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Planning


  • How the new healthcare law changes maternity care (26 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    My husband and I got married in December of 2005 and spent the first few years of our marriage enjoying each other without the responsibility of children. Then, after a few years, I found myself longing for a child of our own. Unfortunately, a giant roadblock stood in our way — our health insurance plan did not cover maternity. Those were the days before the new…

  • Ask the Readers: How much are you budgeting for holiday travel? (23 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    Nearly two thirds of Americans are planning to travel at least once between Thanksgiving Day and New Years Day this year, according to the Orbitz Holiday Travel Insider Index. The survey is based off the popular site’s consumer research and booking data, which also indicates that 60 percent of travelers are willing to spend as much as $2,500 on their getaway. Most travelers (68 percent) plan to…

  • Ask the readers: How does media coverage affect your charitable donations? (36 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. A 2006 study from The William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan showed how media coverage of the 2004 tsunami influenced charitable donations. For their analysis, they had to isolate the effect media coverage had on donations, so they controlled for tax incentives, agency-specific effects, and “donor fatigue” (meaning that more exposure to an event caused people to be less willing to donate). What they found was…

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

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

  • Is living without credit cards the best way to stay out of debt? (49 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Americans might be more responsible now than they were in the early 2000s when it comes to the use of credit. At least, that’s what the evidence from a Gallup poll taken earlier this year seems to suggest. The Gallup poll, which was based on random telephone interviews with 1,026 adults, shows that a full 48 percent claim to pay their credit card balances in full when…

  • What can we learn from Gen Y’s view of money? (25 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Recently, Fidelity released another survey about millennials and money. They found that 47 percent of us are saving for retirement. To me, that stat was really telling about our generation’s view of personal finance, and it’s not unlike other findings. When TIME wrote about the survey, they reported: “Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found that 71% of millennials eligible for a 401(k) plan participate and that 70% of…

  • What does your job tenure say about you? (25 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith. Recently, I wrote about networking strategies that can help advance your career, and that got me to wondering what a “typical” career looks like these days. How have careers been affected by the Great Recession? Are people able to stay in a job and retire if they love it, or is the job market more chaotic than that? And what does it say about you either way? For…

  • Ask the readers: Should we get married sooner to lower our taxes? (61 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. Landen and his fiancé are planning to get married in the fall of 2015 and they’re starting to think about how to blend their financial lives together as they tie the knot. There are always a lot of decisions to make when you get married: Will you keep your finances separate or merge them together? Will you add each other onto your existing bank accounts or close them…

  • Lifestyle inflation: How to decide if it’s ever okay (81 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Despite that I don’t own it, I like my apartment. It’s got a mountainous view, it’s comfortable, and my neighbors are few but friendly. Sure, I’d like to own a home someday. But, unless I move to another city, that probably isn’t going to happen in the next few years. I’m fine with that. Like my neighbor said, I’d rather live here than anywhere else, at least for…

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

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

  • The problem with being goal-oriented (43 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. A few months before I decided to quit my job and move, I’d made a whole timeline of accomplishments I hoped to reach within the next three to five years. It included a series of backup plans, too, should Plan A not work out (Plan A: become a hugely successful writer, make lots of money, buy a home in Malibu, take many naps). This timeline included mini-goals…

  • I want Christmas to be debt-free (68 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Fall is finally here, and everywhere I look I see Pinterest-worthy pumpkin carvings, seasonal door hangings, and all kinds of pumpkin-flavored cookies, breads, and pies. Homemade cornstalk creations line doorways and gourds decorate walkways; neighborhood yards are filled with figures resembling ghosts, witches, and goblins. Even *I* made a homemade pumpkin pie of my own the other day — from a pumpkin straight from my garden. With…

  • Fire: Oh, that will never happen to me (45 comments)

    This article is by staff writer William Cowie. Laughter and hooting filled the house as my wife had Karen and a few other friends over for a mid-morning tea. (Such are the joys of retired life.) The chirping of a cell phone rose from the pile of purses on the sofa. Nobody paid it any attention — whoever it is can leave a message was the general sentiment. Sure enough, the chirping stopped. But then…

  • I was intimidated by investing, but here’s how I got started (32 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. The first time I felt the intimidating pressure of adult responsibility, I was three months out of college. It was my very first job interview, and I was wearing an old sweater and a pair of ill-fitted slacks, sweating. My would-be boss, the man sitting across from me, was only five or six years older than I was, which made me even more nervous. I’d never met…

  • Buying rental property: Sometimes getting rich means taking it slowly (51 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. I have two second cousins who serve in the military — both brave young men I am proud to call my family. We don’t always talk much, though. The age gap can be a roadblock and those boys are always traveling around, serving overseas and living on bases in order to fulfill their military duties and finish school. Still, social media makes it easier than it used…

  • 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…

  • Ask the Readers: Are you involved in community disaster planning? (6 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. This week, Phoenix, Arizona, had extreme flooding and, before that, Napa, California, experienced a 6.0-magnitude earthquake. Landslides, earthquakes, extreme heat, floods, hurricanes, severe weather, space weather, thunderstorms and lightning, tornadoes, tsunamis, volcanoes, and wildfires are just some of the natural disasters that can plague us in a given year. Yet “nearly 70 percent of Americans have not participated in a preparedness drill or exercise outside of fire drills…

  • Bad advice about having a baby I’m glad I followed (51 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Last week I was out walking with a friend when she admitted she was scared she would never have kids. “We’ll never be able to afford them,” she said as we made our way around the block and up the next street. She and her husband are about our age (and not getting any younger), and I could tell she was worried. “Oh, I’m sure you’ll figure…

  • Ask the Readers: Are you reaching your goals? (44 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. Remember when 2014 was new? I’d rather not think about it, but more than half the year is behind us already and we’re moving into fall fairly quickly. For me, that’s a good time to start thinking about whether I’m reaching my goals for the year and what I need to do to correct my course. I would like to be in a position to tackle a “single…

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

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

  • How to eat on $4/day (55 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. I spend a lot of money on food. (More than I spend on my mortgage.) Part of it is need, of course. But much of it is want, because I’m both an enthusiastic cook and a health nut. I view food as a cross between health care and hobby. And I know I’m fortunate to be in a position to buy things like freshly pressed olive oil…

  • No, the American dream doesn’t cost 130K (83 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. A few weeks ago, I was browsing the Internet with my morning coffee when a link to a write-up at USA Today caught my eye. It read “Price tag for the American dream: $130K a year.” The article, which is based on a study conducted by researchers at Cornell University, claims that the rising costs of everything from food to housing have resulted in a new American dream…

  • Are you ready for a major power outage? (68 comments)

    This article is by staff writer William Cowie. Have you considered how your life would freeze to a standstill if a general outage cut electric power for more than two or three days? As every summer dawns, it’s a question more and more people ask, because demand for electric power is growing inexorably, and summertime is when the grid always gets strained to the max. Many experts say all it will take is one unusually…

  • Cheap ways to enjoy the sunshine (or hide from it) this summer (14 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. “You + me + swimming date at the springs.” That was the text message I sent to my friend Kacey last week. “Are you flirting with me?” she replied. “Let’s make this official.” See, every summer I solemnly swear that I’m going to spend the next several months in the water, yet I never do. (I say several months because I live in Texas, where it’s summer…

  • Dissecting retirement savings (34 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. When I finally and completely quit my once-full-time job in May, something changed: Neither my husband nor I have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan. With a significant drop in income, we’re looking at maximizing our now small retirement account contributions. So, how can we get the biggest bang for our buck? Before we talk about that, let me fill you in on my retirement contribution history….

  • How close are you? (32 comments)

    This article is by staff writer William Cowie. A short while ago, our readers were asked (talking about your personal financial journey) “What is the next step?” J.D. offered an answer in his 2009 article: the third stage is… investing. Why? Why invest? In life, you can get income from only two sources: your work (in a job or business) your investments Most people start at No. 1 and work their way to No. 2. It’s what…

  • Ask the Readers: Are the “golden handcuffs” real or self-imposed? (44 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. Last December, Honey Smith was in the throes of some major life changes – her husband started his own business, only to sell it and start a new job, adding to the pressure to move and possibly buy a house. She wrote about it in her blog post “When the right choice isn’t obvious” and basically asked the readers which direction she should take. “I’ve been steadfastly against…

  • Student loan update: Interest rate edition (62 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. In my last progress report, I mentioned that I took my student loans off Kwik-pay (autodebit) until after closing on my house. The thinking was that I’d have the money just in case things didn’t go smoothly with the house and move. Originally, I thought I’d re-enable the automatic payments after closing. Then I realized that if I kept my student loans on manual payments, I wouldn’t be…

  • The only two things you need to remember about funeral costs (31 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. When someone has to make funeral arrangements, they often look to the funeral home for help. They select one of the three coffins suggested by the funeral home. Often it’s part of a mid-priced package deal, one that includes pretty much everything you need, and then some. And in a lot of ways, it makes sense that we turn to the experts, especially if we’ve never had…

  • How to track your spending (and why you should) (80 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Recently, an old friend emailed me for help with his family’s financial woes. The confession that followed wasn’t pretty, and included tales of student loans, car loans, unrestrained spending, and empty bank accounts. It was all bad news, which I found rather surprising considering their relatively high income. So, of course, I asked about their fixed expenses. What were they? We emailed back and forth for quite a…

  • Professional investment advice (and why you should ignore it) (77 comments)

    This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D. recently appeared on the Microblogger podcast, where he talked about taking control of his financial life, moving from debt to wealth. In January, I accompanied Kim to an appointment with Paul, her investment adviser from Edward Jones. Paul’s brother was my best friend in grade school and junior high, and we have many mutual friends. I sat and listened while Kim…

  • How to get started investing (33 comments)

    This article is by staff writer William Cowie. Confession time: Despite a financial and business education more comprehensive than most, I never invested. I grew up poor and just couldn’t wait for my first “serious” job and those big bucks. It was so bad, I decided to drop out of college in my senior year. “None of this ivory-tower crap is going to make me any more money,” I told everyone who would listen. Fortunately,…

  • Financing your bucket list (39 comments)

    This is a guest post from Mitch Anthony. Mitch is a sought-after financial services consultant, popular speaker, and host of The Daily Dose radio program. His RetireMentors column appears regularly on CBS marketwatch.com. Mitch earned Financial Planning Magazine’s “Mover & Shaker” award for his pioneering retirement and financial planning work. He has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, and The New York Times. His book Storyselling for Financial Advisors was acclaimed…

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

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

  • Money resolutions and goals for the New Year (36 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Last year, I wrote about lowering the bar for happiness. I recently found out my neighborhood doughnut shop is experimenting with the cronut trend, and I became genuinely giddy. So I think I’ve been doing pretty well with that resolution. I can’t believe it’s already 2014, and the new year has me thinking about resolutions again. The start of the year is a good time to clean up…

  • 2014: The year of change (45 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. A few days ago, I received a text message that made me smile. “We signed up for Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University,” the message read. “We start right after new year’s day.” The message was from a family friend, a married father of four whose annual household income is close to $200,000, and in the top 5 percent of households in the U.S. according to the New York…

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

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

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

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

  • In praise of financial resilience (55 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money. I had lunch with my friend Craig a few months ago. Craig is an architect, and he took me on a tour of his company’s offices. “The cool thing about this building,” he told me, “is that it’s especially resilient.” I could tell from the way he said it that the…

  • Review: FlexScore, part 2 (the website) (27 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith. There are many personal finance books and tools out there, useful to people in all stages of personal finance. I have a lot to learn before reaching financial independence, and the editorial elves thought it would be useful if I shared some of what I learn with you. My recent reviews include “Soldier of Finance: Take Charge of Your Money and Invest in Your Future” and “FlexScore,…

  • A Meeting With My Financial Adviser (90 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money. Once every six months, whether I need to or not, I meet with my investment adviser from Fidelity. I’ve been doing this for five years, and have come to value the experience as truly educational. On Tuesday, for instance, my new adviser Michael talked me through some income planning. My financial…

  • What to do when Easy Street develops potholes (46 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. The moral of this story is obvious: It’s a lot easier to get ahead financially before children enter the picture. Now that I have that brilliant thought out of the way, let’s get into a keepin’ it real kind of post by analyzing the last few years of the Aberle budget. 2009 – Making more money. Start targeted savings accounts. Pay off car loan. Only the mortgage is…

  • When is your financial relaxation due date? (48 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. I am perched in the corner chair, cup of Chai in hand, with just hours before the deadline for this post. I have piles and piles of clean laundry that need to be folded. Dishes need to be washed. I can’t recall the last time I’ve dusted any room in the house. My husband has been working 80-hour weeks for a few weeks, so I am doing…

  • Changing careers: The grass isn’t always greener (76 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Earlier this year, my husband and I made a decision that will change the course of our lives, for better or for worse. After 10 years in the mortuary industry, we decided that it was time for my husband to make a change. He was frustrated, burnt out, and tired of working weekends, late nights, and holidays. He began to wonder if there was something else that he…

  • 7 rules for growing slow (but sustainable) wealth (31 comments)

    This guest post is by Pejman Ghadimi. Pejman is the founder of SecretEntourage.com, an author, an entrepreneur and a leadership consultant. Many will argue that fortunes can be made overnight; while that may hold very true in some cases, the majority of those who have made it will tell you it did indeed take a great deal of time coupled with some correct financial choices. For me, wealth did not come solely from entrepreneurship or…

  • Get Your Shit Together (11 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. As I return to writing at Get Rich Slowly, one of my resolutions is to share interesting apps and websites with you folks promptly instead of sitting on them while I wait for the ideal moment. In the…

  • Reader Stories: Why, at 25, I made retirement my first priority (48 comments)

    This reader story is from Adam M. Shearer, whose story was prompted by comments from another post. 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. After I was challenged in the comments on a recent article, I was drawn into reassessing my personal…

  • Empty goal syndrome: What to do when your last goal leaves the nest (47 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Lisa Aberle. I shouldn’t be admitting this in public, but it’s the truth. Hi, I am a staff writer for a personal finance blog, and I’m losing interest in personal finance. I’m not leaving the blog, and I’m not going crazy with spending. But I need a little shot of espresso in my ho-hum financial life. This is the first time in my life that I’ve felt my enthusiasm…

  • Emotional and financial lessons from death (63 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Honey Smith. It’s been a rough couple of weeks in the Honeycomb. First, my husband Jake’s grandfather died. Then, the very next week, we had to put one of our cats down. As a result, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about death and how it affects us, both emotionally and financially. Funeral logistics: The flight out Jake’s grandfather was 91, and he is survived by his…

  • Should You Prepay Your Mortgage? (40 comments)

    Welcome to Throwback Thursday! Many in the GRS community have been reading the site since J.D. Roth began posting in 2006, but many of you are new to the community. We’re going to start re-posting some of the most popular — and useful articles — from the past. The financial advice and ideas are still valid, and well worth bringing back to light. Originally published on June 17, 2006, this article offers various points of…

  • Five factors for your asset allocation (16 comments)

    This is a post from staff writer Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. When you think of your portfolio, visions of stocks, bonds and cash likely dance in your head. Generally, the mix of those investments is based on some measure of risk tolerance, with a little bit of time horizon calculation thrown in, and — voila! — you have yourself…

  • Ask the Readers: Do you plan for the good times as well as the bad? (53 comments)

    This is a guest post from personal finance writer Gwendolyn Pearce, who has written previously on chicken coops and cooking challenges. In a recent post, staff writer Lisa Aberle provided an excellent outline of the kind of financial information and preparation you should provide for your loved ones in the event of your incapacitation or death. It’s no fun to prepare this information, which may be why so many people avoid it. But as we’ve…

  • The tyranny of the 401(k) industrial complex (68 comments)

    This is a post from staff writer Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. Like many living beings – including turtles, snakes, and llamas — he’s on Twitter. If you never watch PBS’ “Frontline,” you’re missing out on some of the best journalism on TV. I don’t agree with every viewpoint they advocate, but each episode is thought-provoking and well…

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

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

  • How (and why) to create a financial plan (40 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Lisa Aberle. A few weeks ago, I celebrated another birthday. For whatever reason, birthdays always make me think about how many more birthdays I have to celebrate. And eventually, I think about how my husband would handle the finances in the event of my death. Happy birthday, huh? Although I am unlikely to die anytime soon, you never know. When thinking about my earthly exit, I am bothered most…

  • Will you have what you need when you need it? (35 comments)

    This is a post from staff writer Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. Let’s say I told you of a company whose stock posted the best 15-year return of any Fortune 500 company between 1965 and 1995, earning more than 18.5 times the return of the S&P 500. Had you invested $10,000 in this company at the beginning of…

  • Ask the Readers: 4 options for the next step (56 comments)

    Ken is sending his financial situation into the GRS ether to see what you have to say. Here’s a snapshot of his finances: I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article “What Next” and the “Ask the Readers: What is the Next Step?” because that is my situation. I have been struggling for the past year to figure out where to focus my attention. I am married with no children. My wife and I are 43 and…

  • I’m 30! Am I where I should be with my finances? (81 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Kristin Wong. “I can’t believe I’m going to be 30!” I told my Dad at the beginning of the year. I said the same thing when I turned 20, so I knew he would reassure me that 30 actually wasn’t that old. “Nope, 30′s old,” he said. Getting older doesn’t bother me; I actually embrace it and all the experiences that come along with it. That’s also something I say…

  • Oops, I may have broken my nest egg (42 comments)

    This is a post from staff writer Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. Financial success can be due to making good decisions or avoiding big mistakes. In many cases, the biggest mistakes happen after good decisions, because the stakes have become higher. As an example, let’s consider the dilemma of Motley Fool reader Jim, who emailed us this…

  • Morningstar’s day for individual investors (3 comments)

    Hey, GRS readers, you have been invited to the Morningstar Individual Investor Conference. This is an all-day webcast (although I’m sure you can jump in and out of the webcast depending on which sessions most interest you), and it features an all-star lineup of personal finance experts. The theme is retirement savings and setting goals. The conference is on Saturday, March 23, and starts at 9 a.m. Central time. Here’s the link for registration http://www.morningstar.com/conference…

  • Creating objective rules for spending (36 comments)

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

  • Ask the Readers: What is the next step? (92 comments)

    J.D. wrote about the three stages of personal finance often. His definitions were: The first stage of personal finance involves learning the basics: understanding compound interest, reducing debt, beginning to save. The second stage is putting the basics into practice: choosing to live frugally, saving in earnest, and pursuing financial goals. The third stage — the “what next?” stage — comes after we’ve mastered the fundamentals. It’s at this point that we begin to ask…

  • Play hooky for money (31 comments)

    This is a post from staff writer Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. We at Fool HQ did it again: We had a company-wide financial health day. As we did three years ago, we encouraged Fool employees to clear their professional decks in order to tackle personal financial tasks. We also held 10 classes — from estate planning…

  • How to plan for a worst-case scenario (46 comments)

    As many longtime GRS readers know, a few years ago I quit my job to become a full-time writer. The decision to ditch a job and leap into self-employment always brings up a lot of big questions, like where to get health care and how to adjust to working alone. But the biggest question on my mind was about income. What if I lost a major client and my income suddenly dropped? While I was…

  • Taking the semi-retirement plunge without drowning in debt (60 comments)

    After spending months working 60 or 70 hours per week, realizing that life is all too short, and preparing for our kids to come home, it’s time for a new financial paradigm of my own: I’m semi-retiring. I had always been perplexed by those who, say, retired early to travel to exotic locations. I like working and don’t really like traveling, so my dreams involved some sort of fulfilling employment until I couldn’t work anymore….

  • The most powerful ways to secure your retirement (34 comments)

    This is a post from staff writer Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. Whether you can retire, and whether your money will last after you retire, starts with a very simple maxim: spend less than you have. However, once you start actually crunching some numbers, you find that the equation of retirement is actually quite complicated, with many…

  • Party philosophy: When to spend big on fiestas (57 comments)

    I grew up in a family not given to extravagance with regard to birthdays. Not that we could have been extravagant if we would have wanted to. With five children close together in age, a dad who’d pursued ministry as a career (and not one of those relatively lucrative evangelical TV ministries, either), and a mother at home with us, money was tight. As an adult in my 20s, birthday parties meant dinners out at…

  • New student loan payoff tool (30 comments)

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

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

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

  • Honey’s financial goals for 2013 (126 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Now that I’ve taken stock of where I’ve been in 2012, I’m ready to set goals for 2013. I want my goals to be ambitious enough that meeting them is a true accomplishment requiring me to stretch my growing money-management skills. However, I also want them to be realistic and personal (revolving around my priorities). Goal 1: Pay off $5,000 in student loan principal Since I’ve paid…

  • This year, switch and get things done (28 comments)

    Friends: this is only an arbitrary calendar, but still, it’s a nice mental paradigm to start counting again from day one. Don’t forget to write the correct year when you write your next check! (That is, if you still write checks.) Speaking of checks, and balances, I don’t have a crystal ball, so at the time of writing this I don’t yet know if by the time of publication we’ll have gone over the “fiscal…

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

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

  • A few things to consider before becoming an expatriate (23 comments)

    This post is from Justin Boyle. Justin is an experienced English tutor and writing coach who works as a designer in the tech industry. He lives in Austin, Texas, and finds a lot of things interesting, especially food, finance, education, gadgetry, software, art and travel. He never stops thinking about food. He is probably eating right now. There are plenty of possible reasons you could want to leave the U.S. Perhaps you’ve always dreamed about making the sand…

  • Taking stock of 2012 (89 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. For me, the end of the year is a time to take stock of where I’ve been. This not only helps me identify (and celebrate!) my accomplishments throughout the year, it helps me identify and prioritize new goals. I’ve already met the short-term of my recently identified financial goals. I’m also happy to report that I’ve actually made significant progress on the medium-term goal as well. With…

  • Health savings accounts: An overview, plus some pros and cons (102 comments)

    Lately, my dad’s been praising the benefits of having a health savings account. This year, he had the opportunity to get the most of his HSA — bad news for his health, but good news for his wallet (side note: Dad is now doing OK health-wise). At any rate, I’ve spent the week researching, calculating and mulling over whether an HSA is the best option for me. I reviewed a lot of your comments from…

  • Preparing for the inevitable (41 comments)

    This is a 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. There are few occasions in life that anyone dreads more than the death of one of our parents. After all, our parents gave us life. They most often raised us. As most of us grew and had our own children,…

  • How badly would a disaster affect you? (59 comments)

    The oceans are rising, the climate is warming. Is your house — literally — in order? No matter what we do, say scientists, the oceans are rising; anything we do to address climate change won’t help until, at the earliest, 2100. And the effects of carbon emissions on the climate lag the emissions by at least 40 years and as many as hundreds of years. In a report that was ironically delayed because of Hurricane…

  • Reader Stories: Making friends in ‘God’s Waiting Room’ (30 comments)

    This guest post is from Mrs. PoP, who writes at plantingourpennies.com.This is a fitting post near Thanksgiving, as Mrs. PoP has a lot to be thankful for. This story is part of our Reader Stories series. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want submit your own reader story? Here’s how. Mr….

  • When you just can’t get the important stuff done (38 comments)

    This is a post from staff writer Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. This post is not for those of you who have focused minds and empty “to do” lists. Nay, not for those rarefied people who go to bed knowing that they got just about…

  • Safeguarding your career switch (44 comments)

    The night before I moved to California, I got a flat tire. The day before I moved to California, someone backed into my car. The first night that I moved to California, I got a parking ticket and my car was towed. So, you know. I was really beginning to question my move to California. I switched careers in 2010. It’d always been a dream of mine to move to New York or Los Angeles…

  • How Wall Street eats a third of your savings and makes you work longer (35 comments)

    This is a post from staff writer Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. In my post from a few weeks ago, I explained how Wall Street wants your balls – that is, if you compare retirement savings to balls, as I did in the second video…

  • Risk-a-Palooza: All that can go wrong and how to prevent it (30 comments)

    This is a post from staff writer Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. Note: Robert’s post is particularly timely this week, which is National Financial Planning Week. Time to get your finances in order! Let’s get this out of the way up front: This post is…

  • 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 haven’t been so diligent about managing my own affairs. Yes, I’ve been saving for retirement all along, but I’ve been…

  • Reader Story: Dodging Financial Bullets: A Tribute to My Ex (94 comments)

    This guest post from Holly Johnson is part of the “reader stories” feature. 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. Want submit your own reader story? Here’s how. I could talk for hours about my ex-boyfriend and all of the terrible decisions he made, his bad habits, and his financial mistakes. Ahhh…..so where do I…

  • 15 Things You Need to Know About Financial Aid (68 comments)

    Timothy M. Hayes, MBA, CFP®, is the founder and President of Landmark Financial Advisory Services, a member of the Garrett Planning Network of fee-only advisors, and an expert in navigating the financial-aid application process. Every January, students and their parents face the daunting prospect of preparing the various financial-aid applications that are required to be submitted in order to determine their eligibility for federal and/or institutional financial aid. Most families find the process, at best,…

  • Reader Story: Finding Hope In The Bleakest Of Situations (99 comments)

    This guest post from Sam is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Sam writes at Financial Samurai and is one of the esteemed colleagues with whom I’m exchanging ideas this weekend at the second annual Financial Blogger Conference. 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 submit…

  • Keeping Your Head During Estate Settlement (30 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jennifer Rose Hale. Hale first shared what to expect when settling an estate, then explained reading the will is not what you expect. Emotions will probably run high during estate settlement. Stopping to think — and setting goals — can help you make the most of any inheritance. Here’s the main problem with doing a “regular” series of pieces about estate settlement: Nothing is regular. You have fits of…

  • Turning Long-Term Goals Into Short-Term Goals (and Not Getting Fat Along the Way) (82 comments)

    This is a post from staff writer Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. Longtime readers may remember a few things about me: At various times, I’ve studied to be a priest, a doctor, a teacher, and a financial advisor (though I was only two of those)….

  • Straying Off the Path or Changing Direction? (77 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Frugal Cool blog for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. The delightful Rita Rudner once said that she never gets lost — she just changes where it is she wants to go. I’d like to stand that joke on its head: If life takes a sudden, unpleasant turn, you might have to turn along with it…

  • Is Long-Term Care Insurance Worth It? (81 comments)

    For the next week (or two), we’ll be sharing “audition” pieces from folks interested in being new staff writers at Get Rich Slowly. Your job is to let us know what you think of each of these writers. Pay attention, give feedback, and after a couple of weeks we’ll ask which writers you prefer. This article is from Chip Chinery, who writes about personal finance at Chip’s Money Tips. Chinery won the website award for…

  • Estate Settlement: Reading the Will Is Not What You Expect (24 comments)

    For the next week (or two), we’ll be sharing “audition” pieces from folks interested in being new staff writers at Get Rich Slowly. Your job is to let us know what you think of each of these writers. Pay attention, give feedback, and after a couple of weeks we’ll ask which writers you prefer. This article is from Jennifer Rose Hale. Jennifer’s first audition piece was about what to expect when settling an estate. Big…

  • Wills, Trusts and Drama: What to Expect When Settling an Estate (58 comments)

    This is a guest post by Jennifer Rose Hale, one of the candidates for a new staff writer position here at Get Rich Slowly. We all face times when we suddenly, necessarily have to become experts on a topic we’d previously given little consideration. Some, like pregnancy, accompany positive changes in our lives. Others, like dealing with funeral planning and estate issues, are entirely the opposite. Yet, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll have to…

  • The Retirement Outlook for 20-Somethings (159 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Tim Sullivan. Over Memorial Day weekend, a few friends and I took an RV to Banff, Canada. I’m from Chicago and have only been in the Pacific Northwest for a few short months. We Chicagoans are flatlanders and the geographical splendor of the snow-caps that now surround me is a source of a daily inspiration. While we were heading through Glacier National Park, I sat at the coffee table…

  • How to Do a Wallet Audit (90 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Frugal Cool blog for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. On my way to the 2011 Financial Blogger Conference last year I encountered three young men who’d made a non-traditional career choice: mugging tired-looking, middle-aged women pulling suitcases. They got me as I headed for the train to the airport, taking a little over $80 and…

  • Reader Story: The Bonus of Bi-Weekly Pay (96 comments)

    This guest post from Corinne 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. At my previous job, I was paid on a monthly basis. I loved it. I got all my money for the…

  • How to Spend a Tax Refund (126 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sarah Gilbert. For the past two years doing taxes has not been bearable: it’s been terrific! I’ve used an online e-filing service for several years now after many years of taking great pleasure — really! — in filling out the paper forms, just because it gets the money to me far more quickly. Last January I began to fill out the online forms and, at some point, started glancing…

  • How to Donate Your Body to Science (135 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. A basic burial averages close to $6,600 in the United States. Many people worry about the financial burden this places on their families. There is a way around this besides opting to be cremated and carrying enough life insurance: whole-body donation. It’s estimated that at least…

  • Make 2012 Better by Asking the Right Question (30 comments)

    This post is by guest writer Carl Richards. Carl is a financial planner, contributor for The New York Times and Morning Star, and author of Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things With Money. With 2012 still fresh and new, it’s a great time to make a plan to have a better year financially than we did in 2011. But figuring out how to make smart decisions about money can be a frustrating…

  • Planning for My Financial Future (65 comments)

    I’ve been fortunate over the past few years. I’ve managed to get out of debt, quit my day job to write full time, build substantial savings, and am now able to do what I want when I want. I still work hard, of course, but I do so on my own terms. I’m a lucky man. Next year, though, is going to be a year of changes. For one thing, my income might actually decrease….

  • Reader Story: What My Father’s Death Taught Me About Estate Planning (100 comments)

    This guest post from Jody 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. My dad died recently. He was a good man and a great father. Just three months after he retired (after spending more than 40…

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

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

  • Turn Paranoia Into Plan B (Because Things Might Get Worse) (47 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner, the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service, and the husband of Elizabeth Brokamp, who has written a darling Halloween-themed children’s book, The Picky Little Witch. I have a confession: I am an “awfulizer.” I’m always afraid that something awful is around the corner, especially when it comes to my personal finances and the overall…

  • Get Free Professional Financial Help During Financial Planning Days (21 comments)

    When Kris and I attended our college reunion last month, we met many folks from other classes. For instance, I chatted with Harvey Gail, who graduated ten years before we did. We had plenty to talk about anyhow. Turns out Gail is the executive director of the Financial Planners Association of Oregon and Southwest Washington. (This is the same group I spoke to in 2009.) “You know,” Gail told me, “maybe you can help us…

  • Holiday Saving Tips: How to Grow Your Christmas Nest Egg (48 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. Autumn is here and the leaves are just starting to turn. Believe it or not, that means it’s time to start thinking about the holiday season. Holiday expenses can pile up quickly. Planning ahead saves you sticker shock and can spare you a steep credit card bill in the new year. Careful planners have laid out…

  • Want More Money in Retirement? Work a Little Longer! (83 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 also has a blog, Twittering thing, and a wife who has written a clever little children’s book, The Picky Little Witch. Looking for an effective way to improve the chances that you won’t run out of money in retirement? It’s easy: Just delay retirement. That…

  • Reader Story: Lay-Off Resistant Family Finances (78 comments)

    This guest post from Sam 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. Sam writes about personal finance at Grad Money Matters. A few years ago, my husband and I began planning to have children. As part…

  • Preparing for an Emergency (80 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman, who recently wrote about ceviche and how to peel shrimp like a Hawaiian. A few weeks ago, I wrote about how hot it was in the Lone Star State. The update is that we’re literally on fire. Wildfires have destroyed hundreds of homes in central Texas, and they’re breaking out all over the state (more than 60 fires so far). We were at dinner last night when…

  • Engineer Your Retirement (50 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 also has a blog, Twittering thing, and other things that are supposed to be important but he often forgets about, such as hygiene. Robert contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. I get plenty of email from readers, usually filled with…

  • Estate Planning Essentials: Preparing for the Unpleasantly Possible (24 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 also has a blog, Twittering thing, and other things that are supposed to be important but he often forgets about, such as hygiene. Robert contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. As I mentioned in my missive from two weeks ago…

  • Reader Story: Estate Planning – The First Month (37 comments)

    This guest post from Jeffrey G. is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. It seems like a fitting follow-up to my recent experiences with my mother. 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. What would happen if you, your spouse, a parent, someone…

  • Drama in Real Life: A Place for Mom (259 comments)

    In my ideal world, you’d now be reading an article about the freelancing or entrepreneurship or extreme couponing or one of the half dozen other topics I’ve started to write about. In my ideal world, I’d go to the gym this morning, and then to Spanish lessons this afternoon. In my ideal world, Kris and I would go see the Portland Timbers play this evening. Unfortunately, I don’t live in my ideal world. Instead, I…

  • Reader Story: Negative Budgeting and a Healthy Outlook on Life (52 comments)

    This guest post from Shara is part of the “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general “how I did X” 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. Last year, Shara shared her story about the other side of bankruptcy. On a ride to town the other…

  • The Next Step: Preparing for Change (105 comments)

    For years, I wallowed in debt. I had no fiscal discipline. I used credit to buy what I wanted, when I wanted. My money skills were abysmal, and my life was in financial ruin. In 2004, I decided to turn things around. I started teaching myself about personal finance. I attacked my debt with vigor. I learned about saving and investing and frugality and thrift. I discovered the basics of self-discipline. Gradually, from the ruins,…

  • Every Purchase Is a Trade-Off (76 comments)

    While I was digging out of debt, I cut back on my comic book habit. I’d been spending a mind-boggling $250 every month on comics — most of which I bought in the form of hard-bound compilations — but for a few of years, I slashed that to less than $50 a month. I also cut my book spending from $100 per month to $50 per month. In other words, I made trade-offs. I decided…

  • Reader Story: Making Life Transitions Meaningful (83 comments)

    This guest post from Laura Mezoff Christy 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. Some of the biggest transitions in life also tend to be the most expensive. Births, funerals, weddings, buying houses, and leaving for…

  • Estate Planning Done Right: How to Help Your Family from the Great Beyond (48 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 also has a blog, Twittering thing. Robert contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. Note: No cats were harmed in the writing of this post. Unless you’re Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re not going to be able to visit your relatives after you…

  • To Automate, or Not to Automate (85 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Lately I’ve been giving my personal finance systems a lot of thought. What is the best way to track my expenses (I’ve yet to figure it out)? Am I allocating my savings in the way that makes the most sense? Should I automate more, or less? Right now I’m both automated and unautomated. Payments for cell phones, my yoga studio membership, Netflix, and charity, for example, are…

  • Your Retirement Account Survival Guide (55 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 also has a blog, Twittering thing, and a piece of carpet that was once in Elvis’ jungle room (no joke!). Robert contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. An IRA is a simple little thing. It’s a common, garden-variety retirement vehicle,…

  • Building Your Financial “Safety Gear” (54 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. Recently, I’ve gotten into indoor rock climbing. It’s a challenging activity, and frightening when you first begin. You need to really push the edges of your strength and flexibility. Once in awhile, if you happen to glance down and see how far off the ground you are, it can be terrifying. Which is to say, it’s…

  • Use a Financial Fire Drill to Prepare for the Worst BEFORE It Happens (49 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. Hey, federal employees: How many of you were you watching the Countdown to Shutdown clock and wondering how you’d cope if salaries were delayed by even a few days? The time to figure out how you would have managed was before the crisis loomed. The same…

  • All About Asset Location: How to Make the Most of Your Accounts (68 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 also has a newly reinvigorated blog, and you can have your day interrupted once or twice by his Twittering. Robert contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. When he submitted this, Robert advised, “File this under the ‘long and tedious but…

  • Establish Your Financial Priorities (Worksheet Inside!) (55 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Quick — can you list your top financial priorities? My top priorities (aside from basic living expenses) are building a house and travel. Those are the two things I daydream about the most, and the two things I try to keep in mind when I’m deciding whether I really need all 10 “hard-to-find” books from the used book store or whether I’m overspending on, say, a $100-compost…

  • Emergency Preparedness on a Shoestring (130 comments)

    This post is from new 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. Images of devastation emerged after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. We watched water sweep away vehicles and houses; we saw stunned men and weeping women in the ruins. But we also heard about survivors whose homes weren’t flattened or inundated, people who subsisted on stockpiled…

  • College Is a Big, Fat, Hairy Rip-Off! (But Save for It Anyway) (109 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 also has a newly reinvigorated blog, and you can have your day interrupted once or twice by his Twittering. Robert contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. A few weeks ago, the proprietor of this establishment (J.D. “The letters in ‘Get…

  • The Power of Patience (57 comments)

    When I was young, I had no patience. I wanted everything, and I wanted it now. No wonder, then, that I found myself with over $20,000 in credit-card debt just a few years out of college. I was spending to obtain a lifestyle that I wouldn’t be able to afford until I was older. Much older. I’m not the only one with this problem. Many young adults graduate from college or leave home, and suddenly…

  • Getting Started with Estate Planning (30 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. Over the past few years, I’ve done a reasonable job getting on top of my personal finances. I’ve paid off credit cards. I’ve put systems in place to track and analyze my spending each month. My files are in order. I’ve learned how to communicate about money with my spouse. On any…

  • Reader Story: Sailing Away from the American Dream (52 comments)

    This guest post from Michael Robertson 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. Two years ago, Michael shared a guest post about direct stock purchase plans. Today, he shares his personal story, which is about sailing…

  • Caring for Aging Parents (156 comments)

    As more of my friends enter middle age, they’re talking less about how to care for their kids and more about how to care for their parents. Our mothers and fathers are nearing (and, in some cases, surpassing) seventy years of age, and not all of them are financially prepared. A GRS reader named Shauna recently wrote with a typical scenario: My husband and I are in our early thirties and finally getting our finances…

  • Two Stories About Retirement Planning (106 comments)

    I never know where the personal-finance lessons are going to come from. Today, I heard two stories about retirement from my own family. First, my wife told me that her retirement program at work might be cut. Next, I learned that my family’s box company has had a bizarre retirement crisis of its own. Don’t count your chickens Kris came home frustrated tonight. She’s worked for the state government for almost twenty years (eight of…

  • One Problem, One Correction: How to Set New Year’s Resolutions You’ll Actually Keep (54 comments)

    A new year is coming, and for many people that means it’s time to make a list of resolutions. I used to be one of these folks, carefully cataloging the faults I’d like to fix every winter. Not anymore. It’s not that I’m perfect — as my wife would attest, I’m far from it! — but I’ve learned that a long list of resolutions was a sure path to failure. There’s a reason you see…

  • The Cost of Being a Better Parent (107 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. Remember the good old days? Of course not, because they never really existed — at least not the way they’re recalled in old TV shows and movies. But you can still get a flavor…

  • Fantasy vs. Reality: Paving a Path to a Promising Future (45 comments)

    On Saturday night, I had dinner with Wendy and Dennis, two Get Rich Slowly readers who recently moved from Phoenix to Portland. We talked about a lot of things — most of them nerdy. We also chatted about the ever-evolving nature of Get Rich Slowly. “I’ve noticed you’re writing more about credit cards lately,” Wendy said. “Is that because you’re using them more often?” “Well, maybe,” I said. I thought about it for a moment….

  • Why Now is the Time to Think Long-Term (37 comments)

    This is a guest post from Philip Brewer of Wise Bread. Brewer also writes science-fiction and fantasy stories. Previously at GRS, he shared how to live a rich life on a budget. As a saver, I have a personal interest in higher interest rates: I earn more. But as a conservationist and environmentalist, I know that low rates enable a certain kind of long-term thinking. Now, while rates are at generational lows, circumstances are perfect…

  • Re-Thinking Retirement: Beyond Conventional Wisdom (32 comments)

    This post is from Kent Thune. Kent urges and guides readers to place meaning and purpose before money and planning at his blog, The Financial Philosopher. Previously at GRS, Thune has written about defining financial freedom, and shared a brilliant article about how the number-one impact on your investments is YOU. When planners talk about retirement, they often use the metaphor of a three-legged stool. The three legs of this metaphorical stool include: Social Security…

  • Investing in Your Life Pays Off in the Long Term (23 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. Simple living is great. Avoiding shopping malls in favor of clothing swaps, cooking meals at home with your spouse, holding a music jam with friends instead of shelling out big bucks for a concert — all these activities not only save you money, but they also connect you more deeply with what…

  • When Will You Be Able to Retire? (52 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. Permit me to introduce a new term into the financial planning lexicon: goals-based budgeting. (Well, a Google search turned up a few other instances of its use, but they’re on government websites, so no…

  • The High Cost of Modern Living (118 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. With all the hullabaloo over the release of the iPhone 4 this summer, and having just paid my monthly service bill for my own iPhone (an older version, thank you very much), I thought…

  • What is Retirement? (76 comments)

    I just returned from my annual weekend trip to Oregon’s Opal Creek Wilderness area. Every year, I join five other friends to hike into the forest, pitch our tents on the banks of the creek, and sit around the fire talking about life. We drank a lot of whiskey this year, and spent a lot of time at the swimming hole. Paul and Tim at rest above the Opal Creek swimming hole This year, we…

  • How to Help Your Kids Build $25,000 Stock Portfolios (61 comments)

    Mary and her husband set out to build a stock portfolio worth $25,000 as a college graduation present for each of their children. That’s a lofty goal. How did they do it? In her entry to the GRS video contest, Mary explained: Here’s how Mary describes her method in a post at her site, Frugal to Rich: When our children were born and people wanted to get a gift for the baby, we asked family…

  • Reader Story: I Was a TV Freelancer (or Financial Planning and Job Instability) (38 comments)

    This guest post from Kristen Swensson is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. It’s also the funniest post I’ve published since Robert Brokamp’s last appearance. Swensson is the proprietor of Cheap Healthy Good, a great blog about food and frugality. She likes nothing more than good feedback and bacon, preferably combined in a delicious slurry. A long, long time ago (2009) in a galaxy far, far away (New York City), I…

  • Planning for Budget Busters: Home Ownership (41 comments)

    This video post is the third of a four-part series from staff writer Adam Baker. Baker previously featured a post on his own blog entitled Cost of Living Abroad: Dozens of Bloggers Share Their Expenses. Last week, I introduced the concept of a Budget Buster, which is any irregular expense that I fail to plan for. These are’t true emergencies, but rather expenses that pop up to surprise me, even though I should have easily…

  • How Do You Define Financial Freedom? (70 comments)

    This post is from Kent Thune. Kent urges and guides readers to place meaning and purpose before money and planning at his blog, The Financial Philosopher. Can freedom be bought? Are there any (financially) poor people who are free? Are there any (financially) wealthy people who aren’t free? If someone were to ask you, “What’s your definition of financial freedom?”, what would you say? Be honest with yourself: Would you reply with a concrete definition?…

  • Planning for Budget Busters: Transportation (42 comments)

    This video post is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker previously featured a post on his own blog entitled, 67 Ways NOT to Sell a Car. Courtney and I apply a fun name to any expense in our lives that we should’ve planned for in our budget, but didn’t. We call them Budget Busters. Even with persistent effort, we find it impossible to account for every irregular expense. As I note in this week’s video,…

  • Preparing for the Future: A Risk-Management Checklist (17 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. Many of you asked for a follow-up to last week’s post about what happens to your stuff when you die; this article offers more info about how to prepare for the inevitable. Some aspects…

  • What Happens to Your Stuff When You Die? (49 comments)

    Most of us have some sort of vague idea about what happens to our assets when we die. The stuff we own gets passed on to the people we specify — assuming we’ve jumped through the right hoops. But what happens to our debts when we die? That’s what Matt wants to know. He wrote recently looking for clarification: My parents are both in their sixites, and don’t have the best financial position. They have…

  • Instructions for the Afterlife: Preparing for the Inevitable (31 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. I hate to get all morbid on you, but if something happened to you today that temporarily or permanently (or immortally, depending on your religious persuasion) put you out of commission, would your family…

  • What YOU Can Learn from Baby-Boomer Blunders (111 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation in Alaska. This is a guest post from Neal Frankle, a Certified Financial Planner, and the author of Wealth Pilgrim, a blog about his financial journey. If you know someone in their fifties, don’t be surprised when you discover they’re afraid. I’m 52, and I checked with everyone. They confirmed it. It’s true. Ten years ago, all of our investments were booming: real estate, the stock market, you name it. It…

  • The Business of Marriage: Five Things You Should Do Before Tying the Knot (46 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 friend’s wedding this weekend, traveling with my own husband and kids. The wedding invitation labelled the event as a “triumph of hope over experience”. It is that, and I’m honored to be invited as a witness. But it’s also a business arrangement, something I’m sure my friend (a respected…

  • Are We There Yet? How Will You Know When You’re Rich? (104 comments)

    This is a guest post by Ami Kim, who blogs about searching for a calling at 40 Days to Change. Ami is a long-time GRS reader. Here at Get Rich Slowly, we imbibe many flavors of frugality, smart investing, and money management. Between J.D.’s (and others’) posts and the treasure trove of comments, you could build a path to wealth tailored to your individual income, assets, and circumstances. But how will you know when you’re…

  • Poll: How Much Do You Need to Save for Retirement? (54 comments)

    This post contains an excerpt from Chapter 13 of Your Money: The Missing Manual, my new book from O’Reilly Media. It’s also a part of National Financial Literacy Month. For the past several months, GRS has been running a new poll in the sidebar every two weeks. Mostly, these are curiosities to me. But the poll that just concluded produced an interesting tidbit of information. The most recent poll — which ran simultaneously at Money…

  • How to Self-Diagnose Your Financial Health (38 comments)

    The New York Times Your Money section features consistently great advice from Ron Lieber and his team. (This team includes Carl Richards, who you may remember from his excellent blog Behavior Gap; Richards has shared a couple of guest posts here at GRS in the past.) Last week, Your Money featured an article from Tara Siegel Bernard in which the author explained how to self-diagnose your financial health. “We asked planners what they ask their…

  • 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 a foreclosure notice last year. Unemployment is approaching 10%. Some families no longer have a place to call home at…

  • How to Be Happy in Retirement (63 comments)

    The March 2010 issue of Consumer Reports Money Adviser has an interesting article on how to avoid regrets during retirement. The article, which draws on a survey of nearly 25,000 subscribers, is simultaneously comforting and cautionary. While only about 20% of folks who haven’t yet retired are highly satisfied with their current retirement planning, 70% of actual retirees report they’re highly satisfied. According to the author, the lesson is: While many of us tend to…

  • Plan Your Gift-Giving to Save Time and Money (32 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Last Christmas, I had some great gift ideas: They were heartfelt, they were personalized — and they couldn’t just be bought at a store. We’re talking custom-made ornaments, family calendars, and photo books filled with precious memories made that year. Unfortunately, Christmas snuck up on me, and I only pulled together two of the gifts in time for the holiday. This irked me because, one, they…

  • Planning a (Debt-Free) Dream Vacation (58 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Most people agree that a vacation is supposed to be relaxing, but planning for one can be just the opposite. Still, poor planning can cost money and time, causing headaches and frustration when you’re supposed to be getting away from it all. Some people like to book a ticket and see where life takes them. Others prefer cruises or tours where the planning is taken care…

  • Women and Retirement (94 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. I don’t know about Get Rich Slowly readers, but I can tell you that the majority of Motley Fool readers are guys, and that’s true of most financial publications. That men are more likely…

  • Happy New Year! My One Goal for 2010 (73 comments)

    As an amazing 2009 fades into the sunset, it’s time to review my progress and look forward to the year to come. Am I a better person than I was a year ago? (I believe so.) How can I be even better at the end of this year? As in 2008 and 2009, I’m not setting resolutions for 2010. I’m setting goals. When I set goals, I don’t feel like I’m trying to become somebody…

  • Start Saving For Next Year’s Christmas Today (40 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker recently listed the Top 10 Money Movies of the Decade. Baker and his family are spending their holiday season hiking around the south island of New Zealand. I have some potentially shocking news for you: Christmas is coming! No, I’m not talking about the one in a few days; I’m referring to the one that’s coming just twelve months down the road. Far too many people…

  • Job Loss: Got a Financial Game Plan? (63 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of unemployed was 15.4 million and the jobless rate was 10 percent in November. While those numbers “edged down” from previous months, there’s no doubt that job loss and unemployment are hot topics, and people are worried. Some of those lucky enough to hang onto their jobs have experienced salary reductions, reduced hours, or withheld bonuses. Even if your…

  • Giving to Receive: What Legacy Will You Leave? (46 comments)

    This is a guest post from Tyler Tervooren, a long-time GRS reader. Tyler is a practical environmentalist who writes about the overlap of money, sustainability, and personal development at Frugally Green. Have you accepted yet that you’re going to die? Have you? Honestly? We’ve been doing it for thousands of years but, for some reason, most of us won’t figure out how to deal with it until it’s too late. This is something every one…

  • Reader Story: Budgeting For a Lifestyle Change (41 comments)

    This is a guest post from Sean Ogle, a former portfolio analyst who is now pursuing his goals of starting a business and seeing the world. You can read more from him at Location180. You can also follow him on twitter @seanogle.  Have you ever thought about doing something different with your life? Maybe you’ve decided that you’d like to do more world traveling. Perhaps you want to explore that entrepreneurial idea that has always…

  • The Regrets of Christmas Past (79 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. Every summer, my wife and I cull our closets for stuff we and our kids no longer use. This is followed by a yard sale (complete with the obligatory lemonade stand from our kids),…

  • Are Pre-Nuptial Agreements For Everyone? (138 comments)

    This is a guest post from Andy Jolls, founder of VideoCreditScore.com. Andy ran the myFICO.com business for a number of years and now educates consumers with free credit videos. You can follow him on Twitter at @vidcredit. My wife and I were married a few years ago. I was working at myFICO at the time we got engaged, so I was already swimming in the world of credit, debt, and personal finance. In fact, Suze…

  • Money and Marriage: Tackle Trouble BEFORE It Begins (73 comments)

    Ron Lieber writes the excellent “Your Money” column for The New York Times. Last week, he shared a list of four money talks to have before marriage. Lieber writes: Divorce tends to be emotionally gut-wrenching for the people who go through it (not to mention those around them). But most couples don’t realize that divorce can also be among the most ruinous financial moves anyone can make. This article struck home for me. No, Kris…

  • Ask the Readers: Why Are YOU Saving for Retirement? (125 comments)

    As I shared yesterday afternoon, although I believe National Save for Retirement Week is important, I find the topic dreadfully dull when stretched out for a week of blog posts. Lesson learned. Still, I don’t think all retirement discussions have to induce snores or tears. In fact, when you think about it, retirement — especially early retirement — ought to be something to celebrate. When a person has managed to save and make smart choices,…

  • No One Cares More About Your Retirement Than YOU Do (38 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. In recognition of National Save for Retirement Week, let’s take a gander at some numbers: The average Social Security retirement benefit is $1,159 a month, or $13,908 a year. According to the Employee Benefits…

  • Goals Are the Gateway to Financial Success (61 comments)

    This is the second of a fourteen-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. Yesterday I completed my first marathon. It didn’t happen exactly as I’d planned, but it happened. Instead of running 26.2 miles, I walked the entire course. Some might view this as a failure. Not me. I’m ecstatic to have finally, at the age of forty, met one of my life-long goals. Though I had hoped to run the…

  • Sound Saving and Investing: Taking the Road to Riches Step-by-Step (28 comments)

    This is a guest post from Richard Barrington, a freelance writer and novelist who spent over 20 years as an investment industry executive. Barrington is a regular contributor at MoneyRates. Previously at GRS, he shared how to find the right CD or money-market account. The problem with saving money is that it’s like hiking toward the mountains. The target seems so distant that it feels like you’ll never get there. However, people who start putting…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Should You Save for Retirement? (153 comments)

    How much should you save for retirement? Carla dropped me a line because she’s puzzled where the standard “save 10% of your income for retirement” advice originated. She’s afraid that ten percent isn’t nearly enough. Carla writes: The financial experts always say to save 10% for retirement (for example, in your review of The 1-2-3 Money Plan). Buy why 10%? It doesn’t make sense to me. I’m 25. If I retire at the normal age…

  • Finding Financial Values (23 comments)

    What is important to me? How do my values influence my financial decisions? These are some of the key questions I’ve begun to ask as I move deeper into the “third stage” of personal finance. Now that my debt has been eliminated and I’ve developed the discipline to save for retirement, I’m ready to explore my financial priorities. Over at Fiscal Fizzle, Wojciech has an excellent article about finding your financial heart. He lists seven…

  • 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….

  • The Quiet Millionaire (48 comments)

    Despite what you see in the media, financial success generally doesn’t come with a lot of glitz. The wealthiest people I know are the ones you’d least expect. They’ve built their wealth slowly — and quietly. Certified financial planner Brett Wilder has observed the same thing, and has written about the phenomenon in his book, The Quiet Millionaire. Along the way, he shares real-life examples of quiet millionaires. These are the same sorts of people…

  • What Got You to Get Better? Reasons for Change (86 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. (And note that this post is much less controversial than yesterday’s!) Let’s face it: Most of us weren’t born eager to delay gratification, invest in IRAs, diversify our assets, and give a hoot about…

  • Ask The Readers: What Is Your Appetite for Risk? (75 comments)

    This is a guest post from A.J. Clark, a long-time lurker at Get Rich Slowly. A.J. is a potential Staff Writer for GRS. He is a recent college graduate who writes software in the financial services industry, while trying to find his financial footing in the Real World. In his first post, A.J. explained that he’s hoping to finish ahead by starting behind. As I mentioned in my previous post, I recently transitioned into my…

  • What is the Value of a College Education? (156 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jason Barr, who writes about personal development at Start Being Your Best. Jason is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. His first post described what he learned from failure. Jason is 32 years old, has been married for seven years, and has a 2-1/2 year old son. He’s now a financial analyst, but he spent five years in the army as a Chinese linguist. What is the…

  • How to Budget for an Irregular Income (71 comments)

    I’ve been a full-time professional blogger for more than a year now. It’s been a fantastic experience, a sort of dream come true. But blogging for dollars is not without its drawbacks. As I’ve shared before, I feel socially isolated. I spend most of my time in this office, writing about money. Also, the income can be irregular. For some bloggers, it’s very irregular. One month you might have record earnings — and the next…

  • The Big Book of Everything: A Free Life-Affairs Organizer (95 comments)

    Last summer, Mark Gavagan mailed me a copy of his It’s All Right Here life and affairs organizer. This three-ring binder is big and unwieldy, but is amazingly comprehensive. It not only offers pages for credit card and saving account information, but also includes space to record family medical history, business information, and more. There are even several pages of vinyl or plastic sleeves where you can store things like keys! The It’s All Right…

  • What If You Don’t Plan to Retire? Save Anyhow! (49 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. In my last post, I explained why your financial time horizon may be longer than you think, since you may be investing well into your 90s. The discussion was in the context of retirement,…

  • Ask the Readers: Save More or See the World? (166 comments)

    I’ve written a lot lately about finding balance. It’s important to save for the future, but how do you balance that with enjoying today? Each of us has to address that question in our own way. A reader named Max wrote to share his own dilemma: I’ve been working as a web designer since I was 18. I made a few financial mistakes in my early days: leased a car for four years, bought a…

  • How Long You’ll Be Investing (18 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. A couple of weeks ago, I spoke to a group of elementary-school teachers about their 403(b) plan (the 401(k) equivalent for non-profit employers, in case you didn’t know). Like most investors, they were a…

  • Estate Planning 101: Preparing for the Possible — and the Inevitable (35 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. We interrupt this regularly cheerful website to bring you some unpleasant news: You’re not going to live forever. And, just to pile on the unpleasantness, you might become incapacitated before you join that Great…

  • Ask the Readers: Tips for Tackling Big Financial Goals? (50 comments)

    Lance wrote recently with some questions about goals. First, he’s worried that he should have more than just one. Second, his only goal seems daunting. He’s looking for advice: I wanted to get some help on setting financial goals. Growing up, I did not have many luxuries, so items such as vacations, new cars, televisions, clothes, furniture, etc do not mean much to me at all. The only personal goal I really have is to…

  • Investment Risk and the Growth of Wealth: The Importance of Course Corrections (63 comments)

    This is a guest post from Carl Richards at Behavior Gap. I have a problem. In fact, I think we all have a problem: We have been way too focused on returns, resulting in the utter destruction of our wealth. The investment industry has been built using tools that might be appropriate for understanding investments, but are totally worthless for investors. In real life, real people, using real money do not care about returns. We…

  • Be More Involved in Your Financial Planning (28 comments)

    This is a guest post from Tough Money Love, the personal-finance blog that doesn’t pull any punches. You don’t have to look far in our economy to find someone willing and able to assist with your financial planning. Bankers, insurance agents, stock brokers, wealth managers, and professional financial planners are everywhere. Advice passed along by personal finance bloggers and other amateurs is easy to come by as well. Many of those wanting to give you…

  • 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…

  • Coping with Life’s Little Setbacks (52 comments)

    I had a lousy weekend. It was one of those weekends where anything that could go wrong did go wrong. The individual problems were minor enough, but taken as a whole, it was all rather overwhelming. Some examples: When I left the house to go on my marathon training run Saturday morning, the cover to porch light fell to the ground and shattered into a million little pieces. Our internet connection died. And, of course,…

  • How to Live Well on Less in Retirement (65 comments)

    Though I’m not close to retirement myself, one GRS reader recently sent me a link to an article from the monthly newsletter from AARP (the American Association of Retired Persons). In the April 2009 issue of AARP Bulletin, Elizabeth Pope wrote about how to live well on less money. Pope profiles three families who have structured their personal finances in order to pay for necessities — and luxuries — now that they’re finished working. One…

  • When Does It Make Sense to Stock Up? (159 comments)

    One of my wife’s favorite cosmetic products was recently discontinued. For years she’s used a certain facial cleanser from Avon, so when Avon stopped selling it, Kris was frustrated. She’s tried similar products from other companies, but prefers the one from Avon. It occurred to Kris that maybe she could find the product online. She tracked down a seller on eBay and ordered a two-year supply for $50 (plus shipping). This is double what she…

  • Developing an Investment Policy Statement (46 comments)

    I’m in the process of consolidating all of my investments under one roof. This includes: My Roth IRA (currently with Sharebuilder) My profit-sharing pension through the family box factory (currently with Vanguard) My self-employed 401(k) (now at Fidelity) My non-retirement accounts (scattered hither and yon) Between these accounts I have a large sum to invest. I don’t know the exact total (the market fluctuates daily, and I don’t really know the value of the Vanguard…

  • The Miser’s Peril: Why You Should Save for Tomorrow AND Enjoy Today (55 comments)

    I recently dropped in to speak with my accountant (who is also a good friend). We chatted about my finances, and we spent a little time discussing Get Rich Slowly. Somehow the conversation turned to frugality, and he told me a little story about one of his clients. A true story Like many of us, Mr. and Mrs. Smith were careful with their money. Mr. Smith handled the family finances — the income, the investing,…

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

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

  • The Ways and Means of Coping with Emergencies (63 comments)

    This is a guest post from Gail Vaz-Oxlade, a Canadian financial writer and host of the television series ‘Til Debt Do Us Part. Experts have been touting the importance of having an emergency fund since Moses was a lad. So why is it that so many people still don’t have enough (or any?) money set aside just in case? Reasons and rationales abound. “I’m paying off my debt. That’s the most important thing.” With the…

  • Ask the Readers: Where’s the Fun in Personal Finance? (101 comments)

    I’ve received a ton of great questions and comments recently that probe beyond the basic mechanics of money management and get to the heart of why we do these things. For example, Brent dropped a line last week wondering if making smart financial decisions ought to make him happy. Here’s his message: You and many of your readers clearly get joy from financial planning. My wife and I have gone through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace…

  • How to Find Great Deals on Vacation and Travel (56 comments)

    My wife and I have begun to explore the idea of taking a trip later this year. We’re in the preliminary stages of our research and budgeting. Though we aren’t ready to book anything yet, it’s fun to look at what’s available, and to dream of where we might go. Over the weekend, I polled my followers on Twitter to ask their advice for finding great travel deals. Here are some of the tips and…

  • Financial Independence: The Final Stage of Money Management (46 comments)

    This is the last of a five-part series about the “stages” of personal finance. These stories have intentionally been less polished than most articles at Get Rich Slowly. This is a chance for me to think out loud, to explore an idea with you in an informal way. In February, I wrote that I was entering the third stage of personal finance. As I made my way out of debt and began to save, I…

  • How Much Do You Need to Save for Retirement? (104 comments)

    I’ve had several conversations in the past month with people who are wondering how much to save for retirement. They’re worried they won’t have enough. (And the recent market turmoil only makes matters worse.) The problem is that nobody seems to agree on what assumptions to make when planning for retirement. How much should you assume for inflation? For investment returns? For rising health-care costs? How long should you expect to live? Conventional wisdom Most…

  • George Kinder: Three Questions about Life Planning (31 comments)

    I spent last Tuesday at the mid-winter conference of the local financial planning association. I was there to give a one-hour presentation about financial blogs, but I had a secondary motive. I wanted to hear the keynote speaker, George Kinder. George Kinder takes a unique approach to financial planning. He moves beyond the numbers and tries to address the goals and values of the client. Kinder calls this method “life planning”. From his website: Life…

  • Investing 101: Average is NOT Normal (48 comments)

    This is a guest post from Carl Richards at Behavior Gap. It’s based on one of my favorite posts at his site, and is a terrific complement/counterpoint to my article on how much the stock market actually returns. As he points out, average returns are not normal. On average, stock market returns are higher than inflation, money markets, or bonds. Understanding this is an important step to any successful financial plan, but there is a…

  • “What Next?” The Third Stage of Personal Finance (142 comments)

    I earned more money in 2008 than I’ve ever made in my life. Get Rich Slowly isn’t just a personal success — it’s a financial success, as well. Combine this income with an ongoing campaign of frugality — my spending last year was the lowest it’s been since I started tracking it — and my financial position is rosy. My plan to get rich slowly is succeeding. Financial security Yet despite my increased wealth, I…

  • How to Be the Family CFO (12 comments)

    This is a guest post from Kelly Whalen, a mostly stay-at-home mom who writes about personal finance at The Centsible Life. As acting chief financial officer of my family, Kim Snider’s How to Be the Family CFO provided me with an education I wish I had received 15 years ago! The book is easily digestible, with five sections, and most chapters easily read in 5-10 minute bites. This proves to be the best way to…

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

    For this final day of Thrift Week 2009, Get Rich Slowly revisits a short thrift film that I first featured in May 2007. Over the past few years, I’ve shared a number of old cartoons and educational films about sound money management. I love these old videos. My favorite of the bunch is probably this little honey: “Your Thrift Habits”. Produced in 1948 by Coronet Instructional Films, it’s filled with great advice, and is fun…

  • Ask the Readers: When Is It Okay to Spend Your Savings? (85 comments)

    Amanda wrote with a question this week that I think many GRS readers can relate to: When is it okay to spend your savings? My husband is currently unemployed so we’re just living on my salary, but at least we don’t have to pay for child care.  However, we are spending more than we make.  We had a fair amount stashed away from savings and some inheritance, and we’ve been dipping into this to help…

  • “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,…

  • How to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick (77 comments)

    Yesterday a GRS reader named “P” pointed me to a New York Times article from Alex Williams, who writes that change isn’t easy. Williams notes that about 80% of those who make resolutions on New Year’s Day fall off the wagon by the middle of February. The article isn’t as depressing as that opening might lead you to believe. It offers glimpses of why people fail to keep resolutions — and offers tips for how…

  • Why 2009 Will Be a Fantastic Financial Year For Me (30 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation. 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 and about cars at Vehix.com. I’m predicting 2009 will be a fantastic financial year for me. Not so much due to any income figure or increase or another form of windfall money, but rather because of my bottom-line affecting attitudes. Here are six reasons I…

  • What’s Your Why? The Importance of Finding Meaning in Your Life (28 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation. This is a guest post from Jeremy Martin. You’ve heard the phrase, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” I’ve often wondered about that — should we really settle for half the return just to have a sure thing right now? It could be argued, and convincingly, that our love of immediate gratification is why so many people have so much debt now. Of course, what are…

  • Yes, You Can Achieve Financial Independence (33 comments)

    In the midst of our rush to earn money, our scramble to save for retirement, our focus on frugality, it’s easy to lose sight of why we’re doing this. What is the goal? What is it we’re trying to accomplish by getting rich slowly? For me — and for many others — the answer is Financial Independence. Your Money or Your Life defines Financial Independence as “having an income sufficient for your basic needs and…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do Children Affect Financial Priorities? (90 comments)

    When you’re on your own (or even with a partner), money decisions are generally straight-forward. You set personal goals and you work toward them. But what happens when you add children to the mix? How do you plan for them and for yourself at the same time? Kat is expecting her first child this month, and needs advice on how to prioritize her finances: My partner and I are just finishing the first phase of…

  • 10 Essential Steps to Take BEFORE You’re Laid Off (94 comments)

    This is a guest post from Kevin Merritt, founder and CEO of blist, a web-based list-sharing and database application. As a nation we have enjoyed relatively low unemployment for the last five years. At the end of 2007 the unemployment rate stood at 4.6%. By comparison, the U.S. unemployment rate peaked at 24.9% in 1933, during the darkest year of the Great Depression. In October of this year the unemployment rate grew 0.4% to 6.5%,…

  • 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 alone. It’s time to do something. But…what? Should you shift more money into stocks? Put it all into a savings…

  • All You Ever Wanted to Know About Emergency Funds (But Were Afraid to Ask) (183 comments)

    This is a guest post from Dylan Ross. Dylan is a long-time member of the Get Rich Slowly community: a frequent commenter and occasional guest author. He’s also a Certified Financial Planner. This article is an abridged version of a chapter Dylan contributed to Investing in an Uncertain Economy for Dummies, which was recently published by Wiley. See the end of this post for a chance to win a copy. Even if you’ve never had…

  • The Debt-to-Income Ratio: How Much House Can You Afford? (139 comments)

    Housing is the largest expense in the budget of most families. But how much is too much to spend on shelter? An article in Saturday’s New York Times contains a shocking example of one woman who crossed the line: What she got was a mortgage she could not afford. Toward the $385,000 cost, [Christina] Natale made a down payment of $185,000, a little less than what she took away from the sale of her grandfather’s…

  • Ask the Readers: How Can I Know Whom to Trust? (60 comments)

    Joleen wrote this week with a unique situation. She’s a Canadian who has been working overseas in China for the past six years. She has accumulated substantial savings in the local currency, but has no idea what to do with her money. She writes: I was recently approached by a financial advisor who works for a large international brokerage. He wanted me to think about investing in an offshore account and/or the stock market. I’ve had one…

  • Creating a Will: It’s Not as Scary as You Might Think (42 comments)

    My friend Sparky called the other day. We chatted about work, we chatted about the economy, and we chatted about investing. We also chatted about our families. We talked about my mother and her health problems, and then we talked about his parents and their health problems. “I can’t believe they haven’t updated their wills,” said Sparky. “What?” I said. “Are you kidding me? How old are they?” “They’re both about 65,” he said. “Maybe…

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

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

  • The Saver’s Tax Credit for Retirement Savings Contributions (30 comments)

    When you don’t have much money, it can be difficult to save for the future. Last month I highlighted San Francisco’s Earned Asset Resource Network, a non-profit organization providing financial assistance and education to those who need it most. Believe it or not, the U.S. government also has ways to encourage people to save. The Saver’s Credit for Retirement Savings Contributions is one of those: One way for low and moderate income Americans to save…

  • Setting and Achieving Family Financial Goals (38 comments)

    When I finally paid off my consumer debt last fall, I set a new goal: build an emergency fund to cover several months of my expenses. Never before had I managed to accumulate more than $1000 in savings. In fact, I’d spent most of my life living paycheck-to-paycheck, constantly flirting with overdraft fees. For the past ten months, I’ve made saving my priority. Instead of using my positive cash flow to buy toys, I funneled…

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

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

  • A Practical Wedding (39 comments)

    Speaking of weddings, Kate F. wrote the other day to share a tip: I am just starting the wedding planning process and have been really disheartened by the wedding industry and the realization that what to me is a lot to spend ($5000) is literally laughable by most involved in the industry.  I finally came across a blog that I feel fits with my vision of a simple, debt-free wedding: A Practical Wedding. I’ve never…

  • 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…

  • Funding the Future with a Financial Savings Plan (21 comments)

    When do I want to retire? How much do I want to have saved? What sorts of things do I want to accomplish before then? I’ve begun to think seriously about these questions lately. Jim at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity recently offered some tips on how to draft a basic financial savings plan, a tool that could help me craft a road map for my future. He says that failure to plan is one of…

  • 7 Tips for Money and Marriage (34 comments)

    My wife and I never fight about money. I used to claim this was because we keep separate finances, but now I know it’s because we share similar financial goals and dreams. Even during those years I was deep in debt, I never did anything that might jeopardize our financial future. Our shared vision has helped us to maintain a successful marriage. We’re not alone, however. Writing in last Wednesday’s New York Times, Tara Siegel…

  • Saving for Baby: Making the Move from Two Salaries to One (41 comments)

    This is a guest post from Corrinne Fisher, who is transitioning from career woman to stay-at-home mom. I stared down at the two pink stripes on the pregnancy test with the same feeling one has when they find themselves strapped into the front of a roller-coaster. Heart pounding, you start to wonder whether you really want to take this ride, but the decision has already been made. And as you climb to the top of…

  • How to Prepare for Buying a Home (48 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jim, my friend and colleague at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity. When I bought a home three years ago, the economic climate was different from today. Back then, a house would could be listed on Friday and a contract signed by Monday. It was easy to get a loan (too easy, in fact) and you could make every mistake in the book and still find yourself a home. Despite the…

  • Ask the Readers: How Should We Spend Our Inheritance? (74 comments)

    Most of the questions I receive are from readers in their twenties and thirties. Many of them are just starting out in life. But money issues nag everyone. Donald wrote the other day with the sort of question most of us have not yet faced. He’s getting near retirement, but doesn’t have much saved. He just inherited a bunch of money, and he wants advice about what he should do with it. I am 55…

  • 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…

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

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

  • Use Written Goals to Pursue Your Dreams (22 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jim, my friend and colleague at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity. A few months ago, my wife and some of her friends decided to start a book club. They recently held their second meeting, at which they discussed Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture. My wife and I both attended Carnegie Mellon University, where Professor Pausch taught. He was very well known even before his Last Lecture, and so my wife…

  • Drama in Real Life: Caring for a Parent in Crisis (79 comments)

    My mother is in the hospital. Her health, which had been deteriorating lately, took a turn for the worse over the weekend. On Tuesday, she was admitted to a local hospital, where she’s likely to remain for a week (or more). My brothers and I have been sorting through mom’s financial documents, trying to piece together a complete picture. It’s difficult. If she had used Quicken, the job would be relatively easy, but she’s Old…

  • Funding the Future: The Benefits of Being Flexible (4 comments)

    This is a guest post by Christopher L. Jones, author of The Intelligent Portfolio. The following is an excerpt from his book. During the meandering path of our lifetimes, there are many types of financial goals that we strive to reach. Some goals are short term in nature, such as having enough money to pay the taxes to Uncle Sam next quarter or paying for that trip to Hawaii next spring. Others might span decades…

  • Die Broke: Spend ’til the End (28 comments)

    Smart personal finance is all about balance. You work while you’re young to provide for the day when you may not be able (or willing) to work any longer. If you don’t save enough, you may find yourself unable to lead the life you want in retirement. But if you save too much when you’re young, you risk sacrificing years of youth and vigor for an uncertain future. In a worst case scenario, you may…

  • The Non-Conformists’ Guide to Making Money (17 comments)

    This is a guest post from Chris Guillebeau at The Art of Non-Conformity. Last week he shared the non-conformists’ guide to personal finance. Today he follows up with thoughts on making money. Chris recently released a short (and free) e-book called A Brief Guide to World Domination. It’s all about rejecting mediocrity and pursuing a higher purpose. I recommend it highly. Working away from work I got my start as an entrepreneur completely by accident….

  • Thoughts on Retirement and Financial Independence (66 comments)

    This may seem strange coming from a fellow who’s not yet forty, but I’ve been thinking a lot about retirement lately. Now that I’ve repaid my debt, now that I’ve begun to save money, I’m curious how much a person actually needs in order to retire. How do you know when you have enough? Too many experts It seems like every expert has a different answer. Some say that you need 70% or 80% or…

  • Using Mini-Retirements to Get More Out of Life: An Interview with Timothy Ferriss (45 comments)

    On a cool Thursday morning last July, I woke early to walk into the hills outside Wells in Somerset County, England. After three-quarters of an hour, I reached a point with a broad vista of the surrounding countryside. I leaned against a fence post and took in the view — I could have sworn I was looking at Hobbiton. After a few minutes of silent contemplation, I walked back to town. I took a brief…

  • 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 and no pagination problems.) What’s the root of the problem? Our homes are more expensive. We’re consuming high-tech gadgets like…

  • 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…

  • Early Retirement Requires Financial and Lifestyle Planning (31 comments)

    As I continue to achieve my short-term goals, my attention is turning increasingly to long-range plans. What is it I want to do with my life? I’ve always toyed with the idea of early retirement, and lately I’ve been reading more about the subject. Three books that have helped me so far are: Timothy Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek, which explores the notion of “mini-retirements”. (I recently recorded a phone interview with Ferriss on this subject…

  • 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…

  • Ask the Readers: Advice for College Grads? (157 comments)

    Tomorrow I’ll be giving a short presentation about personal finance to a group of seniors at Western Oregon University. I’ll begin by providing a brief version of my own post-college financial failures, but I want to spend most of the talk providing two or three great take-aways that these young adults can put to use as they enter the “real world”. I’ve considered discussing the dangers of lifestyle inflation and the value of goals, but…

  • Learning to Love the Emergency Fund (50 comments)

    I wasn’t raised in a culture of saving. My parents never made it a habit, and so could not pass the skill on to me or my brothers. In fact, I didn’t establish my first savings account until three years ago, when I was 36 years old! (I had a passbook savings account as a young boy, but it never had more than $5 in it.) Minor-league start Soon after I decided to take control…

  • What’s the Reason for Saving and Investing? (35 comments)

    Yesterday, in his final piece for The Wall Street Journal, Jonathan Clements shared what he learned from writing 1,008 columns about personal finance in 26 years. What is the reason for all this saving and investing? The short answer is, you save now so you can spend later. But what will you spend your money on? People dream of endless leisure and bountiful possessions. Unfortunately, after a few months, endless leisure often seems like endless…

  • Suze Orman’s Ultimate Protection Portfolio (and a Do-It-Yourself Alternative) (60 comments)

    For the past few months, I’ve been pursuing a paperless personal finance system. I’ve scheduled electronic transactions with my bank, and I scan important documents when I receive them. My method is still very much in “beta”, but I hope to write about it later this year. My sister-in-law, Tiffany, isn’t a computer geek, but she’s been trying to get her financial documents organized, too. So when she saw an advertisement for Suze Orman’s Ultimate…

  • 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 planning. According to The New York Times: Heath Ledger’s will left nothing to his former girlfriend and their 2-year-old daughter…

  • Excited and Scared: One Week as a Full-Time Blogger (60 comments)

    I’ve had a week now to adjust to the idea that I’m a full-time blogger, that I’m completely in control of my financial success or failure. To be honest, I’m both excited and scared. I had the same job for sixteen years. I’ve never made a career change. I’m sure that many of you have moved or started a new job and felt similar fears. I need to realize that my fears are normal, and…

  • Budgeting: The Most Important Thing You Can Do With Your Money (35 comments)

    This is a guest post from Joshua Timberman, whose passion for personal finance started after reading Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover. He became debt-free in November. He is the Financial Peace University coordinator at his church, and is an active participant at Get Rich Slowly and other personal finance blogs. The most important thing to do with your money is to give it a plan. A budget. A spending plan. A cash-flow plan. Call…

  • Lessons from Literature: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (60 comments)

    This is the first of an irregular series. I love to read, especially the classics. From time-to-time I’ll share nuggets of personal finance advice I find buried in the pages of the past. This month, our book group is reading Betty Smith’s 1943 classic, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The book describes what it’s like to live in poverty, and how that mindset affects a person’s choices. I love it. In the following excerpt, it’s…

  • 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 to Make Yourself Recession-Proof (12 comments)

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

  • 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 IRS will mail a tax rebate check to most Americans this summer. This is an advance on the reduced taxes…

  • How to Prepare for a Baby (Without Going Broke) (90 comments)

    This is a guest post from Lynnae of beingfrugal.net, a blog about frugal living and getting out of debt. Preparing for a baby doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.  Magazines and TV ads will tell you that you need to spend a fortune in preparation for your little darling’s arrival, but it’s simply not true.  When my husband and I were expecting our first child, my husband was working at a small radio…

  • 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…

  • Ask the Readers: Quality Early Retirement Resources? (42 comments)

    Most of the advice at Get Rich Slowly is targeted to people like me: middle-class Americans in their mid-thirties who have struggled with debt. But many other people have money questions, too. Christine is 54 and her husband is 62. They’re seeking quality resources about planning for retirement: You and most of your readers are at a different life stage than I am.  I’ve done the heavy frugality thing already. From a couple of decades…

  • How to Quit Your Job Gracefully (54 comments)

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

  • Making Progress: An Update on My Goals for 2008 (31 comments)

    On New Year’s Day, I shared my three primary goals for 2008: To save a $10,000 emergency fund. To lose 40 pounds. To write a book about personal finance. Some readers thought setting only three goals for the entire year was “pretty weak”, but this has enabled me to remain focused, and to spend a little time every day working toward each objective. How am I doing? Let’s find out. Save a $10,000 emergency fund…

  • 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…

  • Car Trouble: A Real-Life Lesson in the Value of an Emergency Fund (155 comments)

    I drove south yesterday morning to meet with Mac, my partner at Get Fit Slowly. Between Portland and Salem, a warning light came on in my Ford Focus — the temperature gauge had risen into the red. I pulled to the side of the road, called to cancel our meeting, and cursed fate. I hate my car. After the engine cooled, I nursed the vehicle to the local Ford dealership. I gave them the keys,…

  • My Three Goals for 2008 (and How I’ll Tackle Them) (55 comments)

    On Monday I suggested that instead of resolutions, you should set goals for the new year — a subtle but important distinction. I also recommended that you keep your list of goals small and manageable. When you set too many goals, you can lose focus, and are more likely to miss your mark. This year, I have three primary goals: To save a $10,000 emergency fund. To lose 40 pounds. To write a book about…

  • Don’t Make Resolutions — Set Goals for 2008 (42 comments)

    With Christmas past, most of us have begun to focus on our plans for the coming year, making lists of resolutions to improve our lives. But Chuck Jaffe at MartketWatch suggests that this year you ditch the resolutions to focus on goals instead: Concrete goals don’t evaporate in the face of adversity, hardship or laziness. Resolutions are broken — and usually abandoned — with one misstep; goals are such a long journey that bad footwork…

  • The Four Things Children Really Want for Christmas (53 comments)

    Kris and I have been reading Unplug the Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli. This book urges readers to escape the commercialism of the holiday season, to make it a “joyful, stress-free” time for the family. In a chapter entitled “The Four Things Children Really Want for Christmas”, the authors write: One concern voiced by most parents is that of shielding their children from the excesses of holiday commercialism. While adults can…

  • 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…

  • Free at Last! Saying Good-Bye to 20 Years of Debt (245 comments)

    Twenty years ago I was a freshman in college. I was a poor kid from a poor family, but my roommates came from wealth. In order to fit in, I went out and picked up a department store credit card. I bought some new clothes, an electric shaver, and a bottle of cologne. From that day on, I’ve been in debt. Getting hooked My debt grew slowly at first. The department store credit card had…

  • Setting and Achieving Financial Goals (37 comments)

    For three years I’ve had a single goal directing my actions: I wanted to get out of debt. Now that my consumer debt is nearly gone, I’ve spent a lot of time wondering what to do next. I was worried that I’d lose focus, lose direction. That’s not going to be the case. I’ve set three major financial goals for 2008. After I pay off the last of my final loan next Tuesday, I intend…

  • 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…

  • Beating the High Cost of Weddings: How We Did It, and How You Can Too (95 comments)

    Think you need to spend a fortune to tie the knot? It’s just not so. Kris and I got hitched for a couple grand in 1993. In this guest post from JerichoHill, he explains how he kept costs down for his wedding last summer. Weddings are expensive affairs. Couples often spend tens of thousands of dollars for an event that lasts only a day or two. I know, I know — the memories last a…

  • 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…

  • Early Retirement: Couples Who Made It Happen (56 comments)

    I recently mentioned two Liz Pulliam Weston articles in passing. They’re good enough to merit closer attention. Both articles profile couples who found the courage to save money when they were young so that they could enjoy the freedom of early retirement. Weston writes: Think it’s impossible to retire in your 40s? I’d like you to meet some ordinary folks who have done it. “Ordinary” may be a misnomer, because retiring after just 20 years…

  • Reader Advice: How to Live Debt-Free (29 comments)

    Recently I wrote about the transition from “becoming debt-free” to “living debt-free”. One reader e-mailed me some advice that I felt did a good job summarizing what everyone had said. The following was written by James Crocker, and is an excerpt from a much longer message. This post has been edited for clarity. Congratulations! You’re about to accomplish something many people have never done, and something that many others never will do: become debt-free. (Well,…

  • 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…

  • 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%…

  • Shaking the New Car Itch: A Tale of Priorities (109 comments)

    When I went to the street to get the mail on Saturday, the latest issue of The New Yorker was in the box. Walking up the sidewalk to the house, I idly began to remove the subscription cards. I stopped, though, when I came to a full-page cardstock advertisement. I read the front of the ad. I read the back. At the kitchen table, I carefully removed the ad from the magazine, carried it upstairs,…

  • Ask the Readers: Am I Saving Too Much? (71 comments)

    George, who has been reading Get Rich Slowly since it was a single entry on my personal blog, writes with a curious question. By adhering to sound personal finance practices, he’s reached the destination we’re all striving to reach. But he wonders if he might have gone too far. If you’re just beginning your journey out of debt, saving too much may seem like a nice problem to have. You’d sure like to have all…

  • 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…

  • Personal Finance for Nine-Year-Olds: How to Save for a Backhoe (18 comments)

    The youngest reader of Get Rich Slowly might just be C.J., who is nine-and-a-half (“almost a teenager”). C.J. recently started his own fiscal fitness journal in the Get Rich Slowly discussion forums. He writes: I want to get rich so I can buy a backhoe. A real one, because that’s the job I want to do. After I finish college I want to build big buildings and be an inventor. I want to be on…

  • Questions and Answers about Roth IRAs (40 comments)

    Over the past month, I’ve covered the basics of Roth IRAs. I’ve explained what they are, how (and where) to open one, and which investments are best. Today in the final part of this series, I’m going to answer your questions. Remember: I am not a financial adviser. I’m just a regular guy trying to gather information to help you. If you need more specific answers, please consult a CPA or an investment professional. All…

  • Ask the Readers: Personal Finance During a Health Crisis? (28 comments)

    What would you do if you knew you were dying? How would a cancer diagnosis affect your personal finance decisions? The Travelin’ Man from Stuff You Oughtta Know isn’t dying yet, but he’s had a scare. Here’s his story (this is not written by J.D.): I was given my very first cancer scare last week. I have to tell you — it freaked the hell out of me. For that matter, “scare” may not be…

  • The New Graduate’s Guide to Financial Freedom (36 comments)

    I graduated from college in 1991 with a degree in psychology and a minor in English lit. I was one course shy of a second minor in speech comm. With credentials like these, it’s no surprise that my first job out of school was knocking on doors, selling crummy insurance to little old ladies in Eastern Oregon. I hated the job, but I could not quit. I was trapped by debt. After I was hired,…

  • Ask the Readers: What’s the Best Way to Save for a Down Payment? (50 comments)

    When I asked recently for topics you’d like to see covered at Get Rich Slowly, many of you expressed interest in learning more about how to purchase a home. Jason sent the following question: What’s the best vehicle to save money for a house? I’m probably more than a year from purchasing my first real estate. While maxing out my Roth IRA and building a nice emergency fund, I need to start saving specifically for…

  • Christmas in June: Save Money with Homemade Gifts (17 comments)

    This is a guest-post from my wife. Each December, I put together gifts for friends, co-workers, neighbors and family. My list is long, and I don’t want to break the bank. Homemade gifts go the extra mile to express my affection to the people in my life, while also allowing me to save some money. If you’re thinking about making gifts from summer’s bounty, and are willing to put in some elbow grease in a…

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

    Recently I stumbled on some old instructional films at A/V Geeks, including this little honey: “Your Thrift Habits”. Produced in 1948 by Coronet Instructional Films, it’s filled with great advice, and is fun to watch, too. “Your Thrift Habits” highlights some important aspects of budgeting and thrift: “If you can do without extravagances, you can save regularly.” Be aware of your budget-breakers and try to avoid them. In the film, Jack’s budget-breakers are movies, candy,…

  • Financial Tips for Overseas Travel (45 comments)

    Kris and I will make our first trip overseas later this year; her parents are taking us to England and Ireland. We’re excited, but also a little apprehensive. For one thing, the exchange rate isn’t exactly in our favor right now. And how much do we pay our housesitter? Will we be able to prepay all of our bills? Yesterday I was browsing Ask the Advisor and discovered a list of 27 personal finance tips…

  • Which Should You Choose: Joint or Separate Finances? (91 comments)

    Several months ago I mentioned in passing that my wife and I keep separate finances. I promised to eventually explain why, and to discuss the pros and cons of doing so. Our story When I was a boy, my parents fought about money often. And loudly. They had joint finances, but it didn’t seem to matter. Each accused the other of being financially irresponsible. (Both were right.) Their example left me disenchanted with the notion…

  • What is a Financial Plan and Why Have One? (14 comments)

    In the past, I’ve shared how to use purpose-driven investing and a financial wishlist to meet your goals. Today Dylan Ross, a certified fianncial planner, lends his expertise to explain what a financial plan is and why it’s important to have one. Having a financial plan is a lot like having a travel plan — it identifies where you’re going, how and when you’ll get there, how much it’ll cost, and things do along the…

  • Real-Life Choices: Retirement Savings vs. Debt Reduction (47 comments)

    I’ve accumulated $3500 and I don’t know what to do with it. As you may recall, I am carrying the remainder of my credit card debt in the form of a home-equity loan (or HELOC). The current balance on this debt is $15,000 and I’m paying a 9.25% finance charge. I intend to have this debt eliminated by March 2008. It’s an ambitious goal. In order to make this happen, I’ve had to forego investing…

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

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

  • Dave Ramsey Says ‘Drive Free, Retire Rich’ (70 comments)

    Dave Ramsey‘s site has one of the best money hacks I’ve seen recently. Drive Free, Retire Rich explores the impact of carrying a car payment, and offers ideas on how your money can be used more wisely. Though the sentiment is familiar, I find Ramsey’s approach novel. You want a brand-new sports car that would normally cost you $475 a month. The car you’re driving now is worth around $1,500. If you take that $475…

  • Ask the Readers: So Much Debt, So Little Time? (26 comments)

    Joseph and his partner have made all the right moves. They carry no credit consumer debt, but they’re still burdened with student loans and a mortgage. They’re barely able to make ends meet, and are worried about what this means for the future. I am 30 years old and in my last year of a Master’s program. I will graduate with $125,000 worth of student loans, whose monthly payments will be approximately $925/month for 25…

  • How To Protect Yourself From Lifestyle Inflation (37 comments)

    Jonathan at My Money Blog has been writing about personal finance for two years now. Here’s some excellent advice on the standard-of-living trap. One thing I worry about is lifestyle inflation. No matter how little or how much someone earns, their spending tends to match their income. When you’re living the student life, your friends are also broke, and it’s easy to eat frozen pizza for dinner and manage without a car. That was probably…

  • Jump-Start Your Life With a Financial Plan (34 comments)

    I’ve recently exchanged e-mail with Wesley, a reader who has exercised self-discipline to become debt free while still in his twenties. He’s even paid off his mortgage. Here’s how he did it.   I’ve been following a fairly rigid financial plan for about eight years now.  It’s about to pay off in the next few months — I’ll be 28 and completely debt free (including no mortgage). My planning started on a small scale when I…

  • The Light at the End of the Tunnel (38 comments)

    It’s an odd feeling to be accumulating money for the first time in my life. When I was young, my family didn’t have much money. Any money I earned, I spent. This was a learned behavior. I was imitating my parents. After college, I allowed myself to be trapped in a life of credit hell. About five years ago I began to wean myself from credit. And in December 2004, I began the process of…

  • Five Gifts That Will Make Your Kids Rich (9 comments)

    Lynn forwarded an article from CNN Money entitled “Five gifts that will make your kids rich”. The five recommended gifts are: A Roth IRA — “Best way to make your kid a millionaire.” Kids are best suited to take advantage of the wonders of compound returns. Encourage a teenager to open an IRA, and offer to match their contributions. (Ad: Buy Stocks for $4 at ShareBuilder.) Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday — “Best book for teaching little…

  • Nintendo Wii: A Study in Planned Saving (12 comments)

    Last May, we held our annual garage sale on the same weekend that the Nintendo Wii was revealed. As I sat in my driveway, selling old stuff, I followed online coverage of the Wii on my laptop. I wanted one. “I’m putting this money in the bank and saving it to buy a Nintendo,” I told Kris. I opened a separate targeted savings account at my credit union specifically for this goal. But I was…

  • Reader Story: Two Approaches to Car-Buying (11 comments)

    Earlier I posted a link to a story that indicates that new cars are more affordable than they have been since 1980. This prompted a couple of you to e-mail me your car stories. An anonymous reader wrote to share the following: I’ve purchased two new cars in the past six years, but the experiences couldn’t have been more different. The first car was a Honda Civic purchased in 2000 just as I was finishing…

  • A Brief Guide to Creating a Will (19 comments)

    It’s Halloween — time for a scary, morbid subject. Young adults don’t think about wills. The typical person graduates from college, gets a job, marries his sweetheart, has children, and never considers a will until he turns fifty. But not everyone lives to be fifty. You can’t always see death coming. A will is for anyone with money and possessions that need to be distributed according to some plan. A Lifehacker reader recently asked about…

  • How to Manage a Windfall Successfully (20 comments)

    This entry is part of JLP’s October project — a month-long, cross-blog review of the book The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing. Some of what follows is taken directly from the book. You have won $50,000! So, what do you do now? Every day I give advice on following the slow, sure path to wealth. But what happens if you do manage to get rich quickly? What happens if you win the lottery, or hit the…

  • Make a Wish List of Financial Goals (12 comments)

    If one moves confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. — Henry David Thoreau What would you do if money were not a concern? Would you quit your job? Would you travel? Would you live in another state? Another country? Would you write? Would you garden? Would you devote your life to charity? Would you…

  • How and Why to Start an Emergency Fund (92 comments)

    “Pay off your debt.” “Max out your IRA.” “Buy a house.” “Get a new job.” Personal finance advisers bombard us with a litany of things we ought to do in order to achieve financial independence. It’s overwhelming. Where’s a person to start? Most personal finance books agree: the first thing you should do — after meeting basic needs, and while reducing spending — is to start an emergency fund. What is an emergency fund? An…

  • Use Purpose-Driven Investing to Achieve Your Goals (16 comments)

    Do you save for one thing at a time? Or do you pursue several goals at once? If you’re like me, you work toward several financial goals simultaneously, but you keep most of your money clumped in one account. It’s easy to forget how much you’ve saved for each goal. And it’s easy to borrow money from one objective to pay for something else. In his forthcoming book The Six-Day Financial Makeover, Robert Pagliarini advocates…

  • Cheap Places to Live Rich (4 comments)

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

  • Tips for Financial Independence (4 comments)

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

  • Toward Financial Independence (7 comments)

    If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. — Henry David Thoreau In the midst of our rush to earn money, our scramble to save for retirement, our focus on frugality, it’s easy to lose sight of why we’re doing this. What is the goal? What is it we’re trying to do by…

  • Many Americans Forced to Retire Early (1 comment)

    Many people will not have enough saved for retirement, forcing them to work longer than they’d planned. But according to an article in this morning’s USA Today, many Americans are forced to retire years before they want to. Most of today’s middle-age workers who want to continue working after 60 or even 65 will need to find a new source of income. While nearly half of baby boomers expect to work past 65, only 13%…

  • Are College Funds Necessary? (25 comments)

    An AskMetafilter user has questions about saving for college education: I have two kids (4 and 5), and I don’t think I’m going to set up college funds for them. I nor my brother had any support from family through college, and we both made it though (grants, loans, scholarships, jobs!). I’m just interested in other people’s experiences and whether people think that if a college fund can be set up it should. At this…

  • Ten Tough Retirement Questions (2 comments)

    CNNMoney has posted the Fortune Retirement Guide 2006, which features ten expert answers to the most-often-asked reader questions: How much will I need in retirement? “The conventional wisdom is that you’ll typically need 70 percent to 85 percent of your working income. But there is no one-size-fits-all answer.” Where should I invest now? “Over the next five years or so, that’s simple. Unlike building a wardrobe, if you are starting a portfolio, you want to…

  • Will You Ever Be Able to Retire? (1 comment)

    I recently noted that 43% of Americans won’t have enough saved for retirement. GRS-reader Sabino forwarded an MSNBC article that suggests this number may only continue to rise. The financial security of American workers is more uncertain than it has been in decades. Once reasonably assured of a comfortable retirement, Americans are now watching private pensions collapse and public pensions come under pressure. And even those…whose retirement security was once all but guaranteed, are now…

  • Should You Prepay Your Mortgage? (29 comments)

    You can save tens of thousands of dollars by prepaying your mortgage. But is it a smart move? A CNN Money reader asks expert Walter Updegrave: The psychological freedom of not having a mortgage is very appealing to us, but the argument for trying to invest the extra cash at a higher rate is compelling too. What’s your take on paying off the mortgage early? Surprisingly, this is one financial point on which the experts…

  • Once-a-Month Cooking: Cooking for the Rushed (12 comments)

    Get Rich Slowly-reader Kevin comments: Eating well on a budget requires some thought. But planning out a whole month of meals, and shopping for that month (you only get two paychecks a month) is the real challenge. Is there a web site with a month long meal plan of healthy meals, in a spreadsheet shopping list, that can be used at most grocery stores? I cannot find any. My brother suggests books might be more…

  • The Best Way to Buy a New Car (12 comments)

    You probably pay more for your car than for anything other than your home. Though personal finance mavens advise us to buy used vehicles, many people — including myself — feel more comfortable buying new. But how can we be sure that we’re getting a good deal, that we’re not getting ripped off? Fighting Chance is a web site devoted to giving consumers the information they need to negotiate a good deal on a new…

  • Investment Strategies for Potential Nuclear Attacks (1 comment)

    The latest issue of Smart Money landed in my mailbox on Saturday. Inside was this doozy of a question: I’m confident in my investments, but one thing could throw them off: a nuclear attack on a major U.S. city. Can you recommend a portfolio that would hold up? My first reaction was laughter, but that’s not fair to the questioner. It’s probably a real concern to some people. Stephanie AuWerter, the Ask SmartMoney columnist, does…

  • Reader Question: Cheap World Travel? (20 comments)

    In a recent entry on life after graduation, one tip was to “see the world”. A Get Rich Slowly reader commented: I belong to that 93% of students who wanted to study abroad but didn’t. I’d love to have a gap year to travel — but where are grads expected to get the money to afford it, if they haven’t already worked for a while to save up? This is a subject with which I…

  • Four Retirement Blind Spots (2 comments)

    MP Dunleavey at Money Central has written an article about four common retirement blind spots. We kid ourselves that the Retirement Fairy will rescue us. But the truth is, we’re on our own. Here’s how to break free of the myths. Here are the four misconceptions that can lead you astray as you plan for retirement: I can work until I’m 70 or older — Though Americans are living longer, this is a pipe dream….

  • How Compound Returns Favor the Young (41 comments)

    In an earlier entry about the cost of waiting one year to begin investing for retirement, I posted a chart from AllFinancialMatters that demonstrated the power of compound returns. Vintek posted a math exercise related to the subject. I got this from a book called The Random Walk Guide to Investing by Burton Malkiel. It’s a book I recommend, and I’ll eventually talk about it in the forum. Here’s the exercise: William and James are…

  • The Cost of Waiting One Year (2 comments)

    AllFinancialMatters has posted a couple of shocking charts illustrating the cost of waiting to invest in your retirement. I keep closing the page, but then opening it again to look at them. After messing around with the retirement savings calculator I built, I started thinking about the cost of waiting just one year to start saving for retirement. The impact is huge! Take a look at the chart below: I assumed the following: A person…

  • Cost-of-Living Comparison Calculator (2 comments)

    How much would it cost you to live in New York? In L.A.? CNN offers a cost-of-living comparison calculator. Use this calculator to compare the cost of living between U.S. cities. Select the city you’re in and the city you’re moving to. Enter your present income and click “Refresh listing.” The income required to maintain your current standard of living will appear in the box below, along with the percentage difference between the two cities….

  • Budgeting for Non-Budgeters: The 60% Solution (15 comments)

    Richard Jenkins at MSN Money has developed what he believes is a simpler way to save. Fed up with budgets that were a burden to implement, Jenkins came up with his own easy method to determine how much should go where each month. What you’re trying to do with a budget is to prevent overspending, which ultimately leads to piling up debt. Contrary to the way most people budget, however, it rarely matters what you’re…

  • Can One of You Afford to Quit? (2 comments)

    Most of my friends are having children. For some couples, the new financial realities are shocking. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance offers a financial calculator to answer the question: Can one of you afford to quit? This tool is for more than just new parents, though. What if one of you wants to start a new business? Go back to school? Simply retire? Before deciding to live on only one income — to take care of children,…

  • NetWorthIQ (0 comment)

    NetWorthIQ is: …all about your net worth and keeping track of your overall financial health. No one wants a physical, but we all need one now and then, just to keep tabs on our well being. Your finances deserve nothing less, and determining your net worth is a good first step. NetworthIQ is a social personal finance manager designed to make monitoring your net worth easy and, dare we say it, maybe even fun. Heck,…

  • Making Early Retirement Happen (2 comments)

    In today’s CNNMoney “Ask the Expert” column, a 33-year-old reader wants to know if he can can count on an early retirement. I’m 33 years old and have $75,000 saved in my 401(k). I make $70,000 a year and contribute 10 percent of my salary to my 401(k). My company then matches the first 6 percent. Am I on track to retire at 55, or should I open a Roth IRA to supplement my 401(k)?…

  • When Your Paycheck Stops (1 comment)

    I realize that I’m a day late and a dollar short with this particular news, but last week’s issue of Newsweek (April 17th — the one with Katie Couric on the cover) has an article by Jane Bryant Quinn about retirement called “When Your Paycheck Stops”. With longer life spans in our future, many of us will need to save even more than our parents and grandparents in order to meet the needs of the…

  • So You Want to Be a Millionaire (1 comment)

    “The day my husband and I became millionaires was a lot like any other day.” Liz Pulliam Weston has a great piece up at MSN’s Money Central called “So You Want to Be a Millionaire”. Weston describes how she and her husband have used a goal-centered approach and hard work to achieve financial security. Pulliam writes: If you want to be a millionaire someday, I hope that our experience — and those of millions of…