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Debt


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

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

  • Reader Stories: Living in a Car to Pay Off Debt (80 comments)

    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 don’t spend lavishly on clothes, hair appointments, or travel. I drive a 12-year-old Honda Civic. I got into debt by trying different business investments, including real estate and selling refurbished tablets. I also took out…

  • Reader Stories: Your debt-paying personality (22 comments)

    This reader story comes from long-time reader and commenter Bill McFadin, aka Cybergeezer, who commented that he had submitted a story months ago that never ran. We asked if he would resubmit the article, which he kindly did — and then he submitted another one! 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…

  • An updated reckoning and why we became homeowners: Honey’s story (81 comments)

    This story is by staff writer Honey Smith. The dust has (mostly) settled from our home purchase. As a result, I thought it would be a good time to post an updated version of “the reckoning.” I also thought I’d share our reasoning for moving forward with homeownership at this point in our personal finance journey. The Reckoning Please note that I have consolidated some separate accounts of the same type into one category for simplicity’s…

  • 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 card debt! I got a raise! Sometime last November or December, I told Jake I could feel it in my…

  • Reader Story: Could crowd funding help this guy pay off his mortgage? (217 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 wanted me to share it with the Get Rich Slowly community. I replied, “Why would anyone want to pay off…

  • Car payments: ‘Til death do us part (80 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 to replace it with something far more reliable, but also affordable. But the dealership has a few tricks up their…

  • 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 motivation to manage your money and prioritize your spending. After all, if you want to stay wealthy, then you can have anything you…

  • 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 dating, the conversations turned serious and they started planning a future together. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to either of them, Tori had…

  • 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…

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

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

  • Ask the Readers: What Do You Do When You’re Broke? (145 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D. recently launched the Get Rich Slowly course, a year-long guide on how to master your money. His non-financial writing lives at More Than Money. Last week, Mr. Money Mustache visited the Pacific Northwest. While he was in Portland, he and I joined Tyler Tervooren (of the Riskology website) to host what we called “Three Blog Night”. About 100 readers of…

  • Reader Stories: That truck (34 comments)

    This reader story comes from Brandon. 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. Buying a brand new 2010 Chevrolet Silverado was the best and worst financial decision my wife and I ever made. I had just received orders for Germany at the…

  • #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 school and Ph.D. debt. And I think that devoting more attention to this issue is definitely a good thing. What’s…

  • 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 have it, and you’re comfortable with your present and future finances, by all means, spend away. But a lot of…

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

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

  • Reader 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 first apartment at age 17. Although not old enough to legally sign a lease agreement, I guess my full-time employment…

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

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

  • 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; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels…

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

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

  • 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 income. Want to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. I had a full ride to college. It wasn’t a…

  • Should You Prepay Your Mortgage? (40 comments)

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

  • 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 & Friends.” “Did you know Gretchen Carlson won Miss America?” my mom asked me when I first told her about…

  • 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 for the foreseeable future, I will be reviewing one PF-related book per month. My first review was of “All Your…

  • 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 100 cases involving credit issues. Formerly of FICO and Equifax, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes…

  • 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 pay off big loans whether debt is oppressive and their answer will likely be yes. As you may know, debt…

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

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

  • 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 struggle and sacrifice, we finally paid everything off. Once all of our consumer debts were gone, we turned our focus…

  • Bouncing back from financial grief and loss (37 comments)

    This guest post is from Psychotherapist Bobbi Emel who specializes in helping you face life’s significant challenges and regain your resiliency. Download her free ebook, “Bounce Back! 5 keys to survive and thrive through life’s ups and downs.” You can find her blog at http://www.TheBounceBlog.com. Some reader stories are guest posts containing information or general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These posts feature folks with all…

  • Join the Debt Movement (40 comments)

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

  • 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 folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want submit your own reader story? Here’s how. It’s hard to…

  • 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 the way student loans and consolidation worked at the time, I ended up getting a pretty good deal. A little…

  • 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 and online marketing. Want submit your own reader story? Here’s how. That day started out as a typical day at…

  • 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 website (which I believe was maintained by the federal government) to track my loan balance and otherwise access my account….

  • 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 — namely, that I’ve paid off the outstanding balance on my credit card! I have also been giving serious thought not…

  • 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. I cooked and cleaned and did all the grocery shopping. I did the laundry and paid the bills (in the…

  • 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 another article bemoaning the cost of a college degree, and the amount of student debt that many graduates take…

  • 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 article is from long-time GRS reader Sarah Greesonbach. The student loan juggernaut, before it became a national scandal, was a…

  • 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 Rich Slowly has covered ways to avoid student loans in the past, but I wanted to share how I also…

  • 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 about personal finance and personal development topics at One Cent At A Time. Some of you might recognize me. I’ve…

  • 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 Sunday and reader questions on Friday; this week, that order is reversed. (Blame it on the jetlag from J.D.’s return…

  • Paying for College: A High School Student’s Quest to Stay Debt-Free (129 comments)

    This is a guest post from Chase Miller, a high school student from Orange County, California. He loves to surf, travel, Tweet, and catalog life through photography. “Where are you going to college?” “What are you going to major in?” “What kind of career do you want?” As senior year flies by like a speeding car, there are certain questions I have been asked countless times by friends, family members, and coworkers. These questions are…

  • 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 can have more money. And you can have it — get it — without turning your life upside down or…

  • Ask the Readers: How Can I Talk to My Parents about Money? (90 comments)

    In many families, money is a taboo subject. It’s not something that’s discussed openly. But this weekend, as people gather to celebrate Christmas, there will be lots of opportunities to bring up the topic with parents — and other loved ones. But how do you do it? That’s what Sean wants to know. He feels it’s important to understand his parents’ finances, but they’re not willing to share. What should he do? Here’s Sean’s question:…

  • 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 feast for 25th of December. Some of you may also be fearing that annual call from a family member in…

  • 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 can read about his journey to becoming fat free at FindingMyFitness.com. When we’re young and stupid, we don’t think about…

  • 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. Post college debt is a major emotional weight on the backs of this newest generation, and colleges encourage debt with…

  • 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 reader story that appeared elsewhere first. I saw it on Matt’s blog last week and asked if I could reprint…

  • Spare Change: Help a Reporter Edition (18 comments)

    As I do from time to time, I’ve agreed to help a reporter who is working on a couple of stories. To that end, I’m looking for a reader (or two — or more) who would be willing to chat with somebody about one of the following topics: Are you “liquidity constrained”? No savings and too much debt? Want to talk to a reporter about how you cope? Do you want to move for a…

  • 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 was spent on plane tickets to visit my parents on the East Coast, my job on the East Coast, or…

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

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

  • Reader Story (and Question): Financial Health vs. Mental Health? (191 comments)

    This guest post from “NotPollyanna” is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. This week’s submission is a reader story and a reader question rolled into one. Hi. My name is Not Pollyanna. (Okay, that’s not…

  • Ask the Readers: What Is My Financial Obligation to My Family? (257 comments)

    Last Friday’s question about the moral implications of spending prompted a great discussion, as well as a few personal messages. One of those e-mails was from Dave, who wrote with his own ethical dilemma. Instead of looking at the world at large, Dave wants to know how to handle a financial dilemma closer to home: with his own family. Here’s his story: I read your site though I no longer need it. I did a…

  • Reader Story: How I Avoided Student Loans (101 comments)

    This guest post from Crystal 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. Crystal writes about finding the balance between paying the bills, saving for the future, and budgeting for the fun stuff at the aptly-titled Budgeting…

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

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

  • How to Lend Money to Friends (Without Ruining the Relationship) (175 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Lending money to friends and family is a generous act — one that could easily backfire and even ruin your relationship. Most of the time when someone is considering a loan to a family member, I think, “Don’t do it.” There can be other ways to help. But when it’s someone you care about, logic only plays one role in the decision-making process. Not too long ago…

  • When To Walk Away From A Bad Mortgage (252 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 to walk away from these debts. Called a “walkaway” or a “strategic default”, deliberately defaulting on your mortgage is becoming…

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

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. Everyone’s looking for safe investments these days. Unfortunately, there’s a price for security: low returns. A five-year certificate of deposit at a major bank like Ally pays just 2.4% APY today, and a five-year…

  • 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, I married my best friend. Together, we entered married life debt-free and with six months of expenses in the bank….

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

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. A few weeks ago, in my review of Mary Hunt’s Debt-Proof Your Marriage, I mentioned that she advocates building a 3-6 month emergency fund before beginning to snowball your debt payments. That’s not my approach, and I criticized it a little in my review. Several commenters said they agreed with Hunt —…

  • Reader Story: 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 from Jeff at Sustainable Life Blog. After making New Year’s resolutions while an undergraduate (at least two years in a…

  • Reader Story: Scholarships for Fun and Profit (42 comments)

    This guest post from Alison 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 one of the best reader stories I’ve ever featured. I’m a graduate of the George Washington University, a school now known as…

  • 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 loans. I started the summer with over $10,000 in my savings account, no credit card debt, and a solid plan…

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

    This guest post from Alissa is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. I like all of the reader stories I publish, but for some reason I particularly like this one. Update: Now with photos! Alissa e-mailed…

  • 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 simpler life: I’m in my mid-forties, self-employed in a high-cost city where I live in a one-bedroom condo that I…

  • 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 blind spot for me. Still, I know a lot of GRS readers have questions about student loans. You folks e-mail…

  • 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 couple years back, I met a girl, fell in love, and we moved in together. A few months into our…

  • Reader Story: Debt-Free by 30 — Including the Mortgage! (120 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 sorts of incomes. My wife and I paid off our house in April while we were both still 29 years…

  • Beyond Credit Card Debt (54 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. I made my last credit card payment this week! That final payment ends more than ten years and $20,000 of credit card debt. Getting out of credit card debt is a familiar story to readers of Get Rich Slowly. You wake up to that fact that your finances are a sinking ship,…

  • 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 incomes. J.D.’s note: Over the past couple of months, I’ve shared a couple of reader stories that involve bankruptcy or…

  • Reader Story: I Paid Off $70,000 in Debt and Quit My Job! (76 comments)

    This guest post from Jaime Tardy is part of the “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general “how I did X” advice, and others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity, and with all sorts of incomes. In 2005, I was working more than 60 hours a week in a position that required…

  • Is Your Spouse Hiding Debt? Recovering from Financial Infidelity (45 comments)

    I’m on vacation in Alaska. This is a guest post from MP Dunleavey, editorial director of DailyWorth.com, a free daily personal finance email for women. I’ve been a fan of Dunleavey’s writing for a long time, and am pleased to have her swing by GRS. Infidelity is always devastating. But if your spouse or partner has been cheating on you by hiding pricey vices or illicit spending sprees, the consequences can be far worse than…

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

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

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

    This guest post from Ian is part of the “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general “how I did X” advice, and others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity, and with all sorts of incomes. I think this story offers an interesting contrast to last week’s story. I used to think that…

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

    This guest post from Andrew J. is part of the “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general “how I did X” advice, and others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity, and with all sorts of incomes. I am writing this for two reasons: First, GRS is like a big toolbox that I…

  • 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 sorts of incomes. My wife and I had some major awakenings in our lives at the end of 2008. In…

  • 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 you goals while managing your finances.) Three years ago, I was drowning in debt. Week after week, I found myself…

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

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

  • 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 awareness. In my opinion, raising awareness is the first step to tackling financial literacy! When initially dealing with the problem…

  • 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 for computers. When I graduated from college and went to work for the family box company, I had no concept…

  • 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 hope to graduate in 2012. Prior to starting my PhD program I acquired a significant amount of student loan debt…

  • Reader Story: A Cautionary Tale (165 comments)

    This guest post from Maria 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. This story very much reminds me of the book for unmarried couples I reviewed earlier this week. This is a story about a relationship between two people and some money. Part…

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

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

  • 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, I graduated with my MBA from a great school. I went straight from my undergraduate career into an MBA program, so…

  • 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. I discovered Get Rich Slowly from a link on MSN Money in the fall of 2008. I’d just purchased a…

  • 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 to decide what we want to borrow and what loan term we’ll want. The main differences between 15- and 30-year…

  • 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. This tool is designed to provide users with a quick snapshot of their credit reports. According to the site’s FAQ,…

  • 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 a family member that this past year has been in serious financial trouble. He is one of the most ambitious…

  • 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. My in-laws graciously gifted my husband, Luis, and me with an adventurous honeymoon in Mexico, complete with scuba diving, climbing…

  • 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 up into $300 here, $200 there, $1000 over there, etc. The bills are to different medical centers, doctors and hospitals —…

  • 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 year. This morning, Jay wrote to share his own tale of dedication: Hey JD! I am very excited to tell…

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

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

  • 25 Essential Books About Money: Financial Wisdom from Your Public Library (49 comments)

    Last week, Jonathan B. sent me the following e-mail: Maybe I’m just not seeing it, but is there a way for you to put up a consolidated list of your favorite personal finance books? This can include ones you found entertaining, made the biggest impact on your personal finance goals, etc. I shared a list of my favorite money books once before, but that was over two years ago. I’ve read dozens of books since…

  • 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 my Mini to the other side of Portland and there I joined a group of about 100 other hardy souls…

  • 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 paid off $35,000 in debt in just over three years. Does that mean you were balls-to-the-wall dedicated and had no…

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

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

  • 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 Prosperously, a 1988 book from Jerrrold Mundis. How to Get Out of Debt is built on the principles of Debtors…

  • 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 billion, or 0.8% in the third quarter to $13.91 trillion. Think about that for a moment. In the 56 years…

  • 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 many find difficult to resist. Stone writes: The American information economy has been evolving for decades. Equifax, for example, has…

  • Thoughts on the Financial Crisis from an Actual Economist (39 comments)

    This editorial is from Stephen Popick, a real-life government economist. He’s also the administrator for the Get Rich Slowly discussion forums. Why did the current financial crisis happen?  I don’t think a fully comprehensive answer could fit into a few paragraphs, but I can give some brief thoughts. As of this morning, otherwise sound companies are encountering financial difficulties.  If we think of the current financial crisis as being a simmering pot on an oven,…

  • MeritAid.com Makes It Easier to Find College Scholarships (23 comments)

    Note: Readers are not impressed with MeritAid.com. The recommend instead that people search FastWeb. For more suggestions, see this Newsweek article. I have a friend who works in the financial aid department of a large public university. He’s passionate about helping students manage their money, both for academics and for Real Life. Several times he’s complained to me that most students don’t do enough to pursue more financial aid. “There are so many scholarships and…

  • Free Debt Snowball Spreadsheet (27 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 enter your creditor information into the worksheet. This file contains two worksheets: A debt reduction calculator, which allows you to…

  • 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 admire Warren and her work, including the personal finance book, All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan.) After hearing…

  • 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. “I regret not dealing with my emotions instead of just shopping,” she says. Through compulsive spending and an unaffordable mortgage,…

  • 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 in America that you posted recently. I cooked up a PDF version because I like to read long articles offline,…

  • 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. Because I’d grown up in a poor family, I had no notion of proper money skills. I made some bad…

  • 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 what you earn have been undermined. The institutions that encourage debt and living for the moment have been strengthened. The…

  • 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: I’ve made some bad choices financially in the past, and now I know that I owe companies money, but I’m…

  • 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 debt The oldest documents I have are from April 1994, less than three years after I graduated from college. Already…

  • 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 of your finances but the people around you continue to struggle? Here’s her story: I’m having issues because I’m doing…

  • 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 score dropped 76 points because Sallie Mae changed the way they report graduated loans. Turns out, I am not the…

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

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

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

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

  • 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 a year of focused intensity, she and her husband are debt-free: Before we were introduced to Dave Ramsey in December…

  • 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 with $13,000 cash. “He couldn’t shake old habits,” Conant writes. “Or were they old virtues?” Now, many decades after Arkady’s…

  • 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 pay for either of these outright; borrowing money allows one to invest in her future. So what happens if you’ve…

  • 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 a friend loaned me a copy of The Total Money Makeover, a book by some guy I’d never heard of…

  • Are Mortgage Rates Tied to the Federal Funds Rate? (29 comments)

    The Federal Reserve has lowered short-term interest rates twice in the past week by a total of 1.25 percentage points. (They lowered the federal funds rate, not the prime lending rate, though that falls in lockstep with the former.) Many people are excited because they believe this will lead to lower rates on fixed-term mortgages, meaning the average person may be able to save big bucks by refinancing. One GRS reader wrote yesterday to ask:…

  • Some Thoughts on Making the Transition from Debt to Savings (28 comments)

    One of the most rewarding aspects of writing Get Rich Slowly is sharing success stories and strategies with the readers. In the forums, there’s an entire section devoted to financial success stories. Mostly, though, people share these via e-mail. Travis wrote today to tell me about his transition from debt to savings. Like me, he found it a bit of a challenge. Here’s our e-mail exchange: Travis I was reading about your progress on your…

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 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 day on, I’ve been in debt. Getting hooked My debt grew slowly at first. The department store credit card had…

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

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

  • 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 — to borrow money. The value of the funds in our retirement accounts could shrink. People with subpar credit will…

  • 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, and what to do when you have to start paying them back. I’m going to write about the latter, as…

  • 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. People chop onions and peppers all the time without cutting themselves — though someone with a history of cutting might…

  • Reader Advice: How to Live Debt-Free (29 comments)

    Recently I wrote about the transition from “becoming debt-free” to “living debt-free”. One reader e-mailed me some advice that I felt did a good job summarizing what everyone had said. The following was written by James Crocker, and is an excerpt from a much longer message. This post has been edited for clarity. Congratulations! You’re about to accomplish something many people have never done, and something that many others never will do: become debt-free. (Well,…

  • 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. Many of you are making the same journey, and you’ve begun to e-mail me the same question: What’s it like…

  • Daily Roundup: Credit Card Flips and Free College Lectures (14 comments)

    I had lunch with a good friend today. Over Chinese food, we talked about personal finance. (Surprisingly, this isn’t a hot topic in my social circle.) We discussed the lure of new cars, and the virtues of buying used. We talked about the drawbacks of trading up from a small home to a large home. And we pondered what sorts of investments we ought to make in the coming years. I write about personal finance…

  • 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 need and want. It’s a skill that’s often neglected and seldom discussed, but understanding how to manage your debt will…

  • Credit Card Advice from Consumer Reports (30 comments)

    The October 2007 issue of Consumer Reports contains a credit card roundup, including an overview of the worst and best credit cards based on responses from 36,000 readers. The best cards generally came from credit unions, and the worst from large banks. “Almost anyone can join a credit union these days,” the magazine says, “and it might be a good idea, if only for a good credit card.” There’s also a reminder that it pays…

  • 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 graduation, I immediatley fell into credit card debt, which I’m still drowning in. I had barely any financial guidance from…

  • 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 book about personal finance. I want it to be a practical volume filled with great tips, while also exploring the…

  • 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 debt. That’s good advice, and I endorse it — however, many people have trouble doing things gradually. For them, I…

  • 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 assistance from his parents, as they had somewhat of a falling-out a few years ago. Recently, his job came to…

  • 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 one I can’t pass up, though. Two readers — Jeremiah and Matt — sent me the exact same story, and…

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

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

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

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

  • 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 we were both lax about setting up a payment schedule.  Nothing was in writing.  He said, “Pay me something monthly.” …

  • 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 Brian Grow and Keith Epstein offer a complex view of the subprime lending problem. In recent years, a range of…

  • Saving and Investing: Coping with High-Interest Debt (1 comment)

    This is part eighteen in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. Today, Michael Fischer covers two closely-related subjects: high-interest credit card rates and debt consolidation. High credit card interest rates (3:48) “With the effects of compounding, having credit card debt is a really bad idea.” Credit card interest rates are high because lenders are taking a greater risk. When you…

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

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

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

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

  • 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 the words of Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren, “obscenely profitable”. Here’s how the press kit describes the movie: Maxed Out…

  • 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 compared to some people. After making regular payments for a couple years I was left with a little over $8,000…

  • 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 came mostly while we were in college. We also stupidly charged up stuff right after college. Most of 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 college, which my parents said they would pay for and support me during, so I quit my job. When money…

  • 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 blogs open a homey and sometimes shockingly candid window on the day-to-day finances of American households in a time of…

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

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

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

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

  • 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 father got in a very nasty accident. He was in hospital for a year receiving treatment and surgery and has…

  • 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. Hedlund’s piece was inspired a New York Times article profiling the payday loan industry. Now the Times has published a…

  • Ask the Readers: So Much Debt, So Little Time? (26 comments)

    Joseph and his partner have made all the right moves. They carry no credit consumer debt, but they’re still burdened with student loans and a mortgage. They’re barely able to make ends meet, and are worried about what this means for the future. I am 30 years old and in my last year of a Master’s program. I will graduate with $125,000 worth of student loans, whose monthly payments will be approximately $925/month for 25…

  • 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 bleak results for people who use these services: Mr. Milford is chronically broke because each month, in what he calls…

  • 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 not a trained financial advisor. I can offer generalities, but the specifics are sometimes beyond me. Lifehacker has a feature…

  • 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: a crisis of debt. Mindy Fetterman and Barbara Hansen of USA Today have written a piece exploring the debt problems…

  • 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 the principles apply to everyone.) Stop acquiring new debt (This step can be accomplished in an afternoon.) This may seem…

  • 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 things: They made debt payoff a priority, although most continued to save for retirement as well. They kept their basic…

  • 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. In six months, she would be graduating from grad school and her parents were going to cut her off financially…

  • Follow-Up on Casey Serin, the Man Who Would Be Rich (33 comments)

    Last Friday I wrote about Casey Serin, the young man who is deep in debt because of risky real-estate investments. He’s blogging about his predicament at iamfacingforeclosure.com. Casey stopped by Get Rich Slowly yesterday and had this to say: I don’t see why a person CANNOT get rich quick… but still do it in an honest and safe way. Whenever you hear “Get Rich Quick” you think somethhing bad. And yes, if you read my…

  • 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 necessarily so. Even the rich have trouble with money. Several GRS readers (including Vincent and Jeff V.) sent me a…

  • Are We Set Up for Financial Failure? (15 comments)

    Amber at Yellow’s Green worries that her generation is “set up to fail financially from the get-go”. She believes a variety of factors stack the odds against today’s youth: A lack of financial education. “We are not educated about financial matters in our school systems anywhere, unless you choose an optional money management class while in college (when it’s already late in the game).” The cost of education. College costs are escalating, so that only…

  • 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, besides the overwhelming shock of sheer indebtedness. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to get everything paid off…

  • In Praise of the Debt Snowball (69 comments)

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

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

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

  • How to Escape from Debt Hell (6 comments)

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

  • 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 population became urban dwellers, leaving behind the isolation and grueling routines of farm life. Spread out before these workers in…

  • 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 can be taken now to stop the bleeding and to begin the financial healing process. How much debt do you…

  • 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 made on-time payments for 24 months or better. Is there anything I can do to get these accounts out of…

  • 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. You might notice that there’s some conflicting advice in this thread. “Pay off your highest interest rate debts first.” “No!…

  • Carnival of Debt Reduction #43 (0 comment)

    My Money Forest has posted the 43rd carnival of debt reduction.

  • Co-Signing a Mortgage: Its Effects? (2 comments)

    From AskMe: How much will my father co-signing on a mortgage help me? Will the lender essentially give me the same rates they would give my dad?

  • Federal Student Loan Consolidation Primer (3 comments)

    Paul — who recently shared tips on socially responsible investments and on cheap world travel — is a financial aid counselor at the University of Oregon. He’s offered to share a presentation he’s been giving to students about loan consolidation. Recent grads who have unconsolidated federal student loans may also find this useful. This information may make your eyes glaze now, but if you act on it, you can save yourself thousands of dollars in…

  • 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 being a thrifty consumer, John said he wanted to take advantage of the offer of 12 months without interest. So…

  • Best Decisions vs. Financially Smart Decisions (0 comment)

    Ramit at I Will Teach You to Be Rich has a fine post about how sometimes the Best Decisions are not the Financially Smart Decisions. The financially smart decision isn’t always the right one. When I say this, it usually irritates engineers and economists, who love to believe that we all behave rationally. He provides a couple of examples based on the behavior of his friends. One worked hard to pay off a low-interest debt…

  • 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 me it’s not that bad, but that’s only in comparison to horror stories. I see that it’s not getting better…

  • 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 a summary of the lessons: Lesson One: Setting the Foundation Debt is simple to understand, but difficult to master. It…

  • Two Approaches to Debt Elimination (22 comments)

    Nearly every financial adviser — from accountants to brokers to books — advises that debts should be paid off in a particular order: from highest interest rate to lowest interest rate. While this method makes sense from a mathematical point of view, it makes less sense from a psychological point of view. Assume a typical young woman in her mid-twenties who awakes one morning to realize that she’s in debt and who decides to do…