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Money Hacks


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

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

  • Improve your negotiation skills with BATNA (21 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Sam. Sam spent 13 years working in Equities on Wall Street and discusses financial independence strategies on Financial Samurai. Sam is also the founder of the Yakezie Network, the largest personal finance blog network on the web. If you want to know how to get the best deal possible, learn this simple acronym: BATNA. “BATNA” stands for “Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement.” Often times the bulk of money…

  • Money challenges: Why I’m OK with them, and a few of my favorites (51 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. I’m not usually a fan of gimmicks. But if the sole purpose of a gimmick is to save some extra cash, I guess I’m OK with it. We talked about this recently, but there seems to be a heightened interest in frugality lately. Maybe that’s why I’ve noticed a whole crop of money-saving challenges popping up all over the Internet, from personal finance blogs to Pinterest. And then,…

  • Overwork and the illusion of a “high-paying” job (68 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. I recently read a short article in The New Yorker titled “The Cult of Overwork.” In it, James Surowiecki writes: “For decades, junior bankers and Wall Street firms had an unspoken pact: in exchange for reasonably high-paying jobs and a shot at obscene wealth, young analysts agreed to work fifteen hours a day, and forgo anything resembling a normal life.” Reading that, I had a thought. If you’re…

  • 5 car maintenance services you can get for free (26 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. We get a lot of pitches at Get Rich Slowly. Despite the underlying marketing agenda, sometimes these pitches contain useful information that is worth sharing. Case in point, Pep Boys emailed us a whole array of free services they offer. My ears perked up for a few reasons: I was impressed with just how many services they offer. It made me wonder about other places that offer free…

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

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

  • The power of speaking up (38 comments)

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

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

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

  • Ask the Readers: Which Concepts Have Contributed Most to Your Financial Success? (57 comments)

    Note: 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. Over the past few months, I’ve been brainstorming ideas about future book projects. It’s been four years since I started writing Your Money: The Missing Manual, and I’m eager to delve deeper into the subject of personal finance….

  • Reader Stories: The shocking truth about medical bills that can save you thousands (236 comments)

    This reader story is by a longtime GRS reader Sumitha from afineparent.com, a blog founded on the simple belief that “Good Parents Are Made, Not Born.” Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. How much would you think it would cost to…

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

    This post was written by Kurt Smith, author of Ballpark E-Guides, PDF-format guides that help fans get the most bang for their buck at the ballgame. He’s been called “MLB’s Worst Enemy” by “Connecticut Morning,” a TV program on which he is a frequent guest. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and…

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

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

  • Reader Story: How I Use Superfrugality Month to Curb Lifestyle Inflation (52 comments)

    This guest post from Marisa Bell-Metereau 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. Every year in February, once the holidays are over and life is slowly returning to normal, my boyfriend and I…

  • The Best Way to Buy a New Car (44 comments)

    Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is the author of The Predictioneer’s Game, a book about using game theory to get what you want in day-to-day life. Mesquita argues that we can predict and engineer the future by understanding the self-interest of those involved in making decisions. What does that all mean? Well, over at Big Think, Mesquita has provided a short video explaining how to use these ideas to buy a new car. Here are the…

  • Kickstart New Habits with a 30-Day Challenge (52 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. I never make New Year’s resolutions. I’ve got nothing against them, but I’m usually already working on resolutions made throughout the previous year. I’m too impatient to wait for an arbitrary day to start changing something in my life. One example? Less-than-healthful holiday eating habits. I’m a health nut by nature — I crave kale, and soft drinks have zero appeal. But on December 25, you can…

  • Free Money from Banks! (But Watch the Fine Print) (53 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. I earned $200 in less than an hour the other day, without removing any of my clothes. A bank gave me the money (or will, a few months from now) in exchange for opening a business checking account. Why would a bank or a credit union…

  • Reader Story (and Question): Saving Time and Money with Autopay (95 comments)

    This guest post from Jason 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. Jason and his wife run Gravity Switch, a company that does web development and iPhone/iPad development. In addition to doing the grocery shopping, I…

  • The Mighty Power of the Lowly Coin Jar (or, How I Saved $723 in Seven Months Without Effort) (132 comments)

    This guest post is from Danny Iny, an author, strategist, serial entrepreneur, and co-founder of Firepole Marketing, the program that teaches expert marketing for non-marketers. If you like what you read here, check out his free video course or follow him on Twitter. In January, I started an experiment, a savings experiment. The experiment was designed to save money for my “emergency cushion” account without feeling the loss from my pocket or budget. I figured…

  • Reader Story: Geographic Arbitrage in Real Life (38 comments)

    This guest post from Alice 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. Over the years on GRS, I’ve encountered a number of articles on the benefits of geographic arbitrage, which basically means making your money in…

  • Playing to Win: Turning Money Management into a Game (65 comments)

    I am a gamer. All my life, I’ve been a fan of games of all types. I’ve played Dungeons and Dragons since I was in the third grade. During 2000 and 2001, Kris and I had marathon bridge sessions with another couple at least once a week. I used to host monthly game nights during which my friends and I played the latest and greatest European board games. For a while, I played in chess…

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

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

  • A Primer on Finding Unclaimed Property (69 comments)

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

  • My Financial Roadmap and Making Course Corrections (58 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. One of the hazards of blogging is that you can’t always be right. When you’re wrong, you get to be wrong in front of a lot of people. Which can be embarrassing — but also a great learning experience. In April, I wrote about my “frugal” decision to let my broken shower languish, and the critical…

  • 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…

  • Becoming a Groupon Groupie (86 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. I have a pretty idyllic Friday evening planned: I’m going to yoga class, and then taking my husband out for dinner. These are both fairly spendy activities for me, but I got a great deal. I’ve already paid for both my yoga class and my date night with Groupons. Groupon is the mother of all daily…

  • A Quick and Easy Way to Check the Status of Your Tax Refund (17 comments)

    This morning I posted my annual review of the Consumer Reports auto issue. Now might be a good time to publish another annual reminder: It’s tax refund season! If you have a refund due this year and you’re getting antsy for it, you can check its status easily with this simple web-based tool from the IRS web site. You’ll need to provide your social security number, marital status, and exact refund amount in order for…

  • Geographic Arbitrage: Save Money by Leaving The Country (76 comments)

    This is a guest post from Gary Arndt, who has been traveling around the world non-stop since March 2007 and has visited over 80 countries. He blogs at Everything-Everywhere.com, which was named one of the 25 Best Blogs of 2010 by Time Magazine. Let’s start with the obvious: Costs aren’t the same everywhere. You may already be aware of this on some level, but until you’ve traveled extensively, it isn’t something you really understand. The…

  • Confessions of a Spendaholic: How to Curb Compulsive Spending (51 comments)

    My name is J.D., and I’m a spendaholic. Now admittedly, I mostly have my spending under control. I’m no longer in debt, and I force myself to make conscious decisions about what I purchase. (Conscious spending is one of the keys to overcoming emotional spending.) Having said that, however, I know that if I relax for even a moment, I’ll be right back in my old habits. I’ll find myself at the grocery store, buying…

  • Use FreeFile to File Your Tax Return for Free (32 comments)

    Tax season is in full swing, and again this year, the Internal Revenue Service is offering a program that allows many U.S. taxpayers to electronically file their tax returns for free: The Free File program provides free federal income tax preparation and electronic filing for eligible taxpayers through a partnership between the Internal Revenue Service and the Free File Alliance LLC, a group of private sector tax software companies. Many companies offer free or paid…

  • Reader Story: How to Find Budgeting Nirvana with Mint.com (78 comments)

    This guest post from Geoff Lennon 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. Though I’ve been a GRS reader since early 2007, I’ve largely been a quiet observer. I’ve often wanted to participate more actively in…

  • How to Take Control of Your Finances in 2011 (58 comments)

    The new year is upon us! I’ve talked to a lot of folks lately who have resolved to make this the year they get out of debt. Or start an emergency fund. Or earn more money. These resolutions don’t mean a whit, though, if you don’t have a plan. For the past five years, I’ve shared the following road map, adding one new tip every January. Many GRS readers have used this info to plot…

  • Getting Paid to Tell Lies: Mystery Shopping as a Frugal Hack (56 comments)

    This post is from new GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Living With Less personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. Two persistent rumors about mystery shopping: It’s a scam. It’s not a scam — and you can get rich doing it! Allow me to set these rumors to rest: Mystery shopping is not a scam. (Well, sometimes it is. More on that…

  • Finding Financial Benchmarks and Milestones (115 comments)

    In last Wednesday’s link round-up, I pointed to an article over at Gen-Y Wealth in which RJ has listed 20 financial milestones you should reach in your twenties. “I like this list,” I wrote, “and I’d actually love to see similar lists for different age ranges. People could use it as a sort of road map to where they ought to be.” What sorts of milestones were on the list? Things like: Pay off your…

  • How to Build Your Own Personal-Finance Manual (27 comments)

    When I started writing Your Money: The Missing Manual, I had problems finding a focus. I couldn’t figure out who my intended audience was. To get over this hump, I eventually hit upon a cunning plan: I would write the personal-finance book that I wish I’d had back when I started my personal-finance journey. I’d pack the book full of the info I’ve found most useful over the past five years, and include links to…

  • Finding My Spending Identity (31 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. Do you have a Spending Identity? You do, whether you know it or not. It’s as real as the data on your driver’s license, but if you’re like most people, you’ve probably never given it much thought. Your Spending Identity dictates who you are as a consumer: Are you frugal or extravagant?…

  • How to Feed Your Soul for Cheap: 12 Ways to Enjoy High Culture for Less (36 comments)

    This post is from new GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Living With Less personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality, intentional living and lifeitsownself at Surviving And Thriving. The Seattle Art Museum is hosting a show called “Picasso: Masterpieces From the Musee National Picasso, Paris” through 12 January 2011. It costs $20 to see the 150 paintings, sculptures, prints and photos. This is an important show and no doubt…

  • Credit Cards That Grow Your Assets (72 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. My better half and I are two days into the process of re-evaluating our best rewards credit cards for 2012, contemplating switching to a card with better rewards. For us, it comes down to…

  • Make More Money: How to Supercharge Your Income (81 comments)
  • Budgeting For Mistakes (75 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. How carefully do you budget? Do you account for every dime, or is there some wiggle room in your spending plan? Since I got on the wagon with tracking my spending, there’s no miscellaneous category in my budget anymore. Every dime of my income is accounted for. I know how much I…

  • What to Do When Personal Finance Becomes a Chore (62 comments)

    Yesterday, Sierra wrote that she’s bored. She’s reached a point in her financial journey where nothing exciting seems to be happening. She’s paid off the easy debts, and now it’s a slog as she pays off her big debts (and then prepares to save for the future). Ah, yes. I remember that feeling well. While I paid off my final debt — and again while I made the transition from debtor to saver — I…

  • Gaming The System: Score Points With Your Savings (42 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. I’m at a bit of a personal-finance plateau. I’ve conquered my credit cards. I’m chipping away at my loans using the same tactics that helped me pay off the plastic debt. I’m living about as frugally as I comfortably can. I can cut back a little extra here and there, but for…

  • Money Magic That Really Works (15 comments)

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

  • How One GRS Reader Saved Over $1,000 on Airfare (12 comments)

    The time has come. I’ve packed as lightly as I know how (which may not be light enough), we’ve installed the housesitter, and I’ve scheduled a month’s worth of great guest posts here at GRS. As you read this, Kris and I are now jetting our way from Portland to New York City to Venice, Italy. We’ll spend the next two weeks exploring Venice, Florence, and Rome. After that, we’ll take the night train through…

  • Free Money-Management Spreadsheet (21 comments)

    Whenever I write about personal-finance programs, there’s always a large contingent of GRS readers who chime in to say they prefer the do-it-yourself method. Rather than go with pre-packaged money-management software like Quicken or Mint, they prefer to track their accounts with a home-brewed spreadsheet. (In fact, my wife is one of these folks, too.) I’ve shared a variety of personal-finance spreadsheets in the past. Some of my favorites are produced by Jon Wittwer of…

  • How to Find Unclaimed Money (and Unclaimed Property) (72 comments)

    July 21st was the fifteenth anniversary of my father’s death. He died of cancer at age 49, just ten days shy of his fiftieth birthday. When Dad died, he left behind a meager estate. Aside from the custom box business (which, admittedly, was not “meager”), he managed to leave each family member with $5,000 in life insurance proceeds, and that’s about it. His personal finance skills had never been great, and that included estate planning….

  • Pay Yourself First with a Coupon Booklet (19 comments)

    Is budgeting a hassle? Do you sometimes forget to make your Roth IRA contribution or to transfer this month’s installment for the new car you’re saving for? Do you wish there were some way to make the process easier? One way to reduce human error is to set up a separate savings account for each of your goals. You can then set up automatic monthly transfers to each of these accounts (and to each of…

  • Ask the Readers: Methods for Effective Money Management? (132 comments)

    On Monday I confessed that since I stopped tracking my spending, I’ve actually had some trouble paying my bills. It’s not that I don’t have the money — I have plenty! — but that I no longer have a system in place to remind myself to take care of routine financial tasks. Quicken was my system, and when I stopped using it, order vanished. In the comments on Monday’s post, Rob Bennett made an astute…

  • Save Money by Carrying a Water Bottle (63 comments)

    I’ve intended to begin featuring entries from the recent GRS video contest, but things keep getting in the way. Let’s change that! Starting today, I’ll use Saturdays to highlight some of my favorites, both winners and not-winners. To begin, here’s a tip that didn’t win a prize. Austin from Foreigner’s Finances is teaching English in Japan. He says that one of his favorite ways to save money is to always carry a water bottle with…

  • Three Passive Barriers I Use to Counter Consumerism (37 comments)

    This video post is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker previously featured a post on his own blog entitled, Dave Ramsey Vs. Suze Orman. Passive barriers are those small mental impediments that keep us from making smart choices. Things like over-drafting your bank account because you’re too lazy to stop by the bank to make a deposit, or not going for a run because it’s a pain to get your exercise clothes together. But while…

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

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

  • The 50-Percent Solution (50 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. When I started getting serious about frugal living, my husband dredged up one piece of juicy financial advice he recalled from his grad school days: Use half of what you normally would. He was talking about consumable goods like shampoo and dish soap. The idea is to reduce by half the amount…

  • Get Kitchen Gadgets for Less at the Local Restaurant Supply Store (24 comments)

    My pal Chris Guillebeau is out of town on another one of his around-the-world jaunts. While he’s living the high life in Equatorial Guinea, his wife Jolie (the artist behind my Kermit painting) is left to entertain herself here in Portland. What does she choose to do? While away her hours with me and Kris. On a whim, yesterday the three of us made a trip to the local restaurant supply store. This wasn’t my…

  • Living The Examined Life: Personal Data Collection is a Powerful Tool for Change (27 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. Machines are, in some respects, much smarter than we are. Specifically, their ability to collect data about us far outpaces our own ability to know who we are and what we do. Your computer can’t tell you why you eat, spend money, sleep, or watch TV. But it can tell you with…

  • Reader Story: The $20 Challenge (45 comments)

    This guest post from Jessica is part of the “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general “how I did X” advice, and others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity, and with all sorts of incomes. Note that Jessica won $500 in the GRS video contest for this success story. My husband Paul…

  • The One-Year Wardrobe Project (99 comments)

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

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

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

  • Fixed Expenses and Flexible Expenses: How to Budget for Both (56 comments)

    This post is from new staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. A few months ago, my local bank and I had a falling out and my husband and I were suddenly very motivated to switch banks. We’d narrowed it down to two choices: Citizens Bank, which has a local branch where I can deposit the cash and many small checks I receive…

  • How To Check Your Federal IRS Tax Refund Status (44 comments)

    For years, I loved to get a tax refund. In fact, it seemed the only way I could save was by having extra withheld from my paycheck so that I’d get a big refund at the end of the year. Using this method, I was able to buy a new computer, a new bike, and all sorts of other toys. (But, of course, I was never smart enough to use the money to pay down…

  • The Hidden Cost of Spending While In Debt (51 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker, who recently released an 83-page guide entitled Unautomate Your Finances. Courtney and I are big fans of what we call “mental filters”. These are simple little tips and tricks that we can use to increase our financial awareness. (J.D. likes to call these tips and tricks money hacks.) For example, I’ve talked before about how we taped a picture of our daughter to our credit cards while…

  • New from the IRS! Use Your Tax Refund to Buy Savings Bonds (29 comments)

    Here’s something cool I learned at Mapgirl’s Fiscal Challenge. Apparently you can now use your tax refund to automatically buy I-series bonds from the U.S. government. As recently as three years ago, I was a huge fan of tax refunds. Despite the arguments against them, I liked getting a tax refund because it was the only way I’d found to save. I’m able to save on my own now, so I no longer aim to…

  • A Fast, Free Way to File Your Federal Income Taxes (23 comments)

    Tax season is in full swing, and again this year, the Internal Revenue Service is offering a program that allows many U.S. taxpayers to electronically file their tax returns for free: The Free File program provides free federal income tax preparation and electronic filing for eligible taxpayers through a partnership between the Internal Revenue Service and the Free File Alliance LLC, a group of private sector tax software companies. Many companies offer free or paid…

  • Take Control of Your Finances by Building on What You Already Know (26 comments)

    This post is from new staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra has provided several great guest posts over the last few months, so I asked her to come aboard as a semi-regular staff writer. Good thing, too. I’m swamped with final book preparations, so my post for this morning wasn’t ready to go! Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. The most important trick to managing your finances…

  • Mastering the Art of Haggling (53 comments)

    Last weekend, The Washington Post published an article from Mike Rosenwald about the recent resurgence of haggling. To get a feel for the art of the deal, Rosenwald spent a week putting haggling to work in his own life: For consumers like me who have spent decades shopping at full retail, getting a deal on previously no-deal items is liberating and invigorating, as I found out during a recent week I spent haggling. At first,…

  • Reader Tip: Pay Your Bills as They Arrive (99 comments)

    Andy sent me a tip by e-mail the other day. This isn’t long enough to be a reader story, but I think it’ll be useful advice for some GRS readers. Andy says he’s learned that if he pays his bills as they arrive, he feels a lot less stressed than if he puts them off to the end of the month. When he got his first credit card, Andy made a habit of paying his…

  • 9 Sneaky Expenses That Eat Away at Your Income (58 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker is a founding member of Untemplater.com, a new multi-author blog focusing on personal finance, entrepreneurship, and life design for people in their 20′s and 30′s. Few concepts have had as great an impact on my family’s financial decision-making as learning how to calculate our real hourly wage. The concept was introduced by (or at least popularized by) the amazing book, Your Money or Your Life. This book…

  • Wallet Garden Helps Protect You from ID Theft (42 comments)

    I had lunch with my friend Matt last week. Matt runs the popular community blog Metafilter, where the seeds of Get Rich Slowly were sown. As we ate our pre-Christmas tamales, we chatted about our respective websites. I mentioned that Charlie Park, who runs PearBudget, is acting as a technical reviewer for Your Money: The Missing Manual. “You know,” I said. “Charlie and I both launched our projects at about the same time. And we…

  • 10 Steps to Financial Success in 2010 (51 comments)

    Ah, the new year. The perfect time to get your life back on track. If one of your goals for 2010 is to take control of your finances, this crash course in financial basics can help guide the way. Here are ten simple but effective steps you can take to build a better financial future. Step #1: Track every penny you spend The authors of Your Money or Your Life urge readers to “keep track…

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

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

  • You Can Negotiate Anything (45 comments)

    In May, I wrote about how to negotiate your salary. I argued that following the advice in Jack Chapman’s Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1,000 a Minute is one of the best ways to improve your financial well-being. I still believe it. If you’re looking for work or looking for a raise, you should absolutely read his book. But negotiation is a skill you can use in other parts of your life, too. In…

  • Master Your Money with a Financial Health Day (28 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the advisor for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. Today at 3pm Eastern, Robert will by leading a live discussion about money and relationships at BlogTalkRadio. Howdy, folks. I’m writing you from a hotel room in Charlottesville, Virginia. All alone. My wife kicked…

  • How to Establish a Credit History Without Losing Your Shirt (45 comments)

    This is a guest post from Adam Jusko, founder of IndexCreditCards.com, an information and comparison site for credit cards that maintains a list of over 1200 cards. You can follow Adam on Twitter for quick credit tips and opinions. I’ve previously featured IndexCreditCards as “The Only Credit Card Guide You’ll Ever Need” as a source for credit card offers Among recently-passed credit card regulations is a command that issuers stop giving credit cards to adults…

  • How to Get Your Free Credit Report Online: A Step-by-Step Guide (49 comments)

    This article is by GRS staff writer Adam Baker. The statistics on credit reports errors are staggering. A 2004 U.S. PIRG survey showed that 79% of credit reports contained either serious errors or other mistakes of some kind. 79%? Seriously? How can that be? I guess it doesn’t help that as of 2006, 27% of adults had never checked their report for errors. Not once. Ever. vslide_var1 = ‘vslide-free-credit-report-step’; Getting your hands on a free…

  • Minimalist Money: 6 Steps to Simplify Your Financial Life (98 comments)

    This is a guest post from Leo Babauta of the simplicity blog, Zen Habits. Leo also recently started a new blog about minimalism, mnmlist.com. Finances are one of the most complicated things in many people’s lives … and yet, they don’t have to be. With a little effort, you can simplify your financial life and end the money headaches most people face. I consider myself a minimalist. As such, I shy from all kinds of…

  • 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…

  • Your Credit Report Card (69 comments)

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

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

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

  • The Best Ways to Boost Your Retirement (50 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the advisor for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. With the S&P 500 still down more than a third from its 2007 high, we’re all a little unsure about our retirement plans these days. So it’s time for some good old-fashioned elbow grease….

  • How to Earn Free Plane Tickets and Cash Back by Shopping Online (100 comments)

    This is a guest post from April Dykman, an avid GRS reader, and a writer and editor by trade. April is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. In her first article, April described how she discovered freedom from mindless spending. April is an active commenter at this site. When my husband and I went to Italy in 2006, we spent $2500 on plane tickets. We’re planning to spend much less for our next…

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

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

  • How to Use Couchsurfing to See the World (108 comments)

    This is a guest post from Baker, who writes about personal finance at Man vs. Debt. Baker is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. Along with his wife and 15-month-old daughter, Baker has recently moved overseas to New Zealand, where his young family is passionately continuing their own personal “war” on debt. What if I told you there was a different way to travel? A way to see the world outside of the…

  • Free Financial Spreadsheets from Google Docs (24 comments)

    Last week, I shared a list of 16 alternatives to Microsoft Money. These applications offer a variety of solutions for managing your personal finances. But not everyone wants to use a specialized computer program to track their spending. Many Get Rich Slowly readers (including my wife) are content to manage their money with a spreadsheet. Spreadsheets are easily customizable, and if you know what you’re doing, they can actually be a lot more powerful than…

  • Online Banking: 13 Choices for Higher Interest Rates and Increased Security (86 comments)

    In its July 2009 issue, Consumer Reports Money Adviser published a brief overview of the best online banking options according to their research. “Online banking, despite a rocky start, is becoming the rule rather than the exception,” the article says, noting that online banking can net savers better interest rates and increased security. I’d love to be able to point you to an online version of this article, but none exists. And I’m not about…

  • Should You Write ‘SEE ID’ or Sign Your Credit Cards? (153 comments)

    Last week I had lunch with Hardy, a Get Rich Slowly reader here in Portland. We chatted about life (and personal finance) over burgers and fries. He generously offered to pay the bill. When the waitress returned with the credit card slip, she asked to see his driver license. “What was that all about?” I asked. “Asking for my ID?” said Hardy. I nodded. He flipped over his credit card and showed it to me….

  • The Lazy Way to Investment Success (494 comments)

    While researching investment strategies for my retirement savings, I’ve been reading a lot of books. There are hundreds of authors offering thousands of tips for turning a small pile of gold into a big pile of gold. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell whose advice to heed. To be honest, I find the simplest investment strategies most appealing. I just finished reading Paul Farrell’s The Lazy Person’s Guide to Investing, for example, and I found myself…

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

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

  • Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1,000 a Minute (55 comments)

    Most personal-finance blogs write about cutting expenses. But you can obtain powerful results by looking beyond frugality, by boosting your earning power. One of the best ways to increase your income is at the source: during salary negotiations, either when you land a job or during a performance review. This can be scary. For many people, salary negotiations are an awkward thing. I was discussing this subject recently with my friend Michael, who runs the…

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

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

  • Want to Spend Less? Carry Bigger Bills (44 comments)

    In a study that will appear in December’s issue of the Journal of Consumer Research (but which was published online last month), Priya Raghubir and Joydeep Srivastava argue that “the denomination effect” makes us less likely to spend large denominations (a $20 bill, for example) than small denominations (such as twenty $1 bills): The results suggest that the denomination effect occurs because large denominations are psychologically less fungible than smaller ones, allowing them to be…

  • How to Create Your Own Target-Date Mutual Fund (35 comments)

    This is a guest post from Frank Curmudgeon, who writes about bad money advice at his aptly-named blog, Bad Money Advice. You may have heard of target-date funds. In 2006 they were okayed as default investment options for 401k accounts, so if you said nothing about where you wanted your 401k money to go, you might even have found yourself the proud owner of one. A target-date fund is a mutual fund that is made…

  • The Neighborhood Plant Swap (19 comments)

    This is a guest post from Kris. Earlier this month, I shared the notion of SwapLucks. Kris recently participated in a similar event, trading plants with friends and neighbors. Last weekend, my friend Rhonda hosted a Plant Swap. It was so successful that she’s decided to make it an annual event. Although this story is specifically about gardeners sharing plants, the process could easily be adapted to parents sharing kids’ clothes and toys, cooks swapping…

  • 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…

  • Fail-Safe Investing? Harry Browne’s Permanent Portfolio (64 comments)

    “The first rule of investing is don’t lose money; the second rule is don’t forget rule number one.” — Warren Buffett At the end of March, I asked you what topics you’d like to see covered during Financial Literacy Month. I received many great suggestions, and will continue to fulfill requests not just in April, but for months to come. One comment especially caught my eye. Kenneth F. LaVoie III wrote: Never again will I…

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

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

  • Direct Stock Purchase Plans: A Better Way to Invest (64 comments)

    This is a guest post from Michael Robertson, a writer and avid personal investor who lives in Washington, D.C. He is keenly interested in raising money for, and awareness of, multiple myeloma. So you want to buy stocks? Great! But you only have a small amount of money each month to invest? You’re worried about any potential returns being wiped out in the beginning by brokerage fees? You’re wise to worry. Invest $100 bucks per…

  • WhiteFence Helps You Find Deals on Utilities (37 comments)

    I’m a huge advocate of calling your utilities to ask for rate reductions. But some people are uncomfortable making these sorts of calls. It would be helpful if these folks had a way of using the internet to find better deals. WhiteFence is a web-based service that allows users to do just that. From the about page: WhiteFence is a free service that helps people who are moving or looking to find the best deals…

  • The Psychology of Passive Barriers: Why Your Friends Don’t Save Money, Eat Healthier, or Clean Their Garages (100 comments)

    This is a guest post from Ramit Sethi, the founder of iwillteachyoutoberich.com, a blog on personal finance and entrepreneurship. His new book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, will be published on March 23rd. A surprising thing happens to people in their forties. After working hard, buying a house, and starting a family, they suddenly realize that they’d better start being responsible with their money. They begin reading financial books and trying to learn…

  • 25 Useful Financial Rules of Thumb (100 comments)

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

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

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

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

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

  • Playing with Numbers: Using Spreadsheets to Learn About Money (112 comments)

    One of my favorite personal finance tools is the spreadsheet. Although I’m no Excel master, I’ve found that I can create a spreadsheet to find answers for many money questions that I have. If I run into problems, I ask Google…or my wife. (Kris took an Excel training course.) Here are some recent questions GRS readers have e-mailed me that could be answered in just a few minutes playing with formulas: “Won’t using multiple savings…

  • Use Personal Marketing to Persuade Yourself to Save (46 comments)

    This is a guest post from Lynn Brem, who writes one of my favorite sites, Take Back Your Brain! TBYB! is all about advertising to yourself, about using marketing tools to help meet your goals. Persuasive messages are all around us. In fact, Adbusters estimates that we’re exposed to as many as 5000 marketing messages every day. They’re embedded in news, entertainment, information, transportation — even in our food and clothing. Several properties are shared…

  • How to Dispute Credit Card Charges (37 comments)

    In yesterday’s USA Today, Kathy Chu offered tips to help consumers with disputes on credit card charges. This is a nice companion piece to this morning’s GRS post about thwarting credit-card company tricks. “No industry statistics are available about how often such disputes are won by consumers,” Chu writes. “But to maximize their chances, consumers should know how to navigate the maze of rules governing credit card disputes.” She shares five ways to increase your…

  • Save Money with The Scrooge Strategy (77 comments)

    Ramit Sethi from I Will Teach You to Be Rich introduced his new project today. The Scrooge Strategy is an extension of his recent 30-Day Challenge, during which he urged readers to make meaningful changes to their financial lives. “I hate most frugality tips,” Sethi writes. Instead, he wants to save big: Many frugality tips focus on things like saving $10 per month for a huge amount of effort. That’s just not worth it. If…

  • “Jumpstart Your Retirement Plan Days” Provides Free Financial Advice (8 comments)

    Mark your calendar! Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors are working together again to offer Jumpstart Your Retirement Plan Days. Here’s the low-down from the official press release: On Tuesday, January 13th and Friday, January 30th from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, NAPFA members across the country will be standing by to answer your financial questions. Normally these Fee-Only planners, well versed in investments, taxes, insurance, estate planning,…

  • Commitment Contracts and StickK.com (21 comments)

    It is not difficult to change for a day. But it can seem almost impossible to change for a year — or a week. Though 2009 is only eight days old, I suspect that many folks are already struggling with their New Year’s resolutions. This problem is the driving force behind StickK.com. StickK helps users to set — and stick to — “commitment contracts”. Here’s how it works: After signing up with stickK, you will…

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

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

  • 9 Methods for Mastering Your Money (75 comments)

    2008 was a miserable year for money. The stock market tumbled, unemployment soared, the housing market continued to crumble, and retirement savings shriveled away. Whew! Here’s hoping 2009 will be better! But hope can only do so much. Hope cannot bring change. Action brings change. If one of your goals for 2009 is to take control of your money (instead of letting it keep control of you), this crash course in financial basics can help…

  • Tax-Loss Harvesting: How to Use the Market Downturn to Save on Taxes This Year (26 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation. This is a guest post from Linden Cornett. Linden is a Portland-area professional with an interest in finance. The stock market is down this year, and many people have asked me if I’ve made any changes to my investments as a result. My general strategy is to buy-hold-rebalance my stock and bond investments, so I’ve mainly used this downturn as an opportunity to buy stocks at bargain prices. There is one…

  • In Praise of the Adult Allowance (193 comments)

    In the past, many Get Rich Slowly readers have sung the praises of the “adult allowance”. Though I’ve read enthusiastic comments supporting this idea, I’ve never paid it much heed. To be honest, it’s always sounded lame, and I didn’t think it would be useful to me. I was wrong. Accidental allowance Before our short vacation in early October, I pulled $200 out of the ATM. This is unusual for me. I don’t like to…

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

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

  • Can You Save $1,000 in 30 Days? (54 comments)

    Ramit at I Will Teach You to Be Rich has announced his Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge. During the month of November, he’s urging people to get off the couch and actually take steps to reduce their spending. Here’s what he writes: Right now, people don’t care about proper asset allocation or understanding average stock market returns. The people I’ve talked to want to know how to save money right now. [...] Each day…

  • Trick or Treat! Buy Restaurant.com Gift Certificates for 80% Off (TODAY ONLY!) (45 comments)

    Several people wrote to tell me about the Restaurant.com 80% off deal, but I sort of blew them off. It sounded too good to be true. I was wrong. Turns out this is very very real, but the offer ends today. Kris and I have used Restaurant.com once, but don’t know much about it. Here’s what I can tell you: The web site allows you to buy discounted gift certificates to restaurants. You might, for…

  • The Balanced Money Formula (86 comments)

    Building a budget is one of the basic tasks of personal finance. But not everyone can keep a budget. As much as I’d like to, I don’t feel comfortable with detailed planning. I continue to use a spending plan as a rough guide to my future, but a traditional budget just doesn’t work for me. Last night I stumbled across the Balanced Money Formula proposed by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Tyagi in their excellent book,…

  • Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping (30 comments)

    I am sick. Rather than take a day off — heaven forbid! — I’ve pieced together an old 3-part post from the GRS archives. These stories originally appeared on 18 May 2006. Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping might be more aptly titled How We Sell: The Science of Marketing. I hoped the book would explore the complex urges that lead us to buy, but instead it seems to be targeted at store owners…

  • Beyond “Real Hourly Wage”: How Much Time Does Stuff Actually Cost? (35 comments)

    In my last post, I explained how to compute your real hourly wage, a notion popularized by the book Your Money or Your Life. Authors Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin encourage readers to calculate their real hourly wage to gain insight into how much time and energy things cost. To do this, you must subtract your annual work-related expenses from your annual income, and then divide the total by the number of hours you spend…

  • How to Compute Your REAL Hourly Wage (39 comments)

    Like many Get Rich Slowly readers, I credit Your Money or Your Life with changing the way I approach my personal finances. This book transformed my relationship with money, and helped me to understand that by spending beyond my means, I was sacrificing a secure future for today’s passing pleasures. One of the book’s key insights is that time really is money. Or, approaching it from the other direction, money is time. The authors write:…

  • 10 Unconventional Money-Saving Tips (65 comments)

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

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

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

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

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

  • Ask the Readers: Choosing a Bank During the Credit Crisis? (72 comments)

    The more the credit crisis spreads, the more it affects the average person. Kristen wrote last week looking for advice. She’s not in a panic, but she is wondering what she should do: I wanted to ask your thoughts on the recent seizure and sale of Washington Mutual. All of my accounts are at WaMu, including my 3.75% APY online savings account, and my 4.5% APY 12-month CD. I think these are great rates for…

  • You Make HOW Much? Getting Paid What You’re Worth (34 comments)

    A little blurb in the 22 September 2008 issue of Newsweek caught my eye. Linda Stern writes that younger workers are becoming more comfortable about sharing their salary information with friends and co-workers. She points out that it’s also possible to make more generalized salary comparisons using web tools like: Glassdoor.com, which allows employees to share salaries and review employers. (You must register to see details, though.) Salary.com, which offers a wide range of employment…

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

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

  • Making and Doing: The Value of Productive Hobbies (62 comments)

    I spent a couple hours this morning performing what ought to have been a simple home-maintenance task. The light fixture on our front porch had gone faulty, and I needed to replace it. I’ve done enough wiring projects now that the electrical aspect of the job didn’t bother me. But the woodworking? That was frustrating. As I fumbled with the jigsaw (“Drat! Another blade bent!”), I wished again that I practiced woodworking more often. I…

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

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

  • The Budget Toolbox: 13 Tools for Building a Better Budget (55 comments)

    Sara’s been reading personal finance blogs for a while now, and she’s ready to set up a budget. She’s come to us for help. She writes: I would like to start listing my spending totals into a spreadsheet budget along with setting goals for ‘bigger things’ (trips, winter tires etc). Do you have a budget template that works for you, or could you please recommend a few tips on getting started? A budget can be…

  • How to Choose a Credit Card (63 comments)

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

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

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

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

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

  • Building a Better Budget: Think Yearly, Not Monthly (26 comments)

    If you struggle with keeping a budget, it may be because you’re trying to predict your spending in time chunks that are just too small. A new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that people who made annual budgets were better able to predict their spending than those who made monthly budgets. From the University of Chicago press release: [Researchers] found that, contrary to popular advice, people were more accurate when constructing…

  • Free Debt Snowball Spreadsheet (27 comments)

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

  • SmartyPig: A Goal-Oriented Savings Account (50 comments)

    Have you ever wanted to pool your money with friends or family to save toward a common goal? While it’s possible to do this with paper and pencil, it’d be easier if there were an online service to automagically track the savings for you. SmartyPig believes it is that service. SmartyPig is a special branded savings account from new type of savings account, with funds held at West Bank of Iowa. It’s specifically created to…

  • Earn Quick Cash by Participating in Medical Research and Marketing Studies (54 comments)

    I made $120 for one hour of work last week. On Tuesday, I participated in a neuroeconomics study at a nearby university. For sixty minutes, I lay inside an MRI scanner while answering questions about money. When I had finished, the researchers paid me $120. In cash. I admit that with the four hour round-trip and the half hour of wait time, my hourly rate drops to something nearer $20, but that’s still not bad….

  • Use Fuelly to Track Your Fuel Economy (26 comments)

    How fuel efficient is your vehicle? Do you ever get the suspicion, as I do, that your car’s gas mileage is getting worse? Have you ever wondered how your mileage compares to other drivers? And what about the estimated mileage touted by the car companies? Does a Mini Cooper really get 37 miles per gallon? Matt Haughey and Paul Bausch have launched a new site called Fuelly, which allows users to track their vehicles’ fuel…

  • Energy Conservation in Alaska: What Worked? What Did Not? (30 comments)

    Last April, Dan wrote to ask GRS readers for help with a sudden energy crisis. Because of a natural disaster, electricity costs in Juneau, Alaska jumped from $0.11 per kilowatt-hour to $0.53 per kilowatt-hour. In this follow-up, Dan explains how his family coped with high energy costs. It’s been over three months since an avalanche knocked out our hydropower supply in Juneau. At that time, Get Rich Slowly readers provided plenty of great comments and…

  • Ask the Readers: Should I Chase Higher Interest Rates? (88 comments)

    Almost eighteen months ago, I wrote a post listing the best on-line high-yield savings accounts. Over 750 comments later, the discussion is still going strong. Kyle recently chimed in with a question many people have: In January, before I started reading Get Rich Slowly, I opened a high-yield investor checking account with Charles Schwab. The interest rate was around 3.75%, but it’s fallen to 2% now. After starting to read your site, I decided to…

  • Use a No-Spend Month to Become Mindful of Money (45 comments)

    Yesterday, Amy Jo pointed me to a site called SmallNotebook.org where Rachel is nearing the end of a self-imposed No-Spend Month. Though the name is something of a misnomer — this exercise is more of a Spend Less Month — it’s still an interesting concept. For the entire month of July, Rachel’s family of three set a budget of $250 to spend on food, gas, clothing, household items, and entertainment. They’re doing this “to stretch…

  • Simplify Your Investing: An Introduction to DRIPs (42 comments)

    This is a guest post from Sara, who writes about reaching for a life of greater simplicity and deeper meaning at On Simplicity. I’m a simple girl and I love simple solutions. That’s why I’ve fallen in love with DRIP investing — it’s about as simple as investing gets. If you’re an investor who likes to set it and forget it, DRIPs are a great weapon to have in your financial arsenal. What Is a…

  • Turning $5 into Thousands (62 comments)

    I love to read about the little tricks people use to force themselves to save money. Apparently I’m not the only one. Yesterday Jeff sent me a brief story from The Boston Globe that describes how Marie Franklin saves every five dollar bill she receives. She’s been doing this for three years, and in that time she’s managed to save $12,000. She writes: This idea will only work if you are disciplined. When I decided…

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

    When I was a sophomore in college, I got my first credit card. I thought it was awesome — it was like free money. Soon I got another credit card, and before long I’d maxed them both out. I entered the work force with a handicap. I had the start of a nasty credit habit. Because I’d grown up in a poor family, I had no notion of proper money skills. I made some bad…

  • How to Save Thousands on Your Medical Bills (36 comments)

    Few things can blow a budget like unexpected medical bills. Even those who practice frugality and invest for the future can find their financial plans smashed to pieces by unexpected health problems. And for those who don’t have their financial house in order, a medical crisis can be devastating. Five years ago, I had surgery to replace the ACL on my right knee. Though I am insured through Kris’ job, I found the experience frustrating….

  • Use a Personal Escrow Account to Budget for Non-Monthly Expenses (50 comments)

    Charlotte wrote recently to share a new system she’s developed for handling her non-monthly expenses. She calls it “personal escrow”. Most homeowners are familiar with the notion of escrow. Each month’s mortgage payment goes not only toward principal and interest, but also to fund an escrow account. From this escrow account, the mortgage company pays property taxes and homeowners insurance. Charlotte uses the same idea for certain other expenses in her life. First, she totaled…

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

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

  • Money Tips from Consumer Reports (19 comments)

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

  • How to Avoid Bank Overdraft Fees (45 comments)

    Last fall, I discovered my Quicken data file from the mid-1990s. It contains all my transactions from 01 January 1995 until 06 April 1998. There are many fascinating insights to be gleaned from my crazy spending a decade ago, but as I was looking through my checkbook register, one thing in particular stood out. Before nearly every paycheck, my bank balance would dwindle to $12.33 or $7.14 or something similar. When I was paid, the…

  • Subscribe to Craigslist Search Results to Grab Great Deals (26 comments)

    You’ve been watching Craigslist for a good deal on a hedge trimmer, but you just aren’t having any luck. By the time you find a good listing, it’s been up for an hour and the HedgeHog XR is long gone. You could sit and refresh the farm+garden category constantly, but that’s a waste of time. (Besides, what would your boss think?) Fortunately, there’s a better way. Did you know it’s also possible to watch Craigslist…

  • A Small Bite: The Sensible Way to Splurge (41 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. I need dessert. After a fine meal — home-cooked or dining out — I simply don’t feel satisfied without a bit of something sweet. The slowing metabolism that comes with encroaching middle age means I must do one of three things: fight the urge and feel deprived give in wholeheartedly to my craving and regret it later find a middle ground With dessert, I’ve discovered a middle…

  • Personal Finance Made Easy: Pay Yourself First (84 comments)

    Yesterday I shared some financial tips my father gave me when I was a sophomore in college. He didn’t stop there. After I graduated, he continued to offer advice. One of the things he told me was, “Pay yourself first.” To explain, he gave me a copy of George Clason’s 1926 classic, The Richest Man in Babylon. I didn’t read it. In retrospect, I ought to have been a little less stubborn. It took years…

  • The Benefits of Barter (24 comments)

    This is a guest post from Andréa Coutu. So you’ve got big ideas but no way to pay for them: a home renovation, weekend getaway, successful business, dream dinner date, leaner body, new bedroom suite…the list goes on and on. Maybe your bank account has seen better days, or maybe you just don’t want to tie up more money in pursuing a dream. Well, money is just one medium of exchange. By using barter, you…

  • The 13 Commandments of Savvy Consumers (33 comments)

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

  • Unit Pricing: Get More Food for Less Money (66 comments)

    This is a guest post from Charlie Park at PearBudget. Recently, Get Rich Slowly readers got upset at the idea of spending $6 on a gallon of milk. Reading that, I had to chuckle a little bit: Shortly before we had to give it up, our milk went up to $11 a gallon. Yup. You read that right: $11. A gallon. Technically, the milk was free, but the boarding and care of the animals that…

  • Current Deals and Contests from Online Banks (41 comments)

    The Get Rich Slowly online banking thread lay dormant for several weeks, but recently has bubbled back to life, with plenty of comments and feedback regarding the best internet banks. Because interest rates are now so closely packed now, the banks are resorting to contests and incentives to differentiate themselves. Some are temporarily boosting yields to attract new customers. Here’s a rundown of current deals. ING Direct’s Automatic Saver Sweepstakes Since January, ING Direct has…

  • 2008 Consumer Action Handbook (11 comments)

    Every year, Kris and I place an order with the Federal Citizen Information Center in Pueblo, Colorado. The FCIC is a small department in the United States government with a mission to distribute free and low-cost Federal consumer publications. In other words, it’s a government office that offers lots of free (and cheap) pamphlets about all sorts of cool stuff. Many of these publications are freely availabe online in electronic format. Here are just a…

  • How to Track Travel Expenses and Stick to a Vacation Budget (37 comments)

    This is a guest post from Debbie Dubrow, who writes about traveling with babies, toddlers, and kids at Delicious Baby. Her site contains personal travel stories, family-friendly city guides, and lots of tips and advice for traveling with children. Most families need to stick to a budget when they travel. But tracking daily expenses, especially in a foreign currency, can be tricky. Here are some easy tips to make it easy to keep track of…

  • How to Save Hundreds by Playing the Drugstore Game (100 comments)

    This is a guest post from Cathy, who writes about family finances, cooking, and parenting at Chief Family Officer. I love the philosophy of getting rich slowly by doing the fundamentals: spend less than you earn, pay off debt, and invest wisely. One way that I save money is with what I call The Drugstore Game. The Drugstore Game involves combining manufacturer and store coupons, and taking advantage of a store’s best deals. When played…

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

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

  • Get Quality Stuff For Cheap from Local College Students (35 comments)

    Almost a year ago, a reader named Emily wrote with a great tip about finding good deals from local college students. I lost her e-mail until recently, but that’s okay. Her advice is perfect for this time of year. Here’s what she says: If you happen to live around a university, the end of the semester (especially the end of the spring semester and during the summer) is the absolute best time to get great…

  • Use a Freedom Account to Prepare for the Unexpected (54 comments)

    My wife has always maintained a sizable savings account, but having extra cash is new to me. Until recently, I had always lived paycheck-to-paycheck, often treading close to a zero dollar balance in my checkbook for months at a time. Now, though, I’ve not only established an emergency account, but set up a couple of targeted accounts as well. (One is for vacations, and the other is for a new car.) My method works for…

  • Personal Currencies: New Ways to Look at Money (57 comments)

    On Saturday, I wrote about my transition from spender to saver. I mentioned that I’d recently peeked at the latest camera equipment. “I spent twenty minutes on Amazon, drooling over the Nikon D300,” I wrote. “I’m tempted — but not much. I’d rather save that $1,800 for the future.” Reader Kristi Wachter left an astute comment: $1800? That’s, what, 6% of a Mini Cooper? This is an excellent way to look at proposed expenses: re-frame…

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

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

  • Save Money on Food with the Sixty Minute Plan (26 comments)

    Kris at Cheap Healthy Good recently wrote how 60 minutes a week can save hundreds of dollars on food. This kind of stuff never occurred to me in my early ‘20s, and The Boyfriend and I are much better for it now. We eat like the dickens and haven’t had to sell any major organs to finance peanut butter purchases (lately). To keep her costs down and to reduce the time involved, Kris has created…

  • 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…

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

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

  • Secrets of the Extremely Thrifty (29 comments)

    Yesterday Adam at Lifehacker unearthed a Bankrate article in which extreme savers share their secrets. While the tips profiled in this story aren’t as radical as some I’ve shared, they’re much more applicable to average people like you and me. Author Elaine Appleman Grant writes: These days, as the cost of food and gas skyrockets, credit becomes more difficult to get and consumer confidence reaches an all-time low, saving has become a must…There’s a whole…

  • Negotiate Once, Save Thousands Every Year (22 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jason, who is the author of World Fitness Network, a blog that will teach you how to lift weights, live strong, and change the way you look and feel. Sometimes a few simple actions can save you money year after year. The negotiation process is definitely one of those times. Negotiating works especially well when you deal with a salesperson who is paid by commission. These salespeople often have…

  • 66 Ways to Save Money (12 comments)

    Hidden around the web are lots of little personal finance gems. I stumble across new resources every day — I just don’t have time to share them all! I plan to start sharing more than I have been, however, beginning today with a publication from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Federation of America. 66 Ways to Save Money is a a free 12-page PDF file available from the FTC’S Bureau of Consumer…

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

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

  • Would You Make a Ten-Minute Phone Call for $57? (35 comments)

    GRS reader Dan recently wrote to share a story I hear often. Many people are afraid to ask for a better deal — they think it’s not worth the effort. Dan has decided that it is: I thought I’d share a short story about credit cards.  I’ve been using them for eight years now, and have always paid my bill in full every month.  I use Quicken to keep track of what I’ll owe at…

  • Free File: A Fast, Easy Way to File Your Federal Income Taxes (19 comments)

    Tax season is in full swing! Again this year, the Internal Revenue Service is offering a program that allows many U.S. taxpayers to electronically file their tax returns for free. Free File is a free federal income tax preparation and electronic filing program for eligible taxpayers, developed through a partnership between the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Free File Alliance LLC, a group of private sector tax software companies. You may access free commercial…

  • Which is Better: a Roth IRA or a Traditional IRA? (50 comments)

    Every week, I receive more questions about Individual Retirement Accounts (which are more correctly known as “Individual Retirement Arrangements”, or IRAs). These are great tools to help the average American save for retirement. Most of the time I’m able to route people to one of my previous articles on the subject: The GRS Introduction to Roth IRAs series Part 0: How compound returns favor the young Part 1: What is a Roth IRA and why…

  • How to Prevent Identity Theft — Deter, Detect, Defend (53 comments)

    Identity theft sucks. Our mail was stolen recently. All that we know we’re missing are some tax documents, but we’re not taking any chances. Rather than wait for the thieves to do any damage, we’ve taken steps to minimize repercussions. After filing a report with the US Postal Service, we received a package of information, including a flyer from the Federal Trade Commission describing techniques to fight back against identity theft. The FTC encourages people…

  • How Shopping Momentum Leads to More Shopping (48 comments)

    Recent research at the Stanford Graduate School of Business suggests that shopping can lead to more shopping. When such savvy marketing researchers as Uzma Khan of Stanford, Ravi Dhar of Yale, and Joel Huber of Duke noticed that shopping sometimes proceeded unchecked even in their own private domains, they decided to get to the bottom of things. Setting up a series of tests of purchasing behavior, they found that for most people buying that fateful…

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

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

  • The Kitchen-Table Investor: Wealth-Building Strategies for Working Families (25 comments)

    As you might expect, most of my personal investments are safely tucked away in index funds, those mutual funds designed to track the performance of a particular stock market index. This is a smart way for the average investor to achieve solid growth over the long-term. However, I continue to hold about 5% of my investment capital in reserve as “mad money”. While the rest of my investments are conservative, I use this money to…

  • 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…

  • A Free and Simple Budget Planner (49 comments)

    During past discussions of on-line money-tracking tools and desktop software, many Get Rich Slowly readers have sung the praises of home-brew budget planners built using Microsoft Excel. In this guest post from Jeff M., he shares a spreadsheet he created and describes his own budgeting system in detail. J.D. doesn’t talk a lot about budgeting at Get Rich Slowly — he uses a spending plan — but I want to share a personal budget planner…

  • How Lower Fees and Expenses with Index Funds Could Mean 33% More to Spend in Retirement (29 comments)

    This is a guest-post from Dylan Ross. Dylan is a Certified Financial Planner and owner of Swan Financial Planning, LLC a registered investment adviser in New Jersey. He is an active commenter at Get Rich Slowly, both on the blog and in the forums. “Fees are the investor’s enemy,” J.D. recently told me. He’s right. There are many ways to illustrate the drag that fees place on portfolio returns. This is often shown by calculating…

  • The Power of Positive Cash Flow (42 comments)

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

  • Money Hack: Use CDs to Beat Falling Interest Rates (42 comments)

    When the Federal Reserve cuts short-term interest rates, as it did yesterday, you feel the pinch in your savings account. My ING Direct account, for example, has dropped from 4.50% when I opened it to 3.65% today. It may drop again. Brian from The Job Bored dropped a line with a money hack for those who like to chase the highest interest rates. “Why not buy protection?”, he wonders. Here’s how: Since ING makes it…

  • How to Cope with Frugality Burnout (27 comments)

    Sara Noel at the Frugal Village blog recently shared some excellent advice about avoiding frugality burnout. “If you’ve been focused on frugality for a while,” she writes, “at some point you’ll probably feel discouraged, frustrated or even think about giving up.” It can be tough to stay focused on your goals when it seems everyone around you is spending like there’s no tomorrow. [...] It can get tiring to make cheaper choices or overthink small…

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

    During the twenty years I carried consumer debt, I made several attempts to change my habits. Every time I decided to lick the debt monster, I would follow the advice in the financial books: I’d arrange my debts in order, listing the one with the highest interest rate first. I’d pay extra on this bill for a couple of months, but then give up in frustration because I didn’t seem to be making any progress…

  • Bankrate’s 2008 Tax Guide (0 comment)

    Tax season is upon us. Get Rich Slowly still doesn’t have a body of tax articles, but Bankrate does. Every year, they offer the following resources: Tax calendar — “April 15 isn’t the only important day for taxes. Our tax calendar provides you with many others to circle.” Daily tax tip — “The daily tax tip plus an array of tax tools, terms and training will help you through filing and beyond.” Filing and refunds…

  • 21 Money-Saving Sites from Around the Web (55 comments)

    Marshall Loeb at MarketWatch recently shared some tips for online coupon clipping: A recent study by comScore, an Internet information provider that tracks consumer behavior, found that 53% of consumers say they regularly visit brand Web sites to find promotions. Visiting a manufacturer’s web site is a great way to find coupons (or other promotions) for products you plan to purchase. But, as Loeb notes, there are many web sites that amalgamate deals into one…

  • Great Ways to Earn More Money (28 comments)

    The fundamental law of money is: To gain wealth, you must spend less than you earn. If you want to increase your wealth, you must spend less or you must earn more. (Doing both is even better.) Often personal finance writers focus on the “spend less” half of the equation. Frugality is quick and easy to implement, and it’s something that anyone can practice. For good or ill, self-denial is easier for people than self-promotion….

  • Missing Money: Finding Unclaimed Property (43 comments)

    On Monday, I received a strange letter in the mail. It was addressed to my father, but sent to my home. My father has been dead for twelve years, and he never saw the house we live in now. The letter purports to be a settlement of some sort of $400 annuity. (I’m unclear on the details and don’t have it with me right now.) Though I’m deeply skeptical that this is anything but a…

  • Free Professional Financial Checkup Tomorrow (23 comments)

    It’s the start of a new year, and many people have resolved to improve their financial situation. Meanwhile, another tax season is close upon us. Personal finance questions abound! Sure, money forums and blogs can help you with some of your problems, but sometimes you need a trained professional. Tomorrow — Tuesday, January 15th — Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and the National Association of Personal Finance Advisors (NAPFA) are teaming up to provide free retirement planning…

  • How to Automate Your Personal Finances (53 comments)

    For the past few months, I’ve been moving toward a system of paperless personal finance. In this guest post from Paul Lussier, he explains his own automated system. Lately J.D. has been talking a lot about automating his finances.  In my world (that of high-tech, software, and large computer systems), we strive to automate as much as possible. By doing this, we hope to minimize error by reducing human interaction, leveraging the power of the…

  • An Introduction to Quicken Online (71 comments)

    Intuit releases a new product today: Quicken Online, a web-based version of its popular personal finance software. I’m a long-time Quicken user, so when Jodi and Jim from Intuit offered to give me a preview of this product’s features, I jumped at the chance. Please note: I haven’t actually used Quicken Online myself yet, and I am not being compensated for this preview. (15 Feb 2008: I have joined a Quicken Online affiliate program —…

  • 8 Ways to Take Control of Your Finances in 2008 (59 comments)

    The new year is a time for goals and resolutions. If one of your goals in 2008 is to take control of your money (instead of letting it keep control of you), this crash course in financial basics can help guide the way. Here’s a summary of everything I’ve learned about personal finance. Track every penny you spend The authors of Your Money or Your Life admonish readers to “keep track of every cent that…

  • Asking for a Better Financial Future (27 comments)

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

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

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

  • Paycheck and Withholding Calculators for Year-End Money Moves (14 comments)

    Ah, winter. It’s the time of year that a young man’s thoughts turn to taxes. It used to be that I would rough out our tax situation as soon as the forms became available. Because I insisted on having too much withheld from my paycheck, I was anxious to know how large my tax refund would be. (This was the only way I could make myself save.) Paycheck calculator Next year my financial situation will…

  • Track Shared Bills and Expenses with Buxfer (18 comments)

    Do you have a roommate? A partner? A friend to whom you’ve loaned money? Buxfer is a fantastic web-based tool for anyone in a situation with shared expenses. The site’s programmers write: As graduate students, having food almost always meant eating out with a bunch of fellow sufferers somewhere on Craig Street. With such a high rate of accumulating bills, our memories and scraps of paper were just not enough. So we wrote a small…

  • Daily Roundup: Cold Santa Edition (6 comments)

    As expected, I’m running behind schedule. I’m playing Santa Claus at the box factory — delivering goodies to our best customers — and have social engagements in the evening. I may need to use an extra guest post or two, or perhaps share some of the best posts from my now-defunct Money Hacks site. Meanwhile, here are some personal finance articles that caught my eye today: Penny Nickel at Money and Values has compiled a…

  • Gift Card Tips and Tricks (33 comments)

    This morning’s post on the pros and cons of gift cards generated some great discussion. GRS readers seem fairly evenly divided on the topic. Some of you like gift cards, but many do not. My favorite parts of the conversation were the various gift card hacks people shared: Greg noted “You can frequently get 90-105% of the cash value of a gift card on eBay. For example: here and here.” I’ll suggest this to my…

  • The USDA Food Stamp Nutrition Connection (21 comments)

    The United States government has a host of useful web sites. Even the IRS site is informational. I’ve written about various government resources in the past, such as: The U.S. Department of Labor’s statistics on minimum wage workers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s information on the cost of food. Today I discovered another USDA site: The Food Stamp Nutrition Connection. Though ostensibly designed for low-income audiences, this site is probably worth visiting for others interested…

  • Track Price Drops with Price Protectr (14 comments)

    Alan wrote to tell me about a new site he discovered. Price Protectr is a smart little web app that helps consumers save money after they’ve purchased big-ticket items. There are lots of stores out there that offer price protection policies — when the price drops on an item you’ve purchased, they’ll refund you the difference. But there’s a catch…it’s up to you to watch prices. Price Protectr makes it simple to keep track of…

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

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

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

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

  • Personal Finance Sites from Around the World (2007 Edition) (43 comments)

    While my U.S. readers are spending their Thanksgiving holidays eating turkey, watching football, and visiting with family, it’s the perfect time to perform another roundup of personal finance sites from around the world. It’s been ten months since I last updated this list. As usual, if you know of a non-U.S. personal finance site, please let me know. Some of these are of higher quality than others. I haven’t screened the wheat from the chaff….

  • Mint: A Fresh New On-Line Personal Finance Tool (115 comments)

    In this guest post, SC takes a look at Mint, one of the recent batch of on-line financial management tools. I haven’t had a chance to use the site, so SC volunteered to write about his experiences. Mint is a new website that claims it will help you organize your finances, automate your financial life, and help you save money at every turn. I have a credit card with Capital One, two bank accounts with…

  • Money Hack: Prepay Your Monthly Bills (72 comments)

    Note: While I think this is a good idea, it’s clear that many readers strongly disagree. Before deciding whether to try this, please read the arguments in opposition. Earlier this year, on a whim, I did something a little odd: instead of just paying my monthly cable and internet bills, I wrote large checks, pre-paying for several months of service. I didn’t have a reason for doing it at the time. I had a momentary…

  • 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…

  • Best Dates for Holiday Travel 2007 (29 comments)

    I hate flying. Not only am I scared of the actual air travel (yes, really), but I don’t like the crowds and, especially, the cost. Flying during the holiday season is a special class of hell. One Get Rich Slowly reader recently forward this handy travel calendar from Hotwire.com: If you must travel over the holiday season, your best bet is to stick close to the green dates. Flights are cheaper and less crowded. The…

  • A Brief Overview of Estate Planning Software (21 comments)

    It’s that spooky haunted time of year — my annual post about estate planning! Last year I shared a brief guide to creating a will. Today I’m going to look at a recent New York Times article by Christine Larson that provides an overview of will preparation software. Larson writes, “Recently, the increasing sophistication of software and services for estate planning, combined with growing consumer comfort with online financial management, has led to a boom…

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

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

  • 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…

  • Book Review: The Automatic Millionaire (59 comments)

    David Bach is perhaps best known for coining the term the latte factor, a phrase that has almost become a joke in personal finance circles. That’s too bad, really, because Bach has some good ideas. And the latte factor is a marvelous concept, applicable to many people who casually spend their future a few dollars at a time. Bach’s most popular book is The Automatic Millionaire. I’ve referred to it often, but never reviewed it…

  • Ask the Readers: Best Brick-and-Mortar Banks? (94 comments)

    Last March I shared a list of the best online high-yield savings accounts. Rates have been dropping, and I intend to post an update. Meanwhile, I’ve received a couple of questions recently about the best choices for brick-and-mortar banks. Alex wrote, “I would love to see a write-up on the best banks for regular checking accounts (in terms of customer service, minimum balances, overdraft fees, etc.).” Paul has a similar question: My wife and I…

  • The Spending Plan: Budgeting for Non-Budgeters (188 comments)

    Three commenters on this post will win free copies Quicken Deluxe 2008 for Windows. Read on for details! I’ve never been able to keep a budget. They’re a great tool for many people, but for me a budget is a recipe for failure. It’s too fussy. I can’t stick to it. When I don’t stick to it, I feel guilty. When I feel guilty, I want to spend more money. Still, I’ve found it’s helpful…

  • ShopSmart: Five Eco-Friendly, Wallet-Friendly Sites (32 comments)

    While waiting in line at the supermarket the other day, I succumbed to an impulse purchase. I picked up a new magazine called ShopSmart. “No hype. No ads. Just great buys!” the cover touts. Inside are reviews and tips for everyday products. But ShopSmart differs from its parent publication, Consumer Reports, in several ways: it offers no extensive product ratings, it’s specifically geared toward helping consumers get the best deals, and its target audience is…

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

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

  • How to List an eBay Auction for Maximum Profit (37 comments)

    This is a guest post from Mike Panic, a freelance photographer and network administrator. In his spare time, Panic runs three sites: Randomn3ss, iPhotoForum, and iLikeCheapStuff. Over the past eight years I have been buying and selling items on eBay for myself and, more recently, for small businesses. In that time I’ve learned a few tricks to help get maximum profit for items with just a few tweaks during the listing process. Here’s a checklist…

  • Always Check Your Receipts (30 comments)

    IKEA opened in Portland recently. I’d never been to IKEA before, but had heard that it’s a great place to pick up inexpensive furniture and gadgets for the home. One recent Friday afternoon, Kris and I decided to go on a date to the new store. Not very romantic, perhaps, but oh-so-practical. IKEA stores are huge. Each one is laid out like a giant maze. You don’t browse aisles, but instead walk from the start…

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

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

  • One Man Who Beats the Market (and His Suggestions for Individual Investors) (47 comments)

    I’ve edited this post to clarify a few things, and to add information researched by GRS readers. Thanks! The average investor cannot beat the market on a regular basis. For her, index funds are the best investment. Even a majority of professional money managers fail to beat the market most of the time. However, there are those — like Warren Buffett — who seem to have a sort of financial genius, who are able to…

  • 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%…

  • RetailMeNot: A Smart Source for Online Coupon Codes (30 comments)

    Coupon codes are a great way to save money while shopping online. But how can you find the best deals for the sites you frequent? Googling isn’t reliable — search results yield too many spammy sites and too many outdated codes. Matt Haughey writes that there’s a better way: [While searching for coupon codes,] I remembered the BugMeNot people did a coupon site last year, so I went to bugmenot to find it and found…

  • How to Use the Amazon Marketplace for Fun and Profit (58 comments)

    This is a guest post from Cady. You can read more from Cady in her fiscal fitness journal in the Get Rich Slowly discussion forums. While rearranging my music collection recently, I decided to pull out anything I hadn’t listened to in a year. I had quite a stack. I looked at some of my titles and decided to sell them. I’d never really considered it before, but since I buy most of my new-to-me…

  • Budgeting with an Irregular Income (21 comments)

    Does your income vary from paycheck-to-paycheck? This can make it difficult to plan your spending, but Aaron dropped a line with a trick he’s developed to adhere to a budget: Here’s a financial hack I use because my income is so irregular. It would work as a budgeting tool for regular folks too: I get my commission checks put into an online banking account and set up automatic deposits into my “real” checking account to…

  • How to Buy a New Car Without Getting Screwed (29 comments)

    As a follow-up to yestereday’s discussion, if I had decided to get a new car — which isn’t the case — I would have had to face the daunting Car-Buying Process: the haggling, the scheming, the underbody protection. This can be intimidating. The game feels rigged against the buyer. Lifehacker recently unearthed a five-minute video that explains how to buy a new car without being screwed. For those of you without video capability, here’s a…

  • How to Feed Yourself for $15 a Week (204 comments)

    Our discussion about how to eat for cheap generated a lot of great tips. Daiko shared a detailed explanation of how he once got by spending just $15/week on food. This is a great real-life example of how it’s possible to eat well without breaking the bank. I’m posting it here so that more people will see it. Although I don’t do this now, I once lived on $15 a week for food in the…

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

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

  • Credit Card Advice from Consumer Reports (30 comments)

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

  • The Frugal Collector: 10 Ways to Curb the Habit (29 comments)

    I spent my Labor Day weekend scouring my bookshelves, sorting thousands of books and comics. I tried not to think about how much I’d paid for things, instead dividing them into two piles: Books and comics I intend to read in the future. Books and comics I have no intention of reading. I was alarmed by how many volumes fell into the latter category. Our living room floor is now flooded with books, most of…

  • How to Drive a Great End-of-Summer New Car Deal (8 comments)

    While scouring the web for personal finance stories, I found some time-sensitive advice. The Consumer Reports Car Blog notes that Labor Day weekend can be a great time to buy a new car, especially if you’re looking at last year’s models. As the model year transitions from 2007 to 2008, a slew of clearance sales compete for car-buyers’ attention. Choosing the right car from hundreds of available models is complicated by the big decision to…

  • How to Read a Personal Finance Book (20 comments)

    I read a lot of personal finance books. I do this because I learn best by reading, and because I like to review the available literature for readers of this site. When I recommend a book, it’s because I think there’s something valuable there, maybe not for everybody, but for most people. Books are only valuable, though, if you are willing to do your part. Be an active reader You, as the reader, must be…

  • In Pursuit of Paperless Personal Finance (66 comments)

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

  • The Grocery Game (70 comments)

    For years, Kris and I have used coupons as one tool to get lower prices when shopping for groceries. Some people are opposed to coupons, but we’ve found that they help us to save money. (Number one tip: don’t use a coupon to buy something you wouldn’t normally purchase.) In the Get Rich Slowly forums, we’ve been discussing how much the average family spends on food. MITBeta wrote: Our budget (two adults and a seven-month-old)…

  • 100 Things You Can Make Yourself (9 comments)

    When was the last time you made something? Deborah Ng at Simply Thrifty took it upon herself to make something rather cool: a hyperlinked list of 100 things you can make yourself. Deborah writes: It seems the more we advance, the more stuff is done for us. I don’t mind letting someone else do all the work for me — the problem is of course, that convenience is expensive and we’re getting really lazy. I…

  • Purge Clutter with a De-Accumulation Bag (35 comments)

    Megan P. dropped me a line over the weekend to follow-up on our discussion of Stuff, writing: Raised by a packrat, Stuff drove me crazy. Until a few  years ago, this was the solution: keep a bag of “de-accumulation” and fill it as full as possible every week. Give it to charity once a month. All four bags. It quit working for me when I began watching TV and reading fashion and home decor magazines. …

  • Free Professional Financial Checkup on August 17th (4 comments)

    I write often about the need to save for retirement — it’s one of the most important steps you can take to assure financial success. The best time to start planning your future is now. But how can you be sure you’re making the right choices? Here’s a great opportunity for readers in the United States. Next Friday, August 17th, you can receive free, professional retirement advice by phone courtesy of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance: Whether…

  • An Introduction to the Crossover Point (35 comments)

    Trent at The Simple Dollar recently wrote about the Crossover Point, a notion popularized by the book Your Money or Your Life. The Crossover Point is simply that point in time at which your investment income exceeds your monthly expenses. For most people, this never occurs. YMoYL is about getting readers to the Crossover Point. The authors want people to achieve Financial Independence, which they define as “having enough — and then some”. They ask…

  • A Quick Trick for Tracking Credit Card Expenses in Quicken (29 comments)

    Some readers are worried about my change in stance regarding credit cards. Misuse of best rewards credit card was the chief reason I came to be buried in debt. For years after coming to my senses, the only way for me to cope with credit cards was not to have one. I still believe that this is the proper course of action for anyone who hasn’t gained control of her finances, and I would never…

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

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

  • Money Day: Your Personal Finance Holiday (22 comments)

    I opened my first checking account on the day I entered college. During registration, local banks set up tables at one end of the room. They all seemed the same to me. I chose the bank that gave me a free Frisbee. I did business with that bank for seventeen miserable years. I loathed that bank. They were constantly finding new and interesting ways to charge me money. If I hated it so much, why…

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

    This guest post is by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, one of my favorite blogs. Most of the time, the standard advice about debt elimination is to pay it off incrementally, over a period of time. We’re advised to be patient, and to hold on tight until the day comes when we pay off our debt. That’s good advice, and I endorse it — however, many people have trouble doing things gradually. For them, I…

  • Thrifty Tips from the Yardsale Queen (20 comments)

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

  • The Co-Op Network: Another Reason to Consider Credit Unions (26 comments)

    This is a guest-post from long-time reader MikeVx. For many people, access to automatic teller machines (ATMs) is an important factor when choosing a financial institution. With the growth of the Co-Op Network of ATMs, most credit union members now have access to more no-cost ATMs than any several large banks put together. If your credit union is a member of the Co-Op network, you have surcharge-free access to most of the credit union ATMs…

  • Edmunds True Cost-to-Own Calculator (15 comments)

    During our ongoing discussion of buying a car, somebody pointed to a handy little tool at Edmunds.com. (Edmunds is an excellent resource, sort of like Bankrate, but for cars.) Here’s how their site describes this tool: You’ve narrowed your choices to two new cars, but you can’t seem to decide which one is really the better deal. The purchase price of each car is nearly the same. The features are similar, and you like the…

  • Three Ways to Be Sure You’re Paid What You’re Worth (32 comments)

    A reader contacted me via IM this week to ask for help with his job search. GRS reader: hey JD J.D.: Hey, David. GRS reader: i am in talks with a company to go work in the us, arizona to be precise, and they asked what are my salary expectations GRS reader: i have no clue what they are… I am 23 years old, and I just want to live confortably for the period I…

  • How I Escaped from Living Paycheck-to-Paycheck (46 comments)

    Many of you wrote last week to say that I was too harsh on my friend Gillian, the woman with the “I can’t” attitude. Perhaps you’re right — I may have given up too early. I used to live like she does, and if I can turn it around, anyone can. For a decade I was a deficit spender. I spent more than I earned. I used credit cards to fund a lifestyle that was…

  • A Working Woman’s Guide to Financial Security (10 comments)

    Sometimes you can find personal finance tools in the most unlikely places. The University of Illinois Extension Service offers a collection of consumer money resources, including tips for thrifty living, credit card smarts fact sheets, and a guide to consumer and family economics. I was most impressed with A Working Woman’s Guide to Financial Security. This series of planning guides has been designed to help women of all ages develop skills they need in order…

  • Which Investments Are Best for a Roth IRA? (37 comments)

    This is part three of the GRS introduction to Roth IRAs. You may wish to begin with parts one and two. I used to believe the stock market would make me rich. All I needed to do was pick the right stock and I’d be a millionaire. In March of 2000, I decided that stock was PALM, which I bought the morning it went public. Within days my $1,000 investment was worth $600, and my…

  • The Frugal Traveler: American Road Trip (29 comments)

    Kris and I are deep in preparation for our upcoming trip to England and Ireland. We’ve spent the past two months researching frugal travel options, including digital cameras, walking shoes, and — I kid you not — travel underwear. We meet with our housesitter tonight. A close friend, amused by our packing, pointed me to a series of articles by Matt Gross, the New York Times “frugal traveler”. Last summer, Gross toured the world, chronicling…

  • PAYjr: A Web-Based Chores and Allowance Tool (13 comments)

    Last week I highlighted the Money Savvy Pig, a savings bank “for the twenty-first century”. But really, what 21st-cenury kid wants a plastic pig? Today’s youth are all about web 2.0. PAYjr wants to be your web-based solution for chores and allowances. According to the site: The PAYjr Chore & Allowance System provides free financial education and an online chore and allowance system for your kids to be able to track their chores and be…

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

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

  • How to Start a Roth IRA (and Where to Do It) (240 comments)

    You’ve heard how awesome Roth IRAs are and how starting one now can mean big bucks when you’re older. You’ve even done some research so you have a vague idea of how a Roth IRA works. Now what? How do you actually start one yourself? It’s surprisingly easy to set up a retirement account and to begin investing in your future. Before you invest Putting money in savings accounts or certificates of deposits for retirement…

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

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

  • Student Cook: Eat Healthily on a Student Budget (10 comments)

    When I first left home, my diet was awful. I mostly ate pizza and ramen, with a lot of hamburgers added to the mix. I didn’t prepare much food myself because I didn’t know how. Besides, I didn’t think I could afford it. Student Cook is a site designed to help young adults get started in the kitchen while keeping an eye on costs. Student Cook was formed in late 2005 to offer a unique…

  • How to Improve Your Fuel Economy: 23 Top Tips for Better Gas Mileage (83 comments)

    digg_url = ‘http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2007/05/30/how-to-improve-your-gas-mileage-23-top-tips-for-better-fuel-economy/’; Fuel prices have been hovering at record levels around the United States for the past few weeks. Now is a good time to review of the best ways to improve your gas mileage and save money at the tank. I scoured dozens of web sites and read hundreds of tips — these are the best of the bunch. >> Save Money With Your Vehicle << Purchase a fuel-efficient car The best way…

  • How Class Works (31 comments)

    Are you upper-class or lower-class? Someplace in between? The New York Times has an interactive graphic that explains how class works. While there are many characteristics that could be used to describe a person’s class, among the most influential are the person’s occupation, education, income, and wealth. Below are different ways of looking at class using these factors, as well as an examination of how mobility has changed in recent decades. The fourth tab presents…

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

    Your credit score is like a pet monster under the bed. Feed it and care for it, and it will do your bidding. But if you neglect it, it will turn against you. But beware! Taking good care of it can bring you dangerously close to its sharp teeth. Your credit score determines the types of credit you can obtain, and how much you will be charged in interest. Last year I described the anatomy…

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

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

  • Festival of Frugality #75 (20 comments)

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

  • Save Big By Canceling Private Mortgage Insurance (21 comments)

    When you buy a home, you learn there are many little costs that accumulate over time: mortgage, interest, insurance, utilities, maintenance, etc. Many of these are recurring expenses about which little can be done. There is one expensive, however, that homeowners can eliminate, and should do so as soon as possible. Lenders require private mortgage insurance (commonly called PMI) from homebuyers who take out loans that are more than 80 percent of a property’s value….

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

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

  • The Rule of 72 (and Friends) (9 comments)

    Remember the rule of 72? You can use this rule-of-thumb to estimate how long it will take to double your money under various scenarios. To do this, you simply divide the annual rate of return into 72 to determine how many years it will take to double your money. For example, if you assume an average 8% return on your Roth IRA, its value should double every nine years. (This doesn’t consider additional contributions, of…

  • Don’t Just Save Your Quarters — Save Your Dollars, Too! (36 comments)

    Many people save their change at the end of the day. When they get home, they deposit their coins into a jar or a piggy bank or a similar container. Some people roll their change and deposit it into savings every month. Kris and I let our change jars fill completely before we take them in. But if you really want to see your savings grow, don’t just save your coins — save your one-dollar…

  • Five Money-Saving Blogs from Consumer Reports (2 comments)

    Consumer Reports — my favorite personal finance magazine — is publishing a series of blogs devoted to various consumer topics. Since most of the Consumer Reports web site is behind a paywall — even for magazine subscribers (lame!) — these blogs are a handy way to keep tabs on some of the organization’s recommendations. The CR Shopping Blog “enables us to zero in on the latest product information, news, trends, and sales figures, and reveal…

  • The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (1 comment)

    The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit consumer information and advocacy organization, has a collection of freely-downloadable consumer form letters and opt-out information. (What a mouthful!) Here’s how they suggest these letters be used: Send your letter by Certified Mail-Return Receipt Requested. If possible, fax the letter first. Make a copy of your letter for your records before sending. To locate the proper party to send this letter to, check for a mailing address included on…

  • The Consumer Reports Mother’s Day Gift Guide (7 comments)

    Mother’s Day is just around the corner. If you’re still struggling with what to get your mom, check out the Consumer Reports Mother’s Day gift guide. The guide includes articles on mail-order flowers (CR recommendation: order from a florist near mom), as well as free access to past reports on: Jewelry Candy Mail-order baskets (probably too late for this) Digital cameras Pots and pans Note that this gift guide gives free access to articles only,…

  • The Thrifty Food Plan Challenge: Eating Well for Less (56 comments)

    Oregon governor Ted Kulongoski recently spent a much-publicized week eating on a food-stamp budget. His motive, he said, was to gain a new appreciation for the working poor. Rebecca Blood notes that “the Governor’s stunt is a little misleading”: No one expects food stamp recipients to eat on only $21 a week (though I’m sure some people try). The USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan (from which food stamp allotments are derived) is spartan enough, but the…

  • Visual Personal Finance Calculators (3 comments)

    I see a lot of financial calculators while researching money stories. Most of them are the same: fill in some boxes, get a result. Last week, I stumbled on a “visual calculator” that adds a nice twist to the formula. Mainstay Investments offers a “Saving for a goal” tool that uses the traditional text boxes for data input, but also allows users to make changes by adjusting sliders. It’s subtle but, for me at least,…

  • Tip and Tricks to Ensure You Track Your Money? (32 comments)

    One of my friends has decided to take a closer look at his personal finances. He and his wife make good money, but they live paycheck-to-paycheck. They spend whatever they have. It’s only since starting to track his expenses in Quicken that he’s discovered, for example, that each month he’s spending over a thousand dollars on groceries. This realization has prompted him to create a budget. Now he has some financial goals, and is trying…

  • Use a Grocery Price Book to Slash Your Food Spending (61 comments)

    While reading Amy Dacyczyn’s The Complete Tightwad Gazette this afternoon, I learned a great new money hack. Dacyczyn (pronounced “decision”) advocates using a grocery price book to save big bucks at the supermarket. A grocery price book is an ongoing list of the items you most commonly purchase and how much you paid for them. This list allows you to detect price cycles, spot bargains, and plan your shopping trips for maximum savings. Dacyczyn explains:…

  • Understanding Money (5 comments)

    The Australian Government provides a money-management site that is useful to people around the world. Understanding Money encourages readers to adopt a three-point approach to their finances: Prepare a budget plan - work out how much you earn and what you spend it on, to help you see where you could make changes. Set some financial goals - they don’t have to be big, but they’ll help you see what you could gain by being better with…

  • How to Check the Status of Your Tax Refund (5 comments)

    Are you getting antsy for your tax refund? You can check the status of your refund easily with this simple web-based tool from the IRS web site. You’ll need to provide your social security number, marital status, and exact refund amount in order for your request to be processed. If you are receiving a large refund, consider having your employer adjust your W-4 so that less is withheld from your paycheck. This will, in essence,…

  • Saving and Investing: 5 Popular Misconceptions (18 comments)

    This is part twenty in a series that has occupied the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. Michael Fischer’s series on Saving and Investing ends today with a look at five popular misconceptions about money. Even if you haven’t watched any of his other videos, I urge you to watch these. Here Michael explains why it is so important for each of us to understand basic…

  • Saving and Investing: Getting Started (4 comments)

    This is part nineteen in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. Michael intended today’s video to be the final one in the series. Here he ties everything together and explains how we can use the things he’s taught to make better decisions about saving and investing: Getting started (7:18) I have nothing to add — Michael does a good job…

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

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

  • Saving and Investing: Three Enemies of Growth (3 comments)

    This is part seventeen in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. Through Michael Fischer’s video series, we’ve come to understand that the sooner we invest our money, the longer it has to compound, and to grow to large sums. But things aren’t that simple. Compounding has some enemies. One of these enemies is taxes: Taxes and compounding (4:36) Because taxes…

  • Saving and Investing: The Impact of Time (2 comments)

    This is part sixteen in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. During the first fifteen days of this video series, Michael Fischer explained the basics of saving and investing, introducing us to stocks, bonds, and compound returns. This week he pulls this information together to show how these concepts affect our investment decisions and our use of credit. He begins…

  • Saving and Investing: An Introduction to Dollar-Cost Averaging (12 comments)

    This is part fifteen in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. The three videos scheduled for today were going to cover hedge funds. After watching them, however, I’ve decided they’re not necessary for basic financial literacy. Unless I’ve missed something, hedge funds are targeted primarily at institutional investors. If you want to learn more about them, you can visit the…

  • Saving and Investing: The Difference Between Active and Passive Management (1 comment)

    This is part fourteen in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. First, Michael Fischer introduced us to mutual funds. Next, he described the various types. Today he looks at the difference between actively- and passively-managed funds. What are active and passive management? (4:27) In a way, passive management is like “autopilot” — the fund manager feeds parameters into a computer,…

  • Saving and Investing: Types of Mutual Funds (4 comments)

    This is part thirteen in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. Yesterday Michael Fischer explained how mutual funds allow individual investors to pool money in order to achieve goals that would otherwise be out of their reach. Today he looks at different kinds of mutual funds: Types of mutual funds (2:10) There are several thousand mutual funds available in the…

  • Saving and Investing: What is a Mutual Fund? (6 comments)

    This is part twelve in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. As an individual investor, you can build a portfolio of stocks and bonds, but to do so properly requires time and effort. For most people, it makes more sense to invest in mutual funds. But what is a mutual fund? Michael Fischer explains: What is a mutual fund? (3:44)…

  • Saving and Investing: The Importance of Diversification (3 comments)

    This is part eleven in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. The next video in Michael Fischer’s series on Saving and Investing is about mutual funds. However, I think it would useful to have an introduction to diversification first, so I’ve bumped that video ahead in the lineup. Here’s Michael’s explanation of this important concept: Diversification (4:35) In his book,…

  • Saving and Investing: What is a Stock Market Index? (6 comments)

    This is part ten in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. Have you ever wondered what all of those numbers on the nightly business report actually mean? Michael Fischer explains: What is a stock market index? (3:44) Just as you cannot accurately gauge the health of a garden from the growth of a single plant, you cannot gauge the health…

  • Saving and Investing: What is a Stock? (4 comments)

    This is part nine in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. Yesterday we learned about bonds, which are small slices of debt. Today Michael Fischer defines stocks, or small slices of equity: What is a stock? (2:37) The stock market has its own unique vocabulary, with “puts” and “calls”, “preferred stock” and “P/E ratios”, “dividends” and “spread”. I’ll cover more…

  • Saving and Investing: What is a Bond? (7 comments)

    This is part eight in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. Today’s episode of “Saving and Investing” moves us from the introductory material to the details of common investments. To begin, Michael Fischer explains bonds: What is a bond? (2:38) This video left me wanting more. Bonds, like leverage, have been a blank spot in my financial education. I’ve never…

  • Saving and Investing: Why do Financial Markets Exist? (4 comments)

    This is part seven in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. In today’s episode of “Saving and Investing”, Michael Fischer explains why we have financial markets. If you’ve been following along, you can probably guess that their primary function is to encourage interaction between providers of capital (savers and investors) and users of capital (companies and governments). Why do financial…

  • Saving and Investing: An Introduction to Financial Statements (12 comments)

    This is part six in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. (Now with correct videos!) Today’s episode of “Saving and Investing” features three short videos, each of which is an introduction to a particular financial statement. Learning to read financial statements can help you evaluate the companies in which you would like to invest. (These statements are mandatory parts of…

  • Saving and Investing: What is Leverage? (24 comments)

    This is part five in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. In today’s episode of “Saving and Investing”, Michael Fischer explains a concept I’ve heard mentioned a lot, but have never understood. The term “leverage” is used in many financial books and articles, often referring to real estate investments. The concept has always puzzled me, even when I looked it…

  • Saving and Investing: The Difference Between Debt and Equity (2 comments)

    This is part four in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. Yesterday Michael Fischer differentiated between providers of capital and users of capital. Today he explains the two ways in which these groups interact: through the exchange of debt and the exchange of equity. Equity and Debt (5:57) When a provider of capital loans money to a user of capital,…

  • Saving and Investing: Providers and Users of Capital (8 comments)

    This is part three in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. In his book Saving and Investing, Michael Fischer writes: Compounding our money with a return over a long period is the key to accumulating larger sums, but what is it that allows our money to receive a return, and what determines whether this return will be good or bad?…

  • Saving and Investing: The Power of Compounding (21 comments)

    This is part two in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. Albert Einstein reportedly called compound interest the greatest mathematical discovery of all time. On its surface, compounding is innocuous — even boring. “So what if my money earns 5.40% in a high-yield savings account?” you might ask. “What does it matter if it averages 10% annual growth in a…

  • Saving and Investing: Introduction (5 comments)

    This is the first in a series that will occupy the “Money Hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. While browsing YouTube a couple weeks ago, I stumbled upon some short videos about saving and investing. They were low-key and low-tech, and I might have dismissed them except that the information they contained was solid and easy-to-understand. Intrigued, I contacted Michael Fischer, the man who created the videos….

  • Cool Money Tricks (13 comments)

    Several weeks ago, Liz Pulliam Weston at MSN Money pulled together a list of 12 cool money tricks. Some of these have come up here before, but it never hurts to review them. Here are a few of the ideas she shared: The four-penny hack: always carry four pennies with you so you don’t get pennies in change. (This one only works once per shopping trip.) Learn to use online shopping tools like MyBargainBuddy.com and…

  • Small Amounts Matter (14 comments)

    Sometimes I’ll be talking about frugality with somebody who says, “Why bother? Pinching pennies all the time makes me feel lousy. Besides, you can’t really save that much money. You really save money on the big stuff.” This is a common response to frugal living. I have some standard replies: It is true that it’s important to save money on the big stuff, like a home or a car. Any time you make a large…

  • Save Money with Your Feet! (22 comments)

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

  • 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.)

  • A Simple Budget Spreadsheet (15 comments)

    Wanting to start a budget? Intimidated by all the choices? Just want something simple to get you going? Stephen P. created his own budget spreadsheet, and he’s offered to share it with Get Rich Slowly readers. He writes: I have something for Money Hacks. It’s a simple budget spreadsheet that I made in Excel when I was making $30,000/year and struggling to live paycheck-to-paycheck. It helped me to keep things in perspective. Things you can…

  • Free Book Chapter: ‘Money Day’ (3 comments)

    Last December, Ramit at I Will Teach You to Be Rich produced an eBook called Ramit’s 2007 Guide to Kicking Ass. The book features guest posts from a couple other bloggers, including JLP of All Financial Matters. I contributed an article entitled “Money Day”, in which I encourage readers to take one day off from life to get all of their finances squared away. Ramit has just released this as a free sample chapter, which…

  • Check for Coupons and Rebates Before Having Your Prescription Filled (15 comments)

    In Monday’s post about shopping around for the best price on generic drugs, Tyler added an excellent tip: I don’t go to the doctor much, but have had some prescriptions filled in the last couple of years. Every time there was at least one prescription with a rebate offer if you went to the official website. I never would have thought of that but I was curious what exactly the expensive ($32 after using insurance)…

  • BBC’s Financial Healthcheck (4 comments)

    Most financial calculators require you to enter a lot of numbers, after which they spit out more numbers in return. What if you’re not a numbers person? The BBC offers a financial healthcheck tool that uses plain English to help evaluate your money situation. Our financial healthcheck will give you some tips for a healthier financial lifestyle — now and in the future. It will only take a few minutes. There’s no need to dig…

  • Save Money on Laundry Day (19 comments)

    At Curbly, the DIY Maven has posted advice on how to save money on laundry day. When the Spray ‘n’ Wash runs out, make your own. If you use dryer sheets, only use half at a time. If you’re shopping, consider a front-loading washer. Pick up a pair of dryer balls. (I’d never even heard of these before reading this.) I confess to having no idea how much it costs to do laundry. My wife…

  • Basic Personal Finance: Shop Around for the Lowest Price (18 comments)

    Tony forwarded an eye-opening post from Stephen J. Dubner at the Freakonomics blog. Most shoppers assume that prices on a given product will be roughly the same from store to store. This is not always the case. Dubner cites research from Cyril Wolf, a Houston doctor who is upset that many generic medications are too expensive for his elderly patients to afford. Wolf began snooping around and found that two chains, Costco and Sam’s Club,…

  • Hotels and Airfare: It Never Hurts to Ask for a Refund (11 comments)

    Bankrate doesn’t just offer banking information and investment advice; it also has a section of user-submitted frugal tips. Each month, the person who submitted the best tip wins $100. February’s top tip came from Brenda Miller: If you book a flight far in advance of your departure date, monitor the price of your exact flight. If the price happens to fall below what you paid prior to your departure, contact the airline and ask for…

  • Free Online Tax Preparation and E-Filing From the IRS (14 comments)

    The Internal Revenue Service offers a program that allows two-thirds of U.S. taxpayers to electronically file their tax returns for free. The Free File program is a free federal tax preparation and electronic filing program for eligible taxpayers developed through a partnership between the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Free File Alliance LLC, a group of private sector tax software companies. Since Free File’s debut in 2003, more than 15.4 million returns have been…

  • How to Save for the Trip of a Lifetime (17 comments)

    Ian publishes an online travel magazine (a.k.a. “a blog”) called Brave New Traveler, which is dedicated to providing information for world adventurers. He pointed me to a recent guest-post from Lucia Byttebier, who has some tips on “saving money for the trip of a lifetime”. The five steps Byttebier recommends are: Reconsider your living situation. Can you find a cheaper living arrangement? Remind yourself that it’s only temporary, that you’re saving for a goal. Byttebeir…

  • Telephone Excise Tax Refund (4 comments)

    Here’s a quick way to get a few extra bucks. Or, more precisely, to get back a few bucks you’ve already lost. This year the IRS is granting a one-time only Telephone Excise Tax Refund. This refund will return previously collected telephone taxes collected since 2003. According to the IRS web site: [Individual] taxpayers have a choice: a standard refund amount between $30 and $60, based on the total number of exemptions claimed on their…

  • Money Hacks Now at Get Rich Slowly (7 comments)

    I believe I’ve switched the Money Hacks RSS feed so that it’s drawing from the new money hacks category at this site. If you’re reading this via the Money Hacks feed, then everything worked. If the money hacks end up being a poor fit at here, they will return to their own site. This is an experiment. I think it’ll work, but who can tell? So far these entries are much lower rated than the…

  • Use Your Grocery Receipt as a Cue to Save (5 comments)

    Reader R. McCall forwarded a syndicated piece from Humberto Cruz: “Finding creative ways to save” discusses the importance of building an emergency fund, offers a fun way to do so, and then refers to a contest sponsored by the Consumer Federation. This is a variation on the wife’s favorite money hack, rounding up to the next dollar. That earlier tip didn’t sit well with some readers who thought she was just deceiving herself. (She’s not.)…

  • The Prioritizer: A Unique Personal Finance Calculator (5 comments)

    CNNMoney has a series of articles entitled Money 101 — a step-by-step guide to gaining control of your financial life. There are some good lessons here, including controlling debt, hiring financial help, and buying a home. Each lesson contains several pages of information, links to other resources, a glossary, and a self-test. Many of the lessons also include a financial calculator related to the subject. My favorite lesson is actually the first one, setting priorities,…

  • The Bargainist (3 comments)

    Via the always-wonderful Parent Hacks (which you should be reading if you have small children) comes word of The Bargainist, yet another “web deals” site. From the About page: The Bargainist finds the best deals around on just about everything. From gadgets to home furnishings, you’ll always read about the hottest bargains, sales, coupons, and freebies right here. The Bargainist updates multiple times per day, so stop by often to check out the latest deals….

  • Extreme Personal Finance: The Most Fuel-Efficient Driver in the World (23 comments)

    I don’t usually think of Boing Boing as a source for money hacks, but they just posted a blurb about Wayne Gerdes, who “may be the most fuel-efficient driver in the world”. Through tricky coasting, careful acceleration, and driving without breaking, the “king of the hypermilers” can apparently squeeze 59 MPG out of a non-hybrid Honda Accord and more than 100 MPG from a Toyota Prius. I read the original article about Gerdes and listened…

  • Wesabe: a Web-Based Personal Finance Tool (26 comments)

    There’s a fantastic new tool available for those who want to track their spending. Wesabe went public yesterday. Our site is live and available for everyone to use. We set out to build a tool to help people gain control over their money, and we believe we have accomplished our goal. It isn’t perfect and we have a ton of features we want to add, but this product helps people right now. Wesabe is a…