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Funny Money


  • 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….

  • The Reckoning (or, What Mint Revealed) (298 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…

  • How I Won $10,200 on Game Shows (39 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…

  • Dollar Coins: Or, In Other Words, a New Tax (155 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Sarah Gilbert. “You need 75 more cents!” the woman at our favorite burger joint, Little Big Burger, said brightly after I sent my 9-year-old to order another serving of truffle oil fries with all the change I could find in my bag. Thankfully, I knew I’d sent enough money:…

  • Why I Still Pick Up Pennies (168 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. The most-read piece I ever wrote for MSN Money’s Smart Spending blog was an essay called “See a penny? Pick it up!” It got more than…

  • American Cookery: Magazine Ads from 1939 (26 comments)

    My wife knows me pretty well. At a recent garage sale, Kris picked up the November 1939 issue of American Cookery magazine. She wanted it for the recipes. But after she was finished, she handed it off to me. “You’ll want to look at the ads,” she said. She was right. Fun trivia: American Cookery…

  • The GRS Garden Project: March 2011 Update (30 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for March 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) March is usually a time for Kris and me to get…

  • Ask the Readers: A Fool and His Money… (138 comments)

    It’s April Fool’s Day, one of my favorite days of the year at Get Rich Slowly. It’s the day I get to share the story of some foolish thing I’ve done with money in the past. This year, though, April Fool’s Day falls on a Friday, which is when I traditionally field reader questions. So,…

  • The Lottery: An “Investment” for Fools (with Bonus Lottery Simulator!) (162 comments)

    Over the years, I’ve done some foolish things with my finances. I’ve squandered money on comic books. I’ve speculated on risky stocks, hoping to make a quick fortune. I’ve paid a gazillion dollars — or something close to it — in credit-card interest and bank fees. I spent large windfalls on the latest technological gadgets….

  • 10 Money Lessons from Music Lyrics (56 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. When you’re looking for personal finance advice, you probably check out books and websites like GRS, but what about turning on the radio? Recently, I wrote about the cost of love and mentioned several songs with lyrics about love and money. This got me thinking about how…

  • The Tax Protestor FAQ (53 comments)

    Every so often (especially this time of year), someone writes to let me in on a secret. “J.D., did you know you don’t have to pay income taxes?” they’ll say. “It’s true! Income tax is illegal!” I’ve never known how to respond to these folks. Now, I can just point them to the Tax Protester…

  • You and Your Work: A Short Film About Employment from 1948 (38 comments)

    Last weekend, Kris and I hired a friend’s 12-year-old to help with yardwork. We leave for Africa on Monday, and we don’t want to burden our housesitter with unnecessary chores. When we heard that our young friend Ian was raising money for a school trip to Washington D.C., we figured that instead of buying candy…

  • The Laundry Agreement (102 comments)

    Yesterday, I made a passing reference to The Laundry Agreement. A couple of eagle-eyed readers noticed a further reference in the screenshot I posted to illustrate the article. Kevin and Samantha both searched for answers at GRS, but couldn’t find them. I guess that means I’ve never mentioned the Laundry Agreement before. The Laundry Agreement…

  • The Economics of Seinfeld (21 comments)

    A group of economics professors have pooled their collective brainpower to come up with a new way to teach their students — and the general public — about economic principles. They’ve created a site called The Economics of Seinfeld that uses the hit TV series from the 1990s to explain basic financial concepts. Here’s how…

  • Money Magic That Really Works (15 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. It’s Halloween, the season of ghosts, ghouls, and witches! To celebrate, I thought I’d share a little money magic with you that really works. It’s an old Southern folk magic spell called…

  • Comic Book Ad from 1956: How I Made a Small Fortune in Spare Time! (19 comments)

    Last month, I mentioned that I got my entrepreneurial start as a kid by selling stuff door to door. This “stuff” generally comprised products advertised on the back of of comic books: seeds, greeting cards, and so on. For more than thirty years, companies recruited armies of salesboys and salesgirls through comics. I was one…

  • Kids These Days (106 comments)

    Kris and I took a stroll through the neighborhood today to visit the weekend garage sales. First we walked down to Lane’s house to browse his books and knick-knacks. (Lane is a GRS reader, and when we showed up, he said, “J.D., this is all capital-S Stuff!”) Then we hit other sales on the way…

  • I’m Not THAT J.D. Roth! (26 comments)

    Normally, I wouldn’t post something like this at Get Rich Slowly — this is why I have a personal blog — but I’m getting a lot of tweets and e-mail from folks about a piece of ephemera that has surfaced on the internet. It seems that somebody’s stumbled upon a list of the folks who…

  • Man to Live Off Coupons for One Year (65 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Josh Stevens of Chicago might win $100,000 — if he can keep from spending a single cent (literally) for a year. Stevens accepted internet coupon company Groupon’s “Live Off Groupon” challenge, beating out 400 contenders, and since May he’s been using only online coupons for food,…

  • Extreme Personal Finance: Eating Well on One Dollar a Day (74 comments)

    Last Thursday, Ron Lieber (who writes the “Your Money” column for The New York Times) posted an innocuous little tweet: This person will have book deal & Today show slot in 5 minutes. RT @marypilon Personal finance blogger eats on $1/day. http://bit.ly/aeGlmC To translate into plain English, Jeffrey from the Grocery Coupon Guide blog undertook…

  • Finding Frugal Fun with Board Games (110 comments)

    This is a guest post from Katie Boes, a self-avowed nerd. As kids, many of us loved playing board games. I was a child of the eighties and, as such, grew up playing Candy Land, Sorry!, and Monopoly. But somewhere along the path to adulthood, most games that we’re familiar with seem to lose their…

  • 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…

  • Dinosaur Comics on the Rent vs. Buy Debate (33 comments)

    Thomas wrote in on Monday to share a comic strip related to our discussion last week about whether renting makes sense: Click on image to open a larger version in a new window. Ah, Dinosaur Comics — you gotta love them. As a reminder, I’m not opposed to owning a home. I own one myself…

  • Obsessive Consumption (17 comments)

    To take control of your spending, you must first be aware of your spending. This mindfulness can be difficult for many people to achieve. GRS reader (and awesome artist) Tsilli pointed me to the work of Kate Bingaman-Burt, who has a unique way of being mindful of the money she spends: She draws it. Bingaman-Burt…

  • Dumb Money: J.D. the Junk-Food King (73 comments)

    It’s been a long time since I shared a good self-deprecating story about my own financial foolishness. Let me remedy that today. For the past month or so, I’ve been buried deep in writing my book. (I have bookhead, I tell Kris — my mind is wholly absorbed by this project.) I now spend most…

  • Dow 10,000 and Other Nonsense (70 comments)

    A reporter from SmartMoney contacted me a couple of weeks ago to ask me to participate in a little game they were hosting. “All you have to do is guess when the Dow will hit 10,000,” she said. “This is just for fun.” “I’ll do it,” I replied, “but I want to make it clear…

  • A Tightwad’s Lament (and Daily Links) (36 comments)

    Ah, the tribulations of a tightwad — they are many. On Monday, I walked a mile-and-a-half to the hardware store to buy some 1/2-inch washers, nuts, and bolts. (Remember: I’m trying to walk 5-6 miles per day now, so I usually walk for all of my errands.) Every month this hardware store mails us the…

  • What Squirrels Can Teach Us About Investing (23 comments)

    This is a guest post from Paul Puckett of Beacon Wealth Advisors. Puckett is the author of Investiphobia: You Can Invest Without Fear. This piece originally appeared at his blog, Just Puckett, and I liked it so much that I asked for permission to reprint it here. Here’s a little exercise that might be beneficial…

  • What Makes Us Tick: A Short Film About How the Stock Market Works (from 1952) (15 comments)

    It’s been several months since I’ve discovered a new money movie to share with you. I love these things, but I’ve exhausted most of my sources for Public Domain material. However, while browsing the Prelinger Archives again the other day, I discovered a little gem that had slipped my notice before: “What Makes Us Tick”,…

  • My Great Disney World Adventure (108 comments)

    Yesterday I wrote about my recent business trip to Orlando. This is the “rest of the story”, a behind-the-scenes look at how I spent way too much money for a one-day vacation. When Kris and I agreed to fly to Orlando for the unveiling of The Great Piggy Bank Adventure, we hoped to have time…

  • An Experiment in Cheap Living (from 1872) (38 comments)

    An Experiment in Cheap Living Earlier this week, I shared some of the highlights from three years of GRS articles about saving money on food. Brett from The Art of Manliness, who knows that I collect old self-help books, sent me an excerpt from Dio Lewis’s 1872 volume, Our Digestion, or, My Jolly Friend’s Secret….

  • Don’t Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford (25 comments)

    One of the best things about running this site is reviewing all of the reader submissions. You folks send me tons of links and story ideas. But in the past three years, there’s one item that you have submitted more than any other. Every month several people forward a Saturday Night Live skit called “Don’t…

  • Why Our Heating Bill Ballooned This Winter (63 comments)

    Kris and I own an old house. During the winter, the cold air seeps in through cracks in the windows and beneath gaps in the doors. We’ve done what we can to keep our heating costs low, and we make a handful of additional improvements every year, but I still feel like we’re living in…

  • The Lean Dog of Despair Never Follows a Man with a Bank Account (18 comments)

    One of the fun things about writing a blog is getting to know readers a little better, and them getting to know me. One reader recently gave me a Mini Cooper — a remote-control model Mini Cooper, that is. Others have sent me bacon-flavored stuff. Many have pointed me to comic-book/personal-finance crossovers. Last weekend, Robert…

  • The $1500 Frisbee (52 comments)

    It’s April Fools’ Day! In 2007, I regaled you with lifestyles of the rich and stupid. Last year, I explained how to turn $500 into $7 the hard way. And this year I offer you yet another tale of my own financial foolishness. On the first day of college, I opened my first bank account….

  • In the Beginning… The Genesis of Get Rich Slowly (36 comments)

    Get Rich Slowly isn’t quite three years old yet — or is it? Its official “birthday” is 15 April 2006. But recently, while digging through some old notebooks, I found a gem of a page. In an abandoned moleskine, I discovered the genesis of this site: I registered the getrichslowly.org domain on 03 March 2006,…

  • Should CNN Replace Stock Analysts — With Cats? (16 comments)

    You know what? Personal finance is too serious — especially lately. I have a “funny money” category, but I rarely use it. Maybe I should post something to it now and then. Something like this: Cats and investing! What could be better? You can find more silly cat pictures — or lolcats if you prefer…

  • Riches — Or Just a Competence? (20 comments)

    Melissa wrote recently to point me to a story at the fantastic Modern Mechanix blog (a blog I might write if I didn’t write GRS). From the June 1917 issue of Illustrated World comes a true tale of getting rich — slowly. Although this work is now Public Domain, I wrote to ask permission to…

  • REAL Long-Term Investing: 7% Annually for 135 Years (23 comments)

    Now that I’ve finally finished the busiest month of my life, I can begin reading the stories submitted by GRS readers again. I find plenty of neat stuff while surfing the web, but there’s no question that you folks submit the best articles! For example, Jeff V. pointed me to a piece in today’s New…

  • Your Thrift Habits: Money Tips from 1948 (21 comments)

    For this final day of Thrift Week 2009, Get Rich Slowly revisits a short thrift film that I first featured in May 2007. Over the past few years, I’ve shared a number of old cartoons and educational films about sound money management. I love these old videos. My favorite of the bunch is probably this…

  • Credit Cards Can Pay You Money? (56 comments)

    This is a guest post from Sonia Coleman. It originally appeared in slightly different form at her blog, Coleman Unlimited. Last night I had to call my bank to follow up on a rebate check for my new Fujitsu ScanSnap that bounced (it’s that “crisis” thing again, I guess). It’s a great scanner, but I…

  • The Good Consumer (36 comments)

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

  • Bookkeeping and You: Personal-Finance Propaganda from 1947 (28 comments)

    “Let’s look in on a high-school bookkeeping class,” begins this short film from 1947. And when we do, we’re introduced to a variety of students who have decided that bookkeeping is just what they need to get ahead in life. This film argues that bookkeeping knowledge is important for everyone. It’s like a propaganda piece…

  • Cat and Girl on Halloween (13 comments)

    Cat and Girl is one of my favorite webcomics. It’s cynical, postmodern, and smart. I admit that not everyone finds it amusing (Kris, for example), but I do. I particularly liked yesterday’s strip, and am grateful that artist Dorothy Gambrell has granted me permission to re-post it here: Cat and Girl often features commentary on…

  • Confess Your Shopping Sins with Spendster (3 comments)

    Spendster is a new site that allows users to share video stories about impulse buying, over-spending, and wasting money on Stuff they don’t need. These video confessionals are fun to watch (I would never buy that) until you realize just how much junk you probably have in your own life. This embedded widget should show…

  • Redneck Math — or Wall Street Math? (21 comments)

    Dave dropped a line the other day to share a video he discovered. He writes: “This little movie clip explains how 25 divided by 5 equals 14. I think it kind of sums up how we as a nation got into our current crisis.” The folks on YouTube call this “Kentucky Math” (whatever that means),…

  • What is Money? A Basic Economics Lesson from 1947 (19 comments)

    I was pleased recently to discover another handful of short films about financial topics from the 1940s and 1950s. I’ll share them over the next few months, starting with this timely piece from 1947. With the recent economic turmoil in the U.S., it’s worthwhile to answer the question: What is money? This ten-minute film takes…

  • The Best Salesman in the World (39 comments)

    In yesterday’s links roundup, I shared the story of Joe Ades, the gentleman grafter. Ades sells vegetable peelers on the streets of New York City by day, but goes home at night to a three-bedroom Park Avenue apartment. According to a 2006 Vanity Fair profile: Then it’s out again for an early dinner in a…

  • This American Life: Something for Nothing (20 comments)

    Kris called me down to the kitchen this morning to listen to This American Life. While she baked a molasses cake and canned applesauce, I sat at the table and took notes on the show, which featured four stories about people trying to get something for nothing. Hands on a hard body The first story…

  • How to Win the Lottery (128 comments)

    Ray Otero cannot buy a break. For the past three years, he’s spent $500 to $700 a week playing the lottery, but he’s only won big a few times: $1,000 once and $2,000 twice. Still he keeps playing. He’s sure his luck is bound to change. Otero’s story, told in a recent New York Times…

  • Marvelous Magazine Ads from 1904 (33 comments)

    This post contains many scanned images. Click on any detail to see a larger version. I believe that one of the best ways to reduce spending is to limit your exposure to advertising. Marketers employ powerful persuasive techniques to circumvent our rational minds, encouraging us to spend our hard-earned money on things we don’t really…

  • iPhone or Millionaire? (37 comments)

    Apple releases the second iteration of its iPhone today. The product ostensibly carries a lower price than the previous version. But how much does it really cost? Matt and Marnie both pointed me to the latest comic from The Joy of Tech, which explores this very subject. Would you forego an iPhone for a million…

  • Young Entrepreneurs: Encouraging Children With Kid-Sized Businesses (36 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife, and features a story I’ve come to look forward to updating every summer: the tale of two entrepreneurial girls. Last weekend I explored Portland’s beautiful Eastmoreland neighborhood during its annual 140-family garage sale. In the past, I’ve come away with major bargains, but this year I had…

  • A Six-Year-Old with a Credit Card (49 comments)

    I hate junk mail. As a test once, I signed up for a subscription to Entertainment Weekly using the name of our cat, Simon. Sure enough, Simon started to receive his very own junk mail — not that he could read it. When we moved in 2004, Simon stopped receiving mail. Simon never received any…

  • Frugality is Important (9 comments)

    Here, via reader Karen L., are some words of wisdoms via a Chinese fortune cookie: Do you have a fun personal finance story or photo you’d like to share? Send it to

  • Richie Rich and the High Price of Oil (39 comments)

    You gotta love it when two hobbies come together. In this case, it’s my love of personal finance and my love of comic books. Here’s the cover of a 1978 issue of Richie Rich Inventions, in which Richie seems to be predicting the world of 2008. Of course our vehicles don’t really run on money,…

  • Motor Trend 1971 — 40 Cars Under $2500 (29 comments)

    While cleaning my office last Saturday, I stumbled upon a pile of old magazines. Most of these are copies of Modern Mechanix from the 1930s and 1940s, but the issue that caught my eye was the July 1971 edition of Motor Trend. Who wouldn’t be tempted by a Buyer’s Guide that offered “40 cars for…

  • Grocery Store Mysteries: Cheap Milk (66 comments)

    We ran out of milk this evening, so I made an emergency trip to the grocery store to buy more. Generally we purchase a half gallon of one-percent, which lasts us about a week. When I went to grab the milk from the refrigerator case, however, I was startled by the price: $3.19! Usually we…

  • Round & Round: Capitalist Propaganda from 1939 (6 comments)

    Here’s a short-film produced by General Motors in 1939 called “Round & Round”. It’s a brief look at the free market system. It feels like it was produced for first-graders: This is a factory. This is a machine in the factory. This is the workman who tends the machine in the factory. And this is…

  • How to Turn $500 into $7 the Hard Way (91 comments)

    Back in our young and foolish days, Kris and I bought an encyclopedia set from a door-to-door salesman. This was in 1995, at the very cusp of the digital age. We had been on the internet for about a year, but we had no way to know that one day very soon the World Wide…

  • Cat and Girl on Wants and Needs (36 comments)

    Jan D. sent a note that the latest episode of webcomic Cat and Girl features a meditation on wants and needs. With the permission of artist Dorothy Gambrell, here’s the strip: Click to open a full-size version in a new window. Girl says: To need is to live. To want is to live in society….

  • Extreme Personal Finance: America on $10 a Day (76 comments)

    I love stories of extreme personal finance. In the past I’ve written about a guy who was homeless by choice, how to pay off your mortgage in three years, and about the most fuel-efficient driver in the world. Regular readers know of my fondness for these stories and sometimes e-mail other examples. None, however, compares…

  • 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…

  • Ads I Hate: Athletic Clubs (81 comments)

    For the past few months, a gym to which I used to belong has been sending me “special offers” in an attempt to entice me to return. Because I’ve begun focusing on fitness, these almost work. But so far frugality has prevailed. It bugs me, though, that the “limited time offer” isn’t so limited. First…

  • The Grand Illusion: Personal Finance Advice from Styx (27 comments)

    And now for something completely different… While listening to Styx this morning (yes, really), I realized the title track from their 1977 album The Grand Illusion does a good job of describing a part of the Get Rich Slowly philosophy. Don’t be fooled by the radio, the TV, or the magazines. They show you photographs…

  • The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Contest Winners (12 comments)

    When Jeff Yeager and I devised the Ultimate Cheapskate’s Book Contest, we hoped that Get Rich Slowly readers would have fun with it. But your responses exceeded our wildest dreams. The contributions have been fantastic. There are currently 220 stories, with more coming all the time. Some offer clever ways to save money; others are…

  • Penny Pinchers: Mart and the $10 Boots (13 comments)

    I love family reunions. My cousins are bold and brassy. They’re loud, and quick with a funny story. They’re also cheap. At a New Year’s Day reunion last week, we swapped tales of extreme penny-pinching. One of my cousins told this story, which I thought was hilarious. A couple of years ago, my cousin Mart…

  • The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Book Contest (253 comments)

    Let’s have a little fun. On Sunday, I reviewed Jeff Yeager’s new book, The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Guide to True Riches. Yeager has graciously offered to give away three copies to Get Rich Slowly readers. Rather than just do a random drawing, I thought it would be fun to share stories of extraordinary cheapness. It’s the…

  • The Benefits of Looking Ahead: Success Tips from 1950 (10 comments)

    Happy New Year! As we say “good-bye” to the old year and “hello” to the new, it’s a great chance to look ahead to our plans for the future. I believe that the road to success is paved with goals. Who are the people who are most likely to succeed? What’s the secret of their…

  • The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Guide to True Riches (24 comments)

    Jeff Yeager calls himself the Ultimate Cheapskate. He’s serious about saving money. He’s the sort of guy who soft-boils his morning eggs by putting them in the dishwasher while it runs. In a package he sent me recently, he included his business card, which is simply a rubber stamp printed on a piece of a…

  • What I Like About Scrooge (91 comments)

    Jeff V. sent me an article last Christmas, but I never got a chance to mention it. I’m making amends today. Three years ago at Slate Magazine, Steven E. Landsburg wrote an article in praise of misers: “What I like about Scrooge”. Though the piece is funny, its message is very serious: saving is a…

  • My Millionaire Schemes (46 comments)

    I made a rare trip to Powell’s City of Books yesterday. This used to be one of my favorite hang-outs, but as I’ve learned to love frugality and to hate clutter, my book spending has plummeted. As a result, I spend much less time in book stores. I use the public library instead. Still, sometimes…

  • Day of Thanksgiving: Holiday Thoughts from 1951 (4 comments)

    It’s Thanskgiving Day in the United States — my favorite holiday. Here’s a video from 1951 that celebrates Thanksgiving. While it’s a little schmaltzy — and filled with lots of not-so-subtle “I’m glad I’m not a communist” sentiment — it does a fine job of conveying the mood and meaning of the holiday. I’m in…

  • Ten Principles of Economics, Translated (14 comments)

    The following is a video presentation from Yoram Bauman, who bills himself as “the world’s first and only stand-up economist“. All I know is he’s hilarious. It’s been a l-o-n-g time since I made regular posts to the funny money category at Get Rich Slowly. Too long, actually. I’ll try to rectify that by sharing…

  • Mystery Checks in the Mail (15 comments)

    Earlier this month, Julie warned us that Macy’s had flipped her store card and sold her data to Citibank. I recently experienced something similar. A few months ago, I received some “advance checks” in the mail from Bank of America. You know the ones — the kind of checks your credit card uses to entice…

  • Using the Bank: State-of-the-Art Personal Finance (from 1947) (9 comments)

    I’ve removed the entry pointing to the Dave Ramsey video on YouTube. Here instead is a different sort of personal finance video, one that is squarely in the Public Domain. Remember what banking was like back in the olden days, in the dark ages before computers? Neither do I. All my adult life, I’ve had…

  • Video: Credit Cards in the Blender (5 comments)

    Here’s something light and easy for a summer Sunday afternoon. Until today I’d completely missed out on “Will it Blend?”, which is apparently the 20th most popular series of clips on YouTube (based on subscribers). Several months ago “Will It Blend?” destroyed 24 credit cards. “We have some really good news,” says Tom, the host….

  • How to Save a Dollar (44 comments)

    Here’s a guest-post from my cousin, Mrs. Darling. She previously shared information on how to raise a family on one income (here’s part two). The third part to that series will appear here in August. It’s another gorgeous morning filled with birdsong. It’s also the beginning of another busy week. We spent all Sunday afternoon…

  • Make Mine Freedom: Economics Lessons from 1948 (4 comments)

    Zaphod passed along an old John Sutherland propaganda film extolling the virtues of capitalism and the evils of socialism. It’s my patriotic duty to post it today. This is more about politics and economics than personal finance, and it vastly oversimplifies things (it is propaganda, after all), but it’s fun to watch from an historical…

  • Stock Tips from Ten-Year-Olds (31 comments)

    We spent several hours last Saturday walking the streets of southeast Portland, looking for bargains. Portland’s posh Eastmoreland neighborhood held its 22nd annual garage sale (which I wrote about last year), and we joined the thousands of others who were hoping to find some great deals. Kris scored a bunch of cheap canning jars, but…

  • They’ll Give a Credit Card to Anyone These Days (38 comments)

    Because of Opt-Out Prescreen, I no longer get credit card offers at home. From time-to-time, though, I get them at work. A few weeks ago, I received an offer that puzzles me: Seems pretty normal, huh? Well, let’s look more closely. Here’s the address: And the fake card: (Why do they include fake cards, anyhow?…

  • Developing Self-Reliance: Personal Empowerment Lessons from 1951 (12 comments)

    Recently I wrote how I’ve been able to live a more fulfilling life by saying “yes” to opportunities and experiences instead of being afraid of them. Another way to look at this is that I’ve developed self-reliance — I’ve learned to take responsibility for my own happiness instead of being passive, leaving my happiness in…

  • PF LOLCAT (12 comments)

    How can I not post this? For the uninitiated: lolcats. [via the always-awesome English Major]

  • Working Dollars: Investment Lessons from 1957 (10 comments)

    Here’s a 1957 cartoon about the virtues of stock market investing from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Fred Finchley is a family man with a good job, a lovely wife, two rambunctious children, and all the conveniences of modern life. What he doesn’t have, however, is enough money to pay for his dream vacation….

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

    You folks seemed to enjoy “Your Thrift Habits”, the educational film I posted last week. I liked it too. I’ve found a few more of these to share, and will post them on Saturday mornings. Today’s film is “Finding Your Life Work”, which was produced in 1940 by Vocational Guidance Films, Inc. This movie is…

  • Your Thrift Habits: Budgeting Lessons from 1948 (13 comments)

    Recently I stumbled on some old instructional films at A/V Geeks, including this little honey: “Your Thrift Habits”. Produced in 1948 by Coronet Instructional Films, it’s filled with great advice, and is fun to watch, too. “Your Thrift Habits” highlights some important aspects of budgeting and thrift: “If you can do without extravagances, you can…

  • Tomorrow is Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day! (4 comments)

    Whatcha doin’ tomorrow? Wanna get some free ice cream? Head on down to your local Ben & Jerry’s scoop shop for their annual “free cone day”. According to the wikipedia: Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day is an annual event, held in late April or early May, in which Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops give…

  • The Real Estate Roller Coaster (32 comments)

    Last summer I shared a graph of American home values from 1890 to present. I found it alarming: Click image to view larger version in a new window. Graph © NYT. This graph was taken from a New York Times article entitled “Read Between All Those For Sale Signs” [reg. required] by David Leonhardt and…

  • Lifestyles of the Rich and Stupid (54 comments)

    “A fool and his money are soon parted.” — Thomas Tusser Jason Kottke recently pointed to a Sports Illustrated article about LeBron James’ new 35,440-square foot house, a house that features a movie theater, a bowling alley, a barber shop, a two-story walk-in closet, and a six-car garage. James, with a large salary and lucrative…

  • Mary Poppins on Compound Returns (7 comments)

    After writing about Time is Money last night, I climbed into bed and began to read John Bogle’s new The Little Book of Common Sense Investing. In the introduction, Bogle raves about the magic of compound returns. I turned to Kris, who was reading about birds, and said, “This reminds me of that bank song…

  • Original Income Tax Form from 1913 (8 comments)

    In 1913, Wyoming ratified the 16th Amendment, providing the three-quarter majority of states necessary to amend the Constitution. The 16th Amendment gave Congress the authority to enact an income tax. That same year, the first Form 1040 appeared after Congress levied a 1 percent tax on net personal incomes above $3,000 with a 6 percent…

  • Bank Robber With a Walker Caught Quickly (2 comments)

    It’s been a while since I featured a “funny money” story. Here’s one from the local paper. Suspected bank robber plans heist, forgets part about speedy getaway by Noelle Crombie And now for the case of the suspected bank robber who, it seems, overlooked the importance of the speedy getaway. The feds say John R….

  • Tiny London Apartment for $334,000 (17 comments)

    Do you think housing prices are insane where you live? You ought to see London’s Chelsea district. The BBS News reports that a “table-sized” apartment is selling for £170,000 (roughly $334,000US). Here’s the complete story: A flat roughly the size of a snooker table has gone on sale for £170,000 in London’s upmarket Chelsea. The…

  • Money-Making Hobbies (from 1938) (21 comments)

    Note: For a modern look at this topic, check out six tips for money-making hobbies. What would Get Rich Slowly have been like if it were produced seventy years ago? Maybe something like this. (Or maybe not.) All text and illustrations from Money-Making Hobbies by A. Frederick Collins, published 1938 by D. Appleton-Century Company. I…

  • Financial Nirvana: It’s the Little Things (19 comments)

    It gives me bliss when my Quicken balance matches my on-line bank balance before I even begin to reconcile my accounts for the month. I could be overdrawn by $200, and I’d still be glowing inside so long as Quicken and the web statement matched to the penny. It’s even better since I actually have…

  • The American Frugal Housewife (4 comments)

    What can a housewife writing in 1832 teach us about frugality and thrift? Plenty, it turns out. In my recent interview on the Money Blogger Podcast, I mentioned a two-hundred-year-old book called The American Frugal Housewife by Lydia Maria Francis Child. This book is in the public domain and freely available via Project Gutenberg. GRS-reader…

  • Real Financial Heroes (4 comments)

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

  • Pennies From Heaven: Old Songs About Money (7 comments)

    A confession by way of preface: in addition to personal finance, food, and comic books, I’m a fan of musical theater. Thus, you’ll forgive me for the following entry. I spent the evening on YouTube, looking for songs about money from old movies. I didn’t have much luck, but I had fun anyhow. We’re in…

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

    Sometimes a great deal isn’t. Because I have a small computer consulting business, I’ve been placed on a mailing list for “corporate rate” magazine subscriptions. Corporate rate subscriptions are unbelievably cheap, on the order of $10 or $12 a year for many magazines. Being the frugal fellow that I am, when I received my first…

  • What to Do With All Those Pennies (14 comments)

    Over at AskMetafilter, a user wants to know what to do with all his pennies. I have a lot of pennies. They accumulated over the past twelve years. I need a permanent solution to this problem other than a big jar. What do you do with your pennies? My favorite answer so far — because…

  • You Don’t Have to Explain the Math to *Me*! (2 comments)

    The Woodstock Writers Guild met last night. We meet one Wednesday a month at the local pub. The food isn’t very good, but my fellow writers find it difficult to resist $2.50 pints. They quaff cheap beer; I drink diet soda. I arrive at the pub early to take advantage of Happy Hour. Very frugal….

  • More Fun Than Dinner and a Movie (2 comments)
  • Thank You for Supporting Blogathon! (8 comments)

    I’m going to bed now. Blogathon is over. I’m proud of the money that you pledged in support of First Book. Your 32 pledges raised $658 to buy books for needy children. (It’s not too late to contribute, by the way.) I’m glad I tried this. I didn’t know if I could do it. And…

  • My Blogathon Command Post (1 comment)

    Here’s where I’ve spent the last 24 hours: This is the dining room table. You can see my Powerbook open and ready for use. To its left are a couple of books that I referred today. There’s also an empty bag of chips. (The salsa bowl is to the right of the computer.) Both mugs…

  • The Extraordinary Price of Dents (1 comment)

    Rob Cockerham at cockeyed.com (whom I’ve already mentioned twice today — he’s got lots of good funny money stuff), has a profile on the extraordinary price of dents. In Early May, my friend Tim got into a car wreck. It wasn’t his fault. A gal popped out from between two stopped cars and put a…

  • Puttin’ on the Ritz (0 comment)

    Fred Astaire – Puttin’ on the Ritz (1930) Taco – Puttin’ on the Ritz (1982) Puttin’ on the Ritz (annotations) by Irving Berlin Have you seen the well-to-do Upon Lennox Avenue On that famous thoroughfare With their noses in the air High hats and narrow collars White spats and fifteen dollars Spending every dime For…

  • Pennies from Heaven: the MegaPenny Project (0 comment)

    Pennies get no respect. Their mineral composition fluctuates — they’re mostly zinc now, though they’ll return to bronze in 2009. People treat them like trash, often tossing them on the ground rather than keeping them. But some people know that pennies are treasures. Sure you can make spiders out of dollar bills, but you can…

  • Father Tries to Make Mother Like Figures (1 comment)

    Clarence Day wrote for the The New Yorker in the 1920s and 1930s. His most famous work is Life With Father, which was adapted successfully into a stage play, a film, and a television series. It’s a bittersweet look at childhood in New York City during the 1890s. One of the joys of Day’s stories…

  • My Cheap Uncle Norman (2 comments)

    My cousin Nick remembers: My dad was so cheap that he once drilled a hole in a nickel so that he wouldn’t have to pay eight cents for a washer. My first memory of gas prices is driving home from my grandparents. We drove into a gas station, and pulled up to the pump. The…

  • The 3rd Annual Nigerian Email Conference (0 comment)

    Today, as I was posting to Blogathon, I received a 419 message, a Nigerian advance fee scam: My reason for contacting you is to solicit for your assistance and to stand as my trustee in having this cash successfully moved to your country, where i will have to invest it in a good business or…

  • The Ridiculous Infomercial Review (1 comment)

    Have you seen the shameless exaggeration, the tasteless products, and the pure hokum dispensed by all those infomercials that clog up the late night airwaves? Welcome to the Ridiculous Infomercial Review, the website that gleans laughs from the tacky world of television infomercials. All sorts of infomercials are featured here, old and new, famous and…

  • Penny Pincher of the Year Award (3 comments)

    Nick at Punny Money (who is also doing the Blogathon right now) points to Michelle Singletary’s annual Penny Pincher of the Year award. Honorable Mention goes to a man who, when on business trips, always stays at the same small inn. Every night he stays he gets two free bottles of beer. He then takes…

  • Dollar-Bill Origami: Turn Your Money Into Art (1 comment)

    Most people just spend their money. Others turn it into art. Take a look at this creepy spider fashioned from five dollar-bills: Find more examples of this art at these sites: Clay Randall’s Money Origami Dollar-Bill Origami by Bob Nienhuis Joseph Wu’s Origami Page Sy’s Designs Instructions on how to fold a shirt out of…

  • Financial Urban Legends (1 comment)

    Snopes, the urban legend site, has a collection of rumors — true, false, and unconfirmed — related to business and money. Here are some highlights: For example, did you hear about the Taco Bell that refused to take a $2 bill? Apparently this is a common problem — the younger generation doesn’t seem to be…

  • How to Become as Rich as Bill Gates (0 comment)

    The Bill Gates Wealth Index Here’s a site that answers the burning question: “How much money is it worth Bill Gates’ time to pick up?” (The following was originally written in 1998.) Consider that [Gates] made this money in the 25 years or so since Microsoft was founded in 1975. If you assume that he…

  • Why Don’t Doctors Know How Much Their Services Cost? (31 comments)

    Three years ago I had surgery on my knee. I’d done a typical out-of-shape middle-aged man thing and played soccer (or football, for you international types) when I was not fit. A wrong step on uneven ground caused me to rip out my ACL and tear up some cartilage. The thing that amazed me about…

  • 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…

  • Pop Buys Pop (a GRS re-run) (0 comment)

    I need to take a break. Here’s one of my favorite tales of penny pinching, which I shared a couple months ago. It was written by my aunt. My husband likes quantity and sales. For example, we just moved, and in the process I ran across an old receipt from Wal-Mart. It’s a receipt for…

  • The British Monetary System, Demystified (6 comments)

    Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery. — Charles Dickens, David Copperfield My topic for Blogathon has been Funny Money. Is there anything funnier than the old (pre-decimal) British monetary system? Is there an American alive that understands it?…

  • Monty Python: The Money Programme (0 comment)

    And now for something completely different… Here are the lyrics in case you’d like to sing along: The Money Song I’ve got ninety thousand pounds in my pyjamas. I’ve got forty thousand French francs in my fridge. I’ve got lots of lovely lire. Now the Deutschmark’s getting dearer, And my dollar bills would buy the…

  • Money For Nothing (and Your Chicks for Free) (3 comments)

    Night is here, and things have mellowed out. If I weren’t doing Blogathon, I’d be heading to bed. I’m exhausted. The next nine hours will be a trial — no doubt. To ease the transition from light to dark, here are three great songs about money. The last one in particular is a personal fave….

  • Man Risks Life Savings on Spin of Roulette Wheel (0 comment)

    Here is a man who has a high risk tolerance: Ashley Revell sold everything he had — including his clothes — left his home in London and headed to Vegas. After a little minor gambling, he went to the roulette wheel, placed his life savings of $135,300 on “red”, and won. “It’s really down to…

  • Coins for Making Change Efficiently (0 comment)

    Are those coins in your pocket a burden? Do you wish you didn’t have to carry so many? Mathematicians have discovered that we’d have to carry fewer if the dime were replaced by an eighteen-cent piece. Most businesses in the United States make change using just four different types of coins: 1 cent (penny), 5…

  • Fontos Képek (2 comments)

    Fontos képek! — I don’t know what it means, but it’s funny to see. Here’s a site in some language I don’t understand that features photos of faces matched to folded currency. Doesn’t make sense? Here’s an example: There are several similar images on this page.

  • Reader Tip: Save Money on Iced Coffee Drinks (5 comments)

    Betsy from My Whim is Law wrote in with a $5 pledge and a tip on how to save money on expensive coffee drinks: This isn’t particularly funny, but it is a reader suggestion! Most of the time, I make my own coffee at home — or drink it at work.  But every now and…

  • Questions for Matthew Lesko, the Question Mark Man (4 comments)

    Matthew Lesko, number 99 on the list of 100 People Who are Screwing Up America, is known for his wild informercials in which he claims he can tell you how to get free money from the U.S. government. (Claims that are disputed by critics.) Last fall, The Black Table posted this interview with Lesko. His…

  • Trunk Clothes: A Sure Sign You Have a Spending Problem (0 comment)

    My little brother has no respect for Blogathon. I mentioned him earlier because he was taught his son that two pairs of shoes equals one iPod. (Remember that they’re moving, and his wife is packing sixty pairs of shoes.) He just called to chat. I told him I was busy, but he offered me another…

  • The Engraveyard: Money of Many Nations (0 comment)

    James Lileks hosts some beuatiful images scanned from financial documents around the world. His Curious Lucre section contains “money of many nations”, including currency from: Argentina, Austria, Biafra, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Egypt, and the U.S. Army. (The latter is not really a country.) From that sequence, it seems…

  • Little Lulu: Just a Gigolo (0 comment)

    I love reading old comic books because they can give clues as to what life was like in another era. Little Lulu is one of my favorite old comics, even though it’s ostensibly for kids. Here’s a story that involves money and what it used to buy fifty years ago. The following scans have been…

  • The B-52s: Legal Tender (1 comment)

    Something’s wrong in the code of that last post (or in my sidebar modifications, more likely). That means it’s time for another YouTube filler. Sorry.

  • A Year’s Worth of Credit Card Applications (3 comments)

    How many credit card applications do you receive in a year? One cockeyed.com reader decided to keep track. From April of 2005 to April 2006, he noted every credit card offer that came to him. I received 141 applications with 100 of them containing the sample credit cards. I regret not keeping more complete records…

  • The Make Money Fast Hall of Humiliation (0 comment)

    Why have I never found this site before? The Make Money Fast Hall of Humiliation is sort of a companion piece to Get Rich Slowly. While I tell you about sound financial habits, and steer you away from the hucksters and snake-oil salesmen, the MMFHOH spends its time mocking these con artists. Have you ever…

  • How to Earn a 177% Rate of Return on BOOZE (14 comments)

    I went thrift-store shopping with Kris yesterday. I scored a pile of personal finance books, including a copy of The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need by Andrew Tobias. This is one of my favorite personal finance books. Tobias has a witty, engaging style, and the book is full of down-to-earth tips. Remember how cranky…

  • Australian Financial Plan: Win Lottery, Stash Under Bed (5 comments)

    Lady Lunchalot — who has an awesome foodblog, and who is also participating in the Blogathon right now — submitted a story about the woeful state of Australian personal finance. One in seven Australians are banking on winning the lottery to deliver them financial security. A new poll, released to coincide with a campaign to…

  • Lessons About Money from the World of Warcraft (12 comments)

    During late autumn and most of the winter, I live in another world. I join millions of others lost in Azeroth, the fictional universe for the computer game World of Warcraft. Believe it or not, one of the best lessons I’ve ever learned about money came from playing the game. I was frustrated at never…

  • The 9 Strangest Tax Write-Offs (4 comments)

    MSN MoneyCentral has a list of somestrange tax write-offs that people have claimed over the years. For example, there’s the disc jockey who claimed his dog as a dependent. Dogs (and cats) may require as much attention as kids sometimes, but they’re not a legal deduction. Then there’s this one: [A client] approached Manhattan CPA…

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

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

  • The Credit Card Prank: Crazy Signatures (11 comments)

    Here’s an internet classic. John Hargrave at zug.com was frustrated that nobody ever checked his signature when he paid with a credit card. He wondered: how crazy could he make his signature before somebody actually called him on it. The answer? Pretty crazy. Here’s his regular signature, which he describes as “that of a homeless…

  • Reader Submission: Old Lady with Loads of Money (1 comment)

    Get Rich Slowly-reader D submitted the following story, which is typical of many similar that I’ve heard: A few years back I was working in the city for a CPA firm when an associated legal firm brought in an interesting case. Their client had passed away, and the family had no idea where to begin….

  • The Wealthy 100: A Ranking of the Richest Americans, Past and Present (4 comments)

    The Wealthy 100: From Benjamin Franklin to Bill Gates by Michael Klepper and Robert Gunther attempts to compare the fortunes of various Americans across time. But how can you compare one of Bill Gates dollars with one from John Jacob Astor? There are various formulas you could play with, but the authors of this book…

  • ABBA: Money, Money, Money — with LEGO! (1 comment)

    Ah, my first YouTube video. When these appear, it’s a sure sign that something’s gone wrong with the entry I’m working on. (In this case, I’m trying to cut-and-paste a HTML table that was preformatted with 100 unnecessary line breaks. You’ll see…) My wife will roll her eyes when she sees this. I’m a big…

  • Our First Lesson in the Costs of Homeownership (1 comment)

    This is a true story. My wife and I bought our first house in June of 1993. It was a nice ranch-style house in my home-town. The seller had prepped it for market by keeping the lawn a gorgeous emerald green. He kept it trim and well-watered even until the day we moved in (June…

  • 1000 Ways to Waste Your Money (6 comments)

    From The Frumious Bandersnatch (“the least trustworthy source of news on the web — free and worth twice the price”) comes this list of 1000 Ways to Waste Your Money. Weeks of research have been dedicated to the preparation of this “how to” guide to assist the American consumer in throwing away his or her…

  • Who is Love 22…? (3 comments)

    …and what does he have to do with money? According to Love 22‘s own web site: “LOVE 22″ is (A  PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE), a Unique Comic Performer, and (A CHAMPION FRISBEE PLAYER) who prints up real “$22. BILLS.”  He performs at  (THE MALLORY SQUARE SUNSET) festival in Key West, Florida. “I.K.W.F” Using origami he entertains the…

  • Don Lapre’s Ultimate Road to Success (0 comment)

    Who typifies the antithesis of the Get Rich Slowly ideal? There are many charlatans and hucksters out there who would have you believe there are quick paths to riches. One of these snake-oil salesmen is Don Lapre. According to Quackwatch: Don Lapre is a fast-talking character who has been selling “get rich” opportunities for many…

  • MORE Thieves Using Construction Equipment to Rob Banks (1 comment)

    Even as I was posting the previous entry about thieves using construction equipment in an attempt to steal an ATM, a Get Rich Slowly reader was forwarding the following to me. As you can see, it’s a remarkably similar story, though it took place three years ago on the other side of Portland. I wonder:…

  • Stupid Thieves Fail at Complicated ATM Heist (2 comments)

    Here’s an hilarious story from my home-town. In fact, it’s a story from my home-bank. This article originally appeared in the 12 July 2006 edition of the Clackamas Review. Reminder to readers from other countries: the following incident occurred on the early morning of July 4th, the U.S. Independence Day. Because it was a holiday,…

  • Where’s George? The Dollar-Bill Tracker (40 comments)

    Have you ever wondered where your money goes after you spend it? Where’s George? can help you find out. After registering with the site, you can enter the serial numbers from your bills. As money falls into the hands of different users, they enter there serial numbers in turn, and the money is tracked as…

  • The Torn-Up Credit Card Application (3 comments)

    Think you’re safe from identity theft if you simply tear up your credit card applications and throw them in the trash? Think again. Rob Cockerham, who runs cockeyed.com (“the sixth-best website in the world”), receives a lot of credit card applications. Like me, Rob generally just tears them in half and throws them away. But…

  • Man 1, Bank 0 (7 comments)

    Patrick Combs is an average guy. An average guy who, in 1995, decided on a whim to deposit one of those fake checks so common in junk mail. On May 19th, I was one of thousands of people around the country who received a ‘junk mail’ letter touting a get-rich quick method for making $95,093.35…

  • Blogathon Theme: Funny Money (4 comments)

    Stop the presses! I had a spark of inspiration on the drive to work this morning. There’s a change of plans for Blogathon. It seems a shame for all of your great suggestions to get buried beneath a swamp of fifty entries where they won’t receive the attention they deserve. Instead, I’m going to hold…