dcsimg

House & Home


  • How to save for a down payment on a house fast (58 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Robert Brokamp.

    My wife and I didn’t wait too long after our wedding to create a family. We were parents one week before our first anniversary. Our apartment was too small for a third human, so we endeavored to buy a house. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a lot of cash on hand since we moved from Florida to Virginia six weeks before we got married, and we footed…

  • Thank You, Fate! (9 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Robert Brokamp.

    Most of us think of Thanksgiving as an American tradition. But it was most likely brought over by English settlers, since such holidays existed in the Old World and elsewhere for centuries. It began as a harvest festival – a way to thank the heavens for the edible plants on earth. The folks of yore recognized that, even if they toiled like nobody’s business, each year’s…

  • Ask the readers: Are home security systems worth the money? (57 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. The small, rectangular ceramic flower pots I kept in the two window sills of my bathroom had never budged an inch in the 14 years I owned the home, but one day I saw that one was close to falling out onto the counter below. I wondered if a small earthquake had caused it to move as I pushed it back in place. About a week later, I…

  • How not to approach rising home prices (33 comments)

    This article is by staff writer William Cowie. My wife and I took the dog for a walk the other day in our neighborhood. About half a block up the street we met Heather and George as they were unloading one of those moving PODS thingies. We introduced ourselves and asked their life’s story, or at least the part about buying the house they were moving into. Turns out they were buying something better than…

  • Looking out for your finances as a renter (26 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Landlords and property owners have their fair share of problems: They have to manage, accommodate, repair, etc., their property. It’s a lot of responsibility, and with great responsibility comes great headache. But it ain’t all roses for renters, either. We’ve got rent increases, security deposits, and unannounced, inescapable construction. Last Saturday, I woke up to the sound of drilling on the wall next to which I sleep….

  • Challenging traditional measures of financial success: Homeownership (155 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. (This is Part II in a series about challenging traditional measures of financial success. Part I is The “Ivory Tower”: Reconsidering the college investment. Part III is The 9-to-5 job: Challenging how we earn a living.) Last week, I was having dinner with my neighbor, a magnetic woman with a free spirit and a really youthful soul. She’s been renting the apartment above mine for something like…

  • 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?…

  • Honey progress report: Big change edition (21 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Well, the last couple of months have been a pretty wild ride in The Honeycomb. We moved out of our old place and concluded our experience with Cash for Keys, we bought a house and moved, and I am experimenting with a new student loan payoff strategy. Let’s explore each of these big changes a bit further, shall we? Big change 1: The culmination of “Cash for…

  • Foreclosure from the tenant’s perspective: Honey’s story (32 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith. In November, we thought we’d reached the last straw in terms of the condo we have been renting. We’d had numerous problems with our place and our landlord (namely, not fixing things when they broke — major or minor). However we ultimately decided that, although the right choice wasn’t obvious, there were too many aspects of our lives up in the air to move at that moment. Then, on…

  • Charity, hobby, or mistake? The cat we didn’t keep (61 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Jake and I have two cats and a dog. To us, having pets is one of the most important aspects of our lives and identity. You might even consider it a hobby. Unfortunately, it is a hobby that, as you will see, has not always been entirely strategic. Our love for animals has permeated much of our lives. I’ve been vegetarian for over a decade, and Jake was…

  • Why home prices are climbing again, and what you should do about it (29 comments)

    This article is by staff writer William Cowie. Chances are home prices in your neighborhood have been rising lately. Strangely enough, that only made the news when, for last November, Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller index of home prices in 20 top cities fell the grand total of 0.1 percent. The Federal Reserve tracks a national composite home price index for the country, which looks like this: Home price index since 1987 (all data available) Is this…

  • Maximizing your dollar: Renovating a historic house for the rental market (6 comments)

    This story comes from Anastasia Mann. Anastasia Mann is an associate at Trimark Properties, a leading provider of historic house rentals, student housing and apartments in Gainesville, FL. To check out their historic infill developments, visit their website. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want to submit your own reader…

  • Before and after: A $6 ceiling fan makeover (46 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Being a homeowner is expensive. Correction: Being a homeowner who wants to tear out and replace everything in the house is expensive. But my home is also my hobby. It’s one of those expenses that falls into the “needs list” (shelter) and the “wants list” (my complete kitchen remodel). Living in aesthetically pleasing surroundings puts me at ease almost as much as a really mean massage, the kind…

  • 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…

  • Home remodeling — when you can’t (or don’t want to) DIY (41 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. When my husband and I walked into our last home for the first time, we felt like we were walking right into the ’70s. With disco-era fixtures and old smelly carpet, the four bedroom colonial was quite the sight. Oh, and let’s not forget the orange laminate flooring that graced the kitchen and bathrooms. Except for the master bathroom, of course. It had shag carpet. But, for every…

  • In the kitchen: When less is more (85 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. When I moved into my first apartment, my kitchen was stocked in an appropriate college-student fashion: cast-off pieces of stained Tupperware, cheap pots and pans that warped when they got hot, and a few new gifts that my practical relatives had given me for high school graduation presents. By the time my husband and I were engaged, I thought that “real” cooks had certain types of tools…

  • Moving scams: Avoid the headache by checking consumer reviews (42 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Last month we moved a house full of furniture in the least frugal way possible. We hired movers. But, we felt that we were justified in the expense due to a variety of reasons. First, we’re getting older and no longer have friends or family members willing to sacrifice their Saturday for the promise of pizza and beer. Second, I’ve had chronic back issues throughout my 20s and 30s, so…

  • When the right choice isn’t obvious (69 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. What do you do when the right choice isn’t obvious? Earlier this month, I said that my husband Jake and I had reached the last straw with regard to our current place. Accordingly, we looked at a bunch of rentals. We anticipated that this was going to be a challenging process because Jake and I value different things in homes. Pretty much all I care about is a…

  • The small house experiment, Part 2 (98 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. A few months ago, my husband mustered the courage to try a new career only to discover that the grass isn’t always greener. In other words, he hated it. And, after some initial disappointment, I was okay with him leaving that job and going back to the industry where he began. Fortunately, once he began looking for a new job, we got lucky. After a week or so of sending…

  • The last straw: We’re moving (72 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. I mentioned in my goals for 2013 post that Jake and I wanted to move. In the last couple of weeks, however, there have been some extenuating circumstances that led us to start looking at rentals. Before I get to the circumstances surrounding our move, however, a little bit of background. When Jake graduated from law school, he moved to our current city. Giddy on the high of…

  • The small-house experiment (Part 1) (112 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. A few weeks ago, I wrote about how my husband and I are moving to be closer to his new job. Well, it’s been a whirlwind of chaos and uncertainty ever since. Since I wrote that post, we put our house on the market and began the search for a new home. And despite the fact that we’re excited for the opportunity to move on with our lives,…

  • The day my dishwasher died (78 comments)

    This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. After a year off, J.D. is once again writing here at GRS. His non-financial writing can still be found at More Than Money. When I bought my condo in February, one of the things that impressed me about the place was the built-in shiny silver kitchen appliances. They were all so fancy and fun! My parents always had cheap appliances. When Kris…

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

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

  • How to make room for redecorating in your budget (40 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. After living in apartments with white walls for most of my adult life, I was excited to become a homeowner when my husband and I got married. Paint options! Landscaping! Curtains! My house was a blank canvas, just waiting for me to decorate it. Well, the decorating buzz wore off quickly after I found out how expensive everything was. I thought, naively, that asking my mother-in-law to…

  • Reader Story: Refinancing in the post-financial-crisis economy (40 comments)

    This reader story comes from Tony Kontzer, a freelance journalist who has written about business and technology since the dawn of the public Internet. He works from his home in the Bay Area town of Albany, Calif., where he and his wife are raising three boys and progressing on a years-long re-imagining of their entire home. His approach to home improvement projects could be called brute force: there’s nothing a power screwdriver won’t solve. His…

  • 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: Housing edition (33 comments)

    This post is by staff writer April Dykman. For the last seven months, my husband and I have been renovating our new home. But before that, we spent months searching for the right house. There were a few times when I wondered if the right house even existed. This is my own fault because my list of wants was maybe a little difficult to satisfy. For instance, we wanted to be in the city, but I…

  • Sometimes the road to wealth isn’t paved at all (64 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. Is financial security eluding you? Maybe you should move to North Dakota. In 2012, North Dakota’s economy grew by 13.4 percent, which was significantly more than any other state. And according to this cost of living calculator, a $70,000 salary has the buying power of a $100,000 salary in Los Angeles. But perhaps you don’t want to move to the fourth least densely populated state. And moving…

  • Ask the Readers: What will you repair this month? (36 comments)

    This post is from personal finance writer Gwendolyn Pearce, who, since contributing at GRS, has learned that you don’t haggle at farmers’ markets. You just don’t. It’s time for another monthly challenge. This month, we want to challenge you to look for opportunities to repair something. As with all of our challenges, this is open to some interpretation. Whether this is bringing an appliance back from the brink, taking steps to repair your credit rating…

  • 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…

  • 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,…

  • All the world’s a stage: 7 simple staging tricks to help sell your home (67 comments)

    This is a guest post from Tara Chila, a blogger for Transit Systems, Inc., who writes about moving, travel, house and home, kids, parenting and recipes. You may think that your home looks perfect and is ready to sell, but remember: not everyone likes green paint in their living room or a floral bedspread in the master bedroom. You’re going to need to stage your home. When we listed our home a few years back,…

  • Spare Change: The free, cheap, and paying extra edition (18 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I’m in the process of renovating a house. This includes a complete kitchen remodel, new fireplace, drywall to replace wood paneling, refinishing the ceilings, paint and wall repairs in every room, and more. Needless to say, this project has kept me extremely busy! And I’ve had to make a lot of financial decisions in the last four months, almost on a…

  • Are you prepared to buy a home? (49 comments)

    This is a post from staff writer April Dykman. For many, owning a home is still “the American dream.” According to Gallup’s annual Economy and Personal Finance survey, 56 percent of Americans own a home and 25 percent plan to purchase one in the next 10 years. But sometimes buyers fall in love with a home, only to find out that they don’t qualify. Or worse, they barely manage to qualify, but at a sky-high interest rate. That’s…

  • 5 reasons to refinance your mortgage (67 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Holly Johnson. A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I refinanced my mortgage for the second time in a year. The second refinance wasn’t actually part of my master plan, but I ended up having to refinance in order to remove my private mortgage insurance. And although refinancing our home again proved to be a huge pain, we are now saving $135 per month by no longer paying private mortgage…

  • Will a low appraisal wreck your refi? (28 comments)

    The 30-year fixed mortgage rate keeps getting lower and lower, making it a great time to refinance your mortgage and cut your monthly payment. But as Pat Esswein, associate editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, reports, homeowners have to clear a few hurdles before they can refinance. One of those hurdles is the appraisal, which determines the value the bank will assign to your home. That’s an important number because it determines your refinancing options…

  • Ask the Readers: How much rent should I charge my in-laws? (122 comments)

    Money issues among family members are difficult, to say the least. A reader named The Lessor wrote to us recently about his sticky family situation: I have a brother-in-law who decided to pursue ministry work overseas. He is married to a European girl and they live with her mother most of the year. Each year they return to the U.S. to keep citizenship/residency, visit with family, and fundraise for additional money to keep them living…

  • Ask the Readers: What should you consider when buying a house at 25 (or any age for that matter)? (78 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jenna Forstrom. I always wanted to have my own house.  My parents flipped houses while I was growing up and I like creating spaces and using my hands, plus it always sounded like a good investment.  I graduated college at 21 and decided my next goal was to buy a house by 25.  So, after graduation, I moved back home to Portland to live with my mom. Some people…

  • Reader Story: Pursue a dream to move to a new location (60 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jason Price from One Money Design. This summer, my wife and I took our kids on a family vacation to Disneyland in California. The Southern California weather, beaches and a trip to San Diego on Highway 1 made it an experience we’ll never forget. We are a beach family and we dream of one day living by the ocean.  The California trip fueled an existing passion that’s existed deep…

  • The Cinnamon Bear: An Old-Time Radio Christmas Tradition (29 comments)

    Because I love The Cinnamon Bear so much, I post this same article every year. This year is no different, except that I’m posting it a couple of days early to give you time to download the files. If you have young children — and even if you don’t — I encourage you to listen to these old radio broadcasts with your family. Holiday traditions don’t have to be expensive. Some of the best traditions…

  • The ‘cost’ of gun ownership (215 comments)

    As some of you might know or remember, I have been considering the purchase of a firearm for some time. Two posts ago I mentioned it while talking about being victim of a robbery, and reader Tyler Karaszewski wrote a cogent and passionate comment that began, “I think it’s sad that so many of our responses to these sorts of events are to (quite literally) begin escalating an arms race.” My following post was about…

  • Reader Stories: An ode to the condo lifestyle (63 comments)

    This post is from Ashley B. She’s 26 years old, lives in Minnesota, and works in the accounting department of a small company. This story is one of our Reader Stories series. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. I have never quite…

  • Should You Buy A Fixer-Upper? (81 comments)

    Fixer-upper (noun). A home you purchase at a reasonable price, but one that requires an unreasonable amount of money in repairs and renovations. Okay, so I made up that definition, and it’s not always true. Buying fixer-uppers can get you more house than you would normally be able to afford at a reasonable price. They can be pleasantly inexpensive. But they can also be money pits, masquerading behind a façade of charming woodwork and arched doorways. As tempting…

  • Selling Your Home? Don’t Make This Costly Mistake (97 comments)

    This post is by April Dykman. Yes, you read that right. April was recently wooed back to Get Rich Slowly and will be writing here a couple of times a month. She plans to focus on interviewing experts on money-related topics, which also helps her justify that journalism degree… Bill had to sell his house quickly. He was being transferred out of state, and the company wasn’t footing the bill. Instead, they offered him a…

  • Reader Story: In Defense of Clutter (117 comments)

    This guest post from Jane is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want submit your own reader story? Here’s how. I recently wrote a comment on a post that seemed to resonate with numerous people. It was in reference to an…

  • Earning More vs. Spending Less, Round 1: Housing (210 comments)

    Spending less than you earn can be accomplished by earning more, spending less, or both. Yet most people in the personal finance world tend to support one strategy over the other with greater fervor.  It’s not a logic thing: it’s a personality issue that may have to do with risk tolerance, optimism, entrepreneurship, class background, religious outlook, cultural practices, and other unknown factors. Sometimes this can be situational. When work doesn’t deliver one might focus…

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

    This post is by staff writer Sarah Gilbert. I asked, as I sometimes do, what personal finance question my friends and Twitter followers had for me. It was a slow day on the internet and the responses flooded in. My friend Neil asked, “what do you think about real estate?” A broad question, indeed, and I got him to clarify. “You know… should I buy a house? Why not just rent?” Why not indeed. The…

  • Reader Story: Dream Home or Dream Life? (146 comments)

    This guest post from Holly Johnson is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want submit your own reader story? Here’s how. A few months ago, we were seriously considering moving. Frustrated by a few of the shortcomings of our current residence,…

  • Ask the Readers: Should I Buy a New House? (162 comments)

    Sometimes personal finance problems have clear solutions: There’s a right answer and there’s a wrong answer. When you’re new to money management, these answers might not seem clear, but they become clear with time. But my favorite personal finance dilemmas are those to which there are no wrong answers, only good solutions. For example, an anonymous GRS reader recently wrote wondering what to do with a large chunk of money. Here’s her story: This has…

  • Sheet Dreams: How to Shop for Bed Sheets (98 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 Lisa Aberle, who promises she could contribute stories on DIY projects and rural living. After finding holes…

  • 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…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Do You Spend on Housing? (459 comments)

    Over the past few months, I’ve occasionally used the “Ask the Readers” feature at Get Rich Slowly to poll people about their budgets and spending habits. So far, I’ve asked folks to share their spending on food, clothes, gifts, and health insurance. Now I want to look at a bigger item in your budget — probably the biggest. Let’s talk about how much you spend on housing. More than other expenses, your housing costs are…

  • Going to the (Organic) Mattresses (143 comments)

    This post is by staff writer April Dykman. I’ve dropped a rather obscene amount of money on bodywork in the last few years. I’ve had an evolving team of chiropractors, massage therapists, and acupuncturists. I’ve bought books on physical therapy exercises. Some things have worked, others have not. In the end, the pain always comes back. I have chronic shoulder pain. My arms also frequently go numb in the middle of the night. I don’t…

  • Let Go of the Spatula: Reconsidering Wedding Registries (237 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Tim Sullivan. My brother, my best friend, and my girlfriend’s sister are all getting married in the upcoming year, so I’ve heard a lot about wedding registries lately, and there seem to be many pros and cons. Personally, one of my least favorite things in life is going to Crate and Barrel, walking around with my scanner gun, and seeing that the only things that fit into my price…

  • Reader Story: The Money Fix (59 comments)

    This guest post from Christine is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. This reader story is a little unusual. It’s the product of Daily Worth’s “The Money Fix”. But I’ll let Christine explain… My name is Christine,…

  • How We Paid Cash for Our First Home (263 comments)

    This is a guest post from Crystal Paine, the Money Saving Mom. Paine is a wife, homeschool mom to three, self-proclaimed minimalist, and wannabe runner. For practical help and inspiration to get your life and finances in order, visit her blog, Money Saving Mom, or purchase a copy of her brand-new book, The Money Saving Mom’s Budget. When my husband and I got married nine years ago, we had an audacious dream of paying cash…

  • A Place of My Own (577 comments)

    Two months ago today, I asked my wife for a divorce. I won’t be writing about the personal aspects of the divorce at Get Rich Slowly. In fact, other than some brief background at my personal site, I don’t intend to write it about it on the web at all. Kris and I are both emotional wrecks right now; the wounds are fresh and raw for both of us. Note: Kris and I are working…

  • Reader Story: Can a Saver Learn to Spend? (61 comments)

    This guest post from Felix is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. I suspect I’m representative of a large group of Get Rich Slowly readers. Early on, my financial competency was average — I don’t have…

  • The Economics of Country Mouse vs. City Mouse (114 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. I’ve lived in a small town for most of my life. The drive home includes steep hills with panoramic views and winding country roads that ramble past ranches and wide-open fields. But I didn’t always have positive feelings about the country life. In high school, I hated it. All of the action was in the city, where coffee shops, museums, restaurants, and concerts happened. When I moved…

  • Reader Story: Long-Term Thinking Pays Off (81 comments)

    This guest post from Heather Roth is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. Heather lives and writes in Indiana, Pa., with her doctoral student husband and two ever-curious ferrets. She writes about life as a small-town…

  • The GRS Garden Project: October 2011 Update (22 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for October 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) This installment was written by Kris while J.D. is traveling in Peru. Our gardening season is complete for 2011. After an initial burst of cold and rain, our October weather was…

  • Our Roof Repair: A Typical Tale of Working with Contractors (95 comments)

    My wife and I have been homeowners for nearly twenty years. In that time, we’ve done a lot of home improvement ourselves. But we’ve also learned when it’s best to hand projects to the pros. (To be honest, this is most of the time.) It’s great to be able to do small jobs yourself, but it’s also important to recognize when something’s beyond your ability. During the past 18+ years, we’ve learned that working with…

  • The GRS Garden Project: September 2011 Update (32 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for September 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) This installment was written by Kris while I was packing for Peru. Our late summer this year meant that our crops were delayed, but when the sunshine came, it came on…

  • Old Friends: Scenes from a Class Reunion (52 comments)

    I am getting old, my friends. I am getting old. It’s no longer just a feeling, either. More and more, there are objective real-world reminders that I’m not the young man I once was. Kris and I spent last weekend, for instance, hanging out with other old folks at our 20-year college reunion. We had a blast, of course. Though we don’t see most of our old friends as often as we’d like, when we…

  • The GRS Garden Project: August 2011 Update (34 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for August 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) August finally felt like summer here in Portland. The entire month was sunny and warm, and there was very little rain. The garden rewarded us with productivity. Our harvest in August…

  • How Much Is a Clean Home Worth? (96 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. Last month I wrote a post on do-it-yourself beauty and personal care products. That touched a nerve with a lot of people: some loved it, some hated it; it seemed like everyone had something to say. At the time I’d planned to follow up with a post on do-it-yourself cleaning products for the home, but I’ve…

  • 10 Easy Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill (147 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. I don’t know what the weather is like where you live, but here in Austin, Texas, the heat and drought are the topic of 85% of conversations (that’s science). As a native Texan, I usually roll my eyes when people lament about the heat. One of my friends summed it up nicely: “I’m tired of hearing people talk about the weather. It’s hot in the summer and…

  • The GRS Garden Project: July 2011 Update (29 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for July 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) We had a strange July in our garden. First, the cool weather lingered longer than it ought to have. It wasn’t cold and wet, but the days were cool. Then we…

  • When Renting Is Smarter Than Buying (96 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. In my article on Spotify last week, a couple of commenters took me to task for suggesting that subscribing to access for music could be better than buying your own permanent copies of the songs you love. A few thought that, as a personal-finance writer, I should be urging people to buy their stuff instead of throwing money…

  • Reader Story: How I Sold My Condo and Saved $5,000 (110 comments)

    This guest post from Nick Rothacher, the self-taught economist, is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. Six months ago, my wife and I sold our two-bedroom, two-bath condo located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake…

  • The GRS Garden Project: June 2011 Update (40 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for June 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) Summer is finally here in our corner of the Pacific Northwest: The birds are chirping, the insects are humming and the garden is producing. June started cold and wet but has…

  • Big House, Little House (271 comments)

    I am constantly changing. While many people are much the same today as they were yesterday (or last week or twenty years ago), I’m always evolving. This isn’t necessarily good or bad — it’s just who I am. Some of my friends think I’m fickle. I get that. (Kris tells me that I go through “phases”.) I prefer to view this constant change as growth. I don’t want to be the same person tomorrow as…

  • My First Garden: What I’ve Learned So Far (45 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jenny Sandman, who writes at Broke Foodie. This summer is my first attempt at full-scale gardening. This is the first year I’ve lived in a house with a yard; previous gardening efforts were limited to containers of herbs and the odd tomato plant, on windowsills or apartment patios. To complicate matters, it’s my first year living in New England, so the climate is new (and frightening). We had an…

  • Buying a Home? Pay Attention to Property Inspection (65 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. A house is the most expensive thing most of us ever will purchase. If you plan to stay put for some time, you could be paying on your mortgage for the next 15 to 20 years. But as any homeowner knows, expenses don’t stop at the purchase price and mortgage interest. You’ll also pay a small fortune in insurance, upkeep, and repairs over the years. This is…

  • The Basic Allowance for Housing: Helping Military Members Afford a Home (58 comments)

    Today is Memorial Day in the United States, a federal holiday to commemorate U.S. soldiers who died while in military service. This is a guest post from Chris Birk, a recovering journalist and the director of content and communications for Veterans United Home Loans, the nation’s leading dedicated VA-approved lender. Birk writes about mortgages and military home buying for a variety of sites and publications, from the Huffington Post and About.com to Mortgage News Daily…

  • Reader Story: How I Built My Own House — Without a Mortgage (147 comments)

    This guest post from Ian is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. It’s the extended version of the story he shared in his prize-winning entry to this year’s GRS video contest. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. It dawned on me…

  • Reader Story: Rental Properties from the Tenant’s Point of View (171 comments)

    This guest post from Avery is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. From time to time, stories on Get Rich Slowly talk about rental properties, usually from the perspective of a small-time landlord, and inevitably, there…

  • The GRS Garden Project: April 2011 Update (39 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for April 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) After a long vacation in February and a wet, dreary March, Kris and I finally were able to do a little work on our vegetable garden in April. Sort of. The…

  • Ask the Readers: Should We Rent or Should We Buy? (100 comments)

    Is it better to rent or buy? We’ve discussed this age-old housing question several times in the past, but it’s always been on a theoretical level. Sometimes what seems simple in theory is tougher to figure out when you have to make a decision in Real Life. That’s the case for Erik, who dropped a line yesterday to ask whether, based on his personal circumstances, he should rent an apartment or buy one. Here’s what…

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

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for March 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) March is usually a time for Kris and me to get back to work in the garden. The weather warms, and we get to watch as our first sprouts poke through…

  • Do Programmable Thermostats Really Save Money? (124 comments)

    Programmable thermostats save you money. That’s a no-brainer, right? You’ve seen that advice in books and magazines and on personal-finance blogs — even here at Get Rich Slowly. Well, it turns out programmable thermostats aren’t the miracle device we’ve believed all along. In fact, sometimes using a programmable thermostat costs more than not having one at all. But the fault doesn’t lie with the thermostat. The trouble, as my father used to say, is the…

  • The GRS Garden Project: February 2011 Update (53 comments)

    Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for February 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.) Spring is around the corner. I think. After spending three weeks basking in sunny skies and temperatures of 20-30 degrees (yes, I’ve taught myself to think in centigrade!), it’s something of…

  • Setting Your Homebuying Priorities – Price, Quality, Location: Pick Any Two (42 comments)

    This is a guest-post from Tim Ellis, author of Seattle Bubble, a blog and forum dedicated to real-estate market conditions in the Seattle area. Tim is a long-time GRS reader. Previously on GRS, Tim has written about renting vs. buying and renting in a new city. A localized variant of this post appeared on Seattle Bubble earlier in February. Before I got into the blogging and real-estate analysis business, I spent the first decade or…

  • Compound Returns in the Garden: How Long-Term Planning Pays Off When Growing Your Own Food (52 comments)

    A lot of folks have been asking if my wife and I will be doing the Get Rich Slowly garden project this year. That’s the plan! After a one-year hiatus, Kris and I intend to track our spending and our profit for the food we grow on our land. January saw no spending and no harvest, though. To get us started, here’s a guest post from my wife about the long-term rewards of gardening. What…

  • Ask the Readers: Should We Move to a More Expensive Part of the Country? (175 comments)

    The Friday “Ask the Readers” column generally follows a set format: I introduce the topic, share a reader e-mail, give my best advice, and then ask for your feedback. Today’s column is a little different. Jennifer sent me a 1000-word question, and rather than write any sort of response, I’m just going to let her have the entire space. Everything that follows is from Jennifer. My husband and I are in our mid twenties (no…

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

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

  • The Cinnamon Bear: An Old-Time Radio Christmas Tradition (7 comments)

    Because I love The Cinnamon Bear so much, I post this same article every year. This year is no different, except that I’m posting it a couple of days early to give you time to download the files. If you have young children — and even if you don’t — I encourage you to listen to these old radio broadcasts with your family. Holiday traditions don’t have to be expensive. Some of the best traditions…

  • “It Is Still a Beautiful World”: Happy Thanksgiving 2010 (17 comments)

    It’s Thanksgiving Day in the United States, and that means a quiet respite from our discussions of money. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday; I’m grateful that we set aside a day each year to be remember for the good things we have. As usual, I have much to be thankful for this year. I’m fortunate to have a good life, a fine wife, and four soft and furry cats. I have a job I love,…

  • Ask the Readers: How Can We Afford to Buy a House? (176 comments)

    Though they could fall farther, housing prices are starting to seem reasonable again in many parts of the United States. Mortgage rates are cheap, too. Naturally, that means some GRS readers are beginning to express an interest in buying a home. But prices are still high in a lot of places — including Washington, D.C., which is where William lives. He recently dropped a line to ask for advice: He’d like to buy a home…

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

    I have a backlog of “ask the readers” questions since I didn’t publish any while I was vacationing over the past month. As soon as possible, I’ll get to those I’ve promised to post. Today, however, I wanted to share a question from Kristine, who wrote to me earlier this week. Kristine is trying to decide whether she should refinance her mortgage. Here’s what she has to say: I’m trying to decide if refinancing is…

  • How to Slay Energy Vampires (54 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. April is writing a series on money monsters for the recently launched Pageonce blog, including fighting zombie debt and how to Frankenstein your savings. There are demons that can suck the life force from you — and you unknowingly invited them into your home. Vampire electronics may not suck your blood, but they ‘ll drain nickels and dimes for every dollar you spend on energy. The cost…

  • Moving? Rent First, Ask Questions Later (56 comments)

    This is a guest-post from Tim Ellis, author of Seattle Bubble, a blog and forum dedicated to discussing real estate market conditions in the Seattle area. Tim is a long-time GRS reader. During my last trip to Europe, he shared a controversial article on renting vs. buying. Given the fact that each year around sixteen million Americans move to a new county, it’s likely that at some point in your life you’ll find yourself moving…

  • Unusual Abodes: The Grain Bin Home (40 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. I’m a fan of unusual homes. From tiny homes to recycled homes, I’m fascinated by unconventional ways one can build houses that save on construction costs and future utility bills. Our own house plans are for plastered walls with straw bale infill, and we’re close to breaking ground. But when I picked up the latest issue of granola crunchy Mother Earth News, for a minute I…

  • Ask the Readers: Should I Invest or Prepay My Mortgage? (181 comments)

    Kelley wrote recently with the sort of dilemma I get asked about all of the time: Is it better to invest or to prepay a mortgage? We’ve covered this topic in the distant past, but it’s time to review the debate for current readers. First, let’s look at Kelley’s e-mail: My husband and I are on the right track. At age 25, our only debt lies in our home mortgage. We have the six-month emergency…

  • Home Safe Home? 27 Safety Precautions Under $40 (35 comments)

    I’m back from my Alaskan vacation, but it’ll take me a day or two to get my wits about me. More soon. Meanwhile, this post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Dorothy was right: There is no place like home. Home is where we feel safe and relaxed in the familiarity of our surroundings — the sheets are just right, our favorite chair welcomes us, and we know, half-asleep and at 1 a.m., that…

  • Further Adventures in Home Maintenance (98 comments)

    As much as I’ve learned about money in the past five years, and as much as I like to share what I’ve learned, there are still times when I fail to follow my own advice. As I’ve mentioned, we live in a hundred-year-old house. This is a great and terrible thing. The house is beautiful and full of character, but it’s also a pain in the ass. In the six years we’ve lived here, one…

  • The GRS Garden Project: April 2010 Update (39 comments)

    Kris and I aren’t repeating our annual garden project this year. We’re too swamped to take the time to track our expenses and harvests. In fact, our garden will probably be a bit smaller than usual this summer because we just won’t have the time to care for it. Still, the yard is an important part of our daily lives. Plus, there’s a certain segment of the GRS community — the die-hard gardeners, I guess…

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

    This post is part of the new “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general “how I did X” advice, and others will be examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. Today’s reader story is a little bit different; I wrote it after interviewing the subject. For Your Money: The Missing Manual, I knew I wanted to include stories from average folks like you and…

  • Living Like No One Else (99 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a quote from J.D.’s review of The Total Money Makeover: Printed on the bottom of every page…is the book’s motto: “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” My husband and I recently made an unusual decision, and I’m in need of a motto that I can repeat to myself every time I…

  • How I Made My Peace with Hiring a Housekeeper (166 comments)

    This is a guest post from my ex-wife. It’s a response to the debate on Erica’s recent article about outsourcing life. J.D. and I have been employing an independent housekeeper for about 10 years. The one who’s been working for us for almost five years, Michele, is fantastic and we feel lucky to have her. (We found her through Craigslist). Housecleaning is her full-time job. It took us some time to get over our self-imposed…

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

    Thomas wrote in on Monday to share a comic strip related to our discussion last week about whether renting makes sense: Click on image to open a larger version in a new window. Ah, Dinosaur Comics — you gotta love them. As a reminder, I’m not opposed to owning a home. I own one myself and have no plans to move. But my recent research persuaded me that renting isn’t as bad as it’s been…

  • The Best of Get Rich Slowly: January 2010 (14 comments)

    Now that I’m done with the bulk of the work on Your Money: The Missing Manual, I can start doing many of the things I used to do. Like provide monthly summaries for Get Rich Slowly. In some ways, January was a strange month around here. For one thing, I think this was the month with the fewest posts since I started the site; there were only three days with more than one post. Yet…

  • Does Renting Make Sense? (269 comments)

    Writing Your Money: The Missing Manual has been intense. I’ve spent a ton of time researching personal finance topics ranging from buying a car to funding a 401(k) to the relationship between money and happiness. My research has reinforced some of my convictions (index funds are the best investment for 99% of personal investors, for instance) but has toppled others. One of my beliefs that’s been set on its head is that Americans are better…

  • Reader Story: How I Cut 16 Years from My Mortgage in Just One Hour (124 comments)

    This guest post from Caitlin of ClutterCubed (a blog about ridding clutter from your life) is part of a new feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Every Sunday will include a reader story (in the new “reader stories” category). Some will be general “how I did X” stories, and others will be examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success. Back in September, one hour of my time cut 16 years off my mortgage!…

  • Does It Still Make Sense to Refinance in Today’s Market? (93 comments)

    Last winter, Kris and I refinanced our mortgage. Interest rates had dropped, and it seemed like a good idea to make the leap. Though it took us a couple of months to actually pull the trigger, we finally ended up cutting the interest rate on our loan from 6.25% to 4.96%. According to sites like ShopRate and HSH.com, mortgage rates are still low, with loans available in the low- to mid- four percent range. While…

  • Is a Reverse Mortgage Right for You? (54 comments)

    This is a guest post from Francine Huff, a freelance journalist and writer at BestReverseMortgage.com and the author of The 25-Day Money Makeover for Women. She has appeared on a variety of TV and radio shows. Visit her web sites Huff Writes and Super Savvy Spender. Whether through recent news articles or over the water cooler, you’ve probably heard something about reverse mortgages. But if you (or a loved one) is considering this type of…

  • The Cinnamon Bear: An Old-Time Radio Christmas Tradition (12 comments)

    Because I love The Cinnamon Bear so much, I post this exact same article every year on the 29th of November. This year is no different. If you have young children — and even if you don’t — I encourage you to listen to these old radio broadcasts with your family. Holiday traditions don’t have to be expensive. Some of the best traditions don’t cost anything at all. When I was a boy, Christmas meant…

  • Reader Story: A Very, Very Fine House (59 comments)

    This morning, April wrote about trying to figure out how much house you need. In the comments, Tyler K. shared a photo of the house he and his wife live in. It has 450 square feet: “Last year our joint gross income was about $170,000,” Tyler wrote, “but we still find this house plenty adequate, and it means our housing costs are proportionally half of the 30-35% of income that people generally recommend.” I was…

  • How Much House Do You Need? (157 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. For more than a decade, Jay Shafer of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company has lived in an 89 square-foot home. His decision to live in a tiny house came from concerns about the effects a larger house would have on the environment, and his desire to not maintain a lot of unused or unusable space. Obviously Jay’s home is at the extreme low end of how small…

  • The GRS Garden Project: October 2009 Update (20 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for October 2009. (Here are the results for 2008.) As those of you who follow me on Twitter already know, it’s been a l-o-n-g Saturday filled with all sorts of misadventures. Murphy’s Law has been in full effect this Halloween. I’d meant to post this month-end garden summary around noon, but now will have to…

  • Use a Lease Option to Lock in Low Home Prices (28 comments)

    This article is GRS staff writer Adam Baker. In addition to his work at Get Rich Slowly, Baker blogs over at Man Vs. Debt, where he publicly tracks his spending on a daily basis. Everywhere I turn, people are speculating on whether housing prices have bottomed. While I personally feel things are looking better, I’m never a fan of trying to time markets. Attempting this often encourages people to make large financial decisions before they…

  • Furniture Shopping Secrets: How to Tell Superior from Shoddy (54 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…

  • The GRS Garden Project: August 2009 Update (41 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for August 2009. (Here are the results for 2008.) After late July’s blistering heat, August has been relatively cool around Portland. Our fruits and vegetables have been producing excellent crops. Kris is constantly busy in the kitchen, canning and preserving food. We’re eating fresh salsa all the time. And hard as it is to believe,…

  • Understanding Your Home Appraisal (33 comments)

    This is a guest post from Liz Freeman, who writes about mortgage and finance issues. Freeman is the spokesperson for ShopRate.com, an online tool for finding the lowest mortgage rates since 2000. “If I’m willing to pay X for the home, it must be worth X, right?” There’s a lot of truth to that statement. Most accountants will tell you that the proper value of anything is either the lower of what it cost to…

  • 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…

  • Preparing to Shop for a New Mattress (113 comments)

    On Monday, I mentioned that Kris and I are ready to replace our 15-year-old mattress. I don’t sleep well on it, though I sleep fine on other mattresses. I only mentioned this to illustrate a point, but I was surprised at how many readers commented on my situation. Jason’s comment was typical: I’ve found that sleep is the absolute root of everything. With decent sleep, I’m a better man, father, athlete, spouse, employee and all…

  • The Personal Finance Hour, Episode 14: Home Improvement (5 comments)

    Summer’s here, and for many homeowners that means it’s time for projects around the house. Since we bought our current home, Kris and I have spent a lot of money to make improvements. (At this very moment, contractors are painting the house!) Join Jim and me this afternoon for the 14th episode of The Personal Finance Hour. We’ll be discussing home improvement: what projects are worth the money, how can you keep costs down, and…

  • The GRS Garden Project: June 2009 Update (27 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for June 2009. (Here are the results for 2008.) It’s the beginning of summer, and that means our garden is lush and green and growing. It also means there’s nothing exciting to write about. We’ve begun to harvest a couple of things, but mostly our chores have become routine. We weed and fertilize while we…

  • How My Parents Saved $14,000 on Home Repairs (35 comments)

    This is a guest post from MLR at My Life ROI. If you like this post, check out his website or subscribe to his feed. One thing I love about reading Get Rich Slowly is that J.D. is always willing to get his hands dirty and throw on a different hat. J.D. is a do-it-yourselfer. From writing monthly updates on his garden progress to giving instructions on how to make homemade pumpkin butter and muffins,…

  • Remnants of Things Past (96 comments)

    I did a little time traveling yesterday, and I didn’t like it. “I’m going to clean the workshop,” I announced at breakfast. “I know I should write or mow the lawn, but I’m going to clean the workshop.” “Sounds good,” Kris said. She rarely argues when I have an urge to do some cleaning. A glimpse at the past When we first looked at this property five years ago, I was drawn to the outbuildings….

  • The GRS Garden Project: May 2009 Update (50 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for May 2009. (Here are the results for 2008.) What a difference a year makes! Our fruits, berries, and vegetables had a slow start last year (and then were further slowed by a cold, cold June). This May was warm — very warm. Our food crops loved the weather, and they’ve shown explosive growth. As…

  • A First-Hand Account of the Subprime Mortgage Crisis (54 comments)

    Sunday’s issue of The New York Times Magazine was all about “the dilemmas of debt”, and featured stories like: “Suze Orman is having a moment”, a profile of the popular personal-finance guru “What does your credit-card company know aobut you?” “The China puzzle”, which looks at the economic relationship between the U.S. and China And shorter articles about peer-to-peer lending, financial crises, and the nature of small banks The piece that caught my attention, however,…

  • Learning to Do It Yourself (39 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. I am not handy. Given a garden tool or a kitchen gadget, I can usually find success. But I have neither the talent or inclination for wiring, plumbing, or carpentry. I come from a long line of un-handy people, too, so there’s no phoning home when the car’s making a funny noise or the garbage disposal is on the fritz. And, unfortunately for me, I also married…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Choose a Mortgage Broker? (58 comments)

    For most of us, buying a home is the largest purchase we’ll ever make. There can be a lot of pressure to get things just right; you don’t want to pay more than you have to. A good broker or lender can help — but how do you find a good broker or lender? That’s what Erin wants to know: My husband and I are in the market for a house as first-time homebuyers. We’ve…

  • The Personal Finance Hour, Episode 7: Home Gardening (5 comments)

    Kris and I are avid gardeners. A home garden is a great way to grow tasty food while saving a bit of cash, and that’s the subject we plan to address in this week’s seventh episode of The Personal Finance Hour, a BlogTalkRadio program all about personal finance. You can catch it live at 3pm Pacific (6pm Eastern) every Monday. During today’s episode, Jim and I will be discussing our gardening experiences. What plants are…

  • The GRS Garden Project: April 2009 Update (36 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for April 2009. (Here are the results for 2008.) April was a slow month for our garden. We didn’t do much. Part of this is because we’ve become more efficient. But another part is because we did some of our chores earlier this year. Kris has been antsy to get plants in the ground. I…

  • 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…

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

    Kris and I own an old house. During the winter, the cold air seeps in through cracks in the windows and beneath gaps in the doors. We’ve done what we can to keep our heating costs low, and we make a handful of additional improvements every year, but I still feel like we’re living in a “drafty old barn” (to quote George Bailey). Sometimes all of our hard work goes for naught. For example, we…

  • The GRS Garden Project: March 2009 Update (34 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for March 2009, which was written by Kris. (Here are the results for 2008.) In Oregon, the month of March is unpredictable. Every gardener is itching to get outside, but it’s wet and cold with a few precious — and fleeting — moments of sunshine. In those sunny moments, you can bet you’ll hear a…

  • The High Cost of Having Children (160 comments)

    Because my wife I do not have children, I feel that it’s important to bring in outside voices to talk about money and kids. This is a guest post from Cathy, who writes about family finances, parenting, and cooking at Chief Family Officer. I would never in a million years want to give up my children just because they cost too much. But recently, the cost of having children hit home as I was reading…

  • Why We Chose a 30-Year Mortgage (125 comments)

    Last week, I announced that Kris and I have refinanced our mortgage at 4.96% for 30 years. In the comments, Ian expressed disappointment that we’d opted for the longer term when we could have afforded to take out a 15 year mortgage at 4.625%. “Starting your 30 years over is no way to get rich slowly,” he wrote. He has a point. Kris and I took out the 30-year mortgage because we wanted a safety…

  • Kansas or Bust: Considering Cost of Living (98 comments)

    I called my little brother yesterday. He lost his home to foreclosure last fall, and things have only continued to get worse. He and his wife are doing the best they can, but they feel overwhelmed. “What’s the latest?” I asked. Tony gave me an update. We talked about his problems with insurance, and with the bank, and with the debt settlement service. We talked about his options for the future. “All things considered, I…

  • 50 Tips for DIY Savings Around the House (19 comments)

    While researching for our upcoming home repairs, I stumbled upon an article over at This Old House. Josh Garskof has put together a list of 50 nifty tricks for big do-it-yourself savings. What sort of nifty tricks? Tricks like these: Close closet doors to lower the square footage you’re heating (and cooling). Shuttering closets along exterior walls also helps to insulate the house. Get gently used tools, electronics, and furniture from Freecycle, an online community…

  • Mission Accomplished: Our Shiny New Mortgage (71 comments)

    We did it! After two months of hemming and hawing, Kris and I finally closed on our mortgage refinance, dropping our rate from 6.25% to 4.96%. Bright and early yesterday morning, we made a trip to the title company, and we signed all of the documents. We were out of there in only half an hour. How’d we do it so fast? Don’t I advocate reading all contracts before you sign them? Absolutely. So when…

  • The GRS Garden Project: February 2009 Update (53 comments)

    Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for February 2009. (Here are the results for 2008.) We spent a lot of time in our garden this month, which was unusual considering that it’s February. In fact, the twelve hours we spent working on our food crops was the most we’ve worked in a month since I began tracking the numbers in January…

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

    You know what? Personal finance is too serious — especially lately. I have a “funny money” category, but I rarely use it. Maybe I should post something to it now and then. Something like this: Cats and investing! What could be better? You can find more silly cat pictures — or lolcats if you prefer — at I Can Has Cheezburger?. Most of them have nothing to do with money, but they make me smile….

  • Save Money with Regular Home Maintenance (49 comments)

    In 2004, Kris and I bought a hundred-year-old farmhouse. We’d been living in a 1976 ranch-style home that was virtually maintenance-free. We knew that our new house was quirky, and that it needed some remodeling, but we didn’t quite understand the extent to which maintenance would dominate our lives. Every summer, we’ve had a major project. Or two. This year is no different. In previous years we’ve remodeled the bathroom, replaced the electrical system, hung…

  • Refinancing Made Easy: Our Story (93 comments)

    I recently had lunch with Winston, the Get Rich Slowly intern. We talked about our families, our finances, and our plans for this site. Winston mentioned that, at my prompting, he and his wife were refinancing their home. “The local credit union was able to give us a deal,” he said. “We got a 15-year loan at 4.625% for just 1/3 of a point.” “I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t done anything about my…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Rent Out Your Spare Room? (118 comments)

    Last month, Alison from Diamond-Cut Life shared a guest post about providing lodging to a housemate in exchange for work (instead of rent). Her story prompted a number of readers to ask about the mechanics and practicalities of actually renting an extra room to generate income. For example, Penny wrote with the following: In August, my brother-in-law moved in with us. By December, he couldn’t find a job, so moved back out. While I had…

  • Repair, Restore, Rejoice: Making the Most of Home Appliances (67 comments)

    This is a guest post from Betsy Teutsch, who blogs about sustainable living and socially-responsible investing at Money Changes Things. As any homeowner can attest, appliance longevity is diminishing. For technophiles, the breakdown of electronics can be welcomed as an excuse to upgrade to a cheaper, faster gizmo. But constant breakdowns of household appliances frustrate harried homeowners, since it’s frequently impossible or extremely inconvenient to repair them, or so expensive as to be dis-economic. Having…

  • The GRS Garden Project: Winners and Losers for 2008 (37 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. Our gardening for the year came to a close around Halloween. Although we’ll harvest herbs all winter — I’ve started an indoor herb garden with clearance-sale seeds! — the cold and wet Willamette Valley winter makes outdoor work miserable. And this year we’ve even had snow and ice: The garden in winter The garden in summer But the gardening cycle will begin anew with a seed order…

  • Ask the Readers: When Does It Make Sense to Refinance a Mortgage? (111 comments)

    So much for vacation. I just can’t keep myself away from you guys! While surfing around this evening, I found a story at USA Today about how mortgages are at a 37-year low. A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averages about 5.28% right now. I don’t usually pay much attention to these stories. We refinanced our first house (from a 9% 30-year loan to a 5.75% 15-year loan), but our current mortgage is in a kind of…

  • 6 Must-Have Characteristics to Look for When Buying a Home (59 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation. This is a guest post from G.E. Miller, author of the 20somethingfinance.com blog for young professionals. With home prices down, foreclosures up, there’s an influx of great homes on the market with less competition vying for them. The next year or so may present some prime buying opportunities for those willing to do some homework, and who meet the prerequisites of home ownership. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, one of the…

  • The Cinnamon Bear: An Old-Time Radio Christmas Tradition (39 comments)

    Because I love The Cinnamon Bear so much, I post this exact same article every year on the 29th of November. If you have young children — and even if you don’t — I encourage you to listen to these old radio broadcasts with your family. Holiday traditions don’t have to be expensive. Some of the best traditions don’t cost anything at all. When I was a boy, Christmas meant The Cinnamon Bear. During the…

  • Plant a Tree to Add Beauty and Value to Your Home (27 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. She speaks for the trees. There’s nothing like a breathtaking autumn to make us notice the trees. And fall is the perfect time to start thinking about adding a tree to your property. J.D. and I are lucky to have many mature trees on our lot, but that didn’t stop us from planting more when we moved in. We added four fruit trees and a Japanese Zelkova…

  • My Family Financial History (As Told by My Mother) (28 comments)

    I’m giving a presentation at 1 p.m. this afternoon at the main downtown branch of Portland’s Multnomah County Library. I plan to cover a bit of my personal history, share some of the things I learned along the way, and offer some book recommendations before taking questions. As part of my preparation, I asked my mother for a brief family financial history from her perspective. (I never trust my own memories — are the “facts”…

  • Can You Recommend Some Great Audiobooks? (164 comments)

    When I was working at the box factory, I had a half hour commute every morning and every afternoon. I used this time to listen to audiobooks, going through about two per month. Apparently, last winter I signed up for a one-year account at Audible. (I don’t remember doing this!) Since I haven’t been driving to work, I haven’t been listening to audiobooks, but now I have 18 credits that expire in ten days! I…

  • Drama in Real Life: Burgled Again (203 comments)

    Four years ago — soon after we moved into this house — somebody broke into my car. We only have room for one vehicle in the garage, so I park on the street. One foggy February morning, I walked to my Ford Focus as usual, opened the back door, and put my stuff on the seat. But when I slammed the door closed, a shower of glass fell to the ground. Somebody had smashed the…

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

    Most of the time, the talk about the housing bubble and the credit crisis and the faltering U.S. economy seem rather abstract to me, as if people were discussing a problem in Canada or Mexico. Or Norway. I’ve spent the past four years focused on my own financial situation, ignoring the outside world. The national economy often seems remote from my own personal economy. But there are millions of average people who have been affected…

  • 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…

  • Do-It-Yourself Landscaping Can Save Thousands (28 comments)

    This is the first post from Winston, the new GRS editorial assistant. My wife and I have saved thousands of dollars by landscaping our own yard. Four years ago, we were feeling overwhelmed by our back yard. We’d been in our home for a couple of years, had spent some time and money on the inside, and were ready to move on to backyard projects.  We spent a couple of seasons moving dirt around, trying…

  • Gardening Basics: What to Do with All That Extra Zucchini (41 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. I could not have written this — I hate zucchini. Ah, summer. Or, as it’s sometimes known, zucchini season. If you were one of those brave souls that planted zucchini this year, it’s about to start exploding. Or perhaps where you live, it’s already mid-explosion! It’s time to start finding ways to use all that produce. Fresh zucchini is great when grilled with a bit of olive…

  • Selling Your Existing Home While Buying a New One (34 comments)

    Kris and I had been in our first house for ten years when our dream home fell in our lap one day. Until then, we had no plans to move. We were completely unprepared to sell our existing home while buying a new one. Eventually we made it happen, but we violated a number home-buying best practices as we scrambled to make our dream a reality. We were particularly worried about how to time things…

  • 11 Tips for First-Time Homebuyers (93 comments)

    This is a guest post from Mike at Quest for Four Pillars, a Canadian financial blog. Buying a house is a difficult process — there are large sums of money involved, the transaction costs and hassle of moving mean that you can’t just buy another house if you don’t like the one you end up with, and you don’t have enough information to make a completely informed decision. The best you can do is to…

  • 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…

  • The GRS Garden Project: June Update (36 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I are tracking how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for June. It was a miserable June for gardeners in northwest Oregon. The first two weeks weren’t just wet — we’re used to that — they were cold, too. The local media dubbed the month “June-uary”. Residents were quick to embrace the term. The cool weather pushed back a number of crops. Strawberry farmers…

  • The Giant Pool of Money: Anatomy of the Subprime Mortgage Mess (31 comments)

    The American housing crisis isn’t over yet. The fallout from the subprime mortgage mess will continue to settle for months (or years). Though the various statistical models disagree on just how much further prices will drop before they hit bottom, most seem to indicate there’s another 10% to 20% left to go. What exactly is the subprime mortgage crisis and how did we get here? That’s the question tackled this week by Chicago Public Radio’s…

  • The GRS Garden Project: April Update (27 comments)

    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” — Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities During 2008, my wife and I are tracking how much time and money we spend growing food in our garden. April finally saw some action in the yard, but not the sort we’d hoped for. The hail you say! Most of the month was quiet. Our vegetable starts continued to thrive under the growlights. By…

  • Frugality in Practice: Turn Your Junk Mail into Garden Mulch (35 comments)

    In yesterday’s discussion about how to stop junk mail, icup mentioned using junk mail for mulch. Intrigued, I asked for more information. Here’s what he had to say. I’m more interested in saving money than saving the environment, but when I see junk mail piling up every day, it makes me stop to think about the sheer amount of waste that junk mail creates. As a homeowner with multiple mulch beds, I also feel a…

  • 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…

  • The Bountiful Container: Gardening in Small Spaces (25 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. I’ve been gardening for almost fifteen years. I started with flowers, added herbs and vegetables, then a few fruits, then a lot more. I’ve gardened in plots and pots and raised beds. I’ve drooled over bedding plants, spent too much on whatever was my obsession-of-the-moment (bulbs! daylilies! gooseberries! ornamental grasses!), and have certainly read my fair share of plant books and magazines. By this time, I’m somewhat…

  • How to Get Rid of Ants (Without Calling an Exterminator) (228 comments)

    I hate ants. At our old house, Kris and I were constantly at war with the little devils. Every time we suffered another invasion, every time they managed to find the pantry, every time they discovered the cat food, every time they ruined my chocolate chip cookies, I would berate them with colorful euphemisms. Eventually it got so bad that we had to bring in an exterminator. It seemed crazy to hire an exterminator to…

  • The GRS Garden Project: March Update (25 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I are tracking how much time and money we spend growing food in our garden. In my mind, March is filled with gardening activities. Not so much, as it turns out. I think April will also be light. Planting seeds Though we didn’t do much in March, we finally got to see some action from the plants. On March 1st, Kris planted the tomatoes and peppers (and some flowers). She…

  • The GRS Garden Project: February Update (22 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I will be tracking how much time and money we spend growing food in our garden. (Important note: Kris tells me she is not going to track her time, which may throw a monkey wrench into the works, but I’m going to do my best to coax her into providing this information anyhow.) The yardwork begins Like last month, there’s very little to do in February. It was still quite…

  • Will the Subprime Mortgage Crisis Turn the Suburbs Into Slums? (44 comments)

    Is today’s McMansion tomorrow’s tenement home? Wrtiting in The Atlantic Monthly, Christopher B. Leinberger argues that modern suburban neighborhoods may be in decline, and not just because of the subprime mortgage crisis. Rising gasoline prices, for example, may prompt Americans to return to the city. And when they do, what will become of the subdivisions where they used to live? For 60 years, Americans have pushed steadily into the suburbs, transforming the landscape and (until…

  • Home-Made Treats for Backyard Birds (19 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. If there’s one area of our household budget where frugality goes out the window, it’s the birds. There’s a large picture window over our kitchen sink, and I love to spend my Saturday mornings standing with a cup of tea, watching our neighborhood avian community. Or I keep an eye on the flight activity while I do the large-batch cooking that will see us through the week….

  • Energy Star: Saving Money Through Energy Efficiency (12 comments)

    If you’ve bought a major appliance in the U.S. during the past decade, you’ve probably noticed the government-issued Energy Star certification. Energy Star is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. Their goal is to “help us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.” But Energy Star goes beyond simply recommending energy-efficient washers and dryers. The web site offers a number of…

  • Daily Links: Free Downloadable Suze Orman e-Book! (22 comments)

    Want a free book from financial guru Suze Orman? Until 8pm Eastern on the evening of February 14th, the Oprah Winfrey site is giving away a free PDF version of Orman’s latest book, Women & Money. To find the download, scroll to the bottom of this page. The book is available in both English and Spanish editions. (Thanks, Anne!) If you want something a bit more romantic than a personal finance book today, check out…

  • Mortgage Prepayment Made Easy: Own Your Home in Half the Time (205 comments)

    Because I recently eliminated all of my non-mortgage debt, I have a significant positive cash flow. The $1,000 per month I was putting toward debt can now be used for investing. I’m making maximum contributions to my Roth IRA, of course, but that still leaves several hundred dollars each month available for other purposes. This has forced me to evaluate my financial goals. Mortgage prepayment options For the past year, Kris and I have discussed…

  • Daily Links: Money Problems and Buying a Home (11 comments)

    Are you drowning in debt? If so, Lauren Kesner from CNBC wants to hear from you. She writes: CNBC Business Television is looking for someone who is, or was, in debt (about $30,000 or more) and  is interested in being interviewed for a documentary that will address consumer spending and debt.  We specifically need someone who can speak about their own personal experience with overspending associated with  credit cards, home equity lines, etc. as opposed to debt due to student loans, job loss or major…

  • Christmas 1950 (6 comments)

    Here’s a holiday video from 1950 depicting Christmas celebrations around the world: in the United States, England, Holland, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Korea, Japan, Canada, Mexico. (Note the conspicuous absence of Germany and Russia.) It’s a homey little clip, perfect for today. As the spirit of Christmas unites all humanity, men and women everywhere reaffirm their faith in the brotherhood of man. The News Magazine of the Screen presents, from around the world, the spirit of…

  • Advice and Tips for First-Time Homebuyers (61 comments)

    Over at AskMetafilter, somebody recently wrote: What is the single most valuable piece of advice you received when you were in the process of buying your home? Among the great advice in this thread are gems such as: Don’t go into debt to furnish your home. Get pre-qualified for the mortgage so you know how much you can work with…Then only spend 75% of what you’ve been pre-qualified for. Buy the worst house on the…

  • The Cinnamon Bear: An Annual Holiday Tradition (38 comments)

    This is a rare “re-run” at Get Rich Slowly. Because I love The Cinnamon Bear so much, I plan to post this every year on the 29th of November. If you have young children — and even if you don’t — I encourage you to listen to these old radio broadcasts with your family. Holiday traditions don’t have to be expensive. Some of the best traditions don’t cost anything at all. When I was a…

  • The Pros and Cons of an Interest-Only Mortgage (50 comments)

    This is a guest post from Mrs. Micah of Finance and Life. Look for a related post later today. Getting an interest-only mortgage can seem like a great idea when you’re trying to buy a house and can’t afford a down payment (or if you have bad credit). Earlier this week, I read the story of a couple who are celebrating home-ownership under just such a situation. But while they’re happy, odds are that this…

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

    It’s Thanskgiving Day in the United States — my favorite holiday. Here’s a video from 1951 that celebrates Thanksgiving. While it’s a little schmaltzy — and filled with lots of not-so-subtle “I’m glad I’m not a communist” sentiment — it does a fine job of conveying the mood and meaning of the holiday. I’m in Central Oregon visiting family for the next few days. I encourage you to spend time with your family and friends,…

  • The New York Times Rent vs. Buy Calculator (43 comments)

    Is it better to buy or rent? It’s one of the eternal personal finance questions, and one that each person has to decide for herself. There are lots of non-financial factors that affect this decision, of course, including your hobbies, lifestyle, and personal psychology. Despite these non-financial considerations, often the choice comes down to money. What makes the most financial sense? In July, guest-author Tim Ellis shared his thoughts on the rent vs. buy debate…

  • How Much Do Compact Fluorescent Bulbs Really Cost? (132 comments)

    Valerie writes: “Someone in our family recently suggested that compact fluourescents weren’t worth it due to their high initial cost compared to incandescent light bulbs. We’ve switched all our lights to CFL, so my husband looked into the actual costs. I thought you might like the results” In this guest post, she lays out the numbers. It makes good economic sense to switch from Incandescents to compact fluorescents (CFLs) — it’s not just a bunch…

  • House Math 2.0: A Real-Estate Analysis Tool (19 comments)

    Earlier today, Justin asked for feedback about whether he should buy a condo or continue to save for his retirement. GRS reader Andrew forwarded a tool that may help Justin make his decision. HouseMath 2.0 is a web-based app designed to help users explore the costs of purchasing a new home. You enter the numbers for the proposed transaction, and HouseMath runs the numbers to let you know the financial implications. Rather than bombard the…

  • Ask the Readers: Buy a Home, or Max Out Retirement Savings? (78 comments)

    The toughest personal finance choices are those where your heart wrestles with your mind. Justin wrote because he’s found a great place to live, but it’s just on the edge of what he can afford. He wants help deciding what to do: I’ve been renting for the past two years (and several years before that in college). My roommate recently bought a place, and that’s thrown me into the hunt for new housing. Either I…

  • Learning to Love the Not-So-Big House (101 comments)

    I had lunch with my friend Cameron a few weeks ago. Over plates of Kung Pao Chicken and Mongolian Beef, the conversation drifted toward personal finance. We began to talk about the repairs and upgrades we’ve been making to our homes. Kris and I bought our current house three years ago; Cameron and his wife bought their home two years ago. Both were big upgrades from what we had previously owned. And though neither couple…

  • 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…

  • Accelerated Mortgage Payments (and the GRS Amortization Calculator) (48 comments)

    What if you’ve reviewed the compromises required to pay your mortgage early and the idea still appeals to you? You might pay a bank to set up a bi-weekly payment plan or a money merge account. But you can do just as well by taking mortgage acceleration into your own hands. Here are three options I’ve considered: Rather than pay my mortgage, I could deposit my money into a high-yield savings account earning roughly 5%…

  • Is a Money Merge Account a Good Way to Pay Off Your Mortgage? (800 comments)

    Over the past few weeks, I’ve received several questions about money merge accounts (sometimes called “Australian mortgages”). I haven’t paid much attention to these because I’m unfamiliar the products. But when Abbie wrote last week, I decided to do some research. Here’s what she said: My financial guy handed me a DVD for United First Financial the last time I spoke with him.  Apparently they are a company that uses “sophisticated algorithms” to compute how…

  • Frugality in Practice: Do-it-Yourself Home Maintenance (26 comments)

    I hate plumbing. Whenever a faucet begins to leak or a drain clogs, my stomach sinks. I know it means hours of frustrating work. It’s not that plumbing is difficult — it’s just that I’m not well-versed in the ways of home-improvement. Somehow I missed that part of Manhood Training. Despite my apprehension, over thirteen years of homeownership, I’ve made it a point to do as much repair work as I’m able. It has saved…

  • Blow-by-Blow Account of a Housing Addition, part four: Combating Murphy’s Law (5 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jericho Hill. In part one of this series, the author discussed the costs of a housing addition. Part two explored funding, and part three featured tips for saving money on construction. It wouldn’t be a housing addition without delays, problems, incorrect parts, contractor issues, and code problems.  These small things occur in every home remodeling project, and their primary impact is to delay your progress.   We find that by…

  • Blow-by-Blow Account of a Housing Addition, part three: Construction (11 comments)

    This is a guest post from JerichoHill. For the past few weekends, I’ve described what I learned through the process of building a home addition. In part one, I covered costs. In part two, I covered capitalization (obtaining a loan). Today I’ll describe the actual construction. You can read through the whole process in the forums. I want to end this series with the tips and tricks we’ve learned that are helping us save money…

  • Extreme Personal Finance: From Penthouse to RV (41 comments)

    He’s back! The ever-controversial Tynan offers today’s guest entry on downsizing from an expensive condo to a 21-foot RV. On April 20th at 3am I was still awake. I stood on the balcony of my penthouse in downtown Austin and watched the traffic drive by. We were supposed to leave the next day, but I was too excited to sleep. I called my girlfriend. “Are you ready to leave now?” “Haha, sure,” she replied. I…

  • Blow-by-Blow Account of a Housing Addition, part two: Capitalization (13 comments)

    This is a guest post from JerichoHill. Last week I introduced the first of a three-part series on my experiences with building a major home addition. It dealt with defining your objectives and determining if the necessary resources were available and where they were located. To Recap: Because my fiancée, Julie, bought before housing prices rapidly appreciated, we had a large amount of equity to fund our addition, so we wanted to use a home…

  • Blow-by-Blow Account of a Housing Addition, part one: Costs (7 comments)

    This is a guest post from JerichoHill. Recently my fiancée and I have engaged in a bit of home-renovation. Several years ago, Julie bought half of a duplex in a suburb of Washington, D.C. It is rather small for a house today, with two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a finished basement. The bedrooms were small because the duplex was constructed in the early 1960s. Her place was large enough for a spoiled-rotten dog and the…

  • Renting vs. Buying: The Realities of Home-Ownership (315 comments)

    This is a guest-post from Tim Ellis, author of Seattle Bubble, a blog and forum dedicated to discussing real estate market conditions in the Seattle area. “If you rent, you’re throwing away your money.” “Owning your own home is a forced savings plan.” “Home ownership is an excellent path to build wealth.” You’ve probably heard statements like these plenty of times. On television, radio, the internet, and in casual conversation. Such sentiments are common in…

  • Fact or Fiction: Can a Rain Barrel Save You Money? (51 comments)

    In the forums, robblat asked about rain barrels: Are they useful? How much do they cost? Where do you get one? My wife just installed a rain barrel last year, so I asked her to explain how they work. For my birthday last year, I asked my parents for a rain barrel. After doing some research online, I went to our local nursery and paid $100 for a complete barrel set up. While it will…

  • Home Depot to Give Away Compact Fluorescent Bulbs this Sunday (30 comments)

    April 22nd is Earth Day in the United States. In celebration The Home Depot is giving away one million compact fluorescent lightbulbs to people who visit their stores this Sunday. Rumor has it that the free bulbs will be N:Vision soft whites, which were the best in a recent Popular Mechanics lab test. photo by David Hobby of Strobist Electric lighting consumes nearly a quarter of the average home energy budget. Because compact fluorescent bulbs…

  • The Real Estate Roller Coaster (32 comments)

    Last summer I shared a graph of American home values from 1890 to present. I found it alarming: Click image to view larger version in a new window. Graph © NYT. This graph was taken from a New York Times article entitled “Read Between All Those For Sale Signs” [reg. required] by David Leonhardt and Vikas Bajaj. Now the folks at Speculative Bubble have decided to dramatize this graph by — what else? — plotting…

  • The Rentometer: How Does YOUR Rent Compare? (10 comments)

    Do you rent a home or apartment? Have you ever wondered if you’re getting a fair shake? Flexo at Consumerism Commentary discovered a handy tool called the Rentometer. Enter your street address and your monthly rent, then the Rentometer tells how your rent compares to others nearby. (Wow! You folks in California are paying a lot in rent. California dominates the Rentometer top 10 list.)

  • How to Find a Contractor: It’s Not Just About Price (12 comments)

    On Monday I mentioned that it pays to shop around for the lowest price. This skill is specially important when making large money decisions. You should always shop around when purchasing a car, obtaining a mortage, or hiring a contractor. We’ve discussed getting the best deal on a car before. We’ve touched on mortgages, and are sure to discuss them more in the future. Today I want to share my approach to finding a contractor….

  • Ask the Readers: Save for a Down Payment, or Put Money into Home Equity? (27 comments)

    Matt has a question about the best way to save for upgrading his house: My wife and I bought a small house before our wedding, and we know that eventually (say, within the next five years) we’ll need to move. We’ll want to start a family and will need more space. We purchased our current home with an 80/20 loan, instead of putting down the traditional 20% down-payment. At the time we could afford the…

  • When to Replace Common Household Items (34 comments)

    Smart Money has published a guide about when to replace common household items. Here are the items they mention and the recommended replacement periods. (The complete list includes “expert” reasons for replacing each item on a particular schedule.) Air filters — six months. I’ve always heard that furnace filters should be checked every month and replaced every three months. We replace ours in November and March. For more info, check out “How often should I…

  • How Home and Community Affect Our Wealth (20 comments)

    Where we choose to live — both home and community — can have a profound effect on our personal finances, and on the non-monetary “wealth” in our lives. Sabra at the Zillow Blog discovered this first-hand when she and her husband moved into a condo in downtown Seattle. The changes have been amazing — and somewhat unexpected. Our 3,200 square feet of Texas sprawl has been squeezed down to a cosmopolitan 1,200.  We’ve gotten rid…

  • Extreme Personal Finance: Homeless By Choice (10 comments)

    Several readers wrote to share this story of extreme personal finance from the pages of the Los Angeles Times: 26-year-old Andy Bussell has been living in his truck, homeless by choice, for the past year-and-a-half. The odyssey began in 2005. Bussell was working full time as a “Mac genius” at the Apple Store in Newport Beach, sharing a $1,600-per-month apartment in Aliso Viejo. He had racked up more than $10,000 in credit card debt and…

  • Loan.com: A New Site for Home Loan Info (8 comments)

    Chuck Hoover wrote to pitch a new web site, Loan.com: Here’s something that may be of interest to your readers — a new website, Loan.com, that provides consumers with the first tool to find home loans from a pre-qualified list of “ethical” lenders.  With all the recent revelations and regulatory actions against predatory lenders and other brokers who employ unscrupulous business practices, the lenders on Loan.com must agree to a Borrower’s Bill of Rights — a set of…

  • Gardening 101: Plan Today for Summer Success (44 comments)

    Raising your own berries, fruits, and vegetables is a fun and rewarding way to save money. Our grocery bills drop dramatically during harvest season, and the food cannot be beat. (I love our salsa recipe.) But my wife notes, “February is the time to start planning your vegetable garden.” This post contains her advice for starting a garden that will produce a bounty of delicious food. This was an actual weekend harvest from our garden…

  • 15 Tools Every Homeowner Should Own (27 comments)

    Lifehacker points to a MSN Real Estate piece listing the 15 tools every homeowner should own. I’m working on a longer article about home workshops, but this is a good introduction to the subject. If you don’t have a handyman in your family and don’t have a clue where to begin when it comes to assembling a proper home-repair tool kit, there’s good news: For $200, you can buy 90% of all the tools you’ll…

  • The Seller’s Gift: How To Buy a Home With No Down Payment (18 comments)

    Matt wrote to me with an unusual homebuying tale which he’s also posted to his site, Zero Down: My Homebuying Story. On December 29th, he closed on a $90,000 Texas home. His total out-of-pocket expense was $70. He writes: Anyone who can get a mortgage can pay zero down for their new home. I wrote this web page because I think I have an interesting story. Some of the home buying techniques I discovered are…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Buy One Home While Selling Another? (13 comments)

    Ryan recently wrote with a question: What things should you consider when you’re buying a new house while trying to sell the one you own? What’s the best way to coordinate closing dates to allow yourself a comfortable time to prepare for the move but while also minimizing financial impact? How can you calculate what sort of house you can buy outright (or nearly outright) elsewhere for what you can sell your house for now?…

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

    Do you think housing prices are insane where you live? You ought to see London’s Chelsea district. The BBS News reports that a “table-sized” apartment is selling for £170,000 (roughly $334,000US). Here’s the complete story: A flat roughly the size of a snooker table has gone on sale for £170,000 in London’s upmarket Chelsea. The former janitor’s storeroom measures 11ft by 7ft and has a cupboard place for a shower and kitchenette area. Potential buyers…

  • 7 Mistakes That Make Homeowners Targets for Burglars (34 comments)

    I received an advertisement in the mail yesterday for a publication called Bottom Line Personal. The ad included several money tips. My favorite was the list of “Top Mistakes That Make Homeowners Prime Targets for Burglars”. To get the real scoop on how to protect your home, we asked the best of all sources — a reformed burglar. This former burglar stole over $70 million worth of jewelry during his career, and spent 11 years…

  • 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…

  • Save Money on Plumbing Whether or Not You Do It Yourself (7 comments)

    A few weeks ago I mentioned Curbly, a new community-based DIY site. Here’s a guest-post from one of the Curbly’s featured writers, Alex Russell. Copper’s proper. That’s the saying, anyway. But the problem now with copper for your plumbing has nothing to do with reliability. It’s cost. Over the past year, the retail price of copper tube for plumbing has almost doubled. However, there is a great money-saving alternative. Using PEX for your new water…

  • The Night That Mama Cried While Angels Sang (1 comment)

    Here’s a guest-post from my cousin, Mrs. Darling. She previously shared information on how to raise a family on one income (part two). This story is set ten years after my aunt’s six-dollar Christmas and involves the same family. It was the year 1968. That year was an exceptionally hard year in every way. Pop was laid off due to too much snow in the woods. He was a logger. Roads were impassable and snow…

  • The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry (6 comments)

    I first heard this story when I was a young boy, sitting in church on a Christmas morning. It left a lasting impression. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times…

  • Review: Kill-a-Watt Electricity Usage Monitor (68 comments)

    In June I shared some tips for reducing home energy costs. Most of the information came from Michael Bluejay’s excellent guide to saving electricity. I was curious how much electricity invidual appliances use, so I ordered a gadget that Bluejay recommends: the Kill-a-Watt electricity meter. The official web site declares: Connect your appliances into the Kill A Watt™, and assess how efficient they are. A large LCD display counts consumption by the Kilowatt-hour just like…

  • The Cinnamon Bear: A Christmas Tradition (18 comments)

    Holiday traditions don’t have to be expensive. Some of the best traditions don’t cost anything at all. When I was a boy, Christmas meant The Cinnamon Bear. During the weeks before Christmas, a Portland radio station (KEX) would broadcast a fifteen minute episode of this story every night. The Cinnamon Bear chronicles the adventures of Judy and Jimmy, and their fantastic trip through Maybeland as they search for the missing Silver Star that belongs atop…

  • Remodeling a Home, part two: A Leak in the Attic (10 comments)

    This is the second in a series describing our adventures remodeling a one-hundred-year-old home. Last week I shared our experiences with a nightmare insulation contractor. This week, we learn that the damage was worse than we had thought. As you’ll recall, when we bought this old house, we paid a company (GCS) to install insulation. They messed up the job in four ways, three of which were apparent immediately: they drilled holes in the wainscoting…

  • Remodeling a Home, part one: Little Surprises (22 comments)

    Luneray’s home-buying adventure is over, but I’d like to continue to share home-ownership stories every Thursday. Fortunately, I’ve got some doozies of my own to share. For the next few weeks, I’ll describe what it’s like to move into an old house. Two years ago — just before I developed my frugal side — my wife and I bought an old house. It was the place of our dreams: two stories, hardwood floors, lots of…

  • Reader Story: Broken Window, Stolen Goods (42 comments)

    This is a guest entry from Israel Lopez. This weekend I visited a friend at San Francisco State University. On Saturday, my friend and I had lunch downtown. At about 2pm, we parked my car about 1-1/2 blocks from the restaurant. We had some good sushi. We were gone from the car for maybe an hour. When we returned, my car had been broken into, and my valuables stolen. The thieves took my laptop bag…

  • Buying a Home, part seven: First-Time Homeowners (5 comments)

    This is the seventh (and final) weekly installment in Luneray‘s homebuying adventure. Previous entries include: Week one: Looking at houses Week two: Making an offer Week three: A lifetime of debt Week four: The calm before the storm Week five: Preparing to close Week six: Closing the deal This week, Luneray is a homeowner! The paperwork has closed and the title transferred and recorded. We are homeowners. But all I feel is numb. Oscar and…

  • Buying a Home, part six: The Close (13 comments)

    This is the sixth installment in Luneray‘s homebuying adventure. In the first part, she looked at houses. She made an offer in part two. Next, she meditated on coming face-to-face with a lifetime of debt. She worried that things were going a little too smoothly, but then last week she prepared to close. This week, things turn ugly. (Bold emphasis added by J.D.) Today is one of those days that Oscar and I will look…

  • Free Home-Equity Information Kit (1 comment)

    My wife is addicted to the Absurdly Cool Freebie Finder, a site I’ve mentioned here before. She and I have have used it to send away for free samples of beef jerkey, pantyhose, shampoo and more. You can find useful stuff there, too. I found a free subscription to Workbench Magazine, for example. Today there’s a link to a free “BorrowSmart kit”, a collection of information on safely using the equity in your home. This…

  • Buying a Home, part five: Preparing to Close (3 comments)

    This is the fifth installment in Luneray‘s homebuying adventure. In the first part, she looked at houses. She made an offer in part two. Next, she meditated on coming face-to-face with a lifetime of debt. Last week worried that things were going a little too smoothly. This week we learn she was right. (Bold emphasis added by J.D.) So the house buying process was progressing smoothly. The last thing we had to do was be…

  • Buying a Home, part four: Calm Before the Storm (8 comments)

    This is the fourth installment in Luneray‘s homebuying adventure. In the first part, she looked at houses. She made an offer in part two. Last week she meditated on coming face-to-face with a lifetime of debt. (Bold emphasis added by J.D.) This house buying process is going so smoothly that I’m starting to worry that the Trickster God of First-Time Homebuyers is lulling us into a false sense of security before springing something nasty on…

  • 20 Free Ways to Save Energy (15 comments)

    Consumer Reports has a new publication entitled Complete Guide to Reducing Energy Costs. To promote the book, they’ve made twenty tips available for free online: Wash clothes in cold water. Most of the cost in running a washer is in heating the water. Hang clothes on a line. Don’t overdry your laundry. Remove clothes from the dryer while they’re still a little damp. Let the dishwasher do the work. Don’t pre-rinse dishes. (This shocks me….

  • Buying a Home, part two: Making the Offer (4 comments)

    Last Thursday I shared the first of Luneray‘s posts on buying a house. In today’s second part, she talks about the psychological impact of agreeing to an enormous loan. We looked at more houses today, but we didn’t see anything that we liked more than the 50s time-warp, so we made an offer on that. You remember the 50s time-warp, don’t you? The one with the freezer in the bedroom? It is a very cute…

  • Buying a Home, part one: Looking at Houses (19 comments)

    GRS-reader Luneray is in the process of buying her first home. I’ve been following her weblog with interest, as I well-remember the stress from the two times my wife and I purchased a house. Here, with permission, I am reprinting the first installment of her Seattle homebuying adventure. Oscar and I made a big leap into True Adulthood today. We’ve decided to buy a house, and we spent the afternoon with a realtor. Unfortunately, we…

  • Beware of Nightmare Mortgages (5 comments)

    Business Week has a fascinating story about “nightmare mortgages” — adjustable rate home loans made over the past few years that now haunt consumers. For cash-strapped homeowners, it was a pitch they couldn’t refuse: Refinance your mortgage at a bargain rate and cut your payments in half. New home buyers, stretching to afford something in a super-heated market, didn’t even need to produce documentation, much less a downpayment. Those who took the bait are in…

  • An Introduction to Beekeeping (10 comments)

    I accidentally posted this fun little entry for a couple hours last week; it was meant for today. My wife and I grow vegetables, fruit, nuts, and berries. We’ve considered getting goats. And deep in my heart, I think it’d be fun to keep bees. (My dad kept bees for a time when I was a boy — I was awed by his white beekeeping outfit.) The Make Blog points to several web resources on…

  • Housing Bubble: Reading Between the For-Sale Signs (19 comments)

    Yesterday Jason Kottke linked to a graph of American home values from 1890 to present. It’s shocking. It’s one thing to hear that the U.S. is in the midst of a housing bubble, but it’s another thing to see a visual representation. Adjusted for inflation, homes are currently selling for about twice their historical value. Click image to view larger version in a new window. Graph © NYT. This graph is from a recent New…

  • Extreme Personal Finance: How to Pay Off Your Mortgage in Three Years (31 comments)

    Most people who accelerate their mortgage make one extra payment a year. Maybe two. Or they refinance a thirty-year mortgage at fifteen years. Yahoo! Canada has a story of one couple who paid off their $220,000 mortgage in three years. How did they do it? When I finally finished my master’s degree in 2000, we had a total debt of $52,000 from my student loans. This is when we made the decision that changed everything….

  • Free Web-Based Home Energy Analyzer (0 comment)

    Andrew W. wrote in to share this free home-energy analyzer. This [site] is well done. It walks you through a set of questions about the kind of home you have, your appliances, and your sources of energy/fuel. It’s more helpful for people who live in houses rather than apartments — the level of detail for house-specific questions is impressive, such as whether or not you have a finished basement — but overall it does a…

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

    This is a true story. My wife and I bought our first house in June of 1993. It was a nice ranch-style house in my home-town. The seller had prepped it for market by keeping the lawn a gorgeous emerald green. He kept it trim and well-watered even until the day we moved in (June 23rd). In this part of Oregon, brown-lawn season begins around June 21st. That is, if you don’t water your lawn…

  • Most Overpriced Housing Markets (4 comments)

    CNNMoney has published a list ranking 100 housing markets according to affordability. Though home prices are beginning to level out in parts of the country, they’re still way too high in other areas. The median home, however, is still overpriced by an average of more than 14 percent, … and homes in many markets are still way too high. This matters because those markets have much more potential for the kind of steep decline that…

  • 25 Cheap Ways to Keep Your House Cooler (1 comment)

    Yesterday I gave some tips on how to keep cool during the summer heat. MoneyCentral has posted 25 ways to keep your house cooler. The article includes advice on getting the most from your air conditioning, including such tips as: open windows and use fans instead of using air conditioners; shade the outside portion of your air conditioner; don’t place things that emit heat near your air conditioner; install shades or awnings. You might also…

  • Cheap Places to Live Rich (4 comments)

    Forbes has a report on 150 cheap places to live. Author Richard Karlgaard points out the obvious: it’s more expensive to live in some places than others. A $4,000,000 home in San Diego might only cost $700,000 in Bend, Oregon. Why hasn’t everyone moved to Bend? Karlgaard contends that most of us are trapped in old ways of thinking, that we believe we must live where we work. Technology is changing that. This is the…

  • The Right Way to Use a Reverse Mortgage (0 comment)

    For seniors, this option can be a reasonable way to raise much-needed funds.

  • The Nightmare Next Door (0 comment)

    “What to do before your neighbor’s overgrown yard, Day-Glo paint job or never-ending renovation drives down your home’s value — and drives you up the wall.”

  • Save Money by Switching to Compact Fluorescents (6 comments)

    How much can you save by switching lightbulbs? The Technocrat recently did the math and decided to replace all of his incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. The up-front cost was huge, but he calculated the new bulbs would pay for themselves in just six months. You can get a six-pack [of compact fluorescents] that costs less than $30, with each bulb putting out as much light as a 60 watt bulb, while only using 13…

  • Fix Your Broken Appliance, Don’t Replace It (1 comment)

    Dumb Little Man suggests that you oughtn’t just buy a new dishwasher when the old one dies. Do a little research. It may be easier (and cheaper!) to repair than you think.

  • Coping with an Adustable Rate Mortgage (3 comments)

    Interest rates are on the rise, and that means the 25 percent of homeowners who hold adjustable-rate mortgages are beginning to feel the pinch. Gerri Willis at CNNMoney has some advice to help these folks guard against higher rates. She recommends that homeowners: Know the stakes. The increased rates can make hundreds of dollars of difference in your monthly payment, all of which goes to interest. Buy some time. Though it will cost now, you…

  • 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….

  • Workshops and Craft Rooms (0 comment)

    Phil at the Make Blog is hosting an informal best workshop contest. There’s a Flickr pool for submitting workshop photos. Natalie, Make’s “crafts maker”, also found a set of craft room photos. These pictures are fun to browse — it’s great to see what other people build and create. Frugal folks love to make things. Learning to do-it-yourself is an important part of living with less. My workshop doesn’t get as much use as it…

  • Housing: Rent vs. Buy Calculator (6 comments)

    Should you buy or rent? That’s a question we each face at some point. It doesn’t always make sense to buy. Depending on your location, your marital status, your income level, how long you intend to live in a particular location, and a handful of other variables, renting may actually make more sense than purchasing a home. Here’s a web-based rent vs. buy calculator that can help you play with different scenarios. I used the…

  • 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…

  • Quick and Easy Yellow-Jacket Trap (1 comment)

    Just in time for summer, here’s a quick and easy way to deal with the hoards of yellow jackets that are just waiting for you to grill those steaks on a warm evening. This trap can be built from stuff you have around the house. And a piece of fish. You will need: A dish pan or wash basin. A tablespoon of liquid dish soap (preferably unscented). Three sticks about a foot long. A couple…

  • 21st Century Decluttering (3 comments)

    Creatrope, a site about “21st Century Decluttering”, is a new weblog perfect for packrats. It’s full of suggestions for purging all that junk you’re keeping in your life. I am this site’s target audience. There are entries on: Decluttering your library Books and resources about decluttering Collectibles that never are Valuing items for sale, donation, or junk This is good stuff. I look forward to reading more in the future.

  • Why a 50-Year Mortgage is a Bad Idea (1 comment)

    I hope that most people understand that an extra-long mortgage is a fool’s game. If not, check out 50-Year Mortgages: No Shelter for the Strapped at Yahoo! Finance. Author Laura Rowley hits the nail on the head: A few lenders in California recently introduced 50-year adjustable-rate mortgages. The headline on the USA Today story was: “Need to keep house payments low? Try a 50-year mortgage.” This may be the worst possible way to portray this…

  • Quick and Easy Self-Watering Garden Planters (1 comment)

    The Make Blog has a quick-and-easy tip for all of you frugal home gardeners: how to make self-watering planters from old milk jugs. Awesome in its simplicity and utility. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back outside to plant my watermelon and to water my peas, peppers, and corn…

  • 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…

  • Oregon Master Gardeners Plant Sale (2 comments)

    Just a reminder to all Portland-area readers that the Oregon Master Gardeners will be holding their annual plant sale this Saturday and Sunday. Every spring [we hold] a spectacular garden fair at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds in Canby. It is held on the weekend before Mothers Day. Last year we had over 15,000 people show up and that number increases every year. There will be vendors selling hanging baskets, bedding plants, annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs,…

  • 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…