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Budgeting


  • Can getting one month ahead save your budget? (36 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Once upon a time, my husband and I were pretty clueless when it came to how we spent the money we earned at our 9 to 5 jobs. We made a decent income but struggled to keep track of where it was all going and, more importantly, why it always managed to disappear into thin air. I won’t bore you with the details again, but we ultimately…

  • Should cash be part of your emergency fund? (58 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. 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…

  • Ask the Readers: How much does a creative costume cost to make? (32 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. Whenever I’ve purchased a pre-packaged Halloween costume, I’ve usually been disappointed. They rarely fit and the material and accessories are chintzy. But I take my hat off for the clever people that make their own costumes. Extra points if it’s hilarious. Year after year, these people seem to out-do themselves. I don’t know how they do it! In 2011, April Dykman looked at Halloween spending for us. “According…

  • I want Christmas to be debt-free (67 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Fall is finally here, and everywhere I look I see Pinterest-worthy pumpkin carvings, seasonal door hangings, and all kinds of pumpkin-flavored cookies, breads, and pies. Homemade cornstalk creations line doorways and gourds decorate walkways; neighborhood yards are filled with figures resembling ghosts, witches, and goblins. Even *I* made a homemade pumpkin pie of my own the other day — from a pumpkin straight from my garden. With…

  • How I budget with a variable income (22 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. It seems like everybody’s goal lately is to leave their job and become a freelancer. And that’s great! Freelancing gives you flexibility and control — and, plus, you get to work from home in your yoga pants. But as someone who has transitioned into that role full-time, there are certain things I do miss about having an employer: 401(k) match Insurance benefits Free coffee Office buddies Income…

  • Honey progress report: Homeownership and priorities edition (68 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. In May, Jake and I bought a house and moved in. We’ve been loving it so far! People who have always lived in a place with decent structural integrity may not appreciate it, but considering the many problems with our previous rental, it feels like we live in a palace now. At the time of my last post on homeownership, we had about $10,000 in liquid savings. Beefing up our…

  • Dissecting retirement savings (34 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. When I finally and completely quit my once-full-time job in May, something changed: Neither my husband nor I have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan. With a significant drop in income, we’re looking at maximizing our now small retirement account contributions. So, how can we get the biggest bang for our buck? Before we talk about that, let me fill you in on my retirement contribution history….

  • The high cost of keeping up with the Joneses (67 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. In late 2004, Kim Parr and her family upgraded their lifestyle with a brand new home in a rural area. As an optometrist with a higher-than-average salary, it seemed like the natural thing to do. After all, Kim’s husband had a secure (albeit lower-paying) job in education and their combined household income was finally in the six-figure range. They had earned it. Unfortunately, the Parrs soon found that…

  • Becoming friends with your future self (24 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. I fight splurges less often than I used to, but the urge still pops up occasionally. Sometimes, it’s okay to splurge; but mostly, I find myself wanting to resist temptation. There are a few questions I ask when I’m mulling over a purchase: Do I have money saved for this? Do I feel like I’m stealing money from a financial goal? Am I simply being impulsive? Will I…

  • Student loan update: Interest rate edition (62 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. In my last progress report, I mentioned that I took my student loans off Kwik-pay (autodebit) until after closing on my house. The thinking was that I’d have the money just in case things didn’t go smoothly with the house and move. Originally, I thought I’d re-enable the automatic payments after closing. Then I realized that if I kept my student loans on manual payments, I wouldn’t be…

  • Getting a frugal start on summer (30 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Last Friday, I had an amazing realization: It was the weekend, the weather was beautiful, and I had absolutely nothing to do. Great feeling. On Saturday morning, my boyfriend and I decided to slap some sandwiches together and head to the beach. It was relaxing and low-key, and it made me anticipate summer. But at the beginning of the year, I made some lofty savings goals for myself, and…

  • A guide to managing your fear of money (23 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. My first year of high school, I was looking for an easy, goof-off elective — a class that would allow me to take a break in between Geometry and English, and maybe catch up on some magazines or take a quick nap. “Debate” sounded right up my half-assed alley. On the first day of class, I was told we’d have to attend tournaments, in which we’d debate…

  • Your landline: Think twice before cutting the cord (89 comments)

    This article is by staff writer William Cowie. A while ago, my wife and I did what we do from time to time — ask if there’s another cost-saving opportunity we’ve overlooked. I don’t know about you, but the quest for fiscal prudence is generally at its highest in our household after some indulgent purchase. “Hey, look! We can compensate for this luxo-foobie by slashing costs here!” (Are we the only people who do this?)…

  • The only two things you need to remember about funeral costs (31 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. When someone has to make funeral arrangements, they often look to the funeral home for help. They select one of the three coffins suggested by the funeral home. Often it’s part of a mid-priced package deal, one that includes pretty much everything you need, and then some. And in a lot of ways, it makes sense that we turn to the experts, especially if we’ve never had…

  • Is this where you can cut the most the quickest? (94 comments)

    This article is by staff writer William Cowie. The post a couple of weeks ago about the whole income inequality thing brought out some good insights and raised several new questions. We love to play board games, and one of our favorites is Acquire, a great money game which seems to have acquired (no pun intended) quite a cult following through the years. (Good luck trying to get a good one on eBay for under…

  • How to track your spending (and why you should) (80 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Recently, an old friend emailed me for help with his family’s financial woes. The confession that followed wasn’t pretty, and included tales of student loans, car loans, unrestrained spending, and empty bank accounts. It was all bad news, which I found rather surprising considering their relatively high income. So, of course, I asked about their fixed expenses. What were they? We emailed back and forth for quite a…

  • More on how to stop buying clothes you never wear (48 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. More than four years ago, I wrote a post for Get Rich Slowly about how to stop buying clothes you never wear. I wasn’t sure how it would go over, to be honest. We don’t discuss fashion much in our little corner of the Internet, and I also worried about being judged for my sordid, non-frugal past. But it was a problem I’d had struggled with, and it…

  • Can you grow your family on a shrinking income? (31 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. Our two kids came with an almost two-year gestation, similar to an elephant’s gestation, actually. (Here’s where I would make a joke about now our salary feels like peanuts, or something, but I’m not that funny.) Between starting the adoption process and taking custody of the kids, we had much longer than most parents do to prepare. And we tried to prepare. We made some decisions to increase…

  • Speaking of hobbies… (52 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. In my last post, I talked about picking hobbies strategically. There, I suggested that it might be a good idea to choose hobbies that fall into three main categories. Those three categories were: Hobby as side gig. Hobby as “something you have to do anyway so you might as well be good at it.” (I’m nothing if not pithy.) Free or super cheap hobbies. I’d like to take…

  • Don’t have savings? Quit making excuses (80 comments)

    This guest post is from former GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes for a number of websites, including Money Talks News and Retail Me Not, and blogs about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. I’m back, and I sound just like your mom: Save that damned emergency fund, already. This week (Feb. 24-March 1) is America Saves Week. And not a moment too soon: As a nation, we’re losing ground. An ASW…

  • On a time crunch? Squeeze more out of your day (50 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. When I (or others) want to improve our financial situations, most excuses involve time. I am too busy to take on another job. I don’t have time to start that business I’ve wanted to start for the last three years. I wish I could really get my financial ducks in a row, but I feel like I’m already using every spare minute of my days. While time budgeting and money budgeting…

  • Food spending: When bad habits attack (94 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. In 2010, my husband and I were pregnant with our second child. And although we were making plenty of money, we were burning through all we made at lightning speed. Yep, we were wasting it. In fact, we were spending money we didn’t even have by financing cars, miscellaneous purchases, and trips. And, even though we had a baby on the way and two rental properties, we didn’t have…

  • Money lessons I’ve learned since writing for Get Rich Slowly (43 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. For the past year and I half, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing for Get Rich Slowly. That’s not to say it hasn’t been a challenge. Some weeks, I’m completely run down and don’t feel like thinking too hard about anything, much less personal finance. But I do my best to jumpstart my brain and produce something that I hope at least some of you will find useful. Writing…

  • Honey’s financial goals for 2014 (29 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Now that I’ve taken stock of where I’ve been in 2013, I’m ready to set goals for 2014. I want my goals to be ambitious, realistic, and personal in addition to being SMART goals. They should also take into account my goals for the previous year. This includes whether or not the goal was achieved and how easy it was to achieve. I need to be aggressive, not complacent!…

  • Taking stock of 2013 (46 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. At about this time last year, I was taking stock of 2012. They say that the reason time seems to speed up as you get older is because each day/month/year is a smaller fraction of the time you’ve been alive. For example, a year seems a lot longer when it’s 10 percent of your life instead of less than 3 percent. Regardless of the reason, it’s a wild…

  • 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;…

  • What to do when Easy Street develops potholes (46 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. The moral of this story is obvious: It’s a lot easier to get ahead financially before children enter the picture. Now that I have that brilliant thought out of the way, let’s get into a keepin’ it real kind of post by analyzing the last few years of the Aberle budget. 2009 – Making more money. Start targeted savings accounts. Pay off car loan. Only the mortgage is…

  • Coping with job loss (46 comments)

    A few weeks ago, I lost a freelance job. I won’t dish the details, because it’s not relevant to this post, and I’m still friendly with my contacts there. What is relevant to this post, however, is that I’ve had a big change in income. I went from being able to stash away more than enough in retirement and medium-term savings to barely being able to pay my monthly expenses. Today, as I contemplate low-paying gigs…

  • Reader Stories: How we saved one year’s salary in Roth IRAs in grad school (55 comments)

    This reader story is from Emily, a graduate student living in North Carolina who blogs about transitions in young adulthood and living well on less at Evolving Personal Finance. 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 to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. My husband, Kyle, and I recently…

  • Honey progress report: Staying off the hedonic treadmill edition (40 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith. When I paid off my small student loan in August, I placed my payoff focus on the “small” sub-account of my consolidated loan. “Small” is meant to be in sarcastic quotation marks, of course, because the balance at that time was just over $35,000. Hardly small! I mentioned in my August progress report that I wanted to focus on saving for awhile, and I have been doing…

  • Reader Stories: Our lightbulb moment (50 comments)

    This Reader Story comes from LifeImproved.org. 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 to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. In 2009, I convinced my husband to see a financial planner. You see, I finally felt like we were making real money. Translation: we finally made enough money to…

  • The power of a zero-sum budget (49 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. There’s been a lot of talk about budgeting here at Get Rich Slowly. For instance, Kristin recently wrote about her adventures using the envelope system. I wrote about the reasons your budget might be failing. And, a variety of guest posters and staff writers have touched on the topic with articles like these: How I kept to my budget and still have everything I want Budgeting: The Most Important…

  • 5 money excuses that held me back (58 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. It’s been several months now that I’ve been on a savings lockdown. It’s been going well, except for this past weekend, when I had a relapse. I over-splurged on everything — food, shopping, beer — and I’m officially hungover. My buzz started when a client check came early, making me feel super rich and burning the hell out of my pockets. Oh, I know. It’s OK to…

  • Reader Stories: How to earn $391.11 in 16 months and still be OK (38 comments)

    This reader story comes from Joel Zaslofsky, who is offering instant access to download the free tools on his website Value of Simple to help you simplify, organize, and be money wise. When he’s not helping people start investing with $100, enjoying nature, podcasting, or chasing his sons around the house, he’s cranking out useful stuff at Value of Simple. I was so stoked to go from $105,143.56 in annual compensation to $0.00 overnight. This…

  • Heal your money shame in 3 simple steps (22 comments)

    This guest post is from Kate Northrup. Kate is the author of the new book, Money: A Love Story. She’s leading a live online event called A Course in Having Enough with guest teachers Marianne Williamson, Barbara Stanny, and Amanda Steinberg. This course is free when you purchase Money: A Love Story. Get details at www.moneyalovestory.com. It’s no mystery that the road to wealth can come with some emotional turmoil. Anyone who tells you that…

  • Honey progress report: a good problem edition (40 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. In my last progress report, I mentioned three pieces of good news: I paid off my small student loan balance, Jake paid off the balance transfer he’d made to one of my credit cards, and I got a raise Shortly after those occurrences, I reached another milestone: I celebrated five years with my current employer. Why is that a financial milestone? Because I became vested in the employer…

  • Reader Stories: 5 money-savvy tips for recovering from a divorce (13 comments)

    This story comes from reader Julia Lawrence. Julia thoroughly enjoys writing about finances, pop culture and selling diamonds! When she isn’t hard at work writing, she spends her time wither with an absolutely adorable Mini Golden Retriever, Jake, and her [new] husband, Mr. Julia Lawrence. Follow Jules at Google+ & @DiamondLining. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with…

  • How to cure a spending hangover (37 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Holly Johnson. A few weeks ago, my husband and I took a somewhat frugal vacation to an all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. And while I was very excited to visit a new city and explore, I was equally excited about the financial details of the trip. Since we had chosen an all-inclusive resort, our entire vacation was easy to budget and plan for. A sum of $800…

  • Redeeming your credit card rewards — what do you do with them? (50 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Kristin Wong. I recently came across an interesting statistic. According to a poll from Harris Interactive, 41 percent of people rarely or never redeem their credit card rewards. It almost hurts to know all of those rewards are going to waste. A more recent study found that 73 percent of Americans are enrolled in rewards programs but have no idea how many points they have. That used to be…

  • Honey progress report; good news edition (40 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. This progress report is full of good news! I will go over each piece and its impact on my life, but the bottom line is: I paid off my small student loan balance! Jake paid off the balance transfer he’d made to one of my credit cards! I got a raise! I am super excited, as the confluence of these milestones really makes me feel that I…

  • Adventures in returning to the envelope system (72 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Kristin Wong. I first read about the envelope system back in college. I used it regularly, but after graduating and paying off my debt, I sort of abandoned it. I’d gotten a hold of my finances, and I figured I could budget safely without having to use this tactic. I could afford to give myself a break. Then, last month, I realized just how much of a break I’ve given…

  • Reader Story: 6 things I did because I was poor that made me poorer (41 comments)

    Matt Stokes is a freelance writer, editor, blogger, and TV producer in New Orleans. His first novel, Generation Why, is a humorous look at the difficulties of college graduates in the 2010s who don’t know what to do with their lives. The book came out in 2012 and is available from Amazon. Follow him on Twitter @mattstokes9. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or…

  • The truth about being broke (77 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Holly Johnson. It’s been a long time since I’ve been broke, but I can still remember exactly what it felt like. I can picture all the ugly details of the way I used to struggle; the empty bank account, the awkward moments, the feelings of despair…. And honestly, one particularly awkward conversation with my sister still plays clearly in my mind to this day: “Hey sis, I’m coming into town…

  • How I kept to my budget and still have everything I want (49 comments)

    This guest post is from Darlene Bauer, who works from home in the beautiful Texas Hill Country.  She created BlogBoldly.com as a platform to help newcomers learn to build their own profitable online business. Years ago, when I was single and on a tight budget, I devised a fun way to get practically everything on my wish list and have money left over! I was in my twenties and waited tables for a living, so…

  • Travel on a budget: The all-inclusive vacation (55 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Holly Johnson. Last year, I was talking with a friend right after she had returned from a relaxing week in the Caribbean. “We did an all-inclusive,” she said to me with a glimmer in her eyes. “A what?” I had no idea what she was talking about. After chatting about it for a quite a while, she clued me in on how an all-inclusive vacation works and what some…

  • Are you saving when you should be spending? (20 comments)

    This guest post is from Jacob McMillen. He likes to write about topics for men and teach people how using Save1 Eastbay coupons can help feed starving children around the world. More often than not, the best way to save a dollar is to not spend it in the first place. There is no shortage of tips, tricks and methods available for saving $5 here and 35¢ there. Doing a quick web search for “saving…

  • When lifestyle inflation isn’t even fun (63 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Kristin Wong. When I think of lifestyle inflation, I think of going to my favorite sushi restaurant every weekend. I think of buying the pricey cashmere sweater I’ve been eyeing and then buying ten more expensive sweaters. I think of spending weekends on yachts and drinking champagne while a guy on a violin serenades me. Well, scratch that last one, because I get seasick, but yeah. I think of lifestyle inflation as being…

  • Why my garden won’t replace my CSA subscription (36 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sarah Gilbert. I told the checker at the grocery co-op where I shop that I didn’t need a receipt. “I don’t want to keep track of how much I’m spending on my garden,” I told him. My modest cart had carrots and apples and popcorn — staples! — and tomato, lettuce, basil and lavender starts. The reason I don’t want to know: I’m worried it won’t pencil out. If…

  • Reader Stories: Using the waterfall money management system (59 comments)

    This is a guest post from Andrew Selby. Andrew writes about debt management programs at his Debt Consolidation Blog. 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 your own reader story? Here’s how. After fighting, scratching and clawing for years, I had finally paid off my college loans and was…

  • Recalibrating for self-employment: Smartphones (53 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Holly Johnson. A few weeks ago, I wrote about my hesitation to hire out our yard work. After working 60 or more hours per week for the past year at our full-time jobs and side jobs, my husband and I had come to a crossroads. Basically, putting in so many hours meant that we were having difficulty finding time to do anything else. For months, nearly every one of our…

  • 13 smart ways to be frugal at work without looking like a cheapskate (62 comments)

    This is a guest post from Ivan Chan. Ivan teaches busy professionals simple ways to manage money and worry less in life at Wealthy Without Worry. Being frugal is hard. You’ve been so disciplined all week with your spending, you’ve kept to your budget, and you’ve even resisted buying that new thing you wanted to try. You are on target to meet your savings goals for this month, and then your colleagues at work invite…

  • Decrease your budget’s bite by saving money on meat (68 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Lisa Aberle. J.D. has already covered ways to save money on food. But this time, I wanted to focus on animal protein. According to a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, meat makes up over 22 percent of our at-home food (not out-to-eat or alcohol) budget. Obviously, you can cut your food budget by decreasing your meat consumption. But if you want to eat meat, how can you do it most…

  • Reader Stories: How 5 daily habits rocked my financial world (28 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jillian Beirne Davi. Jillian is a Transformational Money Coach and the founder of Abundant Finances, a service that helps you get yourself out of debt and start amassing abundant savings in record time (without deprivation or eating cat food for dinner). 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…

  • Your budget isn’t working. Here’s why. (77 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Holly Johnson. Before my husband and I got our financial act together, we didn’t have a budget. Since we didn’t have and sort of plan, we spent all of our discretionary income on “wants” and financed anything that cost more money than we had. And the scariest part is that we never really thought much of it. Our income always lasted until the next payday, so we never worried about…

  • Review: ‘All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan’ (44 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. There are many personal finance books 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. So for the foreseeable future, I will be reviewing one PF-related book per month. I won’t necessarily be reviewing the latest bestsellers in…

  • Are automatic payments all they’re cracked up to be? (87 comments)

    This post is by staff writer April Dykman. A few weeks ago, I paid a sky-high electric bill. After some investigation, I saw the problem: the electric company charged a $200 deposit fee for starting electric service at our new house. The deposit was supposed to be waived, since we had a good payment history with the electric company. Only here it was, on our bill. And since we’re on autopay, the electric company had…

  • Is it possible you don’t need an emergency fund? (90 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Lisa Aberle. Common personal finance advice recommends building an emergency fund. In fact, how and why to have an emergency fund has been covered here before. But like so much common advice, it doesn’t apply to everyone — and it certainly doesn’t apply to each stage of personal finance. Sometimes I get financial tunnel vision and focus on my financial checklist (Pay off debt? Check. Have an emergency fund of three…

  • Play hooky for money (31 comments)

    This is a post from staff writer Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. We at Fool HQ did it again: We had a company-wide financial health day. As we did three years ago, we encouraged Fool employees to clear their professional decks in order to tackle personal financial tasks. We also held 10 classes — from estate planning…

  • Reader Stories: The frugal Orioles fan (36 comments)

    This post was written by Kurt Smith, author of Ballpark E-Guides, PDF-format guides that help fans get the most bang for their buck at the ballgame. He’s been called “MLB’s Worst Enemy” by “Connecticut Morning,” a TV program on which he is a frequent guest. 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…

  • Spending in depth: The hair care budget (196 comments)

    When I started this journey on GRS, I included hair care in my category of irregular expenses. At that time, I estimated that I spent about $600 per year on service and $300 per year on product. However, I thought that since the year is over it was time to visit that category in depth and see what I am really spending so I can assess these costs, much like I did with the bagel…

  • Planning for a new financial paradigm (58 comments)

    I’d tried and occasionally gotten by on very much less, and I’d shuffled small freelance gigs and guiltily spent windfalls instead of saving. But I just couldn’t figure out a long-term way to make my rather meager freelance income work for all my non-household-bill expenses; food, child care, coffee shop goodies, lunches for my boys, the limited-but-still-precious entertainment expenditures, home office costs, clothes, and the rest of it. I was considering finding some more small…

  • Reader Story: Costs and savings of having a stay-at-home parent (82 comments)

    This post comes from Lynn Svenson, who blogs at The Photographer’s Wife. 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 to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. One of the biggest impacts to my wallet (and heart) this past year was having a baby. Of course, there are plenty of…

  • Love, relationships and financial harmony (64 comments)

    You’ll have to forgive the overt theme of today’s post. I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for a while, but it’s such personal issue that I’ve shied away from it. But when I realized that this week’s post would fall on Valentine’s Day, I took it as a serendipitous opportunity to break out of my comfort zone and talk about something that scares me a little: my love life. Specifically, this is the…

  • How to save money while seeing the world (40 comments)

    This is a guest post from Matt Kepnes, who writes about travel and more at Nomadic Matt. His advice has been featured in The New York Times, CNN, The Guardian UK, Lifehacker, Budget Travel, BBC and Yahoo! Finance among others. Kepnes is the author of the just-published How to Travel the World on $50 a Day. Forget what the magazines say about travel. Forget what you see in commercials. They’re all wrong: Travel isn’t expensive….

  • The value of vacation (57 comments)

    As you read this, my husband and I are just days away from a romantic, kid-free vacation in the Caribbean. Since we weren’t able to take a honeymoon, we spent the last few years saving like maniacs in order to have enough money for this special trip. We reached our savings goal in June and decided to take advantage of an early booking discount on Expedia.com. Since then, we have been eagerly counting down the…

  • Finding money to invest (besides under the couch cushions) (70 comments)

    When we decided that we were going to start investing more in 2013, I didn’t know where we would find the money in our budget. My personality embraces risk… as long as all our other savings goals are met and our bills are paid. So, because I wanted to have fun investing (and not lose sleep at night), I knew I could not cut our retirement contributions or our savings deposits. What I hoped was…

  • Party philosophy: When to spend big on fiestas (57 comments)

    I grew up in a family not given to extravagance with regard to birthdays. Not that we could have been extravagant if we would have wanted to. With five children close together in age, a dad who’d pursued ministry as a career (and not one of those relatively lucrative evangelical TV ministries, either), and a mother at home with us, money was tight. As an adult in my 20s, birthday parties meant dinners out at…

  • Reader Stories: Starting to see financial fitness muscle! (31 comments)

    This story comes to us from reader EmJay. EmJay’s story is the epitome of getting rich slowly, and readers can learn from her effort. This post is part of the Reader Stories series. 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 to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. Although we…

  • 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…

  • Join the Debt Movement (40 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jeff Rose, a Certified Financial Planner who writes about financial planning topics at Good Financial Cents. His first book, Soldier of Finance, is slated to be released the fall of 2013. His latest project, named The Debt Movement, is to help people pay off $10,000,000 of debt in 90 days. You can join the movement and a chance to earn some of the $10,000 debt scholarship money by visiting…

  • Honey’s financial goals for 2013 (126 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Now that I’ve taken stock of where I’ve been in 2012, I’m ready to set goals for 2013. I want my goals to be ambitious enough that meeting them is a true accomplishment requiring me to stretch my growing money-management skills. However, I also want them to be realistic and personal (revolving around my priorities). Goal 1: Pay off $5,000 in student loan principal Since I’ve paid…

  • Reader Story: Pursue a dream to move to a new location (60 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jason Price from One Money Design. This summer, my wife and I took our kids on a family vacation to Disneyland in California. The Southern California weather, beaches and a trip to San Diego on Highway 1 made it an experience we’ll never forget. We are a beach family and we dream of one day living by the ocean.  The California trip fueled an existing passion that’s existed deep…

  • Driven crazy by car loans (95 comments)

    My long commute means my car has a lot of miles on it. Right now, it’s cruising up to 180,000 miles and still going strong. While we’re hoping to make it to 250,000, approximately 30,000 miles goes on the odometer each year. My car-buying philosophy In a rare piece of verbal financial advice from my father, he told me to always pay for my vehicles with cash. He said, since they depreciated, I should pay…

  • The power of proclaiming your frugality (92 comments)

    Last week, I was paying for purchases at a store I frequent in my neighborhood. Routinely, the sales clerk asked me if I’d like to sign up for a store credit card. It wasn’t the first time she’d asked me; thus, it wasn’t the first time I scrambled for a polite way of saying no. I’ve been on the other side of the counter — it’s not like you want to ask this question. On…

  • Taking stock of 2012 (89 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. For me, the end of the year is a time to take stock of where I’ve been. This not only helps me identify (and celebrate!) my accomplishments throughout the year, it helps me identify and prioritize new goals. I’ve already met the short-term of my recently identified financial goals. I’m also happy to report that I’ve actually made significant progress on the medium-term goal as well. With…

  • Lowering expectations for Christmas (175 comments)

    This post is from new GRS staff writer Holly Johnson. Holly is a 32-year-old wife, mother of two, and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She blogs about saving money, frugal habits, and whatever is on her mind at ClubThrifty.com. Personally, I begin to panic every year as the holiday season approaches. It’s not because I don’t love Christmas. I really do love the holiday season, in general. I just cringe at the thought of all of the…

  • Adopting strategies to pay for big expenses (84 comments)

    I like the idea of financial independence, and if I’d had my way, we would have started our family once we had college fully funded for each child. Plus, a healthy emergency fund, a do-I-want-to-be-a-working-mom-or-not fund, and a minivan fund. But I didn’t want to be 80 years old at my children’s high school graduations either. Ironically, as it turns out, we decided to build our family through international adoption, a notoriously expensive way to…

  • Be thankful for the present amid planning the future (18 comments)

    In 2008, I decided to travel to Europe. I’d never been, and I was just about to make a big change in my career, so the opportunity might not present itself for a while. Thanksgiving fell near the end of my trip, when I was beginning to feel homesick. While eating Moussaka on a patio in Santorini, I missed my family dearly; it was my first Thanksgiving away from home. I pictured the scene at…

  • Setting my next financial goal (38 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Honey Smith. Ever since I paid off my consumer debt, I have been thinking about setting my next goal. Obviously paying off my student debt in its entirety is the long-term goal, but that is going to take years. And years. For me, having a goal that long-term feels psychologically similar to saving without a goal. To keep myself motivated, I think it’s a good idea to pepper the…

  • Reader Stories: When is a lifestyle upgrade OK? (37 comments)

    This post is from CYH, who is about to become a graduate student in another country so she’s examining her lifestyle carefully. This story is one of our Reader Stories series. Some 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 your own reader story? Here’s how. I’ve saved. I’ve paid debt down…

  • 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…

  • Learning how to work a student discount (18 comments)

    This guest post from Steve Robinson is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Steve writes for Homesales.com.au, an Australian real estate portal that caters to student shared housing. 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 your own reader story? Here’s how. With the new academic…

  • Foster kids “age out” without a financial education (33 comments)

    This post is by staff writer April Dykman. When Eddye was a senior in high school, her goal was to save money to buy a car. “I wanted to make sure I had reliable transportation for college,” she says. That’s a pretty common goal for someone her age. But Eddye faced more hurdles than the average kid. Eddye was “aging out” of the foster care system, which meant she would soon be on her own….

  • 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…

  • Spending in depth: the bagel budget (108 comments)

    This post is by new staff writer Honey Smith. One of my goals in taking a hard look at my budget is not to do too much at once. I want to make sure my changes stick and avoid making repaying debt an obsession. You can read about the first budget category I examined, life insurance, here. That one tiny change ended up being instrumental in my quest to pay off my credit card debt,…

  • Are you a compulsive spender? (15 comments)

    Following up on Kristin’s post this morning, we thought we’d share this infographic about compulsive spending, which came from MoneyRates.com. Courtesy of: MoneyRates.com

  • 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…

  • Redefining Frugality: Mistakes and Money Lessons Learned as a Freelancer (64 comments)

    Sitting on my desk as I write this is an application I should have filled out months ago. Twenty-two months ago, to be exact. It was then that I left my 40-hour-a-week office job, which included a convenient 401(k), dependable health care plan and, most refreshingly, a kind and understanding boss. It was tough to leave that job, but I wanted to pursue a career in freelance writing. The entire experience was overwhelming. Details of…

  • Coping with Unplanned Medical Expenses (91 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jason Price from One Money Design. Dave Ramsey is right. He’s always saying that you have to be prepared because of Murphy’s Law. Murphy eventually catches up to all of us. The law says that whatever can go wrong, will eventually go wrong. It applies perfectly to personal finance because we all know that cars need repairs, the AC goes out in the heat of summer, and so on….

  • Earning More vs. Spending Less, Round 1: Housing (210 comments)

    Spending less than you earn can be accomplished by earning more, spending less, or both. Yet most people in the personal finance world tend to support one strategy over the other with greater fervor.  It’s not a logic thing: it’s a personality issue that may have to do with risk tolerance, optimism, entrepreneurship, class background, religious outlook, cultural practices, and other unknown factors. Sometimes this can be situational. When work doesn’t deliver one might focus…

  • When One Partner Won’t Budget (330 comments)

    This article is from new staff writer Honey Smith. In my last article at Get Rich Slowly, I gave the background on my income and expenses. My husband’s income and expenses are a little more difficult to compile. For one, Jake left the life of a steady paycheck about a year ago in order to start his own business. This means that his income fluctuates, which of course we knew going in. It also means…

  • Saving for a Big Purchase (86 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Tim Sullivan. I love the jeans I’m wearing. I actually wear them almost four days a week. Chances are that if you see me, I’m wearing these jeans. They’re my only pair. When I bought them, I very gladly put down my $200 cash and left the store with a smile. The jeans I had before them cost the same, and I wore them until they got holes in…

  • Reader Story: When There Isn’t Enough (95 comments)

    This guest post from Daisy Bailey 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 with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want submit your own reader story? Here’s how. Three years ago, I stopped reading Get Rich Slowly because I just couldn’t read one more article on how to…

  • Where I’m Starting From: Honey’s Story (384 comments)

    This article is from new staff writer Honey Smith. Hello. I’m Honey Smith. I’m thrilled to be a part of the GRS community, though of course a little embarrassed that it’s essentially as an object lesson to others of what not to do. However, I do hope that everyone on the site learns something along with me. For those of you who are financially comfortable (or close to it), those lessons may be about empathy…

  • 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…

  • My Financial Evolution: Discovering What’s Right for Me (71 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Tim Sullivan. “I don’t know what they want from me. It’s like the more money we come across, the more problems we see.” — Notorious B.I.G. For a while, just like Notorious B.I.G., I battled the stresses of lifestyle inflation, though on a much smaller scale. I was making more money than ever, yet more nervous about finances as well. I was more knowledgeable and more empowered with money…

  • Classifying Wants and Needs (80 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Tim Sullivan. We all have our ways of destressing after a long day. One of my weirdest and most beloved post-work, take-a-load-off strategies has always been cruising the aisles of gourmet grocery stores just to look at packaging. Give me an aisle of fancily bottled extra virgin olive oil, and I’ll need at least an hour. Nothing is more calming to me than fancy fonts on fancy jars of…

  • 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…

  • Finding Room for the Spontaneous (82 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Tim Sullivan. This past Friday, I got an e-mail from my uncle letting me know the Sox were here in Seattle. Since leaving Chicago, it’s rare that I get to see my hometown sluggers, and it’s not an opportunity I would want to miss. But by the time I caught wind of the windy city being in town, the cheap seats were sold out, which meant that tickets for…

  • The Costs and Benefits of the Family Dog (161 comments)

    This is a guest post by Justin Reames, who blogs at The Family Finances. Growing up, I remember watching shows like “Lassie” and movies like “Old Yeller” and “Where the Red Fern Grows”. These were old movies when I was a kid, but they were free to rent from the library, so we watched more than our fair share of old movies. Because of those shows, I always thought it would have been nice to…

  • How I Stopped Excessive Gifting (117 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Tim Sullivan. Most of us struggle with some psychological aspect of money that can impede our savings. Whether it be the lure of clothing stores, nights out with friends, or stocking a top-shelf liquor cabinet, there tends to be one thing or another that creeps from our wants category into our needs. I’ve never been a compulsive shopper and always preferred voluntary simplicity, both in the kitchen and in…

  • Reader Story: The Bonus of Bi-Weekly Pay (96 comments)

    This guest post from Corinne 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 with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want submit your own reader story? Here’s how. At my previous job, I was paid on a monthly basis. I loved it. I got all my money for the…

  • 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: 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…

  • Transportation: Friction Versus Finance (71 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sarah Gilbert. Though I’ve been car-free for years, I was recently left to ponder how we make transportation decisions when my local transit authority unveiled a new plan to fill a $17 million budget hole by making a pretty major series of changes to its fare structure. Because, as the agency’s analysts mused, only 5% of its ridership used transit for errands — going out and coming back on…

  • 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 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…

  • How to Spend a Tax Refund (126 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sarah Gilbert. For the past two years doing taxes has not been bearable: it’s been terrific! I’ve used an online e-filing service for several years now after many years of taking great pleasure — really! — in filling out the paper forms, just because it gets the money to me far more quickly. Last January I began to fill out the online forms and, at some point, started glancing…

  • Detecting and Preventing Lifestyle Creep (82 comments)

    This is a guest post from freelance writer Jessica Ward. For three years, I’ve been patting myself on the back. The household expenses remain the same every month, and we’re getting out of debt. In spite of increases in costs, we’ve found efficiencies and made room. But, as they say, after pride comes the fall. I discovered this month that we’re actually making less progress every month now than when we first started making monthly…

  • How to Keep Your Thanksgiving Budget Thankfully Low (52 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sarah Gilbert. We’re all skilled in the ways of the holiday budget; most of us start thinking about it in the fall, with most attention paid to Christmas gifts, feasting, and New Years’ celebrations. And if we’re traveling to visit family and friends for Thanksgiving, that budgeting has already occurred. But few of us give much thought to a Thanksgiving budget. (This is born out by the few responses…

  • The Many Ways to Know and Control the Flow of Your Dough (57 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. How do you know what it costs to be you? That’s my question for the day, dear GRS reader. I’ve come a bit full-circle in what I think is most important when it comes…

  • Reader Story: Adding to Our Family Without Subtracting from Our Budget (98 comments)

    This guest post from Mark is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. This seems like a natural follow-up to Friday’s reader question about when to start a family. 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. Mark shares stories of his family life at…

  • Holiday Saving Tips: How to Grow Your Christmas Nest Egg (48 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. Autumn is here and the leaves are just starting to turn. Believe it or not, that means it’s time to start thinking about the holiday season. Holiday expenses can pile up quickly. Planning ahead saves you sticker shock and can spare you a steep credit card bill in the new year. Careful planners have laid out…

  • Budgeting Dilemma: How Do You Decide What You Can Afford? (101 comments)

    This is a guest post from No Debt MBA, who is trying to pay for an MBA from a top-five business school without student loans. This is a post that asks questions but offers no answers. My significant other and I had an interesting discussion the other night. We were trying to make plans for a week of vacation this summer and were deciding between two different options: A cross-country trip with plane tickets where…

  • Reader Story: Negative Budgeting and a Healthy Outlook on Life (52 comments)

    This guest post from Shara is part of the “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general “how I did X” 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. Last year, Shara shared her story about the other side of bankruptcy. On a ride to town the other…

  • 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!…

  • A Small Splurge: $8.25 Worth Of Fun (98 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. The other day I went to a vintage clothing shop with a friend. I needed some simple summer staples: tank tops, skirts, shorts. I don’t like shopping for clothes, so I always try to go with friends who enjoy it and are better at finding great stuff than I am. This is as high-priced as clothes…

  • How to Build a Better Budget (77 comments)

    This article on building a better budget is the written version of a workshop I gave last week at a local public library. It refines material from several past posts on the subject. If I’d planned ahead, I could have used this for Financial Literacy Month in April. “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” ~ John C. Maxwell For most people, budgeting is about as fun…

  • Five Ways to Outwit the ATM (141 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money. She also writes about frugality, intentional living, and life in general at her own blog, Surviving And Thriving. Automated teller machines are from the devil, and debit cards are Satan’s imps. Sure, it’s great to be able to get cash whenever you want. The problem is, well, you can get cash whenever you want. Not only do…

  • How I Spend My Money (118 comments)

    Earlier this month, I shared a new financial framework I’ve been developing, one that stresses earning, spending, and saving as the building blocks of personal finance. Last week, I elaborated by sharing how I make money. This week, I’m turning to the other half of the basic personal-finance equation: spending. Or, more precisely, the lack of it. Instead of talking about theoretical ways to cut costs, I’m going to share the things that Kris and…

  • 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…

  • Back to the Stone Age: Low-Tech Expense Tracking (93 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. As many of you know, before I was a GRS staff writer, I was a GRS reader and active commenter. I’d say the bulk of my early personal-finance education came from this website, and it’s most definitely the resource I credit for spurring me to get serious about paying off debt and saving money. So last year when J.D. started talking about falling off the tracking-every-penny wagon,…

  • An 11-Year-Old’s First Budget (74 comments)

    This is a guest post from Andrea Deckard, who publishes Savings Lifestyle, a website that helps people save on what they need so they can spend on what they want. Growing up, my parents taught me very little about financial responsibility. It wasn’t until college, when my parents expected me to pay my own car insurance, that I was forced to learn the basics of budgeting. It was just one bill, but it was traumatic…

  • How Budgeting Leads to Freedom (28 comments)

    This is a guest post from Gail Vaz-Oxlade, the host of the popular Til Debt Do U$ Part on CNBC (Saturday nights at 10 and 10:30). Gail is a columnist for MoneySense, Chatelaine, and Zoomer Magazine and blogs daily at her website, where she also offers terrific tools people can use to dig themselves out of the hole. Gail’s latest book is Debt-Free Forever. Imagine the freedom to never worry about money. Some dopes think…

  • How to Cope with Budget Blow-Ups (42 comments)

    This is a guest post from Gail Vaz-Oxlade, the host of the popular Til Debt Do U$ Part on CNBC (Saturday nights at 10 and 10:30). Gail is a columnist for MoneySense, Chatelaine, and Zoomer Magazine and blogs daily at her website, where she also offers terrific tools people can use to dig themselves out of the hole. Gail’s latest book is Debt-Free Forever. Despite the best laid plans of mice and men, there are…

  • Reader Story: How to Find Budgeting Nirvana with Mint.com (78 comments)

    This guest post from Geoff Lennon 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. Though I’ve been a GRS reader since early 2007, I’ve largely been a quiet observer. I’ve often wanted to participate more actively in…

  • Reader Story: How Our Simple, No-Category, Mostly-Cash Budget Accidentally Paid Off the Car (42 comments)

    This guest post from Heather 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. Besides teaching elementary band and running a personal training business, Heather keeps a healthy-living blog called Change Is Possible, plays trombone in a local…

  • My $132,683 Comcast Bill (100 comments)

    This is a guest post from Carl Hendley of The Motley Fool. He’s substituting for Robert Brokamp, the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. Brokamp generally contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks, but he’s had the audacity to take a vacation over the holidays, so Hendley is filling in. $132,683 — That’s how much I’m paying for cable. Now, I do have HBO, Showtime, and 386 other…

  • Finding My Spending Identity (31 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. Do you have a Spending Identity? You do, whether you know it or not. It’s as real as the data on your driver’s license, but if you’re like most people, you’ve probably never given it much thought. Your Spending Identity dictates who you are as a consumer: Are you frugal or extravagant?…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Build a Wardrobe on a Budget? (239 comments)

    If you were building your wardrobe from scratch, how would you do it? Would you prioritize quality? Would you emphasize cost? Or is there some happy balance between the two? That’s what GRS reader author J.D. wants to know. He writes: I’m a 40-something guy who’s lost 40-something pounds over the past year. This is a good thing. But now my old clothes don’t fit. As a frugal fellow, this creates something of a dilemma….

  • Budgeting For Mistakes (75 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. How carefully do you budget? Do you account for every dime, or is there some wiggle room in your spending plan? Since I got on the wagon with tracking my spending, there’s no miscellaneous category in my budget anymore. Every dime of my income is accounted for. I know how much I…

  • The Quest for the Best Budget (38 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. We can do two things with our money: spend it or save it. (Actually, there are other possibilities — eating it! smoking it! — but we’ll limit our discussion to what sane people do.)…

  • Where’s the Money, Honey? Why You MUST Track Your Spending (59 comments)

    This is a guest post from Gail Vaz-Oxlade, the host of the popular Til Debt Do U$ Part on CNBC (Saturday nights at 10 and 10:30). Gail is a columnist for Yahoo Canada, Chatelaine, and Zoomer Magazine and blogs daily at her website, where she also offers terrific tools people can use to dig themselves out of the hole. Gail’s latest book is Debt-Free Forever. People are always scratching their heads about where their money…

  • 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…

  • The Prioritized Spending Plan (66 comments)

    I don’t often get to listen to Dave Ramsey’s radio program. For one thing, I don’t know when it’s on. For another, the only radio stations I usually listen to are my satellite radio channels. (Those would be dance music on xm81, chillout music on xm84, classic country on xm10, and 1940s music on xm4. And oh, how I miss Fred, which was replaced by the execrable 1st Wave on xm44.) About once a year,…

  • Reader Story: Patience and Persistence Pay Off (59 comments)

    This guest post from Alissa 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. I like all of the reader stories I publish, but for some reason I particularly like this one. Update: Now with photos! Alissa e-mailed…

  • Investing in Your Life Pays Off in the Long Term (23 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. Simple living is great. Avoiding shopping malls in favor of clothing swaps, cooking meals at home with your spouse, holding a music jam with friends instead of shelling out big bucks for a concert — all these activities not only save you money, but they also connect you more deeply with what…

  • The Legal Nomad on Saving for Travel (39 comments)

    As you’ve probably noticed, travel has become a priority in my life. There are number of reasons for this. For one, I love it. I love visiting other cities, other states, other countries. I love seeing how different people live, and how they do things. Here in the U.S., we are so myopic — we tend to focus on just our way of life, so that it becomes difficult to imagine that there are billions…

  • Free Money-Management Spreadsheet (21 comments)

    Whenever I write about personal-finance programs, there’s always a large contingent of GRS readers who chime in to say they prefer the do-it-yourself method. Rather than go with pre-packaged money-management software like Quicken or Mint, they prefer to track their accounts with a home-brewed spreadsheet. (In fact, my wife is one of these folks, too.) I’ve shared a variety of personal-finance spreadsheets in the past. Some of my favorites are produced by Jon Wittwer of…

  • A Simple Question to Jump-Start Your Finances (57 comments)

    This video post by staff writer Adam Baker is the last of a four-part series. Baker previously featured a post on his own blog entitled, Debt Tsunami: The Ultimate Method to Paying Off Debt. Courtney and I have recently stumbled upon a new hurdle in our personal finance journey: complacency. You see, we’ve experienced just enough success to make us feel comfortable, but not enough to be even close to accomplishing what we want. We…

  • Planning for Budget Busters: Home Ownership (41 comments)

    This video post is the third of a four-part series from staff writer Adam Baker. Baker previously featured a post on his own blog entitled Cost of Living Abroad: Dozens of Bloggers Share Their Expenses. Last week, I introduced the concept of a Budget Buster, which is any irregular expense that I fail to plan for. These are’t true emergencies, but rather expenses that pop up to surprise me, even though I should have easily…

  • Planning for Budget Busters: Transportation (42 comments)

    This video post is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker previously featured a post on his own blog entitled, 67 Ways NOT to Sell a Car. Courtney and I apply a fun name to any expense in our lives that we should’ve planned for in our budget, but didn’t. We call them Budget Busters. Even with persistent effort, we find it impossible to account for every irregular expense. As I note in this week’s video,…

  • Attacking One Budget Category at a Time (32 comments)

    This video post is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker previously featured a post on his own blog entitled, 42 Ways to Radically Simplify your Financial Life. For many people, the process of personal finance cycles between intense motivation and devastating burnout. A life event, a powerful communicator, or maybe even a simple blog post creates an initial spark. Before we know it, we’re wound up and ready to pounce: We vow to finally get…

  • The Battle of the Bulge, and the Battle of the Budget (93 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. Summer’s here, so I’ve been working on my bikini body. But I’m not getting very far. I’ve lost about three pounds over the past three weeks. If you saw me, you may not think…

  • In Praise of Paying Yourself First (64 comments)

    Can you bear with me for one more labored metaphor? As I’ve mentioned a few times already, I’m in the midst of a successful fitness program. I’ve lost 20 pounds since the beginning of the year, and, more importantly, I’m exercising every day. This morning, for example, I pedaled 8-1/2 miles to my Crossfit gym; spent an hour practicing skills, doing body rows (pull-ups for people who can’t do pull-ups), and lifting weights (front squats);…

  • Finding Your Financial Blind Spots (31 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. Every month, you spend money you don’t need to. No matter how good your budget is, or how closely you track your spending, something slips through the net. J.D.’s post last week about casting stones at our friends’ financial choices struck a chord with me. His friend is struggling financially, and yet…

  • The 50-Percent Solution (50 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. When I started getting serious about frugal living, my husband dredged up one piece of juicy financial advice he recalled from his grad school days: Use half of what you normally would. He was talking about consumable goods like shampoo and dish soap. The idea is to reduce by half the amount…

  • Fixed Expenses and Flexible Expenses: How to Budget for Both (56 comments)

    This post is from new staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. A few months ago, my local bank and I had a falling out and my husband and I were suddenly very motivated to switch banks. We’d narrowed it down to two choices: Citizens Bank, which has a local branch where I can deposit the cash and many small checks I receive…

  • How to Manage Your Financial Vices (96 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker, whose own blog featured a real life negotiation example in the huge post Negotiation Tips for Beginners. Each of us have specific items or activities for which we are more than willing to pay a premium. In fact, deciding what we are and aren’t willing to spend money on is one of the core issues in personal finance. A willingness to pay extra for everything would quickly…

  • Plan Your Gift-Giving to Save Time and Money (32 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Last Christmas, I had some great gift ideas: They were heartfelt, they were personalized — and they couldn’t just be bought at a store. We’re talking custom-made ornaments, family calendars, and photo books filled with precious memories made that year. Unfortunately, Christmas snuck up on me, and I only pulled together two of the gifts in time for the holiday. This irked me because, one, they…

  • My 2009 Discretionary Spending: Bits and Pieces (160 comments)

    Every January since I started Get Rich Slowly, I’ve done an annual round-up of my discretionary spending. That’s not going to happen this year. The numbers are hopelessly muddled by events that created under-reporting in some categories and over-reporting in others. (Kris and I paid for our 2010 vacations in 2009, for example.) Rather than sort things out, I want to talk about a couple of my spending habits instead. One is a worrisome trend,…

  • Where’s Your Financial Comfort Level? (138 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. I must confess to a new habit: I collect discarded ATM receipts. It all started when I walked by the bank in the building next to Motley Fool Intergalactic Headquarters, and found one such…

  • Start Saving For Next Year’s Christmas Today (40 comments)

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

  • Don’t Let Irregular Expenses Wreck Your Budget (or Drain Your Emergency Fund) (111 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Right before our Thanksgiving trip, the AC went out on our vehicle. $600 later, we had a functioning AC. What a way to start a camping trip.  The good news was that we had the funds set aside for that specific reason—auto repairs. We’ve never used one of our targeted accounts before, and now that we have, I can attest that they are a fantastic idea….

  • Why I Broke Down and Joined Mint (111 comments)

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

  • Household Budgeting Made Easy (29 comments)

    This is a guest post by Austin Frakt, a health economist and university professor. You can find more by Austin at The Incidental Economist, a blog about personal finance, economics, and health care, among other things. Budgeting is the cornerstone of personal finance. You can’t make a rational financial decision without knowing the state of your cash flow. But if you’ve never developed a budget, working up a detailed one can seem like a daunting…

  • The Personal Finance Hour, Episode 25: Why Does Everyone Hate Budgeting? (18 comments)

    On today’s episode of The Personal Finance Hour, I’ll join Jim from Bargaineering to discuss personal budgets. What works and what doesn’t? And why are so many people scared of them? (Personal finance writers especially seem afraid to talk about budgets.) This show will air live at 3pm Pacific (6pm Eastern). It’s much more entertaining for everyone when you call in to participate. If you have some thoughts on budgets — are they good or…

  • Green Sherpa: An Online Cash-Flow Management Tool (21 comments)

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

  • Making the Most of Small Windfalls (74 comments)

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

  • The “Do-I-Have-Enough-For-This?” Effect (53 comments)

    This is a guest post from Baker, who writes about personal finance at Man vs. Debt. Baker is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. His first post described the many advantages of couchsurfing. Along with his wife and 15-month-old daughter, Baker has recently moved overseas to New Zealand, where his young family is passionately continuing their own personal “war” on debt. “Do I have enough money for this?” It’s a very simple question,…

  • How to Budget for an Irregular Income (71 comments)

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

  • More Month Than Money: Tightening Your Food Budget While Feeding Your Family Well (42 comments)

    The July/August issue of Countryside (one of my favorite magazines) contains an article from Tracy Rimmer about how she saves money on food. In the article, Rimmer mentions her website, New Century Homestead, where she describes her family’s quest for self-reliance in southwestern Manitoba. Her philosophy: Homesteading is an attitude, an approach, not necessarily a lifestyle. We believe that one can start small, and still make a difference. Indeed, that starting small must be the…

  • Learning to Budget with the JARS System (75 comments)

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

  • Eating Organic on a Frugal Budget (48 comments)

    Is it possible to eat local organic food on a food-stamp budget? That’s the question Salon’s Siobhan Phillips set out to answer recently. For one month, Phillips and her husband gave themselves a budget of $248 to “eat ethically” in New Haven, Connecticut. She writes: I had wondered about the elitism of ethical eating ever since I started reading about the movement in books like The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Fast Food Nation, and Food Politics. When…

  • My First Budget: Drafting a Plan for Discretionary Spending (98 comments)

    I’ve decided to develop a budget. This probably sounds strange coming from a guy who has been anti-budget all his life. Besides, haven’t I paid off all my debt? Don’t I have a positive cash-flow of over $1,000 per month? Yes, these things are true. But I’ve noticed something troubling: I’ve begun to experience that lifestyle inflation I’m always warning others about. Lifestyle inflation is the natural tendency to increase our spending as our incomes…

  • How to Live Well on Less in Retirement (65 comments)

    Though I’m not close to retirement myself, one GRS reader recently sent me a link to an article from the monthly newsletter from AARP (the American Association of Retired Persons). In the April 2009 issue of AARP Bulletin, Elizabeth Pope wrote about how to live well on less money. Pope profiles three families who have structured their personal finances in order to pay for necessities — and luxuries — now that they’re finished working. One…

  • The Per-Diem System: An Easy Way to Budget Your Spending Money (54 comments)

    This is a guest post from Spencer, a GRS reader in New York. As a guy who just finished paying off $14,000 in credit card debt, I wanted to share one tip that helped me get over the bad debt hump. I allocate my spending money on a per diem system. At the beginning of each cycle of my monthly budget, I set aside funds for: Every fixed expense that I have (rent, cable/internet, groceries,…

  • My Mini and the Power of Saving (225 comments)

    For the past two years, one of my top financial goals has been to save for a Mini Cooper. Just like a child with a toy catalog, I’ve spent hours on the Mini website playing with colors and options packages, building my own dream vehicle. Whenever I’m tempted to buy small indulgences, I ask myself, “Would I rather have this or a Mini?” Until the beginning of last week, however, I thought I still had…

  • Why We Chose a 30-Year Mortgage (125 comments)

    Last week, I announced that Kris and I have refinanced our mortgage at 4.96% for 30 years. In the comments, Ian expressed disappointment that we’d opted for the longer term when we could have afforded to take out a 15 year mortgage at 4.625%. “Starting your 30 years over is no way to get rich slowly,” he wrote. He has a point. Kris and I took out the 30-year mortgage because we wanted a safety…

  • Save Money with Regular Home Maintenance (49 comments)

    In 2004, Kris and I bought a hundred-year-old farmhouse. We’d been living in a 1976 ranch-style home that was virtually maintenance-free. We knew that our new house was quirky, and that it needed some remodeling, but we didn’t quite understand the extent to which maintenance would dominate our lives. Every summer, we’ve had a major project. Or two. This year is no different. In previous years we’ve remodeled the bathroom, replaced the electrical system, hung…

  • Money Hack: The Monthly Checkbook Sweep (70 comments)

    At dinner the other night, T.S. told me about a new trick she’s developed to force herself to save money. It used to be that she’d just spend whatever she had in her checkbook. She didn’t spend more than that, so she wasn’t accumulating debt. But like many people, she wasn’t saving either. She spent whatever she had on hand. Because T.S. wants to save, she’s opened an account at ING Direct. She wants to…

  • The Ten-Minute Budget (33 comments)

    This is a guest post from Erica Douglass. Erica sold her successful business and “temporarily retired” at age 26. Having made over $1 million online, she is now sharing her business knowledge with over 10,000 people every month at erica.biz. Do you hate the very thought of budgeting? Does tracking every dollar you spend seem like a waste of time — or, worse, an activity guaranteed to curtail your spending “freedom”? Good news, then…you and…

  • Your Thrift Habits: Money Tips from 1948 (21 comments)

    For this final day of Thrift Week 2009, Get Rich Slowly revisits a short thrift film that I first featured in May 2007. Over the past few years, I’ve shared a number of old cartoons and educational films about sound money management. I love these old videos. My favorite of the bunch is probably this little honey: “Your Thrift Habits”. Produced in 1948 by Coronet Instructional Films, it’s filled with great advice, and is fun…

  • 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…

  • My 2008 Discretionary Spending: Progress and Challenges (75 comments)

    For nearly three years, I’ve chronicled my adventures as I learn about money management. I’ve dug myself out of debt, quit my job to write full time, and begun to build wealth. But how well do I practice what I preach? For the most part, I follow my own advice. I believe there are two components to building wealth: Reducing costs Boosting income Doing one or the other can help you meet your goals, but…

  • Coldplay and the Cost of Fun (71 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation. This is a guest post from Mandy Hering. How can people afford fun these days? I ask this question because my husband and I recently attended a Coldplay concert. We bought the tickets for my birthday back in June, and paid for them with some extra money that I made working as a grader for an AP exam. We didn’t need to use the extra money for an emergency fund, to…

  • In Praise of the Adult Allowance (193 comments)

    In the past, many Get Rich Slowly readers have sung the praises of the “adult allowance”. Though I’ve read enthusiastic comments supporting this idea, I’ve never paid it much heed. To be honest, it’s always sounded lame, and I didn’t think it would be useful to me. I was wrong. Accidental allowance Before our short vacation in early October, I pulled $200 out of the ATM. This is unusual for me. I don’t like to…

  • 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…

  • The Debt-to-Income Ratio: How Much House Can You Afford? (139 comments)

    Housing is the largest expense in the budget of most families. But how much is too much to spend on shelter? An article in Saturday’s New York Times contains a shocking example of one woman who crossed the line: What she got was a mortgage she could not afford. Toward the $385,000 cost, [Christina] Natale made a down payment of $185,000, a little less than what she took away from the sale of her grandfather’s…

  • Could You Eat Healthfully on One Dollar a Day? (94 comments)

    “How much does it really cost to eat a healthy diet?” asks Tara Parker-Pope in a recent New York Times article. Among other findings, she notes: Nearly a billion people, or about 15% of the world population, live on a dollar a day for food. [Note: Obviously the cost of living varies from country-to-country — spending a dollar a day for food in Portland is different than spending a dollar a day for food in…

  • Kids Who Are Smart With Money (38 comments)

    I sometimes like to highlight my favorite reader comments. That’s difficult because there are so many great ones to choose from. But in a recent discussion about kids and cash, Mick left this absolute gem. Here’s a slightly edited version: I wonder what the tweens and teens think of money. How many parents ask their kids what the kids themselves want to know? i.e. Goal-setting with your kids from a kid’s point of view, no…

  • 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…

  • The Balanced Money Formula (86 comments)

    Building a budget is one of the basic tasks of personal finance. But not everyone can keep a budget. As much as I’d like to, I don’t feel comfortable with detailed planning. I continue to use a spending plan as a rough guide to my future, but a traditional budget just doesn’t work for me. Last night I stumbled across the Balanced Money Formula proposed by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Tyagi in their excellent book,…

  • A Practical Wedding (39 comments)

    Speaking of weddings, Kate F. wrote the other day to share a tip: I am just starting the wedding planning process and have been really disheartened by the wedding industry and the realization that what to me is a lot to spend ($5000) is literally laughable by most involved in the industry.  I finally came across a blog that I feel fits with my vision of a simple, debt-free wedding: A Practical Wedding. I’ve never…

  • Funding the Future with a Financial Savings Plan (21 comments)

    When do I want to retire? How much do I want to have saved? What sorts of things do I want to accomplish before then? I’ve begun to think seriously about these questions lately. Jim at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity recently offered some tips on how to draft a basic financial savings plan, a tool that could help me craft a road map for my future. He says that failure to plan is one of…

  • Ask the Readers: Smart Shopping for Big-Ticket Items? (56 comments)

    Shopping for expensive items can be a tense, frustrating experience. You’re never sure you’re choosing the best product or getting the best deal. Jason recently wrote looking for help: After reading some Consumer Reports blogs, particularly about vacuum cleaners, I came across a comment about “staying within your budget” when you’re trying to decide what vacuum to buy. My question is: How do you budget for occasional necessary expenses? You had a post recently about…

  • The Power of Attentive Spending (26 comments)

    This is a guest post from Kevin, who writes about getting and staying out of debt with a plan at No-Debt Plan. Saving money and the frugal mentality are all about awareness. If you’re in the dark about where your money is going or how much something costs you each month, you can’t do anything about it. Life will continue — and you’ll keep spending as you always have. The truth will set you free…

  • The Budget Toolbox: 13 Tools for Building a Better Budget (55 comments)

    Sara’s been reading personal finance blogs for a while now, and she’s ready to set up a budget. She’s come to us for help. She writes: I would like to start listing my spending totals into a spreadsheet budget along with setting goals for ‘bigger things’ (trips, winter tires etc). Do you have a budget template that works for you, or could you please recommend a few tips on getting started? A budget can be…

  • Saving for Baby: Making the Move from Two Salaries to One (41 comments)

    This is a guest post from Corrinne Fisher, who is transitioning from career woman to stay-at-home mom. I stared down at the two pink stripes on the pregnancy test with the same feeling one has when they find themselves strapped into the front of a roller-coaster. Heart pounding, you start to wonder whether you really want to take this ride, but the decision has already been made. And as you climb to the top of…

  • Building a Better Budget: Think Yearly, Not Monthly (26 comments)

    If you struggle with keeping a budget, it may be because you’re trying to predict your spending in time chunks that are just too small. A new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that people who made annual budgets were better able to predict their spending than those who made monthly budgets. From the University of Chicago press release: [Researchers] found that, contrary to popular advice, people were more accurate when constructing…

  • SmartyPig: A Goal-Oriented Savings Account (50 comments)

    Have you ever wanted to pool your money with friends or family to save toward a common goal? While it’s possible to do this with paper and pencil, it’d be easier if there were an online service to automagically track the savings for you. SmartyPig believes it is that service. SmartyPig is a special branded savings account from new type of savings account, with funds held at West Bank of Iowa. It’s specifically created to…

  • A Quick and Dirty Budget (21 comments)

    I’m not a budgeter. I’m not able to sit down and draft a detailed budget. I use a spending plan instead, which is a sort of road map to the where I want to go, but which does not contained detailed directions. I recognize that budgets are valuable tools for many people, though. Dayana Yochim at The Motley Fool has some tips about budgeting for lazy people. She says that the secret to setting up…

  • Do-It-Yourself Landscaping Can Save Thousands (28 comments)

    This is the first post from Winston, the new GRS editorial assistant. My wife and I have saved thousands of dollars by landscaping our own yard. Four years ago, we were feeling overwhelmed by our back yard. We’d been in our home for a couple of years, had spent some time and money on the inside, and were ready to move on to backyard projects.  We spent a couple of seasons moving dirt around, trying…

  • Use a No-Spend Month to Become Mindful of Money (45 comments)

    Yesterday, Amy Jo pointed me to a site called SmallNotebook.org where Rachel is nearing the end of a self-imposed No-Spend Month. Though the name is something of a misnomer — this exercise is more of a Spend Less Month — it’s still an interesting concept. For the entire month of July, Rachel’s family of three set a budget of $250 to spend on food, gas, clothing, household items, and entertainment. They’re doing this “to stretch…

  • Funding the Future: The Benefits of Being Flexible (4 comments)

    This is a guest post by Christopher L. Jones, author of The Intelligent Portfolio. The following is an excerpt from his book. During the meandering path of our lifetimes, there are many types of financial goals that we strive to reach. Some goals are short term in nature, such as having enough money to pay the taxes to Uncle Sam next quarter or paying for that trip to Hawaii next spring. Others might span decades…

  • Use a Personal Escrow Account to Budget for Non-Monthly Expenses (50 comments)

    Charlotte wrote recently to share a new system she’s developed for handling her non-monthly expenses. She calls it “personal escrow”. Most homeowners are familiar with the notion of escrow. Each month’s mortgage payment goes not only toward principal and interest, but also to fund an escrow account. From this escrow account, the mortgage company pays property taxes and homeowners insurance. Charlotte uses the same idea for certain other expenses in her life. First, she totaled…

  • How to Open Multiple Accounts at ING (now Capital One 360) (101 comments)

    One of my favorite saving techniques is the use of targeted accounts. If I want to save for something big — like a Mini Cooper, for example — I’ll open a new savings account specifically for this purpose. I first learned about this method from Robert Pagliarini’s The Six-Day Financial Makeover: Traditionally, most people invested for various vague goals and lumped all of their savings together in a single investment account. That’s pretty boring. It’s…

  • Money Tips from Consumer Reports (19 comments)

    The August 2008 issue of Consumer Reports — one of my favorite personal finance magazines — features two articles that may be of interest to readers of Get Rich Slowly. The first offers tips for cutting expenses. The second gives a brief overview of budgeting. Cut your spending by $500 per month The Consumer Reports Money Lab looked for easy ways for the average American to save money. They came up with six suggestions and…

  • My Mid-Year Financial Checkup: I Am Spending Too Much on Food (126 comments)

    “Want to go out to dinner?” I asked Kris last Monday night. “No,” she said. “Want to go out to dinner?” I asked Kris last Tuesday night. “No,” she said. I asked her again on Wednesday and Thursday and got the same response. “How come you never want to go out to dinner anymore?” I asked. She gave me one of Those Looks. “J.D., are you kidding?” she said. “We’ve been going out to dinner…

  • How to Track Travel Expenses and Stick to a Vacation Budget (37 comments)

    This is a guest post from Debbie Dubrow, who writes about traveling with babies, toddlers, and kids at Delicious Baby. Her site contains personal travel stories, family-friendly city guides, and lots of tips and advice for traveling with children. Most families need to stick to a budget when they travel. But tracking daily expenses, especially in a foreign currency, can be tricky. Here are some easy tips to make it easy to keep track of…

  • Use a Freedom Account to Prepare for the Unexpected (54 comments)

    My wife has always maintained a sizable savings account, but having extra cash is new to me. Until recently, I had always lived paycheck-to-paycheck, often treading close to a zero dollar balance in my checkbook for months at a time. Now, though, I’ve not only established an emergency account, but set up a couple of targeted accounts as well. (One is for vacations, and the other is for a new car.) My method works for…

  • A Glimpse at the Spending of the Average American (41 comments)

    On Saturday, The New York Times published a brilliant chart illustrating the spending of the average American: “Each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics gathers 84,000 prices in about 200 categories,” the paper writes, “like gasoline, bananas, dresses and garbage collection.” These numbers form the Consumer Price Index, one common measure of inflation. And this graphic makes that information accessible. This chart is neat for several reasons: The circle itself represents 100% of the average…

  • Building Your First Budget (52 comments)

    This article is part of Financial Literacy Month. I’ve never been a budgeter. Budgets seem too prescriptive to me — I prefer to use a “spending plan” instead. But after a month as a full-time writer, I suspect a budget may be in my future. My income is fine, but it’s highly variable. I’m accustomed to a steady, consistent paycheck, and I don’t have that anymore. I also have some savings goals that I’d like…

  • Use “Reverse Credit” to Stick to Your Budget (75 comments)

    Ralph sent me e-mail last week describing a clever budget trick he picked up from a friend: My wife and I had dinner last night with a couple of of young women we know. We talked a little about personal finance. One of the girls has an interesting idea on forced savings. She calls it “reverse credit”. “When I want to buy something expensive, I go to the store and buy a $20 gift card,”…

  • Budgeting: The Most Important Thing You Can Do With Your Money (35 comments)

    This is a guest post from Joshua Timberman, whose passion for personal finance started after reading Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover. He became debt-free in November. He is the Financial Peace University coordinator at his church, and is an active participant at Get Rich Slowly and other personal finance blogs. The most important thing to do with your money is to give it a plan. A budget. A spending plan. A cash-flow plan. Call…

  • A Free and Simple Budget Planner (49 comments)

    During past discussions of on-line money-tracking tools and desktop software, many Get Rich Slowly readers have sung the praises of home-brew budget planners built using Microsoft Excel. In this guest post from Jeff M., he shares a spreadsheet he created and describes his own budgeting system in detail. J.D. doesn’t talk a lot about budgeting at Get Rich Slowly — he uses a spending plan — but I want to share a personal budget planner…

  • 2007 Discretionary Spending: The Highs and Lows (76 comments)

    I write a lot about personal finance, but how well do I practice what I preach? For the most part, I follow my own advice. Much of what I write here is based on personal experience. But my financial life is not without weaknesses. Last January, I tallied my discretionary spending to see exactly how much these weaknesses cost me. This year, I’ve done the same. Looking at the Big Picture, 2007 was an amazing…

  • How to Automate Your Personal Finances (53 comments)

    For the past few months, I’ve been moving toward a system of paperless personal finance. In this guest post from Paul Lussier, he explains his own automated system. Lately J.D. has been talking a lot about automating his finances.  In my world (that of high-tech, software, and large computer systems), we strive to automate as much as possible. By doing this, we hope to minimize error by reducing human interaction, leveraging the power of the…

  • An Introduction to Quicken Online (71 comments)

    Intuit releases a new product today: Quicken Online, a web-based version of its popular personal finance software. I’m a long-time Quicken user, so when Jodi and Jim from Intuit offered to give me a preview of this product’s features, I jumped at the chance. Please note: I haven’t actually used Quicken Online myself yet, and I am not being compensated for this preview. (15 Feb 2008: I have joined a Quicken Online affiliate program —…

  • Book Review: All Your Worth (39 comments)

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

  • Setting and Achieving Financial Goals (37 comments)

    For three years I’ve had a single goal directing my actions: I wanted to get out of debt. Now that my consumer debt is nearly gone, I’ve spent a lot of time wondering what to do next. I was worried that I’d lose focus, lose direction. That’s not going to be the case. I’ve set three major financial goals for 2008. After I pay off the last of my final loan next Tuesday, I intend…

  • Mint: A Fresh New On-Line Personal Finance Tool (115 comments)

    In this guest post, SC takes a look at Mint, one of the recent batch of on-line financial management tools. I haven’t had a chance to use the site, so SC volunteered to write about his experiences. Mint is a new website that claims it will help you organize your finances, automate your financial life, and help you save money at every turn. I have a credit card with Capital One, two bank accounts with…

  • The Spending Plan: Budgeting for Non-Budgeters (188 comments)

    Three commenters on this post will win free copies Quicken Deluxe 2008 for Windows. Read on for details! I’ve never been able to keep a budget. They’re a great tool for many people, but for me a budget is a recipe for failure. It’s too fussy. I can’t stick to it. When I don’t stick to it, I feel guilty. When I feel guilty, I want to spend more money. Still, I’ve found it’s helpful…

  • Budgeting with an Irregular Income (21 comments)

    Does your income vary from paycheck-to-paycheck? This can make it difficult to plan your spending, but Aaron dropped a line with a trick he’s developed to adhere to a budget: Here’s a financial hack I use because my income is so irregular. It would work as a budgeting tool for regular folks too: I get my commission checks put into an online banking account and set up automatic deposits into my “real” checking account to…

  • Save on Groceries with ‘Strike-Point Shopping’ (30 comments)

    DM wrote to share his favorite grocery tip. As the primary cook and grocery-getter in our household, I’ve discovered that there are certain pantry and household items that we use more than others. In our case, it’s things like: canned chicken broth, canned tomatoes, frozen ground turkey, and Diet Pepsi. These are things that I use several times a week, if not daily. I think it’s useful to know your “strike point” at the the…

  • Budgeting for Vacation, and While I’m Away (17 comments)

    When my mother-in-law called last Christmas Eve, she asked me to put Kris on the other line. “I have something I want to tell both of you,” she said. I was worried. Was something wrong? “What’s the matter?” Kris asked. “Hold onto your seats,” her mother said. “Your dad and I have a surprise for you. We’re going to take the family on a vacation to Europe this summer. That is, if you want to…

  • Personal Finance for Nine-Year-Olds: How to Save for a Backhoe (18 comments)

    The youngest reader of Get Rich Slowly might just be C.J., who is nine-and-a-half (“almost a teenager”). C.J. recently started his own fiscal fitness journal in the Get Rich Slowly discussion forums. He writes: I want to get rich so I can buy a backhoe. A real one, because that’s the job I want to do. After I finish college I want to build big buildings and be an inventor. I want to be on…

  • How I Escaped from Living Paycheck-to-Paycheck (46 comments)

    Many of you wrote last week to say that I was too harsh on my friend Gillian, the woman with the “I can’t” attitude. Perhaps you’re right — I may have given up too early. I used to live like she does, and if I can turn it around, anyone can. For a decade I was a deficit spender. I spent more than I earned. I used credit cards to fund a lifestyle that was…

  • You Are Your Own Worst Enemy (108 comments)

    My friend Gillian called the other day — she’s been having money trouble and was looking for help. “I’m not really a financial advisor,” I told her. “I write about money, and I try to help people at my web site, but I’m not qualified to coach you one-on-one.” Still, she’s a friend, so I resolved to at least give her some advice. I asked her to explain the situation. “Tom and I are working…

  • 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…

  • Commandment #4: Be Frugal (20 comments)

    Last night while cleaning the house, I found some old papers. Among the many memories, I found a document entitled “J.D.’s Ten Commandments”. I can’t tell exactly when I wrote this, but I’d guess it was back in 1992 or 1993, just after I’d graduated from college. My ten commandments were: Be physically fit. Be attractive. Don’t waste free time. Be frugal. Maintain the automobile. Be curious. Be loving. Be productive. Have fun. Be rational….

  • Your Thrift Habits: Budgeting Lessons from 1948 (13 comments)

    Recently I stumbled on some old instructional films at A/V Geeks, including this little honey: “Your Thrift Habits”. Produced in 1948 by Coronet Instructional Films, it’s filled with great advice, and is fun to watch, too. “Your Thrift Habits” highlights some important aspects of budgeting and thrift: “If you can do without extravagances, you can save regularly.” Be aware of your budget-breakers and try to avoid them. In the film, Jack’s budget-breakers are movies, candy,…

  • The Get Rich Slowly Budget Workbook (Version 2.0) (37 comments)

    Last month Stephen Popick shared his home-grown budget spreadsheet with GRS readers. He listened to your suggestions and went back to the drawing board. Here is with an updated version.   Growing up, I was taught the importance of having a budget.  It wasn’t until I finished college that I understood it.  I started reading and listening to financial experts such as John Bogle, Clarke Howard, and a lot of folks in between.  Their recurring…

  • Budget Spreadsheet Corrections (14 comments)

    Astute readers have spotted a couple of errors in the simple budget spreadsheet I shared yesterday. I’ve made corrections and re-posted the file: Stephen’s simple budget spreadsheet Please let me know if you spot other mistakes! 23 May 07 Update: Greetings visitors from Zen Habits. This version of the spreadsheet is good, but Stephen created an updated version which you can find here. This is an ongoing project which will see continued refinements and improvements…

  • A Simple Budget Spreadsheet (15 comments)

    Wanting to start a budget? Intimidated by all the choices? Just want something simple to get you going? Stephen P. created his own budget spreadsheet, and he’s offered to share it with Get Rich Slowly readers. He writes: I have something for Money Hacks. It’s a simple budget spreadsheet that I made in Excel when I was making $30,000/year and struggling to live paycheck-to-paycheck. It helped me to keep things in perspective. Things you can…

  • Why a Budget Should Be Based on Real-Life (7 comments)

    Martin warns that sometimes unexpected expenses can blow a budget. This is my first year out of college. This is my first year with a job. This is my first year handling my finances for real in the real world. But this is not my first year not living at home. While I was in college, I never noticed how much I traveled and how much I spent on traveling. This fall, as I got…

  • How To Protect Yourself From Lifestyle Inflation (37 comments)

    Jonathan at My Money Blog has been writing about personal finance for two years now. Here’s some excellent advice on the standard-of-living trap. One thing I worry about is lifestyle inflation. No matter how little or how much someone earns, their spending tends to match their income. When you’re living the student life, your friends are also broke, and it’s easy to eat frozen pizza for dinner and manage without a car. That was probably…

  • 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,…

  • 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)…

  • You, Inc.: How to Be the CFO of Your Own Life (20 comments)

    Many people could improve their personal finances if they simply viewed themselves as a business. In this guest entry, Flexo from Consumerism Commentary explains how he’s become the Chief Financial Officer of his own life. In the very early days of 2002, I realized I needed to change a few things about my life. My girlfriend and I returned from a vacation in Phoenix, Sedona, and the Grand Canyon in the middle of December 2001,…

  • Survey: Money and Marriage (22 comments)

    Here’s an excellent question from a Get Rich Slowly reader. While I try my best to “get rich slowly” I have one huge issue: a husband. My husband likes to spend money. I’m referred to as the “Thrifty One Who Won’t Allow Me To Buy Stuff” and he’s referred to as “That Jerk Who Buys Stuff”. Do you have any advice for couples that need to have the other half put on a strict budget…

  • How to Escape from Debt Hell (6 comments)

    Reader Russell Heimlich forwarded an excellent MSN Money piece on Escaping from Debt Hell. It’s hard to escape the news that Americans are drowning in personal debt, but you hear less about the many people who…have been able to dig out of debt. Ordinary people use a variety of methods to shake off their past credit mistakes. Some use credit counselors. Some take second jobs. Most live frugal lives until they’re back on their feet…

  • Three Reasons Most Budgets Don’t Work (and How To Fix Them) (2 comments)

    Samuel Peery believes there are three reasons most budgets don’t work. Most people get too discouraged trying to get a budget to work. They spend hours trying to figure out how much to budget in each category and may even track every penny spent during the month only to find out that reality didn’t match what was budgeted. In these instances budgeting just seems like a futile theoretical exercise. There’s no follow up or reconciliation…

  • Want to Save? Give up the Big Things! (9 comments)

    My wife — the NPR addict — pointed me to a Marketplace commentary by Amelia Tyagi. Tyagi says not to focus on small expenses, but to focus on big expenses. You can listen to the piece in RealAudio format from the NPR web site, or read this transcript: Clip those coupons. Shift to that cheap, scratchy toilet paper. And whatever you do, don’t buy any more lattes at Starbucks. You’ve heard it before. Some famous…

  • An Effective Three-Step Budget (12 comments)

    Budgets can be intimidating, especially to somebody just beginning to gain control of her personal finances. So many things to track, so many concepts to learn. And it’s all so tedious. In The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need, Andrew Tobias offers the following simple yet effective budget: Destroy all your credit cards. Invest 20% of all that you earn. And never touch it. Live on the remaining 80%, no matter what. Though Tobias is…

  • Cool Tool: The AIM BudgetBot (4 comments)

    Get Rich Slowly-reader David points to the AIM BudgetBot, posted yesterday at Lifehacker. Adam Pash writes: I used to save all of my receipts with a half-assed intention to reconcile them when I got around to it, which usually meant two weeks worth of crumpled, illegible receipts went straight from my pockets to the trash. Not very Lifehacker-y, huh? [...] I set out to create my own BudgetBot that I could SMS from my cell…

  • How Budgeting Can Improve Your Life (6 comments)

    This about.com Twelve reasons budgeting can improve your life article is hot on the internet right now, and for good reason: it offers good motivation to establish a budget. I’ve collected a pile of other budgeting links to share. First, for those of you that haven’t read Twelve reasons budgeting can improve your life, the advantages of budgeting are: A budget helps you reach your goals (and keeps you from getting side-tracked). A budget lets…

  • Budgeting for Non-Budgeters: The 60% Solution (15 comments)

    Richard Jenkins at MSN Money has developed what he believes is a simpler way to save. Fed up with budgets that were a burden to implement, Jenkins came up with his own easy method to determine how much should go where each month. What you’re trying to do with a budget is to prevent overspending, which ultimately leads to piling up debt. Contrary to the way most people budget, however, it rarely matters what you’re…

  • YMOYL 2006 Review (5 comments)

    This is a guest post by Cat Connor. Every year I try to review the steps in Your Money or Your Life to see how we’re doing.  It’s been about two years since my last review, but much to my delight, I found we are following most of the steps well, and I just needed to update some numbers. Step 1: Making Peace With The Past A: Determine your total lifetime earnings The book was…

  • PearBudget (6 comments)

    “Track everything you spend” is one of the key steps to getting rich slowly. It’s easy to do this after the fact using a personal ledger or software such as Quicken. But how do you plan for expenses? A budget is the best way to see where your money needs to go. Some people keep detailed budgets, and adhere to them religiously. Others — such as myself — keep loose budgets, and use them simply…

  • How to Budget Effectively (0 comment)

    Sally’s Kitchen has tips on How to Budget Effectively, including an Excel spreadsheet template for download. There are some great ideas and suggestions here, simple things like: print out a small copy of your budget and tape it over your credit card so that every time you’re tempted to use it, you’re reminded of your goals; always shop with a list in order to avoid temptation; when shopping on-line, add items to your wish list…