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Consumerism


  • Will Canning Your Food Save You Money? (29 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…

  • Lifestyle inflation: How to decide if it’s ever okay (76 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…

  • Ask the Readers: How much does a creative costume cost to make? (30 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. Whenever I’ve purchased a pre-packaged Halloween costume, I’ve usually been disappointed. They rarely fit and the material and accessories are chintzy. But I take my hat off for the clever people that make their own costumes. Extra points if it’s hilarious. Year after year, these people seem to…

  • I want Christmas to be debt-free (66 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Fall is finally here, and everywhere I look I see Pinterest-worthy pumpkin carvings, seasonal door hangings, and all kinds of pumpkin-flavored cookies, breads, and pies. Homemade cornstalk creations line doorways and gourds decorate walkways; neighborhood yards are filled with figures resembling ghosts, witches, and goblins. Even *I*…

  • The link between consumerism, entitlement and ego (87 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Earlier this year, I started volunteering at my local library for a couple of hours a week. I’m a big fan of libraries, and I wanted to find a way to give back. And for some odd reason, I felt compelled to do something good. I couldn’t really…

  • Saving for school (38 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. The school year comes around every year, so it shouldn’t surprise parents of school-aged kids when August (or September) hits and the brilliant white tennis shoes hit the newly-waxed school floors. Since I’ve had my eye on the start of school for a few weeks, I am not…

  • Breaking the stress spending cycle (36 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Lately, life has been a little hectic. I have a full schedule of work. I’m trying to plan a surprise party. I’m working on three different passion projects. My laundry needs to be washed. Hell, I need to be washed. It’s noon and I haven’t even showered….

  • 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…

  • 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,…

  • 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…

  • Becoming friends with your future self (24 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. I fight splurges less often than I used to, but the urge still pops up occasionally. Sometimes, it’s okay to splurge; but mostly, I find myself wanting to resist temptation. There are a few questions I ask when I’m mulling over a purchase: Do I have money saved…

  • 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…

  • Your landline: Think twice before cutting the cord (88 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….

  • Money challenges: Why I’m OK with them, and a few of my favorites (50 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. I’m not usually a fan of gimmicks. But if the sole purpose of a gimmick is to save some extra cash, I guess I’m OK with it. We talked about this recently, but there seems to be a heightened interest in frugality lately. Maybe that’s why I’ve…

  • 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….

  • More on how to stop buying clothes you never wear (46 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…

  • Spending less than you earn so the Joneses don’t keep up with you (69 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. Why spend less than you earn? There are the obvious reasons. Spending more than you earn isn’t sustainable, of course. You can’t build your net worth unless you spend less than you earn. And spending less than you earn decreases your stress level. But is there another reason…

  • The 10 habits of financially successful people (39 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 relationship between action and fear. A couple of weeks ago, a reporter from Kiplinger interviewed me about financial habits. “Do you think there are specific…

  • 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…

  • 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…

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

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

  • Surviving Christmas: A post-holiday checklist (4 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. After months of anticipation, Christmas day is finally here. And depending on your outlook, that could be a great (or an awful) thing. Just a few short years ago, I was a total Scrooge about the holidays in general, with a special hostility toward anything I perceived as…

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

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. As I mentioned last month, Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday. It’s about food and togetherness, not gifts. Sometimes I think this makes me sound like a Scrooge. But it’s not the idea of gift-giving that I dislike, it’s all the stress that surrounds it. Here’s an example….

  • Thanksgiving is all about personal finance (57 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. I love Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday of the year. So when I venture out during the month of November, I’m slightly annoyed to hear Christmas music piped into retail stores or to see giant, inflatable snowmen at The Home Depot. (Yes, I do secretly want one,…

  • 5 signs you might be a credit junkie (17 comments)

    This guest article was written by Beverly Harzog. Beverly is a nationally recognized credit card expert, consumer advocate, and author of Confessions of a Credit Junkie: Everything You Need to Know to Avoid the Mistakes I Made (Career Press, November 2013). She runs a popular credit card blog on her website, www.BeverlyHarzog.com. She’s appeared on Fox…

  • 7 Money-saving strategies that can cost you more (44 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. I’m in the middle of renovating a house, a project that started in January 2013 and will end — well, who knows when it will end? We have a lot of plans for this house. Truly, the only reason we’re able to afford this project is because…

  • 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:…

  • Bad customer service? Talk to the CEO (36 comments)

    This month, I started getting collection calls. Apparently my Internet provider wanted $61 for a modem that I returned last May. I’d been trying to resolve the problem for months, but nothing seemed to work. No matter how many times I asked to speak with a supervisor and was promised that the matter would be…

  • 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…

  • For fraudsters, no target too small (6 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. A lot of people I know get at least part of their income from a side business. For instance, before I quit my job, I was freelance-writing on the side. I have friends who give private yoga lessons, who sell handmade items on Etsy, and who pet-sit….

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Smartphone, dumb mobile plan (59 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Why do most smartphone plans require us to pay for stuff we don’t want or use? I wondered this after looking at my last three bills and plan usage. So I asked around, and it seems it’s a pretty common scenario. “I pay $190 for two phones…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • My teens spent $400 on fast food last month (and how I learned to deal with it) (104 comments)

    This guest post is from Naomi Mannino. Naomi is a freelance consumer personal finance and health journalist who reports on health, medical and personal finance news and how it will affect your life today. You can follow Naomi on Twitter @naomimannino. My 19-year-old daughter came to me sobbing and wanting to borrow $20 for a…

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

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

  • Why I plan on driving my car into the ground (147 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Kristin Wong. Over the weekend, a friend and I were enjoying a couple of beers in my neighborhood. As we sat outside people watching, he drooled over every fancy car that drove by. “That’s a whatever-whatever,” he would tell me. “It costs $100,000.” I live in Los Angeles, where…

  • A spring-cleaning discovery (79 comments)

    It’s amazing the number of things we can throw out and not miss. I do not wish to backpack through Third World countries living on a dollar a day, I hate the tiny house fad, and I am staunchly against miserliness, but I have to say: I find the slavery of things to be more…

  • Throwing away an old rule (74 comments)

    Fellow peasants, unite! The time has come to overthrow the old order! GRS rule #3 says, “Spend less than you earn.” But why should we continue to do that always? Because of tradition? Because of authority? Because that’s what everyone else claims they are doing? To the guillotine with the old rules, I say. It’s…

  • 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…

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

    It seems like the fight against Stuff is ongoing, whether it’s toys, electronics, books, CDs, tools or anything we consume. Yesterday, Holly talked about fighting the battle of the toy bulge. Recently, reader Adrian G. posed this question for the readers: How many clothes do your kids have? My 14-year-old son was out of town,…

  • Battle of the toy bulge (102 comments)

    By now, most families have taken down their trees and house lights. And if you’re like me and live in the Midwest, you might be counting down the days until the first signs of spring. A new year of goals, hopes and beginnings has begun… Meanwhile, a battle is taking place in many homes. Many…

  • The consumer, the ower and the owner (21 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. Happy Day After Christmas! Do you feel like you’re getting rich slower? Yes, ’twas the season for all kinds of holiday traditions, including, of course,…

  • Resisting the holiday spending trap (73 comments)

    Every year, I fail to really account for the cost of Christmas. “A few hundred dollars,” I think, for gifts, and then by the first few days of December I’ve bought several pounds of butter, and lots of my favorite seasonal chocolate, and the big size of maple syrup because I’ll be baking and pancake-making…

  • Lowering expectations for Christmas (175 comments)

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

  • Why we buy: The science of shopping (42 comments)

    This is a guest post from J.D. Roth. J.D. founded Get Rich Slowly and now writes at More Than Money. Ready or not, the holidays are here and the shopping season is upon us. Although I wish I could convince you not to shop during November and December — I’m a fan of Buy Nothing…

  • Want to avoid Black Friday madness? Just fill out this application… (48 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Last week, Target announced that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, shoppers can get exclusive access to 20 deals on Target.com. But there’s a catch. In exchange for sneak peeks and early access, you have to pledge your loyalty to the big box retailer — in the form of signing…

  • We all have our Joneses (88 comments)

    When I wrote last week’s post, I admit to feeling a bit pleased with myself when someone made a comment about wanting their furniture to all match (and thus free pile-ism was hard for them) now that they were fully adult. “Who cares!” I thought to myself. “That’s just the keeping-up-with-the-Joneses stuff the rest of…

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

    This post is from Ollie Geiger, a personal finance writer who contributes to MoneyRates.com. My wife has a friend who likes to talk about how broke she is. This friend – let’s call her “Amber,” since that’s her real name – is fond of complaining about the dire state of her finances each month, even…

  • Are you a compulsive spender? (15 comments)

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

  • 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…

  • Free Box Economics (88 comments)

    On my way home from selling some magazines at Powell’s, I happened upon a whole street’s worth of free piles. First one, then another, then another. The second one was the jackpot, though. I saw the chair, a tall swiveling kitchen chair; it was just what I’ve been looking for, meant for my youngest son….

  • Why I hate consumer contracts (63 comments)

    A problematic prepay I was going over my old files the other day and found a bill for “Sunrocket,” a long-defunct Internet phone company that charged me $244 for a year’s worth of service and proceeded to close shop a couple of weeks later. They just disconnected service and stopped answering the phones. No message,…

  • Community-sourced Investing: Should You Fund Capital Improvements? (35 comments)

    “But, is it a good idea to invest?” asked my friend Marlene, grandmother of a neighbor who was super-excited about the fundraising campaign for a local spice, herb and tea shop. She seemed skeptical. The campaign, meant to raise money for a new cooler to store and sell local, organic produce wasn’t a bad idea…

  • The Value of an $8 Little Black Dress (123 comments)

    This is a guest post from Lucy Lazarony, a freelance writer based in Florida. You know that wardrobe staple that every woman is supposed to have? The little black dress? Well, I’ve finally got mine! And I found mine on the sales rack at Target. The price $7.58! The regular retail price was $29. The…

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

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

  • Earning More vs. Spending Less, Round 3: ‘The Queen of Versailles’ (57 comments)

    This is the third article of a series. The first one is here and the second one here. Earning and saving money both take time, effort, knowledge, attention, and continuous dedication. Since we know that willpower is limited, and so are energy and time, it can make sense for a lot of people to put…

  • 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…

  • One Lesson From a Financial Whiz Kid (103 comments)

    When Zac Bissonnette writes about how savvy he was about money in high school, I know his unusually precocious wisdom is not a put-on. I knew him back then. And, with his new book, How to Be Richer, Smarter, and Better-Looking Than Your Parents, I think you should listen to him. Even though, admittedly, he…

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

    From time to time, I get queries from reporters asking me to comment on particular personal finance topics. I do my best to help these folks, especially when they ask something interesting. Recently, Katie from CNBC dropped me a line with a question that actually stumped me: For which things should people be willing to…

  • How to Change Your Spending Habits (32 comments)

    This is a guest post from Charles Duhigg, the author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and How to Change. Learn more at www.ThePowerOfHabit.com. When you get to the cash register, what do you do first? Do you imagine the balances due on various credit cards, and choose the one…

  • From the Trenches: An Update on My War on Stuff (105 comments)

    Though our divorce is final, Kris and I continue to see each other about once a week. We have lunch or dinner together, and sometimes we do chores around the house. One big chore is approaching: We’re going to hold a joint garage sale to purge our lives of some of the Stuff that has…

  • 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…

  • The Fear of Missing Out (136 comments)

    This post is by staff writer April Dykman. When I was in the fourth grade, I had a bad case of FOMO. I contracted it when I realized that all of my classmates (or so it seemed) had Nickelodeon, and I didn’t. They talked about cartoons and television shows watched the night before — something…

  • Building a Collection Without Breaking the Bank (91 comments)

    Before I moved out of the house and into my apartment, my cousin Nick paid a visit to play board games. After some rousing Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride action, I gave him a brief tour of my geek room, which was home to my board games, science fiction novels, and comic books. “Your comic…

  • 8 Questions to Help You Save More (63 comments)

    This is a guest post by Fiona Lippey. Fiona is the author of the bestselling book The $21 Challenge and founder of Australia’s largest frugal website, SimpleSavings.net. If you want to save money, and I mean really save money, then you’re going to have to stop buying Stuff. You have reduce the amount you consume….

  • Does Suze Orman’s Prepaid Debit Card Make Sense for You? (59 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Sarah Gilbert. Suze Orman is famous for her personal, easy-to-digest, and friendly personal finance advice. Many of us less famous (far less famous, in the case of this writer) finance writers admire her general approach, which boils down to “spend less than you earn.” Who can argue with that?…

  • Expectations and Your Money (56 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sarah Gilbert. I started wrapping my gifts in old newspaper years ago. I know. It sounds so cheap it’s almost bah, humbug! Please don’t roll your eyes and stop reading now. Wait! I started doing it because I couldn’t stand the silliness of it all. Most Christmases I wrapped…

  • Avoiding Competitive Shopping For Fun and Profit (79 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Sarah Gilbert. As a personal finance writer and editor, I have watched many a Black Friday with a mix of fascination and horror. For some of those years, I was involved in the packaging of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as AOL ad sales people pushed us to develop…

  • Black Friday by the Numbers (24 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman, who baked without using flour — and liked it. Are you reading this while standing in line at your local big box store? Or are you celebrating Buy Nothing Day and hunkering down for a relaxing day of leftovers and football? Either way, you might be interested…

  • Finding Your Flow: Spend Less and Do More (56 comments)

    This article is from new staff writer Tim Sullivan. How can you get the most out of the dollars you spend on entertainment? Though it seems counter-intuitive, I’ve found that with a small investment of time and an understanding of the things I enjoy most, the less I spend on them and the more I…

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

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

  • 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…

  • The Great Cost of Halloween Chocolate (185 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sarah Gilbert. Halloween is a big expense for many Americans, with national average estimates for 2011 topping $70 per person for costumes, decorations, and candy, up about $6 from last year to over $6.8 billion nationally. For a family of five like mine, that means $350 (though I doubt…

  • Got the Urge to Splurge? Use These Strategies to Fight It (or Not) (122 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. This just in: Sales of bleach and fertilizer are down, but U.S. consumers can’t seem to get enough of cosmetics and wine. According to a recent…

  • Halloween Spending: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid (104 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman, who recently wrote about the wonders of goat-milk caramel. Recently staff writer Sierra Black wrote about ways to get financially prepared for the holiday season. By thinking about savings and gift preparations now, you can avoid a shocker of a credit card bill after the new year….

  • Dissatisfied Customer? Make an Effective Complaint (41 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman, who recently wrote about how pineapple pops can prevent heatstroke. I’ve often heard that there are two kinds of customers, those who will complain and those who won’t. The ones who complain are better for a company because they’re more likely to stick around if the company…

  • 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….

  • Spotify: The Future of Music Is Here — and You’ll Pay Less for It (86 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. Europe’s hit music-listening service has finally launched in the United States. Spotify is here, and it’s already changed the way I listen to music. J.D. is a huge fan, too. I’m so excited about Spotify that I’m…

  • The Blurry Line Between Experiences and Stuff (87 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. A few months ago I wrote a two-part post about a study on how money, if spent correctly, can buy happiness. In the report, researchers Elizabeth Dunn, Dan Gilbert, and Timothy Wilson used empirical research to identify eight key ways to spend money that have been proven…

  • 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…

  • The Psychology of Consumerism (200 comments)

    This is a guest post from David M. Carter, a graduate of the master of applied positive psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania, and the first graduate of the program to emphasize the inherent link between increased well-being and sustainable consumption. A recent story in my local newspaper dealt with a sad-case family. The…

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

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

  • Book Review: Early Retirement Extreme (212 comments)

    For over five years now, I’ve spent most of my waking hours reading and writing about money. I’ve learned a lot. Using this knowledge, I’ve been able to get out of debt, build savings, and even begin pursuing my passions. What’s next? As time passes, I find myself thinking more about financial independence and early…

  • What To Do with All That Clutter: Sell It, Swap It, Give It Away (75 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. This Saturday (May 14th) is Give Your Stuff Away Day, a worldwide celebration of getting rid of clutter. People all over the world will be gathering up their unwanted possessions and taking them to the curb,…

  • 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…

  • When Does Minimalism Go Too Far? (123 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…

  • The Investment Piece: One Investment That’s No Investment At All (123 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. It never fails. Whenever I venture into a store, especially a clothing store, I inevitably hear the phrase that makes me want to stage an impromptu personal-finance intervention: “It’s an investment piece.” As in, “This jacket is a little pricey, but it’s a classic — an investment…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • How to Spend Your Way to Happiness (Part One) (109 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. You know the old adage “money can’t buy happiness”? Researchers Elizabeth Dunn, Dan Gilbert, and Timothy Wilson say it’s a myth. Drawing on empirical research, they’ve identified key ways that people can get more bliss for their buck. The link between money and happiness has been studied…

  • 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…

  • Wants, Needs, and the Sense of Entitlement (56 comments)

    This is a guest post from Gail Vaz-Oxlade, the host of the popular Til Debt Do U$ Part on CNBC (Saturday nights at 10 and 10:30). Gail is a columnist for MoneySense, Chatelaine, and Zoomer Magazine and blogs daily at her website, where she also offers terrific tools people can use to dig themselves out…

  • 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…

  • Women and Money: Slaying Stereotypes and Facing Reality (76 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Do women need specialized personal-finance resources specific to our gender? That’s what some financial advice books seem to imply. Slate writer Hannah Seligson points out that bookseller Amazon.com has a “money management for women” category, but no category specifically for men. Some of the cheekier titles in…

  • A Non-Consumer Christmas: Simple Gifts for Kids and Grown-Ups (48 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. Not sure what to buy for your loved ones this year? Still singing the recession blues? Consider buying nothing at all. I didn’t buy anything on Black Friday, I didn’t buy anything…

  • The Coming of the Shopocalypse (91 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Brace yourselves — the Christmas-shopping season is upon us. In fact, it’s been upon us since October at least, when I saw an early-bird Christmas shopper guide for the “it” gifts in 2010. Is it just me, or does the chaos seem to start earlier each year?…

  • Using Consumerism for Social Good (24 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. When I shampoo my hair, I’m helping buy bicycles for girls in Togo to get to school. According to UNICEF, in Togo, a small nation in West Africa, about half of the women 15-24 years old can’t read or write, and the numbers are higher for…

  • Bargain Shopping Gone Berserk! (49 comments)

    This is a guest post from Gail Vaz-Oxlade, the host of the popular Til Debt Do U$ Part on CNBC (Saturday nights at 10 and 10:30). Gail is a columnist for Yahoo Canada, Chatelaine, and Zoomer Magazine and blogs daily at her website, where she also offers terrific tools people can use to dig themselves…

  • 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…

  • Shopping with Confidence, and the Clean Slate (69 comments)

    “Does this shirt make me look fat?” I asked Kris the other day. I was trying on clothes as I packed for our upcoming vacation in France and Italy. I want to limit myself to just four or five shirts for the trip. (Truly light packers would probably only take two shirts.) “Well,” Kris said….

  • 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…

  • Stopping Shopping Momentum (35 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. Shopping momentum is the bane of many budgets. You may have a good grip on your money most of the time, but once you’ve opened up your wallet to make one purchase,…

  • 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…

  • What Should You Buy Used? What Should You Buy New? (143 comments)

    Though the Get Rich Slowly community has expanded in the past couple of years, there are still a few folks who have been around since the beginning. It’s always a pleasure when one of them drops me a line. Last week, Vintek — who contributed this introduction to mutual funds nearly four years ago —…

  • 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…

  • Dress Yourself For Free: How to Host A Clothing Swap (72 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 spend almost nothing on clothes. According to Mint, I’ve spent $199.50 to clothe my family of five this year. They say the average U.S. household has spent $1258.62. That’s more than…

  • Three Passive Barriers I Use to Counter Consumerism (37 comments)

    This video post is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker previously featured a post on his own blog entitled, Dave Ramsey Vs. Suze Orman. Passive barriers are those small mental impediments that keep us from making smart choices. Things like over-drafting your bank account because you’re too lazy to stop by the bank to make…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Spend Based on Who You Are, Not Who You Want to Be (110 comments)

    Last Thursday, on April Fool’s Day, I wrote about my obsession with gadgets and how much that’s cost me over the years. As always, your comments and stories were more entertaining (and instructive) than the post itself. In fact, a comment from chacha1 gave me a flash of insight. She wrote: The thing that’s a…

  • Do You Get What You Pay For? (108 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Like many of you, I’m a proponent of quality over quantity. I’d rather buy one good coat that will get me through three seasons and last for years than replace a poorly-made, cheap one every year. But it’s important to consider that expense is not necessarily an indication…

  • 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…

  • How to Turn Your Clutter Into Cash (39 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. To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, this article is all about green: How to make…

  • The High Cost of Clutter (81 comments)

    This post is from new staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. Last week, J.D. wrote about Stuff; today, Sierra shares her thoughts on the costs of clutter. Do you have piles of papers lurking on your desk? Mountains of laundry looming beside…

  • How Much Stuff Does One Man Need? (158 comments)

    It seems like every time I travel, I come home committed to win my war on Stuff. This time was no different. I lived out of a single carry-on bag while vacationing in Belize last week, and even that felt luxurious. Now I’ve returned to a house packed with doodads and gewgaws, knick-knacks and baubles….

  • 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…

  • Mastering the Art of Haggling (53 comments)

    Last weekend, The Washington Post published an article from Mike Rosenwald about the recent resurgence of haggling. To get a feel for the art of the deal, Rosenwald spent a week putting haggling to work in his own life: For consumers like me who have spent decades shopping at full retail, getting a deal on…

  • Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous…on Lease (184 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Most of us, at one time or another, have seen a photo of a celebrity with an “it” bag, even if just in tabloids at the supermarket check-out. Most of the time they are over-sized totes, logo prominently displayed, on the arm of an actress or…

  • My Advertising Crash Diet (62 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday, and in large part that’s because I spend it camping in Terlingua Ranch and hiking, backpacking, or kayaking in Big Bend National Park (about 15 minutes away from the ranch). I get mixed reactions when I tell people that’s how my…

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

    Your friends and family influence you. They affect the way you view life. If your friends are frugal, it’s easier to be frugal yourself. But if they’re wrapped up in consumerism and materialism, and can be difficult to resist the urge to join them. It’s only natural to want to fit in. Rob wrote yesterday…

  • The Art of Improvising: Alternatives to Buying New (53 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. When you have a need or a problem, there’s usually a solution that can be bought. Buying a solution is often the easiest and fastest way to solve a problem — but it also can be the most expensive. When my husband and I were in…

  • 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…

  • Accumulation and Attachment: Finding Balance (52 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. A lot has been made of the minimalist lifestyle on personal finance blogs. Some readers love it; some think it sounds like a miserable existence. But rather than focus on how much or how little we possess as a measure of our degree of minimalism, it…

  • The Personal Finance Hour, Episode 20: Spending Smart with Greg Karp (7 comments)

    On this week’s installment of The Personal Finance Hour, Jim and I spent the hour talking with nationally-syndicated financial columnist Greg Karp. Greg is the author of The 1-2-3 Money Plan, which I reviewed last week. We had a wide-ranging conversation about spending smart. Spending Smart One of Karp’s mottos is, “You can’t outearn dumb…

  • Should You Buy It? A Flowchart for Evaluating Potential Purchases (69 comments)

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

  • Further Adventures in My War on Stuff (102 comments)

    Long-time readers of Get Rich Slowly know that I’ve been waging an ongoing battle against Stuff — the clutter and crap I managed to collect during 20 years of wanton spending and debt. Though I’ve managed to curb my spending (and have slowed the influx of Stuff), I’m still surrounded by constant reminders of my…

  • MousePrint.org Exposes the Pitfalls in Fine Print (16 comments)

    Does fine print drive you crazy? Like me, do you find yourself wading through 63-page credit card agreements — trying to understand the legalese but often failing? Don’t you wish there were a site that highlighted the lunacy of this stuff? Well, there is. Mouse Print is a blog devoted to “exposing the strings and…

  • 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…

  • Do Experiences Lead to Greater Happiness Than Material Purchases? (59 comments)

    The August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research arrived in my mailbox yesterday. It contains an interesting article from Nicolao, Irwin, and Goodman entitled “Happiness for Sale: Do Experiential Purchases Make Consumers Happier than Material Purchases?” This is a topic we’ve skirted at Get Rich Slowly, but never fully explored. Many readers have offered…

  • Buying Food: Grocery Shopping Tips from 1950 (51 comments)

    The American housewife! Who has a more important or more responsible occupation? Wife, mother, laundress, counselor, maid, chef, purchasing agent. All of these are her duties at one time or another. So begins Buying Food, a home economics film from 1950. Buying Food is fascinating not just for its shopping tips, but also for the…

  • 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…

  • The Spending Habits of the Average American (106 comments)

    Last week, Diane dropped a line asking for information about the spending habits of the average American. She wrote: I am trying to find sites that will provide average spending habits — such as how much an average person spends on food per week or how much a family spends on entertainment, that sort of…

  • Remnants of Things Past (96 comments)

    I did a little time traveling yesterday, and I didn’t like it. “I’m going to clean the workshop,” I announced at breakfast. “I know I should write or mow the lawn, but I’m going to clean the workshop.” “Sounds good,” Kris said. She rarely argues when I have an urge to do some cleaning. A…

  • How to Save Money on Food: Great Tips from Three Years of Get Rich Slowly (35 comments)

    While driving to our monthly book group discussion on Saturday, Kris and I had a conversation with our friend Courtney. Courtney’s family is beginning to feel a financial squeeze. Her husband’s employer is cutting jobs. To keep working, he’ll have to take a pay cut and move back to the position he left a couple…

  • 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….

  • The Subtle Power of Product Packaging (88 comments)

    I get frustrated when I meet people who don’t think advertising affects them. Advertising does affect you. And, in fact, I’d argue those who believe they are immune are probably most likely to be influenced. How powerful are advertising and marketing? In 2007, I shared an excerpt from Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink in which the author…

  • Product Specifications Influence Consumer Preference (35 comments)

    When you make a major purchase, how do you choose between competing products? Do you buy solely on price? Or do you consider features, quality, and brand reputation? A new study in the April 2009 issue of Journal of Consumer Research reveals that our purchasing decisions are susceptible to the influence of external descriptions. When…

  • Want to See Your Credit Report for Free? FreeCreditReport.com vs. AnnualCreditReport.com (50 comments)

    Mark Frauenfelder (founder of the awesome Boing Boing) has a piece at PC.com that asks: When is a free credit report not a free credit report? The answer, of course, is: When it comes from FreeCreditReport.com. FreeCreditReport.com, which has raised the ire of many, does allow people to look at their credit reports free for…

  • How to Dispute Credit Card Charges (37 comments)

    In yesterday’s USA Today, Kathy Chu offered tips to help consumers with disputes on credit card charges. This is a nice companion piece to this morning’s GRS post about thwarting credit-card company tricks. “No industry statistics are available about how often such disputes are won by consumers,” Chu writes. “But to maximize their chances, consumers…

  • Learning to Live Modestly (36 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation. This is a guest post from Gail Vaz-Oxlade, a Canadian financial writer and host of the television series ‘Til Debt Do Us Part. Frugality is all the rage. And a good thing too. With the economic situation as it is, we had better learn to take pleasure from the simple things…

  • The Good Consumer (36 comments)

    In my favorite section of David Mitchell’s brilliant Cloud Atlas, Sonmi-451 is a clone who works in a fast-food restaurant in near-future Korea, a society ruled by corporcracy (a government of corporations). In this seemingly utopian world, citizens are consumers, and their purpose in life is to spend. Commonplace items are known by their brand-names:…