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Hints and Tips


  • How I use negative feelings about finances to my advantage (13 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong.

    I have never had much patience for dwelling. Time is a limited resource and I want to use it in the best possible way. Dwelling is a waste. I also have little patience for sweeping things under the rug and pretending to be happy when I’m not. Ignoring a problem is a great way to ensure it will come back to haunt you later. Plus, in…

  • Painless ways I save money in every category of my budget (69 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. I get frustrated when people don’t understand what it means to be frugal. A few criticisms of frugality I’ve come across: Frugality is a waste of time. Frugality distracts you from earning more money. Frugal people deny themselves of any enjoyment. I’ve already written in detail about how these arguments are silly. They might apply to being cheap, but they don’t apply to being frugal. The point…

  • Networking strategies can help you overcome the fear of trying to advance your career (15 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. I’ve written about the power of personal networks before. Unfortunately, lots of people find networking intimidating for a variety of reasons. Certainly, I used to! For me, breaking networking down into a system that I can follow helps me overcome nervousness and network effectively. Here are the two main networking strategies that I use. Networking via “keeping it warm” What it is: Keeping it warm is a pretty…

  • A better way to calculate the value of your time (20 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. It’s both fascinating and useful to calculate the value of your time. Financial freedom gives you options and flexibility. But without time, that means nothing. Time is a precious resource that we should spend wisely. But you already know this – we’ve written about it quite a bit. Knowing the value of your time is helpful for a variety of reasons: If you’re a freelancer, it can help you…

  • 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…

  • Our brains on scarcity: Breaking out of the trap (Part II) (17 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. (This is a two-part series. Part I is “Our brains on scarcity: The trap of not having enough.”) For my last post, I wrote about the book “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much.” To recap, researchers Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir conducted a series of experiments and found that scarcity — whether it’s a lack of time, money or food — drastically changes our behavior….

  • Motivation and money (34 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Especially for those of us like me who are in the midst of the long, hard slog of debt pay-down, staying motivated can be tough. How do you keep your excitement up and your determination high when financial independence is barely visible on the horizon? Here are some methods for staying the course when your goals will take months or years (heck, even decades) to achieve. 1. Keep…

  • Homeowners: Could this save you thousands in just a few hours? (32 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. You know all those great tactics to save huge chunks of cash — the tactics that don’t require you to scrimp and save? I’m talking about things like lowering the APR on your credit card or getting a better deal on your car insurance — paying less for the stuff that’s kind of a drag to pay for in the first place. Well, as a new homeowner, I’ve…

  • How to negotiate when you hate negotiating (19 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. In an ideal world, you wouldn’t need to go negotiate. In an ideal world, the weather would be perfect, there would be no war, and your employer would simply say, “Hey, your value to our company has increased. Here’s ten thousand dollars.” If only, right? When it comes to earning more, negotiating is usually a necessary part of the equation. The negotiating masters among us have a serious leg…

  • 8 Surprise expenses for new homeowners (83 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Over a year ago, I bought my first home. And while I’d been warned about the extra expenses that come with homeownership, there were still some surprises. I don’t mean the “unexpected” costs of property taxes and repairs — expenses that are often covered in articles about new homeownership. “Surprise! There’s no landlord to come fix your garbage disposal.” Is that really a surprise to anyone, though?…

  • More on how to stop buying clothes you never wear (48 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. More than four years ago, I wrote a post for Get Rich Slowly about how to stop buying clothes you never wear. I wasn’t sure how it would go over, to be honest. We don’t discuss fashion much in our little corner of the Internet, and I also worried about being judged for my sordid, non-frugal past. But it was a problem I’d had struggled with, and it…

  • How to spring clean your financial house (33 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. It’s almost spring, you guys. I don’t know about the weather in your neck of the woods, but that’s a welcome thought where I’m at, and I live in Texas! (Northerners, feel free to make fun of my idea of a cold winter. I don’t care. I did not sign up for anything colder than highs of 50 degrees.) At any rate, I’ve been on a cleaning…

  • Ask the Readers: 5 questions about your taxes (55 comments)

    It’s that dreaded time of year, but we all must face it. So let’s talk about taxes today. I’ve got some questions (and offer my answers). 1)      Do you get a refund or max out your withholding? A recent Moneyrates.com survey found that 31 percent of the 2,000 people surveyed prefer to get a refund. I confess – I get a refund every year. If you want to stop the refund madness for tax year…

  • Phishing, vishing, and SMShing (28 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. A few days before Christmas, I was having lunch out when I opened an email that appeared to come from American Express: “Please click this link to authorize a recent charge on your account.” “Well, that’s weird,” I thought. I hadn’t used my American Express card in several months. I was stunned as I read the rest of the email. They wanted me to confirm a purchase…

  • How to winterize your home (71 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. As I write this, the back side of my house is mostly exposed to the studs with loose fiberglass hanging out in the area where landscaping will be someday. That’s right: Some crazy people choose to do remodeling projects in the middle of the coldest part of winter. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense, considering this article is about winterizing your home. Having one wall with…

  • 8 hacks to help you keep your resolutions (35 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. When I was in the first stage of personal finance, I had two obvious goals: Pay off my credit card Save $10,000 for an emergency fund It was by no means easy. But, I had a plan, and I hit my goal, and it felt so great. And then I set another goal: automatic deposits into a Roth IRA. And I did that too, gaining more confidence and…

  • 7 year-end tax tips to keep Uncle Sam out of your wallet (26 comments)

    This article is a guest post from Maryalene LaPonsie. Maryalene has been writing professionally for more than a decade on a variety of subjects including life insurance and personal finance. She helps consumers navigate topics such as creating budgets, using credit wisely and protecting income and assets by making smart insurance choices. Prior to her current assignments, Maryalene worked for 13 years as a staff member in the Michigan Legislature and has served as a…

  • The power of speaking up (38 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Last month, my boyfriend and I took a weekend trip to Seattle to celebrate our anniversary. We got a great deal on a hotel using a discount app. We’d stayed at this hotel before, and the view was gorgeous. The price was also reasonable and the room was clean. We checked in, unloaded our bags and pulled back the curtains, preparing to take in Seattle’s beautiful skyline, which…

  • 10 tools and tips to save money on legal fees (21 comments)

    This is a guest post from John Corcoran. John is an attorney and former Clinton White House writer, and he advises entrepreneurs and small-business owners on how to use networking to grow their businesses.  In addition to the tips in this article, you can download his free report for an additional 10+ tools to save you money on legal fees. Like it or not, everyone has to use a lawyer now and then. Whether you run your…

  • Libraries: Good for frugality, great for community (49 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. This year, I’ve spent quite a bit of time at my neighborhood library. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but before this year, it had been a while. As a teenager, I remember our local library offering books and movies and magazines. But upon rediscovering the library as an adult, I’ve realized there are a ton of services I’ve been missing out on. A friend of…

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

    This guest post is from Kate Northrup. Kate is the author of the new book, Money: A Love Story. She’s leading a live online event called A Course in Having Enough with guest teachers Marianne Williamson, Barbara Stanny, and Amanda Steinberg. This course is free when you purchase Money: A Love Story. Get details at www.moneyalovestory.com. It’s no mystery that the road to wealth can come with some emotional turmoil. Anyone who tells you that…

  • Declutter and save your sense (33 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. Once, I couldn’t find a matching pair of shoes, so I  put one foot in a ballet flat and the other in a tennis shoe and acted like I had sprained my ankle. True story. You may wonder then why this girl is writing an article on decluttering and disorganization and their relationship to finances, especially since I still have a lot to learn. While there are…

  • Spare change: Identity theft edition (32 comments)

    Several years ago, my husband and I went on our annual family camping trip in Terlingua, Texas, right outside of Big Bend National Park. As usual, on our way out, we stopped in Alpine to gas up. My dad paid with a credit card, and we got on the road and headed home. But a few days later, some unusual charges appeared on his account. The credit card company caught it first, and Dad assured…

  • How to avoid a garage sale letdown (30 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Holly Johnson. A few years ago, I prepared for a garage sale that I was sure would be an epic success. Based on the sheer volume of widgets, random household items and baby gear that I had to sell, I envisioned pulling in hundreds of dollars in profit with ease. After all, I had tubs of baby clothes and toys, some small appliances, and a variety of random items…

  • Reader Story: I bought a foreclosure house on the courthouse steps (52 comments)

    This guest post is from Naomi Mannino. Naomi is a freelance consumer personal finance and health journalist who reports on health, medical and personal finance news and how it will affect your life today. You can follow Naomi on Twitter @naomimannino. 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…

  • How I kept to my budget and still have everything I want (49 comments)

    This guest post is from Darlene Bauer, who works from home in the beautiful Texas Hill Country.  She created BlogBoldly.com as a platform to help newcomers learn to build their own profitable online business. Years ago, when I was single and on a tight budget, I devised a fun way to get practically everything on my wish list and have money left over! I was in my twenties and waited tables for a living, so…

  • Are you saving when you should be spending? (20 comments)

    This guest post is from Jacob McMillen. He likes to write about topics for men and teach people how using Save1 Eastbay coupons can help feed starving children around the world. More often than not, the best way to save a dollar is to not spend it in the first place. There is no shortage of tips, tricks and methods available for saving $5 here and 35¢ there. Doing a quick web search for “saving…

  • How to throw a yard sale when you’re an apartment dweller (13 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Kristin Wong. For someone who hates accumulating stuff, I sure have a lot of it. There’s the skirt suit that I haven’t worn in four years, for example. Or the ALF lunchbox that I just can’t part with. Oh, and my indispensable collection of PEZ dispensers. I could go on, but this is a money blog, not a humble brag about all the cool toys I have. At any rate,…

  • The spam email strategy for savings (28 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Honey Smith. On Saturday, Jake woke up restless. Despite the fact that it was 112 degrees outside (argh) he really wanted to leave the house. While I would have been fine staying in, I understood where he was coming from; Jake works from home and hadn’t left the house in at least a week. “Where do you want to go?” I asked. “Let’s see,” he replied, whipping out his…

  • The 5 most popular coupon sites (and one with a mission) (38 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. I tried for years to be a coupon clipper. Every now and then, I’d decide I was going to save as much money as possible on my groceries, or at least on stuff like toothbrushes and razor blades. I’d gather all the coupon circulars that normally went straight in the garbage, and I’d review the ads and clip the coupons that spoke to me. Sometimes, I’d even…

  • Save money by cutting food waste (44 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Lisa Aberle. I barely brushed the surface of combating food waste in a recent article, but the comments added so much to the article that I thought I could stop at just one. And then I found some more statistics. In the U.S.: We waste 40 percent of edible food It costs $750 million just to dispose of the food we waste And when you consider the extra costs of packaging, transporting,…

  • Time-management strategies for working parents (45 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Holly Johnson. I am sure you’ve heard the saying, “A mother’s work is never done.” This is especially true for parents who continue working after they’ve had kids. Even after putting in a full day on the job, working parents still have a variety of things that have to be done. In fact, finishing up your day job usually means beginning work on a second wave of responsibilities. If you’re…

  • 13 smart ways to be frugal at work without looking like a cheapskate (62 comments)

    This is a guest post from Ivan Chan. Ivan teaches busy professionals simple ways to manage money and worry less in life at Wealthy Without Worry. Being frugal is hard. You’ve been so disciplined all week with your spending, you’ve kept to your budget, and you’ve even resisted buying that new thing you wanted to try. You are on target to meet your savings goals for this month, and then your colleagues at work invite…

  • Reader Stories: How 5 daily habits rocked my financial world (28 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jillian Beirne Davi. Jillian is a Transformational Money Coach and the founder of Abundant Finances, a service that helps you get yourself out of debt and start amassing abundant savings in record time (without deprivation or eating cat food for dinner). 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…

  • Ask the Readers: What will you trade this month? (27 comments)

    Our monthly challenges to the GRS community are meant to push you to flex those frugality muscles and think creatively about money. For those who are just starting their financial journeys, learning and practicing new ways to increase your income and hacks to save some cash each month are vital. However, for those of you who find that old hat, we want you to take creative action to break out of the burnout that can…

  • Are automatic payments all they’re cracked up to be? (88 comments)

    This post is by staff writer April Dykman. A few weeks ago, I paid a sky-high electric bill. After some investigation, I saw the problem: the electric company charged a $200 deposit fee for starting electric service at our new house. The deposit was supposed to be waived, since we had a good payment history with the electric company. Only here it was, on our bill. And since we’re on autopay, the electric company had…

  • Negotiating for perks when raises are off the table (21 comments)

    This guest post is from David Lye. David is an expert on novated leasing, which is a “company car” type perk that many Australian companies offer their employees. In today’s uncertain economy, many employers are reluctant to offer raises to their employees. You may be lucky enough to keep your job, but chances are that you may not get a raise, or if you do, it could be a very small raise. However, if you’re…

  • Extreme weather and recreational costs (45 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Although I live in Arizona (where it’s sunny and 65 right now), this has been a nasty winter for much of the country. The storm known as Nemo led to power outages, flight cancellations, and at least nine deaths. As I write this, Winter Storm Saturn is still pummeling the Northeast, to say nothing of what the weather has been like in Chicago and elsewhere in the…

  • Creating objective rules for spending (36 comments)

    This guest post is from Mr. F, an Australian reader in his mid-20s who works for the government. We’re often told to “spend money on what’s important,” “spend according to your values” or “spend on whatever takes up most of your time.” So, for example, you should spend money when it comes to things like education, or family, or on a mattress. That’s a good guide, but in day-to-day situations you often have to make…

  • Reader Stories: The frugal Orioles fan (36 comments)

    This post was written by Kurt Smith, author of Ballpark E-Guides, PDF-format guides that help fans get the most bang for their buck at the ballgame. He’s been called “MLB’s Worst Enemy” by “Connecticut Morning,” a TV program on which he is a frequent guest. 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…

  • A scholarship for small-business folks (12 comments)

    With student debt now topping credit card debt (see page 3 of the PDF), every penny that you can find to put toward education is wanted. We hear a lot about student loans, but not so much about scholarships as a way to pay for education. There are all kinds of scholarships, often sponsored by special-interest groups. Here are a few that Mark Kantrowitz of Finaid.org lists on his site: Scholarship for Left-Handed Students, Little…

  • Planning for a new financial paradigm (58 comments)

    I’d tried and occasionally gotten by on very much less, and I’d shuffled small freelance gigs and guiltily spent windfalls instead of saving. But I just couldn’t figure out a long-term way to make my rather meager freelance income work for all my non-household-bill expenses; food, child care, coffee shop goodies, lunches for my boys, the limited-but-still-precious entertainment expenditures, home office costs, clothes, and the rest of it. I was considering finding some more small…

  • How to save money on vet bills (60 comments)

    A few years ago, a little orange cat showed up on my front porch, and I fed him. You can probably guess what happened next. Yep, he never left. But as with any “free” pet, Hans cost a lot of money. This was especially true in the beginning when we had to have him neutered and vaccinated. We also paid for a six-month supply of flea treatment. Then, Hans injured his paw. It swelled to…

  • Finding money to invest (besides under the couch cushions) (70 comments)

    When we decided that we were going to start investing more in 2013, I didn’t know where we would find the money in our budget. My personality embraces risk… as long as all our other savings goals are met and our bills are paid. So, because I wanted to have fun investing (and not lose sleep at night), I knew I could not cut our retirement contributions or our savings deposits. What I hoped was…

  • Professional shoe repair: Save money, time, and your feet (74 comments)

    While on my way back from getting some hot tea in the break room at work, I noticed that one of my shoes was making a strange noise. Upon getting back to my office, I saw why: the heel cap had fallen off and was lying next to my chair. Hmm, I thought. Maybe that’s why I’ve been tripping so much lately. Because I had been tripping. Enough to be embarrassed. I had jokingly chalked…

  • Make more money as a subject matter expert (33 comments)

    I spend a lot of time working. I have my day job, first of all. I also have a demanding side hustle in addition to writing here. I’ve spent most of my working life like this. I like working and learning something new, but the main reason I seek employment is because making more money gives me choices. I can pay off debt, save for home improvement projects or add to our retirement accounts. As…

  • Reader Stories: Adventures in negotiating (34 comments)

    This post from Cortney Jansen. Cortney is 29, works as an engineer in the Bay Area and has been reading GRS for a couple of years now. She’s in the third stage of personal finance: debt-free and trying to figure out the best balance for multiple savings goals. This post is part of the Reader Stories series. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or…

  • New student loan payoff tool (30 comments)

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

  • Ask the Readers: Is traditional advice killing your job search? (25 comments)

    “Vince” was halfway through his MBA program and struggling to find an internship. So, he took his career counselor’s advice and blasted his resume and cover letter to 30 companies.”I just tried to shoot out as many resumes as possible,” says Vince. Nine companies called him back, but the interviews didn’t go well. He only got one offer, and it wasn’t for a particularly great internship. If Vince followed his career counselor’s advice, why was…

  • New life for old DVD movies: The answers to scratches and breaks (17 comments)

    This is a guest post from freelance writer Jessica Ward. DVD games and movies For several years, we’ve fought the occasional skip, fingerprint or ding in our DVD movies, and have typically been able to resolve the damage with our Skip Doctor repair kit, however, sometimes bad (very bad) things happen to good movies. Last month, my 7-year-old daughter got careless with some of her favorites and in the end, two had cracks all the…

  • Churning credit cards for a fun profit (97 comments)

    This guest post from Holly Johnson. Holly is a 32-year-old wife, mother of two, and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She blogs about saving money, frugal habits, and whatever is on her mind at ClubThrifty.com. Note: We’re not encouraging people to go out and sign up for credit cards, especially if you have debt or plan to carry a balance on a card. (The interest you pay will wipe out any rewards benefits.) But if you can…

  • When you just can’t get the important stuff done (38 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. This post is not for those of you who have focused minds and empty “to do” lists. Nay, not for those rarefied people who go to bed knowing that they got just about…

  • Tips for the Introverted Negotiator (80 comments)

    In my last article, I talked about saving money on the big things, like cars and houses. Multiple readers contributed good reasons why we don’t save as much money as we should on cars and houses. But one of my favorite comments was from Tracy: See, it would never even occur to me to negotiate on a car, nor do I have any desire to. I realize this costs me extra money and it would…

  • Seize the Summer (47 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Tim Sullivan. Sometimes, my summers feel like any other season. Other times though, I do the season right. A couple weekends back, I sat out on a dock with my family, overlooking a small lake in Michigan, our bathing suits still wet and our t-shirts sticking to our backs in the heat. My brother had made a pitcher of lemonade. My sister was strumming along on her ukulele. It…

  • Cutting Costs on Transportation (Even When Biking and Walking Aren’t Options) (83 comments)

    Until the end of this week, we’re 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 Lisa Aberle, who promises she could contribute stories on DIY projects and rural living. Her first audition piece…

  • How Saving Money Cost Me Money (86 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 Kristin Wong, who also writes at The Heart Beat blog for MSN Living. I used to have…

  • How to Buy Quality Furniture (61 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 Karawynn Long, who writes about personal finance at Pocketmint. It’s an article she originally shared at GRS…

  • How to Host a Yard Sale (53 comments)

    Summer is coming, and the weather is warming around much of the United States. You know what that means: Yard sale season is upon us! Hosting a yard sale — or garage sale or tag sale or whatever you want to call it — can be a great way to clear out clutter and generate a bit of quick cash. In fact, Kris and I joined some of our friends last weekend to clear out…

  • How to Learn a Foreign Language Without Spending a Cent (88 comments)

    Last week at Far Away Places (my new travel blog), I shared some tips on how to learn Spanish fast. The short version: Hire a tutor. But what if you can’t afford a tutor? What if you don’t want to spend money but still want to learn a language? In this guest post from Benny Lewis, the Irish polyglot, he shares tips on how to learn a language on the cheap. For more info, visit…

  • How to Save on Your Cell Phone Plan with Secret No-Contract Deals (132 comments)

    This is a guest post from social-media maven Laura Roeder. Laura first told me this story in January, and I used it as the basis for one of my columns for Entrepreneur magazine. Over lunch recently, she offered to write a guest post about her experience. I told her I’d be glad to share it. Secret phone plans? No contracts? Unadvertised payment plans with no interest? These are all available. But you’ll never know until…

  • A Primer on Finding Unclaimed Property (69 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. Finding free money lying around with your name on it seems a little too good to be true, doesn’t it? That’s what I thought when I learned about Missing Money, a website that offers to help you track down unclaimed property that may belong to you. Sometimes free money is for real, though. The site is…

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

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

  • Five Ways to Outwit the ATM (141 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money. She also writes about frugality, intentional living, and life in general at her own blog, Surviving And Thriving. Automated teller machines are from the devil, and debit cards are Satan’s imps. Sure, it’s great to be able to get cash whenever you want. The problem is, well, you can get cash whenever you want. Not only do…

  • Developing Systems That Work (75 comments)

    In my fantasy life, I’m an organized guy. In the real world, that’s just not the case. I do my best to stay on top of things — I make lists, use a calendar, ask Kris for help — but there always seems to be something slipping through the cracks. Before we left for Africa, for example, I hid my wallet. I always do this when we go on a long trip. (I don’t use…

  • Nine Lessons in Wealth-Building from The Millionaire Next Door (98 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. Want to become a millionaire? Then perhaps you should start by studying the behaviors of people who have done it. But don’t worry – you don’t need to stop the next Mercedes you see…

  • How to Avoid Common Money Mistakes (34 comments)

    This is a guest post from Laura Adams, also known as Money Girl. Adams is the author of a new book, Money Girl’s Smart Moves to Grow Rich. She also hosts the weekly Money Girl podcast over on Quick and Dirty Tips. For money resources, tips, and advice, connect with her at SmartMovesToGrowRich.com. There are some basic rules in personal finance that are so vital for success that they pertain to everyone, no matter your…

  • Christmas Gifts That Make a Difference (63 comments)

    This is the first post from new GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Living With Less personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality, intentional living and lifeitsownself at Surviving And Thriving. Grandma probably doesn’t want another scented candle, but she could very well use a ride to the store. Your underemployed nephew would likely prefer a little help filling the pantry instead of a jokey T-shirt. And the sister who’s…

  • Productivity Hack: Using the Web to Minimize Internet Distractions (55 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. There have been days when I’ve wasted an embarrassing amount of time mindlessly surfing the Internet. While I try to make that the exception rather than the rule, it’s a massive time suck that usually puts me behind on things I actually needed to do that day. Obviously the web makes life easier in many respects. We have virtually every type of media, every bit of information,…

  • Make More Money: How to Supercharge Your Income (81 comments)
  • Insurance Basics: How to Save on Insurance (34 comments)

    This is the second part in a short series about insurance basics. Last week, I explained how insurance works. Next week (or possibly the week after), I’ll offer some tips on car insurance. Today’s article offers some general insurance tips useful for most situations. All insurance works pretty much the same way: You pay a premium (a set amount of money) to the insurance company, usually on some sort of schedule (monthly or yearly, for…

  • How to Replace Six Vital Documents (29 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Could you produce your birth certificate, car title, or an old tax return at a moment’s notice? You’re supposed to store vital documents in a fireproof box or keep them in a safe-deposit box, but how many of us actually do that? We may not need these papers often, but when we do need them, we really need them. You need vital documents to sell your…

  • Use an Informational Interview to Overcome Mental Barriers (38 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Less than a year ago, I was stuck. I knew I wanted to start a side business that had potential to grow, but I had no idea what to do or how to do it. I was feeling stagnant, suffocated, and tired of dreaming about possibilities, but never making progress. In hindsight, it’s clear that I was spinning my wheels. I was optimistic one day, bursting…

  • How to Safeguard Your Social Security Number (57 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. In articles about how to prevent identity theft, I’ve often read that one should never give out his or her social security number (SSN) unless absolutely necessary. That sounds like good common sense. But I recently found myself asking, in what situations is it actually necessary? I’ve mentioned that my husband and I own land on which we are starting to build a home. The land…

  • Money Hack: When You Save Money, Actually Put It in Savings (33 comments)

    As part of the publicity push for Your Money: The Missing Manual, I’ve been a guest on a couple dozen radio shows around the country. This morning, for example, I spent an hour chatting with Joy Cardin of Wisconsin Public Radio. I was nervous about these appearances at first — I’m a hesitant public speaker, as I’ve said — but after the first few, I got the hang of it. Now I actually think they’re…

  • Living The Examined Life: Personal Data Collection is a Powerful Tool for Change (27 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. Machines are, in some respects, much smarter than we are. Specifically, their ability to collect data about us far outpaces our own ability to know who we are and what we do. Your computer can’t tell you why you eat, spend money, sleep, or watch TV. But it can tell you with…

  • Busting the Myths: Why Coupons Are a Valuable Part of Your Financial Arsenal (112 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation in Alaska. This is a guest post from Tara Kuczykowski, who is introducing the basics of couponing to a new generation of coupon clippers through her money-saving blog, Deal-Seeking Mom. Tara is teaching readers across the U.S. how to stretch their budgets in order to make room for occasional splurges. Living the good life while spending less is possible with just a little effort! I was a deal seeker long before…

  • Grow Your Savings by Paying in Full (63 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. In the past six months, I’ve spent more money on personal development than I have in my entire life. I’ve also spent considerable amounts on laptops and on a holistic wellness program. Now that I’m somewhere in the third stage of personal finance, I see the value in investing, and I’m not just talking about the stock market. What I started to notice was how having…

  • The One-Year Wardrobe Project (99 comments)

    About a year ago, at the advice of GRS readers, I started an experiment. I took all of the shirts and sweaters from my clothes closet and moved them into our spare room. Whenever I needed something to wear, I checked the clothes closet first. If what I needed wasn’t there (as was often the case at first), I went to the spare room to find it. After I’d worn a shirt or sweater once,…

  • Don’t Wait for a Discount — Ask for One (67 comments)

    This post is short and sweet and to the point. Folks, I cannot stress how important it is to check all of your accounts for possible savings at least once a year. This includes your bank accounts, your credit accounts, your utility accounts, and more. Basically, you should review every account that involves a financial relationship at least yearly. It’s easy to do this. Just call the customer service number and ask if there are…

  • If You’re Going to Buy a Warranty, Shop Around (70 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. I’m writing this post on my brand new MacBook, which I just purchased yesterday. I can honestly say I’ve never been less excited to buy a computer. The reason for my ambivalence is that I already bought this laptop four months ago, replacing a seven-year-old “little iBook that could.” But two weeks ago a water bottle (that I thought was closed) toppled over, splashing water on…

  • The Best Time to Buy Almost Everything (76 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. My mom has a sixth sense when it comes to bargain hunting. Where I’m thrilled to get 25 percent off and free shipping, she’s finding deals of 70 percent off and getting inside scoop from the salespeople, who probably have her on speed dial should a ginormous everything-must-go-or-we-torch-it clearance sale come along. Okay, so I’m exaggerating, but not by much. The point, however, is that the…

  • How I Cut my Comcast Cable Bill by 33% (Without Losing Any Service) (250 comments)

    Last week, I wrote that you can negotiate anything. This guest post by G.E. Miller gives a real-life example of using negotiation to save money. For more from G.E., check out his personal finance blogs 20somethingfinance.com and microfrugality.com. For the third of the country who has no choice but to turn to Comcast for cable television, the thought of price haggling is about as appealing as a root canal. Comcast has a notorious reputation for…

  • Creative Cleaning with Everyday Products (69 comments)

    This article is by GRS staff writer Adam Baker. Baker recently shared an in-depth video example of how you can save $521 when booking airfare online. Recently my 19-month old daughter managed to get her tiny hands on a ballpoint pen. Normally, this wouldn’t have been a major event. This time was different. In the 30-45 seconds it took for me to notice, she’d thoroughly covered two-and-half cushions of our microsuede couch with a beautiful masterpiece in…

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

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. When you have a need or a problem, there’s usually a solution that can be bought. Buying a solution is often the easiest and fastest way to solve a problem — but it also can be the most expensive. When my husband and I were in debt-repayment mode and had our discretionary spending locked down, I began to see that there are alternative solutions to problems…

  • 9 Ways You Can Knock the Socks off Your Next Landlord (41 comments)

    This article is by GRS staff writer Adam Baker. Currently, Baker is fat and in debt. We all know how to rent a typical, cookie-cutter apartment or house. Find a contact number. Set-up a walk through. Fill out the application. Pay your fee and wait for a response. But sometimes typical just doesn’t cut it. Maybe you’re looking to secure a unique apartment in an irresistible location. Or you might be seeking the only house for rent in a certain…

  • How to Stop Buying Clothes You Never Wear (110 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. A couple of years ago, I had a Great Closet Clean-Out. My clothing racks and drawers were overflowing at the time, and some of it still had price tags. Hoping to accomplish that European knack for owning less and looking better, I donated, consigned, and gave away about 75 percent of my wardrobe. Today it’s 100 times more functional. These are the best tips I picked…

  • Furniture Shopping Secrets: How to Tell Superior from Shoddy (53 comments)

    This is a guest post from Karawynn Long, who writes about personal finance at Pocketmint. Karawynn is a semi-regular contributor for Get Rich Slowly. She has been blogging since before “blogging” was a word. Here at the Koke-Long house we’re in the market for some furniture. Our living room is currently semi-furnished with a comfortable but deteriorating Ikea couch and some leftover dining chairs; we’d like a nice armchair or two and some tables. I’ve…

  • 11 Ways to Spice Up Your Emergency Fund (77 comments)

    This article is by Adam Baker, a GRS Staff Writer. In addition to writing for Get Rich Slowly, Baker blogs over at Man Vs. Debt, where he discusses ways to simplify your financial life. A thriving emergency fund is an essential piece of a healthy financial picture. You’ve heard this a million times before. The basics of emergency funds have been covered in depth. We’re used to hearing discussions on why they’re important and how large…

  • Gone Phishing: How To Avoid Being Caught By Scammers (44 comments)

    This article is by Adam Baker, a new GRS Staff Writer. In addition to writing for Get Rich Slowly, Baker blogs over at Man Vs. Debt, where you can find his personal background story and read more of his writing. Last week, I adjusted several preferences on my PayPal account. I added and verified a new e-mail address and swapped my linked bank account. Shortly after finalizing the changes, I received a brief e-mail from PayPal…

  • How a Haircut Led to a Handy Acronym (104 comments)

    This is a guest post from Lynn, a long-time reader of personal-finance blogs. Lynn is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. In her first post, she explained where to find free activities and events in your area. Lynn is the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) of her family, and is working hard to increase her financial health after years of many poor financial choices. From my toddler years on, I’ve had long hair. There were…

  • Where to Find Free Activities and Events in Your Area (65 comments)

    This is a guest post from Lynn, a long-time reader of personal-finance blogs. Lynn is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. She is the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) of her family, and is working hard to increase her financial health after years of many poor financial choices. Our family has been going through a transformation from a paycheck-to-paycheck family to a family that has money in the bank.  While I wouldn’t say we…

  • Saving Money on Everyday Stuff (19 comments)

    I haven’t made the time to piece together a “links roundup” lately, which is too bad. I’ve collected a lot of articles worth mentioning, even if they don’t merit full posts of their own. I try to share many of these stories on Twitter, but I’ve collected three that deserve special attention. They’re each packed with money-saving ideas for everyday shopping. Real Simple’s “Save on Everyday Stuff” Last week, Real Simple published a collection of…

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

    The American housewife! Who has a more important or more responsible occupation? Wife, mother, laundress, counselor, maid, chef, purchasing agent. All of these are her duties at one time or another. So begins Buying Food, a home economics film from 1950. Buying Food is fascinating not just for its shopping tips, but also for the inside look at a grocery store from 60 years ago. (Self-service grocery stores were introduced in 1916 and grew in…

  • How to Buy a Mattress (140 comments)

    After my post about mattress shopping the other day, Garrison contacted me. “My home just flooded and due to renters insurance I was thrown into the market for a new mattress,” he said. “I called up my long-time best friend whose entire family is in the mattress business. I used his advice in my purchase and I’ve been completely satisfied.” Here’s what Garrison’s friend, Justin, had to say. I’ve written a lot here to help…

  • Learning to Budget with the JARS System (75 comments)

    This is a guest post from Steve Martile, a life coach and the author of the personal-growth blog Freedom Education. Here he describes a budgeting system that actually reminds me of Elizabeth Warren’s balanced money formula, but with a little more detail. Managing money doesn’t restrict freedom — it creates freedom. That’s probably not the first time you’ve heard this. If you want to create financial abundance, you’ve got to start managing your money. I…

  • My Sister’s Keeper: Sharing Financial Goals with an Accountability Partner (28 comments)

    “Don’t you have any tips for single folks?” I’m often asked. Like any writer, I tend to write from my own experience — that of a married man. Fortunately, there are plenty of single people in the GRS community who are willing to share the things they’ve learned. Here’s a guest post from Kinley Levack about how she and her sister hold each other financially accountable. Over Christmas 2007, my sister Michelle and I started…

  • The Wisdom of My Father (50 comments)

    This is a guest post from Ann Zerkle, a Get Rich Slowly lurker, and the founder of Heroes of Capitalism. As the daughter of a truck driver and stay-at-home mom, my family lived very frugally (and very happily). As an adult, I see the wisdom in the frugality of my parents. Below are the frugal ideas my father always espoused. Work smart, not hard. My dad believed in hard work. He constantly put in 60…

  • Credit Union Service Centers Provide Shared Branching (30 comments)

    Note: Oops. I accidentally had comments closed on this post. Not even sure how that happened. They’re on now. Chris M. sent me e-mail last week to share some thoughts on rewards checking and on credit unions. I’m a fan of both. In his message, Chris offered a handy tip for those of us who use credit unions instead of banks: In reviewing your past posts, I realized that you might not know about something…

  • How to Nail an Interview: 20 Job Interview Tips (37 comments)

    After writing about how to negotiate your salary recently, a couple of readers pointed me to another job-related tool on the web. Steinar Skipsness has created a microsite called How to Nail an Interview. Here’s how he describes it: What is it that certain people say or do during a job interview that makes them stand out? Why do some people struggle to find work, while others land a job in no time? I wanted…

  • No Crystal Ball Required: Getting Better Investment Returns (Without Guessing) (24 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the advisor for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. Imagine it’s 30 April 1989. You just came into a hundred grand. You plan on investing this money for the next 20 years. Where do you put it? Here are four options. No need…

  • Prepaid Cell Phones Can Save You Money (148 comments)

    Last week, I spoke with personal-finance writer Greg Karp about how young adults can save money. We brainstormed ideas for one of his upcoming newspaper columns. “I’m willing to bet that many young people can save money by cutting back on their cell phone,” I said. “It’s kind of shocking how these have become a Need instead of a Want.” “Yeah,” Karp said. “And what about prepaid phones?” “I don’t know anything about them,” I…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Save Money on Books? (127 comments)

    Most of the questions I receive from readers are about their specific financial situations. But occasionally somebody writes with something a little different. Yesterday, for example, Joshua wrote to ask my advice on shopping for books. He wants to know how to find personal finance books for cheap. He writes: I’m big book fan, mostly financial, entrepreneur, leadership, personal development, etc. Sometimes I buy books off Amazon, but I visit the local library first to…

  • 14 Tips for Purchasing Life Insurance (66 comments)

    This is a guest post from Ray at Financial Highway. Earlier today, Ray shared the basics of life insurance. Insurance is an important part of financial planning — but understanding insurance and buying the right product can be tricky. From whole to term life, riders to convertibility clauses, how do you make sense of all the choices? Most people rely on the expertise of their insurance advisor, broker, or sales representative to help them make…

  • 21st Century Real Estate: Use a Blog to Sell Your Home (24 comments)

    David Hobby at Strobist recently posted an interesting article describing how to use a blog to sell your house. Hobby and his wife have outgrown their townhouse in Columbia, Maryland, and are looking to move on. But typical real-estate brochures and marketing are often woefully inadequate. (I was just mocking a real-estate flyer last night, in fact.) Hobby decided that he could enhance his marketing by using a free Blogger blog to create a nice…

  • How to Read a Mutual Fund Prospectus (28 comments)

    This is a guest post from Neal Frankle, a Certified Financial Planner, and the author of Wealth Pilgrim, a blog about his financial journey. If we’ve learned anything from the current financial crisis, we’ve learned that it’s important to understand what it is we’re actually investing in. No more black-box investing, right? That’s true of the folks on Wall Street, but it’s also true of the average mutual-fund investor, too. If you invest in mutual…

  • 8 Questions to Ask BEFORE Hiring a Financial Planner (120 comments)

    This is a guest post by Jeff Rose, an Certified Financial Planner from Illinois. Rose is also the author of Good Financial Cents, a financial planning and investment blog. Before reading his article, you may want to begin with two previous guest posts from Dylan Ross: What is a financial plan and why have one? and When and how to hire a financial planner. When meeting with a financial planner for the first time, many…

  • The Per-Diem System: An Easy Way to Budget Your Spending Money (54 comments)

    This is a guest post from Spencer, a GRS reader in New York. As a guy who just finished paying off $14,000 in credit card debt, I wanted to share one tip that helped me get over the bad debt hump. I allocate my spending money on a per diem system. At the beginning of each cycle of my monthly budget, I set aside funds for: Every fixed expense that I have (rent, cable/internet, groceries,…

  • Reader Comment: A Lifetime of Doing the Right Thing (60 comments)

    It’s been a while since I highlighted an individual reader comment, but I wanted to draw attention to some advice that Kenny left for Sara in Friday’s “ask the readers”. You’ll recall that 24-year-old Sara feels overwhelmed because although she’s making the “right” decisions, she doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere. Here is Kenny’s response, reproduced verbatim. (Well, I’ve done some formatting, but the text is completely Kenny’s.) I have the BEST answer for you…

  • 25 Useful Financial Rules of Thumb (100 comments)

    Lately I’ve found myself using more and more financial rules of thumb. A rule of thumb is a general guideline, an easy way to approximate a value quickly. It’s not meant to be completely accurate. On a whim this weekend, I gathered together many of the general rules I’ve been using, as well as several others I found online. Thanks to those who follow me on Twitter, who also contributed suggestions. For example, @FourPillars wrote,…

  • Top 10 Tips for Preparing Your Tax Return (and Tax Software Giveaway!) (164 comments)

    Tax season is in full swing. Readers are peppering me with questions, and marketers are forwarding promotional material for their products. This seems like a good time to meld the two opposing forces into a single post! Tips for preparing your tax return First up, Roni Deutch, CEO of the nation’s largest tax-resolution law firm, sent me a copy of her new book, The Tax Lady’s Guide to Beating the IRS and Saving Big Bucks…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Organize Your Account Information? (86 comments)

    Between my personal accounts, my business accounts, and the joint accounts I have with my wife, it’s difficult for me to keep track of my essential information. As we’ve been working to refinance our house, for example, there have been several times I’ve had to dig for needed account numbers and statements. I’m not the only one with this problem. Earlier this month, Meghan wrote to ask: How do you compile a comprehensive list of…

  • Money Hack: The Monthly Checkbook Sweep (70 comments)

    At dinner the other night, T.S. told me about a new trick she’s developed to force herself to save money. It used to be that she’d just spend whatever she had in her checkbook. She didn’t spend more than that, so she wasn’t accumulating debt. But like many people, she wasn’t saving either. She spent whatever she had on hand. Because T.S. wants to save, she’s opened an account at ING Direct. She wants to…

  • Save on Cell Phones with Employee and Student Discounts (48 comments)

    Consumer Reports is one of my favorite personal-finance magazines, and for a variety of reasons. Not only does it help readers find quality products at great prices, but it also gives tips for saving money by changing behavior. Even the CR letter column is great! For example, in the most recent issue (March 2009), there’s a letter from Richard Guibilo that offers a tip for saving money on cell phones: Your January report “Best Cell-Phone…

  • 5 Credit Card Company Tricks — and How to Thwart Them (56 comments)

    This is a guest post from Justin McHenry, president of Index Credit Cards, a credit card comparison and information site. Index Credit Cards was named “most comprehensive” by Reader’s Digest in its October 2008 issue, and regularly cited by both old and new media. True or False? Credit card companies lure you in with big promises, but bury the nasty stuff in fine print. It would be hard to find many people that disagree. Unfortunately,…

  • Happy 303rd Birthday, Benjamin Franklin! (26 comments)

    Today is the first day of National Thrift Week. It’s also the 303rd anniversary of the birth of America’s first — and best — personal-finance writer. Benjamin Franklin was born on this day in 1706. Franklin was an amazing man, a polymath, and a great advocate of industry and frugality. “Be industrious and frugal, and you will be rich,” he wrote in 1768, more elegantly expressing my own notion that to gain wealth you must…

  • Book Review: 365 Ways to Live Cheap! (28 comments)

    Today I am reviewing new books written by two colleagues: Trent from The Simple Dollar and Leo from Zen Habits. As you read these reviews, please remember that I am friends with both authors. Mary Hunt bills herself as America’s favorite cheapskate. In 2005, she published a little volume entitled Everyday Cheapskate’s Greatest Tips, which contained “500 simple strategies for smart living”. Hunt’s book didn’t offer any sort of narrative or broad overview of money…

  • How to Afford Anything (But Not Everything) (61 comments)

    You can have anything you want — but you can’t have everything you want. That’s the lesson I learned from a recent conversation with my cousin. And that’s the lesson photographer Ken Rockwell imparts in an essay that explains how to afford anything. Our ability to buy expensive toys has nothing to do with how much money we do or don’t earn. Like everything in life, it has everything to do with how well you…

  • The 3-Day Cooling-Off Period: Myth and Reality (48 comments)

    In 2001, I bought some magazine subscriptions from a couple of college students who were selling them door-to-door. I’d had my own miserable experiences trying to sell things to strangers, so I had a policy of buying from any kid who wanted to sell me something. I let the young man and young woman come into the house, and I listened to their pitch. I browsed through a glossy brochure that listed a bunch of…

  • Making the Most of Your Checking Account (104 comments)

    In the past, we’ve discussed the best online high-yield savings account, covered the basics of certificates of deposit, and even explored the beauty of Roth IRAs. But we’ve never talked about checking accounts. Many people believe checking accounts are the dinosaurs of the banking world. They’re not extinct yet. In the past few weeks, I’ve received two questions about them: “Where can I get the best rate on a checking account?” “How much should I…

  • A Do-It-Yourself Christmas: 34 Great Homemade Gifts You Can Make (204 comments)

    Last month, I asked readers to share their favorite frugal Christmas ideas. You responded with over a hundred fantastic tips. One common theme for saving money and adding meaning during the holiday season was to make gifts yourself. My wife and I are lucky to have many crafty friends. Every year, I’m delighted to see what they create for the holiday season. I drew on our own experience, pulled some of your best tips from…

  • Put Your Savings on Steroids with Certificates of Deposit (73 comments)

    High-yield savings accounts are great. They allow you to set aside money in a safe place to earn a respectable return. (That return is low right now, but will increase as the economy improves and interest rates rise.) But did you know you can put your savings on steroids by using a certificate of deposit? Certificates of deposit (often simply called CDs), by definition are time deposits. You give your money to the bank and…

  • Back Up Your Computer to Save Time and Money (112 comments)

    Here’s a public service message: Back up your computer regularly. This has more to do with your pocketbook than you might think. Not only was I sick this week, but the hard drive on my laptop crashed. It’s gone. The Apple Geniuses (that’s what they call themselves!) cannot salvage it. I was able to pull the single most important document (the GRS spreadsheet) and a few posts-in-progress, but I lost a hell of a lot,…

  • How Low Can You Go? Cutting Back to Minimum (192 comments)

    I was sick again yesterday morning. To console myself, I made a cup of cocoa. As I was preparing to add the required three tablespoons of chocolate powder, it occurred to me that maybe I could get by with two tablespoons. I’d be saving calories and money at the same time! The cocoa wasn’t quite as good as usual, but it was good enough. And by dropping to two tablespoons instead of three, I saved…

  • Ask the Readers: Favorite Frugal Christmas Ideas? (124 comments)

    I made a trip to Costco yesterday to buy index cards. (Believe it or not, index cards are the building blocks of this blog.) The store didn’t have any, but it did have four long aisles stocked with Christmas supplies: lights, laughing Santas, and artificial trees. “Are people thinking about the holidays already?”, I wondered. Turns out they are. In the Get Rich Slowly discussion forums, Samantha is asking for frugal Christmas ideas: We sat…

  • 10 Unconventional Money-Saving Tips (65 comments)

    For me, the hardest part about learning to save was changing my relationship with money. I understood intellectually that I needed to spend less than I earned, and I could see the debt accumulating as I spent, but money management isn’t just about knowing the math. It’s mostly about knowing yourself. It’s about building self-discipline, and about learning to see money in new ways. While browsing at Passion Saving the other day, I discovered an…

  • Once-a-Month Shopping: Save More by Shopping Less (147 comments)

    How often do you go to the supermarket? Could you get by making only one trip per month? What if it saved you money? My wife and I are both reading America’s Cheapest Family by Steve and Annette Economides. During his time as an ad salesman, Steve was “shocked to read in a food industry publication that grocers expect six of ten items consumers pick up in the store to be unplanned purchases.” Steve and…

  • Dealing with Disaster: A Brief Guide to Emergency Preparedness (34 comments)

    This is a guest post from JLP of All Financial Matters. JLP, who is a financial planner, was instrumental in helping me get started with Get Rich Slowly, and his blog remains one of my favorites. As a resident living fairly close to the Gulf Coast, I’m familiar with evacuating for a hurricane. There’s no way around it — evacuating for a natural disaster is a pain. But, there are things you do to make…

  • How to Save Money on Your Wedding: ASK! (62 comments)

    I had breakfast at a local diner the other day. Over my blueberry pancakes, I eavesdropped on the next table over. (It wasn’t difficult — these folks were loud.) Eight people from the wedding industry had gathered to swap hints, tips, and stories. They talked about networking, about wedding expos, and about dealing with problem customers. They also talked about some of the financial aspects of their business. “I was really worried about how this…

  • 10 Aggressive Tactics to Turn the Tables on Credit Card Companies (56 comments)

    This is a guest post from Katrina Ramser, a freelance writer who contributes to various websites, newspapers and magazines. She also writes about swimming at SquidKid. Did you know an average of six credit card offers are sent to each American household in typical month? That’s five billion advertisements a year. If you had a company where one-third of your profits came from penalty and non-penalty late fees alone, you too would be able to…

  • How and When to Cancel a Credit Card (79 comments)

    Update: After feedback from readers, I’ve made some clarifications to this post. My recommendations have not changed, but I’ve tried to emphasize the effect closing a credit card can have on your credit score. My recent two-part series on responsible credit card use (Five essential credit card skills and How to choose a credit card) prompted several readers to ask the same question: What’s the best way to cancel credit cards in order to minimize…

  • Simplify Your Life with a Stuff Replacement Fund (42 comments)

    One thing that prevents me from getting rid of more clutter in my life is the worry that someday, for some reason, I’ll want it again. Maybe I don’t use the rice cooker now, but what if I need it in the future? It’s thinking like this that keeps me from achieving the simple life I long for. After writing about the idea of having recently, I decided to re-read Your Money or Your Life,…

  • Warren Buffett’s Ten Secrets to Wealth and Life (46 comments)

    Warren Buffett is the richest man in the world, yet his reputation for frugality, folksy wisdom, and straight talk make him seem like just a regular guy, like he might be the billionaire next door. He’s one of my heroes. Several Buffett biographies have seen print over the years — The Making of an America Capitalist, The Good Guy of Wall Street, etc. — but at the end of September, author Alice Schroeder will publish…

  • How to Choose a Credit Card (63 comments)

    A credit card can be a useful tool or it can be a dangerous weapon. Most of this depends on you — the best credit card in the world won’t help if you spend beyond your means. American adults carry thousands of dollars in average credit card debt. I lived a decade mired in it and I don’t recommend it to anyone. If you’re responsible, however, a credit card can be both convenient and efficient….

  • Credit Card Basics: Five Essential Skills for Mastering Plastic (43 comments)

    The latest issue of Consumer Reports (October 2008) has an article about the new credit card jungle. The faltering economy and the ongoing mortgage crisis may be affecting your credit cards; issuers are raising rates, changing terms, and lowering credit limits. The magazine notes: “Now is an essential time to do a credit-card checkup to make sure your accounts haven’t changed for the worse.” I like the idea of a credit-card checkup, but I don’t…

  • A Few Ways to Raise Cash Quickly (40 comments)

    Disclaimer: After some strong feedback from GRS readers (and from my wife), I’ve made the rare move of heavily editing this article after publication. My hope is that the re-write makes it clear that I am not advocating all of these ideas. Yes, payday loans are on the list, but they’re at the bottom of the list. They’re the worst possible option for scaring up cash. The September issue of Money features an article by…

  • The Inner Workings of a Car Dealership (and How To Use Them to Your Advantage) (87 comments)

    Yesterday a reader named Dave Black left a long comment on an old article about how to buy a new car without getting screwed. This is his glimpse into the inner workings of a car dealership. I’ve edited Black’s comment to make it a little more readable, but the advice is all his. I sell cars, and believe me, there are lots of opportunities for a car dealership to make money.   Front of the…

  • Fix Your Own Printer and Save Money (19 comments)

    Farhad Manjoo at Slate says your computer printer may be lying to you. He bought a cheap laser printer a couple years ago. When the machine decided it was out of toner, it stopped working. But the last page it had printed looked just fine. Manjoo was puzzled: I’m a toner miser: For as long as I’ve been using laser printers, it’s been my policy to switch to a new cartridge at the last possible…

  • The Myth of Multitasking: How Doing It All Gets Nothing Done (62 comments)

    Multitasking has killed my productivity. At this moment, on this computer, I have: Five open browser windows with a total of 59 open tabs (in Safari) 79 open text documents (in BBEdit) — I am not joking 14 open images (in Photoshop) 55 unread messages in my mailbox (and 48 additional unread Get Rich Slowly comments) Three open chat sessions Seven open word processing documents (in Microsoft Word) And ten other open applications That’s 227…

  • 8 Tips for Saving Money on Hobbies and Pastimes (67 comments)

    Lee wrote with an innocent question about photography equipment yesterday. Little did she realize I’d already been thinking about the broader issues of her dilemma. Here’s an abridged version of her message: A friend asked me about cameras. He went shopping last weekend and saw lenses that ranged from $200 to $700. He felt that the lower-end lenses would not work for him, but he wasn’t prepared to spend $700, so he went home. Now…

  • The Best Advice I Ever Got: 40 Great Money Tips (28 comments)

    CNNMoney has posted a gallery of money tips from 40 “great minds”, ranging from Derek Jeter to Tim Ferriss to Burton Malkiel. Each participant provided an anecdote about the best piece of financial advice they ever received. I’ve listed some of the highlights below. Remember: this is the best advice given to these people. It’s the financial advice they feel has made the biggest difference in their lives. Dean Kamen, Segway inventor: “Find work in…

  • Estimate Your Electricity Costs with a Web-Based Calculator (20 comments)

    It’s been a couple years since I mentioned Michael Bluejay’s fantastic Saving Electricity site. It’s a treasure trove of practical tips for household power management. Bluejay offers information on: The difference between natural gas and electric appliances How much electricity costs Electricity myths and much more While doing research for an upcoming post, I discovered Bluejay’s guide to how much electricity different devices use. This single page can answer most of your questions about power…

  • How to Open Multiple Accounts at ING (now Capital One 360) (101 comments)

    One of my favorite saving techniques is the use of targeted accounts. If I want to save for something big — like a Mini Cooper, for example — I’ll open a new savings account specifically for this purpose. I first learned about this method from Robert Pagliarini’s The Six-Day Financial Makeover: Traditionally, most people invested for various vague goals and lumped all of their savings together in a single investment account. That’s pretty boring. It’s…

  • Money Tips from Consumer Reports (19 comments)

    The August 2008 issue of Consumer Reports — one of my favorite personal finance magazines — features two articles that may be of interest to readers of Get Rich Slowly. The first offers tips for cutting expenses. The second gives a brief overview of budgeting. Cut your spending by $500 per month The Consumer Reports Money Lab looked for easy ways for the average American to save money. They came up with six suggestions and…

  • The 13 Commandments of Savvy Consumers (33 comments)

    Last week I wrote about the 2008 Consumer Action Handbook. This freely-available guide from the U.S. government is packed with useful information. I was leafing through the book again this morning before I put it away, and I noticed that the good stuff starts on page one with a list of thirteen quick consumer tips. I’ve transcribed these tips below, quoting verbatim from various sections of the book (which is in the public domain), as…

  • My Paperless Personal Finance System: A Work in Progress (128 comments)

    Last summer, as a part of my quest to get rid of clutter, I began to move toward paperless personal finance. I had planned to share my system only once I’d perfected it, but yesterday Daniel e-mailed to ask for a glimpse of its current state. To go paperless, you might need a scanner (or some other way to convert your documents to digital files). I also recommend using a shredder to dispose of paperwork….

  • Making the Move from Spender to Saver (55 comments)

    I pulled out my camera gear last night. It’s been two years since I used it regularly. Before I started Get Rich Slowly, I seriously considered trying to become a professional photographer. But for a long time now, my camera stuff has been gathering dust in the corner of my office. I can’t even remember the last time I used it. It’s fun to look at all my equipment again. It’s fun to handle it,…

  • How to Stop Junk Mail in Its Tracks (59 comments)

    This article is part of Financial Literacy Month. Most Americans receive a daily flood of junk mail. Some savvy citizens take a stand against the torrent. My friend Pam gets great delight from calling the sender of every catalog she receives in order to be removed from their mailing lists. This works well, but there are easier ways to deal with the problem. Here’s a list of four tools you can use to keep the…

  • Ask the Readers: Energy Conservation Tips? (76 comments)

    Dan wrote with a question unlike any I’ve received before. He lives in Alaska, where the residents of Juneau have been confronted with a sudden energy crisis (more here). Here’s Dan’s story: I am facing a unique energy situation. I live in Juneau, Alaska. Last Wednesday, we had an avalanche which affected the electricity generation within our community. Our energy costs went from $0.11 per kilowatt-hour to $0.50 per kilowatt-hour instantly. Imagine your electricity bill…

  • How One Reader Uses Haggling to Save Big Bucks (66 comments)

    Last week, Jason shared a guest post on how to negotiate to save money. Daylily Diva wrote to share her own experiences, which I’ve reproduced here with permission. I love haggling — it’s second nature to me.  If I’m buying bagged mulch at the garden center and some sacks have small puncture holes,  I negotiate a discount because the sacks are damaged.  I negotiate on everything. For one thing, I’m in the antiques business, and…

  • Use “Reverse Credit” to Stick to Your Budget (75 comments)

    Ralph sent me e-mail last week describing a clever budget trick he picked up from a friend: My wife and I had dinner last night with a couple of of young women we know. We talked a little about personal finance. One of the girls has an interesting idea on forced savings. She calls it “reverse credit”. “When I want to buy something expensive, I go to the store and buy a $20 gift card,”…

  • How to Make Yourself Recession-Proof (12 comments)

    The March 2008 issue of Money has an article by Stephen Gandel about how to recession-proof your life. “We may or may not be entering an official recession,” he writes, “but either way 2008 has gotten off to a scarier start than most anyone predicted.” To lower your anxiety level Gandel recommends that you first learn the facts. Educate yourself about past recessions. Try to avoid the media hype — it will cloud your perspective….

  • Real Simple: Save More, Worry Less (14 comments)

    The March issue of Real Simple magazine contains a great article by Elizabeth Fenner about solving your biggest money worries. She writes: For many of us, “manage finances” is right down there with “clean out the basement” on the bottomless to-do list. We put it off until life is less hectic…Well, help is here. Real Simple polled readers on the financial matters that worry them most, then created a completely doable, low-stress action plan for…

  • How to Handle a Door-to-Door Salesman (182 comments)

    On Saturday morning, a young man knocked at our door. He wanted to sell us new windows. Kris tried to brush him aside gently, but he was persistent. He didn’t leave until he’d scheduled an appointment to give us an hour-long in-home presentation about his company’s product. “We do need storm windows,” Kris told me after he’d gone. “That’s true,” I said. “But I don’t like buying from door-to-door salesmen.” The worst job I ever…

  • How to Quit Your Job Gracefully (54 comments)

    Deb Perelman at eWeek recently shared some advice on how to quit your job with your bridges intact. Too often smart employees let their guard down during their final days, and they do things that may actually damage their career. Perelman polled coaches, recruiters, and workplace experts to create a list of steps that can help you leave your job with class: Be sure you’re making the right choice. Sometimes that dream job isn’t. Do…

  • Proven Methods for Servers to Increase Their Tips (123 comments)

    In 2004 Dr. Michael Lynn, associate professor at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, produced a paper entitled “Mega Tips: Scientifically Tested Techniques to Increase Your Tips” [PDF]. If you work in a restaurant, reading this pamphlet could help you increase your earnings. But if you don’t work in food service, knowing these techniques may help you separate good service from subtle manipulation! Lynn writes: The techniques described [here] were mostly tested in low…

  • Five Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires (42 comments)

    Several people forwarded a recent Reader’s Digest article about the secrets of self-made millionaires. It’s a quick and inspiring read. “Many modern millionaires live in middle-class neighborhoods, work full-time and shop in discount stores like the rest of us,” writes author Kristyn Kusek Lewis. “What motivates them isn’t material possessions but the choices that money can bring.” She goes on to describe five millionaires and the lessons that can be learned from them: Set your…

  • Ten Money-Saving Vacation and Travel Tips (55 comments)

    It’s mid-winter here in Oregon — that bleak, grey time of year when it seems like the rain will never end. When I was young, the winter didn’t bother me. But now that I’m firmly entrenched in middle age, January makes me dream of leaving the cold to travel abroad to warmer destinations like Hawaii, or Mexico — or London. I’ve always wanted to travel, but have never been able to afford it. Last summer,…

  • 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 success? Let’s see if Nick Baxter can help us to find the answer in this short film from 1950: “To…

  • Asking for a Better Financial Future (27 comments)

    This is a guest post from Daiko, who previously shared how to feed yourself on $15 a week. Asking questions can be a powerful tool for developing financial resilience. Two weeks ago, for example, I received an overdraft charge from my bank. My first reaction was to curse and pound my head against the desk, but after taking a deep breath I thought: “Why not ask them to remove the charge?” I called the bank,…

  • How to Buy and Sell Gift Cards (14 comments)

    Did you get a lot of gift cards for Christmas? Would you rather have cash? Would you rather have a card for another store? Richard O. Johnson at the fascinating Beyond Barter has created a page highlighting smart gift card strategies: how to best acquire or dispose of them. This page offers a wealth of sound, practical tips about gift cards, including information on: Why you should beware of bank gift cards Gift card traps…

  • Reader Tip: The Warranty Scam Buster Account (65 comments)

    The one-year warranty on my MacBook Pro expired last week, presenting me with a choice: sign up for an extended warranty or live without it? I’ve never been an extended warranty kind of guy. They’re cash cows for the companies that sell them. Anything that is a cash cow for manufacturers and retailers is generally a poor deal for consumers. According to the Washington Post, $15 billion in warranty premiums were charged to U.S. consumers…

  • How 15 Minutes Saved Me 15% on My Television Bill (58 comments)

    This is a guest post from Stephen Ward, who writes at Project Paradox. Although many frugality experts decry the need for television, my wife and I enjoy it too much to give it up.  That didn’t stop me from getting a better deal, though!  Just the other day, I called up my provider to get my rate reduced.  It took about 15 minutes on the phone to get a rate that was 15% lower.  Here’s…

  • Turning the Tables on Telemarketers (102 comments)

    It’s been an annoying day here at the box factory. November 15th must be some sort of telemarketing celebration day. I’ve been handling three or four calls an hour from these bozos all day long. It drives me nuts. I have little patience for spammers of any sort. Telemarketers are the worst. I have filters that can handle most of the e-mail and blog spam I receive. But there’s no way to filter the telemarketers….

  • Why You SHOULDN’T Prepay Your Monthly Bills (61 comments)

    Earlier today I wrote that I like to prepay my monthly bills. I acknowledged that some people might think this was dumb, but that I liked to do it anyhow. It’s not often that I share something with which GRS readers vehemently disagree. This is one of those rare cases. Because there’s so much opposition to this idea, and because each of these points is valid, I’ve combed the comments to compile a list of…

  • Build Wealth with a “Virtual Employer” (40 comments)

    Here’s the longest “money hack” I’ve ever posted. This is another reader comment from our recent discussion about the transition from “becoming debt-free” to “living debt-free”. In this guest-post from James, who is new to GRS, he describes how he created a “virtual employer” in order to limit his natural spending habits. By playing games with himself, he was able to go from $20,000 in debt to having over a million in savings in just…

  • How to Eat at a Swanky Restaurant Without Blowing Your Monthly Food Budget (81 comments)

    Kris and I joined some friends last weekend for a 40th birthday celebration at Bluehour, a swanky Portland restaurant. While the other couples spent $150 to $250 for their meals, we escaped paying only $52, including tip. We hadn’t planned to do this, but our unintentional parsimony taught us a few ways to save the next time we dine out at a fancy restaurant: Eat a healthy snack before you go to take the edge…

  • Two Quick Kitchen Hacks (19 comments)

    It’s always fun to find new ways to save time and money in the kitchen. Here are two simple ideas to help reduce clutter on the counters. Let the library store your cookbooks During my recent fight to reduce clutter in the house, Kris pointed out that I had a shelf full of cookbooks that I rarely use. “Why don’t we get rid of some of them,” she said. “Do we really need seven Thai…

  • Money-Saving Ideas for Working Parents (18 comments)

    Over at The Dollar Stretcher, Pamela wrote looking for money-saving ideas that won’t burden an overfull schedule: I need some tips from women who work outside the home and drive to a workplace everyday then have to come home after a long work day and take care of house and family. I often can’t use tips from women who stay home because they require too much time. For instance, I don’t have time for gardening….

  • 10 Ways to Build the Habit of Saving Money (52 comments)

    This is a guest post by Mehdi, author of StrongLifts.com. How much do you save? I hope you put money aside. You don’t? Neither did I until a few years ago. How do you become a money saver? I’ll first tell you how you don’t: Not by using discipline or willpower. Discipline and willpower only work in the short-term. What works in the long-term is understanding your spending habits. Once you understand, you can change…

  • An Expert Tip for Saving on Prescription Drugs (29 comments)

    This is a guest post from Shiva, who wrote to offer some advice on how to shop for prescription medicine: don’t assume that the new new stuff is better! I am a general internist — a physician who provides primary care to adult patients — and am on the faculty of a medical school, where I teach medical students and residents. One of my interests is the excess marketing and use of expensive yet marginally effective prescription drugs. I have…

  • Daily Roundup: Tips and Tricks from GRS Readers (9 comments)

    While organizing my text files this afternoon, I stumbled upon a batch of tips and tricks that got lost in the shuffle. Here are some clever ideas submitted by your fellow Get Rich Slowly readers: Russell Heimlich wrote to share his method for organizing bank statements. He uses a three-ring binder, a stapler, and a hole-punch. I really like this method — it reminds me how we handle the finances at work. It’s a vast…

  • In Pursuit of Paperless Personal Finance (66 comments)

    I’m swamped with paper. This is partly because I’m a packrat, but mostly it’s due to the never-ending bills, statements, receipts, policies, and special offers that flood my desk. The paperless office once seemed like a silly goal to me, but lately it’s become a holy grail. Spurred by Leo’s adventures in minimalism and my own desire to get rid of clutter, I’ve begun to explore ways to move my money into the 21st century….

  • How to Find Great Deals on eBay (29 comments)

    My friend Lisa is something of an eBay addict. I’ll be at her house admiring something or other and she’ll smile confidentially and whisper, “I got it off eBay.” She recently showed up at a dinner party wearing a smart cocktail dress. When the other women admired it she smiled confidentially and whispered, “I got it off eBay.” At Christmas she made some crafty little things that amazed and delighted the recipients. When we asked…

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

    This is a guest post from Kim McGrigg of Money Management International, the nation’s largest nonprofit credit and debt counseling firm. I often warn consumers about the little things that can have a big impact on their credit score. Today, I’m in more of a “don’t sweat the small stuff” kind of a mood. It is apparent that some people take this credit reporting stuff very seriously. In fact, one consumer recently took time out…

  • 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…

  • Thrifty Tips from the Yardsale Queen (20 comments)

    This is a guest-post from Chris Heiska, The Yardsale Queen. Some people believe the myth that there’s only junk at yardsales and thrift stores. That is absolutely not true. Buying at yardsales doesn’t necessarily mean that you are buying someone’s used, dirty castoffs. I often find Christmas wrapping paper still attached to the box, or a wedding card tucked inside of a box that was probably a duplicate wedding gift (and now the present that…

  • Career Advice for the College Graduate (28 comments)

    This is a guest post from Lisa Lessley Briscoe. My friend (and fellow Bearcat) Lisa writes: “I was just poking around on GRS (I don’t usually read) and noticed that you’d posted an entry for college graduates recently. Funny how summer rolls around and you start thinking about stuff.” She’s passed along some additional advice for those just entering the workplace. Congratulations, you just graduated from an excellent liberal arts college! You worked incredibly hard…

  • A Yard Sale Checklist: Ten Tips for Garage Sale Prep (59 comments)

    Our annual neighborhood garage sale was held this past weekend. During last year’s sale I offered ten garage sale tips: A group sale is better then selling alone. More stuff draws more traffic. Be prepared. Be ready to go the night before so that you don’t have to rush around in the morning. Plan your sale layout with customers in mind. Use marketing tricks to make your customers more likely to purchase your stuff! Price…

  • Reader Story: Necessity is the Mother of Frugality (34 comments)

    Daniel wrote with the following story: I work across town, which means I have to fill up my tank at least once a week. With the rising cost of gas, this comes to about $50 a week. What can I do, though? Work is too far to walk or ride my bicycle. Recently, while riding my bike, I was hit by a car. After the doc fixed me up I had my arm in a…

  • Optimize Your Bank Accounts with a Periodic Review (2 comments)

    You know that it’s a good idea to ask utility providers for better deals once or twice a year. But did you know that you can apply the same principle to be sure you’re getting the best deal at your bank? If, like me, you still use a brick-and-mortar bank (or credit union), ask your teller to point out any improvements that could be made to your accounts. Every few months, research: Better interest rates…

  • Festival of Frugality #75 (20 comments)

    Welcome to the 75th edition of the Festival of Frugality. Here you’ll find a mass of money-saving tips from 44 different bloggers. I’ve organized the entries into broad subject areas, and noted my favorites with a happy star: . Thanks to everyone who participated! (And tune in next week at Blogging Away Debt where Tricia will host the 76th installment of this roadshow.) The frugal kitchen Vanessa, the Christian Thrifty Mom, shares 8 tips to…

  • Quicken Hacks: 25 Hints, Tips, and Tricks (32 comments)

    I use Quicken to track my personal finances. Back in the olden days, I used Andrew Tobias’ Managing Your Money, but that hasn’t worked on my Macs for nearly a decade. I’d still use it if I could. Quicken on the Mac is a pale comparison to the Quicken on the PC. I feel like I should be able to get more out of the program, so I went on a scavenger hunt, scouring the…

  • Common Money Mistakes and How to Correct Them (3 comments)

    Everyone makes mistakes — it’s a part of being human. But it’s those who learn to minimize their mistakes who are able to fight debt and to build wealth. Paul L. forwarded a Reuters article by Linda Stern that explores common money mistakes and gives advice on how to fix them. Stern warns that if you have chronic money problems, you’re basically subsidizing those that don’t: Not everyone handles their money badly. [...] But some…

  • How to Fight the Urge to Splurge (42 comments)

    Today I stopped by the local electronics store to look at microphones and headphones. I didn’t intend to buy anything, but after a half hour browsing I found myself in line holding $170 of gadgets. I had fallen into an old trap: I was about to buy on impulse. Back in my salad days, I was the Master of Impulse Shopping. If I stopped at a store, I left with more than I had intended….

  • Last Minute Tax Tips (15 comments)

    Because I love a big tax refund, I filed my return long ago, received the money, and used it to pay down debt. But like many people, my cousin Nick hasn’t even started. He doesn’t get a refund, so he waits until April to do his taxes. He’s been skulking around the office for the past week muttering, “I need to start my taxes,” and, “You should write an entry reminding people to start their…

  • 7 Essential Skills to Protect Yourself from Scammers (19 comments)

    Sabino sent me an MSNBC article about the unfolding subprime lending crisis. The piece provides a glimpse at the deceptive practices used to prey on people like Kerrie Russo, who chose to refinance her mortgage on a promise of lower payments. When she failed to read her loan documents closely, she found herself deep in expanding debt. Though the mortgage broker lured her into this loan, she signed the papers. Because she didn’t know how…

  • Frugal Easter Egg Decorating Tips (19 comments)

    Tina sent in a timely article from The Dollar Stretcher, one of the oldest and best money-saving sites on the web. (It’s been around since 1996, and looks like its design hasn’t changed since!) Jenny Wanderscheid has some suggestions for creating Easter decorations with stuff you probably have in your kitchen. Wanderscheid’s recipe for naturally-dyed Easter eggs: Put eggs in a single layer in a pan. Pour water in pan until the eggs are covered….

  • Save Money with Your Feet! (22 comments)

    Tiara wrote with the following money hack: This is aimed at people who generally drive or take public transport to work/university/etc, but who could easily cycle or walk the same distance. Each time you cycle/walk instead of driving/using public transport to your destination, pay yourself the equivalent fare. If it costs you $2 for a bus to the city, for example, and you’ve decided to walk there instead, keep the $2 in a savings box….

  • 10 Reasons You Aren’t Rich (31 comments)

    A couple of readers forwarded Jeffrey Strain’s list of 10 reasons you aren’t rich. It’s a fine piece, though it takes a negative approach. Sometimes we need to hear the negative. Strain’s ten reasons (with my commentary): You care what your neighbors think. It’s not a competition. Who cares if your best friend just bought a BMW? What does it matter that your sister dresses her kids in designer clothes? You know what’s best. Live…

  • Ten Red-Flags That Lead to IRS Audits (32 comments)

    The latest issue of Money magazine has an article by Donna Rosato on how to file a tax return that won’t raise red flags with the IRS. Rosato writes: Some 12 percent of people admit they think it’s acceptable to cheat on their taxes. No wonder IRS Commissioner Mark Everson has made it his top priority to go after those who shortchange the government. These few bad seeds can spell trouble for you, even if…

  • How to Organize Your Finances in Four Easy Steps (22 comments)

    You’ve heard that to take control of you finances you sould track every penny you spend. You’d like to try this, but it sounds like such a pain. There’s so much paperwork involved. You lose receipts. You forget when bills are due. It’s hard enough making sure the bare necessities are tackled — who has time to track every penny? I’ve been there. My financial life used to be a mess. Whenever a bill was…

  • Save Money with a Magazine Exchange (18 comments)

    One magazine subscription isn’t expensive, but when you take more than a few, the costs can add up quickly. I’ve been addicted to magazines in the past, and I know how easy it is to oversubscribe. When you take so many magazines that you can’t read them all, you’re essentially throwing your money away. One way to keep subscription costs down — no matter how many you have — is to share the expense via…

  • 24 Craigslist Tips, Tricks, and Resources (42 comments)

    Yesterday The Consumerist pointed to a couple of Curbly posts about how to buy stuff on Craigslist [one, two]. These articles have some good tips, but I think there’s more to say. My Craigslist experience Cragislist is one of the seven wonders of the internet. You can use it to find a job, buy a car, get a date for Saturday night, and sell that old couch. The site is free to use for almost…

  • Personal Finance Sites from Around the World (41 comments)

    A couple months ago a reader solicited recommendations for good non-U.S. personal finance sites. We couldn’t come up with many. Since then I’ve watched for personal finance sites from around the world. This is the first of what I hope will be a series of posts collecting such places. I’ll continue to collect links, and every few months I’ll post the revised list here. (Or perhaps I’ll create a separate page for this list.) If…

  • The Cost-Per-Day Expense Chart (25 comments)

    Elizabeth has a lifehack that allows her to manage both money and space. She writes: “This helped me curb my lifestyle choices when I was in high school and first on my own.” Here is her guest entry. Possessions scare me. My parents are pack-rats, and their house is full of things that have no right to be there. Desk space is taken up by dirty coffee cups, stacks of notebooks, and priceless, irreplaceable piles…

  • 10 Ways to Save Money on Books (76 comments)

    I used to spend thousands of dollars a year on books, most of which I never read. Recently I’ve begun to trim my book spending. I spent nearly $3000 on books in 2003, but that number dropped to $700 last year. How did I do it? Through self-discipline and some commonsense tricks. Avoid new releases New releases sell at a premium. Sometimes you can get them cheap at Costco or Amazon. It’s best to avoid…

  • Custom Movie Listings with RSS (15 comments)

    Kris and I went to see The Queen yesterday at a local second-run movie house. It’s an older theater, and it reminds me of the places we used to go when I was a kid. It’s clean, cozy, and the snacks are reasonably priced. Parking is easy. “Why don’t we come here more often?” I asked after the film. “I don’t know,” she said. “I guess it’s because we never know what’s playing here.” She’s…

  • How I Bought My House With Very Little Of My Own Money (13 comments)

    Susan at +amateur christian+ has some advice for first-time homebuyers — spend some time to search for grants, and you might be able to get into a home without spending a fortune. Two years ago I closed escrow on my very first home purchase. I did it with almost no money of my own, thanks to some free money programs I qualified for. Some friends have been showing interest in doing the same thing, so…

  • The Regift: Friend or Foe? (7 comments)

    Christmas is over. You received some thoughtful presents, but also got some duds. That collection of cooking spices from your Aunt Madge? You hate to cook! Here’s some sage advice from Marie, a self-confessed re-gifting addict. Regifting has a tarnished reputation in today’s consumer-driven society. Perhaps it’s driven by businesses hoping to convince us to spend more money, or by a misguided quest to shower our loved ones with extravagances we can’t really afford, or…

  • Want to Save Money? Just Ask! (8 comments)

    Wrapping up “ask for it” day, 2 Pennies Earned suggests that if you want to save money, you should just ask! In the last two years, I’ve been given two weeks’ free rent, received several hundred dollars in bonuses from financial institutions, doubled the size of my apartment while lowering my monthly rent, and increased my gross income dramatically. I’m amazed at the things you can get in life by just asking for what you…

  • Reader Story: Ask to Save! (2 comments)

    Jac recently wrote to share a success story — he managed to get a bank to drop some fees simply by asking! I’m currently on a six month exchange in France. I opened a new account with Westpac (Australia) before I left because they offered free international ATM withdrawals with a set of banks. Recently I went through my online statements adding up all the fees I’d been charged, and it came to ~$45 in…

  • Learn to Save by Taxing Yourself (11 comments)

    Vincent forwarded a link to a guide about how to buy nothing, which offers seventeen steps for resisting the urge to splurge. It’s a good list of techniques to reduce spending — leave the money at home, stick to a budget, buy quality — but what caught Vincent’s eye is the last trick in the list: Tax yourself. Every time you make a purchase over $10 (or $50, or whatever limit you choose), take 10%…

  • How One College Student Handles Credit Cards (25 comments)

    I’ve been blown away by your responses to the new Ask the Readers feature, especially to yesterday’s question about what do do if you have no credit history. Here’s a story Derek e-mailed me about his first-hand experience safely building his credit score. I am a college student, and I have a credit card. My parents and I have worked out a system for protecting me from possible credit card debt. Our system only worked…

  • Cheap Ways to Stay Warm this Winter (52 comments)

    Winter weather has arrived in Oregon — it’s rainy and cold. This time of year, Kris and I search for ways to keep warm. A lot of guides to saving money on heating contain impractical advice: “consider heating with solar energy!”. They offer good suggestions for the long-term, but they aren’t useful if you want to save money now. Here are some frugal ways we stay warm in our drafty old house. Let in some…

  • Five Fantastic Frugal Tips for Christmas (13 comments)

    In my recent Christmas article, I asked you to submit your favorite ideas for saving money during the holidays. Your suggestions were great. Among the best were these (which I’ve edited slightly): Samuel’s tip: “Give your ‘favorite things’ as gifts. Find items you love and use everyday, then share these with others. By giving favorite things, the focus is on sharing things you like rather than how much you spent. For example, my ‘favorite thing’…

  • Reminder: Enter the Get-Rich-Slowly Holiday Tips Contest (6 comments)

    What are your favorite ways to save money during the holidays? Check out the amazing frugal Christmas savings spectacular for your chance to win one of two subscriptions to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. Sunday night I will select my two favorite tips from the comments to that entry. (Kris has informed me that she will be helping me choose the winners.) The winners will each receive a one-year subscription to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. (You’ll need…

  • Warning: Identity Theft Doesn’t Stop During the Holidays (5 comments)

    Randy at Parable of the Talents warns that identity theft doesn’t stop during the holidays. In fact, it’s likely that crooks are more active than ever! I recently received an email that I thought was from my bank asking for some information because supposedly my online bank account access had been compromised.  The email looked like it was officially from my bank and at the time I was busy multi-tasking so I was not completely…

  • The Amazing Frugal Christmas Savings Spectacular! (52 comments)

    Look for the first-ever Get Rich Slowly contest at the end of this entry! HO HO HO! I had intended to post a series of articles on how to save money at Christmas, but they’ve taken longer to write than I expected. Now it’s a little late to leak them out one at a time. Instead, I’ve bunched the information together into a colossal tip-filled extravaganza! Here are some great ways to save money while…

  • Ramit’s Guide to Kicking Ass (4 comments)

    Ramit of I Will Teach You to Be Rich has just published his first ebook: Ramit’s 2007 Guide to Kicking Ass. This little gem features six original essays from Ramit and four from guest authors. (I contributed a piece called “Money Day”, of which I’m rather proud.) The book’s contents include: Who Has the Most Frugal Family? — Crazy stories of extreme frugality. The Key to Running a Great Project — It’s all about momentum….

  • Track Your Spending with a Cash Notebook (25 comments)

    I had dinner with my friend TJ tonight. He paid for his meal with cash. After we’d settled the check, he pulled out a small spiral notebook and jotted down some numbers. “What’s that?” I asked. “I’ve started using a notebook to keep track of what I spend,” he told me. “Whenever I pay in cash, I write it down. Otherwise I don’t have any idea where it goes.” “That’s a great idea,” I said….

  • Keep Track of Food with a Leftovers List (17 comments)

    I never remember what we have in the fridge. We’ll make a pot roast for Sunday dinner, and store several servings of leftovers. But once they’re in Tupperware and tucked out of sight, they’re as good as gone to me. A month later, I’ll find a container filled with rancid beef. Wasting leftovers increases food costs, so I’ve been struggling to find a method to aid my memory. Tonight I had an inspiration — I…

  • How to Get the Most Out of a College Job (11 comments)

    A college job can be a chore. Or it can be the doorway to future success. The choice is yours. I asked Michael Hampton, director of career development for Western Oregon University, for advice on how college students should approach work. What should they look for in a job? What should they try to get out of it? Are college jobs really that important? We drafted the following seven tips, which we believe can help…

  • 8 Ways to Make Bill-Paying Easier (17 comments)

    My friend Mike is well-off. He lives alone, makes a good salary, invests wisely, and doesn’t spend money on foolish endeavors. Yet he often gets charged late fees. Why? Because he’s disorganized. He brings his bills home, throws them on the table, and they get lost under a mass of paper during the weeks that follow. When he remembers his bills, he pays the late fees, and sends extra money to cover the next few…

  • Save Money by Asking for a Lower Rate (9 comments)

    GRS-reader Fritz writes with a money-saving tip: I just wanted to share a way I saved some money on my digitalphone bill. I live in Wisconsin and have TimeWarner cable TV/Internet/digital phone service. The phone service costs $39.99 a month with unlimited long distance calls in the US. I thought it was a good deal when I signed up for it a year ago. Since then I have been thinking about switching to Vontage since…

  • 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 it’s handy and prevents you from accumulating new pennies — is this: Carry around four pennies with you at all…

  • Track Every Penny You Spend (46 comments)

    I struggled with debt for years. I couldn’t get a handle on where my money went. I made a decent wage, but I was always broke! Where did I spend it all? Then I read Your Money or Your Life and heeded the book’s advice to “keep track of every cent that comes into or goes out of your life”. The results were startling. What does it mean to keep track of every penny you…

  • How to Find an Accountant (10 comments)

    I am not a financial expert. I’m just an average guy who wants to improve his personal finances while helping others to improve theirs. I feel comfortable giving general advice, but sometimes people write with specific questions that can only be answered by a qualified financial professional. Some questions are best answered by a lawyer, an accountant, or a financial planner. What do I mean by that? How does one find professional help? To find…

  • Survey: Money and Marriage (22 comments)

    Here’s an excellent question from a Get Rich Slowly reader. While I try my best to “get rich slowly” I have one huge issue: a husband. My husband likes to spend money. I’m referred to as the “Thrifty One Who Won’t Allow Me To Buy Stuff” and he’s referred to as “That Jerk Who Buys Stuff”. Do you have any advice for couples that need to have the other half put on a strict budget…

  • The Personal Finance HOW-TO Library (1 comment)

    JLP at All Financial Matters has masterminded another outstanding community project. By recruiting contributions from other money bloggers, he’s crafted a library of personal finance HOW-TOs. These are guides to performing all sorts of common tasks, from starting an IRA to selling a used car, from calculating net worth to teaching kids about money. The personal finance HOW-TO library currently contains 93 individual entries from two dozen contributors in categories such as: Retirement planning Automobiles…

  • Control Impulse Spending with the 30-Day Rule (48 comments)

    I made a trip to Costco to buy business supplies last week. While browsing the software, I spotted the latest version of Quicken. I picked up the box and looked at the list of new features. I felt that urge creep upon me — the urge to spend. “Maybe the Mac version is out, too,” I thought. “I should stop by Fry’s to check.” Then I thought of the $50 it would cost to upgrade….

  • The Only Credit Card Guide You’ll Ever Need (23 comments)

    I don’t like credit cards. They’re a dangerous trap, especially for the young. Many smart people disagree with me, though, and have learned to use credit cards to their advantage. This guide provides solid credit card information so that you can make smart choices. I’ve structured this as a series of questions and answers. There’s sure to be a lot missing. Please let me know what else should be included here, and I’ll add it….

  • A College Education for $10 a Course (17 comments)

    Here’s a tip for getting a variety of college-level courses for cheap. Dirt cheap. This may be the best tip I have ever shared. I encourage you to read the entire entry. The Teaching Company The Teaching Company produces college-level courses from renowned instructors and sells them via catalog. We bring engaging professors into your home or car through courses on DVD, CD, audio, and other formats. Since 1990, great teachers from the Ivy League,…

  • 10 Expert Tips for Saving on Car Insurance (18 comments)

    My friend Lynn works for a major U.S. insurance company. I recently asked her for tips to help people save money on auto insurance. I expected maybe a few quick ideas, but she went above-and-beyond with the following detailed list. If you own a car, you should read these tips. For readability’s sake, I haven’t blockquoted this, but it’s all Lynn. Note that every insurance company is different — not all of these ideas work…

  • Tricks for Tracking Your Money? (13 comments)

    We all know that we should track our spending, but not everyone actually does. How does one develop this discipline? One AskMetafilter user pleads: Do you have any tricks to ensure that you track your money? I would like to track what I spend and what I spend it on. I have software to do this, but I hardly ever use it. I’m looking for more of a software-independent way of thinking about my cash…

  • Tips for Financial Independence (4 comments)

    Yesterday I described how Financial Independence is the goal of many frugal folks. We live cheaply, work hard, and save until we reach a point where we can pursue our dreams without concern for money. Mark Gallagher has posted ten tips for financial independence and a good life. Keep your life simple. He suggests that this is best done by being very careful with the big decisions in your life: career, marriage, etc. Learn what…

  • How I Finally Defeated Dandruff (91 comments)

    Here’s a tip I cannot believe I’m sharing in public. For years I’ve battled dandruff. I mean I’ve had it bad. Recently it’s reached nightmarish proportions — my scalp was like North Dakota in January. I tried all sorts of remedies. I tried Selsun Blue. I tried Head and Shoulders. I tried Denorex. Nothing worked. I even tried not washing my hair at all. That didn’t help the dandruff and just created the added grossness…

  • A Cheaper Cup of Coffee (20 comments)

    David Bach likes to refer to the latte factor — that daily indulgence you can’t resist. For many people, it’s a cup of premium coffee from Starbucks (or a local coffee stand). These people love their coffee, and they’re willing to pay for it. Bach notes that many people think they cannot afford to make investments, but they routinely spend $5/day on a latte (or on comic books or on lunch). That $5/day is roughly…

  • Frugality in Practice: At the Movies (12 comments)

    It’s the peak of the summer movie season. What’s a frugal person to do? Ticket prices are outrageous, and food prices are worse. $3.50 for a package of Twizzlers? Give me a break! In the comments to Wednesday’s The Hidden Fee Econcomy, Rhea suggested: “Always bring your own water or soda to the movie theater.” This is excellent advice. Why pay $3.00 for a bottle of water when you can bring your own for 25…

  • Financial Advice from a Founding Father (1 comment)

    In celebration of Independence Day, I’ve gathered some personal finance advice from Benjamin Franklin, one of our Founding Fathers. Franklin was witty, wise, and eminently practical. He was a master of thrift and frugality. Nearly three hundred years later, his advice is still worth heeding. “A penny saved is a penny earned.” “Buy what thou hast no need of and ere long thou shalt sell thy necessities.” “Beware of little expenses. A small leak will…

  • Free Online Coupon Codes (11 comments)

    Currentcodes.com is a clearing-house for coupon codes offered by online retailers. Hundreds of well-known online stores like Barnes and Noble, Staples, and Amazon.com have a place within their shopping cart for a “coupon code” that gives a percent or dollar amount off your purchase. If you don’t know the code, you can’t take advantage of the discount. You can find these secret discount codes and coupon codes listed on many sites across the internet but…

  • Tip: Pay Your Bills as They Arrive (16 comments)

    Here’s a tip that can pay big dividends: Pay your bills as they arrive. This helps financially and psychologically. I get paid twice a month. Because I used to live paycheck-to-paycheck, I paid my bills twice a month, too. Although I now have a buffer of savings, it’s only recently that I’ve discovered the advantages of paying my bills as they come in rather than waiting until they’re due: It saves time. Rather than spend…

  • Garage Sale Bargains (3 comments)

    After browsing dozens of garage sales over the weekend, it’s apparent there are some items that you shouldn’t buy new. You can find all of the following at garage sales for cheap: Exercise equipment and sporting goods. Baseball bats and gloves, bicycles, golf clubs, ski machines — all this and more Blenders. Bread machines. People like the idea of a bread machine, but it’s an appliance that rarely gets used. If you are a breadmaker,…

  • Tip: Citrus Ice Cubes (4 comments)

    It’s summer in Oregon — warm weather is approaching. A cool, refreshing cocktail is an excellent way to unwind after a hot day’s work. Many cocktails call for a little lime juice or lemon juice. Here’s an easy way to prepare your portions in advance while also saving time and money. Buy lemons (or limes) when they’re on sale. Get them cheap. Squeeze one cup of lemon juice. Pour the juice into an ice cube…

  • Parent Hacks (1 comment)

    Are you frugal? Do you have young children? Could you use some tips on how to make parenting less work and more fun? Parent Hacks is a “collaborative weblog of practical parenting wisdom”. In other words, it’s like Lifehacker for moms and dads. Parent Hacks is a collaborative weblog that collects parents’ tips, recommendations, workarounds, and bits of wisdom — their hacks — in a single pot so we can all partake. Here’s the stuff…

  • General Investment Tips (2 comments)

    Matt’s General Investing Tips reflect common investment wisdom as I understand it. There is nothing new or shocking here. This is mainstream investment advice. If you’re looking for an introduction to the various investment vehicles, Matt does an excellent job summarizing the pros and cons of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Matt stresses several factors: It is not possible to outguess the market. “If you see a piece of news in the media you should…

  • Saving Electricity: How to Reduce Your Energy Costs (17 comments)

    How much electricity does your computer use? Your refrigerator? Your washer and dryer? Do you know how to save money on water heating costs? Michael Bluejay‘s guide to saving electricity answers these questions and more. Bluejay calls himself “Mr. Electricity” — the title is apt! My guide on Saving Electricity gives you a bit more than you might get elsewhere. I explain exactly what a kilowatt hour is and how much you pay for one….

  • How to Extend the Life of Your Car (4 comments)

    The true cost of car ownership is greater than most people suspect. But you can get more life out your vehicle, can reduce your cost per mile, by following a few simple suggestions. eHow offers twelve tips to extend the life of your car. Change the oil regularly. If you’re frugal and handy, do it yourself. Otherwise pay somebody to do it every few thousand miles. (Check your owners manual for recommended intervals.) See also:…

  • Cheap and Effective Ways to Make Life Easier (7 comments)

    “What are some cheap and effective ways to make life easier?” asks a Metafilter user. I only buy one kind of socks. This means I don’t have to match them up when doing laundry, never stress about where the extra one in a pair went, and getting dressed is easier in the morning. I also switched to using plastic cups for nearly all beverages. Since most of the time I was running the dishwasher it…

  • My Frugal Life (1 comment)

    Dawn at Frugal for Life has posted a collection of links to stories of frugality. ThriftyFun recently ran (and is still running) a series called My Frugal Life. It is a nice assortment of different people who give a quick run down of what makes their life frugal. I have linked to all of them I have found so far. I found them enjoyable and I think you will as well. My favorites are: Tips…

  • How To Acquire a Good Entry-Level Job (3 comments)

    Not everyone is ready to aim for a $100,000 job. On AskMetafilter, a user writes: I need to find some sort of long-term employment that will put me on my way to establishing financial independence from my family and also provide me with meaningful work experience. This is made difficult as I am eighteen, I only have a GED, and my resume leaves much to be desired. I do not have any prior work or…

  • How to Get a Job Paying More Than $100,000 (5 comments)

    I’ve written a lot about how you can save money, about how frugality and thrift can help you to get rich slowly. But another way to save more than you earn is to increase your income. Paul’s Tips offers a guide to getting a job that pays more than $100,000 a year. How do people get themselves into a position of earning good incomes at young ages? Why do some people work hard for minimum…

  • The Hillbilly Housewife (5 comments)

    In response to recent posts on eating cheaply (Healthy Food on an Unhealthy Budget and Learning to Eat More Meals at Home), several readers have pointed to a site called Hillbilly Housewife. The focus here is on low-cost, home-cooking from scratch. The recipes are all tested in a real kitchen with hungry children, stalking cats, begging puppies and a playful husband underfoot. The ingredients are affordable and readily available in most areas. There is a…

  • Life After Graduation (7 comments)

    David Bach, author of The Automatic Millionaire, has some tips for a great life after graduation. Choose your life — “You don’t get what you wish for in life, you get what you go for.” Make things happen. Choose your life — don’t let it happen to you. Be responsive. Follow your plan — “Don’t blindly follow the expectations of your parents, professors, or mentors. Their beliefs are based on their life experience, not yours….

  • Save Money With Magazines (5 comments)

    How much do you spend each month on newspapers and magazines? How many of these do you actually read? Would you miss any if you cancelled the subscriptions? There’s something comforting about curling up in your favorite chair on a Sunday afternoon with copies of National Geographic and The New Yorker. Some magazines — Cook’s Illustrated, Fine Woodworking — can be collected as a valuable reference library. But magazines can be expensive, especially if you…

  • Essential Gear for a Bike Commute (5 comments)

    Many people who live frugal lifestyles swear by alternative transportation. They ride mass transit. They commute by bicycle. They walk. Many don’t even own a car. Summer is approaching. Maybe you have considered biking to work. But what sort of gear do you need? An AskMetafilter user wondered the same thing: What’s the essential gear for bike commuting? I’ll be commuting to work by bike, and I’d like to know what’s considered the essential gear,…

  • How to Slash Summer Energy Costs (1 comment)

    SmartMoney has some ideas on how to save money on energy this summer. Typically, the average household spends $1,400 a year on electricity and gas, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. But you can expect that amount to jump this year — by as much as 120%, warns Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy. To save money, SmartMoney suggests that you: Upgrade to energy-efficient appliances. Energy-efficient appliances are generally more expensive, but…

  • More Lessons from ‘Why We Buy’ (3 comments)

    As promised, here are some final thoughts on Paco Underhill’s Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping. In my previous entry about using this book to learn to spend less, I discussed how the more time a person spends in a store, the more money he’s likely to spend. Remembering that, check out the following stats: Here’s the actual breakdown of average shopping time from a study we performed at once branch a national housewares…

  • How to Spend Less – Lessons From ‘Why We Buy’ (13 comments)

    Do you want to spend less at the store? In Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, author Paco Underhill gives some indirect insights into how consumers can win the retail battle. Here are some easy changes you can make to help reduce your spending: Spend less time in stores. Underhill writes, “The amount of time a shopper spends in a store (assuming he or she is shopping, not waiting in line) is perhaps the…

  • 12 Financial Tips for Women (2 comments)

    Dana Bratch has created a list of twelve financial tips for women. While neither gender has an exclusive lock on money management skills, the financial deck is stacked against women. They earn about three-quarters of what men make. In a divorce, they get less of the assets and more of the children. They live longer, and one in eight elderly women lives in poverty, compared to one in 12 men, according to 2003 figures from…

  • My eBay Method: 13 Steps to Profitable Auctions (73 comments)

    A few weeks ago I linked to Stephen Smith’s guide to selling stuff on eBay. Today I’ll share some tips of my own. In February I sold $1500 of geek goods to raise money so that I could make accelerated debt payments. My auctions consistently fetched more money than concurrent auctions for similar items. Something about my method works. I recommend the following steps: Research the hell out of each item you post. Dig through…

  • What I Wish I Knew Then About Home Buying (5 comments)

    Laura Rowley at Yahoo! Finance has written an excellent piece on buying a house. I felt inspired to write a letter to the home buyer I was four years ago, when I purchased my first single-family home with no small amount of dread and foreboding. Rowley offers opinions and advice on a wide range of subjects. She would tell her younger self that: The real estate agent works for you; don’t be afraid to ask…

  • Ten Garage Sale Tips (17 comments)

    We’re in the midst of the annual neighborhood garage sale, which makes it difficult to find time to post. I have drawn up some garage sale tips, though. This isn’t everything you need to know, but it’s a start: A group sale is better than selling alone. If you can coordinate a weekend with your neighbors, you will draw more traffic. Our street has a sale every May. My neighbor Al places an ad in…

  • Six Steps to Learning Difficult Subjects Quickly (5 comments)

    Throughout our lives we encounter situations where we need to acquire new skills. Sometimes it’s nice to have a method for acquiring the basics quickly. Paul’s Tips has a technique for learning difficult subjects quickly. Here’s a strategy I’ve found useful for learning dry and difficult material quickly. At various times, I’ve used it to build up my knowledge of subjects like economics, investing, writing and computer programming languages. Some people have been surprised at…

  • A Brief Guide to Better Sleep (7 comments)

    Consumerism Commentary has posted a two-part guide to improved sleep, explaining that good sleep is one of the best free investments you can make in yourself. I spent much of last year on a quest for improved sleep, and eventually found it. Here’s how. In The Owner’s Manual for the Brain, Pierce J. Howard summarizes sleep research with the following lists: To get to sleep more quickly: Consume dairy products (the warmer the better). Avoid…

  • Ten Ways to Drive Down Your Car Insurance (4 comments)

    I certainly don’t intend to turn this into a “how to save money on transportation” blog, but there’s a lot of interest and information out there right now due to increased gasoline costs. Suze Orman has a list of ten ways to drive down your car costs. These are all methods of reducing your auto insurance costs, and they include: Boost your deductible — a higher deductible produces lower costs. Get less mileage out of…

  • What Really Saves Gas? And How Much? (1 comment)

    Gas prices seem to reached a plateau at around $3.00/gallon for regular unleaded in the Portland area, but they’re expected to rise again before summer. With the high gas prices, people begin to look for ways to achieve better fuel economy. Edmunds.com has an article from last fall that seems more useful now: What really saves gas? And how much? All we did was take several of the most common tips out there and put…

  • The Stuff We Do and Don’t Buy For Ourselves (1 comment)

    Earlier this week I posted an entry about how to buy nothing. At his wonderful 43 Folders, Merlin Mann has shared his technique for fending off mindless purchases. I have a [...] “buy me stuff” capture device, but more for the purpose of outgassing my brain’s frequently mindless consumer pollution. My file is called “crap I just don’t need.txt,” and I have fended off many ridiculous purchases just by parking the desired item there. Just…

  • The Best Time to Buy (0 comment)

    When is the best time to buy a house? A car? Airline tickets? Did you even realize there were best times to buy certain items? According to CNNMoney, you can save a lot if you know the best times buy certain popular items. For example: Airline tickets Buy on Wednesday. Buy domestic tickets at least two weeks in advance, and even earlier for international flight. If you can’t wait, then buy tickets just a couple…

  • Tips on Saving Gas (2 comments)

    Today’s Sound Money Tip is a list of common-sense ways to improve your gas mileage: Keep your vehicle in good repair. Check and replace your air filter at regular intervals. Keep your tires properly inflated. Use the recommended grade of motor oil. You can further improve fuel economy by driving at a constant, moderate speed. Many people have forgotten that the old nation-wide maximum speed limit of 55mph was a government-mandated measure designed to impose…

  • Organizing Tax Documents (1 comment)

    When preparing taxes, one challenge is collecting all of the necessary documents. Tax-related papers flow into a home at all times of the year, not just in the spring. It’s easy to lose important papers. I’ve found a method to eliminate the headache completely. I have a bill-paying area at my desk: a small cubby-hole specifically designated for bills, financial statements, and receipts. Each January I take a small manilla envelope and label it —…

  • What is a Reasonable Offer for a New Car? (3 comments)

    New automobiles are generally poor investments for a number of reasons. That’s a topic for another post. Some people don’t want the hassle of buying a used car, or prefer the features of a new model. If you’re going to buy a new car, how much should you pay? There’s some great advice to be found in this AskMetafilter thread, including the obvious “check with Consumer Reports“. When we bought my wife’s Civic a decade…

  • How to Find Garage Sale Gold (6 comments)

    Here are two lists of tips for buying at garage sales. First, PR Leap offers Five Myths of Garage Sales (and how they are keeping you from finding garage sale gold). The five myths are: Stuff at garage sales has all been used. It’s true that much of the stuff for sale at garage sales has been used, but it’s generally in good condition. There’s also a lot of stuff that is brand-new. When we…

  • Leave Your ATM Card at Home (2 comments)

    Liz Pulliam Weston suggests that you may want to consider using cash instead of a debit card. Weston admits that debit cards offer plenty of advantages, including: They’re convenient. They’re easier to track. They may offer some protection. They may offer some rewards. Despite these advantages, she suggests that it may be better to move to a cash-only system. It’s just too easy to overspend with a debit card. She cites one family that uses…

  • Confessions of a Car Salesman (2 comments)

    What really goes on in the back rooms of car dealerships across America? What does the car salesman do when he leaves you sitting in a sales office and goes to talk with his boss? What are the tricks salespeople use to increase their profit and how can consumers protect themselves from overpaying? Find answers to these questions and more in Confessions of a Car Salesman at edmunds.com. Edmunds sent one of their new hires…

  • Cheap Moving Boxes (2 comments)

    Today’s Sound Money Tip is about saving when moving. When it comes to moving, most people buy their boxes from the movers because of the convenience factor. If you think ahead a bit, you can get your moving boxes for free by asking at stores (I’ve always had great success with stationary and office supply stores). If you a haven’t thought ahead or don’t feel like making the effort to find boxes for free, you…