dcsimg

Consumerism


  • Will canning your food save you money? (43 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…

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

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

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

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

  • 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 pinpoint why, so I chalked it up to getting older. At the library, one of my duties is to make…

  • 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 surprised either. But I was surprised to learn that families of school-aged children spent over $630 in back-to-school expenses. This number from…

  • 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. I don’t mind a packed schedule, and I’ve learned to better manage my time. But for those moments when a…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Becoming friends with your future self (24 comments)

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

  • 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…

  • 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?)…

  • 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 noticed a whole crop of money-saving challenges popping up all over the Internet, from personal finance blogs to Pinterest. And then,…

  • 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…

  • 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 to spend less than you earn … something that doesn’t benefit you at all? Keeping up with the Joneses is…

  • 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 habits that make certain people more successful with money than others?” she asked. I generally don’t like to make generalizations,…

  • 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…

  • 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…

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

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

  • 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 forced gift-giving or wasteful spending. And while I still struggle with those notions to a certain extent, my perspective of…

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

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

  • 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, but only after Thanksgiving.) I get mailers about Christmas presents, and when I bother turning on the TV or radio,…

  • 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 News, ABC News Now, CNN Newsource, and is a frequent guest on syndicated radio shows across the country, including ABC…

  • 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 we’re doing the work ourselves. And the only reason that DIY is saving us money is because we have my…

  • 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…

  • 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 taken care of, that “I’ll be the last person you’ll have to talk to,” I was getting nowhere. During the…

  • 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…

  • 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. Before my mom retired, she started her sewing business and sold clothing online and at trade shows. Technology has made…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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 with unlimited talk, text and data,” said Morgan S. Without a computer at home, she says, “I basically use my…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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 concert because she didn’t have any money. I simply said, “Nope.” That made the sobbing worse. Now, before you accuse…

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

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

  • 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 these symbols of affluence are common. “I can’t help it,” I told him. “All I can think of when I…

  • 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 of an encumbrance every day. Really. I’ve had it with things, and I’m starting to detest them. Well, almost all…

  • 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 time for revolution! It’s time to turn the old laws upside down. It’s time to say something better. It’s time…

  • 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…

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

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

  • 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 people with children, like me, are finding that they have been overrun by an absurd number of new toys and…

  • 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, Coca-Cola commercials. They’ve been a part of the holidays since the 1920s, and may have even played a role in…

  • 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 a lot this winter. And suddenly I’ve already spent a few hundred dollars, and not a gift among them. And…

  • Lowering expectations for Christmas (175 comments)

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

  • 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 Day myself — I realize I’m in the minority. It’s Black Friday. It’s Christmas. People are going to shop. If…

  • 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 up for a Target REDcard. Of course, you get more than just early access. The Target REDcard also comes with…

  • 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 you are talking about!” And then Monday afternoon one of my husband’s friends came over with his wife. The house…

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

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

  • 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 for $75, or in college currency, one textbook. I’d already started wrapping them up and brainstorming my budget when I…

  • 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. He loves to swivel and has been asking me for a chair like that. “We’ll keep our eyes out!” I’ve…

  • 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, no warning, nothing. I was literally robbed, but luckily I had paid with a bank card, so I initiated a…

  • 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 — in our neighborhood, it would be the only produce supplier within about a mile focusing on local, seasonal grocery…

  • 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 dress from Target’s own Merona brand is washable so there is no expensive dry cleaning needed. And I live in…

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

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

  • 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 a keener focus on making more money, which has a greater potential than saving. However, potential is never a guarantee…

  • 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…

  • 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 only has one lesson to teach you. I Knew Him When Zac was one of the first writers I contracted…

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

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

  • 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 with the smallest outstanding debt? Do you mentally compare APRs and make the optimal financial choice? Do you calculate whether…

  • 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 accumulated over the years. A few other friends are going to join us (in the hope that we can attract…

  • 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,…

  • 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 about a game show where the losing contestant was “slimed.” One day, I decided to take this to the top….

  • 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 collection is growing,” he told me. “I know,” I said. We talked about the process of building a collection while…

  • 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. Today I want to share the system I’ve been using for the last 15 years to reduce my spending and…

  • 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? So imagine my amazement at the news this week that Suze will be offering a branded prepaid debit card. Prepaid…

  • 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 my gifts hours before they were opened, often late at night on Christmas Eve. I’d have a bag full of…

  • 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 a series of posts, videos, and photo galleries leading up to and culminating in the event, including one year when…

  • 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 in a few facts about this day, the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S. that we call Black Friday. Here’s…

  • 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 enjoy them. In his popular book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the Hungarian psychology professor and former…

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

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

  • 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…

  • 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 my husband in Kuwait for the Army will spend any money, Halloween is also the beginning of care package season…

  • 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 New York Times article, we’re also buying more shoes, handbags, premixed cocktails, and meat pies. (Meat pies? Who knew?) Cheesecake…

  • 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. But if you think post-holiday bank statements are scary, maybe you should start planning for Halloween expenses, too. Yes, you…

  • 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 can successfully resolve their issue. The customer who doesn’t complain, on the other hand, is more likely to quietly go…

  • 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…

  • 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 breaking my usual habit of not doing product reviews to write about it. What is Spotify? Spotify is a service…

  • 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 to increase happiness for the consumer. Research says when it comes to buying happiness, experiences trump Stuff… The first principle…

  • 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…

  • The Psychology of Consumerism (202 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 son was in jail for drugs, and his mother was trying desperately to find a way to give her son…

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

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

  • 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 retirement. No surprise then that over the last couple of months I’ve been obsessed with Jacob Lund Fisker’s Early Retirement…

  • 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, where they hope neighbors and passersby will adopt their stuff. As the event organizers say: Because of all the shopping…

  • 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…

  • 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 piece.” Or, “I need to invest in a pair of versatile black dress shoes.” I hear it in stores, I…

  • 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…

  • 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 for decades, and the result is always the same: Money does buy happiness — but less than most of us…

  • 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,…

  • 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 of the hole. Gail’s latest book is Debt-Free Forever. I’ve been working with a lot of people lately who can’t…

  • 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…

  • 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 the category include: Shoo, Jimmy Choo!: The Modern Girl’s Guide to Spending Less and Saving More Does This Make My…

  • 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 today, and I won’t tomorrow. This holiday season, I won’t be going near a mall. Under our tree, there will…

  • 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? Last night I was browsing the list of Netflix “watch instantly” movies, and I saw one produced by Morgan Spurlock…

  • 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 those in rural areas where there’s no access to transportation. Children have to walk 5 to 15 miles, and girls,…

  • 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 out of the hole. Gail’s latest book is Debt-Free Forever. Who doesn’t love a good sale? But when bargain-hunting, coupon…

  • 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…

  • 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. “It’s not that the shirt makes you look fat. It’s just way too big on you. It looks like a…

  • 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…

  • 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, it’s easy to just keep spending. People sometimes experience shopping momentum during times of stress or transition: when they’re traveling,…

  • 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…

  • 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 — sent me an e-mail to let me know how he’s doing, and to share a recent article he liked. My…

  • 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….

  • 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 six times my spending. It’s been years since I walked into a clothing store, tried on styles I liked and…

  • 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 a deposit, or not going for a run because it’s a pain to get your exercise clothes together. But while…

  • 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….

  • 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 *headdesk* for me is the digital piano in my dining room. It’s an excellent instrument, but at the time I…

  • 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 of quality. And even when the more expensive item is of higher quality, it might not be the best buy….

  • 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…

  • 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 more of it by selling your Stuff. Even though I can’t peer into your closets or surveil your garage (or…

  • 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 your bed? Shelves double-stacked with knick-knacks? I have a bit of a clutter problem myself. The other day, I spent…

  • 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. The more I purge Stuff from my life, the more I travel, and the more I see (and read) about…

  • 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….

  • 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 previously no-deal items is liberating and invigorating, as I found out during a recent week I spent haggling. At first,…

  • 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 pop star. (Sometimes I wonder if the tinier celebrities could, in fact, fit inside their own handbag.) And as ridiculous…

  • 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 family celebrates the holiday. Yes, we do have turkey — slow-cooked over a fire no less. Yes, we do bring…

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

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

  • 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 debt-repayment mode and had our discretionary spending locked down, I began to see that there are alternative solutions to problems…

  • 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…

  • 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 seems more important to get to the underlying question: How does your happiness relate to the things you own (or…

  • 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 spending.” Some people believe they can always just earn more money to sustain their lifetyle — but their lifestyle often…

  • 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 and model of the kitchen appliances we want for our home. Visions of sleek, Thermador cooktops and double ovens danced…

  • 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 old habits. Last week, Colleen wrote to ask for an update on this seemingly-endless war: I was wondering if you…

  • 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 catches buried in the fine print” of all sorts of offers and agreements. Here’s what Edgar Dworsky says about his…

  • 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…

  • 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 anecdotal evidence that they get more “bang for their buck” by spending money on experiences instead of Stuff. This new…

  • 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 inside look at a grocery store from 60 years ago. (Self-service grocery stores were introduced in 1916 and grew in…

  • 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 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 thing. I am hoping to see where my habits line up with someone of similar means in the same part…

  • 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 glimpse at the past When we first looked at this property five years ago, I was drawn to the outbuildings….

  • 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 of years ago. “I’ve started to read personal finance books,” Courtney told us. “We know we’re going to have to…

  • 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…

  • 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 describes how product packaging affects our perceptions. In front of us was the beverage section. Rhea leaned over and picked…

  • 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 we shop, we may spend too much when we base our decisions on product specifications. The researchers found that “even…

  • 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 seven days, but then automatically enrolls users into a $15/month credit monitoring service. This last fact is a problem. Frauenfelder…

  • 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 should know how to navigate the maze of rules governing credit card disputes.” She shares five ways to increase your…

  • 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 if we want to keep our sense of balance and be able to sleep at night. The rise of materialism…

  • 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: a theater is a disneyarium, a video display is a sony, a vehicle is a ford. Television is not TV,…