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  • For fraudsters, no target too small (6 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. A lot of people I know get at least part of their income from a side business. For instance, before I quit my job, I was freelance-writing on the side. I have friends who give private yoga lessons, who sell handmade items on Etsy, and who pet-sit….

  • Bernie Madoff was not alone (18 comments)

    Bernie Madoff, perpetrator of the most staggering case of investment fraud in U.S. history, is apparently not alone – and neither are his victims. According to a new FINRA Investor Education Foundation survey, fraud in America is on the rise and it’s estimated to be costing Americans over $50 billion a year! The survey defined…

  • Odds and ends: GRS news (2 comments)

    As you may know, Get Rich Slowly is part of the QuinStreet family of personal finance websites, which include MoneyRates.com, Five Cent Nickel, Consumerism Commentary and others. We’ve recently launched a weekly newsletter as part of the MoneyRates.com Network. The newsletter offers tools, advice, and our proprietary research on interest rates for savings accounts at…

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

    As some of you might know or remember, I have been considering the purchase of a firearm for some time. Two posts ago I mentioned it while talking about being victim of a robbery, and reader Tyler Karaszewski wrote a cogent and passionate comment that began, “I think it’s sad that so many of our…

  • Get Free Financial Planning Help (10 comments)

    I’ve been working with a fee-only financial advisor recently to be sure all my eggs are in the right nests for my future. I’ve been impressed with her knowledge of law, taxes, insurance, investing — all aspects of financial life. While I’ve covered personal finance topics as a journalist for more than 20 years, I…

  • America’s Love-Hate Relationship with Wealth (187 comments)

    I was on the road for the past two months, first in Chicago, and then in Bolivia and Peru. As always happens, one of the side effects of travel is that I’ve been living in a media vacuum. For the past few weeks, I’ve heard almost nothing of current events. That means I arrived home…

  • Why Austerity Hurts: The Government’s Budget is Not Like Yours (276 comments)

    This post is from new staff writer Sarah Gilbert. GRS readers liked Gilbert’s recent post on economics and current events, so today she’s offering more of the same. Unlike “entitlements,” the word “austerity” has come to mean something akin to “godliness” in modern political circles. And along with austerity goes the concept of running the…

  • Is Unlimited Air Travel a Good Deal? (37 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. Air travel is rarely anyone’s idea of a good time. It’s expensive, time-consuming and difficult. There are the byzantine demands of the ticketing process, in which you have to confirm your exact travel dates and times…

  • What S&P Debt Ratings Mean for the U.S. (and Its Citizen Shareholders) (98 comments)

    This post is from new staff writer Sarah Gilbert. We’d planned for her to make her debut later, but Gilbert offered to write about the current economic situation, so she’s stepping up the plate a little early. This is a rare GRS foray into current events. Do you like it? Hate it? Not care either…

  • Spotify: The Future of Music Is Here — and You’ll Pay Less for It (86 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. Europe’s hit music-listening service has finally launched in the United States. Spotify is here, and it’s already changed the way I listen to music. J.D. is a huge fan, too. I’m so excited about Spotify that I’m…

  • All That Glitters: Why I’m Not Investing in Gold (214 comments)

    Over the past two years, I’ve received a lot of requests to write about investing in gold and silver. I’ve ignored these requests. For one, I feel unqualified to comment. For another, I’m afraid that anything I do say will just make people angry. Last week I realized, however, that I don’t have to come…

  • Look Out for Changes to Your Bank Accounts (60 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Last year Congress passed the massive Dodd-Frank bill as a response to the reckless actions of Wall Street and to establish protections for consumers. But some of the new regulations will cost banks significant revenue, and stories are running rampant on proposals banks are considering to recoup…

  • Consumer Reports Auto Issue: Best and Worst Cars for 2011 (61 comments)

    It’s that time of year again! The annual auto issue of Consumer Reports landed in my mailbox yesterday, and I spent some time browsing its pages. I’m not nearly as interested in car info as I used to be; I’ve had my beloved Mini Cooper for two years now, and am quite pleased with it….

  • In Praise of Thrift: An Old Idea for a New Economy (42 comments)

    This is a guest post by Lori Blatzheim, a writer living in Chanhassen, Minnesota. For more information about National Thrift Week, visit NewThrift.org. If there was a coat of arms for my family, it would display a golden lion standing on his back legs on a field of dark olive green. He would be clutching…

  • The Tiger Mother and You: Are We Preparing Our Kids for a Better Financial Future? (120 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. Those of you who are parents — and those of you who came from…

  • When To Walk Away From A Bad Mortgage (249 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. Since the housing bubble burst, many Americans have found their finances underwater. They’re paying on homes that are worth much less than the mortgages against them. More than a few have chosen…

  • Love Your Credit Card? Vote for It! (27 comments)

    In July, I asked Get Rich Slowly readers to share which credit cards they use and why. I promised to compile the over 200 responses to see if there are any patterns from you money-savvy folks. I still haven’t made time to do so. (Even though it stays at the top of my list every…

  • Stupid Stock Market Tricks (65 comments)

    USA Today has just published what might be the most irresponsible piece of financial journalism I’ve seen in the past five years of writing Get Rich Slowly. It embodies everything that’s wrong with the popular perception of stock-market investing. Author Adam Shell touts a hot trading trend: Stocks jump on the first day of the…

  • The Kardashian Kard: A Credit Card Targeted at Teens (53 comments)

    This is a guest post from Beverly Harzog, who is a spokeswoman and contributing editor at credit card comparison website CardRatings.com. When I first heard about Kim Kardashian’s new prepaid credit card targeted at teens, I wanted to scream. If you have a teenager, you understand why. As a parent, I’d rather Kim not get…

  • Treasury Department to Help Under-Banked Citizens at Tax Time (48 comments)

    Every week, I’m bombarded by press releases from companies and publications wanting me to share their products and stories. I’d love to be able to pass this info on to you — at least the stuff that’s both relevant and good (actual subject line from one irrelevant press release this morning: “Rev. Jesse Jackson holds…

  • How Much is Enough? On Average, About $75,000 Per Year (97 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. A few weeks ago I wrote about how money really can buy happiness — if you spend it right. A big-screen TV isn’t a ticket to happiness, but a vacation might be….

  • How Would Panhandlers Use Free Credit Cards? (44 comments)

    Have you ever wondered what the panhandlers you see on the street would do if you actually gave them a bunch of money to spend? Like many people, I generally give my pocket change to anyone who asks. I figure that if they have to ask, they probably need it more than I do. (Yes,…

  • Yes, You WILL Get Social Security (127 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. We hear a lot about the doubts over the future of Social Security. Here…

  • Why Are Interest Rates So Low Right Now? (and Where Should You Put Your Money?) (72 comments)

    I’ve been plowing through my e-mail lately in my never-ending quest to reach inbox zero. As a result, I’ve been answering tons of reader questions. And when I can’t answer them (or when I think a colleague can do a better job), I try to refer the question to somebody else. Over the weekend, for…

  • Money CAN Buy You Happiness! (61 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. In today’s article, she tackles a topic I’ve been meaning to write about, but haven’t made the time. Contrary to popular belief, money can buy you happiness — if you spend it…

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

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

  • Do Credit Cards Take from the Poor and Give to the Rich? (148 comments)

    My philosophy on credit cards has changed completely in the last five years. I’ve gone from anti-credit-card to pro-credit-card — but only for those who can use them responsibly. I think they’re a great convenience, and I like getting cash back when I use mine. But not everyone thinks this cash-back feature is a good…

  • Three Stories About Banking (19 comments)

    As part of my downshifting project, I’ve spent the past couple of days replying to several hundred stale messages in my inbox. There were plenty of great reader stories, guest posts, and “ask the readers” questions in my stack of stuff, but there were also some good article ideas, too. For example, I had three…

  • SEC Proposes New Rules for Target Date Funds (29 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. During the 2008 financial crisis, target date, or life-cycle, funds were hit hard. People who were just a couple years away from retiring held 2010 target date funds that lost 24% of their fund’s assets on average, with a range of 9% loss to a staggering…

  • Anatomy of a Credit Card Statement (32 comments)

    With the changes included in the Credit Card Act, credit card companies are now required to give users more info on their monthly statements. My colleague over at Five Cent Nickel has whipped up an informative graphic that provides an anatomy of a credit card statement: Credit card statement changes from Five Cent Nickel These…

  • Credit-Card Regulations: A Win for Consumers? Or an End to Credit? (36 comments)

    This is a guest post from Adam Jusko, founder of IndexCreditCards.com, an information and comparison site for credit card offers that maintains a list of over 1200 cards. I’ve mentioned Index Credit Cards many times before, most notably in my post from 2006 called “The Only Credit Card Guide You’ll Ever Need”. This is an…

  • 8 Financial Deadly Sins (83 comments)

    I did a lot of stupid things with money when I was a younger. In fact, I still make mistakes. We all do. But some mistakes are worse than others. This morning’s USA Today features an article that highlights eight money missteps that can really hurt you financially. Author Kathryn Canavan highlights eight economic deadly…

  • Trading Happiness for Money: A Bad Bargain? (59 comments)

    I think a lot about happiness — about my own happiness and about the happiness of those around me. Knowing my interest in the subject, Kris forwarded a recent column from David Brooks of The New York Times about what he terms “the Sandra Bullock trade”: Two things happened to Sandra Bullock [in March]. First,…

  • Roth IRA Conversions Made Easy (41 comments)

    This is a guest post from Steve Juetten, a fee-only certified financial planner in Bellevue, Washington, and long-time Get Rich Slowly reader. He has written a book for consumers on the topic of 2010 Roth IRA conversions. You can find out more about Steve, the book, and his services at finpath.com. Traditional and on-line media…

  • Waving Good-Bye to the Joneses (153 comments)

    A new study out of the U.K. confirms what many of us have already learned: Money only makes you happy if you have more than those around you. According to the London Telegraph: Despite the vast improvements in general standards of living in the past 40 years across Britain, ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ is…

  • From Whole Foods to Food Stamps (102 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. The recession has hit families where they live. For many, it’s forced a change of address. Think about all those foreclosed homes and urban deserts: One in every 400 homes received…

  • To Find Happiness, One Millionaire Gives His Wealth Away (43 comments)

    One of the primary themes of Get Rich Slowly (and of Your Money: The Missing Manual) is that it’s more important to be happy than it is to be rich. I learn this lesson over and over again, but sometimes it seems like I forget it just as often. At the end of last summer,…

  • 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…

  • Where Your Money Goes: An Interactive Tax Calculator (28 comments)

    Last August, in the midst of a growing debate about taxes in the United States, I decided I’d had enough. I was sick and tired of the histrionics from both sides of the political fence, and I wanted to find the facts. I spent twelve hours researching the federal budget and the U.S. tax system,…

  • Is the Economy Improving? Views from Everyday Folks (104 comments)

    On Friday night, we had some good frugal fun. Kris and I got together with a group of my old high school friends to go bowling and eat pizza. It was just like the good ol’ days — but with a bunch of grade-school children added to the mix. Over pepperoni pizza and root beer,…

  • What the New Credit Card Laws Mean to YOU (100 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 mentioned Index Credit Cards many times before, most notably in my post from 2006 called…

  • Suze Orman Jumps Aboard the “Pay With Cash” Bandwagon (188 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker recently listed the Top 10 Money Movies of the Decade. For years now, Dave Ramsey has recommended ditching credit cards and paying with cash. (Specifically, Ramsey advocates the use of an envelope budgeting system.) In fact, this anti-credit card stance is one of the biggest problems…

  • Stimulus Programs: Cash for Buyer’s Remorse? (69 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Adam Baker. Baker, along with his wife and 20-month old daughter, will be spending the next couple of months exploring Thailand as they continue their recent backpacking journey. Since the start of the economic slump started in 2008, the U.S. government has issued several incentive programs in an…

  • Economica: Women and the Global Economy (13 comments)

    In his book Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty [my review], Nobel Peace Prize-winner Muhammad Yunus argues that one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty and overpopulation is to boost the economic status of women. When you empower women — especially poor women — their communities are improved…

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

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

  • Warren Buffett Has No Regrets About the Past Year — Do You? (40 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 maintains a list of every single item his family owns. It’s no secret that J.D. loves him some Warren Buffett. Honestly, though, who doesn’t? Financial wisdom seems to ooze…

  • 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….

  • Are Debit Cards Evil, Too? (118 comments)

    This post is from GRS Staff Writer Adam Baker. In addition to writing for Get Rich Slowly, Baker blogs over at Man vs. Debt, where he often discusses traveling and the cost of living abroad. A couple weeks ago, the New York Times featured an article entitled “Overspending on Debit Cards is a Boon for…

  • Do Experiences Lead to Greater Happiness Than Material Purchases? (59 comments)

    The August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research arrived in my mailbox yesterday. It contains an interesting article from Nicolao, Irwin, and Goodman entitled “Happiness for Sale: Do Experiential Purchases Make Consumers Happier than Material Purchases?” This is a topic we’ve skirted at Get Rich Slowly, but never fully explored. Many readers have offered…

  • Investing as a Couple: Draw on Your Differences (35 comments)

    This is a guest post from Cristina Adams, editor of DailyWorth. DailyWorth offers daily personal-finance tips for women. It’s official: Warren Buffet has a feminine side. Not that the billionaire investor parades around in drag. He doesn’t. But the investment patterns of men and women show that Buffet has apparently, over time, tuned into his…

  • The Spending Habits of the Average American (106 comments)

    Last week, Diane dropped a line asking for information about the spending habits of the average American. She wrote: I am trying to find sites that will provide average spending habits — such as how much an average person spends on food per week or how much a family spends on entertainment, that sort of…

  • The Fall and Rise of Personal Savings (58 comments)

    Americans are beginning to save again, or so the media is reporting. The personal saving rate has jumped from 0.4% in 2007 to a whopping 6.9% in May. But what does that mean? Is it a good thing? And how long will it last? The personal saving rate “Personal saving rate” is an economic term…

  • The Accidental Slumlord (47 comments)

    Several years ago — as I was clawing my way out of debt — I did a dumb thing and subscribed to Newsweek. I didn’t subscribe for just one year — I subscribed for four. As penance, I wrote an early GRS article about how having too many magazine subscriptions is un-frugal. Recently, though, I’ve…

  • The Great Piggy Bank Adventure (29 comments)

    “If we’re going to have a free-market capitalist society, we’ve got to give people the tools to not be victims” — John Cammack, T. Rowe Price I get a lot of e-mail from PR firms. I ignore most of it, but occasionally something stands out. One recent message invited me to make a trip to…

  • Un-Broke: What You Need to Know About Money (40 comments)

    I don’t watch much television; I’m more of a books and magazines and newspapers kind of guy. But I’ll make an exception this Friday. ABC will be broadcasting a special entitled Un-Broke: What You Need to Know About Money. According to the website: Schools teach us almost everything, but not “Money 101.” For the basics…

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

    Sunday’s issue of The New York Times Magazine was all about “the dilemmas of debt”, and featured stories like: “Suze Orman is having a moment”, a profile of the popular personal-finance guru “What does your credit-card company know aobut you?” “The China puzzle”, which looks at the economic relationship between the U.S. and China And…

  • Three Lessons from Warren Buffett (34 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Beginning today, Robert will contribute one article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. It’s my hope that he’ll bring a fresh perspective to this site, while also providing coverage of topics where I have weaknesses. Today he’s writing about one of my…

  • The New Age of Thrift (68 comments)

    Over the past few months, the mainstream media has been filled with stories about the New Frugals and the return to thrift. People who once lived beyond their means, financing their lifestyle with debt, have “found religion”. They’ve begun to embrace frugality, and have discovered the joy that can come through spending less. The new…

  • 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…

  • 84-Year-Old Social Worker Saves $1.4 Million (78 comments)

    Over the weekend, Kevin and Nathaniel both sent me an article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that tells the story of Jane M. Buri, an 84-year-old social worker who quietly amassed a $1.4 million fortune. How did she do it? She practiced the art of thrift. From the article: In retrospect, friends say Buri’s savings…

  • Economic Stimulus and the Marginal Propensity to Consume (99 comments)

    This is a guest post from Kevin, who writes about getting and staying out of debt at No-Debt Plan. Previously at GRS, Kevin wrote about the power of attentive spending. Many Americans will begin receiving a few extra dollars in their paychecks this month. Thanks to the latest round of economic stimulus from the federal…

  • Product Specifications Influence Consumer Preference (35 comments)

    When you make a major purchase, how do you choose between competing products? Do you buy solely on price? Or do you consider features, quality, and brand reputation? A new study in the April 2009 issue of Journal of Consumer Research reveals that our purchasing decisions are susceptible to the influence of external descriptions. When…

  • Oversaving Does Not Lead to Happiness (51 comments)

    I love frugality. Frugality helped me to dig out of debt, begin to build wealth, and find more meaning in the things I already own. But at some point I crossed the line from frugal to cheap. I’ve spent the past few months seeking balance: allowing myself permission to spend on a few indulgences while…

  • Listen to The Personal Finance Hour on Mondays at 3pm Pacific (6pm Eastern) (9 comments)

    Join us this afternoon for the premier episode of The Personal Finance Hour, a BlogTalkRadio program all about personal finance. I’ll be co-hosting the show with Jim from Bargaineering at 3pm Pacific (6pm Eastern). During the first episode, Jim and I will provide a brief introduction to our personal histories and our financial evolution. We…

  • Snake-Oil Salesmen? Debating the Role of the Financial Media (74 comments)

    Jim Cramer is the manic host of CNBC’s Mad Money, a television show that offers stock recommendations and investment advice. Jon Stewart is the host of Comedy Central’s satirical news program, The Daily Show. Cramer and Stewart engaged in a war of words recently, which came to a head last Thursday night when Cramer appeared…

  • The Index Fund Wins Again (31 comments)

    Although I mention other methods of investing around here from time-to-time, the fact is that most of my retirement investments remain ensconced in index funds. Index funds are mutual funds created to track the movement of a stock market index, such as the NASDAQ or the S&P 500. Their goal is to earn the same…

  • The Credit Crisis — Visualized (36 comments)

    Over at Vimeo, Jonathan Jarvis has created a ten-minute film that offers an overview of the credit crisis. If you’ve been struggling to understand what went wrong with the American economy, this will give you some of the basics: The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo. If you’d like more information, I…

  • When Consumers Cut Back (49 comments)

    Over the weekend, Kim C. pointed me to an article about the dangers of thrift. There’s been a glut of these pieces lately, most of which just make me tense. They seem as if they’re cheerleading conspicuous consumption. But this one is interesting. Writing for The New York Times, Hiroko Tabuchi describes what happened when…

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

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

  • The National Economy Versus Your Personal Economy (52 comments)

    Yesterday I attended the mid-winter conference of the local financial planning association. I listened to various speakers talk about the economy and how it relates to personal finance. One of the presenters was John Mitchell, a local financial guru, who spoke about the current economic climate in the state, the nation, and the world. Mitchell’s…

  • National Thrift Week: January 17th to 24th (26 comments)

    I recently finished reading Thrift: A Cyclopedia by David Blankenhorn. I hadn’t intended to review the book on this site, or even to discuss it much. It’s simply not the sort of book that the average reader would enjoy. (I loved it.) Thrift: A Cyclopedia contains 300 pages of quotes and images exploring the nature…

  • “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…

  • Credit Card Companies Are Closing Unused Accounts (89 comments)

    Several GRS readers have written lately with the same credit card problem — but not the one you’d expect. Perhaps in an effort to cut costs, credit card companies are beginning to close their customers’ unused accounts. Nicole shared a typical experience: I’m 26 and have a solid 8-year credit history. Despite really wanting to…

  • Three Legislative Proposals That Could Have Major Consequences for Your Finances (20 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation. This guest post comes from DR of The Dough Roller, a money management blog. Previously at GRS, he shared the seven habits of wealth. Amidst all the financial turmoil on Wall Street and in the credit markets lately, one could easily forget about money-related legislation that is quietly pending in Congress….

  • American Household Debt Declines, Personal Saving Rate Increases (36 comments)

    This morning, Karl sent me a link to a CNN/Money article that is simultaneously happy and sad: In a sign that Americans’ spending habits are shifting, household debt fell for the first time ever, based on data going back to 1952. According to a Federal Reserve report released Thursday, consumer debt fell an annualized $30…

  • How to Invest in a Bad Economy (63 comments)

    Yesterday, USA Today published a piece describing how you should invest in a bad economy. Though the market is in shambles, the authors write, it’s no time to panic: Enough. The stock market — and your savings — have gone down steadily, day after day, for more than a year. You’ve lost thousands this month…

  • The Kiplinger’s Personal Finance 2008 “Best List” (23 comments)

    Fast on the draw, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance published their “2008 Best List” earlier this month. While this is a quick and easy read in magazine form, the Kiplinger web site makes it almost impossible to peruse on the web. I’ve mucked through the lousy popup slideshows to find direct links to the individual parts of…

  • The Best Recession-Proof Jobs (114 comments)

    In The Little Book of Bull Moves in Bear Markets (which I recently reviewed), author Peter Schiff provides a list of the best jobs to beat the economic collapse he predicts is just around the corner. “I foresee the following as the 10 strongest professions and industries over the coming decade and beyond,” he writes….

  • 2008 U.S. Election Results (19 comments)

    Courtesy of Google Gadgets, here’s a little election-tracking widget. I’m posting this more for my own edification than anything. All of the other sites and widgets are painfully slow to load. Kris and I are hosting a small election party, and I’m not finished writing for tomorrow. The morning post may become a mid-morning post!

  • Bull Moves in Bear Markets (55 comments)

    In high school, I once dated a girl whose father believed the world was doomed to nuclear destruction. While his family lived in a trailer house (as did mine), this man spent a lot of time and money building a bomb shelter in the back yard. He stocked up on food supplies. He warned anyone…

  • Cat and Girl on Halloween (13 comments)

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

  • Data Mining and Credit Profiling: How Lenders Lure You to Borrow (33 comments)

    Although responsibility for every penny of debt ultimately rests with the borrower, lenders have developed tempting baits to lure consumers into their traps. A recent New York Times article by Brad Stone describes a system that works against Americans, not for them. Using sophisticated data-mining algorithms, banks and other financial institutions craft tailor-made offers that…

  • The First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit (68 comments)

    First-time home buyers are now eligible for a tax credit of up to $7,500 under the U.S. Housing and Economic Recover Act of 2008. To qualify for the tax credit, purchasers must close on a home between 09 April 2008 and 01 July 2009. Married couples with incomes up to $150,000 qualify for the full…

  • Consumer Reports Introduces Tightwad Tod (12 comments)

    Consumer Reports is the best money magazine in the U.S., but most of its web-based content is behind a paywall (even for magazine subscribers!). Fortunately, the site offers seven blogs that allow you to keep tabs on some of the organization’s findings for free. Today, one of those blogs — the CR Money & Shopping…

  • Despite Confusion, Quicken Online IS Free (26 comments)

    Quicken Online recently ditched its monthly subscription fee to become a completely free service. Over the weekend, however, GRS readers reported seeing alarming messages about possible charges. I contacted the folks at Intuit to find out what was going on. Here’s their response: Due to regularly scheduled maintenance of the Quicken Online connections to several…

  • Learning to Give: What *I* Can Do to Fight Poverty (98 comments)

    In our recent discussion about tithing, I made a confession: I do not tithe to church or charity. I feel guilty about this. My rationale is always: “Once I take care of myself, I’ll take care of other people.” Yet what do I mean by “taking care of myself”? I don’t know. Sometimes I think…

  • Investing in a Bear Market (93 comments)

    On 09 October 2007, the Dow Jones Industrials hit a record high, closing at 14,279. What a difference a year makes: Last Friday, the Dow closed at 8451, and there’s a good chance it will drop even further. Unsurprisingly, my inbox is filled with e-mail from people who wonder what they should do. Here are…

  • Another Frightening Show About the Economy (26 comments)

    Last spring, This American Life tackled the subprime mortgage mess in a show entitled “The Giant Pool of Money”. This is a great episode, and I recommend it to anyone who wants background on the current U.S. financial situation. When I wrote about it in May, I said: Why did the crisis occur? Because all…

  • The Market Meltdown: Essential Reading (39 comments)

    Get Rich Slowly readers have sent me many stories about the ongoing U.S. economic crisis and the debate over a possible bailout. Because I don’t like to talk politics here, and because economics is way outside my area of expertise, I haven’t provided much commentary on this situation. Besides, sound personal finance skills are the…

  • Could Tithing Lead Some Americans to Lose Their Homes? (191 comments)

    Last week, USA Today featured an article on Christians who continue to tithe even as they face foreclosure. Tithing is the practice of donating 10% of your gross income to your church. It’s not a common practice (only 5% of American adults tithe), but it’s important to those who choose to do so. It’s a…

  • Museum Day 2008: Free Museum Admission This Saturday (14 comments)

    Looking for some frugal fun this weekend? Saturday is Museum Day in the United Sates — a chance to get into local museums for free. This event is presented by Smithsonian Magazine and a handful of sponsors. According to the magazine’s website: Enjoy free general admission for you and a guest to hundreds of museums…

  • Research Reveals Credit Cards Encourage Spending (61 comments)

    Conventional wisdom says that people spend more when they use credit than when they use cash. But is it true? In The Money Answer Book, Dave Ramsey writes: When you pay in cash, you can “feel” the money leaving you. This is not true with credit cards. Flipping a card up on a counter registers…

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

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

  • Are You Worried About Today’s Economy? (44 comments)

    I drove to the box factory earlier this week to chat with my former co-workers. While I was there, I asked my cousin Nick (the bookkeeper) for info on the company retirement plan. I still have $80,000 that I need to roll over once I set up my new 401(k) for the blog. Only, it…

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

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

  • 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….

  • Are High Gas Prices Changing the Way We Drive? (138 comments)

    My friend Craig rides the bus to work every day. His family gets by with just one car. “Do you do it to save money?” I asked him recently. “Well, owning just one car certainly does save money — car payments, gas, insurance, parking — and that’s a major reason I do it,” he said….

  • Hidden Price Increases at the Grocery Store (145 comments)

    “Look at this,” Kris said yesterday when she returned from grocery shopping. She held up two yogurt containers for me to see. “So what?” I said. “Black cherry yogurt.” “Look closer,” she said.   “That one’s smaller,” I said. “Did they change the container size?” “Yes,” she said. “But they didn’t change the price.” The…

  • The American Way of Debt (182 comments)

    On Sunday, The New York Times published a series of articles on The Debt Trap, exploring the surge in consumer debt and the lenders who made it possible. The main article profiles a Philadelphia woman who made some bad choices, bought into the myth of easy credit, and now finds herself struggling with insurmountable debt….

  • Indian Beggar Saves 200 Pounds of Coins, Opens Bank Account (41 comments)

    Richard from Richer and Better just sent me an amazing story from Calcutta (Kolkata), India. Sixty-year-old Laxmi Das began begging on a street corner in 1964, when she was only sixteen years old. Crippled by polio, she’s spent her life begging for change. But she didn’t spend it all. She saved what she could. In…

  • The New Thrift and Seduction By Debt (40 comments)

    In today’s New York Times, columnist David Brooks writes about seduction by debt. The United States was founded on a moral structure that emphasized hard work and thrift, he says, and this helped the country grow affluent. But somehow we’ve lost our way. He writes: The social norms and institutions that encouraged frugality and spending…

  • Why It Pays to Ignore Financial News (27 comments)

    Financial news can be dangerous to the health of your investment portfolio. I spent some time yesterday reading recent articles about the stock market. What I found was mostly hysterical hype (“Gasp! Dow Jones Industrials tumble 400 points!”). All the financial stories seemed to be written as if our investment horizons were days, not years….

  • Don’t Raid Your 401(k) to Make Mortgage Payments (27 comments)

    What’s worse than not being able to make your mortgage payments? How about tapping into retirement savings to make ends meet? National Public Radio’s Morning Edition ran a story on Friday about the growing number of people making “hardship withdrawals” from their retirement plans. From the story: “It’s a terrible choice on so many levels,…

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

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

  • Can Saving Prepare Us for the Oncoming Recession? (82 comments)

    “What will it take to make Americans save more?” wonders Michelle Singletary in her latest column at The Washington Post. Singletary points to a recent survey that reveals Americans know they’re not saving but they just don’t care enough to change. (I recommend reading Singletary’s article via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, where there are fewer ads…

  • Sallie Mae’s Screw-Up May Cost YOU Money (22 comments)

    Several readers wrote to sound the alarm that student loan giant Sallie Mae has screwed up, and their error may cost you money. Bethany writes: I had been keeping an eye on my credit, making up for my past mistakes by paying on time meticulously and paying off my credit card debt. Yesterday my Equifax…

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

    The American housing crisis isn’t over yet. The fallout from the subprime mortgage mess will continue to settle for months (or years). Though the various statistical models disagree on just how much further prices will drop before they hit bottom, most seem to indicate there’s another 10% to 20% left to go. What exactly is…

  • A Glimpse at the Spending of the Average American (41 comments)

    On Saturday, The New York Times published a brilliant chart illustrating the spending of the average American: “Each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics gathers 84,000 prices in about 200 categories,” the paper writes, “like gasoline, bananas, dresses and garbage collection.” These numbers form the Consumer Price Index, one common measure of inflation. And this…

  • Warren Buffett on Market Fluctuations: Investors Gain When the Market Falls (20 comments)

    Berkshire Hathaway held its annual shareholders meeting over the weekend. The company, run by Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett (the world’s richest man, and one of my personal heroes), continues to do well, though Buffett warned shareholders not to expect continued stellar returns as in years gone by. “Anyone that expects us to come close…

  • The Outrageous Cost of Storing Stuff (110 comments)

    I have too much Stuff. Odds are, you do too. In fact, Americans own so much Stuff that they don’t have room to store it all. Our basements and attics are full. Our garages and workshops are overflowing. Our passion for Stuff has spawned a growing industry devoted to providing space for all of the…

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

    Dan wrote with a question unlike any I’ve received before. He lives in Alaska, where the residents of Juneau have been confronted with a sudden energy crisis (more here). Here’s Dan’s story: I am facing a unique energy situation. I live in Juneau, Alaska. Last Wednesday, we had an avalanche which affected the electricity generation…

  • April is Financial Literacy Month (7 comments)

    Though April 2008 isn’t officially National Financial Literacy Month in the United States, many organizations are still treating it as such. (Here in Oregon, for example, it is again statewide financial literacy month.) Because I think basic financial literacy is imperative, I will devote the next few weeks to covering the fundamentals of personal finance….

  • Gourmet Cooking with 99-Cent Food? (41 comments)

    Earlier this week, the always-interesting kottke.org pointed to a couple of pieces on 99-cent fine dining. First, from the March 21st episode of National Public Radio’s Day to Day, comes a story about cooking gourmet with 99¢ food. These days, the idea of making a three-course meal for a family of four for less than…

  • A Meeting of Minds: Ten Personal Finance Bloggers Talk About Money (15 comments)

    Yesterday I attended a workshop in San Francisco devoted to personal finance and personal finance tools. This gathering — sponsored by Strands, Expensr, and NetworthIQ — brought together a handful of bloggers to discuss the financial challenges our readers face, and the things they’re looking for in a personal finance tool. (Thus my question on…

  • The Negative Saving Rate and the Age of Easy Credit (81 comments)

    “My generation doesn’t know how to be thrifty,” writes Eve Conant in the current issue of Newsweek. She describes how her grandfather — who fled his native Ukraine during World War II — would store plastic bags filled with leftover bread crusts in the closet of his new home in California, a house he bought…

  • 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…

  • Heath Ledger’s Death Highlights the Need for Proper Estate Planning (21 comments)

    You don’t normally find celebrity gossip at Get Rich Slowly, and for good reason: I’m completely out of touch with pop culture. (Plus there’s the fact that this is a personal finance blog, I guess.) But the January death of 28-year-old actor Heath Ledger highlights the need for even young adults to consider basic estate…

  • Another Reason to Be Wary of Gift Cards (35 comments)

    Did you know that when you buy a gift card, you’re essentially loaning money to a company? Chris H. forwarded a MSNBC story that describes how after bankruptcies, gift cards can be worthless: The Sharper Image announced late last month that it was suspending the acceptance of gift cards, at least temporarily. It urged shoppers…

  • Consumer Reports Auto Issue: Top Picks for 2008 (30 comments)

    The Consumer Reports annual auto issue landed in my mailbox on Saturday. Like last year, I spent the afternoon leafing through it. Unlike past years, I think I managed to avoid the new-car itch. Here are their top-rated vehicles in ten categories (with last year’s top cars in parentheses): Pickup Truck: Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew…

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

    The March 2008 issue of Money has an article by Stephen Gandel about how to recession-proof your life. “We may or may not be entering an official recession,” he writes, “but either way 2008 has gotten off to a scarier start than most anyone predicted.” To lower your anxiety level Gandel recommends that you first…

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

    Is today’s McMansion tomorrow’s tenement home? Wrtiting in The Atlantic Monthly, Christopher B. Leinberger argues that modern suburban neighborhoods may be in decline, and not just because of the subprime mortgage crisis. Rising gasoline prices, for example, may prompt Americans to return to the city. And when they do, what will become of the subdivisions…

  • Economic Mobility and The American Dream (33 comments)

    In a comment on my interview with Adam Shepard, Liberal Arts Dude pointed to the Economic Mobility Project, a nonpartisan collaboration between several leading think-tanks. According to the project’s web site: While as individuals [these groups] may not necessarily agree on the solutions or policy prescriptions for action, each believes that economic mobility plays a…

  • Scratch Beginnings: An Interview with Adam Shepard (152 comments)

    I just finished reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America for the third time. In this book, the author chronicles three one-month stints working as one of the American poor. Her goal is to demonstrate that it’s difficult to succeed as a waitress, or a maid, or a Wal-Mart employee….

  • Calculate Your Economic Stimulus Tax Rebate (62 comments)

    President Bush has signed the economic stimulus package into law. This plan provides tax breaks to businesses that invest in capital equipment, temporarily allows larger mortgages through the Federal Housing Administration (and related entities), and provides a personal income tax cut for 2008. Instead of passing this on when we file taxes next year, the…

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

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

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

    The Federal Reserve has lowered short-term interest rates twice in the past week by a total of 1.25 percentage points. (They lowered the federal funds rate, not the prime lending rate, though that falls in lockstep with the former.) Many people are excited because they believe this will lead to lower rates on fixed-term mortgages,…

  • Some Thoughts on the Stock Market, the Federal Funds Rate, and Economic Stimulus (55 comments)

    I avoid discussing national economic issues at Get Rich Slowly because I am woefully unqualified to do so. However, people keep asking for my thoughts. Today I’m making a rare exception to offer my opinion about three topics that may impact your wallet. Stock market woes I spoke with Noelle Crombie from The Oregonian yesterday….

  • A Life Well-Lived is Not About the Bling (81 comments)

    I love real-life stories of people who get rich slowly. Paul Navone, a 78-year-old resident of Millville, New Jersey, is one of those. On December 21st, Navone donated $1 million to Cumberland County College. He still has millions left. How did he earn his money? The old-fashioned way: lots of hard work. Navone never attended…

  • A Brief Overview of the Alternative Minimum Tax (34 comments)

    It’s the time of year to start talking about taxes. I used to do my own taxes, but it was always a frustrating experience. Eventually I learned that by paying somebody else to do them, I was actually saving money. Because my accountant actually knows what he’s doing, he gets all the deductions I’m entitled…

  • Ben Stein: Buy Low, Sell High (32 comments)

    Dave pointed me to the latest column from Ben Stein, in which he writes about market fluctuations and subprime morality. The first half of this article interests me more — it discusses a fundamental principle of investing. I continue to get questions about whether now is a good time to invest in the stock market….

  • Will the Credit Crisis Cost YOU Money? (36 comments)

    USA Today recently featured a nervous article about the economy. According to the authors, the U.S. credit crisis isn’t just a problem for big banks — it’s also a problem for you and me. As the credit crisis seeps into farther-flung corners of the economy, more of us will find it harder — and costlier…

  • Zen to Done: The SIMPLE Productivity System (27 comments)

    Deep in my heart I want to be organized. Somehow, though, what’s on the inside never manifests itself on the outside. My office is filled with stacks of personal finance books, money magazines, and scribbled notes. My e-mail box is packed with questions from GRS readers, guest posts, and correspondence from friends — sometimes I…

  • Beware of Citibank’s Retroactive Late Fee (46 comments)

    Here’s one way for banks to compensate for their losses during the subprime lending debacle: screw their other customers. GRS reader Morydd shared a scary story in the discussion forums. His wife has a student loan through Citibank, which this month decided to charge a retro-active late fee without any explanation. Here’s Morydd’s tale (as…

  • Credit Crisis: Personal and Global Perspectives (37 comments)

    This morning’s discussion about credit cards and emergency funds was interesting. Many commenters noted that if you have a history of using credit responsibly, a credit card can actually make an acceptable buffer in case of the unforeseen. JenK made an analogy I like: “Credit cards, like knives, are not risky in and of themselves….

  • The Smell of Money: Marketers Use Scent to Encourage Spending (29 comments)

    When you shop, you are manipulated in myriad subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways. Everything from store layout to background music to package design is carefully planned to make you more likely to part with your hard-earned dollars. New Scientist reports that marketers are now learning to “recruit smell for the hard sell“: Scent, marketeers say, is…

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

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

  • Extreme Personal Finance: One Month as a Freegan (34 comments)

    Would you scavenge your food from somebody else’s garbage? A group of people who call themselves freegans do this (and more) every day. This video describes their methods: The current issue of Newsweek (dated 01 Oct 2007) features a story by Raina Kelley describing the month she spent living as a freegan: I had nine…

  • Museum Day: Get Free Museum Admission This Saturday! (2 comments)

    Jonathan from Deal Locker wrote to tell me that this Saturday is Museum Day in the U.S. — a chance to get into local museums for free. This event has been put together by Smithsonian Magazine and Hyundai. According to the magazine’s web site: Museum Day is a nationwide event taking place on Saturday, September…

  • The Green Issue: Kiplinger’s Tackles the Environment (9 comments)

    I get a lot of requests to write about “green” personal finance. I intend to cover the subject during next month’s Blog Action Day, but if you’re looking for tips before then, be sure to check out the current issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. The October 2007 edition arrived in my mailbox over the weekend,…

  • What if the Stock Market Makes You Nervous? (31 comments)

    A couple of readers have mentioned that they’re nervous about the stock market’s recent volatility. I’ve read similar concerns on other blogs and financial news sites. People are worried that the stock market’s performance over the last month portends an impending bear market, and they don’t know what to do. Reading these concerns reminded me…

  • Marketing Affects How Children Perceive Food (16 comments)

    How powerful is marketing? How young are we when we first feel its effects? Can marketing really change the way we perceive the things we buy? Earlier today I shared a passage from Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink that explored how marketing works. A recent study funded by Stanford University and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation demonstrated…

  • 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…

  • Gary Coleman Pitches Outrageous 99.25% APR Loans (78 comments)

    You guys are awesome. I’m scrambling to get things organized before I leave for London this weekend, and GRS readers continue to send me great story ideas and guest entries. I won’t get to all of them before I leave (not even close!), but you’ve given me lots of fodder for when I return. Here’s…

  • Get Rich Quack: David Schirmer of The Secret (37 comments)

    In my review of The Secret, I complained about the get rich quick mentality the book espouses. I was particularly cranky at the financial “advice” to visualize checks coming in the mail. That tip came from David Schirmer, an Australian financial “expert”. Here’s the complete passage from The Secret: When I first understood The Secret,…

  • Personal Finance Chat Today at 1pm Pacific (0 comment)

    This just in! The Los Angeles Times web site has a blurb on many of its pages this morning announcing that personal finance columnist Kathy Kristof will be answering questions in an online chat today (Thursday, May 17th) at 1:00 pm. Pacific. (Which is 4:00pm Eastern.) You can find her in the LA Times personal…

  • The Poverty Business (37 comments)

    Vincent sent me a story from the latest issue of Business Week. On its surface, “The Poverty Business” is similar to pieces I’ve featured before, including Marc Hedlund’s guest-post on the dangers of the payday loan trap and my own review of Maxed Out, a film about the credit industry. In this new article, authors…

  • 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…

  • No Impact Man: Save Money, Save the Earth (24 comments)

    Maybe it’s because I grew up poor in rural Oregon. Maybe it’s because I love adventure fiction (you know: “man against nature”). Maybe it’s because I have a lot of my father in me. For whatever reason, I’ve always been fascinated by people who go “off the grid“. In the GRS forums, Benbr pointed to…

  • Free Paper Shredding Tomorrow (Saturday, April 28th) (7 comments)

    In the forums, Brad points out that Shred-it, a document shredding company, is offering its services for free at dozens of sites around the U.S. tomorrow. According to the company’s site: Shred-it®, Office Depot® and Crime Stoppers USA® are helping consumers fight identity theft by organizing the 2007 USA National Community Shred campaign. Community Shred…

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

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

  • ING Direct (now Capital One 360) Financial Literacy Writing Contest and Grants (3 comments)

    Chris wrote to tell me that ING Direct has launched two programs designed to increase financial literacy. One of the programs targets writers, the other targets teachers: The Adventures in Saving writing contest invites aspiring authors of all ages to create a children’s story with a savings theme for the chance to win $1,000 and…

  • The Real Estate Roller Coaster (32 comments)

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

  • Get Your Money Right: The Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (18 comments)

    Tina forwarded a USA Today article that manages to be simultaneously informative and surreal. The Hip-Hop Summit Action Network has begun its seven-city tour to “teach young minorities how to handle their financial lives”. Bun B, who started duo UGK in 1987 with his friend Pimp C (before Pimp C went to jail and was…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Blogging Away Debt (14 comments)

    Paul forwarded a piece from yesterday’s New York Times entitled “Debtors search for discipline via blogs”. This front-page article profiles several personal finance bloggers whose primary focus is debt. A decade after the Internet became a public stage for revelations from the bedroom, it is now peering into the really private stuff: personal finance. The…

  • Could You Save Less and Still Retire With Enough? (30 comments)

    Retirement is big business. Financial planners, investment brokers, and accountants are eager to convince you to save big bucks in preparation. There are scores of books packed with advice about finding the magic number, that target dollar amount that will be your ticket to the easy life. All these people have a vested interest in…

  • Inside the Mind of a Spendthrift (8 comments)

    Sound personal finance is more about mind than it is about math. You’ve heard me preach this before. Success with money requires more than just knowing that compound interest is a marvelous thing — it requires mastering impulses. Behavioral scientists at Stanford and Carnegie Mellon Universities have now actually observed this phenomenon at work in…

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

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

  • Free Professional Financial Checkup This Friday (2 comments)

    Whether you’re twenty or sixty, saving for retirement is one of the most important financial steps you can take. The best time to start planning for your future is now. But how can you be sure you’re making the right choices? Here’s an amazing opportunity for readers in the United States. This Friday, January 26th,…

  • Who Is Responsible for the Payday Loan Trap? (16 comments)

    Last month, Marc Hedlund shared a guest article about the dangers of the payday loan trap. He wrote: The basic lesson for personal finance is the same you’ll have heard many times, but it always bears repeating: If it seems like you’re getting easy money, watch out! Easy money is the hardest kind there is….

  • I Make $6.50 an Hour — Am I Poor? (41 comments)

    Karen Datko at MSN Money writes that she had “a comfortable life with decent pay and health insurance”. Now she finds herself in survival mode. She wonders: “I make $6.50 an hour. Am I poor?” I lost my job as a managing editor at a small newspaper in Montana after the ownership changed hands. Six…

  • A Profile of Young People in Debt (26 comments)

    Each generation believes it faces greater challenges than those that came before. In a way, each generation is correct. The challenges keep changing, forcing young people to cope with problems there parents didn’t face. Our grandparents may have struggled with poverty during the Great Depression, but many modern young adults face a slightly different crisis:…

  • What Happens When You Try to Get Rich Quickly (31 comments)

    Robert Kiyosaki, Robert Allen, and Loral Langemeier would have you believe that in order to get rich all you need to do is throw your money into real estate, sit back, and let the profits come. It’s not that simple. There’s risk involved. You have to know what you’re doing. Jon forwarded a link to…

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

    Yesterday Jason Kottke linked to a graph of American home values from 1890 to present. It’s shocking. It’s one thing to hear that the U.S. is in the midst of a housing bubble, but it’s another thing to see a visual representation. Adjusted for inflation, homes are currently selling for about twice their historical value….

  • Most Overpriced Housing Markets (4 comments)

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

  • Editorial: In Defense of Warren Buffett (25 comments)

    Warren Buffett is one of my heroes. I admire his investment prowess. I admire his devotion to frugality despite an enormous personal fortune. I admire his independent thinking. Most of all, I admire that he just donated $37 billion to charity. Not everyone believes Buffett is worthy of admiration, though. Columnist Ted Rall writes: Bill…

  • Priciest Places to Smoke and Drive (3 comments)

    CNNMoney has posted a list of the priciest places to smoke and drive. According the list, compiled by CCH (a tax-services firm), the top five cigarette taxes by state can be found in Rhode Island ($2.46/pack), New Jersey ($2.40), Washington ($2.025), Maine ($2.00), and Alaska ($1.80). The top five gas taxes by state are in…

  • Spare Change #4 (1 comment)

    I’ve gathered several good stories during the past week, not all of which are related to personal finance. I don’t have time to write about them all — I’m suffering from an embarrassment of riches thanks to reader-submitted ideas (keep them coming) — but these are each worth reading for one reason or other: In…

  • 43% Won’t Have Enough in Retirement (5 comments)

    The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has released a report indicating that nearly half of all Americans won’t have enough for retirement. The [report] shows that, even if people retire at age 65 and households annuitize all their wealth including the receipts from reverse mortgages on their homes, 43 percent will be at…

  • Jim Cramer’s Mad Money (3 comments)

    Jim Cramer, manic host of CNBC’s Mad Money, has something of a cult following, especially among investment bloggers. (Did you know there were investment bloggers? There are many!) Nancy Franklin, television critic for The New Yorker, pofiled Cramer and Mad Money in last week’s issue. Franklin seems to be more amused by Cramer than anything:…

  • Long-Distance Phone Tax Repealed (0 comment)

    Here’s a piece of news that’s odd but good. The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday conceded a legal dispute over the 3 percent federal excise tax on long-distance telephone service and said $13 billion would be refunded to taxpayers. One-hundred-six years ago, in 1898, the U.S. Congress implemented a long-distance phone tax to help fund…

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

    I hope that most people understand that an extra-long mortgage is a fool’s game. If not, check out 50-Year Mortgages: No Shelter for the Strapped at Yahoo! Finance. Author Laura Rowley hits the nail on the head: A few lenders in California recently introduced 50-year adjustable-rate mortgages. The headline on the USA Today story was:…

  • Coins Cost More to Make Than Face Value (4 comments)

    I guess this news shouldn’t be surprising. It had to happen sometime. For the first time in U.S. history, the cost of manufacturing both a penny and a nickel is more than the 1-cent and 5-cent values of the coins themselves. Skyrocketing metals prices are behind the increase, the U.S. Mint said in a letter…

  • Oregon Master Gardeners Plant Sale (2 comments)

    Just a reminder to all Portland-area readers that the Oregon Master Gardeners will be holding their annual plant sale this Saturday and Sunday. Every spring [we hold] a spectacular garden fair at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds in Canby. It is held on the weekend before Mothers Day. Last year we had over 15,000 people show…

  • Forever Stamps (4 comments)

    The US Postal Service has proposed a stamp rate increase that would increase the cost of a first-class stamp from 39 cents to 42 cents in the spring of 2007. That’s not surprising. What is surprising is that they’re also proposing a “forever stamp” that customers could use as a hedge against future rate increases….

  • Teens and Money (4 comments)

    Two recent articles discuss teens and money. First, from CNNMoney, comes a report that teenagers aren’t getting any better at managing finances, despite classes on investing and personal finance. Second, SmartMoney offers suggestions for receiving more financial aid from colleges: Compare aid offers equitably Look down the road Assess third-party scholarships Ask for an aid…