Psychology


  • To what do you attribute your success — hard work or good fortune? (33 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….

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

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

  • The link between consumerism, entitlement and ego (87 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Earlier this year, I started volunteering at my local library for a couple of hours a week. I’m a big fan of libraries, and I wanted to find a way to give back. And for some odd reason, I felt compelled to do something good. I couldn’t really pinpoint why, so I chalked it up to getting older. At the library, one of my duties is to make…

  • Preventing failure before it is an option (29 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. When I wrote an article about poverty, I wasn’t sure where Brandon and Leah, the two people I shared about, would be in the next few months. I needn’t have wondered. Turns out, nothing has changed. Despite receiving money from various people for rent, access to free babysitting, and bags of groceries, the last few months have been peppered with evictions, arrests, jail, and now prison. Unfortunately, I…

  • 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…

  • How to negotiate when you hate negotiating (19 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. In an ideal world, you wouldn’t need to go negotiate. In an ideal world, the weather would be perfect, there would be no war, and your employer would simply say, “Hey, your value to our company has increased. Here’s ten thousand dollars.” If only, right? When it comes to earning more, negotiating is usually a necessary part of the equation. The negotiating masters among us have a serious leg…

  • Becoming friends with your future self (24 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. I fight splurges less often than I used to, but the urge still pops up occasionally. Sometimes, it’s okay to splurge; but mostly, I find myself wanting to resist temptation. There are a few questions I ask when I’m mulling over a purchase: Do I have money saved for this? Do I feel like I’m stealing money from a financial goal? Am I simply being impulsive? Will I…

  • Teaching life skills to your children (22 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. While I’ve tackled many kid-centered topics, like how to save on kids’ clothes, should you buy your kid a car, or pay for your child’s college, you know what is really important to me? Helping them learn to be responsible and self-sufficient, so they don’t need me (except for moral support, of course). So while I often hear that I am a mean mom, and no other kids have to…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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 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….

  • A case for “hard work pays off” (42 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Over the weekend, a friend of mine came to visit. She’s a career counselor and, while I wasn’t looking for free advice, the conversation naturally turned to my job hunt. “How’s it going?” she asked. “It’s bleak,” I complained. “Oh, I know.” She told me about clients she’s worked with who went on second and third interviews. Those clients were sure they got the job. Then they…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Material stuff can make you happy (69 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Experiences make us happier than “Stuff.” That’s the current line of thinking, which quite a few studies support. Here’s an example from Livescience.com: If you’re trying to buy happiness, you’d be better off putting your money toward a tropical island getaway than a new computer…The results [of a Cornell University study] show that people’s satisfaction with their life-experience purchases — anything from seeing a movie to going on a…

  • Big wins: The quickest way to wealth (106 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 difference between tenacity and talent. There’s a divide in the world of personal finance. On one side are the folks who offer advice for scrimping and saving your way to financial success. On the other are the experts who scoff at frugality and champion big…

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

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

  • Reader Stories: Youth and exuberance give way (aka my lesson on entitlement) (8 comments)

    This Reader Story comes from Stevie Lutgen, a mortgage content editor for Lender411.com. She has a job now, but still writes for free, just for fun. 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. On June 15, 2011, I woke up slightly hung…

  • Coping with job loss (46 comments)

    A few weeks ago, I lost a freelance job. I won’t dish the details, because it’s not relevant to this post, and I’m still friendly with my contacts there. What is relevant to this post, however, is that I’ve had a big change in income. I went from being able to stash away more than enough in retirement and medium-term savings to barely being able to pay my monthly expenses. Today, as I contemplate low-paying gigs…

  • 5 ways to get over the money blues (25 comments)

    This article is by contributor Jeff Rose, CFP. He blogs at Good Financial Cents. In a surprising conversation with a client, I learned that he logs into his account online in the morning and again in the afternoon every single day. What makes this even more peculiar is that our online access gets updated once daily (in the morning) and reflects the previous day’s market close. So when he logs into his account for the…

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

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

  • Reader Stories: How a healthy lifestyle saved my money and my life (64 comments)

    This Reader Story comes from Gunnar, a filmmaker, a computer geek, a traveler and most recently an entrepreneur, who has launched the blog Wosla to inspire others to get healthy and save money. 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. Until recently…

  • 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…

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

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

  • You Are the Boss of You: How to Find Success with Life and Money (71 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. It marks his return as a contributor to this site. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money. “What do you think is the difference between successful people and unsuccessful people?” an interviewer asked me earlier this week. “Well, I don’t like to make generalizations,” I said, “but I’ve thought about this question a lot. While there are certainly…

  • Is there morality in personal finance? (46 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Kristin Wong. A while back, my blogger friend and fellow GRS writer Holly Johnson wrote about a healthy dose of lifestyle inflation. In that article, someone made a side point that there shouldn’t be morality in personal finance — it should be about practicality. Within the comments, there was a brief but interesting dialogue going on about this topic — morality and personal finance. I thought it was really interesting…

  • Talk about money: The key to financial literacy? (53 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sarah Gilbert. April’s post about financial literacy struck something in me, especially the part about the “Fallacy of Financial Literacy.” The idea here is that we are sold tools to increase our financial literacy, when in fact they only increase our knowledge of products the banks who create the tools can use to their profit and our detriment. The reason we don’t know enough to object seems to be rooted…

  • The sneaky sales strategies of your local grocery store (97 comments)

    It’s Thursday, and I’ve been to the grocery store five times this week. This isn’t normal for me. Usually, I take the time to plan and list what I need and get everything in one frugal, fell swoop. Not this week. Nope — this week I battled with work, deadlines and 14 days’ worth of laundry. They all won — I surrendered. In fact, after I write this, I’ll be making yet another trip to…

  • 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…

  • My New Year’s resolution: lowering the bar for happiness (68 comments)

    A blog to which I contribute recently won a contest, and upon finding out, my boyfriend suggested that we celebrate. “Oh, no, it’s not a huge deal,” I told him. “It was just a small contest.” He responded, “But if you wouldn’t have won, you’d be upset, right?” “Yeah,” I admitted. “So why not be happy now?” My friends, I have set the bar for happiness way too high. I’ve made happiness an emotionally expensive…

  • In defense of passion (with the help of reason) (81 comments)

    “Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.” -Hegel Last week, GRS published an article by April Dykman that presented some ideas by Ramit Sethi and Cal Newport about how “follow your passion” is bad career advice and what to do about it. Sure, I guess. “Follow your passion” is bad advice. For one thing, it’s terribly simplistic. It also assumes that everyone has a passion or even knows what that is….

  • 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;…

  • Join the Debt Movement (40 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jeff Rose, a Certified Financial Planner who writes about financial planning topics at Good Financial Cents. His first book, Soldier of Finance, is slated to be released the fall of 2013. His latest project, named The Debt Movement, is to help people pay off $10,000,000 of debt in 90 days. You can join the movement and a chance to earn some of the $10,000 debt scholarship money by visiting…

  • 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…

  • More fun with life and death (29 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’ve always assumed that I’m screwed, longevity-wise. With a father and a grandfather who had heart attacks in their 60s and an uncle who had a stroke in his early 70s, I figured the genetic cards were stacked against me, at least when it comes…

  • Why we buy: The science of shopping (42 comments)

    This is a guest post from J.D. Roth. J.D. founded Get Rich Slowly and now writes at More Than Money. Ready or not, the holidays are here and the shopping season is upon us. Although I wish I could convince you not to shop during November and December — I’m a fan of Buy Nothing Day myself — I realize I’m in the minority. It’s Black Friday. It’s Christmas. People are going to shop. If…

  • 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…

  • Is investing optional? (101 comments)

    This guest post from William Cowie. William has contributed to ConsumerismCommentary.com, BudgetsAreSexy.com and other personal finance blogs, including his own, Dropdeadmoney.com. We’ve all seen this bumper sticker, haven’t we? Other than singing the Disney song from “Snow White,” how does it make you feel? “Wouldn’t it be great if I didn’t HAVE to…?” And isn’t that most people’s fantasy: not having to go to work? Other than most fantasies, this one is actually achievable. How?…

  • 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,…

  • The rise and fall of the shopaholic (85 comments)

    As a college student, I often took up side jobs to make extra cash. One of those side jobs included selling random things on eBay. It was easier and slightly more lucrative than holding a garage sale every weekend. Once, I sold a pair of highly coveted boots that I no longer wore. They went for $75, or in college currency, one textbook. I’d already started wrapping them up and brainstorming my budget when I…

  • When Seizing the Day Backfires (55 comments)

    A little over a month ago, I experienced one of those moments in life where everything was as it should be. You know those moments—when work, love, friendships, etc., are all operating smoothly, in a brief but perfect alignment that allows you the rare luxury of total peace. In that moment, I was able to breathe, smile and remember that life is happening, and life is good. And then the car troubles came. These car…

  • 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…

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

    This guest post from Sam is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Sam writes at Financial Samurai and is one of the esteemed colleagues with whom I’m exchanging ideas this weekend at the second annual Financial Blogger Conference. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want submit…

  • 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…

  • 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,…

  • Nobody Has It All: Careers We Can Believe In (189 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Sarah Gilbert. By now, lots and lots of people know that Anne-Marie Slaughter doesn’t have it all. Even though she was extremely high-powered, as Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department under Hillary Clinton for two years, she was not a perfect mom during that time, getting on a train to Washington, D.C. each Monday morning at 5:30 a.m. and returning home late Friday night. Her teenage…

  • 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…

  • The Power of Community (65 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. Sitting on my computer is a Post-It Note that was supposed…

  • How Saving Money Cost Me Money (86 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 Kristin Wong, who also writes at The Heart Beat blog for MSN Living. I used to have…

  • 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…

  • From the Trenches: An Update on My War on Stuff (105 comments)

    Though our divorce is final, Kris and I continue to see each other about once a week. We have lunch or dinner together, and sometimes we do chores around the house. One big chore is approaching: We’re going to hold a joint garage sale to purge our lives of some of the Stuff that has accumulated over the years. A few other friends are going to join us (in the hope that we can attract…

  • 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…

  • Are You Afraid to Earn More? (137 comments)

    This is a guest post from Rya Hristova. Rya had her reader story featured at Get Rich Slowly last year. She writes a Bulgarian personal-finance blog called kadebg.com. Did you grow up in a modest family? Walking to school or taking the bus instead of having your own car? Wearing clothes your siblings have grown out of, instead of getting designer clothes? Always trying to make do or do without? And now in your adult…

  • 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….

  • The Cost of Being an Overachiever (108 comments)

    This post is by staff writer April Dykman. “What do you do for a living?” That’s one of the first questions we ask each other in our society. The choice of how you earn a living tells others a lot about you, whether those preconceived notions are accurate or not. If you’re at a party and someone says they’re an neurosurgeon, that’s pretty impressive. You know that meant years of study and took a lot…

  • 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…

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

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

  • 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…

  • 5 Free Ways to De-Stress (51 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. I’ve started to notice something about my spending habits, and maybe you can relate. When I’m sad, stressed, or emotional, I often justify expenses by telling myself “I deserve it.” Before I wised up financially, my self-rewards were expensive. Spa services, new clothes, beauty products I didn’t want or need. I’d wander into a store, or maybe online, and buy something to cheer myself up. Although the…

  • Want to Save Money? Slow Down (94 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. About a year ago I sprained my ankle pretty badly. It happened as I ran out of a burning orphanage, carrying half a dozen toddlers. Okay, that’s a lie. But it sure sounds cooler than the truth, which is “I was woolgathering and fell down some…

  • 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…

  • Empower Your Willpower (23 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. One of my fundamental beliefs about money is that it mostly comes down to self-control: Making yourself do the right things and preventing yourself from doing the wrong things. I’ve discussed this before…

  • 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…

  • Do What Works for You (48 comments)

    I’m writing this post in Lima, Peru, on the last day of my six-week South American odyssey. I’ve had a great time. I’ve climbed mountains, explored ancient ruins, petted llamas (and cats), mangled Spanish, and eaten more maracuyá (passion fruit) than is probably good for me. In other words, this has been a perfect vacation. But this trip wasn’t cheap. While it didn’t cost nearly as much as my trip to Africa last February, I…

  • 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…

  • How to Know When to Quit (62 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Before I became a full-time freelancer, I worked for a couple of different companies. Both times I started a new job, it started out exciting and fun. Great benefits! Cool perks! Interesting work! After a year or two, it got harder to get up in the morning and face an eight-hour day of doing whatever it was I was hired to do. By years three to five,…

  • Got the Urge to Splurge? Use These Strategies to Fight It (or Not) (122 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. This just in: Sales of bleach and fertilizer are down, but U.S. consumers can’t seem to get enough of cosmetics and wine. According to a recent New York Times article, we’re also buying more shoes, handbags, premixed cocktails, and meat pies. (Meat pies? Who knew?) Cheesecake…

  • 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…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Cope with Financial Mistakes? (88 comments)

    Nobody’s perfect. This should be obvious, but we all tend to forget it — and often. We judge other people for their mistakes, and often we judge ourselves even more harshly. I do this too. When I do something that I know is wrong (or merely foolish), I get down on myself, which often leads me to make further mistakes. Lately, for instance, I’ve been struggling with my diet and exercise. I spent eighteen months…

  • 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…

  • 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….

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

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

  • 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…

  • How to Spend Your Way to Happiness (Part One) (109 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. You know the old adage “money can’t buy happiness”? Researchers Elizabeth Dunn, Dan Gilbert, and Timothy Wilson say it’s a myth. Drawing on empirical research, they’ve identified key ways that people can get more bliss for their buck. The link between money and happiness has been studied for decades, and the result is always the same: Money does buy happiness — but less than most of us…

  • 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…

  • The Power of Patience (57 comments)

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

  • 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…

  • How to Cope with Budget Blow-Ups (42 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. Despite the best laid plans of mice and men, there are…

  • 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….

  • 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…

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

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

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

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

  • 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…

  • What to Do When You’re Completely Unsure (26 comments)

    This is a guest post by Tyler Tervooren of Advanced Riskology, a blog with resources for extraordinary risk takers. You can follow him on Twitter @tylertervooren. Personal finance is full of confusing concepts, puzzling equations, and no lack of professionals with conflicting advice about what you ought to be doing and how you ought to go about doing it. With all that information swirling around in your head, and mixed with a general uncertainty about…

  • 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…

  • Reader Story: Even Better Than Enough (51 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. I feel deeply fortunate. I have close-knit family, friends, health, beautiful surroundings, work I love, and financial security. In a word, I have…

  • Welcome to Generation App (51 comments)

    This is a guest post from Joseph D’Agnese who, with his wife Denise Kiernan, wrote The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed, which sets forth a personal finance system for people with not-so-regular jobs. You can follow them on Twitter: @The_Money_Book. Hey you! Yeah, you hunched over the smart phone. How about giving the opposable thumbs a rest and joining the real world? No, I’m not advocating renouncing your phone forever. (God knows,…

  • 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 to Use a Commitment Contract to Change Your Habits (45 comments)

    This is a guest post from Pop at Pop Economics, a great new blog about investing, personal finance, economics, and more. It’s now 9pm on August 30th. I’ll finish this guest post by 11:59pm on August 31. I know this, because if I don’t, I’ll lose $1,000. Call it an incentive. I’ve written about behavioral economics over at Pop Economics for three-quarters of a year now. There are an infinite number of subjects to cover,…

  • 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…

  • Action Not Words: The Difference Between Talkers and Doers (104 comments)

    It’s Sunday morning and I should be editing articles in advance of my upcoming vacation. Instead, I just got done playing another game of Starcraft II. Since the game was released on July 27th, I’ve played many games of Starcraft II. In fact, I’ve played at least 150 games of Starcraft II. (I know this because the game keeps track of your record. I played 50 training matches, and have since won 47 and lost…

  • 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…

  • How to Build Confidence and Overcome Fear (36 comments)

    “How to Build Confidence and Overcome Fear” is a rare GRS re-run; it originally appeared on 17 February 2009. I’m dealing with a family crisis, and haven’t had time to write. Things should be back to normal tomorrow. Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering. — Yoda Last week I did something that scared the hell out of me. I stood in…

  • Productivity Lagging? Take a Siesta (35 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. I’ve discovered that one of the biggest benefits to being a full-time freelancer can be one of its drawbacks: setting ones own schedule. Don’t get me wrong, it’s the reason I wanted to get into freelancing in the first place, but I keep wondering if I’m working enough. Am I getting enough done in a day? How often should I take a break, and for how…

  • A Simple Question to Jump-Start Your Finances (57 comments)

    This video post by staff writer Adam Baker is the last of a four-part series. Baker previously featured a post on his own blog entitled, Debt Tsunami: The Ultimate Method to Paying Off Debt. Courtney and I have recently stumbled upon a new hurdle in our personal finance journey: complacency. You see, we’ve experienced just enough success to make us feel comfortable, but not enough to be even close to accomplishing what we want. We…

  • 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…

  • Patience and Personal Finance (29 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. I used to describe myself as impatient as though it were a trait of which to be proud. While I still have a long way to go, I think back on that and have to smile and shake my head. Impatience is the quickest route to misery. I recently read an article by Eknath Easwaran, teacher, author, and founder of Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, called…

  • Finding Your Financial Blind Spots (31 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. Every month, you spend money you don’t need to. No matter how good your budget is, or how closely you track your spending, something slips through the net. J.D.’s post last week about casting stones at our friends’ financial choices struck a chord with me. His friend is struggling financially, and yet…

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

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

  • 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…

  • Social Capital: More Valuable Than Money? (63 comments)

    I’m back! After ten days boating through southeast Alaska (and two days of recovery), I’m ready to think about personal finance once again. Actually, it’ll probably come as no surprise that I never stopped thinking about personal finance. Even while we were skirting among ice floes, pulling up prawns, and admiring whales, my mind never strayed far from the topic of money. (I’m not saying this is a good thing, but it’s the truth.) It’d…

  • 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…

  • Getting Paid to Lose Weight with HealthyWage (47 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker recently posted a transparent personal update entitled “When to Quit Traveling“. Today J.D. is very thankful to have staff writers, because his computers (plural!) are on the fritz, and he has no time to write about money… I struggle with weight. In fact, it’s a far more difficult issue for me than personal finance. Honestly, I’m not completely sure why, but it’s true. There are many…

  • 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, Stress, and Your Health (46 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. A 2009 AP/AOL survey, Debt Stress in the United States, found that American adults are experiencing significantly more debt-related stress than reported four years ago when a similar survey was conducted. The survey also found that those with high stress levels were likely to experience health problems, including headaches, back pain, muscle tension, depression, anxiety, ulcers, and heart problems. It seems that a high level of…

  • 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…

  • Spend Based on Who You Are, Not Who You Want to Be (110 comments)

    Last Thursday, on April Fool’s Day, I wrote about my obsession with gadgets and how much that’s cost me over the years. As always, your comments and stories were more entertaining (and instructive) than the post itself. In fact, a comment from chacha1 gave me a flash of insight. She wrote: The thing that’s a *headdesk* for me is the digital piano in my dining room. It’s an excellent instrument, but at the time I…

  • 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…

  • A Two-Step Approach to Breaking Bad Money Habits (20 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Bad money habits, like other bad habits, can be tough to break. Relying on willpower alone to stop cold turkey makes us long even more for the Stuff or the behavior that we’ve forbidden ourselves. The focus becomes solely on what we can’t have, which sets us up for failure. We’ll lapse, feel guilty, and the cycle repeats. Think about people who lose 70 pounds on…

  • 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…

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

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

  • Book Review: The Happiness Project (47 comments)

    One of my core beliefs is this: It’s more important to be happy than it is to be rich. My personal experience bears this out (though I’m fortunate to be both), as do the anecdotes I receive from GRS readers. In fact, of all my fourteen philosophies, this one is most important. It’s so important that I chose to open Your Money: The Missing Manual with a chapter on happiness. No surprise then that for…

  • 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…

  • What We Know, Don’t Know, and Never Knew (49 comments)

    One of the toughest parts of writing Your Money: The Missing Manual (and writing Get Rich Slowly every day) has been the constant feeling that I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m an accidental personal finance “expert”. I have no formal training in this stuff; instead, I’ve just read tons of books, blogs, and magazines, and have listened to other people’s stories. I know the things I’ve done worked for me, but how can I…

  • 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…

  • Break Out of Your Comfort Zone to Achieve Success (44 comments)

    This is a guest post from Flexo of Consumerism Commentary. Flexo is embarking on a ten-day, ten-blog tour. Previously at Get Rich Slowly, he’s shared how to be CFO of your own life. Humans are wired to seek comfort, and as a result much of daily life is focused around familiar patterns and habits. When something threatens to break those habits, we feel uncomfortable and nervous. These negative feelings are easily avoided by continuing to…

  • Notes on Self-Study from a Killjoy Perfectionist (35 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. I have a friend who just doesn’t see himself. He has declared bankruptcy twice and alcohol abuse landed him in jail for the past year. Despite losing almost everything, when he was released he was talking about how much money it would cost to get his iPhone back in service. To make the situation more frustrating, he largely blames others for his circumstances. We all know someone…

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

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

  • It’s More Important to Be Happy Than to Be Rich (71 comments)

    This article is the final installment of a 14-part series that explored the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. Here’s the opening paragraph from my forthcoming book, Your Money: The Missing Manual. It’s the sum of everything I’ve learned during my five year journey to get rich slowly: You don’t want to be rich — you want to be happy. Many people mistakenly believe that the former leads to the latter. While it’s certainly true…

  • Where’s Your Financial Comfort Level? (138 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the advisor for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. I must confess to a new habit: I collect discarded ATM receipts. It all started when I walked by the bank in the building next to Motley Fool Intergalactic Headquarters, and found one such…

  • Failure is Okay (55 comments)

    This article is the 10th of a 14-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. Yesterday, for the first time in my 40-1/2 years on this earth, I went ice skating. Initially, I was scared to try, but I eventually gave in to the taunts from my eight- and ten-year-old friends. I love roller skating and I’m not too bad at it, but the ice skating…well, it sucked. It took me eight…

  • The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good (54 comments)

    This article is the ninth of a fourteen-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. You want the best — for yourself, for your spouse, for your family. You want the best car, the best house and mortgage, the best job, the best mutual funds, and the best savings account. You want things to be perfect. We all do. But perfection comes with a price. Research has shown that those who are…

  • My Advertising Crash Diet (62 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday, and in large part that’s because I spend it camping in Terlingua Ranch and hiking, backpacking, or kayaking in Big Bend National Park (about 15 minutes away from the ranch). I get mixed reactions when I tell people that’s how my family celebrates the holiday. Yes, we do have turkey — slow-cooked over a fire no less. Yes, we do bring…

  • Do What Works for You (56 comments)

    This article is the seventh of a fourteen-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. I struggled with debt for over a decade. I made several attempts to tackle the trouble, but nothing seemed to work. Compulsive spending was part of the problem — I bought anything I wanted, even if I couldn’t afford it — but there was another factor, too. Everything I’d read gave the same advice for debt reduction:…

  • 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…

  • Knocking Out the Beliefs That Hold You Back (69 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. A college professor once told my journalism class that freelance writing is something you should do on the side. It’s not anything you could make a living at full-time.  I graduated and worked at an office job until I decided I wanted to become self-employed and do something that would give me more free time to write. A real job and a writer on the side,…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Happier (79 comments)

    “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” — Aristotle For a long time, I was unhappy. I used to think that this was because of my overwhelming debt. I believed that if I were debt-free, happiness would come to me. It didn’t. After I paid off my consumer debt, I was still unhappy. “Maybe it’s my job,” I thought. I’d always hated working for the…

  • Money is More About Mind Than It Is About Math (87 comments)

    This is the first of a fourteen-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. I had a group of old high-school friends over to the house last weekend. As the daylight faded and the cool of the evening settled, we sat around a blazing fire talking about life. We shared the good things we’ve done over the past twenty years — and we shared the bad. Inevitably, the conversation turned to money….

  • 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…

  • Lighting a Fire: How to Overcome Procrastination (49 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. This article is particularly relevant to my own circumstances as I begin work on my book project. I’ve been procrastinating. A lot. In fact, I liked April’s piece so much I’ve delayed my own article that I had scheduled to run this morning. I like to say that I write well under pressure, and to a degree, it’s true. Nevertheless, most writers would agree that writing…

  • Further Adventures in My War on Stuff (102 comments)

    Long-time readers of Get Rich Slowly know that I’ve been waging an ongoing battle against Stuff — the clutter and crap I managed to collect during 20 years of wanton spending and debt. Though I’ve managed to curb my spending (and have slowed the influx of Stuff), I’m still surrounded by constant reminders of my old habits. Last week, Colleen wrote to ask for an update on this seemingly-endless war: I was wondering if you…

  • What Got You to Get Better? Reasons for Change (86 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the advisor for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. (And note that this post is much less controversial than yesterday’s!) Let’s face it: Most of us weren’t born eager to delay gratification, invest in IRAs, diversify our assets, and give a hoot about…

  • Discovering (and Challenging) Your Financial Values (48 comments)

    This is a guest post from Karawynn, who writes about personal finance at Pocketmint. Karawynn is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. In her first article, she visited the Island of Misfit Foods. Karawynn has been blogging since before “blogging” was a word. My parents taught me nothing about money management. My dad opened a checking account for me in high school and showed me how to use the checkbook register. Beyond that,…

  • 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…

  • Freedom from Mindless Spending (143 comments)

    This is a guest post from April Dykman, an avid GRS reader, and a writer and editor by trade. April is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. April is an active commenter at this site. “People’s complex attitudes toward money often defy economic theory.” — Drazen Prelec, associate professor of marketing at the Sloan School of Management There was a time not so very long ago that I didn’t pay much attention to…

  • Failing Forward: Transforming Mistakes into Success (22 comments)

    Sometimes the best personal finance books aren’t about personal finance. In June 2006, for example, I shared a brief review of Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. Ostensibly this book is about creativity and overcoming procrastination, but I found its lessons valuable for pursuing my financial goals. Last year I read Mastery by George Leonard. On the surface, this book has nothing to do with money, yet it’s one of the best books about money…

  • 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…

  • Remnants of Things Past (96 comments)

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

  • Further Research on Money and Happiness (53 comments)

    Recent research confirms what many GRS readers already know: money doesn’t buy happiness. At the University of Rochester, psychology professors Edward Deci and Richard Ryan and graduate student Christopher Niemic spent two years tracking recent college graduates to determine the effects of various “intrinsic” and “extrinsic” goals. According to the official press release: Aspirations were identified as either “intrinsic” or “extrinsic” by asking participants how much they valued having “deep, enduring relationships” and “helping others…

  • The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Debtor (32 comments)

    This post is about running. Except that it’s not. It’s about mental toughness, the mental toughness necessary to run a marathon — and to pay off debt or to build wealth. I rolled out of bed early yesterday morning, pulled on my shorts, strapped on my heart-rate monitor, and headed out the door. I zipped my Mini to the other side of Portland and there I joined a group of about 100 other hardy souls…

  • Ask the Readers: What Makes You Feel Rich While Being Frugal? (162 comments)

    Earlier this week, Aaron asked whether repaying debt should be an obsession. I replied that for some people, “gazelle intensity” makes more sense. (Trent from The Simple Dollar is one of these folks.) For others — including myself — it’s important to exercise balance, to allow a budget for fun. Everyone who opts for a life of thrift can benefit from finding one or two things that make them feel “rich”. These indulgences don’t have…

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

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

  • 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…

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

    This is a guest post from Kevin, who writes about getting and staying out of debt at No-Debt Plan. Previously at GRS, Kevin wrote about the power of attentive spending. Many Americans will begin receiving a few extra dollars in their paychecks this month. Thanks to the latest round of economic stimulus from the federal government, the monthly take-home pay of most workers will increase by about $50. Economists and politicians hope that this is…

  • Oversaving Does Not Lead to Happiness (51 comments)

    I love frugality. Frugality helped me to dig out of debt, begin to build wealth, and find more meaning in the things I already own. But at some point I crossed the line from frugal to cheap. I’ve spent the past few months seeking balance: allowing myself permission to spend on a few indulgences while choosing to cut back in other areas. There’s new research that indicates this sort of conscious spending really does make…

  • 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…

  • Ask the Readers: What Do You Do When Frugality Gets You Nowhere? (166 comments)

    In general, the frugal person who saves and invests will slowly build wealth, and will find herself far ahead of her peers. But sometimes the progress is slow — or even non-existent. When this happens, good financial habits can seem frustrating. Sara wrote to ask what to do when frugality seems to be getting you nowhere: Although I practice extreme frugality, I feel that I cannot get ahead financially. Every month I seem to be…

  • 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…

  • The Light at the End of the Tunnel (25 comments)

    This is the third of a five-part series about the “stages” of personal finance. In the first part I described the zeroth stage of money management, in which I was fumbling in the dark, spending compulsively and accumulating debt. Last week I described the first stage, in which I finally saw the light and began to repay my debt. Today I share what happened next. Last night at dinner, my friend Mike told me about…

  • 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…

  • How to Build Confidence and Destroy Fear (102 comments)

    Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering. — Yoda Last week I did something that scared the hell out of me. I stood in front of nearly 200 financial planners and I talked to them about why financial blogs are a good thing. I’m a confident writer. I’ve been doing this long enough that I know my strengths and my limitations. I’ve…

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

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

  • Behavior Gap: The Psychology of Investing (19 comments)

    At Behavior Gap, Carl Richards is on a mission to help investors overcome the self-destructive behaviors that prevent them from prospering. Over the past week, while preparing for an upcoming presentation to a conference of financial planners, I’ve had the chance to e-mail and speak with Carl about his site and his goals. “Any way we can encourage people to think about money is good,” he told me. He wants people to become aware of…

  • How to Make Your Own Luck (86 comments)

    The current issue of Newsweek (cover-dated 02 February 2009) has a fantastic article from Ben Sherwood entitled “What It Takes to Survive”. Ostensibly, this piece is about how people handle crises. Why do some people panic, some people lead — and most people stand around in a daze? This larger topic is fascinating, of course, but even more interesting is the article’s sub-theme: some people are lucky and some are not. But what we think…

  • 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…

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

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

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

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

  • 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…

  • You Can’t Always Get What You Want: The Dark Side of Personal Finance (127 comments)

    I drove down to clean the moss of the roof of my mother’s house last week. I spent several hours on top of the house with my cousin Nick, scraping and hosing and blowing away years of green growth. We chatted as we worked. I told him that I was going to speak with a literary agent on the following day, and that I hoped I might soon have a book deal. “How does that…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 10 Unconventional Money-Saving Tips (65 comments)

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

  • 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…

  • How Do You Turn Passion into a Career? (And Should You?) (31 comments)

    Ask Metafilter is one of my favorite sites on the internet; I’ve been an active member there for years. It’s a great place to get advice on many subjects, including money. And careers. Recently a user named Entropic asked a question about “finding your passion”, which received an awesome reply from my pal Grumblebee. Here, with permission (and a tiny bit of editing), is that Ask Metafilter exchange. Entropic How did you find your passion?…

  • 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…

  • Research Reveals Credit Cards Encourage Spending (61 comments)

    Conventional wisdom says that people spend more when they use credit than when they use cash. But is it true? In The Money Answer Book, Dave Ramsey writes: When you pay in cash, you can “feel” the money leaving you. This is not true with credit cards. Flipping a card up on a counter registers nothing emotionally. If you use plastic instead of cash you will spend 12 percent to 18 percent more. This is…

  • The Never-Ending War Against Advertising (90 comments)

    I spoke with a reporter the other day. She was looking for ways to fight the urge to shop. “My top tip is to avoid advertising,” I told her. “That sounds nice,” she said, “but how do you actually do that?” I talked about how I used to read comic book blogs and participate in comic book forums, and how doing these things led me to increase my spending on comics. When I stopped visiting…

  • The Power of Attentive Spending (26 comments)

    This is a guest post from Kevin, who writes about getting and staying out of debt with a plan at No-Debt Plan. Saving money and the frugal mentality are all about awareness. If you’re in the dark about where your money is going or how much something costs you each month, you can’t do anything about it. Life will continue — and you’ll keep spending as you always have. The truth will set you free…

  • The Sunk-Cost Fallacy: Good Money After Bad (97 comments)

    My mother spent three weeks in the hospital in August. Her extended stay affected me in lots of little ways I couldn’t anticipate. To escape my daily worries, I went searching for a little solace — I re-activated my World of Warcraft account. World of Warcraft is a subscription-based online computer game. As a player, you become immersed in a virtual fantasy world, interacting with thousands of other players from around the globe. It’s great…

  • 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…

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

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

  • 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…

  • Ask the Readers: The Psychology of Credit Cards? (105 comments)

    Cory is a young man who wants to do the right thing. He’s been making smart financial choices, and he wants to continue to do so. But he’s worried that using his credit card is too easy. He’s come to ask GRS readers for help: I’m 21. For three years, I’ve had a debit card and loved it. No more borrowing my parents’ credit card to make purchases! I can use it anywhere, just like…

  • A Momentary Lapse of Reason (69 comments)

    I used to have two responses when faced with stress: spend more or eat more. I still sometimes struggle with stress-eating, but stress-spending hasn’t been an issue since I started this blog. My mother’s recent health problems, however, have brought a whole new meaning to the word “stress”. “I can’t believe this makes me so tense,” I told Kris. “I know Mom’s in good hands. She’s going to be fine.” “It’s understandable,” Kris said. So…

  • 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…

  • Five Tactics for Pursuing Voluntary Simplicity (26 comments)

    One of my favorite personal finance bloggers is Philip Brewer at Wise Bread. He writes long, thoughtful articles about the philosophy of money, not just on tips and tricks to save at the grocery store. Brewer recently posted a piece called “What I’ve Been Trying to Say” that summarizes his philosophy. Explaining why he believes voluntary simplicity can be a great choice for many people, he writes: You can choose how you want to live. If…

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

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

  • 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…

  • The Art of Frugal Living (43 comments)

    Christine just sent me a National Public Radio story about the frugal artists of New York City. Columbia University recently released a study of 213 visual artists over the age of 61. Their average income? $30,000 a year. According to the NPR story: Most of them said they were satisfied with their lives. However, many reported that they also have had to make daily economic compromises. They don’t eat out, buy clothes at flea markets…

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

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

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

    Financial news can be dangerous to the health of your investment portfolio. I spent some time yesterday reading recent articles about the stock market. What I found was mostly hysterical hype (“Gasp! Dow Jones Industrials tumble 400 points!”). All the financial stories seemed to be written as if our investment horizons were days, not years. No wonder people panic when the stock market hits a rocky patch. But do daily market movements — even 400…

  • 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…

  • Ask the Readers: “I’m Doing Well Financially But My Family Is Not” (147 comments)

    Personal finance would be easy if it were only about the numbers. But it’s not. Money management not only requires that we master our own whims and emotions, but that we navigate the sometimes rocky waters of our personal relationships. Rachel wrote looking for help with a stormy situation. What happens when you gain control of your finances but the people around you continue to struggle? Here’s her story: I’m having issues because I’m doing…

  • A Rather Obvious Metaphor for Personal Finance Couched in a True Story About Physical Fitness (8 comments)

    This piece originally appeared at Andrea’s Consultant Journal in a slightly different format. Exercise is a funny thing. When you start a fitness regimen, you feel awful, especially if it’s been months (or years) since you’ve been physically active. The first couple of weeks can be grueling. But once you make it a habit, once you find the groove, exercise can become exhilarating, even addictive. During the summer of 1997, I lost 40 pounds. My…

  • 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…

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

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

  • Seven Traits of Successful People (45 comments)

    This is a guest post from Pinyo, author of Moolanomy, a personal finance blog about money, wealth, investing, and more. Ever wonder why some people can never do wrong? I have been observing successful people around me, and experimenting with different ideas. Here are the seven traits that I’ve found work well for me in many situations. I think they will make you richer and more successful in many ways. Successful people know what they…

  • 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…

  • What’s the Safest Thing I Can Do with My Money? (41 comments)

    “What’s the safest possible thing that I can do with my money?” wonders Afroblanco over at Ask Metafilter: I take bearishness to an extreme. Having witnessed the 2000 tech crash, I have no faith in the stock market or the US economy. I keep all of my money (USD) in a savings account. However, with the recent financial turmoil, I have a few questions: Is it conceivable for the FDIC to fail? If so, is…

  • 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…

  • The Number One Impact on Your Investments is YOU (18 comments)

    This is a guest post from Kent Thune, The Financial Philosopher, who applies timeless wisdom and inspiration to investing, personal finance, and the economy. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” — Reinhold Niebuhr Recent volatility in the financial markets and a weakening US economy have tested the resolve of even the most patient of investors,…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Prepare for Enormous Debt? (74 comments)

    Consumer debt is bad. Buying lots of Stuff on credit cards is a sure path to financial woe. But while some people argue that all debt is bad, most experts agree that certain debts are acceptable (good, even). The two most common examples are mortgage debt and college loans. The average person cannot afford to pay for either of these outright; borrowing money allows one to invest in her future. So what happens if you’ve…

  • 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…

  • Ask the Readers: I’m Not Good With Money — How Should I Handle a Windfall? (76 comments)

    Mitch recently wrote to me with one of the toughest reader questions I’ve seen yet. He lives a paycheck-to-paycheck existence, but will soon be coming into a lot of money. He wants to know what he should do: It is now 11:45pm on 14 January 2008, the day before payday! It’s also about three days before being broke. With no savings and poor credit, I’m living paycheck-to-paycheck. For now, I bring home about $400 a week….

  • Some Thoughts on Making the Transition from Debt to Savings (28 comments)

    One of the most rewarding aspects of writing Get Rich Slowly is sharing success stories and strategies with the readers. In the forums, there’s an entire section devoted to financial success stories. Mostly, though, people share these via e-mail. Travis wrote today to tell me about his transition from debt to savings. Like me, he found it a bit of a challenge. Here’s our e-mail exchange: Travis I was reading about your progress on your…

  • 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…

  • How to Cope with Frugality Burnout (27 comments)

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

  • 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…

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

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

  • 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…

  • The Thrill of Paying Off a Mortgage (80 comments)

    This is a guest-post from Free Money Finance. It’s a follow-up to Mrs. Micah’s post earlier today. A few weeks ago, J.D. and I were chatting when he asked me what it felt like to be debt-free. He’d read on my blog that I had no debt and was curious if I’d write about it for Get Rich Slowly. In particular, he asked me to communicate both how I managed to pay off my mortgage…

  • The Pastoral Lifestyle: A Life Removed from Day-to-Day Concerns (21 comments)

    This is a guest post from Karl Staib. A few months ago, J.D. wrote an interesting review of Voluntary Simplicity, a book dedicated to living a stress-free life. What I found most interesting was not the review, but J.D.’s introduction: For years, one of my goals has been to achieve a “pastoral lifestyle”. This amuses my friends, but it’s true. By “pastoral lifestyle” I mean that I want to create for myself a life that…

  • The Hidden Costs of Stuff (59 comments)

    This is a guest post from Amanda, a Colorado tech writer and an activist for children with congenital heart disease. For a couple of years I’ve been learning the “tips and tricks” to saving money. I’ve read about freezing your credit cards, paying yourself first, the “latte factor,” etc., but the most important thing I’ve learned, I learned from myself: to change the way I live, I had to change the way I think.  …

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

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

  • 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…

  • The Unbranded Kid: Thoughts on Marketing to Children (70 comments)

    Kris and I are childless by choice. We love our friends’ kids, but we’ve elected not to have any of our own. As a result, we’ve never had to face the financial challenges that come with parenting. One topic our friends often discuss is the marketing barrage children face from infancy onward. “Even diapers are branded,” one friend told us recently. “Especially diapers,” said her husband. This is no accident. Marketers know that forging brand…

  • Yardwork and Financial Setbacks: A Metaphor (11 comments)

    A metaphor Kris and I did more yardwork today — it never ends. We wheeled out the chipper and continued to grind away at the branches and the leaves. We spread the resulting mulch at the base of our blueberries and grapes. After about ninety minutes of work, however, disaster struck. Kris was pouring a tub of oak leaves and acorns into the hopper when the chipper ground to a halt. I crossed my fingers…

  • Understanding the Seven Habits of Wealth (38 comments)

    This is a guest post from Dough Roller, a Washington D.C. blogger who writes about building wealth, one dollar at a time. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit. — Aristotle We tend to define our lives by the big events: graduation, marriage, children, a big promotion, retirement. What often gets neglected are the little things we do every day, the little things that make the big…

  • 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…

  • Countrywide and Me: A Real-Life Look at Risk Tolerance (42 comments)

    My month-long experiment with Countrywide Financial is over. As I’ve mentioned before, I keep a small portion of my investment portfolio designated for “fun” trading. That is, trading that is more speculation than investment, the sort of thing most people think of when they consider the stock market. About $80,000 of my retirement accounts are invested in index funds, but I have $1,000 set aside to buy whatever I want. Speculation is NOT investment In…

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

    When you shop, you are manipulated in myriad subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways. Everything from store layout to background music to package design is carefully planned to make you more likely to part with your hard-earned dollars. New Scientist reports that marketers are now learning to “recruit smell for the hard sell“: Scent, marketeers say, is the final frontier in “sensory branding”. Of all our five senses, smell is thought to be the most closely linked…

  • 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…

  • Getting to Now: How to Beat the Procrastination Habit (82 comments)

    I am a procrastinator. I always have been. It’s a character flaw, and I admit it. I’ve tried all sorts of things to beat the habit — Getting Things Done, e-mail reminders, dozens of list systems — but the only thing that seems to work is to: Do it now. This is blindingly obvious, I know, but many people lose sight of this fundamental skill. It’s not that we don’t know that we should do…

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

    A couple of readers have mentioned that they’re nervous about the stock market’s recent volatility. I’ve read similar concerns on other blogs and financial news sites. People are worried that the stock market’s performance over the last month portends an impending bear market, and they don’t know what to do. Reading these concerns reminded me of Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes, which I reviewed last week. In the book, the authors discuss panic…

  • 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 Tyranny of Stuff (103 comments)

    “Did you learn anything in England and Ireland?” a friend asked the other day. I brushed the question aside; I didn’t have a good answer. But I’ve been thinking about it. Maybe I did learn something: being gone for three weeks taught me that I have too much Stuff. I’ve always been a packrat. When I was a boy, I had a closet that my parents called my “rat’s nest”. I stashed anything I could…

  • What I’m Doing Right (140 comments)

    Today’s guest post comes from M, a blogger and writer living in San Francisco. She keeps a fascinating personal blog, as well as Bay Area Love Letters, a site devoted to San Francisco and Northern California. Decide how much to save in an emergency fund…Research how to determine amount of life insurance coverage needed…Brainstorm ways to save on health insurance costs…Increase 401K contributions to take advantage of company match… All these items and more are…

  • You Are Your Own Worst Enemy (108 comments)

    My friend Gillian called the other day — she’s been having money trouble and was looking for help. “I’m not really a financial advisor,” I told her. “I write about money, and I try to help people at my web site, but I’m not qualified to coach you one-on-one.” Still, she’s a friend, so I resolved to at least give her some advice. I asked her to explain the situation. “Tom and I are working…

  • 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…

  • The Problem with the Bank of Mom and Dad (39 comments)

    An anonymous poster at AskMetafilter wonders should parents finance grad school? Should parents help their children pay for grad school if they can afford it? My parents are divorced, but both are in households considered in the top 1% of the US in terms of income and net worth. After limited financial assistance from them during undergrad, I am getting no help at all for grad school. Am I out of line to expect that…

  • 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 (341 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 Perfect is the Enemy of the Good (24 comments)

    “I’m going for a walk,” I announced to Kris at about 10:30 Saturday morning. Though it was cool and rainy, I needed some exercise. It’s been a while since I made my three-mile stroll through the neighborhood. But before I could get out the door, I decided to change into warmer clothes. I went upstairs and rummaged around to find the perfect pair of pants. I sorted through my sweatshirts, looking for my favorite. When…

  • How to Fight the Urge to Splurge (42 comments)

    Today I stopped by the local electronics store to look at microphones and headphones. I didn’t intend to buy anything, but after a half hour browsing I found myself in line holding $170 of gadgets. I had fallen into an old trap: I was about to buy on impulse. Back in my salad days, I was the Master of Impulse Shopping. If I stopped at a store, I left with more than I had intended….

  • Ask the Readers: When Does This All Pay Off? (97 comments)

    Annie is a young woman who seems to be making all of the right moves. She has an emergency fund, she’s saving for retirement, she’s living frugally, and she’s paying off her debt. But she’s beginning to find the lifestyle overwhelming. She wants to know when the payoff comes. (And what should she do in the meantime?) I’m 28, I make $43k per year, and I’ve been putting 9% away in a 401(k) since age…

  • 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…

  • Take Back Your Brain! (4 comments)

    I recently wrote about the insidious power of marketing, about how advertising is used to make you want, need, and buy Thneeds and Zizzer-Zoof Seeds, and all sorts of things you don’t really need. During the past week I’ve found a couple sites that actually advocate advertising. They advocate advertising to yourself! Over the weekend, Lifehacker pointed to an article describing how to make a motivational collage. Yesterday Rock Hymas shared his thoughts on advertising…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Procrastination Can Cost You Money! (26 comments)

    As I was driving home from work yesterday, I passed a police officer. When his car pulled onto the road behind me, I thought nothing of it: my vehicle is in good repair and I was obeying the traffic laws. In fact, when the police officer activated his flashing lights, I pulled to the side fully expecting him to whiz by me on the way to some emergency. He didn’t. He, too, pulled to the…

  • 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…

  • Facing and Fighting Financial Trolls (18 comments)

    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 will improve your finances. To this end, it’s important to avoid negative messages about money. It’s difficult to improve your mental attitude when you’re besieged by financial trolls. What are financial trolls? In a recent article, Steve Pavlina…

  • 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…