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Debt


  • Starting a garden to pay off debt: Really!?! (85 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Some personal finance advice is just plain ridiculous. I’m talking about the kind of advice that’s great for filling up a webpage but that had neither saved nor made anyone money ever. Or maybe you could follow it and save money, if you wanted to hate your life….

  • Honey progress report: More milestones edition (65 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Last year’s August update was full of good news, and it seems to be a yearly tradition! I will go over each update and its impact on my life, but the bottom line is: My student loan balance now starts with an eight! Jake paid off his credit…

  • Reader Story: Could crowd funding help this guy pay off his mortgage? (205 comments)

    We get dozens of requests at GetRichSlowly.org every day. They are usually queries such as “Can I guest post to promote my business?” (No.) “Will you share our infographic with your readers?” (No.) Last week we received one that intrigued me. The writer had started a crowd-funding effort to pay off his mortgage and he…

  • Car payments: ‘Til death do us part (79 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Your car breaks down on the side of the road … again. It’s rush hour and it won’t start. You have to have it towed and you’re not happy about it. At all. So what do you do? You head to the local dealership in a fury, ready…

  • More on motivation and money (29 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. In my last post, I talked about motivation and money. Motivation is a huge yet under-discussed concept in personal finance, I think. While big wins may be the quickest way to wealth, that doesn’t mean you’ll reach your goals overnight. Even if you have become wealthy, you still need…

  • Student loan debt: Learning to save yourself (115 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. In late 2008, Lance Cothern reunited with his high school girlfriend Tori after several years apart. Lance was almost ready to earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting, and Tori was a sophomore studying nursing at a four-year public university at the time. After a few years of…

  • Motivation and money (34 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Especially for those of us like me who are in the midst of the long, hard slog of debt pay-down, staying motivated can be tough. How do you keep your excitement up and your determination high when financial independence is barely visible on the horizon? Here are…

  • 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…

  • 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…

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

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

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

    Jim, a reader of our Facebook page, shared some of his personal finance journey in Facebook comments a while back, and readers commented that they’d like to hear his story. We reached out and asked him if he would elaborate so we could share his story with the Get Rich Slowly website readers. This is…

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

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

  • How to handle a windfall (29 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money, where he recently wrote about the difference between moderators and abstainers. When my father died in 1995, he left behind a small life insurance policy that awarded each family member $5,000….

  • #StudentLoanDebt is trending (91 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith. Since I have over $92,000 in student loan debt myself at last count, perhaps I’m just finely attuned to news coverage on this issue. However, my very unscientific observation is that there have been quite a few articles on student loan debt in the news lately, particularly graduate…

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

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Now that I’ve taken stock of where I’ve been in 2013, I’m ready to set goals for 2014. I want my goals to be ambitious, realistic, and personal in addition to being SMART goals. They should also take into account my goals for the previous year. This includes whether…

  • Taking stock of 2013 (46 comments)

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

  • 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…

  • How to avoid binge-shopping (62 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. It seems contradictory, but I love being frugal and I also love spending money. Over the last few years, however, my love of frugality has outweighed my love of spending — and it’s been good for my savings. Yes, it’s OK to spend money sometimes. If you…

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

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. I am perched in the corner chair, cup of Chai in hand, with just hours before the deadline for this post. I have piles and piles of clean laundry that need to be folded. Dishes need to be washed. I can’t recall the last time I’ve dusted…

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

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

  • Reader Stories: Our lightbulb moment (50 comments)

    This Reader Story comes from LifeImproved.org. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. In 2009, I convinced my husband to see a…

  • Ask the Readers: What’s the best way to prepay your mortgage? (45 comments)

    Recently, Mandy sent a question via our Facebook page (like this site, it’s a really active community with more than 35,000 followers). We turned to our colleague Keith Gumbinger, vice president of HSH.com and a mortgage expert who is regularly interviewed by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and many other publications, for…

  • Reader Story: Free at last (32 comments)

    This guest post is from Mary Newcome. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. I remember what it was like to live in my…

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

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. It’s been several months now that I’ve been on a savings lockdown. It’s been going well, except for this past weekend, when I had a relapse. I over-splurged on everything — food, shopping, beer — and I’m officially hungover. My buzz started when a client check came…

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

    This guest post is from Kate Northrup. Kate is the author of the new book, Money: A Love Story. She’s leading a live online event called A Course in Having Enough with guest teachers Marianne Williamson, Barbara Stanny, and Amanda Steinberg. This course is free when you purchase Money: A Love Story. Get details at…

  • Reader Stories: How I paid off $610,000 in debt, became a dad and quit my job — in 2 years (56 comments)

    This reader story comes from John Corcoran, an attorney, former Clinton White House writer and blogger at SmartBusinessRevolution.com, where he writes about how to use smart political strategies in business. You can download his free ebook, “10 Ways to Use Secret Political Strategies and Tactics to Grow Your Business.” Some reader stories contain general advice;…

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

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. This progress report is full of good news! I will go over each piece and its impact on my life, but the bottom line is: I paid off my small student loan balance! Jake paid off the balance transfer he’d made to one of my credit cards!…

  • 4 steps to finding financial improvement (33 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Lisa Aberle. The two worst years of my financial life were 2007 to 2009. Before 2007, our income was low, but our expenses were low, too. We didn’t save much, but we didn’t spend more than we earned, either. Then we saw our dream house. And we bought it…

  • Reader Stories: Why I’m glad I took out student loans (52 comments)

    This reader story is from Kelsie, who blogs at pinkandrick.com, a blog about money, goals and dogs. It’s as random as it sounds, she says. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and…

  • Empty goal syndrome: What to do when your last goal leaves the nest (47 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Lisa Aberle. I shouldn’t be admitting this in public, but it’s the truth. Hi, I am a staff writer for a personal finance blog, and I’m losing interest in personal finance. I’m not leaving the blog, and I’m not going crazy with spending. But I need a little shot…

  • 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…

  • Look, Mom! I’m on TV! (27 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Kristin Wong. “If they cleaned this place up, it could be pretty nice.” –My mom’s take on NYC. This week my mom was kind enough to take some time off work and accompany me to New York, where I was a guest on one of her favorite shows, “Fox…

  • Ask the Readers: What will make you feel financially secure? (78 comments)

    If you’re a regular reader of Get Rich Slowly, you are focused on getting out of debt, saving, retirement goals – all of those money issues we all deal with. But at what point would you or do you feel financially secure? I think my own sense of financial security came once I had paid…

  • Book review: ‘Debt is Slavery’ (46 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. There are many personal finance books out there, useful to people in all stages of personal finance. I have a lot to learn before reaching financial independence, and the editorial elves thought it would be useful if I shared some of what I learn with you. So…

  • Reader Stories: How I became a home entrepreneur to get out of debt (37 comments)

    This reader story is from Kelly Crawford. Kelly is a “mompreneur” and contributing author for five blogs, including her own, Generation Cedar. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want to submit…

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

    This post is from staff writer Sarah Gilbert. April’s post about financial literacy struck something in me, especially the part about the “Fallacy of Financial Literacy.” The idea here is that we are sold tools to increase our financial literacy, when in fact they only increase our knowledge of products the banks who create the tools…

  • Avoiding credit card traps (12 comments)

    This is a guest post from John Ulzheimer. John is a recognized expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft, and is the Senior Columnist at Credit Card Insider. He is twice Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) certified by the credit reporting industry’s trade association and has been an expert witness in more than…

  • 5 debt lessons from ‘Braveheart’ (20 comments)

    This guest post is by Ben Edwards of MoneySmartlife.com. His book “Debt Heroes,” which chronicles the stories of 21 people who got out of debt, was published in December. Get Rich Slowly readers may download a free copy of the book from Sunday, March 24, through Thursday, March 28 on Amazon.com. Ask anyone struggling to…

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

    This post is from staff writer Kristin Wong. Today I pulled out a file in my cabinet that’s been gathering dust since 2007: STUDENT LOAN. In 2007, I paid that sucker off, and I haven’t looked back since. Well, except to check my credit report. I wanted to make sure the nightmare was really over,…

  • Ask the Readers: What is the next step? (92 comments)

    J.D. wrote about the three stages of personal finance often. His definitions were: The first stage of personal finance involves learning the basics: understanding compound interest, reducing debt, beginning to save. The second stage is putting the basics into practice: choosing to live frugally, saving in earnest, and pursuing financial goals. The third stage —…

  • The hassle of being in debt (110 comments)

    This post is from contributor Holly Johnson. A few months ago, I wrote about how we dug ourselves out of debt. Once we cut our expenses and stopped living beyond our means, it didn’t take long to make significant progress against the tens of thousands of dollars we owed. And after a few years of…

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

    This story comes to us from reader EmJay. EmJay’s story is the epitome of getting rich slowly, and readers can learn from her effort. This post is part of the Reader Stories series. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature…

  • And the winners are… (3 comments)

    To get your new year’s saving resolutions off to a healthy start, we ran a sweepstakes on the Get Rich Slowly Facebook page. More than 300 (310, to be exact) people told us what their new year’s goals were, and from those entries, we randomly chose winners to receive $50 gift cards. And the winners…

  • New student loan payoff tool (30 comments)

    Stafford, PLUS, Perkins, Direct, private – there are enough types of student loans out there to make your head spin. All of these loans have different criteria and interest rates. This is especially the case if you have loans from before 2012. Pre-2006, when Stafford loans were variable interest, it often made sense to consolidate…

  • Join the Debt Movement (40 comments)

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

  • Reader story: 10 financial lessons I learned from my parents’ divorce (67 comments)

    This guest post from Sydney is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Sydney blogs about personal finance, entrepreneurship, self improvement, travel and lots of other fun stuff on Untemplater.com. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature…

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

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Now that I’ve taken stock of where I’ve been in 2012, I’m ready to set goals for 2013. I want my goals to be ambitious enough that meeting them is a true accomplishment requiring me to stretch my growing money-management skills. However, I also want them to…

  • Getting rich slowly on my own terms (47 comments)

    Over the last six months, I have had several articles published at Get Rich Slowly. However, I have never had the pleasure of formally introducing myself. My name is Holly Johnson, and I am a 32 year-old wife and mother of two young children. I work alongside my husband at a small family owned mortuary…

  • 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,…

  • Driven crazy by car loans (95 comments)

    My long commute means my car has a lot of miles on it. Right now, it’s cruising up to 180,000 miles and still going strong. While we’re hoping to make it to 250,000, approximately 30,000 miles goes on the odometer each year. My car-buying philosophy In a rare piece of verbal financial advice from my…

  • Taking stock of 2012 (89 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. For me, the end of the year is a time to take stock of where I’ve been. This not only helps me identify (and celebrate!) my accomplishments throughout the year, it helps me identify and prioritize new goals. I’ve already met the short-term of my recently identified…

  • Setting my next financial goal (38 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Honey Smith. Ever since I paid off my consumer debt, I have been thinking about setting my next goal. Obviously paying off my student debt in its entirety is the long-term goal, but that is going to take years. And years. For me, having a goal that long-term feels…

  • Is investing optional? (101 comments)

    This guest post from William Cowie. William has contributed to ConsumerismCommentary.com, BudgetsAreSexy.com and other personal finance blogs, including his own, Dropdeadmoney.com. We’ve all seen this bumper sticker, haven’t we? Other than singing the Disney song from “Snow White,” how does it make you feel? “Wouldn’t it be great if I didn’t HAVE to…?” And isn’t…

  • Student loan saga: the next chapter (33 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Honey Smith. Both good news and bad news since my last update on student loans. As I may have mentioned before, after five years in my doctoral program, I thought I was going to graduate, so I consolidated all the student loans I had at the time. Because of…

  • Reader Story: How I almost got screwed by the CARD Act (154 comments)

    This post from Danielle Rodabaugh is part of the reader stories series. Danielle is the chief editor of the Surety Bond Insider, an online publication published by SuretyBonds.com, which tracks developments within the surety industry. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Danielle has a special interest in developing finance policies, entrepreneurship…

  • Ask the Readers: What is your most pressing financial issue? (98 comments)

    As Election Day draws (mercifully) near, that old question “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” comes up again and again. I’m not going to talk politics. However, I think the better question at any time (and one that is worth asking a few times a year) might be “What is your…

  • Frustrations with my new student loan servicer (97 comments)

    This post is from new staff writer Honey Smith. Since I only took out Stafford loans while I was in school, I was able to consolidate almost all my student loans into a single balance through a program called the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP). After I consolidated, I was able to use a…

  • 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

  • Reader Story: From recession to best financial shape of my life (53 comments)

    This guest post from William Cowie is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. William has contributed to ConsumerismCommentary.com, BudgetsAreSexy.com and other personal finance blogs. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of…

  • Reader Story: Dodging Financial Bullets: A Tribute to My Ex (94 comments)

    This guest post from Holly Johnson is part of the “reader stories” feature. 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. Want submit your own reader story? Here’s how. I could talk for hours about my…

  • Honey Progress Report: Credit Card Payoff Edition (127 comments)

    This article is from new staff writer Honey Smith. I’ve been at GRS for well over a month now, and I’ve learned a lot. At this point, I’ve been able to implement some changes to my spending. I can now provide an update on the effect those changes have had on my bottom line —…

  • 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…

  • Student Loan Debt: How I Got in Deep (330 comments)

    This article is from new staff writer Honey Smith. My mother was quadriplegic by the time I was in high school. My dad was a real estate agent who worked on commission, so he worked long hours to make ends meet. As a result, I took on a lot of responsibility at a young age….

  • Are Universities Immoral? (218 comments)

    This is a post from staff writer Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. By popular request, J.D. has added photos of cats once again. Yes, this…

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

    This post is by staff writer Sarah Gilbert. I asked, as I sometimes do, what personal finance question my friends and Twitter followers had for me. It was a slow day on the internet and the responses flooded in. My friend Neil asked, “what do you think about real estate?” A broad question, indeed, and…

  • Surviving Student Loans (102 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…

  • Reader Story: Avoiding Student Loans Gave Me a Head Start in Life (125 comments)

    This guest post from Lisa is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want submit your own reader story? Here’s how. Get…

  • Reader Story: How My Upbringing Helped Me Avoid Debt and Build Wealth (129 comments)

    This guest post from long-time GRS reader SB is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. SB writes…

  • Continuing Education May Make You Wiser — But Richer? (100 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Sarah Gilbert. I live in a world in which I am blessed with lots of friends who are writers, but even I — social media maven that I am — would put my writing community at far less than a thousand. Yet a few weeks ago, there I was…

  • Reader Story: How My Nosy Family Taught Me About Money (109 comments)

    This guest post from GenQwerty is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. Reader stories generally run on…

  • How to Have More Money (84 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jerrold Mundis, author of the classic How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt, and Live Prosperously [here's my review]. Mundis is a writer and financial therapist. The final book in his trilogy on personal money is Making Peace with Money. His website is Mundis Money. You…

  • Protecting Yourself Against Sexually-Transmitted Debt (54 comments)

    This is a guest post from Claire Brown. Previously at GRS, Claire shared a reader story about how she learned about frugality from de-cluttering. As we hit the season of Christmas parties and New Year bashes, many GRS readers are probably thinking about 2012 financial resolutions, budget gifts and how to whip up a frugal…

  • Reader Story: How Debt Put My Dreams on Hold (85 comments)

    This guest post from Jason Jacobs is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. Jason wants to be financially free so he and his wife can be missionaries with no strings attached. You…

  • Calibrating and Circumventing the Cost of College (116 comments)

    This article is from new staff writer Tim Sullivan. It’s a common refrain that today’s college graduates are entering into the worst job market and economy since Hoover was around. We’re told that an undergraduate degree means less than what a high school diploma once was, yet we’re investing more in school than ever before….

  • The Spectacle of Financial Difficulty (170 comments)

    This post is from new staff writer Sarah Gilbert. Both my husband and I have spent some periods of unemployment over the past decade, and we have become intimately familiar with financial humiliation. Having had a red tag left on your doorknob notifying you of the impending shutoff of one of your utilities is not…

  • Reader Story: My Falling Credit Score (and Why It’s Not the End of the World) (88 comments)

    This guest post from Matt is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. This is a rare…

  • How My Generosity Got Me $8,000 in Debt (105 comments)

    This is a guest post from Logan Sachon. Her piece originally appeared at Bundle.com. I am in debt: $8,000 on two credit cards, to be precise. The debt occurred over several years, and includes a few periods when I was living off the cards because I was in between jobs. Perhaps $1,000 of the debt…

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

    The tone and content at Get Rich Slowly have shifted a lot in the past five years. When I started this site, I was a financial novice. I was learning about smart money management. Now, I’m in what I call the third stage of personal finance, and the basics come naturally. (Most of the time,…

  • When To Walk Away From A Bad Mortgage (249 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. Since the housing bubble burst, many Americans have found their finances underwater. They’re paying on homes that are worth much less than the mortgages against them. More than a few have chosen…

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

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

  • Should You Pay Off Your Mortgage Early? (90 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. Everyone’s looking for safe investments these days. Unfortunately, there’s a price for security: low…

  • Reader Story: My Debt-Free Marriage (65 comments)

    This guest post from Mike C. is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. On June 26th,…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Negotiate with Credit-Card Companies? (55 comments)

    A reader calling herself Florida Girl dropped a line recently to share her story of financial woe. Though she’s beginning to get a handle on her finances, she’s struggling to cope with the cost of her past choices. She needs help. I’m struggling to keep up with the minimum payments on my credit cards. Unfortunately,…

  • Emergency Fund vs. Debt Snowball: What’s the Top Priority? (79 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. A few weeks ago, in my review of Mary Hunt’s Debt-Proof Your Marriage, I mentioned that she advocates building a 3-6 month emergency fund before beginning to snowball your debt payments. That’s…

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

    I have a backlog of “ask the readers” questions since I didn’t publish any while I was vacationing over the past month. As soon as possible, I’ll get to those I’ve promised to post. Today, however, I wanted to share a question from Kristine, who wrote to me earlier this week. Kristine is trying to…

  • Reader Story: How I Persevered and Killed My Credit Card Debt (27 comments)

    This guest post from Jeff is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. You can read more…

  • Help! My Debt Snowball Is Melting! (74 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 summer heat has taken a toll on my debt snowball. Two months ago, I paid off the last of my credit card debt, but I still have thousands of dollars in…

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

    This guest post from Alissa is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. I like all of…

  • Ask the Readers: Should I Sell My Home to Pay Off My Debt? (99 comments)

    Yesterday we had a great discussion about some of the financial choices I’m facing, but today it’s time to look at a decision a GRS reader is trying to make. Catherine wrote to ask if it makes sense to sell her home so that she can become debt-free and have the freedom to pursue a…

  • Ask the Readers: What Can I Do About My Student Loans? (135 comments)

    I do my best to cover a variety of topics here at Get Rich Slowly. Personal finance is a v-a-s-t topic, and there’s a lot of specialized knowledge. But there’s no question I have blind spots. Because Kris and I have no kids, I don’t write much about children and money. Student loans are another…

  • Ask the Readers: “Help! I Co-Signed on a Loan and Now I Wish I Hadn’t!” (146 comments)

    Ah, relationships. Without other people, money management would be easy! Easy-er, anyhow. But love, family, and business relationships tend to make people do things they know they really oughtn’t. Take Patrick, for example. He fell in love, and it led him to commit a financial faux pas. Here’s Patrick’s l-o-n-g story and his questions: A…

  • Worth More Than Money: Taking A Detour on the Road to Riches (105 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. Hola! My family is spending the month of July vacationing in Argentina. My husband grew up here, and his entire family still lives here: his parents, his brother and sisters, and my…

  • Reader Story: Debt-Free by 30 — Including the Mortgage! (119 comments)

    This guest post from Jesse (who juggles) is part of the “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general “how I did X” advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all…

  • What Happens to Your Stuff When You Die? (49 comments)

    Most of us have some sort of vague idea about what happens to our assets when we die. The stuff we own gets passed on to the people we specify — assuming we’ve jumped through the right hoops. But what happens to our debts when we die? That’s what Matt wants to know. He wrote…

  • Beyond Credit Card Debt (54 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. I made my last credit card payment this week! That final payment ends more than ten years and $20,000 of credit card debt. Getting out of credit card debt is a familiar…

  • Reader Story: The Other Side of Bankruptcy (213 comments)

    This guest post from Shara is part of the “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general “how I did X” advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of…

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

    I’ve been stewing over something for the past few days, and I’m finally ready to write about it. I’m not a fan of judging others and their actions. Like Atticus Finch, I believe you never really know a person until you stand in their shoes and walk around in them. But I’m human. Like everyone,…

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

    This guest post from Andrew J. is part of the “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general “how I did X” advice, and others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity, and with…

  • Money, Stress, and Your Health (46 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. A 2009 AP/AOL survey, Debt Stress in the United States, found that American adults are experiencing significantly more debt-related stress than reported four years ago when a similar survey was conducted. The survey also found that those with high stress levels were likely to experience health…

  • Reader Story: Our Financial Turnaround (102 comments)

    This guest post from William is part of the “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general “how I did X” advice, and others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity, and with all…

  • Reader Story: I Was Drowning in Debt (29 comments)

    This guest post from Steven is part of the “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general “how I did X” advice, and others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. (Note that Steven is the author of Hundred Goals, a blog about achieving…

  • Calculate How Much Your Debt Costs You Per Month (46 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. Read what Baker had to say about J.D.’s new book, Your Money: The Missing Manual, in his recent review on Man Vs. Debt. As you all know, April is Financial Literacy Month. To celebrate, my weekly contributions throughout the month will cover basic techniques to raise your financial…

  • Confessions of a Gadget Junkie (100 comments)

    Ah, April Fool’s Day. Such a special day at Get Rich Slowly. Every year, I share a story of my own foolishness with money. And there are so many stories to choose from! Stories like The $1500 Frisbee and How to Turn $500 Into $7 the Hard Way. This year’s story is about my love…

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

    This post is part of the new “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general “how I did X” advice, and others will be examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. Today’s reader story is a little bit different; I wrote it after interviewing the…

  • Reader Story: How I Ruined My Credit Score, and How It Didn’t Ruin My Life (145 comments)

    This guest post from the redoubtable Tyler K is part of the new “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general “how I did X” advice, and others will be examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. Tyler is an active commenter at GRS, and…

  • Reader Story: How I Paid Off $18,000 in Student Loans While Still in Graduate School (84 comments)

    This guest post from Andrea is part of the new “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general “how I did X” advice, and others will be examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. I am a graduate student, working towards a PhD, and I…

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

    For nearly a decade, I lived without a personal credit card. In 1998, I destroyed all my cards and canceled my accounts in a last-ditch effort to curb my compulsive spending. It worked (sort of), and it wasn’t until 2007 that I finally felt like I was responsible enough to use credit wisely without going…

  • Reader Story: Turning Debt Repayment Into a Game (99 comments)

    This guest post from Amanda is part of a new feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Every Sunday will include a reader story (in the new “reader stories” category). Some will be general “how I did X” stories, and others will be examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success. In May of 2008,…

  • Reader Story: How I Paid Off $18,500 in Debt (69 comments)

    This guest post from Rita marks the start of a new feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Every Sunday will include a reader story (in the new “reader story” category). Some will be general “how I did X” stories, but most will be like this: An example of how a GRS reader achieved financial success….

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

    This article is by GRS staff writer Adam Baker. In addition to his work at Get Rich Slowly, Baker blogs over at Man Vs. Debt, where he compiles the most famous and inspiring quotes on debt. This article is a part of National Save for Retirement Week, and a sort of follow-up to yesterday’s post…

  • Pros and Cons: 30-Year Mortgage vs. 15-Year Mortgage (114 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. My husband and I are in the early stages of building a house. As we modify our floor plans, the amount we’ll need to borrow to build is on our minds. It’s probably going to be the most expensive thing we’ll ever purchase, and we need…

  • Your Credit Report Card (69 comments)

    Mark Frauenfelder is the co-founder of my favorite sites, Boing Boing (which is a “directory of wonderful things”). Mark’s also a GRS reader. He dropped me a line the other day to tell me about a new project he’s been following. Today, Credit.com is launching a free new online financial tool called Credit Report Card….

  • Ask the Readers: How to Face a Family Financial Crisis? (91 comments)

    With the arrival of the GRS staff writers, the semi-regular “ask the readers” column has a new home. Look for this feature most weekends. “Ask the readers” is your chance to get (and give) advice about real-life financial dilemmas. An anonymous GRS reader submitted a question last week that hits close to home: I have…

  • My Debt Story: An Introduction (80 comments)

    This post is from April Dykman, a new GRS Staff Writer. April was a typical GRS reader who used the things we talk about to improve her financial situation. Now that she’ll be writing for the site, she wanted to start by sharing some background on her financial history. In April 2008, I got married….

  • Ask the Readers: How to Prioritize Medical Bills? (153 comments)

    Eila dropped a line this week to get advice on how to tackle her debt. She and her husband are trying to turn things around, but they’re overwhelmed by medical bills. They’re hoping GRS readers can offer direction. Eila writes: How do I prioritize my medical bills? I have about $8000 in medical debt that’s broken…

  • Reader Success Story: Debt Free on $2,000 a Month (76 comments)

    We interrupt this series of Staff Writer auditions to bring you a brief success story from a Get Rich Slowly reader. I receive several of these a month (often several a week), and sometimes wish that I had a place to share them all. Instead, I just make the time to share a handful every…

  • Beyond Frugality: What I Learned from Failure (63 comments)

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

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

    This is a guest post from A.J. Clark, a long-time lurker at Get Rich Slowly. A.J. is a potential Staff Writer for GRS. He is a recent college graduate who writes software in the financial services industry, while trying to find his financial footing in the Real World. $76,133.53 — I owe this total to…

  • The First Three Steps to Financial Freedom (54 comments)

    The hardest part of money management is just getting started. Once you have some momentum, it’s easier to make the right choices. Kay has been reading personal finance blogs for almost a year now, and she knows that she needs to make some changes, but she doesn’t know how to begin. She writes: I want…

  • Your Secret Credit Scores (21 comments)

    During yesterday’s episode of The Personal Finance Hour, Jim and I spoke with Liz Pulliam Weston, financial columnist and credit score expert. Weston provided background on how the credit scoring system works, and offered tips for how to maintain (and improve) your credit score. During the show, Weston mentioned a past MSN Money article in…

  • The Personal Finance Hour, Episode 13: Credit Scores with Liz Weston (13 comments)

    Join us this afternoon for the 13th episode of The Personal Finance Hour. Today, Jim and I will be joined by a special guest, money writer Liz Pulliam Weston. Weston, “the most-read personal finance columnist on the Internet”, writes regularly for MSN Money, and is the author of Your Credit Score: Your Money and What’s…

  • The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Debtor (32 comments)

    This post is about running. Except that it’s not. It’s about mental toughness, the mental toughness necessary to run a marathon — and to pay off debt or to build wealth. I rolled out of bed early yesterday morning, pulled on my shorts, strapped on my heart-rate monitor, and headed out the door. I zipped…

  • Should Repaying Debt Be an Obsession? (75 comments)

    Some people never take control of their finances because they’re afraid that doing so would require them to give up everything they enjoy. I don’t believe that’s true. Getting out of debt requires hard work and sacrifice, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun along the way. Aaron recently sent the following e-mail: You…

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

    One of my favorite parts of Get Rich Slowly is the weekly “Ask the Readers” section. It’s fantastic to see how well this community pulls together to help each other find solutions to financial dilemmas. Most of the questions come via e-mail, but last week I met a man named Aaron who reads the site….

  • How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt, and Live Prosperously (50 comments)

    Once or twice a year, my wife and I spend a Saturday combing the local thrift stores looking for bargains. Kris is mainly after clothes. I target books — especially personal-finance books. On one recent trip, I picked up a two-dollar copy of How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt, and Live…

  • Like a Drug: Suze Orman on Credit Cards (42 comments)

    I recently participated in a conference call with Suze Orman, who is working to promote Best Life Week. This series runs on The Oprah Winfrey Show all this week, and is intended to help viewers “jumpstart 2009 and make it the best year ever!” Hyperbole aside, it was great to have a chance to speak…

  • American Household Debt Declines, Personal Saving Rate Increases (36 comments)

    This morning, Karl sent me a link to a CNN/Money article that is simultaneously happy and sad: In a sign that Americans’ spending habits are shifting, household debt fell for the first time ever, based on data going back to 1952. According to a Federal Reserve report released Thursday, consumer debt fell an annualized $30…

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

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

  • Data Mining and Credit Profiling: How Lenders Lure You to Borrow (33 comments)

    Although responsibility for every penny of debt ultimately rests with the borrower, lenders have developed tempting baits to lure consumers into their traps. A recent New York Times article by Brad Stone describes a system that works against Americans, not for them. Using sophisticated data-mining algorithms, banks and other financial institutions craft tailor-made offers that…

  • Drama in Real Life: Foreclosure! (128 comments)

    Most of the time, the talk about the housing bubble and the credit crisis and the faltering U.S. economy seem rather abstract to me, as if people were discussing a problem in Canada or Mexico. Or Norway. I’ve spent the past four years focused on my own financial situation, ignoring the outside world. The national…

  • Free Debt Snowball Spreadsheet (26 comments)

    Vertex42, a site devoted to Microsoft Excel templates, spreadsheets, and calendars, has posted a free debt snowball calculator. From the description: This spreadsheet allows you to choose different debt reduction strategies, including the debt snowball effect (paying the lowest balance first) and highest interest first. Just choose the strategy from a dropdown box after you…

  • Reader Survey: How Did You Get Into Debt? (187 comments)

    Last week, National Public Radio’s “On Point” program highlighted credit cards, consumers, and a nation in debt. I was honored to be a guest on the show. Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren, an expert on the credit card industry, was the main guest, however, and she had a lot of great things to say. (I…

  • The American Way of Debt (182 comments)

    On Sunday, The New York Times published a series of articles on The Debt Trap, exploring the surge in consumer debt and the lenders who made it possible. The main article profiles a Philadelphia woman who made some bad choices, bought into the myth of easy credit, and now finds herself struggling with insurmountable debt….

  • The History of Debt in America (Now in PDF!) (12 comments)

    In Wednesday’s links roundup, I mentioned a long article on the history of debt in America. Rian dropped me an e-mail to say that he liked the essay, too, but found a way to make it more accessible: I have been in contact with the author of the long article about the history of debt…

  • The Dirty Secrets of Debt Reduction (and What to Do About Them) (74 comments)

    When I was a sophomore in college, I got my first credit card. I thought it was awesome — it was like free money. Soon I got another credit card, and before long I’d maxed them both out. I entered the work force with a handicap. I had the start of a nasty credit habit….

  • Life Without Credit Cards (78 comments)

    For some people, best credit card deals are useful tools. For others, they’re a gateway to debt. My first step toward controlling my spending was to cut up my gas cards and move to a cash-only system. It was nearly a decade before I felt I could trust myself with a personal credit card again….

  • The New Thrift and Seduction By Debt (40 comments)

    In today’s New York Times, columnist David Brooks writes about seduction by debt. The United States was founded on a moral structure that emphasized hard work and thrift, he says, and this helped the country grow affluent. But somehow we’ve lost our way. He writes: The social norms and institutions that encouraged frugality and spending…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do I Find Who My Creditors Are? (18 comments)

    Even during my bleakest financial periods, I was able to make payments to my creditors on time. Not everyone is so fortunate. Some people give up and eventually lose track of where they owe money. Nick wrote last week wondering what to do when you’re done running and ready to take responsibility for your debts:…

  • Now and Then: How My Current Financial Situation Compares with a Decade Ago (64 comments)

    I spent the 1990s addicted to credit cards. I was mired in debt. Recently while cleaning the garage, I unearthed a box full of old receipts and bank statements. I spent a couple hours sifting through them, aghast at my former spending habits. It was like peering into the life of a stranger. Addicted to…

  • Ask the Readers: “I’m Doing Well Financially But My Family Is Not” (147 comments)

    Personal finance would be easy if it were only about the numbers. But it’s not. Money management not only requires that we master our own whims and emotions, but that we navigate the sometimes rocky waters of our personal relationships. Rachel wrote looking for help with a stormy situation. What happens when you gain control…

  • Sallie Mae’s Screw-Up May Cost YOU Money (22 comments)

    Several readers wrote to sound the alarm that student loan giant Sallie Mae has screwed up, and their error may cost you money. Bethany writes: I had been keeping an eye on my credit, making up for my past mistakes by paying on time meticulously and paying off my credit card debt. Yesterday my Equifax…

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

    Personal finance is filled with tough decisions. Prepay the mortgage or invest the money? Pay down high interest debt first or use a debt snowball to tackle the small balances? Roth IRA or traditional IRA? Sara wrote recently with another dilemma I think many of us have faced: is it better to pay down debt…

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

    Jason sent me a question yesterday that neatly encapsulates a lot of the mail I receive, as well as rounding up some of the topics we’ve been discussing this week regarding life after school. “I’m living on credit,” he wrote. Here’s his story: I graduated a year ago with a useless degree but what I…

  • Reader Success Story: “We Paid Off $23,000 of Debt in 16 Months” (50 comments)

    The best part about running this site is reading stories from readers who have managed to take control of their finances and kick debt to the curb. Some people share their success in the comments, but many people e-mail me privately to celebrate. For example, Jodi wrote on Friday to say that after more than…

  • The Negative Saving Rate and the Age of Easy Credit (81 comments)

    “My generation doesn’t know how to be thrifty,” writes Eve Conant in the current issue of Newsweek. She describes how her grandfather — who fled his native Ukraine during World War II — would store plastic bags filled with leftover bread crusts in the closet of his new home in California, a house he bought…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Prepare for Enormous Debt? (74 comments)

    Consumer debt is bad. Buying lots of Stuff on credit cards is a sure path to financial woe. But while some people argue that all debt is bad, most experts agree that certain debts are acceptable (good, even). The two most common examples are mortgage debt and college loans. The average person cannot afford to…

  • Book Review: Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover (149 comments)

    Dave Ramsey changed my life. In the fall of 2004, I had over $35,000 in consumer debt. I was making a solid middle-class salary, but I lived paycheck-to-paycheck. My money habits were terrible. When I looked into the future, all I saw were years of toil to pay for the things I’d already purchased. Then…

  • The Wise Use of Credit: Money Lessons from 1960 (18 comments)

    “To develop a better understanding of the wise use of credit, let’s spend a few minutes with a certain individual we’ll call Mr. Money.” Here’s another short video from Sutherland Educational Films designed to teach young adults about their finances. In this installment, Mr. Money teaches John and Judy about the ins and outs of…

  • The Power of Positive Cash Flow (42 comments)

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

  • What Are Debt Snowballs Made Of? Debt Snowflakes! (53 comments)

    During the twenty years I carried consumer debt, I made several attempts to change my habits. Every time I decided to lick the debt monster, I would follow the advice in the financial books: I’d arrange my debts in order, listing the one with the highest interest rate first. I’d pay extra on this bill…

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

    On Saturday, I joined Kris and her sister for a quick tour of local thrift stores. They picked up clothes; I picked up books. After a few hours of shopping, we took a break to grab some cheap tacos for lunch. “You’ve inspired me,” Tiffany said as we waited for our meals. “What do you…

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

    Earlier today I wrote about using a home equity loan to pay off credit cards. I suggested that this may be a good option for somebody who has arrested her spending and is ready to focus on debt elimination. It’s a move that carries a big downside, though, and is certainly not a good choice…

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

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

  • Free at Last! Saying Good-Bye to 20 Years of Debt (245 comments)

    Twenty years ago I was a freshman in college. I was a poor kid from a poor family, but my roommates came from wealth. In order to fit in, I went out and picked up a department store credit card. I bought some new clothes, an electric shaver, and a bottle of cologne. From that…

  • The Thrill of Paying Off a Mortgage (80 comments)

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

  • Will the Credit Crisis Cost YOU Money? (36 comments)

    USA Today recently featured a nervous article about the economy. According to the authors, the U.S. credit crisis isn’t just a problem for big banks — it’s also a problem for you and me. As the credit crisis seeps into farther-flung corners of the economy, more of us will find it harder — and costlier…

  • Are You a Shopaholic? Six Steps to Curb Compulsive Spending (89 comments)

    I had dinner with my friend Sue the other night. Over pasta and clams, we talked about life and money. She told me about her brother. “He’s a compulsive spender,” said Sue. “He spends money even when he doesn’t have any.” “What do you mean?” I asked. “Well,” she said, “for one thing, he spends…

  • A Rough Guide to Repaying Student Loans (62 comments)

    There are certain aspects of personal finance that I’ve never had to deal with. Student loans are one of these. But student loans are a huge concern for many people. This guest-post from SJean is an introduction to repaying these debts. There are really two things to know about student loans: How to get them,…

  • Credit Crisis: Personal and Global Perspectives (37 comments)

    This morning’s discussion about credit cards and emergency funds was interesting. Many commenters noted that if you have a history of using credit responsibly, a credit card can actually make an acceptable buffer in case of the unforeseen. JenK made an analogy I like: “Credit cards, like knives, are not risky in and of themselves….

  • A Credit Card is Not an Emergency Fund (84 comments)

    Sometimes I wonder: Have I always had personal finance conversations all the time? I don’t often initiate them, but money seems to be a constant topic, even when people are unaware that I write about it every day. Just this morning, for example, I met with a fellow who needs some boxes to ship his…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Live Debt-Free? (101 comments)

    I will be debt-free by Christmas. In just a few weeks, I will have repaid all my consumer debt. Only my mortgage will remain. It’s taken a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but the end is near. I’m wondering, though, if I’m ready for the transition. For three years, I’ve focused on becoming debt-free….

  • Smart Money on How to Live Debt-Free (21 comments)

    Brad Reagan at Smart Money has advice on how to live debt-free. His article is really about how to get debt free, and it contains some useful tips. Keeping your debt load as light and as cheap as possible is the key to a more secure future and to guilt-free spending on the things you…

  • Ask the Readers: Help! I’m in Debt! (66 comments)

    I’ve received several questions lately from young adults, just out of school, who are finding it difficult to make ends meet. Here’s one from Ryan, who is feeling overwhelmed by debt: I’m 21 years old, working a full-time job and a part-time job, and going to school part-time on weekends and evenings. After high school…

  • Book Review: Debt is Slavery (43 comments)

    While on vacation I found time to read five personal finance books, each of which was good in its own way. Rather than swamp you with book reviews, I’m going to space them out over the next few weeks. Here’s the first. One of my goals for the next two years is to write a…

  • An Imperfect Credit Score is Not the End of the World (13 comments)

    This is a guest post from Kim McGrigg of Money Management International, the nation’s largest nonprofit credit and debt counseling firm. I often warn consumers about the little things that can have a big impact on their credit score. Today, I’m in more of a “don’t sweat the small stuff” kind of a mood. It…

  • How to Eliminate Debt in Bursts Instead of Incrementally (42 comments)

    This guest post is by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, one of my favorite blogs. Most of the time, the standard advice about debt elimination is to pay it off incrementally, over a period of time. We’re advised to be patient, and to hold on tight until the day comes when we pay off our…

  • Ask the Readers: How Can You Help a Family Member in Financial Trouble WITHOUT Loaning Them Money? (73 comments)

    “The Tim” is in a bind. He’d like to help his brother-in-law out of a tight spot, but he’s not interested in loaning him money. What are his options? Here’s his story: My brother-in-law is currently in his third year of college at a private university. He is paying for his schooling without any financial…

  • Gary Coleman Pitches Outrageous 99.25% APR Loans (78 comments)

    You guys are awesome. I’m scrambling to get things organized before I leave for London this weekend, and GRS readers continue to send me great story ideas and guest entries. I won’t get to all of them before I leave (not even close!), but you’ve given me lots of fodder for when I return. Here’s…

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

    Monday’s collection of car links sparked more discussion than any link dump I’ve ever posted. A lot of you have strong opinions on the subject. Katie writes that all the talk about cars made her think about her own situation. My husband and I have both saved enough money to cover the price of the…

  • You Are Your Own Worst Enemy (108 comments)

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

  • Reader Story: What My Father Taught Me About Debt (12 comments)

    Happy Father’s Day! Louise from Our Odyssey dropped a line the other day to share a story of how her father taught her about debt. When I was fresh out of college in June of 1985, my Dad gave me $500 to buy furniture and as an apartment rental deposit.  This was an interest-free loan and…

  • Proper Care and Feeding of Your Credit Score (46 comments)

    Your credit score is like a pet monster under the bed. Feed it and care for it, and it will do your bidding. But if you neglect it, it will turn against you. But beware! Taking good care of it can bring you dangerously close to its sharp teeth. Your credit score determines the types…

  • The Poverty Business (37 comments)

    Vincent sent me a story from the latest issue of Business Week. On its surface, “The Poverty Business” is similar to pieces I’ve featured before, including Marc Hedlund’s guest-post on the dangers of the payday loan trap and my own review of Maxed Out, a film about the credit industry. In this new article, authors…

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

    I’ve accumulated $3500 and I don’t know what to do with it. As you may recall, I am carrying the remainder of my credit card debt in the form of a home-equity loan (or HELOC). The current balance on this debt is $15,000 and I’m paying a 9.25% finance charge. I intend to have this…

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

    I recently posted two entries (1, 2) with experiences from people who loaned money through Prosper, the person-to-person lending service. “But where are the reviews from borrowers?” some of you asked. Tricia at Blogging Away Debt has borrowed money from Prosper. Here’s her story. When I first heard about people-to-people lending through Prosper.com last year,…

  • A Review of MAXED OUT, a New Film About the Credit Industry (33 comments)

    Maxed Out is a new film that examines the credit industry — its profitability and its effect on consumers. It’s a sort of Super Size Me, but with credit cards instead of hamburgers. Here’s the trailer: The film discusses the role of banks, of government, and of consumers in creating an industry that is, in…

  • Reader Story: Tackling Debt Through Volunteer Work (8 comments)

    An anonymous reader sent the following story about the approach she is taking to tackle her debt. First I need to point out that this won’t work for everyone. I only have a two-year degree from a community college, so my total school loans were only up to $10,000 — a drop in the bucket…

  • Ask the Readers: Credit Emergency! (42 comments)

    Jana writes in with a credit emergency. She’s been following Get Rich Slowly, and is learning how to handle her own personal finances, but she has a friend who is in a predicament beyond her realm of knowledge. (And beyond mine, as well.) Can any of you offer advice? She writes: Kerry is a 23…

  • Radio Interview with David Koch, Australian Financial Expert (2 comments)

    I recently did my first radio chat about personal finance. I crashed and burned. I had terrible stage fright, and turned into a brain-dead zombie who could only repeat one thing over-and-over. It was a learning experience, one which makes me all the more appreciative of the work done by Rodney Olsen, a regular Get…

  • Getting Out of Debt: Oh What a Relief it Is! (22 comments)

    JLP at All Financial Matters recently shared the story of how he got out of credit card debt. It’s not exciting or glamorous, but then paying off debt never is. We paid off our last two credit cards nearly a year ago. It was an amazing feeling to write those two final checks. Our debt…

  • My Parents Ruined My Credit! (27 comments)

    Last month a reader wondered how her family’s credit history affected her own. This month Daniel has a slightly different problem: his parents did ruin his credit, though indirectly. He writes: When I was 19/20 years old, my credit was ruined. I had a decent job and got a few credit cards. I went to…

  • Blogging Away Debt (14 comments)

    Paul forwarded a piece from yesterday’s New York Times entitled “Debtors search for discipline via blogs”. This front-page article profiles several personal finance bloggers whose primary focus is debt. A decade after the Internet became a public stage for revelations from the bedroom, it is now peering into the really private stuff: personal finance. The…

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

    Edited to correct mistaken math. Deep in the bowels of the internet, we personal finance bloggers have a secret hideaway where we gather to hone our craft. In a recent discussion some of us wondered which we ought to prioritize: retirement savings or debt reduction? This is a question that’s bugged me recently. As I’ve…

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

    Yesterday I posted a reader comment on the virtues of a debt-free lifestyle. This prompted responses noting that debt-free living creates its own set of problems, and that responsible use of credit can be a valuable tool. Greg C wrote: Some people think credit = debt. It does not. Anyone who can budget can use…

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

    Marie recently made a terrific response in Ask the Readers: What if you have no credit history? This thread is a month old and most people probably missed the comment, so I’m featuring it here. I am a bit shocked that someone would be so irresponsible as to tell someone else to “suck it up…

  • Ask the Readers: How Will My Family’s Credit History Affect My Own? (15 comments)

    An anonymous reader is worried about her family’s poor credit history: How will my family’s credit history affect my own? My family has an awful credit history. My father was once a very successful business man and sold his company years ago for a hefty sum. Not long after this, my parents divorced and my…

  • Who Is Responsible for the Payday Loan Trap? (16 comments)

    Last month, Marc Hedlund shared a guest article about the dangers of the payday loan trap. He wrote: The basic lesson for personal finance is the same you’ll have heard many times, but it always bears repeating: If it seems like you’re getting easy money, watch out! Easy money is the hardest kind there is….

  • Become a Consultant to Defeat Debt Quickly (13 comments)

    The recent discussion about job-loss included a debate on the merits of becoming a consultant. Regular reader Andréa Coutu is a consultant. She wrote this guest article on how to become a consultant in order to explain the concept to Get Rich Slowly readers. Getting rid of household debt is one of the best ways…

  • Ask the Readers: Escaping from an Upside-Down Loan? (29 comments)

    Many of us are in similar positions: we’ve discovered sound personal finance skills, but only after making some dumb decisions. I’m still paying down a $16,000 home equity loan that represents my residual credit card debt. John writes with a similar problem, one that he hopes he might escape. A little over a year ago,…

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

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

  • The Dangers of the Payday Loan Trap (20 comments)

    Need quick cash? Don’t use payday loans, advises guest writer Marc Hedlund. Payday loans offer a quick path to debt. The New York Times published an article last week about the growth of “payday loan” stores — places that give a short-term, high-interest loan as an advance against your next paycheck. The article revealed some…

  • The Light at the End of the Tunnel (38 comments)

    It’s an odd feeling to be accumulating money for the first time in my life. When I was young, my family didn’t have much money. Any money I earned, I spent. This was a learned behavior. I was imitating my parents. After college, I allowed myself to be trapped in a life of credit hell….

  • Ask the Readers: How to Get Started in Life? (18 comments)

    Over the past week, I’ve received a barrage of messages from people seeking specific personal finance advice. While I’m willing to offer help where I can, many times the questions lay outside my area of expertise. I’m just a regular guy who is learning about personal finance and sharing the information with the world. I’m…

  • The Secret History of the Credit Card (repeat) (17 comments)

    I originally shared this piece on June 12th. I’m reposting it because many PBS stations are rebroadcasting this show tonight. How did the United States become a nation of debtors? When did credit cards become popular? Did you know that many modern credit card policies are the creation of one man? The Secret History of…

  • A Profile of Young People in Debt (26 comments)

    Each generation believes it faces greater challenges than those that came before. In a way, each generation is correct. The challenges keep changing, forcing young people to cope with problems there parents didn’t face. Our grandparents may have struggled with poverty during the Great Depression, but many modern young adults face a slightly different crisis:…

  • How to Get Out of Debt (207 comments)

    Nick writes with a common question: I am a college student with $8,000 of debt. What is the first step in paying this off? Debt elimination involves three steps: Stop acquiring new debt. Establish an emergency fund. Implement a debt snowball. Here’s how to approach each step. (I’ll use Nick’s situation as an example, but…

  • Huge Debts Paid Off Fast (3 comments)

    When my accountant sends me an article, I pay close attention. Today he forwarded a piece from Liz Pulliam Weston, one of my favorite professional money commentators. In Huge Debts, Paid Off Fast Pulliam Weston writes about people who have overcome staggering debt through hard work and determination. How did they do it? Among other…

  • You Can Learn a Lot From a Rich Girl (8 comments)

    A reader pointed me to at post a Violent Acres. “You Can Learn a Lot From a Rich Girl” [profanity] is a cautionary tale of how anyone — even the wealthy — can find themselves struggling with debt. Driving home from the bar one evening, my friend Marilyn confided in me that she was afraid….

  • What Happens When You Try to Get Rich Quickly (31 comments)

    Robert Kiyosaki, Robert Allen, and Loral Langemeier would have you believe that in order to get rich all you need to do is throw your money into real estate, sit back, and let the profits come. It’s not that simple. There’s risk involved. You have to know what you’re doing. Jon forwarded a link to…

  • Fortune’s Fools: Why the Rich Go Broke (0 comment)

    Have you ever wished you were rich? Have you ever believed that your money problems would disappear if you had more money? Have you ever told yourself that you’d be able to shake your debt, shake your bad habits, if only you won the lottery, inherited money from Aunt Madge, sold a screenplay? It ain’t…

  • Real Financial Heroes (4 comments)

    Mr. Impulse-Buyer Guy Mrs. Addicted-to-Sales Shopper Mr. and Mrs. Too-Much-Home Buyer

  • Buying a Home, part three: Dealing with Debt (21 comments)

    This is the third installment in Luneray‘s homebuying adventure. In the first part, she looked at houses. Last week she made an offer. In today’s third part, she discusses coming face-to-face with a lifetime of debt. (Bold emphasis added by J.D.) This house buying experience has been a real eye-opener when it comes to finances,…

  • In Praise of the Debt Snowball (69 comments)

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

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

    This is a real check for $6,000! Because I have not yet performed the opt-out prescreen, I still get credit card and loan offers in the mail. I usually shred them without looking. Today I opened one on a lark. Holy cats, this is a terrible deal. Who signs up for these? Let’s take a…

  • The Worst Job I Ever Had (83 comments)

    Your job is one of your most important assets. It gives you earning power. It can bring you personal fulfillment. But what happens when you’re stuck in a job you hate? Here’s the true story of the worst job I ever had. I made some poor choices at the end of my college career; as…

  • Beware of Nightmare Mortgages (5 comments)

    Business Week has a fascinating story about “nightmare mortgages” — adjustable rate home loans made over the past few years that now haunt consumers. For cash-strapped homeowners, it was a pitch they couldn’t refuse: Refinance your mortgage at a bargain rate and cut your payments in half. New home buyers, stretching to afford something in…

  • How to Escape from Debt Hell (6 comments)

    Reader Russell Heimlich forwarded an excellent MSN Money piece on Escaping from Debt Hell. It’s hard to escape the news that Americans are drowning in personal debt, but you hear less about the many people who…have been able to dig out of debt. Ordinary people use a variety of methods to shake off their past…

  • Ain’t We Got Fun? – The Dawn of the Age of Credit (11 comments)

    Have you ever wondered how we became a nation of debtors? When did credit become something we take for granted? Here’s a passage from a book called Ain’t We Got Fun? that reveals how credit rose to prominence. I’ve annotated the passage with links to supplementary material. [During the 1920s] an ever-increasing proportion of the…

  • Don’t Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford (11 comments)

    Live from New York! It’s Saturday night! Okay, it’s really live from Portland, but here’s a skit from Saturday Night Live that features excellent personal finance advice. The best personal finance advice. You can watch the clip for free at Salon, or you can just read the script below: Scene: a typical American kitchen. A…

  • Put Yourself on a Debt Diet (2 comments)

    Lifehacker points to Oprah’s Debt Diet, which is a sensible approach to debt elimination and sound personal finance. The “diet” is divided into two phases of four steps each. Short-Term Within a month, you should be able to complete each of these four short-term goals, perhaps pursuing one task per week. These are steps that…

  • How Do Bad Credit Marks Go Away? (5 comments)

    One AskMetafilter user wonders how old bad credit marks go away: I had a few months in 2004 where I could not afford to pay my bills — mostly credit card bills. I have a few accounts that have 120 day delinquencies reported in 2004, but since about the end of that year, I have…

  • Pep Talk: Climb Out of Debt (8 comments)

    A reader at Lifehacker writes: Over the past few years, I’ve accrued some painful, albeit modest, debt. Since I trust Lifehacker readers with my life(hacking), I’d love to hear some tips and strategies for getting out of debt. So, any advice? First of all — and this is important — DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU….

  • How to Obtain Your Free Credit Report (10 comments)

    Ralph writes: I’d like to know how to get a free copy of my credit report from the agencies. A recent federal law gives consumers access to their credit reports; however, it costs extra to obtain your credit score. Your credit score is not an actual component of your credit report. The Fair Credit Reporting…

  • Ben Franklin’s Advice to a Young Tradesman (1 comment)

    TO MY FRIEND, A. B.: — As you have desired of me, I write the following hints, which have been of service to me, and may, if observed, be so to you. Remember that time is money. He that can earn ten shillings a day by his labour and goes abroad or sits idle one-half…

  • Necessary Hints to Those That Would Be Rich (0 comment)

    (by Benjamin Franklin, from Poor Richard’s Almanack (1737)) The use of money is all the advantage there is in having money. For six pounds a year you may have the use of one hundred pounds, provided you are a man of known prudence and honesty. He that spends a groat a day idly spends idly…

  • Coping with an Adustable Rate Mortgage (3 comments)

    Interest rates are on the rise, and that means the 25 percent of homeowners who hold adjustable-rate mortgages are beginning to feel the pinch. Gerri Willis at CNNMoney has some advice to help these folks guard against higher rates. She recommends that homeowners: Know the stakes. The increased rates can make hundreds of dollars of…

  • National Credit Score Index (1 comment)

    The National Score Index is a handy little web app that displays U.S. average credit scores by state (683 in Oregon) and for the entire country (677). Based on the most current data available in the industry, the Experian National Score Index provides the most up-to-date look at U.S. consumers’ credit and is a powerful…

  • Reader Question: Buying a House Without a Credit History? (3 comments)

    A reader e-mailed wondering if it were possible to obtain a mortgage without a credit history. I posed this question to Robb Severdia of Guarantee Mortgage in Portland. If a couple came to you with a combined income of $75,000/year, 20% saved for a down payment, but no credit history whatsoever (as unlikely as that…

  • The Secret History of the Credit Card (9 comments)

    How did the United States become a nation of debtors? When did credit cards become popular? Did you know that many modern credit card policies are the creation of one man? The Secret History of the Credit Card was a 2004 “Frontline” presentation from the Public Broadcasting System. The program examines the nation’s use of…

  • Federal Student Loan Consolidation Primer (3 comments)

    Paul — who recently shared tips on socially responsible investments and on cheap world travel — is a financial aid counselor at the University of Oregon. He’s offered to share a presentation he’s been giving to students about loan consolidation. Recent grads who have unconsolidated federal student loans may also find this useful. This information…

  • Anatomy of a Credit Score (21 comments)

    Your credit score plays an increasingly important role in your financial health. But what is it? And how does it affect what you pay for loans and credit cards? Your credit score is a single number that indicates your creditworthiness. This number is derived from various pieces of information contained in your credit report. Your…

  • The Psychology of Spending (3 comments)

    For many, it’s not the rules of personal finance that are difficult — it’s implementing them. We know what we should do, but we make poor choices. In The Psychology of Spending Money, Deborah Fowles explores our “urge to splurge”. Facing the factors that give you the urge to splurge can be uncomfortable, but if…

  • From Zero Percent to Thirty Percent in Just One Month (6 comments)

    Here’s a nightmare credit card story. John, of New Falmouth, Massachusetts, said he answered an ad for Household Bank’s Platinum Mastercard, which offered a 0 percent introductory fixed rate for the first 12 months for purchases and balance transfers. John’s existing credit card charged just over 9 percent, not a bad rate these days. But…

  • How Many Credit Cards Should You Carry? (16 comments)

    An AskMetafilter user wonders: How many credit cards do typical people have? For various reasons I have four credit cards. I always thought of this as too many, but haven’t cancelled mine since the crappiest one is also the oldest, and has no fee, and I want to maintain the age of the card on…

  • What Actually Happens in Credit Counseling? (0 comment)

    For some who are deep in debt, bankruptcy and consumer credit counseling may seem like the only options. But what’s it like to go through credit counseling? On AskMetafilter this morning, one user asks: What actually happens when one goes through credit counseling and/or debt consolidation? I’m in an ugly mess and I’m scared–everyone tells…

  • How to Get Out of Debt (3 comments)

    As a personal finance site, The Motley Fool is hit-or-miss. It’s mostly an investment site targeting average folks, though sometimes its articles miss this target. Still, it’s a valuable site. One useful feature is this How to Get Out of Debt on-line seminar. The seminar includes a PDF workbook and several pages of information. Here’s…

  • Two Approaches to Debt Elimination (22 comments)

    Nearly every financial adviser — from accountants to brokers to books — advises that debts should be paid off in a particular order: from highest interest rate to lowest interest rate. While this method makes sense from a mathematical point of view, it makes less sense from a psychological point of view. Assume a typical…