Psychology


  • Are you holding yourself back with these money lies? (34 comments)

    This article is by Suba Iyer, who currently writes for FiveCentNickel.com. In 2009, I was all excited to start looking for a house to buy. I had been working in a well-paying job for almost five years at that point and I figured I shouldn’t be throwing money down the drain renting. Well, reality came crashing down when I finally looked at my savings. It wasn’t even enough to be a good emergency fund, let alone a down payment….

  • Ask the Readers: Is financial ability intrinsic or learned? (25 comments)

    This article is a guest post by Maggie O’Neill. Thanks to my big brother — and by that I mean my oldest brother — I’ve always had an interest in savings and retirement planning, although I haven’t been able to do much more than think about it until lately. That oldest brother, Pete, is the person responsible for opening my eyes to investing and, in fact, made the first financial stake for me when I was…

  • To what do you attribute your success — hard work or good fortune? (34 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Every now and then, I get an email from a fellow writer who’s just starting out and wondering where to begin. “How did you do it?” they ask. “How did you make freelance writing your career?” It’s flattering, but what do I say? First of all, I’m still working to reach my own writing goals, so I’m not even sure I’d be the best person to ask….

  • Change is hard: Willpower versus habit (19 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Recently on GRS I’ve been exploring the concept of motivation. But what if you didn’t need to be motivated at all? What if you did what needed to be done automatically, without even thinking about it? You’ve probably heard a version of the saying before: We’re creatures of habit. But what are habits, exactly? How are they formed? Why are they important? And how can we form good…

  • Weird ways our brains control our money habits (22 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for money psychology studies. And it’s not just because I write about money. On a sheer curiosity level, they’re fascinating. But they also serve as a great reminder that money is more about mind than it is about math. It’s interesting to see exactly how our brains work when it comes to habits like spending and saving. And not only is it…

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

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

  • Our brains on scarcity: The trap of not having enough (Part I) (36 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. (This is a two-part series. Part II is “Our brains on scarcity: Breaking out of the trap.”) I recently discovered the book “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much.” To be honest, I don’t even remember how I came to find out about the book. Maybe someone recommended it; maybe I read about it somewhere. Lately, I’ve been overwhelmingly busy, and, as a result, my short-term…

  • Motivation and money (34 comments)

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

  • Ask the readers: Do you gamble? (57 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. When I was in college, I dated a guy with money problems. For instance, six months into the relationship, I found out that he owed a few people money. Like his ex-girlfriend. And then his dad, who gave him the money to pay the ex-girlfriend. And then he still owed the ex-girlfriend, since he spent the money his dad gave him on who knows what. Soon after,…

  • A guide to managing your fear of money (23 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. My first year of high school, I was looking for an easy, goof-off elective — a class that would allow me to take a break in between Geometry and English, and maybe catch up on some magazines or take a quick nap. “Debate” sounded right up my half-assed alley. On the first day of class, I was told we’d have to attend tournaments, in which we’d debate…

  • Ask the Readers: How do you dream? (20 comments)

    This post is from editor Linda Vergon. “I’m just a dreamer. I dream my life away. I’m just a dreamer who dreams of better days.” Ozzy Osbourne We can be so romantic about things. Take dreams, for instance. A dream is like a magnet. Once we set our hearts and minds on something, we’re happily drawn to pursue. You hear it all the time: Pursue your passion! Chase your dreams! So by opening up this…

  • Talking with Tess Vigeland about the psychology of money (14 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, where he recently wrote about how to be happy. As part of the Get Rich Slowly course, I interviewed 18 of my favorite financial experts. Combined, these interviews comprise over eight hours of audio and more than 200 pages of written transcripts, all of which are available as part of the…

  • Gratitude is good for your soul … and your finances (19 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. I’ll admit it. When I lost work last year, a tiny sense of entitlement crept up on me. Okay, maybe it was more than tiny. On the outside, I told people: “I just feel like I deserve a good job, you know?” On the inside, I thought: Why the $%^@ don’t I have a good job? I’m awesome. My awesomeness, however, is irrelevant. Sometimes these things just happen….

  • What type of procrastinator are you? (20 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Aah, procrastination. Controlling our time can be difficult, and most of us are intimately familiar with the act of delaying the act of starting or completing a task. Piers Steel, professor of human resources and organizational dynamics at the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary and author of “The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done,” has made the study…

  • ‘When She Makes More’: 10 rules for breadwinning women (144 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s recently launched the Get Rich Slowly course, a year-long guide on how to master your money. A few years ago, my little brother moved his family to Seattle. His wife had received a promotion and an opportunity to work at her company’s flagship location. The offer was too good to refuse. There was just one problem: They moved before Tony…

  • Reader Stories: 6 ways to doubt yourself and do it anyway (14 comments)

    This post comes from one of our readers, Adam Fisch. 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. In my short time as an entrepreneur, I’ve begun to understand the people that describe running your own business as a rollercoaster. Like most cliches,…

  • Talking with Gretchen Rubin about money and happiness (23 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, where he recently wrote about how to be happy. As part of the Get Rich Slowly course (out this Tuesday!), I interviewed 18 of my favorite financial experts (and non-financial experts). Combined, these interviews comprise over eight hours of audio and more than 200 pages of written transcripts, all of which…

  • The 10 habits of financially successful people (39 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, where he recently wrote about the relationship between action and fear. A couple of weeks ago, a reporter from Kiplinger interviewed me about financial habits. “Do you think there are specific habits that make certain people more successful with money than others?” she asked. I generally don’t like to make generalizations,…

  • The problem with the “perfect” gift (61 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. When it comes to gift-giving, I like to buy gifts that are exciting, maybe something that the recipient wouldn’t necessarily buy themselves because it’s not practical. In fact, I so enjoy finding the perfect gift that I even have secret Amazon gift lists for my family members. When I come across something I think they’d like, I add it to their list for future gift-giving occasions. (Sound…

  • The joy of being average (94 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Sam. Sam spent 13 years working in Equities on Wall Street and discusses financial independence strategies on Financial Samurai. Sam is also the founder of the Yakezie Network, the largest personal finance blog network on the web. When I asked the community whether we have the duty to live up to our potential, many of you balked at the notion of living up to anybody else’s standards but your own….

  • Do we have a duty to live up to our potential? (85 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Sam, the Financial Samurai. It takes a while to discover who we are. During my sophomore year in high school, Coach Stucker hounded me in gym every week to try out for the football team. “You’d make a great cornerback,” he’d say after seeing me run a 4.5, 40. At 5’10″ and 155 pounds, I felt undersized, but at least I could move and bench 225 pounds. “I don’t…

  • Spare Change: The sweet emotion edition (43 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Last month in an Ask the Readers post, I wrote about money worries: “Even though my expenses are manageable, even though I have money in savings, even though I’ve historically always made enough money to cover the bills and then some, I still worry.” And longtime reader Tyler Karaszewski made a really good point: “I think people overstate the risk here. Imagine you’re one of these people with a…

  • Can we really change our financial habits if our backs aren’t against the wall? (56 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Sam, the Financial Samurai. I recently had a discussion with a friend who made an argument why it’s better to eat out in Manhattan than to save money by cooking because of the convenience and the joy of eating with friends. I’m all for breaking bread with good people, just not so much if you’re concerned about income. My friend just went through a divorce and eventually needs to find…

  • Ask the Readers: How do you get past the money taboo? (49 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. Reading the comments on Kristin’s Wednesday post, Money lessons I’ve learned since writing for Get Rich Slowly, it’s very clear that being able to talk with family about money is as difficult as it is beneficial. And while we’ve discussed the topic before (Ask the Readers: How to talk to friends and family about money), it’s a big enough problem that updating it could be helpful. A 2012…

  • Unintended Consequences of a Move (56 comments)

    This Reader Story is from GRS reader Jon, who writes for MoneySmartGuides, a personal finance blog that helps educate people on personal finance so that they can reach their financial dreams. He focuses mainly on investing and paying off debt since those are the two of the most challenging personal finance topics we face. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories…

  • Reader Stories: The psychology of a debtor and the climb out of darkness (26 comments)

    This Reader Story comes from KC. 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. First, I want to say thank you to Get Rich Slowly. It was about the time this story begins that I started reading this wonderful blog. So, let’s jump…

  • Are English-speakers less likely to save money? (30 comments)

    If you speak English, you probably have a harder time saving money than someone who speaks German. That’s because the language you speak influences your money habits, according to a Yale study published this year. In The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior: Evidence from Savings Rates, Health Behaviors, and Retirement Assets, behavioral economist M. Keith Chen writes: “Languages differ in whether or not they require speakers to grammatically mark future events. For example, a…

  • 5 money excuses that held me back (58 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. It’s been several months now that I’ve been on a savings lockdown. It’s been going well, except for this past weekend, when I had a relapse. I over-splurged on everything — food, shopping, beer — and I’m officially hungover. My buzz started when a client check came early, making me feel super rich and burning the hell out of my pockets. Oh, I know. It’s OK to…

  • Ask the Readers: How much do you dare to bare? (93 comments)

    This is a guest post from Ashley, who blogs at skintinthecity.com, a site which reveals how you can live the high life even when your budget’s tighter than your skinny jeans. Last weekend my husband and I went to dinner with my two closest and oldest friends and their partners. These days, the six of us nearly always meet up with our kids in tow, but that night was a rare adults-only evening. We were…

  • Financial literacy: What’s my motivation? (36 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Were you required to take a personal finance class in high school? I wasn’t. And I’m not in the minority. In fact, only 13 states require a personal finance class for graduation, and just five states require testing student knowledge in personal finance, according to the Council for Economic Education’s 2011 Survey of the States: Economics and Personal Finance Education in Our Nation’s Schools. And even if…

  • Lessons from a widow: The real value of money (67 comments)

    Last year, one of my friends lost her husband. After decades of marriage, they said their final goodbyes. Since I work in a mortuary, I often witness some of the worst days of people’s lives. And that day was no different. My friend’s husband, the father of her children, was gone. No matter what anyone said or did, nothing could change that unfortunate truth. She was sad, but she had embraced the inevitable. My friend…

  • Throwing away an old rule (74 comments)

    Fellow peasants, unite! The time has come to overthrow the old order! GRS rule #3 says, “Spend less than you earn.” But why should we continue to do that always? Because of tradition? Because of authority? Because that’s what everyone else claims they are doing? To the guillotine with the old rules, I say. It’s time for revolution! It’s time to turn the old laws upside down. It’s time to say something better. It’s time…

  • Relationship deal breakers, then and now (66 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. I recently had breakfast with a woman I dated almost 20 years ago, soon after I graduated from college. She’s married now, with two beautiful kids and a husband who seems like one of those solid, true-blue, stay-at-home-dad kind of guys. I’m married now, too…

  • The morality of personal finance (80 comments)

    I was running last Sunday night. I had waited too long to start my run, and it was dark. I’ve taken to using my iPhone to track my runs, because I’m very motivated by the additive nature of all my runs over time. (I’m over 900 miles!) But I don’t like to use the earbuds when running in the city, especially at night, because of the need to stay alert for those pesky fast cars;…

  • Take a deep breath: Letting go of financial stress (31 comments)

    I’ve been reading through some of my old posts and thinking about what I wanted for this, my very-end-of-the-year statement on money. And what I saw was a lot (a lot) of angst and worry and stress. It was appropriate, as I’d spent most of the day in a kind of crazy wound-up worked-up state, getting ready for what should be a lovely, restful retreat with a few friends from my writer’s group. Part of…

  • Ask the Readers: Do you lend money to friends? (108 comments)

    “What’s a little money between friends?” That common question has wrecked more than a few friendships. Reader Alexa (who blogs at Single Moms Income) is in that situation now. She recently sent us a story and a question. Here’s her tale. I moved back home near the end of July where I immediately reconnected with one of my old friends — we’ll call him J — whom I hadn’t seen in several years. In just…

  • Jiro Ono to all newbs: Be tough (49 comments)

    I was planning to wrap my review of the documentary about Jiro Ono with a nice, nearly clinical summary of all the extra “lessons” I had managed to extract from the film (one was “surround yourself with other specialists,” another one was “it’s not really about the money” and the last one was “success loves a rebel”). However, life recently gave me a boot to the head in the form of a burglary. Because of…

  • Lessons from a master (53 comments)

    I have been re-watching the documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” for the past couple of months. I’ve seen it at least 10 times, probably more, while writing drafts for this article. I’ve watched it alone, with my wife, with friends, and I don’t tire of it; I’ve recommended it to everyone I know, and now I’m wholeheartedly recommending it to you. This little gem of a documentary by David Gelb takes a look at the…

  • Financial enlightenment does not come from charts (52 comments)

    I’ve always looked at websites and apps that purport to solve your financial woes and set you on the path to fiscal happiness with skepticism. It’s not that I think they’re not useful; but I think that making charts and graphs and having the ability to Tweet your receipts is, while fun, not essential to financial health, and sometimes even a distraction. I think of this association as breast self-exams are to breast cancer: useful,…

  • Tips for the Introverted Negotiator (80 comments)

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

  • Earning More vs. Spending Less, Round 3: ‘The Queen of Versailles’ (57 comments)

    This is the third article of a series. The first one is here and the second one here. Earning and saving money both take time, effort, knowledge, attention, and continuous dedication. Since we know that willpower is limited, and so are energy and time, it can make sense for a lot of people to put a keener focus on making more money, which has a greater potential than saving. However, potential is never a guarantee…

  • What IS Financial Responsibility? (178 comments)

    This article is from new staff writer Honey Smith. “Be Responsible. Take responsibility for your actions.” It sounds simple, right? But what responsibility means to me has changed over the course of my life. In fact, there are so many definitions of responsibility that Wikipedia doesn’t even have a definition listed on its main responsibility page! There are over fifteen types listed there with links to their respective pages (though to be fair, one is…

  • The Power of Personal Responsibility (72 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. Last Wednesday evening I lost it, really lost it. Miserable heat and humidity, smog, too much walking on too little sleep, an asthma attack, dueling deadlines, and maybe just a smidge of menopausal mood swings had me alternately raging and sniveling in a borrowed studio apartment…

  • The Politeness Tax (158 comments)

    This article is from staff writer Kristin Wong. The other day, I ordered a small pizza for lunch. The delivery guy showed up, sweating from the summer sun, and told me my total was $10. I had a twenty-dollar bill on me. As I handed it over to the exhausted, out-of-breath pizza guy, I felt bad asking for change. So, against my better judgment, I gave him the entire twenty.  A 100 percent tip. You’re…

  • 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…

  • Fighting Financial Pressure from Friends (88 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Tim Sullivan. Right now, I’m on my first-ever visit to Ithaca, New York. I’m attending my third wedding in the past month. These three weddings have taken me to three different states and three different time zones. My girlfriend and I just got another invite to a sorority sister’s upcoming nuptials this fall and had the same first thought: “Do we have to?” Our friends and family are important…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Handle Money Mistakes? (64 comments)

    Getting started with smart money management can be tough. It can be frustrating. For one, you have to discard so many old habits. Plus you have to develop new habits. And, toughest of all, you have to deal with the constant small (and large) mistakes you make as you’re getting the hang of saving and investing. In a lot of ways, learning to be smart with money can be like learning to ride a bike….

  • Frugality: Welcome Challenge or Only a Chore? (95 comments)

    This article is from new staff writer Kristin Wong. As a kid, it was my job to pull the weeds in our embarrassingly overgrown backyard. No, my parents didn’t believe in doing or paying for yard work. They had children, after all. I hated pulling weeds, especially during the hot and humid Texas summers, so I did what anyone in my position would’ve done: I decided it was my little brother’s job. But, being four,…

  • What is Wealth? (56 comments)

    Until the end of this week, 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 Ashley Kipp. Ashley’s first audition piece was about her changing her focus from stuff to substance. The…

  • Finding Balance in an Imbalanced World (70 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 Meagan Van, a long-time GRS reader. Her previous try-out piece was about the power of community. So…

  • How to Handle People Who Undermine Your Success (95 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Do you have someone in your life who is a bad influence when it comes to your financial or career goals? I’ve known a people like that. Typically this happens when you’re trying to make new, positive changes in your life. For example, when I decided to not buy a new car for awhile, one friend gave me a hard time about it, making fun of my…

  • The Statute of Limitations on Regret (122 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. Recently I read a blog post so glum I wondered how I might do a well-being check on its anonymous author. “The vacation high wears off” at The Quest for $85,000 describes the aftermath of a trip to visit aging family members. Now the writer’s own…

  • Ask the Readers: Why Don’t People Talk About Money? (291 comments)

    On Wednesday, I visited a fifth-grade class in McMinnville, Oregon to talk with the kids about money. I had a great time, and I’ll share more about the experience on Monday. Today, though, I want to start by sharing a question I received from one of the students. “How much money do you have?” Hannah asked when I called on her. “I’m not going to answer that?” I said. “Nobody answers that,” said a boy…

  • How to Change Your Spending Habits (32 comments)

    This is a guest post from Charles Duhigg, the author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and How to Change. Learn more at www.ThePowerOfHabit.com. When you get to the cash register, what do you do first? Do you imagine the balances due on various credit cards, and choose the one with the smallest outstanding debt? Do you mentally compare APRs and make the optimal financial choice? Do you calculate whether…

  • Your Friends are Marketing to You (How to Like Them Anyway) (22 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Sarah Gilbert. Your friends may be marketing to you. I know: I’m taking the internet-shocking tactic I hate seeing elsewhere, but if I didn’t have evidence in my very inbox from (as I’m writing this post) three minutes ago, not to mention The New York Times and other well-regarded media, I would still have all the stuff that’s not headline material. You probably know it as “keeping up with…

  • Trading Time for Money (70 comments)

    Last week, I was complaining to my Spanish tutor (who, by the way, thinks I always complain). “Ideally, I’d be writing less,” I told her. “I want to have more time to learn Spanish and to focus on other passions. But I just got an offer to write a couple more articles per week. And I would get paid for the work!” My tutor shook her head. “Por la plata baila el mono,” she told…

  • A Philosophy of Failure (80 comments)

    Though I’ve been reading and writing about money for six years now, I still do stupid things sometimes. Most of these errors are un-interesting — it’s the compulsive spending that’s interesting, and I seem to have that under control — but sometimes it’s instructive to look at the mundane mistakes I make, like shopping while hungry. Well, last week I made another relatively un-interesting mistake, but one that’s educational at the same time. Since it’s…

  • Getting Emotional About Money (40 comments)

    This is a guest post from Danielle LaPorte author of the forthcoming book, The Fire Starter Sessions: A Soulful + Practical Guide for Creating Success on Your Own Terms. This material appears in the book in a slightly different format. The value you place on money is hugely driven by emotion. Behind every dollar you spend, there’s an emotion attached to it. Get clear on the emotional driver, and you get clear on your relationship…

  • The Fear of Missing Out (136 comments)

    This post is by staff writer April Dykman. When I was in the fourth grade, I had a bad case of FOMO. I contracted it when I realized that all of my classmates (or so it seemed) had Nickelodeon, and I didn’t. They talked about cartoons and television shows watched the night before — something about a game show where the losing contestant was “slimed.” One day, I decided to take this to the top….

  • Class Consciousness and Social Mobility (241 comments)

    Kris and I have returned from three weeks traveling in Argentina and Chile with a group from our university alumni association. My favorite parts of these trips are when we get to interact with the locals, not just because I can use my Spanish, but also because it’s a chance to see how they live their lives. I did get to do some of that on this trip, but not as much as I would…

  • Can Money Buy Freedom? (124 comments)

    On Saturday, my friend Tyler hosted a blog meetup. I first met Tyler several years ago. He was a GRS reader who dropped me a line to see if I’d meet him for dinner. I said “yes” — as I almost always do. Now, several years later, Tyler runs a successful blog of his own. It was fun to see his readers come out to support him. Note: I’ve never hosted a meetup for GRS…

  • Reader Story: Why I Lied About Money (84 comments)

    This guest post from Aloysa 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. You can read more from Aloysa at My Broken Coin. For six years, I lied to my ex-husband about how much money I was making….

  • Don’t Forget Regret — Use It Instead (47 comments)

    This is a post from staff writer Tim Sullivan. Right after we graduated from college, my best friend wanted to buy a real bed. He’d slept on gifted beds, Craigslist-ed beds, found beds, futons, couches, and I even think there was tatami mat in there, but he decided graduating college made him an adult and needed a real, adult bed. He saved a good amount of money and did research at multiple mattress stores testing…

  • How to Fend Off Financial Trolls (34 comments)

    Note: It’s a rare thing, but it happens once or twice a year: Life has reared its ugly head, and there’s no fresh story for you this morning. Instead, enjoy this classic from the Get Rich Slowly archives. Money is more about mind than it is about math — that’s one of the fundamental precepts of this site. If you improve your self-esteem, if you improve your mental attitude, if you improve your knowledge, you…

  • How I Lost 25 Pounds — And How It Can Help Your Finances (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. It’s that time of year — the time when everyone makes resolutions in hopes that a year from now, we’ll be thinner, wealthier, smarter, more productive, and better-smelling. As I ponder my own…

  • How “Anchoring” Sways Your Decisions (50 comments)

    This is a post from staff writer April Dykman. My favorite places to shop are sites like 6pm.com and Last Call Neiman Marcus. I like the idea of buying a $400 dress for $80 because I get better quality for a good price. Even though I’m spending money, it’s a little less painful when I can look at how much I “saved.” That’s a common sentiment — it’s nice to reassure yourself that you got…

  • Ask the Readers: Staying Motivated to Save? (82 comments)

    Sometimes you do everything right — you work hard, you cut back on spending, you invest for retirement — but all of your effort seems for nought. You get sick. You wreck your car. Or, as has been the case for the past several years, the entire global economy seems determined to thwart your long-term plans. What happens when you do all the right things, but the right things don’t seem to work? That’s what…

  • Finding Your Flow: Spend Less and Do More (56 comments)

    This article is from new staff writer Tim Sullivan. How can you get the most out of the dollars you spend on entertainment? Though it seems counter-intuitive, I’ve found that with a small investment of time and an understanding of the things I enjoy most, the less I spend on them and the more I enjoy them. In his popular book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the Hungarian psychology professor and former…

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

    I was on the road for the past two months, first in Chicago, and then in Bolivia and Peru. As always happens, one of the side effects of travel is that I’ve been living in a media vacuum. For the past few weeks, I’ve heard almost nothing of current events. That means I arrived home to find a strange phenomenon: Protestors “occupying” Wall Street. And Oakland. And Portland. And probably many other places as well….

  • What Are the Differences Between the Rich and the Poor? (361 comments)

    Disclaimer: I realize this topic stirs strong emotions, but I think it’s both interesting and important. Besides, if any group is capable of having a deep discussion about it, it’s Get Rich Slowly readers. You folks are both civil and intelligent. Long ago, when this site was young, I reviewed Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker. Eker believes that we each possess a “financial blueprint”, an internal script that dictates how we…

  • Overcoming Uncertainty (43 comments)

    I met an old friend for lunch the other day. Andrew and I have known each other since the first day of first grade — way back in 1975. “You know,” he said as we slurped down Asian noodles, “when I first reconnected with you fifteen years ago, you were pretty much the same guy you were in high school. Even five years ago, you were still that same J.D. But now you’re different —…

  • The Spectacle of Financial Difficulty (170 comments)

    This post is from new staff writer Sarah Gilbert. Both my husband and I have spent some periods of unemployment over the past decade, and we have become intimately familiar with financial humiliation. Having had a red tag left on your doorknob notifying you of the impending shutoff of one of your utilities is not just a reminder you might soon lose a vital public service; it’s a public shaming, and it’s hard not to…

  • Logic and Emotion: Why Smart Money Management Isn’t Just About Math (86 comments)

    This is a guest post by former GRS staff writer Adam Baker of Man Vs. Debt. This week, registration opens for You vs. Debt, Baker’s six-week online class with daily videos, challenges, and accountability forums to empower your battle against debt. Eighteen months ago, I read Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath. This book changed my life. Switch explores the difference between the life changes we eagerly embrace and…

  • Social Capital and the Neighborhood Exchange (75 comments)

    It’s been a while since I’ve raved about the joys of social capital. For those who haven’t been exposed to the concept, social capital is the mutual goodwill generated whenever you volunteer at a soup kitchen, help your neighbor move a piano, have your Sunday School class over for a barbecue, or join a softball league. Any time you participate in your community, you’re generating social capital, both for yourself and for the other people…

  • Decision Fatigue: Why Willpower Isn’t Always Enough (85 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. A Snickers bar can save you money. Not just a little money either. Used correctly, it could potentially spare you thousands of dollars. That’s the gist of new research on a phenomenon called “decision fatigue”. Decision fatigue is what happens to people when they’ve made too many choices. As your brain gets tired, you become worse…

  • Sunk Costs and Smart Decisions (147 comments)

    As I write this, I’m on a flight back to Portland. I’ve spent the weekend with former GRS staff writer Adam Baker and his wife Courtney in Indianapolis, Indiana. Ostensibly, we were there to take part in GenCon, a huge gaming convention. We did play plenty of games, but we also had a lot of fun just hanging around and chatting. It was great to take a four-day break after months of being “on” all…

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

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

  • Playing to Your Strengths (52 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. Shortly after finishing college, a friend of mine was fired from his first job. He kept showing up to work late — sometimes hours late. He was charming and smart and reasonably good at his work, but his employer just couldn’t rely on him to be at his desk on time, so they let him go….

  • What Do You Care What Other People Think? (181 comments)

    Yesterday afternoon, I shared a biking vs. driving calculator that tries to show how much you could save if you gave up your car in favor of other forms of transportation. Whenever I post a story about biking more and driving less, some readers feel judged. They worry that those of us who drive less think we’re somehow better than they are. Yesterday, for instance, Elaine wrote: I must say that articles like these bruise…

  • Defining Your Financial Future (34 comments)

    This is a guest post from Kent Thune. Thune urges readers to place meaning and purpose before money and planning at his blog, The Financial Philosopher. For better or worse, language has a significant influences on who we are and what we do in life. What, for example, is the definition of the word retirement? How has this shaped your life? More importantly, is this definition yours? Or is it shaped by conventional wisdom? If…

  • The Psychology of Consumerism (202 comments)

    This is a guest post from David M. Carter, a graduate of the master of applied positive psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania, and the first graduate of the program to emphasize the inherent link between increased well-being and sustainable consumption. A recent story in my local newspaper dealt with a sad-case family. The son was in jail for drugs, and his mother was trying desperately to find a way to give her son…

  • Tackling Temptation: Is It Better to Resist or to Give In? (90 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. When I’m not reading about personal finances or World War II, I’m often…

  • How to Spend Your Way to Happiness (Part Two) (47 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. It’s part two of How to Spend Your Way to Happiness. Read part one here. Last week, we discussed three out of eight key ways that spending money can increase happiness, as found by researchers Elizabeth Dunn, Dan Gilbert, and Timothy Wilson (“If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy Then You’re Probably Not Spending It Right” [PDF]). Through empirical research, they sought to figure out how and why…

  • Outsmarting Myself (117 comments)

    Every spring for the past decade or so, I’ve turned from a normal, healthy adult into a sniffling, dripping fountain of whine in just a matter of days. Something in the air doesn’t agree with me. Last year, instead of just complaining about how crappy I felt, I finally saw an allergist. After giving me a skin test, he told me the bad news: “Trees are your enemy,” he said — which made me laugh….

  • Affirm Your Way To Wealth (79 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. This morning, I did something unusual. After I brushed my teeth, I looked in the mirror and recited: “People love to give me money!” “I am rich and wonderful.” “I am now earning a great big income doing what satisfies me.” I admit, I felt silly. I love a lot of New…

  • 10 Money Lessons from Music Lyrics (56 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. When you’re looking for personal finance advice, you probably check out books and websites like GRS, but what about turning on the radio? Recently, I wrote about the cost of love and mentioned several songs with lyrics about love and money. This got me thinking about how many songs have lyrics about money in general and what lessons we can learn from them. Yeah, I know, I…

  • Wants, Needs, and the Sense of Entitlement (56 comments)

    This is a guest post from Gail Vaz-Oxlade, the host of the popular Til Debt Do U$ Part on CNBC (Saturday nights at 10 and 10:30). Gail is a columnist for MoneySense, Chatelaine, and Zoomer Magazine and blogs daily at her website, where she also offers terrific tools people can use to dig themselves out of the hole. Gail’s latest book is Debt-Free Forever. I’ve been working with a lot of people lately who can’t…

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

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

  • All Value is Perceived Value (44 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. A lot of folks hate advertising, and it’s hard to blame them. But in a 2009 TED talk, ad man Rory Sutherland argues that what advertising creates — perceived value — doesn’t deserve its bad reputation. If you want to live in a world with less Stuff, for example, your two options are: Live in a world that’s poorer, which most of us don’t want to do….

  • The Laundry Agreement (102 comments)

    Yesterday, I made a passing reference to The Laundry Agreement. A couple of eagle-eyed readers noticed a further reference in the screenshot I posted to illustrate the article. Kevin and Samantha both searched for answers at GRS, but couldn’t find them. I guess that means I’ve never mentioned the Laundry Agreement before. The Laundry Agreement is a unique arrangement that Kris and I have used for fifteen years to play to our individual strengths in…

  • Reader Story: A Fresh Start on the Path to Prosperity (112 comments)

    This guest post from Louisa Rogers 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. Previously at GRS, Louisa told us what it’s like to have even better than enough. “May you have a prosperous New Year!” the…

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

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

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

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

  • Why Are There No Ads Urging Us to Save? (39 comments)

    This is a guest post from Rob Bennett, a long-time GRS reader. Bennett created the first retirement calculator that contains an adjustment for the valuation level that applies on the day the retirement begins. The Cat in the Hat and the Grinch. Who’s the miser? Who’s the spendthrift? Nearly everyone is going to say that the Cat in the Hat is the spendthrift and that the Grinch is the miser. The Grinch is selfish and…

  • Bargain Shopping Gone Berserk! (49 comments)

    This is a guest post from Gail Vaz-Oxlade, the host of the popular Til Debt Do U$ Part on CNBC (Saturday nights at 10 and 10:30). Gail is a columnist for Yahoo Canada, Chatelaine, and Zoomer Magazine and blogs daily at her website, where she also offers terrific tools people can use to dig themselves out of the hole. Gail’s latest book is Debt-Free Forever. Who doesn’t love a good sale? But when bargain-hunting, coupon…

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

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

  • Book Review: Mind Over Money (20 comments)

    “Financial success is more about mastering the mental game of money than about understanding the numbers.” That’s the first tenet of the Get Rich Slowly philosophy. That math of personal finance is simple; it’s controlling your habits and emotions that’s difficult. In Mind Over Money, the father-son team of Ted and Brad Klontz provide a thorough discussion of the psychology of personal finance. They argue that our relationships with money are complex and not wholly…

  • Money CAN Buy You Happiness! (61 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. In today’s article, she tackles a topic I’ve been meaning to write about, but haven’t made the time. Contrary to popular belief, money can buy you happiness — if you spend it on the right things. That’s the skinny from the New York Times Business section, which last week took a close…

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

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

  • Bigger Isn’t Always Better: Remembering to Appreciate What I Already Have (196 comments)

    Walking home from work today, I decided to take the long way. Most of the time, I choose the easy quarter-mile stroll downhill from the office to our happy half acre (or happy .62 acre, if you’d like to be precise). But to celebrate the first day of summer, I took the river-forest loop. The river-forest loop is exactly what it sounds like: a series of quiet streets that wend along the east bank of…

  • How Quickly Wants Can Turn to Needs (42 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker recently featured a post on his own blog entitled, Are You Eating Yourself Into Debt? As some of you know, Courtney and I recently spent just under a year traveling abroad with our two-year-old daughter. A couple of months ago, we returned home to Indiana and decided that we’d take a six month break from our mobile lifestyle. Our decision meant we needed to start looking…

  • The Importance of Finishing What You Started (34 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation in Alaska. This is a guest post by Bill Goodwin, who co-edits the debating site Dissense. Bill has been following the GRS gospel since converting to the religion of financial common sense three years ago. Personal finance blogs, and none more so than Get Rich Slowly, offer a wealth of resources for people looking to master their spending and take charge of their fiscal health. Want to know how snowball your…

  • Money and Relationships: A Matter of Control? (92 comments)

    Last week I gave a talk at Powell’s bookstore here in Portland. During the question-and-answers session, one woman posed an interesting question. (I’ve forgotten her name, so let’s call her Kim to make things easy.) Kim has been aggressively paying down her debt, and is pleased with her progress. However, her boyfriend thinks she’s doing it wrong. If I understand correctly, Kim’s boyfriend believes she should pay down each debt part way (perhaps a half…

  • Money Myths and the Importance of Thinking for Yourself (136 comments)

    When I sat down to write Your Money: The Missing Manual, I knew I wanted to start with a chapter on happiness. (Well, to be fair, I was going to conclude the book with this chapter; my editor suggested moving it to the beginning, which was a stroke of genius.) In particular, I wanted to make the point that money doesn’t buy happiness. Because we all know that’s true, right? Well, not so much, as…

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

    I think a lot about happiness — about my own happiness and about the happiness of those around me. Knowing my interest in the subject, Kris forwarded a recent column from David Brooks of The New York Times about what he terms “the Sandra Bullock trade”: Two things happened to Sandra Bullock [in March]. First, she won an Academy Award for best actress. Then came the news reports claiming that her husband is an adulterous…

  • Reader Story: Be Happy on Your Own Terms (114 comments)

    This guest post from Joann is part of the “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general “how I did X” advice, and others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. I’ve been a Get Rich Slowly reader for about a year now, and I can honestly say I’ve picked up quite a bit of direction from you and your contributors. I wanted to…

  • Warren Buffett on the Lottery of Birth (69 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. One of the reasons J.D. asked me to join his merry band of GRS writers was so that I could add the occasional investing lesson to the line-up. Today, I’m going to hand that…

  • Reader Story: How I Learned to Save LESS — and Loved It (62 comments)

    This guest post from Avistew is part of the new “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general “how I did X” advice, and others will be examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. For the past year or so, Avistew has been an active and eloquent commenter on this site. Here’s her story. Many readers of this blog started their journey with debt, and…

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

    A new study out of the U.K. confirms what many of us have already learned: Money only makes you happy if you have more than those around you. According to the London Telegraph: Despite the vast improvements in general standards of living in the past 40 years across Britain, ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ is still our biggest aspiration, the findings suggest. Researchers have found that owning a fast car, a large home and having…

  • The Balance Between Splurger and Miser (68 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Before I changed my habits, I spent money without much thought. In college, if I had a two-hour break between classes, I’d drive to the mall. Once I started working full time, my coworker and I would bring our lunches to work just so that we’d have the entire hour to shop. If I was bored, I’d wander into the cosmetics superstore Sephora for entertainment. Even…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Figure the Calculus of Kids? (163 comments)

    I keep intending to retain “ask the readers” as a regular Friday feature — and I keep failing. You folks send me tons of great questions, and I’d love to share more of them. This week, for example, Lisa wrote with the following. “Having kids has made spending choices much more emotional and complex,” she says. “You can’t always calculate a return on investment.” Here’s her predicament: My husband and I are looking to purchase…

  • Reader Story: How I Fought Lifestyle Inflation — and Won! (46 comments)

    This guest post from Michelle is part of a new feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Every Sunday will include a reader story (in the new “reader stories” category). Some will be general “how I did X” stories, and others will be examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success. In 2001, I got a new job. Not just any job — this job was for a former employer who wanted me to come…

  • Should You Really Be Reading This Post? (54 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. Let’s say it’s 8 p.m. on a weekday. Or 2 p.m. on a Saturday. Or maybe 3 a.m. in the middle of a night when you can’t sleep. Whatever time it is, assume it’s…

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

    One of the primary themes of Get Rich Slowly (and of Your Money: The Missing Manual) is that it’s more important to be happy than it is to be rich. I learn this lesson over and over again, but sometimes it seems like I forget it just as often. At the end of last summer, before I started the book project, was one of the happiest times of my life. Everything was in balance, and…

  • Love and Money: Do Savers Seek Spenders? (62 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Social psychologists have found that people tend to choose their significant other based on similarities—similar attitudes, values, and even similar names. Those findings would seem to suggest that people with similar spending habits would be attracted to each other, too. But a working paper published last year found the opposite to be true. In “Fatal (Fiscal) Attraction,” Rick, Small, and Finkel, professors of the Wharton School…

  • The Curse of a Big-Win Mentality (44 comments)

    This article is by GRS staff writer Adam Baker. Despite his best attempts, Baker struggles to budget while adapting to life in New Zealand. Earlier this week J.D. tackled an important issue with his tenet Large Amounts Matter Too. This concept goes by many names: Focus on big wins. Pick the low-hanging fruit Attack high-leverage areas. You get the point: It’s efficient to do things that have major impact with minimum effort. J.D. wrote: Some…

  • The Paradox of Choice and the Dangers of Perfection (81 comments)

    As important as I believe National Save for Retirement Week is, I have to confess that after four days (five, if you count Sunday), I’m bored of it. My short attention span has dwindled. (Imagine the difficulties I’m having as I try to concentrate on writing a book for three months solid!) Instead, I want to shift gears for a moment and talk about a subject with immediate real-life implications: the dangers of perfection. Good…

  • Accumulation and Attachment: Finding Balance (52 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. A lot has been made of the minimalist lifestyle on personal finance blogs. Some readers love it; some think it sounds like a miserable existence. But rather than focus on how much or how little we possess as a measure of our degree of minimalism, it seems more important to get to the underlying question: How does your happiness relate to the things you own (or…

  • The Guilt of Wealth (167 comments)

    Yesterday I shared a guest post from Leo of Zen Habits. His guide to minimalist money was a sort of overview of good financial skills, useful information for those in the first stage of personal finance. But some long-time GRS readers couldn’t relate to Leo’s post. Today’s post goes in the opposite direction. It’s a meditation for those in the third stage of personal finance (or beyond), and it’s probably going to seem foreign to…

  • Born in a Small Town (44 comments)

    My wife just returned from a long weekend touring eastern Oregon with two of her co-workers. They drove from small town to small town, shopping for antiques and visiting museums. On Saturday — with an early October snow falling outside — Kris and her friends stopped to eat lunch at La Laguna in the small town of Joseph (population 1054). As part of the worst job I ever had, I spent several weeks selling insurance…

  • The Personal Finance Hour, Episode 23: Money and Happiness (5 comments)

    On today’s episode of The Personal Finance Hour, I joined Jim from Bargaineering to discuss the relationship between money and happiness. Will more money make you happier? Are we happy when we get the things we want? Does happiness have a genetic set-point? And just what can we do to make ourselves more fulfilled? Our discussion — which included calls from Neal and Baker — covered some of the material from my review of Happier…

  • 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 “Do-I-Have-Enough-For-This?” Effect (53 comments)

    This is a guest post from Baker, who writes about personal finance at Man vs. Debt. Baker is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. His first post described the many advantages of couchsurfing. Along with his wife and 15-month-old daughter, Baker has recently moved overseas to New Zealand, where his young family is passionately continuing their own personal “war” on debt. “Do I have enough money for this?” It’s a very simple question,…

  • Peer Pressure and Money: Do You Spend Differently with Friends? (85 comments)

    This is a guest post from Neal Frankle, a Certified Financial Planner and the blogger at The Wealth Pilgrim. Neal is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. His first post explored the benefits of starting a side business. For background on Neal’s personal story, check out his recent article about how he went from homeless to homeowner. Have you ever sat down at a restaurant, reviewed the menu, wanted to leave but stayed…

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

    The August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research arrived in my mailbox yesterday. It contains an interesting article from Nicolao, Irwin, and Goodman entitled “Happiness for Sale: Do Experiential Purchases Make Consumers Happier than Material Purchases?” This is a topic we’ve skirted at Get Rich Slowly, but never fully explored. Many readers have offered anecdotal evidence that they get more “bang for their buck” by spending money on experiences instead of Stuff. This new…

  • Lower Your Expectations, Increase Your Happiness (87 comments)

    “Did you listen to Rick Steves this afternoon?” Kris asked me on Sunday. I shook my head. “That’s too bad,” she said. “It was about the relationship between money and happiness. I think you would have liked it — and so would your readers.” “But I just wrote about happiness!” I said. “J.D.,” she said. “You can never write too much about happiness.” And so I tracked down last weekend’s episode of Travel with Rick…

  • Financial Serenity – The Missing Ingredient (24 comments)

    This is a guest post from Neal Frankle, a Certified Financial Planner and the blogger at The Wealth Pilgrim. Please stand up if you read Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek. Now sit down if you work less than 40 hours per week. Still standing? I thought so. Me too. Tim’s book is great, no question about it, but let’s face it: we already know just about everything we need in order to be financially successful….

  • When Money DOES Buy Happiness (65 comments)

    Money can’t buy happiness. Or can it? The TierneyLab blog from The New York Times recently conducted an informal survey. Based on Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior, a new book from Dr. Geoffrey Miller, readers were invited to: List the ten most expensive things (products, services or experiences) that you have ever paid for (including houses, cars, university degrees, marriage ceremonies, divorce settlements and taxes). Then, list the ten items that you have ever…

  • The Lure of SkyMall (72 comments)

    For me, the best personal finance lessons are the ones I learn first-hand. When I actually experience something, I get a lot more out of it than simply by reading about it. Last week I flew to San Francisco. To kill time on the early morning flight, I browsed the SkyMall catalog. Big mistake. There’s some cool stuff in there — cool stuff that I don’t actually need. Before I knew it, I was dog-earing…

  • The Turning Point (44 comments)

    I had lunch with my friend Bo recently. Over our enchiladas, we talked about how dumb we were when we younger, and how we’d do things differently if we could. To what point would we return if we wanted to change our lives? “I’d go back to the end of my sophomore year of high school,” Bo said. “That’s a long way,” I said. “But think of compound interest, J.D! And by then I was…

  • 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…

  • Finding Balance Between Time and Money (102 comments)

    Lately my personal focus has been on finding balance in my life. I’m trying to discover the proper place for money — and for time. Over the past few years, I’ve allowed money to become too important. I’ve worked too much, and that has hurt other aspects of my life. I don’t have time for anything else. As part of this process, I’ve been reading the new edition of Your Money or Your Life, the…

  • Lighting the Way (38 comments)

    This is the fourth of a five-part series about the “stages” of personal finance. First, I described the zeroth stage of money management, in which I was fumbling in the dark, spending compulsively and accumulating debt. Next, I described the first stage, in which I finally saw the light and began to repay my debt. Last week, I shared the the light at the end of the tunnel: what happened after my debt was gone…

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

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

  • Defeating Temptation: 10 Questions to Ask Yourself When You’re Tempted to Buy (99 comments)

    You’re in the mall or at the Electronics Emporium. There’s nothing you need to buy, but you’re killing time while your spouse finishes an errand. As you wait, you browse. You admire the Thneeds. Look! There’s a new one! It’s bright and shiny and you think it will make you happy, so you pick it up, walk to the register, and purchase it. You’re the proud owner of the latest Thneed. But when you get…

  • A Candle in the Dark (46 comments)

    This is the second of a five-part series about the “stages” of personal finance. Last Sunday, I shared part one: “Fumbling in the Dark”. In June of 2004, Kris and I bought a new house. On paper, we could afford the upgrade. In reality, things felt pinched. For one thing, my consumer debt had grown to over $35,000. The increased housing payments didn’t help. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was the extensive…

  • The Ongoing Battle with Lifestyle Inflation (61 comments)

    This is a guest post from Mike Young, who runs The Secure Student, a program that teaches high school students how to manage their money. In high school, I had a small allowance from my parents every week. When I spent my allowance on gas, food, whatever — that was it. I had to wait until next week before I saw another dime. I remember having to really think about what I spent my money…

  • Fumbling in the Dark (77 comments)

    I’ve had good control of my saving and spending for nearly two years now. I still make poor choices now and then, but they don’t have the consequences they would have a decade ago. A decade ago, I was in debt. Today, I am not. That’s one of the advantages of being debt-free: when you do something dumb, the repercussions are not as severe. But I remember a time when each bad choice brought me…

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

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

  • How to Replace Bad Financial Habits With Good Ones (51 comments)

    This is a guest post from Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. His first book, The Power of Less, was recently published by Hyperion. It was Aristotle who said, “We are what we repeatedly do … Excellence is therefore not an act but a habit.” If that’s true, it makes sense that if we’re having financial problems, they probably stem from our financial habits. Bad financial habits lead to overspending, too much debt, a house full…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Money Would it Take For You to Compromise Your Principles? (207 comments)

    An Allegory There was once a man who became a vegetarian. Because he believed that all living creatures have souls, he swore he would never again consume animal flesh. For three years, he ate only vegetable matter. People offered him money to eat meat, but he steadfastly refused. “Will you try a turkey sandwich for $2?” a woman asked one day. “No,” he said. “Will you try this hot dog for $20?” a little boy…

  • You Are Not Your Money (40 comments)

    Joe S. sent me a recent New York Times editorial from Ben Stein, who describes being approached by representatives from Bernard Madoff. Madoff ran a Wall Street hedge fund which reportedly “never lost money”. Stein thought it sounded fishy, and he didn’t take the bait. “I have never heard of an entity that could make money in all kinds of markets consistently, year in and year out,” Stein writes. “I have never heard of a…

  • When Less is More: The Importance of Perceived Value (71 comments)

    The things we buy have an absolute value — the price we pay for them — but they also possess relative perceived values. Not everything with the same price holds the same value to me. An $80 pair of work boots might be worth much more to me than an $80 sweater or an $80 meal in a restaurant. And I can often (not always) derive more value from something cheap than from a more…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Talk to Your Loved Ones About Money? (80 comments)

    What happens when you take control of your finances, but the other people in your life continue to struggle? I’ve heard this question from two people lately. During the Q&A of my talk at the library last Saturday, one audience member asked: You mentioned during your presentation that you had two friends give you books [when you were having financial trouble]. Is that how you recommend approaching the discussion to friends and families who need…

  • The Irritation Threshold and Lifestyle Inflation (59 comments)

    This is a guest post by Scott L. from The Circular Ruins. Last weekend I went camping with my wife and our children. Because I was the one who accidentally left the camp stove at home, I was the one who had to make breakfast over the fire. In the morning. In the skillet. Pancake batter getting soaked in the rain. It was a very rainy morning, yet I had a big ol’ smile on…

  • Redneck Math — or Wall Street Math? (21 comments)

    Dave dropped a line the other day to share a video he discovered. He writes: “This little movie clip explains how 25 divided by 5 equals 14. I think it kind of sums up how we as a nation got into our current crisis.” The folks on YouTube call this “Kentucky Math” (whatever that means), but lately it’s more like Wall Street math: Ah, funny stuff for a Saturday morning! (Never heard of Ma and…

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

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

  • What Does it Mean to Be Rich? (151 comments)

    I had lunch with my accountant the other day. Sabino is more than a financial advisor to me — foremost, he’s a close friend. I told him about my current circumstances, about how I’m now making more as a writer than I did when I worked at the box factory, about how I’ve been saving money, about how Kris and I are beginning to contemplate paying more on our mortgage. “How does it feel to…

  • The Sunk-Cost Fallacy Revisted (38 comments)

    Last month I wrote about the sunk-cost fallacy, the mistaken belief that just becuase you’ve spent money on something you should continue to spend money on it. In reality, once you’ve spent your money, it’s gone. According to economists and psychologists, it’s a mistake to consider past expenses in deciding what to do with your investments, your home, or your Stuff. What’s important are future expenses and future happiness. To the extent that we can…

  • Could Tithing Lead Some Americans to Lose Their Homes? (192 comments)

    Last week, USA Today featured an article on Christians who continue to tithe even as they face foreclosure. Tithing is the practice of donating 10% of your gross income to your church. It’s not a common practice (only 5% of American adults tithe), but it’s important to those who choose to do so. It’s a component not just of Christianity, but other religions as well. But what happens when tithing interferes with your ability to…

  • Why I Don’t Track My Net Worth (59 comments)

    Earlier today I described net worth, and asked if it were the most important number in personal finance. Many people believe that it is. For them, it acts as a motivator, a sort of “life scorecard”. For others — and I’m one of them — net worth is just another number. As I do my finances, Quicken computes my net worth, but it seems largely irrelevant to me. I don’t even know what the number…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Cope with Spending Addiction? (94 comments)

    Nicki wants to get out of debt, but she can’t — she has a spending addiction. She’s hoping that other Get Rich Slowly readers can give her advice. Here’s an abridged version of her story: I am writing for advice on managing debt. I’ve been reading your website for the past month because my boyfriend recommended it after he noticed I spend a lot of money. Here’s a summary of my debt: Visa: $9900 at…

  • The Idea of Having (105 comments)

    My mother has been out of the hospital for two weeks now. She’s home and recovering well. The past two Sundays, Kris and I have driven down to see her, and the three of us have spent part of the afternoon sorting through mom’s Stuff. “Do you still want this?” I asked mom again and again, holding up an old computer printer, a plaque with a pithy saying, or a calendar from 1998. “No,” she’d…

  • Financial Success Comes from Within (36 comments)

    This is a guest post from Flexo at Consumerism Commentary, the granddaddy of personal finance blogs. Previously at GRS, he shared how to be the Chief Financial Officer of your own life. Success, financial or otherwise, comes from within. According to studies by psychologists and researchers, people with an internal locus of control are more apt to plan for long-term goals, delay gratification, and accept more risk for the promise of more reward. These qualities…

  • The Psychology of Happiness: 13 Steps to a Better Life (104 comments)

    We think we know what will make us happy, but we don’t. Many of us believe that money will make us happy, but it won’t. Except for the very poor, money cannot buy happiness. Instead of dreaming of vast wealth, we should dream of close friends and healthy bodies and meaningful work. The psychology of happiness Several years ago, James Montier, a “global equity strategist”, took a break from investing in order to publish a…

  • Cleaning House: When Little Messes Become Big Problems (129 comments)

    Kris and I drove down to clean Mom’s house last night. Over the past decade, her place has gradually been overtaken by Stuff and clutter. Since Mom is still in the hospital, we figured this was a great time to tackle some of the mess. After three hours of cleaning clutter and sorting Stuff, there’s no mystery about where I acquired my compulsion to buy. I come by it honestly. But while I’ve managed to…

  • If Personal Finance is Easy, Why Isn’t Everybody Rich? (53 comments)

    Yesterday, MSN’s Smart Spending blog posted a version of my recent article about the dirty secrets of debt reduction (and what to do about them). “You make it sound so easy,” one commenter wrote. But it’s not, and I know that. Here is a reprint of a post from June 2007 that acknowledges this fact. Last fall I wrote an article describing how to get out of debt. Debt elimination involves three steps, I said:…

  • Dangerous Norms: When a Treat Becomes a Routine Matter (54 comments)

    This is a guest post from Trent Hamm, who writes about frugality and fighting debt at The Simple Dollar. When I was young, going out to eat at a restaurant was a rare treat, something to anticipate and savor. About twice a year, we would go to an elegant buffet restaurant called Johnny’s Supper Club in a nearby town. I looked forward to eating at Johnny’s for days in advance, plotting all the different delicious…

  • Enough is Enough: Wealth is What You Make It (44 comments)

    This is a guest post from Steve Ross, a pastor at a church in rural Oregon. I learned something about how wealthy I am recently. I am a pastor in a congregation that is in a financial crisis. We’re reaching new people, but as our older givers die the losses exceed the gains in terms of financial support. This year we have a $100,000 deficit in our budget. Yikes! As our Finance Committee worked on…

  • Is It More Important to Be Rich or to Be Happy? (54 comments)

    Sometimes we in the United States forget how privileged we are. Because of our relative wealth, we can make claims like “it’s more important to be happy than it is to be rich”. In this guest post, Saravanan P of Engineer’s Finance argues that for the poor, money is more important than happiness. Though this post has been heavily edited, keep in mind that English is not Saravanan’s native language. Being happy is a state…

  • Daily Links: Knob and Tube Edition (45 comments)

    For the first time since getting my finances in order, I’m facing a real test of nerves. It’s not that I’m spending frivolously or doing anything dumb. We’re having some electrical work done, and I’m finding the spending almost physically painful. When we bought this hundred-year-old house in 2004, it had no insulation. We spent $2,400 to have blown-in insulation put in the attic. Now we’ve saved enough to have our 80-year-old knob-and-tube wiring replaced….

  • Closing the Gap Between Dreams and Reality (32 comments)

    While sorting through reader e-mail yesterday morning, I began to detect a subtle recurring theme. People were writing because they had a goal in mind, but their present circumstances seemed to be far from their intended destination. These two points were so far apart, in fact, that my correspondents were afraid to begin moving. Because the distance seemed overwhelming, they were paralyzed. The importance of action I used to feel this way, too. I would…

  • Richer Than Rockefeller: Putting Wealth in Perspective (64 comments)

    This is a guest post from Bob at ChristianPF.com. Bob writes about personal finance from a Christian perspective. John D. Rockefeller founded the Standard Oil company in 1870. He was the first American billionaire and one of the richest men to ever live. I am sure many people today wish they could have walked in his shoes. If, somehow they could, I think some would find it to be eye-opening. Are you richer than John…

  • Behavioral Economics on Why We Buy What We Buy (28 comments)

    Money is more about mind than it is about math. Our financial decisions are often based on psychology and emotion rather than on pure numbers. Nearly everyone understands intellectually that credit card debt is bad, for example, but for millions of people, this understanding isn’t enough. A newish group of researchers dubbed behavioral economists have been exploring the gulf between financially optimal behavior and the things people actually do. One reason, said economist Dan Ariely…

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

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

  • Reader Success Story: To Wii or Not to Wii? (32 comments)

    I received another great e-mail yesterday describing a reader victory. Joshua has been wanting to buy a Nintendo Wii, even though he knows it’s not the best use of his time or money. On Friday, he stared temptation in the face — twice! — and triumphed through force of will. Here’s his story: I had a great “resist spending” story this weekend, and I had to tell someone. Last Friday I read about No Credit…

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

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

  • If I Can Do It, Anyone Can (26 comments)

    At this moment, Kris and I are driving home from a long weekend in Central Oregon. Every year, we rent a home in Sunriver, and spend three days with some of our best friends. It’s great fun. (Yesterday I played golf for the first time in eight years, and I have a nasty sunburn to show for it.) We also use this trip as a chance to see one of Kris’ college roommates. Eila moved…

  • Ask the Readers: What If Somebody You Know Steals Your Identity? (111 comments)

    Recently in the Get Rich Slowly discussion forums, SouthernGent posted a perplexing problem. Here’s his story: My wife and I have been debt-free for over three years now, meaning no credit card debt and only our mortgage. When I ran our credit report the other day (which I do annually), I noticed three cards under my wife’s name with balances of $2,000, $3,000, and $12,000. This shocked and worried me for obvious reasons. My wife…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Keep from Losing Control? (59 comments)

    Jay wrote with a question that I think most of us have had to face at one time or another: What do you do when you feel like you’re slipping into bad financial habits? Here’s his story: I have no real debt besides some student loans on which the monthly payments and interest are negligible and well under control.  My credit card gets paid in full every month.  I’m building an emergency fund. I recently…

  • Don’t Panic! Coping with Financial Mistakes and Setbacks (43 comments)

    When I was young and stupid, I became addicted to spending. I got my first credit card in college, and over the next fifteen years, I accumulated $35,000 in debt. I’m debt-free now, and have even begun building a nest egg, but I didn’t reach this place without making a lot of financial mistakes along the way. And I still make mistakes. Dealing with mistakes and setbacks is an important tool in your personal finance…

  • The Magic of Thinking Small (41 comments)

    There’s an old man who lives down the street. I don’t know his name, but every day I see him walking up and down the road with his cane. He moves slowly. He always wears the same thing: faded denim pants, a lightweight tan jacket, and a bright orange cap. For one hour every day — rain or shine — he walks up and down the street. Every day. We live on a steep hill,…

  • 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…

  • Cat and Girl on Wants and Needs (36 comments)

    Jan D. sent a note that the latest episode of webcomic Cat and Girl features a meditation on wants and needs. With the permission of artist Dorothy Gambrell, here’s the strip: Click to open a full-size version in a new window. Girl says: To need is to live. To want is to live in society. What if we could break free from want. What could that mean? What if we didn’t want anything? What if…

  • Why We Shop: Getting a Grip on Consumerism (27 comments)

    This is a guest post from Betsy Teutsch, who writes about socially responsible investing, savvy consuming, and sustainable living at Money Changes Things. Advertisers spend billions of dollars honing techniques to urge us to buy stuff; it certainly behooves us to be self-analytical and better understand the many triggers behind shopping. Here are some of the main reasons we buy things: Meeting needs The most basic reason we buy things is simple: need. We need…

  • Possessed: People Who are Ruled by Stuff (38 comments)

    When I was a boy, I hoarded Stuff. I had what my parent’s called a “rat’s nest”, a closet full of the Stuff I’d gathered. Why did I hoard Stuff? Was it because we were poor and I wanted to own things? Or was it something deeper? As I grew older, I became more discriminating. I didn’t hoard everything — just certain things. Books, especially. But it was difficult for me to throw anything away….

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

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

  • What Motivates You to Pursue Smart Personal Finance? (47 comments)

    I met with a Get Rich Slowly reader at the local coffee house yesterday. Like many of us, Aaron got into money trouble when he was young — he made some dumb mistakes. He fell for a get-rich-quick scheme that left him deep in debt. For a long time, he floundered, struggling to find motivation, but ultimately he found purpose in religion. Aaron’s faith helped him to turn his life around, to begin making smart…

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

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

  • Tech Lust: How to Cope with Gadget Envy (72 comments)

    Yesterday morning was a rough one for me. It’s a day I both dread and crave every year: Steve Jobs’ Macworld Conference keynote address. I’m a Macintosh fanboy from way back, and as other Mac fanboys can attest, there are few things more dangerous to our wallets than new products from Apple. In fact, there’s almost a ritual to the whole thing. In the weeks leading up to the Jobs’ speech, the rumor mill begins…

  • How Good Habits Keep Small Mistakes Manageable (23 comments)

    I have been swamped lately — absolutely buried. I’m busy at the box factory, busy with my blogs, and busy with holiday social activities. It’s been nearly impossible for me to juggle everything. Now I’m getting sick, and I can’t help but think it’s due to the stress. But the stress has done more than affect my health. It’s leading me to spend without thinking. You know how busy people justify their Egg McMuffin or…

  • Money and Security: Fear of the Future (55 comments)

    This is a guest post from Plonkee Money. Plonkee lives in England, where she writes about personal finance. A friend of mine has a tendency to be swayed by conspiracy theories, his favorites being The Da Vinci Code and the fictionalization of the Apollo Moon Landings. I was talking to him the other day, and he asked if I knew that money held in savings accounts was loaned out to other people and that banks…

  • Walking the Talk: Saying “No” to Temptation (52 comments)

    Kris and I spent our Thanksgiving in Central Oregon, visiting my brother and his family. Because Tony’s in-laws were out of town, we set up camp in their palatial home. To my delight, I was even allowed to drive the MINI Cooper S that belongs to Tony’s mother-in-law. Though I’ve done a fine job at suppressing my urge to buy a MINI, it’s still there, waiting for me to let me guard down. Driving the…

  • Are You a Shopaholic? Six Steps to Curb Compulsive Spending (89 comments)

    I had dinner with my friend Sue the other night. Over pasta and clams, we talked about life and money. She told me about her brother. “He’s a compulsive spender,” said Sue. “He spends money even when he doesn’t have any.” “What do you mean?” I asked. “Well,” she said, “for one thing, he spends his money before he gets it. For example, when he was still working with Big Computer Company, Inc., somebody told…

  • On the Relationship Between Temperament and Financial Behavior (13 comments)

    This guest post is from Jaimie, who writes about personal finance at paidtwice.com. Do you look before you leap? Or do you jump right in with no reservations? Recently I’ve been watching my daughter navigate learning to walk. It is quite an experience, especially since I never really got to see this process in action with my son. As soon as my son could pull himself up to standing, he was letting go and stepping…

  • Three Questions About Money and Ethics (105 comments)

    Lady Kemma recently wrote with a question about money and ethics: Last week I went out with my work department. After feeding 30 people, all with individual checks, I left the harried waitress a generous tip. My colleague said, “You’re leaving too much tip.” I said, “The poor lady earned it.” I left the money on the cash tray and got up to leave. My colleague proceeded to take some of the money off my…

  • Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes (and How to Correct Them) (21 comments)

    Money is more about mind than it is about math — that’s one of the key tenets of this site. People make financial decisions based not on mathematical ideals, but on emotion. There’s actually a branch of economics called behavioral finance devoted exclusively to this phenomenon, exploring the interplay between economic theory and psychological reality. On a recent train ride across Ireland, I read a book on behavioral economics called Why Smart People Make Big…

  • The Top 3 Mental Blocks to Personal Finance (and How to Get Past Them) (14 comments)

    This is a guest post by John Wesley. He blogs about self improvement, motivation, and productivity at PickTheBrain.com (feed). The transition from student to professional is a psychological challenge. For many people, it’s the first time we experience complete financial independence. Although the basic principles of personal finance are simple, completely changing your mentality isn’t. These are the top three mental blocks you’ll need to overcome to position yourself for a prosperous future. Mental Block#1:…

  • Marketing Affects How Children Perceive Food (16 comments)

    How powerful is marketing? How young are we when we first feel its effects? Can marketing really change the way we perceive the things we buy? Earlier today I shared a passage from Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink that explored how marketing works. A recent study funded by Stanford University and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation demonstrated that advertising influences even young children. Lindsey Tanner of the Associated Press writes: Anything made by McDonald’s tastes better, preschoolers…

  • Malcolm Gladwell on The Power of Marketing (28 comments)

    In February I wrote about the insidious power of marketing. “We can try not to be swayed by advertising and marketing,” I said. “But no matter what we do, we are all affected by attempts to manipulate our subconscious. Even when we believe we are immune to manipulation, we are not.” At that time, I e-mailed Malcolm Gladwell for permission to post an excerpt from his best-selling Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (published…

  • The Power of Yes: A Simple Way to Get More Out of Life (130 comments)

    For much of my adult life I’ve been shackled by fear. I’ve been afraid to try new things, afraid to meet new people, afraid of doing anything that might lead to failure. This fear confined me to a narrow comfort zone. Recently, however, I made a single small change that has helped me to overcome my fear, and allowed me to get more out of life. Last fall somebody at Ask Metafilter posted a question…

  • If Personal Finance Is Easy, Why Isn’t Everybody Rich? (55 comments)

    Last fall I wrote an article describing how to get out of debt. Debt elimination involves three steps, I said: stop acquiring new debt, establish an emergency fund, and implement a debt snowball. A visitor named ST recently left this comment about the piece: Seems that this post is about putting “overcoming your faults” over good financial sense. If you cannot equate credit cards with cash, that’s your problem. If you think the advice here…

  • Feeling Broke: Little Things Add Up (54 comments)

    Every weekend, I enter receipts into Quicken. Usually I feel good about this process, but yesterday’s session left me bummed. I feel broke. My checking account is down to $38.90. After I get gas this afternoon, I’ll have about $10. Meanwhile, several major expenses are looming: I have a toothache, my car is acting funny, and we’re having some plumbing problems. At least I’m not frittering money away on comic books and video games. I’ve…

  • There is No Secret: The Myth of the Law of Attraction (346 comments)

    This review was written several weeks ago, but I shelved it for fear of making anyone cranky. Things have changed. The Law of Attraction cultists are out in force, and they’re gunking up my site with comment spam. Now I’m having my say — I’m fighting back. The Secret is a best-selling motivational book (and DVD) published last fall. I didn’t hear about it for a long time because I live in an intentional media…

  • The Secret of Wealth and Happiness (18 comments)

    It’s a beautiful day here in Portland. The sun is shining. The camellia and magnolia are in bloom. The cherries are resplendent in white and pink. The birds and squirrels frolic in the yard while the cats watch from afar. A hummingbird is flitting among the flowering quince. The air is filled with the scent of fresh-mown grass. A neighbor is blaring classic rock while he works on his car. Kris is at the picnic…

  • Building Success from the Ashes of Failure (5 comments)

    When I was a young man, I had a poor relationship with money. The “money blueprint” I had inherited from my parents didn’t give me the skills I needed to build wealth. The only positive financial role-models in my life were Phillip Drummond and Ricky Stratton. It’s not a good sign when a boy is taking money lessons from sitcoms. And so I made mistakes. I accumulated credit card debt. I didn’t save for retirement….

  • Beware the Insidious Power of Marketing (46 comments)

    Advertising is powerful. Avoiding it — in print, on radio, on television — is one of the best ways to control your urge to spend. When you willingly expose yourself to commercial pitches, you risk spending more than you intend. I’ve posted two articles recently about how marketing manipulates us to buy things. Allow me to belabor this point one last time before I move on. It’s important. Corporations manipulate us in subtle ways. We…

  • The Curse of the Money-Saving Gadget (40 comments)

    One of our friends has a Starbucks habit. He used to stop every morning for a venti five-shot white-chocolate mocha. Last summer he spent $300 on a fancy espresso machine. He also bought a few accessories and some expensive coffee beans. He had taken the latte factor concept to heart. “I’m spending so much on Starbucks,” he told us, “that this will pay for itself in no time.” For a couple of weeks he put…

  • Manage your Finances like a Professional Gambler II: Know When to Fold ‘Em (13 comments)

    Love him or hate him, Tynan is back with a second installment in his series describing how to manage money like a professional gambler. Once again the article features sound advice. But once again Tynan’s personality may rub some people the wrong way! For six years I was a professional gambler, during which time I learned valuable lessons about personal finance that I still use today. In my first article I talked about how professional…

  • Don’t Watch the Super Bowl Just for the Ads (23 comments)

    Super Bowl XLI will be played in south Florida this Sunday. Millions of Americans will watch the game on television — more than 90 million people tuned in last year. But not all of them will be interested in football. The television commercials have become as much an event as the game itself. Every year at Super Bowl parties, non-fans crowd around to watch the ads during commercial breaks. People even rate their favorites. This…

  • Rich or Poor? Sometimes It’s All in Your Head (16 comments)

    I recently shared the story of a woman who wondered, “I make $6.50 an hour — am I poor?” The author had lost a good-paying job, moved to rural Montana, and was struggling to get by. Several readers forwarded a similar story about a woman who is surviving (and thriving) on $12,000 a year. The authors of both articles live on about the same income. What is remarkable to me is the difference in the…

  • Three Popular (But Dumb) Money Moves (15 comments)

    Liz Pulliam Weston — one of my favorite professional personal finance writers — has a warning regarding the three worst money moves you can make. Sound financial advice doesn’t change much from year to year. Bad money management ideas, however, seem to mutate and flourish with each passing season…Ultimately, it’s up to you to resist bad advice and protect your own financial futures. She writes that the three pieces of bad money advice currently en…

  • Book Review: The Consumer Trap (8 comments)

    Last spring I reviewed Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, a book that explores what motivates us to purchase products, and explains how businesses sell to us. Today guest-author Paul Bausch looks at a similar book, The Consumer Trap: Big Business Marketing in American Life. We are continually bombarded with advertising, but as savvy web folk we like to think we’re immune to the effects of marketing. We use our rational mind to weigh…

  • Inside the Mind of a Spendthrift (8 comments)

    Sound personal finance is more about mind than it is about math. You’ve heard me preach this before. Success with money requires more than just knowing that compound interest is a marvelous thing — it requires mastering impulses. Behavioral scientists at Stanford and Carnegie Mellon Universities have now actually observed this phenomenon at work in the brain. John Tierney, writing in The New York Times, explores recent research into behavioral finance. “We were frankly shocked…

  • Secrets of the Millionaire Mind (72 comments)

    Initially, T. Harv Eker’s Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth seems cast from the same mold as Loral Langemeier’s The Millionaire Maker (my review): full of vague promises, unsupported claims, and thinly-veiled sales pitches for products and seminars. It’s true that Eker is guilty of some of these faults. But ultimately I could not help but like the book once I stopped thinking of it as a personal finance guide…

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

    Robert Kiyosaki, Robert Allen, and Loral Langemeier would have you believe that in order to get rich all you need to do is throw your money into real estate, sit back, and let the profits come. It’s not that simple. There’s risk involved. You have to know what you’re doing. Jon forwarded a link to what he calls “a personal finance trainwreck”. He writes: “If this guy is for real (and there appears to be…

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

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

  • Beggars on the Streets of San Francisco (42 comments)

    We were walking up Columbus to breakfast this morning. As we came to a corner, a well-dressed Asian man came out of a coffee shop carrying two steaming cups. A gaunt beggar stepped toward him and held out his hand saying, “Can you lend me some money for breakfast?” The Asian man threw back his head and laughed loudly. “That’s funny,” he said, striding away. He laughed again. “I hope you’re never poor and hungry,”…

  • Lessons About Money from the World of Warcraft (12 comments)

    During late autumn and most of the winter, I live in another world. I join millions of others lost in Azeroth, the fictional universe for the computer game World of Warcraft. Believe it or not, one of the best lessons I’ve ever learned about money came from playing the game. I was frustrated at never having enough gold to purchase the equipment I wanted, so on a whim I began to buy and sell goods…

  • How to Haggle (12 comments)

    Some people know how to haggle. They’re able to bargain with shopkeepers in order to save a few bucks on pair of shoes, a book, or a piece of furniture. I’ve never haggled before except at garage sales and in World of Warcraft. Computer games are one thing, real-life is another. Real-life haggling scares me. Recently, I’ve stumbled upon several stories about haggling. An AskMetafilter user writes: I’ve heard that it’s okay to negotiate the…

  • Steve Pavlina: The Power of Now (1 comment)

    “I began focusing more of my energy on improving the quality of my present reality instead of projecting all those improvements into the realm of someday. I started asking questions like, ‘How can I experience more joy in this very moment?’”

  • What’s the Next Action? (0 comment)

    A weblog about getting things done.

  • The Things I Own End Up Owning Me (0 comment)

    How do I become less materialistic? Should I become a Luddite?

  • The Psychology of Spending (3 comments)

    For many, it’s not the rules of personal finance that are difficult — it’s implementing them. We know what we should do, but we make poor choices. In The Psychology of Spending Money, Deborah Fowles explores our “urge to splurge”. Facing the factors that give you the urge to splurge can be uncomfortable, but if you don’t face them, you may never get control of your spending and your debt. If you’re always trying to…