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Choices


  • A six-figure income, and you’re still paying off debt? (45 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong.

    At another site, I recently wrote about a tool that shows you online prices in terms of hours worked. I used a random item — a fancy coffee maker that costs $116 — as an example. It would take someone who earned $38 an hour approximately three hours of work to pay for that item. A reader replied that, if they made $38 an hour, they…

  • The pros of experiencing the cons of poverty (40 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    At the beginning of October, I slipped five crisp Benjamins into my purse. I don’t usually carry any cash at all, so I was feeling flush with $500 in my pocket. It was all part of a simple experiment: Could I save on my grocery budget if I only paid in cash? While I will share more in the future about what I specifically learned about groceries…

  • How I use negative feelings about finances to my advantage (13 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong.

    I have never had much patience for dwelling. Time is a limited resource and I want to use it in the best possible way. Dwelling is a waste. I also have little patience for sweeping things under the rug and pretending to be happy when I’m not. Ignoring a problem is a great way to ensure it will come back to haunt you later. Plus, in…

  • Is living without credit cards the best way to stay out of debt? (49 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Americans might be more responsible now than they were in the early 2000s when it comes to the use of credit. At least, that’s what the evidence from a Gallup poll taken earlier this year seems to suggest. The Gallup poll, which was based on random telephone interviews with 1,026 adults, shows that a full 48 percent claim to pay their credit card balances in full when…

  • Do nice guys finish last … financially? (64 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. While it wasn’t a dark and stormy night yet, an ice storm was coming. The last time we’d had an ice storm, we were kidless, and we lost power for five days. The romance of sleeping in front of the fireplace quickly cooled off along with the temperature in the house. If we lost power again, 39 degrees just wasn’t going to be acceptable with two kids. That’s…

  • What can we learn from Gen Y’s view of money? (25 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Recently, Fidelity released another survey about millennials and money. They found that 47 percent of us are saving for retirement. To me, that stat was really telling about our generation’s view of personal finance, and it’s not unlike other findings. When TIME wrote about the survey, they reported: “Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found that 71% of millennials eligible for a 401(k) plan participate and that 70% of…

  • What does your job tenure say about you? (25 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith. Recently, I wrote about networking strategies that can help advance your career, and that got me to wondering what a “typical” career looks like these days. How have careers been affected by the Great Recession? Are people able to stay in a job and retire if they love it, or is the job market more chaotic than that? And what does it say about you either way? For…

  • Ask the readers: Should we get married sooner to lower our taxes? (61 comments)

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

  • 9 reasons you may never retire (45 comments)

    This article is by staff writer William Cowie. My mom passed away a little less than a year ago. All her life she was the picture of health: She walked every day and ate super-healthy. The extended family dreaded going there, because they knew there would be no sugary goodies, only healthy (boring) eats. We used to joke and say she was so healthy they’d have to shoot her on the Day of Judgment ……

  • Will canning your food save you money? (44 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. When I was a child, we lived on a farm that had a grape arbor loaded with Concord grapes. Each September, my mom would can jars upon jars of grape juice, and I have fond memories of evenings around the kitchen table as our family ate popcorn and drank that delicious stuff (which doesn’t taste like anything I’ve ever purchased from a store). Well, apparently, nostalgia set…

  • Lifestyle inflation: How to decide if it’s ever okay (81 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Despite that I don’t own it, I like my apartment. It’s got a mountainous view, it’s comfortable, and my neighbors are few but friendly. Sure, I’d like to own a home someday. But, unless I move to another city, that probably isn’t going to happen in the next few years. I’m fine with that. Like my neighbor said, I’d rather live here than anywhere else, at least for…

  • How not to approach rising home prices (33 comments)

    This article is by staff writer William Cowie. My wife and I took the dog for a walk the other day in our neighborhood. About half a block up the street we met Heather and George as they were unloading one of those moving PODS thingies. We introduced ourselves and asked their life’s story, or at least the part about buying the house they were moving into. Turns out they were buying something better than…

  • The problem with being goal-oriented (43 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. A few months before I decided to quit my job and move, I’d made a whole timeline of accomplishments I hoped to reach within the next three to five years. It included a series of backup plans, too, should Plan A not work out (Plan A: become a hugely successful writer, make lots of money, buy a home in Malibu, take many naps). This timeline included mini-goals…

  • A better way to calculate the value of your time (20 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. It’s both fascinating and useful to calculate the value of your time. Financial freedom gives you options and flexibility. But without time, that means nothing. Time is a precious resource that we should spend wisely. But you already know this – we’ve written about it quite a bit. Knowing the value of your time is helpful for a variety of reasons: If you’re a freelancer, it can help you…

  • Bad advice about having a baby I’m glad I followed (51 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Last week I was out walking with a friend when she admitted she was scared she would never have kids. “We’ll never be able to afford them,” she said as we made our way around the block and up the next street. She and her husband are about our age (and not getting any younger), and I could tell she was worried. “Oh, I’m sure you’ll figure…

  • Starting a garden to pay off debt: Really!?! (86 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Some personal finance advice is just plain ridiculous. I’m talking about the kind of advice that’s great for filling up a webpage but that had neither saved nor made anyone money ever. Or maybe you could follow it and save money, if you wanted to hate your life. I’m not entirely innocent, I admit. I’m sure I’ve espoused my share of well-meaning-yet-impractical advice in the last seven years….

  • Ask the Readers: Are you reaching your goals? (44 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. Remember when 2014 was new? I’d rather not think about it, but more than half the year is behind us already and we’re moving into fall fairly quickly. For me, that’s a good time to start thinking about whether I’m reaching my goals for the year and what I need to do to correct my course. I would like to be in a position to tackle a “single…

  • Why I voluntarily slashed my salary (77 comments)

    This is a guest post from former GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. She is currently a staff writer at Money Talks News, freelances for a number of magazines and PF sites, and blogs about money and midlife at DonnaFreedman.com. In January 2007, I wrote an article about being recently divorced, helping to support a disabled adult child and working toward a university degree in my late 40s. “Surviving (and thriving) on $12,000 a year” went…

  • Hiccups on the way to combining finances (32 comments)

    This is a guest post from Kathleen O’Malley, who writes about finding joy in a simple, frugal life at Frugal Portland. It happened fast. We barely talked about it, but all of a sudden, about a week after we got engaged — and before we were really ready — my fiancé and I had combined our finances. I can pinpoint the impetus: Southwest Airlines was offering a promotion where if you got both the Plus…

  • Preventing failure before it is an option (29 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. When I wrote an article about poverty, I wasn’t sure where Brandon and Leah, the two people I shared about, would be in the next few months. I needn’t have wondered. Turns out, nothing has changed. Despite receiving money from various people for rent, access to free babysitting, and bags of groceries, the last few months have been peppered with evictions, arrests, jail, and now prison. Unfortunately, I…

  • The daycare debate: A double-edged sword (120 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. As many of you know, my husband had a career crisis that left him unemployed for several months last summer. It was scary, but we learned a lot from the experience — including the fact that the grass isn’t always greener and that we really needed to learn to be happy with what we had. And, beyond that, we now feel blessed that he found a new job…

  • Weird ways our brains control our money habits (22 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for money psychology studies. And it’s not just because I write about money. On a sheer curiosity level, they’re fascinating. But they also serve as a great reminder that money is more about mind than it is about math. It’s interesting to see exactly how our brains work when it comes to habits like spending and saving. And not only is it…

  • Reader Stories: 4 ways to make money with your old junk (21 comments)

    Sharon M. shared some of her personal finance journey with us this week. 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. About a year ago, I had to downsize from a 5200-square-foot house to an apartment. After my husband was laid off, we decided to…

  • Our brains on scarcity: Breaking out of the trap (Part II) (17 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. (This is a two-part series. Part I is “Our brains on scarcity: The trap of not having enough.”) For my last post, I wrote about the book “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much.” To recap, researchers Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir conducted a series of experiments and found that scarcity — whether it’s a lack of time, money or food — drastically changes our behavior….

  • Our brains on scarcity: The trap of not having enough (Part I) (36 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. (This is a two-part series. Part II is “Our brains on scarcity: Breaking out of the trap.”) I recently discovered the book “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much.” To be honest, I don’t even remember how I came to find out about the book. Maybe someone recommended it; maybe I read about it somewhere. Lately, I’ve been overwhelmingly busy, and, as a result, my short-term…

  • Improve your negotiation skills with BATNA (21 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Sam. Sam spent 13 years working in Equities on Wall Street and discusses financial independence strategies on Financial Samurai. Sam is also the founder of the Yakezie Network, the largest personal finance blog network on the web. If you want to know how to get the best deal possible, learn this simple acronym: BATNA. “BATNA” stands for “Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement.” Often times the bulk of money…

  • 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…

  • Saving your sanity (and your budget) this summer vacation (40 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. I am writing this article in silence, thanks to my kids’ 7 pm bedtime. And tonight is the last early bedtime night because – sob! – tomorrow is the final day of school. While I love my children, I admit to some qualms about summer vacation. How do I keep them entertained (that means out of trouble)? How do I keep the lid on my grocery budget?…

  • How to negotiate when you hate negotiating (19 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. In an ideal world, you wouldn’t need to go negotiate. In an ideal world, the weather would be perfect, there would be no war, and your employer would simply say, “Hey, your value to our company has increased. Here’s ten thousand dollars.” If only, right? When it comes to earning more, negotiating is usually a necessary part of the equation. The negotiating masters among us have a serious leg…

  • One expense you have control of in ways you never thought (38 comments)

    This article is by staff writer William Cowie. What do you spend most of your money on? For most people, their two biggest expenses are their home and car(s). If you remember the post comparing expenses in 1913 to 2012, you might recall the three things that Mr. Average spent most of his “raise” on were: Housing (36 percent of the raise) Income taxes (28 percent), and Transportation (24 percent) A majority of the increase in…

  • 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…

  • Act surprised: Your wedding ring is a terrible investment (95 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Divorce. It’s an unattractive yet common end to a relatively high percentage of marriages in the U.S. In fact, as many as 50 percent of American marriages end this way, often leaving catastrophic personal and financial consequences that linger for years. The division of assets. Alimony. Child Custody Issues. Who gets the Stuff? These are all things that must be dealt with during and after a divorce, whether…

  • Teaching life skills to your children (22 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. While I’ve tackled many kid-centered topics, like how to save on kids’ clothes, should you buy your kid a car, or pay for your child’s college, you know what is really important to me? Helping them learn to be responsible and self-sufficient, so they don’t need me (except for moral support, of course). So while I often hear that I am a mean mom, and no other kids have to…

  • Ask the readers: Do you gamble? (57 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. When I was in college, I dated a guy with money problems. For instance, six months into the relationship, I found out that he owed a few people money. Like his ex-girlfriend. And then his dad, who gave him the money to pay the ex-girlfriend. And then he still owed the ex-girlfriend, since he spent the money his dad gave him on who knows what. Soon after,…

  • In defense of frugality (52 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Frugality isn’t very sexy. I’ll admit that. For most people, the concept of thrift probably conjures images of coupon clipping, stock photos of piggy banks, and Benjamin Franklin — none of which are terribly glamorous. Frugality, is, however, in line with the concept of getting rich slowly. We’ve learned that building wealth has much to do with living below your means. You have to increase your income,…

  • 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?)…

  • Honey progress report: Big change edition (21 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Well, the last couple of months have been a pretty wild ride in The Honeycomb. We moved out of our old place and concluded our experience with Cash for Keys, we bought a house and moved, and I am experimenting with a new student loan payoff strategy. Let’s explore each of these big changes a bit further, shall we? Big change 1: The culmination of “Cash for…

  • Taking the Chairman’s Flight and other career-limiting moves to avoid (114 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Sam. Sam spent 13 years working in Equities on Wall Street and discusses financial independence strategies on Financial Samurai. Sam is also the founder of the Yakezie Network, the largest personal finance blog network on the web. Working on Wall Street was tough. I felt like I was constantly being hazed by anybody senior to me. “Sam, go get me some coffee.” “Sam, I ordered a double macchiato with…

  • 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…

  • Gratitude is good for your soul … and your finances (19 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. I’ll admit it. When I lost work last year, a tiny sense of entitlement crept up on me. Okay, maybe it was more than tiny. On the outside, I told people: “I just feel like I deserve a good job, you know?” On the inside, I thought: Why the $%^@ don’t I have a good job? I’m awesome. My awesomeness, however, is irrelevant. Sometimes these things just happen….

  • 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…

  • What type of procrastinator are you? (20 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Aah, procrastination. Controlling our time can be difficult, and most of us are intimately familiar with the act of delaying the act of starting or completing a task. Piers Steel, professor of human resources and organizational dynamics at the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary and author of “The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done,” has made the study…

  • Coming to terms: retirement vs. financial independence (57 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D. recently launched the Get Rich Slowly course, a year-long guide on how to master your money. Last Sunday, I shared the transcript of a recent conversation between me and Mr. Money Mustache. We talked a lot about retirement and what it takes to get there. “You and I are both supposedly retired, and yet we’re doing this work here where…

  • One year later: The benefits and tragedies of self-employment (76 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Almost exactly a year ago today, I quit my full-time job to pursue my passion — writing. It was one of the proudest moments of my life, but it was also terrifying. I had spent the last six years working alongside my husband, a mortician, in the funeral industry. My job certainly wasn’t perfect; but it was stable, well-paying, and sometimes fun. I also loved the people…

  • Eating healthy on a slim budget (72 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. I spend almost as much on groceries as I do on my mortgage. Now, before you spit your coffee all over your keyboard, you should know that my mortgage is pretty low, lower than what some of my friends pay in rent. And for me, “groceries” includes all of the extras one buys at grocery stores, like paper towels and soap and the latest issue of the…

  • Giving kids money to manage (26 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. We’ve slowly started our children’s financial education. I thought the easiest way to start would be opening a savings account. I suppose I was correct, but it was met with more resistance than I expected. When we actually opened a savings account for them, I explained that we would deposit their money into their accounts. Then the bank would pay them interest. First, my son was horrified…

  • A conversation with Mr. Money Mustache (30 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money, where he recently wrote about how to be happy. As part of the Get Rich Slowly course, I interviewed 18 of my favorite financial experts. Combined, these interviews comprise over eight hours of audio and more than 200 pages of written transcripts, all of which are available as part of the…

  • 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…

  • Talking with Gretchen Rubin about money and happiness (23 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money, where he recently wrote about how to be happy. As part of the Get Rich Slowly course (out this Tuesday!), I interviewed 18 of my favorite financial experts (and non-financial experts). Combined, these interviews comprise over eight hours of audio and more than 200 pages of written transcripts, all of which…

  • Foreclosure from the tenant’s perspective: Honey’s story (32 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith. In November, we thought we’d reached the last straw in terms of the condo we have been renting. We’d had numerous problems with our place and our landlord (namely, not fixing things when they broke — major or minor). However we ultimately decided that, although the right choice wasn’t obvious, there were too many aspects of our lives up in the air to move at that moment. Then, on…

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

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

  • The cultural shift toward financial security (27 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. In the past few months, I’ve had a noteworthy number of conversations about the trend toward frugality. More of my friends seem interested in finding ways to save, I can’t throw a rock at the Internet without hitting a money-saving “hack,” and, during a job interview, I had a lengthy discussion about how “personal finance is now trendy.” Get Rich Slowly reader and money blogger Mrs. PoP noticed…

  • What’s the value of work-life balance? (53 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith. I was really struck by Kristin Wong’s recent article “Overwork and the illusion of a ‘high-paying’ job.” It’s not something that I’ve had to deal with personally, though I’ve seen people close to me wrestle with it. As an attorney, Jake makes a six-figure salary at his new job, but probably works 80+ hours in a week. While this is undoubtedly tough (on his health, on his…

  • Reader Stories: The Notebook (Part 1) (39 comments)

    Jim, a reader of our Facebook page, shared some of his personal finance journey in Facebook comments a while back, and readers commented that they’d like to hear his story. We reached out and asked him if he would elaborate so we could share his story with the Get Rich Slowly website readers. This is part 1. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or…

  • Why we aren’t saving for our children’s college educations (142 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. For a few years, I got to skip Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step 5. Save for our children’s college education? That was an easy one…since we didn’t have children, that answer was NO! But now we have two kids (soon to be three), which means our days of delaying that decision are over. And since our oldest child is ten, we’ve already missed out on a decade of compounding….

  • Charity, hobby, or mistake? The cat we didn’t keep (61 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Jake and I have two cats and a dog. To us, having pets is one of the most important aspects of our lives and identity. You might even consider it a hobby. Unfortunately, it is a hobby that, as you will see, has not always been entirely strategic. Our love for animals has permeated much of our lives. I’ve been vegetarian for over a decade, and Jake was…

  • The joy of being average (94 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Sam. Sam spent 13 years working in Equities on Wall Street and discusses financial independence strategies on Financial Samurai. Sam is also the founder of the Yakezie Network, the largest personal finance blog network on the web. When I asked the community whether we have the duty to live up to our potential, many of you balked at the notion of living up to anybody else’s standards but your own….

  • Why paying with cash hurts (and why it should) (55 comments)

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

  • Financing your bucket list (39 comments)

    This is a guest post from Mitch Anthony. Mitch is a sought-after financial services consultant, popular speaker, and host of The Daily Dose radio program. His RetireMentors column appears regularly on CBS marketwatch.com. Mitch earned Financial Planning Magazine’s “Mover & Shaker” award for his pioneering retirement and financial planning work. He has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, and The New York Times. His book Storyselling for Financial Advisors was acclaimed…

  • 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…

  • How to handle a windfall (29 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money, where he recently wrote about the difference between moderators and abstainers. When my father died in 1995, he left behind a small life insurance policy that awarded each family member $5,000. It wasn’t much, but it was the best he could do based on the fact that he had cancer. He…

  • 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…

  • Material stuff can make you happy (69 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Experiences make us happier than “Stuff.” That’s the current line of thinking, which quite a few studies support. Here’s an example from Livescience.com: If you’re trying to buy happiness, you’d be better off putting your money toward a tropical island getaway than a new computer…The results [of a Cornell University study] show that people’s satisfaction with their life-experience purchases — anything from seeing a movie to going on a…

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

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

  • 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!…

  • Money resolutions and goals for the New Year (36 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Last year, I wrote about lowering the bar for happiness. I recently found out my neighborhood doughnut shop is experimenting with the cronut trend, and I became genuinely giddy. So I think I’ve been doing pretty well with that resolution. I can’t believe it’s already 2014, and the new year has me thinking about resolutions again. The start of the year is a good time to clean up…

  • When the right choice isn’t obvious (69 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. What do you do when the right choice isn’t obvious? Earlier this month, I said that my husband Jake and I had reached the last straw with regard to our current place. Accordingly, we looked at a bunch of rentals. We anticipated that this was going to be a challenging process because Jake and I value different things in homes. Pretty much all I care about is a…

  • In praise of financial resilience (55 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money. I had lunch with my friend Craig a few months ago. Craig is an architect, and he took me on a tour of his company’s offices. “The cool thing about this building,” he told me, “is that it’s especially resilient.” I could tell from the way he said it that the…

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

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

  • Ask the Readers: 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;…

  • Student loans: Lessons learned, choosing a major, and overcoming regrets (113 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. In 2009, Kasey O. graduated college with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Media Arts & Animation. With the support of her family, friends, school guidance counselors, and high school teachers, she had finally earned a college degree in a field that fulfilled her passion. Kasey was proud, hopeful, and ready to begin her dream career. But unfortunately for Kasey, things weren’t exactly what they seemed. What Kasey didn’t…

  • 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…

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

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

  • Lifestyle inflation: Can it be done responsibly? (61 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Lifestyle inflation gets a bad rap, and understandably so. It’s so darn tempting and so many of us seem to have a serious problem controlling it. But inherently, lifestyle inflation isn’t a bad thing. Lots of Get Rich Slowly readers have made this point, and I agree: if your finances are in order, what’s wrong with treating yourself to a little luxurious lifestyle upgrade? In fact, I’d…

  • Buy Nothing Year: Changing how we spend (16 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Julie Phillips was planning to move into a new apartment when a massive flood in Alberta damaged her would-be building. Suddenly, she found herself displaced. “The reason I wanted to move is I wanted to save on rent,” Julie says. “I wanted to save more, I wanted to live with another person. I wanted that camaraderie.” After searching extensively, Julie grew discouraged. “I was eating a chocolate…

  • The small-house experiment (Part 1) (112 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. A few weeks ago, I wrote about how my husband and I are moving to be closer to his new job. Well, it’s been a whirlwind of chaos and uncertainty ever since. Since I wrote that post, we put our house on the market and began the search for a new home. And despite the fact that we’re excited for the opportunity to move on with our lives,…

  • When is your financial relaxation due date? (48 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. I am perched in the corner chair, cup of Chai in hand, with just hours before the deadline for this post. I have piles and piles of clean laundry that need to be folded. Dishes need to be washed. I can’t recall the last time I’ve dusted any room in the house. My husband has been working 80-hour weeks for a few weeks, so I am doing…

  • Ask the Readers: Should you move for work? (36 comments)

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

  • The day my dishwasher died (78 comments)

    This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. After a year off, J.D. is once again writing here at GRS. His non-financial writing can still be found at More Than Money. When I bought my condo in February, one of the things that impressed me about the place was the built-in shiny silver kitchen appliances. They were all so fancy and fun! My parents always had cheap appliances. When Kris…

  • How I’m changing my relationship with money (27 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. As a teenager, I had a part-time job that was already mundane and dreadful enough, but then Kelly P. was hired. For whatever reason, Kelly and I were instantly repelled by each other. She thought I was too dorky to bear; I found her voice impossibly grating. She over-pronounced her esses. All it took was one shift. One evening, Kelly and I were stuck together. Alone. For…

  • Changing careers: The grass isn’t always greener (76 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Earlier this year, my husband and I made a decision that will change the course of our lives, for better or for worse. After 10 years in the mortuary industry, we decided that it was time for my husband to make a change. He was frustrated, burnt out, and tired of working weekends, late nights, and holidays. He began to wonder if there was something else that he…

  • Bernie Madoff was not alone (18 comments)

    Bernie Madoff, perpetrator of the most staggering case of investment fraud in U.S. history, is apparently not alone – and neither are his victims. According to a new FINRA Investor Education Foundation survey, fraud in America is on the rise and it’s estimated to be costing Americans over $50 billion a year! The survey defined “fraud” as an occasion when “… someone intentionally gives you false information to encourage you to make an investment.” Email…

  • Declutter and save your sense (33 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. Once, I couldn’t find a matching pair of shoes, so I  put one foot in a ballet flat and the other in a tennis shoe and acted like I had sprained my ankle. True story. You may wonder then why this girl is writing an article on decluttering and disorganization and their relationship to finances, especially since I still have a lot to learn. While there are…

  • 4 signs you’re over your job & 5 things you can do about it (27 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Over the summer, I read a book that likened a miserable job to hanging onto the edge of a cliff. I thought it was an appropriate analogy. Like most people, I’ve been there, and that’s totally what it feels like. You know you have to let go, but letting go is scary. You could land in a better spot, or you could meet your ruin. The author argued that…

  • Could you say no to your mom? (73 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jeff Rose, CFP who blogs at GoodFinancialcents.com. Jeff is well known among bloggers for his various causes: The Debt Movement, The Roth IRA Movement and The Life Insurance Movement.  His first book, Soldier of Finance, officially releases September 9, 2013. “Heck no!” Imagine if a stranger asked you one of the following questions: Can I borrow your credit card to make a quick purchase? I don’t have any cash on…

  • Confession: I Don’t Track Every Penny (84 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Sometimes my personal-finance articles make my friends feel guilty. “I read your article about saving money, and now I feel bad about the shoes I just bought,” says Guilt-Stricken Friend. “I don’t need them. I think I should return them.” Perhaps she’s waiting for me to tell her that she’s right, that she should return them. And then she should take that money she almost blew on…

  • Sometimes the road to wealth isn’t paved at all (64 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. Is financial security eluding you? Maybe you should move to North Dakota. In 2012, North Dakota’s economy grew by 13.4 percent, which was significantly more than any other state. And according to this cost of living calculator, a $70,000 salary has the buying power of a $100,000 salary in Los Angeles. But perhaps you don’t want to move to the fourth least densely populated state. And moving…

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

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

  • How I canceled cable and gained a new outlook on life (107 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Holly Johnson. When my husband and I began our journey out of debt, our monthly bills were overwhelming. Of course, we were paying for all of the regular stuff like our mortgage, utilities and various insurance policies. However, we were also paying for things that we knew we wanted to live without. Credit card bills. Furniture that we had financed. Magazine subscriptions. I also like to remind myself that I…

  • Do you read the fine print? (38 comments)

    This post is written by staff writer April Dykman. We’ve all heard the advice to “read the fine print” before we sign anything, but does anyone actually do it? I recently spoke with a man we’ll call Randy. Six months ago, Randy went to a state fair, the kind that vendors of all kinds descend upon to hawk their wares. One of those vendors was a hot tub company with a very recognizable name. They’ve…

  • Is there morality in personal finance? (46 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Kristin Wong. A while back, my blogger friend and fellow GRS writer Holly Johnson wrote about a healthy dose of lifestyle inflation. In that article, someone made a side point that there shouldn’t be morality in personal finance — it should be about practicality. Within the comments, there was a brief but interesting dialogue going on about this topic — morality and personal finance. I thought it was really interesting…

  • 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 (78 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…

  • Should You Prepay Your Mortgage? (40 comments)

    Welcome to Throwback Thursday! Many in the GRS community have been reading the site since J.D. Roth began posting in 2006, but many of you are new to the community. We’re going to start re-posting some of the most popular — and useful articles — from the past. The financial advice and ideas are still valid, and well worth bringing back to light. Originally published on June 17, 2006, this article offers various points of…

  • 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…

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

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

  • Talk about money: The key to financial literacy? (53 comments)

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

  • Defining a healthy dose of lifestyle inflation (100 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Holly Johnson. On April 1st, I got an unpleasant surprise, and it wasn’t an April Fools joke or gag. I found out that one of our renters didn’t have enough money to pay all of his rent. Since nothing like this has ever happened before, I was definitely caught off guard. Still, it wasn’t the end of the world. Since I pay all of our mortgages ahead of schedule,…

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

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

  • The cost of workaholism (66 comments)

    “What are your resolutions this year?” a girlfriend recently asked me. I thought about the areas of my life I’d like to improve upon and responded, “I’d like to work less. I think I’m a workaholic.” She paused for a bit then hesitantly said, “…that doesn’t sound like a problem…” And indeed, when I’d talked about this with my mom just a week earlier, she said, “That’s a good addiction.” But it’s easy to confuse hard work…

  • I’m off to grow a giant pumpkin! (30 comments)

    This post is from staff writer El Nerdo. I love my job, but my job doesn’t pay so well. For a while I attempted to cope with this problem by means of personal finance. However, while thinking and writing about personal finance, I have realized (for a while now) that I need to make more money. And while personal finance is more of a subset of home economics, earning more is all about business and entrepreneurship,…

  • Insurance: An easier way to comparison shop (32 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. I had procrastinated until I could procrastinate no longer. I was in the middle of buying a house, and one of the many, many things on my ever-growing to-do list was to find a home insurance policy. My auto insurance policy also was up for renewal, and so I hoped to get a decent discount by buying both policies from one company. But the idea of having…

  • My student loan story: How I paid it off in a year (115 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Kristin Wong. Today I pulled out a file in my cabinet that’s been gathering dust since 2007: STUDENT LOAN. In 2007, I paid that sucker off, and I haven’t looked back since. Well, except to check my credit report. I wanted to make sure the nightmare was really over, after all. It wasn’t too much of a nightmare, really. With interest, I owed a little over $12,000. But when…

  • Building a life we value (57 comments)

    The reason why I think “earn more” is better than “spend less” is not simply because more money gives us more options to amass a positive net worth, or because I don’t like to spent my time transporting my garbage to somebody else’s trash dump. I think this way mainly because I cherish human work and creativity, and I see wealth as the accumulated expression of this work. This deep appreciation of human activity is…

  • Minimalist parenting: The frugal choice (77 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Sarah Gilbert. The woman on the radio sounded panicked. She lived in Los Angeles, and because of her neighborhood (weird homeless guy on the corner; busy streets all around) she didn’t trust her kids to play outside. So she spent her time driving them to activities where they would get… physical activity. It sounded a little awful, and it sounded expensive. I had been interviewed for this piece (my…

  • Creating objective rules for spending (36 comments)

    This guest post is from Mr. F, an Australian reader in his mid-20s who works for the government. We’re often told to “spend money on what’s important,” “spend according to your values” or “spend on whatever takes up most of your time.” So, for example, you should spend money when it comes to things like education, or family, or on a mattress. That’s a good guide, but in day-to-day situations you often have to make…

  • Relationship deal breakers, then and now (66 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. I recently had breakfast with a woman I dated almost 20 years ago, soon after I graduated from college. She’s married now, with two beautiful kids and a husband who seems like one of those solid, true-blue, stay-at-home-dad kind of guys. I’m married now, too…

  • Tax prep costs: What’s it worth to you? (34 comments)

    This is a guest post from Richard Barrington, the senior financial analyst at our sister site MoneyRates.com. Richard has earned the CFA designation and is a 20-year veteran of the financial industry, including having previously served for more than a dozen years as a member of the Executive Committee of Manning & Napier Advisors, Inc. Richard has written extensively on investment and personal finance topics. Previously at GRS, he shared how to find the right…

  • Knowing when to be a squeaky wheel (100 comments)

    A few months ago, I decided that I needed new furniture. I didn’t want new furniture. My 3-year-old couch and loveseat were in great condition. On the other hand, I began to realize that I had once again been blurring the lines between being cheap and being frugal. Although my furniture looked nice, it was completely uncomfortable for my back. As someone who has had two spinal fusions, I must be very picky about where…

  • Take a deep breath: Letting go of financial stress (31 comments)

    I’ve been reading through some of my old posts and thinking about what I wanted for this, my very-end-of-the-year statement on money. And what I saw was a lot (a lot) of angst and worry and stress. It was appropriate, as I’d spent most of the day in a kind of crazy wound-up worked-up state, getting ready for what should be a lovely, restful retreat with a few friends from my writer’s group. Part of…

  • The really, really, really long-term view…and when you’ll die (50 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. I know it’s the holidays, but I’m going to begin this post with a somber topic: death. I think about it quite a bit, not because I’m morbid, but because it’s one of the important variables in the calculus of retirement planning. After all, your…

  • When you just can’t get the important stuff done (38 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. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. This post is not for those of you who have focused minds and empty “to do” lists. Nay, not for those rarefied people who go to bed knowing that they got just about…

  • 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…

  • Drawing the line with poor customer service (72 comments)

    Last year, I wrote a breakup letter to Chase Bank. It was pretty ugly. I’ll save you the heartbreaking details, but trust me, they had it coming. Closing the account was another nightmare. They wouldn’t let me break up with them! They told me I couldn’t close the account because my signature on the request form did not match the signature they had on file. An understandable concern, but I’d been signing my name as…

  • Lessons from a master (53 comments)

    I have been re-watching the documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” for the past couple of months. I’ve seen it at least 10 times, probably more, while writing drafts for this article. I’ve watched it alone, with my wife, with friends, and I don’t tire of it; I’ve recommended it to everyone I know, and now I’m wholeheartedly recommending it to you. This little gem of a documentary by David Gelb takes a look at the…

  • Mutual mooching: How my community saves me money, part one (40 comments)

    One of the greatest assets in my life is a priceless community made up of my friends, family, and other community members. My community is greater than the sum of its parts. Saving me money is just one benefit. Mutual mooching I first read about mutual mooching in Amy Dacyczyn’s “The Complete Tightwad Gazette,” but I paid little attention to it. Doing favors for people and getting favors back? Mmm, no thanks. I hate feeling…

  • Earning more vs. spending less: The decision (89 comments)

    This is the last article in a series. Here are round 1, round 2, and round 3. The need to specialize I have been wrestling now for some time with the question of where to focus one’s energies: whether to earn more or whether to save more. Of course you want to do both, but to get really good at something it takes time, effort, patience and dedication — just like anything you want to…

  • 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,…

  • The rise and fall of the shopaholic (85 comments)

    As a college student, I often took up side jobs to make extra cash. One of those side jobs included selling random things on eBay. It was easier and slightly more lucrative than holding a garage sale every weekend. Once, I sold a pair of highly coveted boots that I no longer wore. They went for $75, or in college currency, one textbook. I’d already started wrapping them up and brainstorming my budget when I…

  • When Seizing the Day Backfires (55 comments)

    A little over a month ago, I experienced one of those moments in life where everything was as it should be. You know those moments—when work, love, friendships, etc., are all operating smoothly, in a brief but perfect alignment that allows you the rare luxury of total peace. In that moment, I was able to breathe, smile and remember that life is happening, and life is good. And then the car troubles came. These car…

  • Side Gigs v. Day Jobs (132 comments)

    This post is from new staff writer Honey Smith. If you’re in debt — especially if you’re in significant debt — frugality will only get you so far. To really make a dent, you have to increase your income. The option recommended most frequently on personal finance blogs I have read is freelancing or consulting on the side. Another option is a second job (usually hourly work of some kind). However, side jobs aren’t always…

  • Stop Being the Person You Think You Are (100 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Frugal Cool blog for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. How’s your life going? Do dark nights of the soul outweigh the good days? Have you spent more time than you care to acknowledge wishing for something – anything – other than what you have? Get over it. It’s not that simple, obviously. But in order…

  • Frugality and Financial Independence (99 comments)

    This is the first article from new staff writer Lisa Aberle, who has replaced Tim Sullivan. When I first started reading Get Rich Slowly in 2007 or 2008, financial independence was only a dream. At that time, my husband and I were struggling financially. We had: two mortgages one car payment no emergency fund nothing left over after each paycheck a zillion home improvement projects to do – and no money to do them I…

  • Earning More vs. Spending Less, Round 2: It Takes Money to Make Money (121 comments)

    This is the second installment of a series. The first article can be found here. Last week I spent a thousand bucks on a phone.  I paid full price for it, in cash, no contract.  It’s not the phone I originally intended to buy though. I had first picked a little HTC phone that was cheap and had an old version of Android in it, and it was on sale for $180.  A modest, frugal smartphone.The…

  • 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…

  • The Power of Personal Responsibility (72 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Frugal Cool blog for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. Last Wednesday evening I lost it, really lost it. Miserable heat and humidity, smog, too much walking on too little sleep, an asthma attack, dueling deadlines, and maybe just a smidge of menopausal mood swings had me alternately raging and sniveling in a borrowed studio apartment…

  • Is Now a Good Time to Rent? (121 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Sarah Gilbert. I asked, as I sometimes do, what personal finance question my friends and Twitter followers had for me. It was a slow day on the internet and the responses flooded in. My friend Neil asked, “what do you think about real estate?” A broad question, indeed, and I got him to clarify. “You know… should I buy a house? Why not just rent?” Why not indeed. The…

  • Reader Story: Dream Home or Dream Life? (146 comments)

    This guest post from Holly Johnson 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. A few months ago, we were seriously considering moving. Frustrated by a few of the shortcomings of our current residence,…

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

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

  • How Much Is Your Time Worth? (89 comments)

    This is a guest post by Joel Runyon of Impossible HQ. Did you see the Justin Timberlake thriller In Time last year? Probably not. Nobody else did either. Well, I did, I guess. And while the movie wasn’t very good, it contained an interesting idea that I think relates to personal finance. The movie’s plot revolves around a world where everyone is genetically engineered to live until they’re 25. After that, they have exactly one…

  • 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…

  • Rethinking Luxuries: How Luxurious Are They? (76 comments)

    This article is from new staff writer Kristin Wong. Recently, my boyfriend and I took a somewhat last minute trip to Seattle. The goal was simply to get away from the grind for a few days and explore a new environment. In the spirit of frugality, we decided to relinquish one big luxury: car rental. Yes, we thought the convenience would be nice, but it would’ve cost upwards of $300, and we figured we could…

  • Reader Story: Getting Off Track (73 comments)

    This guest post from Nicholas 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. I was on on track, chugging along full steam ahead, barreling down on the American Dream with nothing in my path:…

  • Nobody Has It All: Careers We Can Believe In (189 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Sarah Gilbert. By now, lots and lots of people know that Anne-Marie Slaughter doesn’t have it all. Even though she was extremely high-powered, as Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department under Hillary Clinton for two years, she was not a perfect mom during that time, getting on a train to Washington, D.C. each Monday morning at 5:30 a.m. and returning home late Friday night. Her teenage…

  • Changing Focus from Stuff to Substance (64 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 Ashley Kipp. Sometimes it seems like the U.S. can be described by just one word: SUPERSIZED. It’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…

  • I Run My Errands, Too! (And Other Ways to Spend Less) (51 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Sarah Gilbert. I was cleaning the kitchen and listening to NPR (my default state) when A.J. Jacobs came on, discussing the various diets he’d committed to for Drop Dead Healthy, his latest stunt journalism book — this guy practically invented the genre. Naturally, most of the diets were a bust, but he did conclude that exercise was always a smart way to keep slim. “I literally run errands! So,…

  • Burgers or Blogging? Further Thoughts on Pursuing Your Passion (93 comments)

    Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been exploring the nature of work at Get Rich Slowly. What does it mean to pursue your passion? Is passion what work should be about? Or is a job just a source of income? For me, there’s no right answer. Right now, yes, I’m pursuing my passion, and I love it. As a full-time writer working from home, I’m doing work I’ve always wanted to do, and I…

  • Reader Story: Re-Evaluating the Rat Race (167 comments)

    This guest post from Joe 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. Over the last year, some of my friends have left their day jobs to become a full-time bloggers. Their stories are inspirational, but their choice…

  • How One Decision Can Help You Retire Faster (154 comments)

    This is a guest post by Dee Bauer from SmallHouseLife.com, where she shares information about abundant living in small spaces. Do you sometimes wonder if you’ll ever be financially stable enough to retire? Or maybe it’s not so much about retirement as it is about financial independence. Personally, I don’t want to wait until I’m in my 60s to enjoy financial freedom and extended leisure time! As a result of one decision, my husband and…

  • The Calculus of Convenience (232 comments)

    For several years now, I’ve lived in a sort of financial sweet spot. After paying off my debt, I realized that Kris and I had everything we really wanted or needed, so we never had to buy much for the house (except when something broke). But now that I’m on my own, I’m finding all sorts of little things I need to buy again. And those little things add up. Last Friday, for instance, I…

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

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

  • Spend on the Things You Do Every Day (133 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. I used to be guilty of spending money on the life I thought I lived, rather than the life I was actually living. To illustrate what I mean, consider the following past expenditures: Snowboarding apparel, for my first and only snowboarding trip to date. Evening dresses from Bluefly.com. Yes, they were purchased at a big discount, but I had nowhere to wear them! A mountain bike. I…

  • 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…

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

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

  • The Economics of Country Mouse vs. City Mouse (114 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. I’ve lived in a small town for most of my life. The drive home includes steep hills with panoramic views and winding country roads that ramble past ranches and wide-open fields. But I didn’t always have positive feelings about the country life. In high school, I hated it. All of the action was in the city, where coffee shops, museums, restaurants, and concerts happened. When I moved…

  • Remember to Value Your Time (83 comments)

    I can’t believe that Get Rich Slowly is going to link to two different xkcd comics within a single month, but it’s true. Genevieve dropped a line to point out this recent gem about one of the problems with penny pinching: Sometimes people forget to value their time. “This made me think a bit about my deal-hunting habits and what I’m really spending and saving,” Genevieve wrote. But I think this concept applies to more…

  • Hostels For Adults: Spend Travel Money Where it Counts (163 comments)

    This post is from new staff writer Sarah Gilbert. When I was 23, I stayed at my first (and last) Ritz Carlton, in Palo Alto. It was only a stop on a string of fabulous business hotels from which I’d collected small bars of soap and shoe shine mitts: The Breakers in Palm Beach, Hotel Nikko Beverly Hills, the Pierre and the Plaza and the Waldorf-Astoria and three different W Hotels in New York City…

  • Why Leaving My Job in Finance Was the Best Decision Ever (40 comments)

    This is a guest post from Sean Ogle, a former portfolio analyst who is now pursuing his goals of starting a business and seeing the world. Ogle writes about travel and entrepreneurship at Location 180. He also helps people build small businesses they can run from anywhere on earth at Location Rebel. This is my third guest post at Get Rich Slowly. The responses from my first two stories — Budgeting for a Lifestyle Change…

  • How Much Is a Clean Home Worth? (96 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. Last month I wrote a post on do-it-yourself beauty and personal care products. That touched a nerve with a lot of people: some loved it, some hated it; it seemed like everyone had something to say. At the time I’d planned to follow up with a post on do-it-yourself cleaning products for the home, but I’ve…

  • When Renting Is Smarter Than Buying (96 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. In my article on Spotify last week, a couple of commenters took me to task for suggesting that subscribing to access for music could be better than buying your own permanent copies of the songs you love. A few thought that, as a personal-finance writer, I should be urging people to buy their stuff instead of throwing money…

  • Sunk Costs and Smart Decisions (147 comments)

    As I write this, I’m on a flight back to Portland. I’ve spent the weekend with former GRS staff writer Adam Baker and his wife Courtney in Indianapolis, Indiana. Ostensibly, we were there to take part in GenCon, a huge gaming convention. We did play plenty of games, but we also had a lot of fun just hanging around and chatting. It was great to take a four-day break after months of being “on” all…

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

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

  • 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…

  • Every Purchase Is a Trade-Off (76 comments)

    While I was digging out of debt, I cut back on my comic book habit. I’d been spending a mind-boggling $250 every month on comics — most of which I bought in the form of hard-bound compilations — but for a few of years, I slashed that to less than $50 a month. I also cut my book spending from $100 per month to $50 per month. In other words, I made trade-offs. I decided…

  • Biking vs. Driving Calculator (112 comments)

    For the past two months, I’ve been conducting an informal experiment. Spurred by the high cost of gas — $4 per gallon to fill my Mini!?! — I decided to use alternate transportation: my feet. In May, I walked over 200 miles. In June, I’ve walked less but biked more. Walking and biking takes more time, it’s true, but not as much as I’d feared. Besides, walking and biking give me additional exercise, so there’s…

  • Big House, Little House (271 comments)

    I am constantly changing. While many people are much the same today as they were yesterday (or last week or twenty years ago), I’m always evolving. This isn’t necessarily good or bad — it’s just who I am. Some of my friends think I’m fickle. I get that. (Kris tells me that I go through “phases”.) I prefer to view this constant change as growth. I don’t want to be the same person tomorrow as…

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

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

  • 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…

  • Reader Story: The Costs and Savings of Bicycle Commuting (186 comments)

    This guest post from Duran Valdez 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. For the past two years, I’ve been riding a bicycle to work. Mostly because I’m cheap. My commute is a 12-mile round trip…

  • Reader Story: How I Built My Own House — Without a Mortgage (147 comments)

    This guest post from Ian is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. It’s the extended version of the story he shared in his prize-winning entry to this year’s GRS video contest. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. It dawned on me…

  • Is an MBA Worth It? (104 comments)

    This is a guest post from long-time reader Gal Josefberg. Gal writes about self-improvement at Equally Happy and healthy living at 60 in 3. I’ve recently hired my second employee, a newly-graduated technical writer who aspires to one day run his own business. He’s proactive, punctual, hardworking and very capable. The mentor in me wants to make sure he has a great career ahead of him. So imagine my alarm when I heard him say,…

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

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

  • When Does Minimalism Go Too Far? (124 comments)

    This is a guest post from Katy Wolk-Stanley of The Non-Consumer Advocate, a blog about frugality, food waste, environmentalism, simple living and finding thrift-store bargains. She describes herself as a “mother, utility bill scholar, laundry hanger-upper, library patron, frequent napper, and Buffy enthusiast.” When not blogging (or napping) Katy works as a high-risk labor and delivery nurse. Katy’s blog has been featured in many major media outlets, including The National Enquirer, which featured Whitney Houston…

  • How I Invest My Money (58 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. Two weeks ago, I elaborated by sharing how I make money. Last week, I turned to the other half of the basic personal-finance equation: I shared how I spend money. (Or, more precisely, the ways in which I try not to spend money.) Today, I’ll share the ways I…

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

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

  • 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…

  • How to Spend Your Way to Happiness (Part Two) (47 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. It’s part two of How to Spend Your Way to Happiness. Read part one here. Last week, we discussed three out of eight key ways that spending money can increase happiness, as found by researchers Elizabeth Dunn, Dan Gilbert, and Timothy Wilson (“If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy Then You’re Probably Not Spending It Right” [PDF]). Through empirical research, they sought to figure out how and why…

  • Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, or Do Without (178 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. My shower is broken. The water comes out just fine, and it doesn’t leak. But the temperature control is busted, so it only comes out at one temperature: as hot as it gets. Here’s the embarrassing part: It’s been like this for a year. Frugal or lazy? When the temperature thingy broke (and here you see…

  • Follow-Up: Taking a 20% Pay Cut (32 comments)

    I get a lot of requests for follow-ups to reader stories and reader questions. People want to hear how things turned out. Because I want to know how things turned out, too, I’ve started a semi-regular feature at Get Rich Slowly. Whenever I hear back from a previous poster, I’ll share an update so that we can all know what happened. Tim Stobbs wrote in September of 2010 to explain why he loved his 20%…

  • Establish Your Financial Priorities (Worksheet Inside!) (55 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Quick — can you list your top financial priorities? My top priorities (aside from basic living expenses) are building a house and travel. Those are the two things I daydream about the most, and the two things I try to keep in mind when I’m deciding whether I really need all 10 “hard-to-find” books from the used book store or whether I’m overspending on, say, a $100-compost…

  • Do Programmable Thermostats Really Save Money? (124 comments)

    Programmable thermostats save you money. That’s a no-brainer, right? You’ve seen that advice in books and magazines and on personal-finance blogs — even here at Get Rich Slowly. Well, it turns out programmable thermostats aren’t the miracle device we’ve believed all along. In fact, sometimes using a programmable thermostat costs more than not having one at all. But the fault doesn’t lie with the thermostat. The trouble, as my father used to say, is the…

  • Reader Story: Saving for Something Close to Home (38 comments)

    This guest post from Jeanne 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. This reader story is a response to my article last week about how to spend your money. Until I was 34, I spent most…

  • How to Spend Your Money (256 comments)

    Yesterday, as I was otherwise occupied (I spent five hours writing a post about programmable thermostats, a post nobody will even like!), the conversation on Donna Freedman’s article got a little cranky. Donna wrote about pinching pennies on some things so that she could splurge on others. In Donna’s case, that meant a trip to England. Tyler K., who’s always a little cranky, wrote in response: I’m just waiting for the post where someone’s passion,…

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

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

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

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

  • Reader Story: Why I Spent $5000 to See the Space Shuttle (43 comments)

    This guest post from Elizabeth Howell 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. Elizabeth is a Canadian science/business freelance journalist who runs a blog on space exploration, Pars3c. She’s currently pursuing her Master of Science, Space…

  • Setting Your Homebuying Priorities – Price, Quality, Location: Pick Any Two (42 comments)

    This is a guest-post from Tim Ellis, author of Seattle Bubble, a blog and forum dedicated to real-estate market conditions in the Seattle area. Tim is a long-time GRS reader. Previously on GRS, Tim has written about renting vs. buying and renting in a new city. A localized variant of this post appeared on Seattle Bubble earlier in February. Before I got into the blogging and real-estate analysis business, I spent the first decade or…

  • Reader Story: Sailing Away from the American Dream (52 comments)

    This guest post from Michael Robertson 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. Two years ago, Michael shared a guest post about direct stock purchase plans. Today, he shares his personal story, which is about sailing…

  • Redbox vs. iTunes vs. Netflix vs. Blockbuster (92 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Sometimes I think that Netflix was the best thing to ever happen to me (er, besides my wonderful husband, of course). You see, when I was a Blockbuster customer, I was notoriously bad about racking up late fees. I would flat-out forget I even had a movie to return. There’s no telling how much money I wasted in late fees. So when Netflix came on the scene,…

  • The Time Value of Money (or Why 25 Years of Cable TV Doesn’t Cost as Much as You Think) (31 comments)

    This guest post is from Stephen Popick, a government economist and founder of Coffeecents.org, a personal finance program for young adults. Popick is the long-time administrator of the Get Rich Slowly discussion forums. He loves coffee, even if his habit will cost him a latte-a-day million in thirty years. Just after Christmas, Carl Hendley of The Motley Fool wrote about his cable bill and how much lost investment income that money represented. As an economist,…

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

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

  • Conscious Spending in Action (167 comments)

    Kris and I pulled the plug on our television last week. We canceled cable, gave our DVD player to her sister, and moved the television to the workshop until we can find a buyer. We’re now officially TV-free. Sort of. We haven’t given up TV shows and DVDs entirely — we’re just consuming this entertainment via other methods. Namely, we use: iTunes subscriptions for Glee, The Office, 30 Rock, The Biggest Loser, and The Amazing…

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

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

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

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

  • Drama in Real Life: When Emergencies Pile Up (76 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. Last week, I mentioned that my cat just died. Not only was his passing heartbreaking, it was expensive. But as I said in that post, I was very happy to be able to write a check from my emergency fund and not worry about where the money would come from. Since I’m…

  • 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…

  • Pet Insurance: Is It Worth the Cost? (98 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. My cat, Monster, died two weeks ago after a struggle with cancer. Monster followed me home one day when I was 17; he was with me through every heartbreak, every move, job, boyfriend, and roommate. I’m grateful for the fifteen years we had together, but I miss him. I’ll miss him always,…

  • Does Your Spending Match Your Values? (37 comments)

    Last night, I joined a large group at Powell’s Books in Portland to see my friend Chris Guillebeau speak on the last stop of his 50-state book tour. Afterward, I got to chat with several GRS readers, including Dakota and Katy. I also talked with Tsilli Pines, whom I’ve mentioned here several times before. “You look great,” Tsilli said. “You’ve lost a lot of weight.” She and I talked about fitness, about Crossfit, and about…

  • Are E-Books Cost Effective? The Pros and Cons of E-Books (143 comments)

    Yesterday, Google opened its ebookstore for business. The search giant joins Apple and Amazon (and Barnes & Noble) in a fast-growing field. Electronic books will never completely replace paper books, but they’re going to make up a sizable portion — and maybe even the majority — of the market sooner than you think. Naturally, more and more GRS readers are moving to e-books. In fact, I’ve had a couple of people ask me about them…

  • 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….

  • Should You Pay Off Your Mortgage Early? (90 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. Everyone’s looking for safe investments these days. Unfortunately, there’s a price for security: low returns. A five-year certificate of deposit at a major bank like Ally pays just 2.4% APY today, and a five-year…

  • Emergency Fund vs. Debt Snowball: What’s the Top Priority? (79 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. A few weeks ago, in my review of Mary Hunt’s Debt-Proof Your Marriage, I mentioned that she advocates building a 3-6 month emergency fund before beginning to snowball your debt payments. That’s not my approach, and I criticized it a little in my review. Several commenters said they agreed with Hunt —…

  • Reader Story: Pedaling Toward Financial Freedom (82 comments)

    This guest post from Tammy Strobel 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. Tammy blogs about simple living at RowdyKittens, and is the author of Simply Car-Free and Smalltopia: A Practical Guide to Working for Yourself….

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

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

  • Cheap Things You Never Use Are No Bargain (70 comments)

    A couple of months ago, I shared some of the things I choose to spend my money on now that I’ve paid off my debts, saved for emergencies, and am funding my retirement. Most folks seemed to get my message: I cut back hard on the things I don’t care about (cable TV, clothes, newspapers and magazines) so that I can afford to spend on the things that do matter to me. As I say,…

  • What to Do When You’re Completely Unsure (26 comments)

    This is a guest post by Tyler Tervooren of Advanced Riskology, a blog with resources for extraordinary risk takers. You can follow him on Twitter @tylertervooren. Personal finance is full of confusing concepts, puzzling equations, and no lack of professionals with conflicting advice about what you ought to be doing and how you ought to go about doing it. With all that information swirling around in your head, and mixed with a general uncertainty about…

  • Living Like a Millionaire on Pennies a Day (41 comments)

    This is a guest post from Sean Ogle, a former portfolio analyst who is now pursuing his goals of starting a business and seeing the world. You can read more from him at Location180. You can also follow him on twitter @seanogle. Last fall, I quit my job. As nice as it was to have a steady paycheck and the prestige of being known as a “portfolio analyst”, there was one key component that was…

  • Reader Story: Even Better Than Enough (51 comments)

    This guest post from Louisa Rogers 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 feel deeply fortunate. I have close-knit family, friends, health, beautiful surroundings, work I love, and financial security. In a word, I have…

  • College Savings: The Basics of Saving for College (47 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. Got kids? If so, you’re probably hoping to send them to college. And you know it won’t be cheap. College costs are rising faster than inflation, and have been for decades. But that doesn’t mean you can’t afford a good education for your kids, even if you have a modest salary or…

  • Swapping Convenience for Low Costs (68 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. The other day I was walking down the street when a young man approached me and asked directions to the nearest Tube Station. I live in Boston, not London. Our subway is called the T. I happened to be walking to the nearby station myself, so we walked together and got to…

  • Reader Story: I Got a 20% Pay Cut — and Loved It! (61 comments)

    This guest post from Tim Stobbs 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. Tim Stobbs is the writer behind the blog, Canadian Dream: Free at 45. He lives in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada and despite his recent…

  • Why I Buy Local (171 comments)

    Kris and I live in a small, quiet neighborhood south of Portland. When the trolley line ran through here — between 1893 and 1959 — Oak Grove was actually thriving community, with shops and stores and more. (It’s true! I’ve seen pictures!) Now, though, downtown Oak Grove, such as it is, consists of a convenience store, a hair salon, a joint once named “the best dive bar in Portland” — and the home office of…

  • Life After Debt: What It’s Like in the Third Stage of Personal Finance (245 comments)

    I paid off the last of my debt in 2007, quit my day job in 2008, and have been working to build wealth ever since. As I wrote early last year, I’m in the Third Stage of personal finance: I’ve paid off my debt, built a cash cushion in savings, and am maxing out my retirement accounts. And after doing all of these things, I have money left over to spend on comic books and…

  • The High Cost of Modern Living (118 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. With all the hullabaloo over the release of the iPhone 4 this summer, and having just paid my monthly service bill for my own iPhone (an older version, thank you very much), I thought…

  • Is It Time To Quit Your Day Job? (96 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. (It’s also her birthday today.) Who doesn’t dream of quitting their day job? Every day, countless hours are spent in corporate cubicles daydreaming about lives of adventure, creativity, and play — lives spent doing what you love. Last month, I took the leap. I quit my day job to write full time….

  • Use an Informational Interview to Overcome Mental Barriers (38 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Less than a year ago, I was stuck. I knew I wanted to start a side business that had potential to grow, but I had no idea what to do or how to do it. I was feeling stagnant, suffocated, and tired of dreaming about possibilities, but never making progress. In hindsight, it’s clear that I was spinning my wheels. I was optimistic one day, bursting…

  • Worth More Than Money: Taking A Detour on the Road to Riches (105 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. Hola! My family is spending the month of July vacationing in Argentina. My husband grew up here, and his entire family still lives here: his parents, his brother and sisters, and my kids’ eight cousins, plus all his uncles and aunts and cousins. We’re having a long visit with the whole family….

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

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

  • The Rewards of Frugality and Thrift (or, Why We Scrimp and Save) (139 comments)

    Over the past couple of weeks, more than a few GRS readers have complained about the site’s tone. These folks are afraid that Get Rich Slowly is turning into a column that’s only about frugality and self-denial, one that is neglecting the “rich” part of the blog’s title. These concerns came to the fore in last week’s article about remembering to appreciate what I already have. In that discussion, ObjectiveGeek wrote: I want the best…

  • Beyond Credit Card Debt (54 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. I made my last credit card payment this week! That final payment ends more than ten years and $20,000 of credit card debt. Getting out of credit card debt is a familiar story to readers of Get Rich Slowly. You wake up to that fact that your finances are a sinking ship,…

  • Living on (a Lot) Less (58 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. I spent last weekend at a lake house in Maine with a broken water pump. For three days, we had no running water. Being beside the lake gave us ample access to water, but nothing flowed from the taps. To get clean, we swam in the lake or bathed with damp cloths….

  • High Interest: How to Choose Between Checking, Savings, and CDs (52 comments)

    In a rocky economy, high interest rates are the holy grail of conservative investors, especially those who don’t want to to invest in bonds. But in this rocky economy, “high interest” hasn’t really meant much: High-interest savings accounts are returning below two percent! Get Rich Slowly readers are just like everybody else. A couple of times a week, I get e-mail from somebody looking for higher interest rates, but puzzled about where to find them….

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

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

  • The Calculus of Cats and Dogs (172 comments)

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

  • Casting Stones: When Is It Okay to Judge? (239 comments)

    I’ve been stewing over something for the past few days, and I’m finally ready to write about it. I’m not a fan of judging others and their actions. Like Atticus Finch, I believe you never really know a person until you stand in their shoes and walk around in them. But I’m human. Like everyone, there are times I can’t help passing judgment. And although I know that judging others isn’t productive, sometimes I’m at…

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

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

  • Reader Story: A Drastic Change for Drastic Results (37 comments)

    This guest post from Ian is part of the “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general “how I did X” advice, and 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 think this story offers an interesting contrast to last week’s story. I used to think that…

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

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

  • Reader Story: I’m Done with Debt (112 comments)

    This guest post from Andrew J. is part of the “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general “how I did X” advice, and 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 am writing this for two reasons: First, GRS is like a big toolbox that I…

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

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

  • Money Myths and the Importance of Thinking for Yourself (136 comments)

    When I sat down to write Your Money: The Missing Manual, I knew I wanted to start with a chapter on happiness. (Well, to be fair, I was going to conclude the book with this chapter; my editor suggested moving it to the beginning, which was a stroke of genius.) In particular, I wanted to make the point that money doesn’t buy happiness. Because we all know that’s true, right? Well, not so much, as…

  • Save Money by Reducing Subscriptions and Avoiding Long-Term Contracts (48 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. On his own blog, Baker recently shared his 26 life lessons learned in 26 years of living. In continuing celebration of Financial Literacy Month, my GRS contributions throughout April are covering basic techniques to raise your financial awareness. We’ve previously touched on the topics of debt and income. Today we’ll tackle two of my favorite tips for ensuring conscious spending. Purge your subscriptions Subscriptions, even small ones,…

  • Can You Afford to Go Green? (70 comments)

    This post from staff writer Sierra Black is in honor of Earth Day. As soon as you start thinking about how to live more lightly on the earth, your eyes start opening to the myriad ways you can do that. You can eat only organic food. You can bike to work instead of driving. You can insist on high-efficiency appliances. You can line dry your clothes. Some of these lifestyle shifts will save you money….

  • 8 Financial Deadly Sins (83 comments)

    I did a lot of stupid things with money when I was a younger. In fact, I still make mistakes. We all do. But some mistakes are worse than others. This morning’s USA Today features an article that highlights eight money missteps that can really hurt you financially. Author Kathryn Canavan highlights eight economic deadly sins: Raiding your retirement accounts. I get a lot of e-mail from readers who want to generate quick cash by…

  • Reader Story: How (and Why) I Moved My Money to a Local Bank (73 comments)

    This guest post from Aja is part of the “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general “how I did X” advice, and others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. By now we’ve all heard about how the giant national banks (Bank of America, Chase, Citibank) are “too big to fail” and have to be rescued from their mistakes with our taxpayer money….

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

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

  • Reader Story: I Bought a Fire Station for My First Home (64 comments)

    This post is part of the new “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general “how I did X” advice, and others will be examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. Today’s reader story is a little bit different; I wrote it after interviewing the subject. For Your Money: The Missing Manual, I knew I wanted to include stories from average folks like you and…

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

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

  • The Balance Between Splurger and Miser (68 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Before I changed my habits, I spent money without much thought. In college, if I had a two-hour break between classes, I’d drive to the mall. Once I started working full time, my coworker and I would bring our lunches to work just so that we’d have the entire hour to shop. If I was bored, I’d wander into the cosmetics superstore Sephora for entertainment. Even…

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

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

  • Living Like No One Else (99 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a quote from J.D.’s review of The Total Money Makeover: Printed on the bottom of every page…is the book’s motto: “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” My husband and I recently made an unusual decision, and I’m in need of a motto that I can repeat to myself every time I…

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

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

  • Online Tools for Mindful Consumerism (29 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. For many people, mindful consumerism starts with questioning the desire to buy Stuff. The reason might be to save money or avoid clutter — maybe both. It’s the first part of a journey to differentiate needs from wants and make mindful decisions about where to spend our hard-earned money. But at some point, most of us will consume. We’ll buy food or clothing or household items….

  • How I Made My Peace with Hiring a Housekeeper (165 comments)

    This is a guest post from my ex-wife. It’s a response to the debate on Erica’s recent article about outsourcing life. J.D. and I have been employing an independent housekeeper for about 10 years. The one who’s been working for us for almost five years, Michele, is fantastic and we feel lucky to have her. (We found her through Craigslist). Housecleaning is her full-time job. It took us some time to get over our self-imposed…

  • 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…

  • Just Saying “No” to Credit Cards (110 comments)

    For nearly a decade, I lived without a personal credit card. In 1998, I destroyed all my cards and canceled my accounts in a last-ditch effort to curb my compulsive spending. It worked (sort of), and it wasn’t until 2007 that I finally felt like I was responsible enough to use credit wisely without going into debt. (And so far, it’s been smooth sailing.) What was it like without credit? Surprisingly easy, actually. Though a…

  • When to Replace Your Car (124 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. Over the holidays, we said good-bye to an old family member. It was definitely her time to go. She leaked, she conked out at odd times, and she stank. Of course, I’m talking about…

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

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

  • Does It Still Make Sense to Refinance in Today’s Market? (93 comments)

    Last winter, Kris and I refinanced our mortgage. Interest rates had dropped, and it seemed like a good idea to make the leap. Though it took us a couple of months to actually pull the trigger, we finally ended up cutting the interest rate on our loan from 6.25% to 4.96%. According to sites like ShopRate and HSH.com, mortgage rates are still low, with loans available in the low- to mid- four percent range. While…

  • Is a Reverse Mortgage Right for You? (54 comments)

    This is a guest post from Francine Huff, a freelance journalist and writer at BestReverseMortgage.com and the author of The 25-Day Money Makeover for Women. She has appeared on a variety of TV and radio shows. Visit her web sites Huff Writes and Super Savvy Spender. Whether through recent news articles or over the water cooler, you’ve probably heard something about reverse mortgages. But if you (or a loved one) is considering this type of…

  • The Basic Law of Frugality (90 comments)

    April’s post this morning about renting designer purses and other luxury items raised a few eyebrows. Because the focus here at Get Rich Slowly is on frugality, it’s not often that we delve into the world of high fashion. In the comments, for example, Ami wrote: I thought this was the Get Rich Slowly site, not the fritter your money on fripperies site. For me, Getting Rich Slowly is about changing your mindset about what’s…

  • Suze Orman Jumps Aboard the “Pay With Cash” Bandwagon (188 comments)

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

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

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

  • Stimulus Programs: Cash for Buyer’s Remorse? (69 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Adam Baker. Baker, along with his wife and 20-month old daughter, will be spending the next couple of months exploring Thailand as they continue their recent backpacking journey. Since the start of the economic slump started in 2008, the U.S. government has issued several incentive programs in an attempt to stimulate some positive movement in the economy. First, came the popular $7500 tax credit for first time home…

  • How Much House Do You Need? (157 comments)

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

  • Do What Works for You (56 comments)

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

  • Large Amounts Matter Too (45 comments)

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

  • The Pitfalls of Buying in Bulk (75 comments)

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

  • The Paradox of Choice and the Dangers of Perfection (81 comments)

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

  • Should You Stop Funding Retirement to Focus on Debt? (81 comments)

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

  • Which Comes First: The House or the Nest Egg? (85 comments)

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

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

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

  • Born in a Small Town (44 comments)

    My wife just returned from a long weekend touring eastern Oregon with two of her co-workers. They drove from small town to small town, shopping for antiques and visiting museums. On Saturday — with an early October snow falling outside — Kris and her friends stopped to eat lunch at La Laguna in the small town of Joseph (population 1054). As part of the worst job I ever had, I spent several weeks selling insurance…

  • Use a Lease Option to Lock in Low Home Prices (28 comments)

    This article is GRS staff writer Adam Baker. In addition to his work at Get Rich Slowly, Baker blogs over at Man Vs. Debt, where he publicly tracks his spending on a daily basis. Everywhere I turn, people are speculating on whether housing prices have bottomed. While I personally feel things are looking better, I’m never a fan of trying to time markets. Attempting this often encourages people to make large financial decisions before they…

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

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

  • Sweating the Big Stuff (73 comments)

    This is a guest post from Sierra Black, a long-time GRS reader. She writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. When my husband and I first got married, we bought a house in the suburbs and promptly had a baby. Buying that house meant buying a piece of the American Dream — but we both figured out pretty quickly that it wasn’t our dream. I will never forget…

  • 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…

  • How to Choose the Right Bank Account (53 comments)

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

  • 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,…

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

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

  • What is the Value of a College Education? (156 comments)

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

  • Hoping to Finish Ahead by Starting Behind (174 comments)

    This is a guest post from A.J. Clark, a long-time lurker at Get Rich Slowly. A.J. is a potential Staff Writer for GRS. He is a recent college graduate who writes software in the financial services industry, while trying to find his financial footing in the Real World. $76,133.53 — I owe this total to various lenders, who decided four years ago that trusting an eighteen year old with this sum of money was a…

  • Freedom from Mindless Spending (143 comments)

    This is a guest post from April Dykman, an avid GRS reader, and a writer and editor by trade. April is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. April is an active commenter at this site. “People’s complex attitudes toward money often defy economic theory.” — Drazen Prelec, associate professor of marketing at the Sloan School of Management There was a time not so very long ago that I didn’t pay much attention to…

  • Extreme Personal Finance: Daniel Suelo, The Man Without Money (82 comments)

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

  • The High Cost of Laziness (66 comments)

    Last month, Forbes published an article about all the ways your laziness is costing you. As a semi-reformed layabout (Kris would say I haven’t reformed at all!), I read the article with interest. I recognized some of my old money habits — and some I still have. Author Daniel Adler writes: These days countless businesses make hay by taking advantage of our collective indolence — everything from not bothering to spend 15 minutes surfing the…

  • Saving for the Short Term (49 comments)

    Dave wrote yesterday with a common question. He’s looking for a low-risk investment with decent returns, but not having any luck finding one. He writes: I currently have a Money Market Savings account and the interest rate has dropped to 1%. It used to be 5%. When it was earning 5%, I had roughly $25,000 in there, and would make something like $60-$90 per month in interest. Now I have $50,000 in there and only…

  • Our Frugal Weekend (77 comments)

    I haven’t written much about frugality here lately. Because of that, you might think it’s become less of a priority for me. That’s simply not the case, although sometimes it feels that way — even to me. “I’m worried about our spending,” Kris told me early last week. “I feel like it’s a little out of control.” “Really?” I said. We’ve had a couple of big expenses lately — painting the house, for example —…

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

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

  • An Introduction to Money Market Accounts & How to Find The Best Rates (51 comments)

    I’ve been moving large sums of money between my bank accounts recently. I’m shuffling funds from my business account to my personal account to my high-yield savings account in an attempt to get each dollar in its proper place. It’s really not as complicated as I make it seem, though it does take a little work. At one point during this process, I ended up with over $25,000 in my credit-union checking account. Most of…

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

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

  • Reader Story: The Secret Millionaire and the Mathmobile (43 comments)

    I keep telling myself I’ll share reader e-mail more often. You folks send me great stuff. For example, here’s Ruth’s story about her own millionaire next door. I loved reading about J.D.’s “secret millionaire” neighbor. This is a story about my own “secret millionaire” neighbor. He actually lives in the next suburb. This local middle-school math teacher retired about five years ago, and became a private tutor. Since retirement, he works seven days a week…

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

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

  • Online Banking: 13 Choices for Higher Interest Rates and Increased Security (86 comments)

    In its July 2009 issue, Consumer Reports Money Adviser published a brief overview of the best online banking options according to their research. “Online banking, despite a rocky start, is becoming the rule rather than the exception,” the article says, noting that online banking can net savers better interest rates and increased security. I’d love to be able to point you to an online version of this article, but none exists. And I’m not about…

  • Cut Your Food Costs With a Stand-Alone Freezer (65 comments)

    Kris and I recently bought another side of beef. Well, to be more accurate, we purchased one third of a cow. Every year, we go in with several other families to split an animal. This year, our portion of the purchase comprised: 46 pounds of lean hamburger (in 24 packs) 36-1/8 pounds of roasts (in 10 packs) 31-1/4 pounds of steak (in 20 packs) We also received 2-1/4 pounds of beef tongue that we’re giving…

  • Where We’re Starting From (30 comments)

    Each of us has a unique relationship with money. Some have always used it wisely, have saved, have avoided debt. Others, like me, have struggled. I carried consumer debt for 20 years. I didn’t open my first savings account until I was 36 years old. But now, after just over four years of intense effort, I feel financially secure. I still make mistakes (boy, do I!), but my momentum is leading me in the direction…

  • Office Space: Why I Rented a Place to Write (74 comments)

    I recently leased office space for Get Rich Slowly. For about a year, I’d been working out of an office I’d created in one of our spare bedrooms. This seemed like an ideal solution: I was able to work from home (with my cat companions!) while utilizing empty space. In reality, this arrangement proved a blessing and a curse. Yes, it was convenient to have a home office. But I also found that the boundaries…

  • The Boat Experience: The Means Justify the Ends (42 comments)

    This is a guest post from Michael H. It’s the story I alluded to when I first wrote about the third stage of personal finance. I was afraid to run this story when Michael submitted it last year. I thought it encouraged foolish behavior. Now I understand that it does no such thing. Instead, it points to goals, and the reasons for our frugality and saving. For the past 10 years, our family has gone…

  • Starting a Business After a Job Loss (25 comments)

    This is a guest post from Matt, a long-time GRS reader. After earning a master’s degree in electrical engineering, my father joined a large technology company where he did quite well for himself. The company transferred him twice, requiring him to pick up and move his newly-created family across the country. Then he was laid off. Vowing never to let this happen again, he leveraged his network to recruit good people for a new electrical…

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

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

  • When Does It Make Sense to Stock Up? (159 comments)

    One of my wife’s favorite cosmetic products was recently discontinued. For years she’s used a certain facial cleanser from Avon, so when Avon stopped selling it, Kris was frustrated. She’s tried similar products from other companies, but prefers the one from Avon. It occurred to Kris that maybe she could find the product online. She tracked down a seller on eBay and ordered a two-year supply for $50 (plus shipping). This is double what she…

  • How Much Money Should You Save? (51 comments)

    At CNNMoney, Walter Updegrave hosts an “Ask the Expert” column in which he fields reader questions. (Updegrave is an editor at Money Magazine.) Lionel from San Diego recently wrote in with a question that all of us have: What percentage of income should someone save in order to be considered financially responsible? I’m wary of spending now because of the bad economy, but I don’t know how much I should be saving on a monthly…

  • Prepaid Cell Phones Can Save You Money (148 comments)

    Last week, I spoke with personal-finance writer Greg Karp about how young adults can save money. We brainstormed ideas for one of his upcoming newspaper columns. “I’m willing to bet that many young people can save money by cutting back on their cell phone,” I said. “It’s kind of shocking how these have become a Need instead of a Want.” “Yeah,” Karp said. “And what about prepaid phones?” “I don’t know anything about them,” I…

  • How to Find the Right CD or Money Market Account (21 comments)

    This is a guest post from Richard Barrington, a Chartered Financial Analyst and 20-year veteran of the financial industry. Barrington blogs regularly at MoneyRates. Conservative savings vehicles such as certificates of deposit (CDs) and money market accounts look especially appealing these days, despite low interest rates. But how do you pick the right savings vehicle for your needs? There are many options, and a little information will help you make the best choice for your…

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

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

  • Saving Money and the Environment: Where Green and Frugal Meet (62 comments)

    This is a guest post for Earth Day from Beth H., who writes about saving time, money, and the environment at Smart Family Tips. Going “green” has a bit of a bad rap. As soon as marketers realized it was profitable to be green, suddenly all sorts of products flooded the marketplace with eco-friendly claims. It can be overwhelming. Is it really necessary to buy all this “stuff” to be green? Are these products really…

  • 8 Questions to Ask BEFORE Hiring a Financial Planner (120 comments)

    This is a guest post by Jeff Rose, an Certified Financial Planner from Illinois. Rose is also the author of Good Financial Cents, a financial planning and investment blog. Before reading his article, you may want to begin with two previous guest posts from Dylan Ross: What is a financial plan and why have one? and When and how to hire a financial planner. When meeting with a financial planner for the first time, many…

  • 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…

  • Finding Balance Between Time and Money (102 comments)

    Lately my personal focus has been on finding balance in my life. I’m trying to discover the proper place for money — and for time. Over the past few years, I’ve allowed money to become too important. I’ve worked too much, and that has hurt other aspects of my life. I don’t have time for anything else. As part of this process, I’ve been reading the new edition of Your Money or Your Life, the…

  • The High Cost of Having Children (160 comments)

    Because my wife I do not have children, I feel that it’s important to bring in outside voices to talk about money and kids. This is a guest post from Cathy, who writes about family finances, parenting, and cooking at Chief Family Officer. I would never in a million years want to give up my children just because they cost too much. But recently, the cost of having children hit home as I was reading…

  • Oversaving Does Not Lead to Happiness (51 comments)

    I love frugality. Frugality helped me to dig out of debt, begin to build wealth, and find more meaning in the things I already own. But at some point I crossed the line from frugal to cheap. I’ve spent the past few months seeking balance: allowing myself permission to spend on a few indulgences while choosing to cut back in other areas. There’s new research that indicates this sort of conscious spending really does make…

  • 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…

  • The Psychology of Passive Barriers: Why Your Friends Don’t Save Money, Eat Healthier, or Clean Their Garages (100 comments)

    This is a guest post from Ramit Sethi, the founder of iwillteachyoutoberich.com, a blog on personal finance and entrepreneurship. His new book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, will be published on March 23rd. A surprising thing happens to people in their forties. After working hard, buying a house, and starting a family, they suddenly realize that they’d better start being responsible with their money. They begin reading financial books and trying to learn…

  • Defeating Temptation: 10 Questions to Ask Yourself When You’re Tempted to Buy (99 comments)

    You’re in the mall or at the Electronics Emporium. There’s nothing you need to buy, but you’re killing time while your spouse finishes an errand. As you wait, you browse. You admire the Thneeds. Look! There’s a new one! It’s bright and shiny and you think it will make you happy, so you pick it up, walk to the register, and purchase it. You’re the proud owner of the latest Thneed. But when you get…

  • Kansas or Bust: Considering Cost of Living (98 comments)

    I called my little brother yesterday. He lost his home to foreclosure last fall, and things have only continued to get worse. He and his wife are doing the best they can, but they feel overwhelmed. “What’s the latest?” I asked. Tony gave me an update. We talked about his problems with insurance, and with the bank, and with the debt settlement service. We talked about his options for the future. “All things considered, I…

  • Why You Shouldn’t Keep a Mortgage Just for the Tax Deduction (107 comments)

    This is a guest post from CJ at WiseMoneyMatters.com. This post represents CJ’s viewpoints, which are not necessarily my viewpoints. (Although I, too, hope to pay off my mortgage early.) Note: This is embarrassing. I don’t think I’ve ever had a post with an error like this slip by me before. I apologize. I’ve removed the offending section, not out of any attempt at revisionism, but out of interest in accuracy. Please let me know…

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

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

  • Best CD Rates – Certificate of Deposit Rates (96 comments)

    Version of Original Post Below The Online CD rates (certificate of deposit) on this page are updated as of dates noted below. Certificates of deposit (often simply called CDs) are time deposits. You give your money to a bank and then promise not to touch it for a specific length of time. In general, the longer you agree to let the bank keep your money, the higher the interest rate you’ll receive. And historically, the…

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

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

  • How I Cut My Television Bill in Half (145 comments)

    I’ve had several requests lately to update my two-year quest to find cheap alternatives to cable television. In March of 2007, Kris and I were paying $65.82 for a deluxe digital cable package that we rarely used – money that could have been used to pay down debt or increase the balance on my savings account. “$65.82 a month isn’t a fortune,” I wrote at the time, “but it’s a lot of money to pay…

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

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

  • “What Next?” The Third Stage of Personal Finance (142 comments)

    I earned more money in 2008 than I’ve ever made in my life. Get Rich Slowly isn’t just a personal success — it’s a financial success, as well. Combine this income with an ongoing campaign of frugality — my spending last year was the lowest it’s been since I started tracking it — and my financial position is rosy. My plan to get rich slowly is succeeding. Financial security Yet despite my increased wealth, I…

  • Refinancing Made Easy: Our Story (93 comments)

    I recently had lunch with Winston, the Get Rich Slowly intern. We talked about our families, our finances, and our plans for this site. Winston mentioned that, at my prompting, he and his wife were refinancing their home. “The local credit union was able to give us a deal,” he said. “We got a 15-year loan at 4.625% for just 1/3 of a point.” “I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t done anything about my…

  • Why I Drive a 13-Year-Old Car (267 comments)

    This is a guest post from Joel Berry. I recently had a talk with a friend about why I haven’t purchased a new car. He can’t understand why I still drive a 1995 Geo Prizm. I can afford to buy a new car, but I choose not to. The fact is, driving an older car saves me money! To prove my point, I ran some numbers. I was surprised by how much money I’ve saved…

  • 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…

  • 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 Defense of Buying Books (108 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation. This is a guest post from Ann Zerkle, a Get Rich Slowly lurker, and the founder of Heroes of Capitalism. I know J.D. has posted many times about how going to the library saves money, but I personally love to buy books. Even after reading the arguments about saving money over the year, going to the library and everything else, I still think buying some books is good for me. This…

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

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

  • When Less is More: The Importance of Perceived Value (71 comments)

    The things we buy have an absolute value — the price we pay for them — but they also possess relative perceived values. Not everything with the same price holds the same value to me. An $80 pair of work boots might be worth much more to me than an $80 sweater or an $80 meal in a restaurant. And I can often (not always) derive more value from something cheap than from a more…

  • Why Charitable Giving is Even More Important During an Economic Downturn (39 comments)

    This is a guest post from Debbie Dubrow from Delicious Baby, a blog with advice about traveling with babies, toddlers and kids. Previously at GRS, Debbie wrote about how to track travel expenses and stick to a vacation budget. The U.S. government has officially announced that we’re in a recession, but for those balancing our own budgets, it’s not new news.  Even if you haven’t been affected yet, you are probably cutting back and setting…

  • How to Afford Anything (But Not Everything) (61 comments)

    You can have anything you want — but you can’t have everything you want. That’s the lesson I learned from a recent conversation with my cousin. And that’s the lesson photographer Ken Rockwell imparts in an essay that explains how to afford anything. Our ability to buy expensive toys has nothing to do with how much money we do or don’t earn. Like everything in life, it has everything to do with how well you…

  • Three Reasons Cash is King (53 comments)

    This is a guest post from Danny Kofke, author of How to Survive (and Perhaps Thrive) on a Teacher’s Salary. Times are tough. Many are finding it more difficult to stretch their dollars. I know this first-hand because I am a school teacher, and my wife is a stay-at-home mom with our two young daughters. Despite earning a modest income, we have managed to own all of our possessions (including two cars!) except our house,…

  • Black Friday — Or Not? (82 comments)

    This weekend will be important for U.S. retailers. They’ll be counting their pennies carefully. With retail sales already down sharply from 2007, merchants are eager for a strong start to the holiday shopping season. The day after Thanksgiving — now dubbed “Black Friday” — has become something of a ritualized cultural experience, and one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Many people view the day as a chance to grab stellar deals on…

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

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

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

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

  • Old Clothes for the New Year (41 comments)

    This is a guest post from The Frugal Duchess, Sharon Harvey Rosenberg. Rosenberg writes a column for the Miami Herald about saving money. Her new book is The Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money.   Almost every year for Rosh Hashanah — the New Year according to the Hebrew calendar — my family buys new clothes. With a few new tags, we make symbolic and fashion statements. And the same message is…

  • Thoughts on a Scooter-Based Lifestyle (68 comments)

    This is a guest post from Stephen Popick, administrator for the Get Rich Slowly discussion forums. Two years ago when I bought my People 150cc scooter, I was teased ceaselessly by my car-loving friends. It wasn’t so long ago that gas was under two dollars a gallon, and the need for more efficient wheeled transportation wasn’t as “in your face” as it is now. Today, when my friends talk about my scooter (or my wife’s)…

  • When Is It Okay to Give? (30 comments)

    This is a guest post from my friend Kris, an American writer living in India. She and her husband recently arrived in New Delhi to participate in an educational exchange program. The juxtaposition of cultures has been interesting for Kris and Jeff: every day, their hosts bring ample meals to their rooms, but just a few blocks a way, people go hungry. Kris comments, “We’re from a small, rural community in the United States. Poverty…

  • Investing in a Bear Market (93 comments)

    On 09 October 2007, the Dow Jones Industrials hit a record high, closing at 14,279. What a difference a year makes: Last Friday, the Dow closed at 8451, and there’s a good chance it will drop even further. Unsurprisingly, my inbox is filled with e-mail from people who wonder what they should do. Here are some typical questions from readers like you: “Originally we had planned to open Roth IRAs this weekend, but with the…

  • 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…

  • How Do You Turn Passion into a Career? (And Should You?) (31 comments)

    Ask Metafilter is one of my favorite sites on the internet; I’ve been an active member there for years. It’s a great place to get advice on many subjects, including money. And careers. Recently a user named Entropic asked a question about “finding your passion”, which received an awesome reply from my pal Grumblebee. Here, with permission (and a tiny bit of editing), is that Ask Metafilter exchange. Entropic How did you find your passion?…

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

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

  • Could Tithing Lead Some Americans to Lose Their Homes? (191 comments)

    Last week, USA Today featured an article on Christians who continue to tithe even as they face foreclosure. Tithing is the practice of donating 10% of your gross income to your church. It’s not a common practice (only 5% of American adults tithe), but it’s important to those who choose to do so. It’s a component not just of Christianity, but other religions as well. But what happens when tithing interferes with your ability to…

  • 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…

  • Burn After Reading: The $22 Movie (157 comments)

    I’m going to sound like a crotchety old man for a minute here — but it’s my blog and I can write what I want. Movies are too damn expensive. One of the luxuries of working from home is that when a friend calls me at 2 o’clock to go see a movie, I can do it. So when Paul called yesterday to ask if I wanted to see Burn After Reading, I said, “Sure.”…

  • Research Reveals Credit Cards Encourage Spending (61 comments)

    Conventional wisdom says that people spend more when they use credit than when they use cash. But is it true? In The Money Answer Book, Dave Ramsey writes: When you pay in cash, you can “feel” the money leaving you. This is not true with credit cards. Flipping a card up on a counter registers nothing emotionally. If you use plastic instead of cash you will spend 12 percent to 18 percent more. This is…

  • Which Personal-Finance Magazine is Best? (70 comments)

    Beth wrote recently looking for help: I’m a public library worker, and my library needs personal finance advice! We feel strongly that we need to keep a personal finance magazine in circulation, but the ones we’ve subscribed to in the past have been met with the deafening silence of complete disinterest. We’ve had Money for a year with no checkouts; before that, we had Fortune for two years with no checkouts. We’re thinking about replacing…

  • How to Choose a Credit Card (63 comments)

    A credit card can be a useful tool or it can be a dangerous weapon. Most of this depends on you — the best credit card in the world won’t help if you spend beyond your means. American adults carry thousands of dollars in average credit card debt. I lived a decade mired in it and I don’t recommend it to anyone. If you’re responsible, however, a credit card can be both convenient and efficient….

  • 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…

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

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

  • A Few Ways to Raise Cash Quickly (40 comments)

    Disclaimer: After some strong feedback from GRS readers (and from my wife), I’ve made the rare move of heavily editing this article after publication. My hope is that the re-write makes it clear that I am not advocating all of these ideas. Yes, payday loans are on the list, but they’re at the bottom of the list. They’re the worst possible option for scaring up cash. The September issue of Money features an article by…

  • Financial Success Comes from Within (36 comments)

    This is a guest post from Flexo at Consumerism Commentary, the granddaddy of personal finance blogs. Previously at GRS, he shared how to be the Chief Financial Officer of your own life. Success, financial or otherwise, comes from within. According to studies by psychologists and researchers, people with an internal locus of control are more apt to plan for long-term goals, delay gratification, and accept more risk for the promise of more reward. These qualities…

  • How to Win the Lottery (128 comments)

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

  • 8 Tips for Saving Money on Hobbies and Pastimes (67 comments)

    Lee wrote with an innocent question about photography equipment yesterday. Little did she realize I’d already been thinking about the broader issues of her dilemma. Here’s an abridged version of her message: A friend asked me about cameras. He went shopping last weekend and saw lenses that ranged from $200 to $700. He felt that the lower-end lenses would not work for him, but he wasn’t prepared to spend $700, so he went home. Now…

  • A Momentary Lapse of Reason (69 comments)

    I used to have two responses when faced with stress: spend more or eat more. I still sometimes struggle with stress-eating, but stress-spending hasn’t been an issue since I started this blog. My mother’s recent health problems, however, have brought a whole new meaning to the word “stress”. “I can’t believe this makes me so tense,” I told Kris. “I know Mom’s in good hands. She’s going to be fine.” “It’s understandable,” Kris said. So…

  • Are High Gas Prices Changing the Way We Drive? (138 comments)

    My friend Craig rides the bus to work every day. His family gets by with just one car. “Do you do it to save money?” I asked him recently. “Well, owning just one car certainly does save money — car payments, gas, insurance, parking — and that’s a major reason I do it,” he said. “But I also do it because it helps the environment, and because it gives me a chance to unwind before…

  • Dangerous Norms: When a Treat Becomes a Routine Matter (54 comments)

    This is a guest post from Trent Hamm, who writes about frugality and fighting debt at The Simple Dollar. When I was young, going out to eat at a restaurant was a rare treat, something to anticipate and savor. About twice a year, we would go to an elegant buffet restaurant called Johnny’s Supper Club in a nearby town. I looked forward to eating at Johnny’s for days in advance, plotting all the different delicious…

  • Enough is Enough: Wealth is What You Make It (44 comments)

    This is a guest post from Steve Ross, a pastor at a church in rural Oregon. I learned something about how wealthy I am recently. I am a pastor in a congregation that is in a financial crisis. We’re reaching new people, but as our older givers die the losses exceed the gains in terms of financial support. This year we have a $100,000 deficit in our budget. Yikes! As our Finance Committee worked on…

  • Ask the Readers: Should I Chase Higher Interest Rates? (88 comments)

    Almost eighteen months ago, I wrote a post listing the best on-line high-yield savings accounts. Over 750 comments later, the discussion is still going strong. Kyle recently chimed in with a question many people have: In January, before I started reading Get Rich Slowly, I opened a high-yield investor checking account with Charles Schwab. The interest rate was around 3.75%, but it’s fallen to 2% now. After starting to read your site, I decided to…

  • 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…

  • How to Cope with a Lousy 401(k) Plan (42 comments)

    “The Mole” is a certified financial planner and public accountant who, in his spare time, provides a behind-the-scenes view of the financial planning industry for Money magazine. In his most recent column, The Mole explains how to deal with a bad 401(k) plan. “401(k) providers don’t actually care how they make money,” he writes, “just as long as they make a tidy profit.” The providers can make money by: Offering good choices to employees, but…

  • Die Broke: Spend ’til the End (28 comments)

    Smart personal finance is all about balance. You work while you’re young to provide for the day when you may not be able (or willing) to work any longer. If you don’t save enough, you may find yourself unable to lead the life you want in retirement. But if you save too much when you’re young, you risk sacrificing years of youth and vigor for an uncertain future. In a worst case scenario, you may…

  • Five Tactics for Pursuing Voluntary Simplicity (26 comments)

    One of my favorite personal finance bloggers is Philip Brewer at Wise Bread. He writes long, thoughtful articles about the philosophy of money, not just on tips and tricks to save at the grocery store. Brewer recently posted a piece called “What I’ve Been Trying to Say” that summarizes his philosophy. Explaining why he believes voluntary simplicity can be a great choice for many people, he writes: You can choose how you want to live. If…

  • iPhone or Millionaire? (37 comments)

    Apple releases the second iteration of its iPhone today. The product ostensibly carries a lower price than the previous version. But how much does it really cost? Matt and Marnie both pointed me to the latest comic from The Joy of Tech, which explores this very subject. Would you forego an iPhone for a million dollars? Be sure to read the math behind the comic. Some of the assumptions are a little loose — 10%…

  • The Nonconformists’ Guide to Personal Finance (84 comments)

    This is a guest post from Chris Guillebeau at The Art of Non-Conformity. It’s long. It’s good. If you can’t read it all now, bookmark it and come back later. It’s worth it. Earlier this week, Chris released a short (and free) e-book called A Brief Guide to World Domination. It’s all about rejecting mediocrity and pursuing a higher purpose. I recommend it highly. My short life as a daytrader In my second year of…

  • The Art of Frugal Living (43 comments)

    Christine just sent me a National Public Radio story about the frugal artists of New York City. Columbia University recently released a study of 213 visual artists over the age of 61. Their average income? $30,000 a year. According to the NPR story: Most of them said they were satisfied with their lives. However, many reported that they also have had to make daily economic compromises. They don’t eat out, buy clothes at flea markets…

  • Ask the Readers: Advice for Starting a New Business? (61 comments)

    I encourage GRS readers to pursue their dreams. I also extol the virtues of entrepreneurship. Mike believes he’s ready to take both pieces of advice to heart. He wants to leave his job, set out on his own, and start a new business. But he’s worried. He wonders if Get Rich Slowly readers can offer any advice. Here’s his story: I’ve been at the same job since I graduated from college nearly ten years ago….

  • Don’t Raid Your 401(k) to Make Mortgage Payments (27 comments)

    What’s worse than not being able to make your mortgage payments? How about tapping into retirement savings to make ends meet? National Public Radio’s Morning Edition ran a story on Friday about the growing number of people making “hardship withdrawals” from their retirement plans. From the story: “It’s a terrible choice on so many levels, because we shouldn’t be messing with our futures for the present,” says Jane King, a financial planner who serves as…

  • Current Deals and Contests from Online Banks (41 comments)

    The Get Rich Slowly online banking thread lay dormant for several weeks, but recently has bubbled back to life, with plenty of comments and feedback regarding the best internet banks. Because interest rates are now so closely packed now, the banks are resorting to contests and incentives to differentiate themselves. Some are temporarily boosting yields to attract new customers. Here’s a rundown of current deals. ING Direct’s Automatic Saver Sweepstakes Since January, ING Direct has…

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

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

  • Using Mini-Retirements to Get More Out of Life: An Interview with Timothy Ferriss (45 comments)

    On a cool Thursday morning last July, I woke early to walk into the hills outside Wells in Somerset County, England. After three-quarters of an hour, I reached a point with a broad vista of the surrounding countryside. I leaned against a fence post and took in the view — I could have sworn I was looking at Hobbiton. After a few minutes of silent contemplation, I walked back to town. I took a brief…

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

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

  • Behavioral Economics on Why We Buy What We Buy (28 comments)

    Money is more about mind than it is about math. Our financial decisions are often based on psychology and emotion rather than on pure numbers. Nearly everyone understands intellectually that credit card debt is bad, for example, but for millions of people, this understanding isn’t enough. A newish group of researchers dubbed behavioral economists have been exploring the gulf between financially optimal behavior and the things people actually do. One reason, said economist Dan Ariely…

  • Finding Affordable Health Insurance When You’re On Your Own (67 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jason Gingerich, a volunteer with the Archimedes Movement to work for a comprehensive solution to America’s health care crisis. He also works for a non-profit organization that offers health insurance, among its other products. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of his employer. In America’s current healthcare system, in most cases, you’re better off with the crowd. Usually, that crowd is your employer or a government pool…

  • Reader Story: Beware of Scams and Pyramid Schemes (107 comments)

    In the past, I’ve shared the story of the worst job I ever had. In a lot of ways, it felt like I was part of a pyramid scheme or multi-level marketing operation. I’ve been approached to participate in similar operations since then: once by my veterinarian (?!?) and once by a stranger in a book store. Sometimes you cannot tell a scam is a scam until you see it up close, and then the…

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

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

  • Personal Currencies: New Ways to Look at Money (57 comments)

    On Saturday, I wrote about my transition from spender to saver. I mentioned that I’d recently peeked at the latest camera equipment. “I spent twenty minutes on Amazon, drooling over the Nikon D300,” I wrote. “I’m tempted — but not much. I’d rather save that $1,800 for the future.” Reader Kristi Wachter left an astute comment: $1800? That’s, what, 6% of a Mini Cooper? This is an excellent way to look at proposed expenses: re-frame…

  • Reader Success Story: To Wii or Not to Wii? (32 comments)

    I received another great e-mail yesterday describing a reader victory. Joshua has been wanting to buy a Nintendo Wii, even though he knows it’s not the best use of his time or money. On Friday, he stared temptation in the face — twice! — and triumphed through force of will. Here’s his story: I had a great “resist spending” story this weekend, and I had to tell someone. Last Friday I read about No Credit…

  • Making the Move from Spender to Saver (55 comments)

    I pulled out my camera gear last night. It’s been two years since I used it regularly. Before I started Get Rich Slowly, I seriously considered trying to become a professional photographer. But for a long time now, my camera stuff has been gathering dust in the corner of my office. I can’t even remember the last time I used it. It’s fun to look at all my equipment again. It’s fun to handle it,…

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

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

  • Life After School: Advice for New Graduates (50 comments)

    On Tuesday evening I gave my first-ever presentation about personal finance. I spoke to a group of about 70 graduating seniors from Western Oregon University. My talk went okay. It wasn’t terrible, but it certainly wasn’t good. It’s a start. I learned a lot, and I’ll do better next time. I was the fourth and final speaker of the evening, though. Before I talked about personal finance, three WOU alums spoke about life after college….

  • I Quit My Job — What Should I Do With My 401k? (81 comments)

    This is a guest post from Todd at The Working Dollar. When you leave your job, you have several choices regarding your 401(k). These options are pretty much universal, meaning they apply to every 401(k) and to every job change situation. Your options are: Cash the 401(k) plan and receive a full pay-out I’ve listed this option first because it has the most serious ramifications. First, if you take a full payout, you will have…

  • Money and Values: The Ecology of Commerce (66 comments)

    Over the weekend I posted a flippant note about saving money on milk. I hoped to spur conversation about unit pricing, but it led instead to a comparison of milk prices around the U.S. and Canada. This discussion was more interesting than the one I had intended. “Wow,” I said to Kris after reading some of the comments. “Can you believe anybody would pay $6 a gallon for milk.” “But it’s organic milk,” Kris said….

  • Some Thoughts on Goals and Adult Education (44 comments)

    Last night, Kris and I had dinner with Craig and Lisa. Craig is an architect. Lisa is a technical writer who has spent the past few years as a stay-at-home mother. (Lisa contributed two GRS guest posts last year: How to find great deals on eBay and Career advice for the college graduate.) Now that their children are a little older, Lisa has the itch to return to the workplace, to find some non-motherly pursuit…

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

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

  • What If You Didn’t Start Saving Early? Advice for Late Bloomers (30 comments)

    “Saving is the key to wealth,” I wrote last week while trumpeting the extraordinary power of compound interest. “If you do not spend less than you earn, and if you do not save the difference, you cannot build the wealth you desire.” The younger you are when you begin saving, the more time compounding has to work in your favor, and the wealthier you can become. “The next best thing to starting early,” I wrote,…

  • Drama in Real Life: Wrecked Rental (184 comments)

    When we arrived in San Francisco on Thursday, I rented a car. It was the first time I’d ever done so — we’ve never used one on vacation, and this was my first business trip. The whole car rental thing was a mystery to me. When the man at the rental counter asked me what sort of insurance I wanted to purchase, I told him I had my own. In truth, I had forgotten to…

  • Gourmet Cooking with 99-Cent Food? (41 comments)

    Earlier this week, the always-interesting kottke.org pointed to a couple of pieces on 99-cent fine dining. First, from the March 21st episode of National Public Radio’s Day to Day, comes a story about cooking gourmet with 99¢ food. These days, the idea of making a three-course meal for a family of four for less than $20 can seem impossible. Unless, that is, you shop at the 99¢ Only Stores. There are more than 200 of…

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

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

  • An Easy Way to Go Organic (69 comments)

    “Switching to organic is tough for many families who don’t want to pay higher prices or give up their favorite foods,” writes Tara Parker-Pope at The New York Times. “But by choosing organic versions of just a few foods that you eat often, you can increase the percentage of organic food in your diet without big changes to your shopping cart or your spending.” Last fall, Parker-Pope spoke with pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene, who suggested…

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

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

  • Frugality in Practice: Home-Based Physical Fitness (90 comments)

    Lately, I’ve been making rumblings about getting in shape again. I want to get fit slowly. The trick is figuring out how to do it. It took a lot of reading and a lot of trial and error to take control of my finances, but I’ve finally achieved a healthy attitude toward money. Now I hope to do the same with physical fitness. But where to start? One approach would be to just throw money…

  • Dumb Money: The Movie Theater (106 comments)

    This is a Guest Post from Kevin at No Debt Plan, a blog about living debt-free. This is part of Kevin’s Dumb Money series. I was recently thinking about my first real job — doorman at the movie theater. Ah, the days of minimum wage. I thought movies were expensive back then, but nowadays they cost a fortune. Let’s look at some numbers. Assume a family of four (two adults, two children) goes to the…

  • Scratch Beginnings: An Interview with Adam Shepard (152 comments)

    I just finished reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America for the third time. In this book, the author chronicles three one-month stints working as one of the American poor. Her goal is to demonstrate that it’s difficult to succeed as a waitress, or a maid, or a Wal-Mart employee. This is a book that I wanted to like — I sympathize with the author’s motives — but what could…

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

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

  • Mortgage Prepayment Made Easy: Own Your Home in Half the Time (205 comments)

    Because I recently eliminated all of my non-mortgage debt, I have a significant positive cash flow. The $1,000 per month I was putting toward debt can now be used for investing. I’m making maximum contributions to my Roth IRA, of course, but that still leaves several hundred dollars each month available for other purposes. This has forced me to evaluate my financial goals. Mortgage prepayment options For the past year, Kris and I have discussed…

  • What Motivates You to Pursue Smart Personal Finance? (47 comments)

    I met with a Get Rich Slowly reader at the local coffee house yesterday. Like many of us, Aaron got into money trouble when he was young — he made some dumb mistakes. He fell for a get-rich-quick scheme that left him deep in debt. For a long time, he floundered, struggling to find motivation, but ultimately he found purpose in religion. Aaron’s faith helped him to turn his life around, to begin making smart…

  • An Angel on One Shoulder and a Devil on the Other (45 comments)

    We received a Costco coupon book in the mail today. Costco — a membership warehouse store — has very low prices and generally does not take coupons. A few times a year, though, they send out flyers with special discounts. Kris flipped through the book first, clipping coupons for kleenex, cat litter, and ziploc bags. When she was finished, I picked it up to look for things she’d missed. On the first page, I nearly…

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • In Which My Sister-in-Law Decides to Get Rich Slowly (23 comments)

    On Saturday, I joined Kris and her sister for a quick tour of local thrift stores. They picked up clothes; I picked up books. After a few hours of shopping, we took a break to grab some cheap tacos for lunch. “You’ve inspired me,” Tiffany said as we waited for our meals. “What do you mean?” I asked. “I’ve been reading Get Rich Slowly,” she said. “I’ve realized there’s more I can do to save…

  • Some Final Thoughts on Work, Education, and Fulfillment (10 comments)

    I’ve been pleased with our discussion here over the past couple days. Many of you have contributed valuable insights about education and careers. I always tell people that Get Rich Slowly has the best readers — your thoughtful comments continue to impress me. Thank you. Other people have made fine additions to the conversation at their own sites. At All Financial Matters, Meg argues that loving your job is overrated. I believe that she’s correct,…

  • The Value of a College Education (139 comments)

    I’ve been thinking lately about the value of a college education. I earned a B.A. in Psychology from Willamette University in 1991 (with a minor in English Lit, and almost another minor in Speech Com). What have I done with this degree? Almost nothing. Yet I do not regret the money and years I spent working to earn it. The financial value of a college degree Does earning a college degree make a difference to…

  • Parents.com Stay-at-Home Calculator (44 comments)

    When a new baby arrives, young couples face a decision. If both parents work, who should stay home with the child? The mother? The person with the smallest salary? Or should both parents continue to work? Often this decision is about more than money — personal values may determine the best course of action. But sometimes both parents continue to work because they believe they need the income. In her book Miserly Moms [my review],…

  • The Year-Long GRS Project: How Much Does a Garden Really Save? (108 comments)

    Kris and I are huge fans of gardening. We grow our own flowers, herbs, fruit, berries, and vegetables. We’re not able to supply all of our needs, but we do what we can. For the past two years, I’ve argued that this is an excellent way to save money if you have the time and the space. But is it really? An actual weekend harvest from August 2006. During the next year, Kris and I…

  • A Life Well-Lived is Not About the Bling (81 comments)

    I love real-life stories of people who get rich slowly. Paul Navone, a 78-year-old resident of Millville, New Jersey, is one of those. On December 21st, Navone donated $1 million to Cumberland County College. He still has millions left. How did he earn his money? The old-fashioned way: lots of hard work. Navone never attended high school. He began working in local glass factories at the age of 16. In 50 years, he never made…

  • Is a 6.25% Checking Account the Best Deal in Portland? (48 comments)

    I’m a recent convert to the world of online high-yield savings accounts. Now that I have my debt paid off, I can finally afford to save some money. It was difficult for me to choose an account: Should I go with the highest interest rate? Or should I opt for the best customer service? I’m not a rate-chaser, so I chose ING Direct. Their current 4.10% rate is lower than most places, but I’ve heard…

  • Frugality Doesn’t Have to Mean Sacrificing Quality (88 comments)

    This is a guest post from Amanda, a Colorado tech writer and an activist for children with congenital heart disease. I grew up poor: single-wide trailer-house, shared-a-room-with-two-sisters, garage-sale-wardrobe, government-cheese, worked-full-time-in-high-school, and paid-for-my-own-cap-and-gown poor. You might think that growing up poor would have made me frugal. Not so. While I do have an overwhelming urge to get the “most” for my money, I often see “most” as only quantity, and that’s not smart financially. Quality trumps…

  • Charity Navigator: Your Guide to Intelligent Giving (28 comments)

    I wasn’t raised in a culture of giving. My parents tithed to their church — irregularly — but I can’t recall that they ever made contributions to charity. This was probably because we were poor; we barely had enough money for our own needs! As an adult, I have a more comfortable lifestyle than my parents did, yet my track record with charitable contributions is poor. Every year I give a little more than the…

  • The Architecture of Personal Finance: Choosing the Right Materials (14 comments)

    Nearly three years ago, in the original Get Rich Slowly post, I compared smart personal finance to building a house. This is the first part in a series that will explore that analogy. In his excellent Weinberg on Writing: The Fieldstone Method, Gerald Weinberg describes a simple metaphor for the writing process. Writers, he says, gather fieldstones (ideas) and use them to construct walls or buildings (finished stories). But each stone is different, and so…

  • Clark’s Option Theory: Making the Most of Opportunity (12 comments)

    This guest post from Tim Clark is a response to an “Ask the Readers” segment from two weeks ago. Tim is one of the authors of The Prosperous Peasant. Two Get Rich Slowly readers recently asked whether education is always a good investment. Lisa and Jethro are pondering their futures and wondering whether they should borrow money in order to go back to school. Both Lisa and Jethro seem to be looking at the decision…

  • Ready to Tackle Your Debt? Two Alternatives to Home Equity Loans (18 comments)

    Earlier today I wrote about using a home equity loan to pay off credit cards. I suggested that this may be a good option for somebody who has arrested her spending and is ready to focus on debt elimination. It’s a move that carries a big downside, though, and is certainly not a good choice for everyone. When I took out my home equity loan in 1998, I wasn’t aware of any other options. I…

  • Using a Home Equity Loan to Pay Off Credit Cards (49 comments)

    This is a “dueling bloggers” post between me and Jim at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity. Read his post about not using home equity to pay off unsecured debt, and share your thoughts about this issue with us! You’ve spent the past few years being dumb with money. You realize that now. Your credit cards are maxed out, you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, and you cannot see a way out. You plan to sell some stuff and to…

  • Walking the Talk: Saying “No” to Temptation (52 comments)

    Kris and I spent our Thanksgiving in Central Oregon, visiting my brother and his family. Because Tony’s in-laws were out of town, we set up camp in their palatial home. To my delight, I was even allowed to drive the MINI Cooper S that belongs to Tony’s mother-in-law. Though I’ve done a fine job at suppressing my urge to buy a MINI, it’s still there, waiting for me to let me guard down. Driving the…

  • Ask the Readers: Is Education Always a Good Investment? (75 comments)

    Lisa is trying to decide what to do with her life. She’s in her mid-thirties, has two young children, and for the past few years has spent most of her time parenting. Now that the kids are older, she’d like to go back to school. But she’s worried it might not be a smart financial decision: Common wisdom says that education is always a good investment. Is that always true? If I already have a…

  • The Thrill of Paying Off a Mortgage (81 comments)

    This is a guest-post from Free Money Finance. It’s a follow-up to Mrs. Micah’s post earlier today. A few weeks ago, J.D. and I were chatting when he asked me what it felt like to be debt-free. He’d read on my blog that I had no debt and was curious if I’d write about it for Get Rich Slowly. In particular, he asked me to communicate both how I managed to pay off my mortgage…

  • The Pros and Cons of an Interest-Only Mortgage (50 comments)

    This is a guest post from Mrs. Micah of Finance and Life. Look for a related post later today. Getting an interest-only mortgage can seem like a great idea when you’re trying to buy a house and can’t afford a down payment (or if you have bad credit). Earlier this week, I read the story of a couple who are celebrating home-ownership under just such a situation. But while they’re happy, odds are that this…

  • Brief Thoughts on Modern Entertainment (30 comments)

    Over the past week, readers have sent me a lot of comments and questions related to a trio of products: the Amazon Kindle, Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, and the Wii Virtual Console. Though none of these is itself worth writing about, taken as a whole they make an interesting combination. They represent part of a paradigm shift, a move toward on-demand digital entertainment. Amazon Kindle Earlier today, Jeff Bezos announced the Amazon Kindle, the latest…

  • Why You SHOULDN’T Prepay Your Monthly Bills (61 comments)

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

  • Quitting the Day Job: Finding the Guts to Pursue Your Dreams (223 comments)

    Something amazing has happened in the past eighteen months. While I’ve been learning about personal finance — and sharing my knowledge with you — Get Rich Slowly has grown from a small site with a couple hundred readers into a real-life business. GRS currently has 35,000 subscribers and generates $5,000 in monthly revenue. It also takes most of my time. This is a blessing and a curse. The Blessing As my income from this site…

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

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

  • The New York Times Rent vs. Buy Calculator (43 comments)

    Is it better to buy or rent? It’s one of the eternal personal finance questions, and one that each person has to decide for herself. There are lots of non-financial factors that affect this decision, of course, including your hobbies, lifestyle, and personal psychology. Despite these non-financial considerations, often the choice comes down to money. What makes the most financial sense? In July, guest-author Tim Ellis shared his thoughts on the rent vs. buy debate…

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

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

  • How Much Do Compact Fluorescent Bulbs Really Cost? (132 comments)

    Valerie writes: “Someone in our family recently suggested that compact fluourescents weren’t worth it due to their high initial cost compared to incandescent light bulbs. We’ve switched all our lights to CFL, so my husband looked into the actual costs. I thought you might like the results” In this guest post, she lays out the numbers. It makes good economic sense to switch from Incandescents to compact fluorescents (CFLs) — it’s not just a bunch…

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

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

  • Roth IRA vs. Traditional IRA: Which is the Best Deal? (23 comments)

    I’m often asked, “Which is best, a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA?” There’s no one right answer. Which option you choose depends on your goals, and it depends on what you think your income will be like in the future. In theory, there’s no difference between the eventual returns. In practice, there are a variety of factors that can affect your decision, of which tax rates are perhaps the most notable. Walter Updegrave at…

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

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

  • Recurring Monthly Costs: Which Are Worth It? Which Are Not? (120 comments)

    I met some friends at a local restaurant Monday night. While chatting, we found ourselves bopping to the music playing on the radio. For more than hour, great song followed great song: U2, Eurythmics, The Police, Elvis Costello, The Clash, New Order. But the ambient noise made it impossible to know what station we were hearing. “I have to know what this is,” I said at last. “This could be my new favorite radio station.”…

  • Want to Save the Environment? Buy Less Stuff! (71 comments)

    A few weeks ago I wrote about my realization that I have too much Stuff. For two decades, I had been a willing participant in our consumerist culture, buying books and magazines and video games and compact discs and George Foreman grills. After twenty years of this, all I had to show for it was a mountain of debt and a home filled with Stuff. Recently, Kris and I have been working to purge our…

  • Use it or Lose It: Getting Value from the Things You Own (27 comments)

    This is a guest post from Amanda, a Colorado tech writer and an activist for children with congenital heart disease. Two key tactics in our strategy for frugality have included moving to buy only what we need and will actually use, and to only pay cash for purchases. Despite good intentions, we have backslid a few times.   We started down the slippery slope while attending a wedding near Rocky Mountain National Park last Memorial Day. As a “couple-time-treat”…

  • Countrywide and Me: A Real-Life Look at Risk Tolerance (42 comments)

    My month-long experiment with Countrywide Financial is over. As I’ve mentioned before, I keep a small portion of my investment portfolio designated for “fun” trading. That is, trading that is more speculation than investment, the sort of thing most people think of when they consider the stock market. About $80,000 of my retirement accounts are invested in index funds, but I have $1,000 set aside to buy whatever I want. Speculation is NOT investment In…

  • Is a Money Merge Account a Good Way to Pay Off Your Mortgage? (800 comments)

    Over the past few weeks, I’ve received several questions about money merge accounts (sometimes called “Australian mortgages”). I haven’t paid much attention to these because I’m unfamiliar the products. But when Abbie wrote last week, I decided to do some research. Here’s what she said: My financial guy handed me a DVD for United First Financial the last time I spoke with him.  Apparently they are a company that uses “sophisticated algorithms” to compute how…

  • Using Quicken to Analyze and Correct Bad Spending Habits (33 comments)

    Comic books have always been one of my money demons. Geeky, but true. I used to buy the actual comic magazines: Superman, Spider-Man, X-Men. As an adult, however, I graduated from spending just a buck or two for a comic to buying hardbound compilations and trade paperbacks costing $20, $50, or more. No matter how smart my money choices, I’ve made it a priority to keep detailed records of my finances. Tonight I dug through…

  • Three Questions About Money and Ethics (105 comments)

    Lady Kemma recently wrote with a question about money and ethics: Last week I went out with my work department. After feeding 30 people, all with individual checks, I left the harried waitress a generous tip. My colleague said, “You’re leaving too much tip.” I said, “The poor lady earned it.” I left the money on the cash tray and got up to leave. My colleague proceeded to take some of the money off my…

  • Shaking the New Car Itch: A Tale of Priorities (109 comments)

    When I went to the street to get the mail on Saturday, the latest issue of The New Yorker was in the box. Walking up the sidewalk to the house, I idly began to remove the subscription cards. I stopped, though, when I came to a full-page cardstock advertisement. I read the front of the ad. I read the back. At the kitchen table, I carefully removed the ad from the magazine, carried it upstairs,…

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

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

  • What if the Stock Market Makes You Nervous? (31 comments)

    A couple of readers have mentioned that they’re nervous about the stock market’s recent volatility. I’ve read similar concerns on other blogs and financial news sites. People are worried that the stock market’s performance over the last month portends an impending bear market, and they don’t know what to do. Reading these concerns reminded me of Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes, which I reviewed last week. In the book, the authors discuss panic…

  • Money Mistakes: That Old Black Magic (46 comments)

    I make a point of sharing my financial success stories with you — it’s only fair that I confess when I make mistakes. I’ve been doing so well for so long, that I’d forgotten what it’s like to “fall off the wagon”. Yet that’s exactly what’s happened since I returned from vacation. On my first day back at work, Nick told me, “There’s a new set of Magic cards out.” During my bleakest financial period,…

  • How Those Evil Credit Cards Can Be Good for You (96 comments)

    This guest post from Justin McHenry is sure to be controversial. Though I just spent three weeks using a credit card while on vacation, I’m still wary of them. McHenry has some thoughts for people like me. When people ask me what I do and I tell them I run a credit card comparison site, they generally look away, as if I’ve just said I’m a pimp. Or a crack dealer. Or a crack-dealing pimp….

  • Every Penny Counts: Saving for Big Goals (29 comments)

    Get Rich Slowly readers submitted a couple dozen articles while I was on vacation, but one story was mentioned more than any other. Several people sent me a New York Times piece by Christine Haughney called “Every Penny Counts“. Haughney writes about six New Yorkers who scaled back their lifestyles to save for a larger goal: homeownership. Here’s how one couple did it: In a city synonymous with luxury and spending, Ms. Lee, 30, and…

  • Extreme Personal Finance: From Penthouse to RV (41 comments)

    He’s back! The ever-controversial Tynan offers today’s guest entry on downsizing from an expensive condo to a 21-foot RV. On April 20th at 3am I was still awake. I stood on the balcony of my penthouse in downtown Austin and watched the traffic drive by. We were supposed to leave the next day, but I was too excited to sleep. I called my girlfriend. “Are you ready to leave now?” “Haha, sure,” she replied. I…

  • What Developing Nations Can Teach Us About Personal Finance (117 comments)

    This guest post from Terry M. contains strong language. Most readers of this blog are from the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom. We have an extraordinarily high standard of living compared to most of the world, and I feel there are a lot of lessons to be learned from how people live in developing countries. I have traveled a bit, mainly in Latin America, southeast Asia, and India. In most of these regions,…

  • Community Investing and Other Socially-Conscious Banking Options (22 comments)

    This is a guest post from Penny Nickel of Money and Values. If you’ve ever looked into socially conscious personal finance options, you may be familiar with Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), probably in the form of mutual funds.  But did you know that there’s a whole world out there of products like savings accounts and CDs that will allow you to participate in community investing? When you put your money in a bank to earn…

  • Getting the Guts to Relocate to a Cheaper City (65 comments)

    This guest post is from Penelope Trunk, author of Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success. Trunk is a career columnist for the Boston Globe and Yahoo! Finance, and also dispenses wisdom on her blog. I recently relocated from New York City to Madison, Wisconsin. I made the move in order to have a lower cost of living, and to give me more flexibility to focus on things that will really make me and my…

  • The Co-Op Network: Another Reason to Consider Credit Unions (26 comments)

    This is a guest-post from long-time reader MikeVx. For many people, access to automatic teller machines (ATMs) is an important factor when choosing a financial institution. With the growth of the Co-Op Network of ATMs, most credit union members now have access to more no-cost ATMs than any several large banks put together. If your credit union is a member of the Co-Op network, you have surcharge-free access to most of the credit union ATMs…

  • How to Start a Family Without Breaking the Bank (87 comments)

    This guest post is from Nickel, author of Raising4Boys.com and FiveCentNickel.   I recently received an e-mail from a reader asking about the “real” cost of raising kids. In short, she’s heard a lot about the high cost of raising kids, and was wondering if it’s really as bad as people make it out to be. More than anything, this question seemed to have been born out of angst over what it takes to be…

  • Renting vs. Buying: The Realities of Home-Ownership (315 comments)

    This is a guest-post from Tim Ellis, author of Seattle Bubble, a blog and forum dedicated to discussing real estate market conditions in the Seattle area. “If you rent, you’re throwing away your money.” “Owning your own home is a forced savings plan.” “Home ownership is an excellent path to build wealth.” You’ve probably heard statements like these plenty of times. On television, radio, the internet, and in casual conversation. Such sentiments are common in…

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

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

  • Career Advice for the College Graduate (28 comments)

    This is a guest post from Lisa Lessley Briscoe. My friend (and fellow Bearcat) Lisa writes: “I was just poking around on GRS (I don’t usually read) and noticed that you’d posted an entry for college graduates recently. Funny how summer rolls around and you start thinking about stuff.” She’s passed along some additional advice for those just entering the workplace. Congratulations, you just graduated from an excellent liberal arts college! You worked incredibly hard…

  • Why I Applied for a Credit Card (and Why It’s Not the End of the World) (38 comments)

    Credit cards ruined my life. Between 1989 and 1998, I accumulated nearly $25,000 in credit card debt. During that time, I added about $2,500 of new debt every year (over $200 each month). I was a compulsive spender. Eventually, the debt load became so great that I was forced to face the problem. I cancelled my credit cards, rolled the debt into a home equity loan, and haven’t carried a personal credit card for the…

  • The Debt to Pleasure: What is the Cost of Fun? (50 comments)

    Last weekend, I played paintball for the second time in my life. I had great fun charging through undergrowth, hiding behind logs, and shooting my friends at close range. Paintball is a blast, but I’m amazed at how much it costs to play. We each paid $25 to use the field and an additional $25 for paint. The total cost was $50 for about five hours of playtime — roughly $10 an hour. On the…

  • Crossing the Line from Frugal to Cheap (51 comments)

    Sometimes it’s hard to tell when I’m being frugal and when I’m just being cheap. One side effect of losing weight — a positive one, mind you — is that I don’t fit into some of my favorite clothes anymore. Like most people, I have certain garments that I love more than others. For example, my favorite pair of pants are these lightweight dark-green things with a zillion pockets that I purchased for $6 at…

  • Finding Your Life Work: Vocational Lessons from 1940 (7 comments)

    You folks seemed to enjoy “Your Thrift Habits”, the educational film I posted last week. I liked it too. I’ve found a few more of these to share, and will post them on Saturday mornings. Today’s film is “Finding Your Life Work”, which was produced in 1940 by Vocational Guidance Films, Inc. This movie is twenty minutes long. “Did you ever go fishing without any bait?” asks the narrator. “Of course you didn’t!” You couldn’t…

  • The Completely Consumed Increment, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Used Stuff (14 comments)

    I’ve written before about how paying for quality can paradoxically sometimes be the cheapest option. In this guest entry, Handworn explains how his hobby — antique collecting — helps his finances. Collecting made me an investor. I started by collecting coins. As I grew up and my interests changed, I had to do something with my collection. I sold it. My collection of coins became a collection of license plates and street signs on the…

  • No Impact Man: Save Money, Save the Earth (24 comments)

    Maybe it’s because I grew up poor in rural Oregon. Maybe it’s because I love adventure fiction (you know: “man against nature”). Maybe it’s because I have a lot of my father in me. For whatever reason, I’ve always been fascinated by people who go “off the grid“. In the GRS forums, Benbr pointed to No Impact Man, a blog run by Colin Bevan, who describes himself thus: A guilty Liberal [who] finally snaps, swears…

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

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

  • Which Should You Choose: Joint or Separate Finances? (91 comments)

    Several months ago I mentioned in passing that my wife and I keep separate finances. I promised to eventually explain why, and to discuss the pros and cons of doing so. Our story When I was a boy, my parents fought about money often. And loudly. They had joint finances, but it didn’t seem to matter. Each accused the other of being financially irresponsible. (Both were right.) Their example left me disenchanted with the notion…

  • Real-Life Choices: Retirement Savings vs. Debt Reduction (47 comments)

    I’ve accumulated $3500 and I don’t know what to do with it. As you may recall, I am carrying the remainder of my credit card debt in the form of a home-equity loan (or HELOC). The current balance on this debt is $15,000 and I’m paying a 9.25% finance charge. I intend to have this debt eliminated by March 2008. It’s an ambitious goal. In order to make this happen, I’ve had to forego investing…

  • Casey Serin: $2 Million in Debt in Two Years (60 comments)

    Casey Serin of I Am Facing Foreclosure recently held a two-hour conference call to take questions from readers and to explain his situation. I didn’t hear the call, but I did read the entire transcript (part one, part two).     For those of you unfamiliar with him, Casey Serin is the Napoleon Dynamite of real estate investing. He took real estate seminars from Russ Whitney and read books by Carleton Sheets. He bought into…

  • Which Online High-Yield Money Market & High-Interest Savings Account is Best? (1761 comments)

    Savings Account Rates Updated Version of Original Post Below The rates on this page are current as of the dates specified below. Rates are low right now, but they’ll rise as the economic crisis eases. For more information about these banks, please see the 1,700+ comments that follow this list. I’ve heard a lot of people mention their online high-yield savings account, but I’ve never bothered to look into them. It occurred to me today…

  • What’s It Like to BORROW Money with Prosper? (34 comments)

    I recently posted two entries (1, 2) with experiences from people who loaned money through Prosper, the person-to-person lending service. “But where are the reviews from borrowers?” some of you asked. Tricia at Blogging Away Debt has borrowed money from Prosper. Here’s her story. When I first heard about people-to-people lending through Prosper.com last year, a light bulb went off in my head. Would everyday people be willing to lend me money so I could…

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

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

  • A Contrarian View: Why I Love a Huge Tax Refund (63 comments)

    Kris and I received $2789 in tax refunds this year. Already I can hear the sound of hundreds of heads thumping against hundreds of desks. Many of you are wailing, “Why?! Why?! Why?!” Of all the financial choices a person can make, getting a large refund is universally considered one of the dumbest. Magazines advise against it. Books advise against it. Blogs advise against it. Yet every year, millions of Americans like me use their…

  • The Prioritizer: A Unique Personal Finance Calculator (5 comments)

    CNNMoney has a series of articles entitled Money 101 — a step-by-step guide to gaining control of your financial life. There are some good lessons here, including controlling debt, hiring financial help, and buying a home. Each lesson contains several pages of information, links to other resources, a glossary, and a self-test. Many of the lessons also include a financial calculator related to the subject. My favorite lesson is actually the first one, setting priorities,…

  • The New Math: Cheap Alternatives to Cable Television (148 comments)

    Here’s one of my dark financial secrets: even as I write about saving money by asking for rate reductions or cancelling services you don’t use, even as I post guest entries about the evils of television, I am paying $65.82 every month for cable TV that I rarely watch. The High Cost of Cable Our cable television bill is $65.82 per month. That’s $789.84/year. Comcast divides these charges as follows: $9.95 for a Digital Classic…

  • Sometimes a Cheap Meal is Expensive (20 comments)

    My sister-in-law, Tiffany, called yesterday. “Do you guys want to have lunch at the new Thai place?” she asked. We did. Kris and I are eager to find another cheap restauarant close by. We picked up Tiff and drove to the Thai place, but it wasn’t open. Instead, we walked over to Sully’s, a small diner nearby. The place was full. “It’ll be ten or fifteen minutes,” the hostess told us. We didn’t want to…

  • Building Success from the Ashes of Failure (5 comments)

    When I was a young man, I had a poor relationship with money. The “money blueprint” I had inherited from my parents didn’t give me the skills I needed to build wealth. The only positive financial role-models in my life were Phillip Drummond and Ricky Stratton. It’s not a good sign when a boy is taking money lessons from sitcoms. And so I made mistakes. I accumulated credit card debt. I didn’t save for retirement….

  • Money Blueprints: What Our Parents Taught Us About Money (20 comments)

    I had dinner with two friends from high school last night. We shared good wine, good food, and, especially, good conversation. Much of our discussion focused on our shared history: the things we did twenty years ago (or 25!) that now seem as if they might have been done by a stranger. (Yet those strangers were us.) We talked about how we perceived money when we were younger. Sparky and Stew grew up down the…

  • Sometimes It’s Okay to Splurge (32 comments)

    I feel as if I’ve been a Scrooge here lately: “don’t watch Super Bowl commercials“, “don’t buy gadgets“, “bundle up to stay warm“, etc. While it’s true that saving money requires sacrifices, I don’t mean to make it sound like drudgery. Actually, I’m elated with my progress. When I was working with Lauren Muney to create my wellness program, she emphasized that fitness should not be a chore. “Remember that you’re working toward something positive,…

  • The Curse of the Money-Saving Gadget (40 comments)

    One of our friends has a Starbucks habit. He used to stop every morning for a venti five-shot white-chocolate mocha. Last summer he spent $300 on a fancy espresso machine. He also bought a few accessories and some expensive coffee beans. He had taken the latte factor concept to heart. “I’m spending so much on Starbucks,” he told us, “that this will pay for itself in no time.” For a couple of weeks he put…

  • Retirement Savings or Debt Reduction: Which is the Top Priority? (30 comments)

    Edited to correct mistaken math. Deep in the bowels of the internet, we personal finance bloggers have a secret hideaway where we gather to hone our craft. In a recent discussion some of us wondered which we ought to prioritize: retirement savings or debt reduction? This is a question that’s bugged me recently. As I’ve begun to get my finances under control, I’ve found it difficult to prioritize money allocation. Should I continue to pay…

  • Manage your Finances like a Professional Gambler II: Know When to Fold ‘Em (13 comments)

    Love him or hate him, Tynan is back with a second installment in his series describing how to manage money like a professional gambler. Once again the article features sound advice. But once again Tynan’s personality may rub some people the wrong way! For six years I was a professional gambler, during which time I learned valuable lessons about personal finance that I still use today. In my first article I talked about how professional…

  • Three Popular (But Dumb) Money Moves (15 comments)

    Liz Pulliam Weston — one of my favorite professional personal finance writers — has a warning regarding the three worst money moves you can make. Sound financial advice doesn’t change much from year to year. Bad money management ideas, however, seem to mutate and flourish with each passing season…Ultimately, it’s up to you to resist bad advice and protect your own financial futures. She writes that the three pieces of bad money advice currently en…

  • Counterpoint: Debt-Free Living Has Its Drawbacks (33 comments)

    Yesterday I posted a reader comment on the virtues of a debt-free lifestyle. This prompted responses noting that debt-free living creates its own set of problems, and that responsible use of credit can be a valuable tool. Greg C wrote: Some people think credit = debt. It does not. Anyone who can budget can use credit the same as cash. You can also get credit cards and never use them. Millions of people somehow manage…

  • Reader Comment: It’s Not Wrong to Avoid Debt (19 comments)

    Marie recently made a terrific response in Ask the Readers: What if you have no credit history? This thread is a month old and most people probably missed the comment, so I’m featuring it here. I am a bit shocked that someone would be so irresponsible as to tell someone else to “suck it up and get a credit card”. Are there hassles about not having a score? Yes. But there are a lot more…

  • I Do Not Use Credit Cards (73 comments)

    I don’t like credit cards. Many smart people — including my wife — use them wisely and never have problems. I’m not one of those people. Most of my money woes stem from credit card debt acquired when I was first out of college. Eventually I wised up — I have not carried a personal credit card in more than five years. NCN at No Credit Needed has posted a detailed list of the reasons…

  • Dave Ramsey Says ‘Drive Free, Retire Rich’ (70 comments)

    Dave Ramsey‘s site has one of the best money hacks I’ve seen recently. Drive Free, Retire Rich explores the impact of carrying a car payment, and offers ideas on how your money can be used more wisely. Though the sentiment is familiar, I find Ramsey’s approach novel. You want a brand-new sports car that would normally cost you $475 a month. The car you’re driving now is worth around $1,500. If you take that $475…

  • Throw Away your TV and Save a Bundle! (49 comments)

    Guest-writer Paul Gonzalez believes that giving up television can save you big bucks. Paul and his wife run One Year Exit Plan, which provides coaching and personal project management services to people seeking long-lasting change. Going “NO-TV” can save you money. In our “Your Relationship with Money” workshops, we advocate living without television. There are many benefits to NO-TV. There are obvious benefits to personal growth (better self-esteem, more time for family and friends, etc)….

  • 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…

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

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

  • 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,…

  • Money and Values: Shopping Locally (22 comments)

    There’s more to personal finance than raw numbers. If everyone based their personal finance decisions solely on the math, there would be no need for personal finance books. (Or personal finance blogs, for that matter.) We’d all be rich. In reality, our money decisions are influenced by psychology, by emotion, and especially by personal values. For every financial transaction, we each weigh a variety of personal values to arrive at a choice that makes sense…

  • Jump-Start Your Life With a Financial Plan (34 comments)

    I’ve recently exchanged e-mail with Wesley, a reader who has exercised self-discipline to become debt free while still in his twenties. He’s even paid off his mortgage. Here’s how he did it.   I’ve been following a fairly rigid financial plan for about eight years now.  It’s about to pay off in the next few months — I’ll be 28 and completely debt free (including no mortgage). My planning started on a small scale when I…

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

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

  • The Amazing Frugal Christmas Savings Spectacular! (52 comments)

    Look for the first-ever Get Rich Slowly contest at the end of this entry! HO HO HO! I had intended to post a series of articles on how to save money at Christmas, but they’ve taken longer to write than I expected. Now it’s a little late to leak them out one at a time. Instead, I’ve bunched the information together into a colossal tip-filled extravaganza! Here are some great ways to save money while…

  • What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? (47 comments)

    How can you know what you want Till you get what you want And you see if you like it? — Steven Sondheim, Into the Woods We had some good friends over for dinner the other night. While we waited for the roast to finish, Wayne and I took the air on the back porch. We talked about work. I told him that this is a slow time of year at the box factory. “Yeah,”…

  • Black Friday vs. Buy Nothing Day (13 comments)

    This weekend will be huge for U.S. retailers. The day after Thanksgiving — now dubbed “Black Friday” — has become something of a ritualized cultural shopping experience. Many people view the day as a chance to grab stellar deals on Christmas gifts. But others scorn it as a crass display of commercialism, antithetical to the spirit of the holiday season. Some go so far as to celebrate the day after Thanksgiving as “Buy Nothing Day”….

  • Nintendo Wii: A Study in Planned Saving (12 comments)

    Last May, we held our annual garage sale on the same weekend that the Nintendo Wii was revealed. As I sat in my driveway, selling old stuff, I followed online coverage of the Wii on my laptop. I wanted one. “I’m putting this money in the bank and saving it to buy a Nintendo,” I told Kris. I opened a separate targeted savings account at my credit union specifically for this goal. But I was…

  • What are Your Experiences with Internet Banking? (71 comments)

    Based on reader feedback, this post has been substantially revised from its original form. What makes a bank good? Some people want great deals. Some want great service. Some want convenience. Many finance bloggers recommend online banks like ING Direct and Emigrant Direct because they offer excellent interest rates. A GRS reader (who asked to remain anonymous) warns that the deals at these places may not be worth the trouble. When he needed to withdraw…

  • One Small Step (7 comments)

    Kris and I walked to the grocery store this morning. This saved us money in at least three ways: Walking two miles helped me get some exercise as I move toward better fitness. Walking limited what we could buy. We were forced to stick to our grocery list. I wanted to buy a big jug of orange juice, but I refrained. I didn’t want to carry it home. We did not drive a car. (Though,…

  • How to Manage a Windfall Successfully (20 comments)

    This entry is part of JLP’s October project — a month-long, cross-blog review of the book The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing. Some of what follows is taken directly from the book. You have won $50,000! So, what do you do now? Every day I give advice on following the slow, sure path to wealth. But what happens if you do manage to get rich quickly? What happens if you win the lottery, or hit the…

  • Make a Wish List of Financial Goals (12 comments)

    If one moves confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. — Henry David Thoreau What would you do if money were not a concern? Would you quit your job? Would you travel? Would you live in another state? Another country? Would you write? Would you garden? Would you devote your life to charity? Would you…

  • Is Eating Out Cheaper Than Eating In? (81 comments)

    It’s cheaper to make your own food than it is to dine out. Or is it? Patrik Jonsson, staff writer for The Christian Science Monitor, believes that the tide is beginning to turn — that Americans are opting to eat out because the convenience now significantly outweighs the cost. And even the cost difference is beginning to shrink. By the time he’s driven to the farmers’ market, bought the organic veggies, and spent an hour…

  • Unwarranted: Why You Should Avoid Extended Warranties (30 comments)

    A Get Rich Slowly reader pointed to a Washington Post article about extended warranties. “Unwarranted” discusses the psychological reasons consumers buy these products, explores industry profitability, and emphasizes that most experts recommend against purchasing extended service contracts. The decision to buy an extended warranty [...] defies the recommendations of economists, consumer advocates and product quality experts, who all warn that the plans rarely benefit consumers and are nearly always a waste of money. “The things…

  • Money and Values: When Frugality Goes Too Far (79 comments)

    Title changed to more accurately reflect post content. Thanks for pointing this out, guys! Frugal folks are often condemned as cheap, but these things are not the same. But sometimes there is a danger of becoming too concerned with money. Tawra Kellam warns about crossing the line from frugality to something less ethical. There are times when it’s tempting to lie, steal or break one of the other 10 Commandments to get a good deal…

  • In Praise of the Debt Snowball (69 comments)

    During my twenties, I accumulated nearly $25,000 in consumer debt. I had a spending problem. With time, I was able to get my spending under control (mostly), but I still owned overwhelming debt. How could I get rid of it? The personal finance books all suggested the same approach: Order your debts from highest interest rate to lowest interest rate. Designate a certain amount of money to pay toward debts each month. Pay the minimum…

  • How Not to Be Frugal: Too Many Magazine Subscriptions (26 comments)

    Sometimes a great deal isn’t. Because I have a small computer consulting business, I’ve been placed on a mailing list for “corporate rate” magazine subscriptions. Corporate rate subscriptions are unbelievably cheap, on the order of $10 or $12 a year for many magazines. Being the frugal fellow that I am, when I received my first offer for a corporate-rate subscription, I signed up. Sure, it was a subscription for Business 2.0, a magazine I’d never…

  • Just Say No (to Patronizing Ads) (22 comments)

    Here’s the headline from a circular that came in the mail today. “You need to post this at Get Rich Slowly,” Kris told me. She’s right. It would take me fifteen minutes to reach the nearest Applebee’s. It would cost me several dollars in fuel, not to mention the cost for the meal. For less money and the same time I could fix a fantastic meal of steak and risotto. (Accompanied by a frosty adult…

  • The Good Stuff: Choosing Quality Over Price (32 comments)

    Saving money doesn’t have to be dull. It’s possible to be too frugal, to deny yourself too much. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can enjoy the good life — eating out, spending time with friends, indulging yourself — while exercising thrift. The key is balance. One way to practice financial prudence while living the good life is to buy quality products, products that are a pleasure to use, products that will last…

  • 35% Interest: The Curse of the Unsolicited Loan Offer (9 comments)

    This is a real check for $6,000! Because I have not yet performed the opt-out prescreen, I still get credit card and loan offers in the mail. I usually shred them without looking. Today I opened one on a lark. Holy cats, this is a terrible deal. Who signs up for these? Let’s take a closer look at why these offers should be avoided. The letter starts with a tantalizing offer: $6,000 for anything? To…

  • The Only Credit Card Guide You’ll Ever Need (23 comments)

    I don’t like credit cards. They’re a dangerous trap, especially for the young. Many smart people disagree with me, though, and have learned to use credit cards to their advantage. This guide provides solid credit card information so that you can make smart choices. I’ve structured this as a series of questions and answers. There’s sure to be a lot missing. Please let me know what else should be included here, and I’ll add it….

  • Extreme Personal Finance: How to Pay Off Your Mortgage in Three Years (31 comments)

    Most people who accelerate their mortgage make one extra payment a year. Maybe two. Or they refinance a thirty-year mortgage at fifteen years. Yahoo! Canada has a story of one couple who paid off their $220,000 mortgage in three years. How did they do it? When I finally finished my master’s degree in 2000, we had a total debt of $52,000 from my student loans. This is when we made the decision that changed everything….

  • Some Thoughts on Discouraging Materialism in Children (17 comments)

    Does your infant sport clothes from Baby Gap? Does your three-year-old carry a Gucci handbag? Does your first-grader have a Playstation, an iPod, and $80 shoes? What sort of message does it send to children when parents give them these sorts of expensive things? What sort of attitude toward money does this foster? Lynn writes with some thoughts on encouraging sound financial habits in children at an early age: So many people focus on the…

  • Lattes, iPods, and Masterworks: New Ways to Look at Money (6 comments)

    My brother is selling his house. To get it ready for market, his family has been packing stuff in boxes. When it came time to pack his wife’s shoes, the kids were amazed. She had sixty pairs of shoes. “How much did these cost?” my brother wondered. “Only about $75 each,” his wife told him. Their kids are still a little young to understand money, so my brother tried to translate this for his oldest…

  • 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…

  • Cheap Places to Live Rich (4 comments)

    Forbes has a report on 150 cheap places to live. Author Richard Karlgaard points out the obvious: it’s more expensive to live in some places than others. A $4,000,000 home in San Diego might only cost $700,000 in Bend, Oregon. Why hasn’t everyone moved to Bend? Karlgaard contends that most of us are trapped in old ways of thinking, that we believe we must live where we work. Technology is changing that. This is the…

  • The Most Lucrative College Degrees (6 comments)

    Are you still in school? Are you looking for a job that pays big bucks? CNN Money has a list of the most lucrative college degrees. Majors that have seen some of the biggest increases in average starting salaries are: Hospitality services management Business administration Accounting Economics Information sciences Civil engineering Chemical engineering Check out the entire list. With a little planning, you can earn a degree that will help you find a job that…

  • A Cheaper Cup of Coffee (20 comments)

    David Bach likes to refer to the latte factor — that daily indulgence you can’t resist. For many people, it’s a cup of premium coffee from Starbucks (or a local coffee stand). These people love their coffee, and they’re willing to pay for it. Bach notes that many people think they cannot afford to make investments, but they routinely spend $5/day on a latte (or on comic books or on lunch). That $5/day is roughly…

  • Price vs. Ethics: Is the Best Price the Best Choice? (3 comments)

    Cribcage took exception to a comment I posted yesterday. In the further discussion of things your supermarket won’t tell you, I quoted a Digg-user who works at a grocery store: Since I have started changing prices I have noticed a lot of tricks that Safeway uses. [...] Everything at a grocery store is close to double the price of Walmart or Target. Aside from the fact that it is pure hyperbole, this statement reveals a…

  • Spend Less and Live More with a Volunteer Vacation (7 comments)

    At Yahoo!Finance, David Bach (author of Start Late, Finish Rich) offers four tips for vacations that give more. According to nonprofit consumer education organization the Myvesta Foundation, the average American planned to spend $2,249 on his or her summer vacation last year. Taking the average family of four to the archetypical American vacation spot — Disney World — can cost $3,000 to $4,000 or more by the time you figure in the cost for flights,…

  • Save More by Eating Less (2 comments)

    Last fall, Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania published a study exploring the relationship between portion size and food consumption. They found that people tend to consume more when given larger portions. From the abstract: People seem to think that a unit of some entity (with certain constraints) is the appropriate and optimal amount. [...] We propose that unit bias explains why small portion sizes are effective in controlling consumption; in some cases, people served…

  • Save Money by Switching to Compact Fluorescents (6 comments)

    How much can you save by switching lightbulbs? The Technocrat recently did the math and decided to replace all of his incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. The up-front cost was huge, but he calculated the new bulbs would pay for themselves in just six months. You can get a six-pack [of compact fluorescents] that costs less than $30, with each bulb putting out as much light as a 60 watt bulb, while only using 13…

  • Is It Possible to Be a Frugal Collector? (14 comments)

    I collect comic books. I always have. As an affluent adult, I’ve gone from collecting the comic books themselves to collecting large volumes that compile six, ten, fifteen issues at a time. But these compilations cost a lot of money, even when purchased at steep discounts. The more in-tune I become with my money, the more my monthly expenditures on this hobby strike me as a vast, bleeding wound on an otherwise healthy financial body….

  • How I Choose Personal Finance Books (4 comments)

    For years, as I struggled with debt and reckless spending, the only personal finance books that appealed to me were those promising quick riches. A few Christmases ago, after listening to my financial woes, a friend mailed me a copy of Your Money or Your Life. I flipped through it half-heartedly, and then put it on the shelf. It sat there for two years before my debt burden became so overwhelming that I pulled it…

  • Choosing an Internet Bank (5 comments)

    Many people have begun switching some or all of their accounts to online banks. This AskMetafilter user is looking for a great internet bank. I have an account with ING, and they’re fine, but I’d like to find an online bank that has a decent interest rate but 1) doesn’t hold your deposits forever before they’re available and 2) can transfer money back to my checking account rather quickly. Does anyone have good experience with…

  • Should You Prepay Your Mortgage? (29 comments)

    You can save tens of thousands of dollars by prepaying your mortgage. But is it a smart move? A CNN Money reader asks expert Walter Updegrave: The psychological freedom of not having a mortgage is very appealing to us, but the argument for trying to invest the extra cash at a higher rate is compelling too. What’s your take on paying off the mortgage early? Surprisingly, this is one financial point on which the experts…

  • Investment Strategies for Potential Nuclear Attacks (1 comment)

    The latest issue of Smart Money landed in my mailbox on Saturday. Inside was this doozy of a question: I’m confident in my investments, but one thing could throw them off: a nuclear attack on a major U.S. city. Can you recommend a portfolio that would hold up? My first reaction was laughter, but that’s not fair to the questioner. It’s probably a real concern to some people. Stephanie AuWerter, the Ask SmartMoney columnist, does…

  • Federal Student Loan Consolidation Primer (3 comments)

    Paul — who recently shared tips on socially responsible investments and on cheap world travel — is a financial aid counselor at the University of Oregon. He’s offered to share a presentation he’s been giving to students about loan consolidation. Recent grads who have unconsolidated federal student loans may also find this useful. This information may make your eyes glaze now, but if you act on it, you can save yourself thousands of dollars in…

  • Organic Produce: Price vs. Ethics (8 comments)

    I was discussing Michael Pollan’s new book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, with some friends over dinner the other night. It was a conversation filled with frugal themes — we had just been talking about our vegetable gardens. “I wanted to borrow the book from the library,” said Rhonda, “but there were 76 holds on eighteen copies. Mike and I bought a community copy instead. We shared the cost with some friends, and we’ll all read it…

  • Luxury Car or Practical Car? (24 comments)

    Another AskMetafilter user wonders whether she should buy a new luxury car: Should I buy a luxury car or a practical car? I’m a 27 year old female. I’m single and have no kids. I want to get a luxury car (nothing ridiculous, probably a BMW 325 or IS 250) but I’m wondering if I will regret buying it, as I don’t really NEED it… but I just want it. I don’t have any obligations…

  • Is it Safe to Pay Bills with a Credit Card? (1 comment)

    Here’s an interesting money question from AskMetafilter: What are the potential downsides to using a credit card to pay my monthly bills, assuming I pay off the balance every month? I currently pay all my bills from my checking account and have recently thought about getting a credit card with some kind of rewards for this purpose instead. I won’t be carrying a balance on the card; I just want to try and get something…

  • What to Do with a Windfall (2 comments)

    Your Great-Aunt Madge dies and leaves you $20,000. You win the Okefenokee Poker Playoff and take home $2,100. Spacely Sprockets pays out $4,700 in profit sharing. What should you do with this money? The typical response is to spend it on something fun, something you don’t really need. Something like a jumbo-sized wide-screen high-definition television with Sensurround. The latest Money Magazine “Ask the Expert” question offers better advice about what to do with a windfall….

  • Housing: Rent vs. Buy Calculator (6 comments)

    Should you buy or rent? That’s a question we each face at some point. It doesn’t always make sense to buy. Depending on your location, your marital status, your income level, how long you intend to live in a particular location, and a handful of other variables, renting may actually make more sense than purchasing a home. Here’s a web-based rent vs. buy calculator that can help you play with different scenarios. I used the…

  • Super-Sizing Your Meal Costs More Than You Think (4 comments)

    A study from the University of Wisconsin has found that super-sizing your meal takes a hidden toll on your pocketbook, and in more ways that you might expect. [Researchers] found that for the initial 67-cent average cost of upsizing a fast-food meal — and the subsequent 36-gram weight gain — the total cost for increased energy needs, gasoline and medical care would be between $4.06 and $7.72 for men and $3.10 and $4.53 for women,…

  • The Psychology of Spending (3 comments)

    For many, it’s not the rules of personal finance that are difficult — it’s implementing them. We know what we should do, but we make poor choices. In The Psychology of Spending Money, Deborah Fowles explores our “urge to splurge”. Facing the factors that give you the urge to splurge can be uncomfortable, but if you don’t face them, you may never get control of your spending and your debt. If you’re always trying to…

  • Why a 50-Year Mortgage is a Bad Idea (1 comment)

    I hope that most people understand that an extra-long mortgage is a fool’s game. If not, check out 50-Year Mortgages: No Shelter for the Strapped at Yahoo! Finance. Author Laura Rowley hits the nail on the head: A few lenders in California recently introduced 50-year adjustable-rate mortgages. The headline on the USA Today story was: “Need to keep house payments low? Try a 50-year mortgage.” This may be the worst possible way to portray this…

  • Auto Insurance Tip: Monthly Sucks (4 comments)

    While doing my finances last weekend, I realized that my monthly auto insurance check hadn’t cleared. I have a frugal friend who works with the local agency, so I dropped her an e-mail to ask what I should do. She volunteered this bit of additional information: Monthly sucks. You’re paying an extra $36 a year in fees for them to “handle” your account. Also, you have a “month in reserve” that you never get to…

  • Lifestyle Trade-offs: Being Frugal While Having Fun (3 comments)

    Frugality and self-sacrifice go hand-in-hand. Western culture places a premium on instant gratification, but if you can give up the habits and expenses that sabotage your ability to save for the future, you will achieve wealth. Still, it’s important to choose the degree of frugality that is right for you and for your circumstances. Most of us are unwilling or unable to live ascetic lifestyles of total self-denial. We need some pleasures. We need to…

  • 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…

  • Playing the Stock Market: Don’t Second-Guess Yourself (0 comment)

    Earlier this year I decided I had enough extra income to to begin making regular investments. Since January, I’ve invested $400 in a Sharebuilder IRA plan. This move was inspired by David Bach’s Automatic Millionaire. I realize that $100/month is not a lot to invest, but it’s a start. (Ad: Buy Stocks for $4 at ShareBuilder.) After doing some reading, and after evaluating my personal goals, I decided that I wasn’t comfortable investing directly in stock yet, particularly not in…

  • Learning to Eat More Meals at Home (31 comments)

    Cooking at home is an excellent way to save money. But if you’re accustomed to dining out for most meals, it can be a difficult transition. Fortunately, there’s plenty of help available on the web. The Lazy Person’s Guide to Eating More Meals at Home is a good place to start: If you read personal finance blogs long enough, you’re going to get the idea hammered into you that cooking for yourself rather than eating…

  • From Bank to Credit Union (13 comments)

    I was an account-holder with US Bank for eighteen years. I paid an $8 “service charge” every month, as well as many other fees. Worst of all, I had to put up with truly awful customer service. Many people have similar experiences with US Bank. Yesterday, The Consumerist posted a story of one man’s encounter with US Bank customer service ineptitude. It’s typical of stories I hear. I finally switched my accounts to a local…

  • Can One of You Afford to Quit? (2 comments)

    Most of my friends are having children. For some couples, the new financial realities are shocking. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance offers a financial calculator to answer the question: Can one of you afford to quit? This tool is for more than just new parents, though. What if one of you wants to start a new business? Go back to school? Simply retire? Before deciding to live on only one income — to take care of children,…

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

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

  • Best Decisions vs. Financially Smart Decisions (0 comment)

    Ramit at I Will Teach You to Be Rich has a fine post about how sometimes the Best Decisions are not the Financially Smart Decisions. The financially smart decision isn’t always the right one. When I say this, it usually irritates engineers and economists, who love to believe that we all behave rationally. He provides a couple of examples based on the behavior of his friends. One worked hard to pay off a low-interest debt…

  • How to Buy Nothing (7 comments)

    Here is a little guide about buying nothing. Practice reverse snobbery. Express contempt for those who buy things mindlessly. Go window shopping, but do not buy. Try on a bunch of sweaters. Make a stack of stuff you want, but leave without buying. Get satisfaction from money saved, not money spent. Become a scrounger. Useful stuff is everywhere once you start looking. Take pride in being a recycler. Look for barter opportunities. Consider having a…

  • Credit Card Index (1 comment)

    The official Get Rich Slowly position on credit cards is: DON’T USE THEM. Credit cards are a trap. They’re designed to make money for banks, not to be convenient for consumers. There’s a reason that credit card companies are making record profits. There’s a reason that banks are eager to offer consumers new credit cards. You have to question anything that a bank is eager to do for you; you can be sure it’s not…

  • Two Approaches to Debt Elimination (22 comments)

    Nearly every financial adviser — from accountants to brokers to books — advises that debts should be paid off in a particular order: from highest interest rate to lowest interest rate. While this method makes sense from a mathematical point of view, it makes less sense from a psychological point of view. Assume a typical young woman in her mid-twenties who awakes one morning to realize that she’s in debt and who decides to do…

  • Leave Your ATM Card at Home (2 comments)

    Liz Pulliam Weston suggests that you may want to consider using cash instead of a debit card. Weston admits that debit cards offer plenty of advantages, including: They’re convenient. They’re easier to track. They may offer some protection. They may offer some rewards. Despite these advantages, she suggests that it may be better to move to a cash-only system. It’s just too easy to overspend with a debit card. She cites one family that uses…

  • Nickel and Dime Yourself (1 comment)

    Frugal For Life has a good post encouraging people to stay focused on what’s important in the quest for financial independence. We complain because companies nickel and dime us to death, but don’t search out our own finances to find hidden expenses that are causing us to come up short. If you feel like your belt is tightened to what you can stand, you may be suprised at how much more you can handle and…

  • Fix It or Junk It? (3 comments)

    There’s a good thread at Ask Metafilter thread this morning: At what point is a car not worth repairing? My ten-year-old 130k-mile Saturn is showing its age pretty badly — leaking oil, disturbing noise coming from the front end, crumbling exhaust system. I’m having a tough time coming up with a satisfying way to determine if it makes financial sense to pay for the repairs or to just ditch the car and buy a new…