worry about it five years from now — or ten. You’re wrong. Time is on your side now, especially when it comes to compound interest. No matter what your age, now is the time to begin saving for retirement. In The Automatic Millionaire, David Bach writes, “The single biggest investment mistake you can…

  • The Key to Wealth is Being Satisfied with What You Already Have (77 comments)

    For the past few weeks, I’ve been making sales calls with David, my replacement at the box factory. We’re visiting existing customers to explain the transition. Most of my clients know that I’m part-owner in the family business. “Why are you leaving?” they want to know. “What are you going to do now?” “I’m going to write,” I say. “About what?” some of them ask. “Personal finance,” I say, and that’s usually the end of…

  • The Power of Positive Cash Flow (42 comments)

    When I lived paycheck-to-paycheck, there never seemed to be enough money to go around. I was perpetually $50 or $100 short of what I needed. Because I was spending more than I earned, I fell further behind every month. I had a negative cash flow, which led to more debt, which put me deeper in the hole. It is mathematically impossible to get ahead with a negative cash flow — in order to save money,…

  • How to stop fighting with your spouse about money (59 comments)

    This is a guest post from GLBL, who writes about personal finance at Gather Little by Little. Many sources cite money as the number one cause of marital strife. Some of you probably know this from first-hand experience. I can relate, too. My wife and I are very close, but money has always been a touchy subject, and unfortunately has led to a more than a few “disagreements”. Last year, we decided to get control…

  • Why You SHOULDN’T Prepay Your Monthly Bills (62 comments)

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

  • Understanding the Seven Habits of Wealth (38 comments)

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

  • A Working Woman’s Guide to Financial Security (10 comments)

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

  • Saving and Investing: The Impact of Time (2 comments)

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

  • Saving and Investing: Types of Mutual Funds (4 comments)

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

  • Saving and Investing: What is a Stock Market Index? (6 comments)

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

  • Saving and Investing: What is a Stock? (4 comments)

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

  • Saving and Investing: What is a Bond? (7 comments)

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

  • Saving and Investing: Why do Financial Markets Exist? (4 comments)

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

  • Saving and Investing: An Introduction to Financial Statements (12 comments)

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

  • The Road to Wealth is Paved with Goals (39 comments)

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

  • 8 Ways to Make Bill-Paying Easier (17 comments)

    My friend Mike is well-off. He lives alone, makes a good salary, invests wisely, and doesn’t spend money on foolish endeavors. Yet he often gets charged late fees. Why? Because he’s disorganized. He brings his bills home, throws them on the table, and they get lost under a mass of paper during the weeks that follow. When he remembers his bills, he pays the late fees, and sends extra money to cover the next few…

  • How and why to start an emergency fund (92 comments)

    “Pay off your debt.” “Max out your IRA.” “Buy a house.” “Get a new job.” Personal finance advisers bombard us with a litany of things we ought to do in order to achieve financial independence. It’s overwhelming. Where’s a person to start? Most personal finance books agree: The first thing you should do — after meeting basic needs, and while reducing spending — is to start an emergency fund. What is an emergency fund? An…

  • The Most Important Money Tip (32 comments)

    Personal finance is easy. It’s simple. There is one fundamental law that governs your money. If you master this, you have mastered the entire game: To gain wealth, you must spend less than you earn. In David Copperfield — one of my favorite books — Charles Dickens wrote: Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery. That’s all it takes….

  • Plan for Saving One Hundred Thousand Pounds (1 comment)

    (by Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1756) As I spent some weeks last winter in visting my old acquaintance in the Jerseys, great complaints I heard for want of money, and that leave to make more paper bills could not be obtained. Friends and countrymen, my advice on this head shall cost you nothing; and if you will not be angry with me for giving it, I promise you not to be offended if…

  • How Compound Returns Favor the Young (42 comments)

    In an earlier entry about the cost of waiting one year to begin investing for retirement, I posted a chart from AllFinancialMatters that demonstrated the power of compound returns. Vintek posted a math exercise related to the subject. I got this from a book called The Random Walk Guide to Investing by Burton Malkiel. It’s a book I recommend, and I’ll eventually talk about it in the forum. Here’s the exercise: William and James are…