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  • I want Christmas to be debt-free (67 comments)

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

  • Act surprised: Your wedding ring is a terrible investment (95 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Divorce. It’s an unattractive yet common end to a relatively high percentage of marriages in the U.S. In fact, as many as 50 percent of American marriages end this way, often leaving catastrophic personal and financial consequences that linger for years. The division of assets. Alimony. Child Custody Issues. Who gets the Stuff? These are all things that must be dealt with during and after a divorce, whether…

  • Eating healthy on a slim budget (72 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. I spend almost as much on groceries as I do on my mortgage. Now, before you spit your coffee all over your keyboard, you should know that my mortgage is pretty low, lower than what some of my friends pay in rent. And for me, “groceries” includes all of the extras one buys at grocery stores, like paper towels and soap and the latest issue of the…

  • Ask the Readers: What’s your embarrassing money moment? (49 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. A few weeks ago, I had an embarrassing money moment. I was in a checkout lane. The cashier had just scanned several heavy boxes that held my to-be-assembled bookshelf, and my debit card was declined. Being declined while in the checkout line is one of those little anxieties that I can’t seem to shake, even though it’s only happened to me twice and both times were issues…

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

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

  • Cutting grocery bills: Aldi and bulk-food stores (66 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. No matter what I do, we’re still spending more on food each month than I want to be spending. Two of my weapons in the battle to lower my food bill that I haven’t talked about yet are Aldi and bulk-food stores. One thing I don’t like to do is stop at several different stores, so I don’t shop at all stores every week, or even every two weeks….

  • Food spending: When bad habits attack (94 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. In 2010, my husband and I were pregnant with our second child. And although we were making plenty of money, we were burning through all we made at lightning speed. Yep, we were wasting it. In fact, we were spending money we didn’t even have by financing cars, miscellaneous purchases, and trips. And, even though we had a baby on the way and two rental properties, we didn’t have…

  • The costs of Christmas past (10 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. One of my favorite holiday memories comes from my very early childhood. At that time we lived in a very rural area of a very rural state. On Christmas Eve, we went to the town hall for a meeting (because our town was so small that everyone could fit in the town hall). I don’t remember much about the program, but near the end, the sound of…

  • How to avoid binge-shopping (62 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. It seems contradictory, but I love being frugal and I also love spending money. Over the last few years, however, my love of frugality has outweighed my love of spending — and it’s been good for my savings. Yes, it’s OK to spend money sometimes. If you have it, and you’re comfortable with your present and future finances, by all means, spend away. But a lot of…

  • How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love to Bargain (35 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. “My family’s coming over for Thanksgiving,” I told Kim last week. “Really?” she said. “Where are they going to sit?” Good point. When I moved in, my condo was sparsely furnished. In the divorce, I took a handful of items that were clearly mine — a couch, a chair, a liquor…

  • Buy Nothing Year: Changing how we spend (16 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Julie Phillips was planning to move into a new apartment when a massive flood in Alberta damaged her would-be building. Suddenly, she found herself displaced. “The reason I wanted to move is I wanted to save on rent,” Julie says. “I wanted to save more, I wanted to live with another person. I wanted that camaraderie.” After searching extensively, Julie grew discouraged. “I was eating a chocolate…

  • The day my dishwasher died (78 comments)

    This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. After a year off, J.D. is once again writing here at GRS. His non-financial writing can still be found at More Than Money. When I bought my condo in February, one of the things that impressed me about the place was the built-in shiny silver kitchen appliances. They were all so fancy and fun! My parents always had cheap appliances. When Kris…

  • 6 ways to lower your home insurance (31 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. As a new homeowner, I recently had to buy a homeowners insurance policy. And as a personal finance writer, I tried to take my own advice and “shop around.” To be honest, it was a pain, and the rates I was getting on my own were way too high. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if I wasn’t also trying to close on a house. In the end, I…

  • Why I plan on driving my car into the ground (147 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Kristin Wong. Over the weekend, a friend and I were enjoying a couple of beers in my neighborhood. As we sat outside people watching, he drooled over every fancy car that drove by. “That’s a whatever-whatever,” he would tell me. “It costs $100,000.” I live in Los Angeles, where these symbols of affluence are common. “I can’t help it,” I told him. “All I can think of when I…

  • Insurance: An easier way to comparison shop (32 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. I had procrastinated until I could procrastinate no longer. I was in the middle of buying a house, and one of the many, many things on my ever-growing to-do list was to find a home insurance policy. My auto insurance policy also was up for renewal, and so I hoped to get a decent discount by buying both policies from one company. But the idea of having…

  • Spending in depth: The hair care budget (196 comments)

    When I started this journey on GRS, I included hair care in my category of irregular expenses. At that time, I estimated that I spent about $600 per year on service and $300 per year on product. However, I thought that since the year is over it was time to visit that category in depth and see what I am really spending so I can assess these costs, much like I did with the bagel…

  • Ask the Readers: Will you spend $130 on Valentine’s Day this year? or Stop laughing and tell us your plans for Valentine’s Day (66 comments)

    This short post is from personal finance writer Gwendolyn Pearce, who last wrote about no-money fun. According to the National Retail Federation, the average person is planning to spend $130.97 this Valentine’s Day. If you’re a male in love, that number jumps to $175.61. Females, however, are only projected to spend $88.78. The NRF’s report forecasts that consumers are playing down Valentine’s Day this year by only spending $18.6 billion. (It made me curious what…

  • Knowing when to be a squeaky wheel (100 comments)

    A few months ago, I decided that I needed new furniture. I didn’t want new furniture. My 3-year-old couch and loveseat were in great condition. On the other hand, I began to realize that I had once again been blurring the lines between being cheap and being frugal. Although my furniture looked nice, it was completely uncomfortable for my back. As someone who has had two spinal fusions, I must be very picky about where…

  • Battle of the toy bulge (102 comments)

    By now, most families have taken down their trees and house lights. And if you’re like me and live in the Midwest, you might be counting down the days until the first signs of spring. A new year of goals, hopes and beginnings has begun… Meanwhile, a battle is taking place in many homes. Many people with children, like me, are finding that they have been overrun by an absurd number of new toys and…

  • Resisting the holiday spending trap (73 comments)

    Every year, I fail to really account for the cost of Christmas. “A few hundred dollars,” I think, for gifts, and then by the first few days of December I’ve bought several pounds of butter, and lots of my favorite seasonal chocolate, and the big size of maple syrup because I’ll be baking and pancake-making a lot this winter. And suddenly I’ve already spent a few hundred dollars, and not a gift among them. And…

  • Lowering expectations for Christmas (175 comments)

    This post is from new GRS staff writer Holly Johnson. Holly is a 32-year-old wife, mother of two, and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She blogs about saving money, frugal habits, and whatever is on her mind at ClubThrifty.com. Personally, I begin to panic every year as the holiday season approaches. It’s not because I don’t love Christmas. I really do love the holiday season, in general. I just cringe at the thought of all of the…

  • 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…

  • Want to avoid Black Friday madness? Just fill out this application… (48 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Last week, Target announced that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, shoppers can get exclusive access to 20 deals on Target.com. But there’s a catch. In exchange for sneak peeks and early access, you have to pledge your loyalty to the big box retailer — in the form of signing up for a Target REDcard. Of course, you get more than just early access. The Target REDcard also comes with…

  • Bid for savings at an auction (48 comments)

    This is a guest post from Matt Ainslie. He is a reference librarian and auction  animal. His interests include blacksmithing, learning new obscure facts and saving money. He lives with his wife and children in Philadelphia. Some months back I was at an auction, and was chatting with the auctioneer. I asked how things were going. “All right,” he said, “but we’re having trouble getting people out here, some days.” “I would think you’d be…

  • Ask the Readers: Should you comment on a friend’s overspending? (114 comments)

    This post is from Ollie Geiger, a personal finance writer who contributes to MoneyRates.com. My wife has a friend who likes to talk about how broke she is. This friend – let’s call her “Amber,” since that’s her real name – is fond of complaining about the dire state of her finances each month, even though her income is higher than many of our mutual friends. But here’s the rub in Amber’s complaints: She is…

  • Are you a compulsive spender? (15 comments)

    Following up on Kristin’s post this morning, we thought we’d share this infographic about compulsive spending, which came from MoneyRates.com. Courtesy of: MoneyRates.com

  • 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…

  • Why I hate consumer contracts (63 comments)

    A problematic prepay I was going over my old files the other day and found a bill for “Sunrocket,” a long-defunct Internet phone company that charged me $244 for a year’s worth of service and proceeded to close shop a couple of weeks later. They just disconnected service and stopped answering the phones. No message, no warning, nothing. I was literally robbed, but luckily I had paid with a bank card, so I initiated a…

  • The Value of an $8 Little Black Dress (123 comments)

    This is a guest post from Lucy Lazarony, a freelance writer based in Florida. You know that wardrobe staple that every woman is supposed to have? The little black dress? Well, I’ve finally got mine! And I found mine on the sales rack at Target. The price $7.58! The regular retail price was $29. The dress from Target’s own Merona brand is washable so there is no expensive dry cleaning needed. And I live in…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Maximize Store Loyalty Cards? (58 comments)

    Today’s “Ask the Readers” comes to Get Rich Slowly from Luke Landes, founder of Consumerism Commentary. Retailers are eager to turn their customers into raving fans, and business owners, whether proprietors of the local delicatessen or CEOs of multinational corporations, will do whatever it takes to bring shoppers back into the store. Customer loyalty is a prized asset, and companies are finding more sophisticated methods of tailoring their specials to the needs of each shopper….

  • Which is Cheaper: In the Kitchen (87 comments)

    Until the end of this week, we’re 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 long-time GRS reader Sarah Greesonbach. Her first audition piece was about surviving student loans. Here at GRS, we’ve…

  • Sheet Dreams: How to Shop for Bed Sheets (97 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 Lisa Aberle, who promises she could contribute stories on DIY projects and rural living. After finding holes…

  • How to Buy Quality Furniture (61 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 Karawynn Long, who writes about personal finance at Pocketmint. It’s an article she originally shared at GRS…

  • Ask the Readers: Items Worth the Extra Money? (171 comments)

    From time to time, I get queries from reporters asking me to comment on particular personal finance topics. I do my best to help these folks, especially when they ask something interesting. Recently, Katie from CNBC dropped me a line with a question that actually stumped me: For which things should people be willing to spend extra money? Here’s an edited version of her e-mail: I’m working on a piece for our personal finance section…

  • How to Buy Brand Name Items at Generic Brand Prices (42 comments)

    This is a guest post from Halina Zakowicz of Your Money and Debt. Like many of you, I’m always looking to save money on brand name items. Aside from drug prescriptions, generics have just never quite “done it” for me — the generic soda I bought went gone flat in hours, the generic toilet paper I’ve purchased has either shred in my hands or never come off the roll, and the generic snack items I’ve…

  • How I Stopped Excessive Gifting (117 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Tim Sullivan. Most of us struggle with some psychological aspect of money that can impede our savings. Whether it be the lure of clothing stores, nights out with friends, or stocking a top-shelf liquor cabinet, there tends to be one thing or another that creeps from our wants category into our needs. I’ve never been a compulsive shopper and always preferred voluntary simplicity, both in the kitchen and in…

  • Shopping for the Sake of Shopping (85 comments)

    When I was a boy, my family had a series of dogs: a Saint Bernard, a Shih Tzu, a Golden Retriever and a whole host of mutts. Because dogs will be dogs, and because we lived in the country far from anything, our dogs would sometimes begin barking…and continue barking for minutes. Or hours. When this happened, my dad would shake his head and say, “That dog is barking for the sake of barking.” Barking…

  • How Retailers Manipulate Consumers (90 comments)

    In the past, I’ve written several times about the insidious power of marketing. In 2007, I shared a guest post from Malcolm Gladwell on the same subject. My thesis is this: A lot of people like to believe they’re immune to advertising and marketing; a lot of people are wrong. In fact, I suspect (although I have no hard evidence) that those who are most adamant that marketing doesn’t affect them are probably the most…

  • 8 Questions to Help You Save More (63 comments)

    This is a guest post by Fiona Lippey. Fiona is the author of the bestselling book The $21 Challenge and founder of Australia’s largest frugal website, SimpleSavings.net. If you want to save money, and I mean really save money, then you’re going to have to stop buying Stuff. You have reduce the amount you consume. Today I want to share the system I’ve been using for the last 15 years to reduce my spending and…

  • Finding the Perfect Gift (52 comments)

    If you’re like me, you’re still not finished with your Christmas shopping. It’s true that Kris and I are big believers in home-made gifts, and it’s also true that my family only exchanges inexpensive Christmas presents, but there are still a handful of gifts I like to shop for. And every year, I put this shopping off until the last minute. Part of the problem is that I want to find the perfect thing for…

  • Consumers Bear the Risk with Gift Cards (61 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. The chaotic holiday shopping season is in full swing, but many of us are still scratching our heads about what to get for some of the loved ones on our “nice” list. Sometimes it’s hard to think of something heartfelt for the person who has everything or who has tastes completely opposite your own. In those situations, a gift card might be a great solution — you…

  • Avoiding Competitive Shopping For Fun and Profit (79 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Sarah Gilbert. As a personal finance writer and editor, I have watched many a Black Friday with a mix of fascination and horror. For some of those years, I was involved in the packaging of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as AOL ad sales people pushed us to develop a series of posts, videos, and photo galleries leading up to and culminating in the event, including one year when…

  • Black Friday by the Numbers (24 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman, who baked without using flour — and liked it. Are you reading this while standing in line at your local big box store? Or are you celebrating Buy Nothing Day and hunkering down for a relaxing day of leftovers and football? Either way, you might be interested in a few facts about this day, the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S. that we call Black Friday. Here’s…

  • Ask the Readers: Black Friday Shopping Secrets? (98 comments)

    With Thanksgiving less than a week away, the holiday shopping season is about to move into high gear. In the past, I’ve consciously steered clear of holiday shopping, and especially of Black Friday. I’m not fond of the frenzied zeal with which Americans spend their money at this time of the year. For more than a decade, I’ve elected to observe Buy Nothing Day. I choose not to spend a single penny on the day…

  • Beating the Single-Shopper Penalty (81 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. Single and/or living in a small space? Bet you’re good and sick of the Song of the Palletizers – that self-satisfied croon from folks who belong to warehouse clubs. Look how little I paid for this pallet of canned goods/toilet paper/sweat socks! My pantry looks like…

  • Cashing in on Craigslist: How I’ve Saved Thousands of Dollars Buying Used (77 comments)

    In August, I wrote about Ryan Finlay, who makes a living through Craigslist arbitrage. Many readers wanted to hear more about how Ryan uses Craigslist to make and save money. In this guest post, Ryan explains how to use Craigslist to save money on high-ticket items like appliances and furniture. If there’s enough interest, he may share more Craigslist tips in the future. Meanwhile, be sure to check out his new site: ReCraigslist.com. “A penny…

  • 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…

  • Halloween Spending: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid (104 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman, who recently wrote about the wonders of goat-milk caramel. Recently staff writer Sierra Black wrote about ways to get financially prepared for the holiday season. By thinking about savings and gift preparations now, you can avoid a shocker of a credit card bill after the new year. But if you think post-holiday bank statements are scary, maybe you should start planning for Halloween expenses, too. Yes, you…

  • A Minor Mistake: Shopping While Hungry (87 comments)

    I often write that I still make financial mistakes, but it occurs to me that I don’t share them here as much as I once did. After April’s story earlier this week about the cost of healthy food, now seems like a good time to share a mistake I made on Tuesday. Generally, I work out in the morning. I get up at 5:15 and am at the gym for the 6:30 Crossfit class. On…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Do You Spend on Clothes? (340 comments)

    The “Ask the Readers” feature is well-loved here at Get Rich Slowly, but by far the most popular question I’ve ever asked came at the end of July. “How much do you spend on food?” I wondered, and GRS readers posted 367 comments sharing their buying habits and the costs in their cities (and countries). Several readers sent me e-mail after this question asking for more. “You should do a whole series of questions like…

  • Drugstore Price Comparison: Online vs. In-store (46 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman, who recently wrote about her desperate attempt to find authentic tacos al pastor in Austin, Texas. I used to buy most of my drugstore items online. One reason was convenience — I typically have to go to two or three stores to find everything I use, especially since I favor earth- and people-friendly personal care items. But health food stores don’t always carry other basics we use,…

  • Dissatisfied Customer? Make an Effective Complaint (41 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman, who recently wrote about how pineapple pops can prevent heatstroke. I’ve often heard that there are two kinds of customers, those who will complain and those who won’t. The ones who complain are better for a company because they’re more likely to stick around if the company can successfully resolve their issue. The customer who doesn’t complain, on the other hand, is more likely to quietly go…

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

    This guest post from Alice is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. Over the years on GRS, I’ve encountered a number of articles on the benefits of geographic arbitrage, which basically means making your money in…

  • Frugal Back-to-School Shopping (115 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money. She also writes about frugality, intentional living, and life in general at her own blog, Surviving And Thriving. According to the National Retail Federation, we’ll spend $68.8 billion outfitting our students for school this year. Yes, I said $68.8 billion. Sounds like a lot of money, right? But the NRF actually considers this “flat.” More than 80%…

  • Discounted Gift Cards: The New Coupon (49 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money. She also writes about frugality, intentional living, and life in general at her own blog, Surviving And Thriving. I’m currently house-sitting in Anchorage, where one of my duties will be kid-wrangling while my niece does the Alaska Run for Women. The first order of the day: Breakfast at IHOP, my treat — and at 8% less because…

  • Ask the Readers: But What If I *AM* Materialistic? (225 comments)

    I’ve received a lot of interesting out-of-the-ordinary questions from GRS readers recently. Two weeks ago, for instance, Rita asked about the moral implications of spending. This week, Crystal wants to know: What if she is materialistic? Is that wrong? If so, how can she change? Here’s what she has to say: I’ve read your blog for a while now, and it always inspires me, but I stop just short of embracing the frugal lifestyle. Why?…

  • Becoming a Groupon Groupie (86 comments)

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

  • Tax Prep Costs: How Much Will It Cost to Get Your Taxes Done? (80 comments)

    This is a guest post from Richard Barrington, a freelance writer and novelist who spent over 20 years as an investment industry executive. Barrington is a regular contributor at MoneyRates. Previously at GRS, he shared how to find the right CD or money-market account and tips for sound saving and investing. Note: See the 2012 Version of this article at 2012 Tax Prep Costs. Tax season is in full swing income tax bracket. In fact,…

  • Gaming Without Breaking the Bank (59 comments)

    Though J.D.’s back on the blog, he’s still a bit behind — so much e-mail! — so here’s a guest-post from Tim Ellis, who writes Seattle Bubble when he isn’t glued to a screen, zoned out on video games. You can find him playing as “TH3 T1M” on Xbox Live and on PSN. I’ve been an avid gamer ever since I bought my first Nintendo Entertainment System when I was ten. Today I have a…

  • 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…

  • Fight Rising Prices by Building Your Own Food Bank (102 comments)

    This post is from new GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Living With Less personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food prices are expected to rise as much as 5.5% in 2011. Those prices aren’t likely to go back down. So why not invest in food futures, i.e., your own pantry? Put it this way:…

  • Women and Money: Slaying Stereotypes and Facing Reality (76 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Do women need specialized personal-finance resources specific to our gender? That’s what some financial advice books seem to imply. Slate writer Hannah Seligson points out that bookseller Amazon.com has a “money management for women” category, but no category specifically for men. Some of the cheekier titles in the category include: Shoo, Jimmy Choo!: The Modern Girl’s Guide to Spending Less and Saving More Does This Make My…

  • A Non-Consumer Christmas: Simple Gifts for Kids and Grown-Ups (48 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. Not sure what to buy for your loved ones this year? Still singing the recession blues? Consider buying nothing at all. I didn’t buy anything on Black Friday, I didn’t buy anything today, and I won’t tomorrow. This holiday season, I won’t be going near a mall. Under our tree, there will…

  • Reader Story: My Year Without Clothes Shopping (69 comments)

    This guest post from Jill Chivers 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. Hi. My name is Jill, and I’m a recovering shopaholic. On 15 December 2009, I started a challenge to spend a year without…

  • Ask the Readers: Is It Okay to Buy a Christmas Gift from a Thrift Store? (169 comments)

    The holiday season can test a frugal person’s patience: There are so many temptations to spend. Sure, we all want to enjoy the festive nature this time of year, but where do you draw the line? And how fugal is too frugal? Michelle wrote with a terrific question. She has the sort of dilemma I can picture myself facing. Here’s her story: Like you, I am a big proponent of thrift store shopping. It saves…

  • Christmas Gifts That Make a Difference (63 comments)

    This is the first post from new GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Living With Less personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality, intentional living and lifeitsownself at Surviving And Thriving. Grandma probably doesn’t want another scented candle, but she could very well use a ride to the store. Your underemployed nephew would likely prefer a little help filling the pantry instead of a jokey T-shirt. And the sister who’s…

  • Wine on a Budget: How to Get Good Deals on Wine (72 comments)

    The holiday season is upon us, the time of year for family, friends, food — and wine. Yes, it’s true, I associate the holidays with alcohol. It never used to be this way (probably because I didn’t drink), but for the past five years, I’ve spent late November stocking our wine rack. There are several reasons for this: From mid-November to mid-January, the local supermarkets have huge wine sales. Every winter, Consumer Reports lists holiday…

  • Reader Story: Inexpensive Gift Ideas for Christmas (and Beyond!) (40 comments)

    This guest post from Shelley Turner 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. They’re coming! Like it or not, the holidays — and all the stress of buying the Perfect Gift — are just around the…

  • The Coming of the Shopocalypse (91 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Brace yourselves — the Christmas-shopping season is upon us. In fact, it’s been upon us since October at least, when I saw an early-bird Christmas shopper guide for the “it” gifts in 2010. Is it just me, or does the chaos seem to start earlier each year? Last night I was browsing the list of Netflix “watch instantly” movies, and I saw one produced by Morgan Spurlock…

  • Budget-Friendly Decorating Tips (26 comments)

    In April, Rebecca shared a guest post about how she generates extra income by letting strangers pay her rent. She has homes in Portland, Oregon and New York City. When she’s in one city, she rents out her place in the other. By doing this, she’s able to subsidize her housing payments. Rebecca’s full of good advice. Soon after sharing her story, she also entered the Get Rich Slowly video contest. In her two-minute video,…

  • 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…

  • Shopping with Confidence, and the Clean Slate (69 comments)

    “Does this shirt make me look fat?” I asked Kris the other day. I was trying on clothes as I packed for our upcoming vacation in France and Italy. I want to limit myself to just four or five shirts for the trip. (Truly light packers would probably only take two shirts.) “Well,” Kris said. “It’s not that the shirt makes you look fat. It’s just way too big on you. It looks like a…

  • Are Discounts Coming for Paying in Cash? (64 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. A couple of weeks ago, J.D. highlighted research that showed that rewards cards cost the poor (in higher prices overall) and benefit the rich (who are more likely to use the cards). But what if retailers offered you a discount if you paid in cash? It might not be so far-fetched. In Will Financial Reform Kill the Rewards Card?, Brett Arends writes that a provision in…

  • Why I Buy Local (171 comments)

    Kris and I live in a small, quiet neighborhood south of Portland. When the trolley line ran through here — between 1893 and 1959 — Oak Grove was actually thriving community, with shops and stores and more. (It’s true! I’ve seen pictures!) Now, though, downtown Oak Grove, such as it is, consists of a convenience store, a hair salon, a joint once named “the best dive bar in Portland” — and the home office of…

  • Stopping Shopping Momentum (35 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. Shopping momentum is the bane of many budgets. You may have a good grip on your money most of the time, but once you’ve opened up your wallet to make one purchase, it’s easy to just keep spending. People sometimes experience shopping momentum during times of stress or transition: when they’re traveling,…

  • Reader Story: How I Save Tons of Money by Grocery Shopping Once Every Three Months (99 comments)

    This guest post from Jenny Sandman 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. Jenny blogs about frugal gourmet cooking at Broke Foodie. When my husband and I got engaged, we knew we were going to foot…

  • Save Money on Shipping with Free Boxes from USPS (55 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker previously featured an article on his own blog entitled “How I paid off $15,000 in 9 months by selling my Stuff on Ebay“. There I was, bustling around the kitchen making lunch for my daughter when our late morning routine was interrupted:Boom! Boom! Boom! Milligan and I glanced toward the front door where the thunderous pounding had originated. “Holy cow!” I thought to myself, “There are…

  • Take Only Photographs: Frugal Souvenirs (82 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. Travel is a gift. We get to see new places and cultures, meet new people, and expand our lives. Most of us, when we’ve put the time and money into traveling somewhere special, want to treasure the memories. There’s a large industry to support that desire. Gift and souvenir shops in the…

  • What Should You Buy Used? What Should You Buy New? (143 comments)

    Though the Get Rich Slowly community has expanded in the past couple of years, there are still a few folks who have been around since the beginning. It’s always a pleasure when one of them drops me a line. Last week, Vintek — who contributed this introduction to mutual funds nearly four years ago — sent me an e-mail to let me know how he’s doing, and to share a recent article he liked. My…

  • Extreme Personal Finance: Eating Well on One Dollar a Day (74 comments)

    Last Thursday, Ron Lieber (who writes the “Your Money” column for The New York Times) posted an innocuous little tweet: This person will have book deal & Today show slot in 5 minutes. RT @marypilon Personal finance blogger eats on $1/day. http://bit.ly/aeGlmC To translate into plain English, Jeffrey from the Grocery Coupon Guide blog undertook a little experiment last month. In response to a challenge from his sister he “ate well” on just a buck…

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

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

  • Searching for the Cheapest Airfare: Is There a Silver Bullet? (56 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation in Alaska. This guest post by G.E. Miller gives a real-life example of trying to find the cheapest airfare online. For more from G.E., check out 20somethingfinance.com, where he covers personal-finance matters for young professionals. At one time or another, we’ve all been a day late and a few air miles short when purchasing a plane ticket. So we turn to the internet. But with all the bargain travel sites out…

  • Busting the Myths: Why Coupons Are a Valuable Part of Your Financial Arsenal (112 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation in Alaska. This is a guest post from Tara Kuczykowski, who is introducing the basics of couponing to a new generation of coupon clippers through her money-saving blog, Deal-Seeking Mom. Tara is teaching readers across the U.S. how to stretch their budgets in order to make room for occasional splurges. Living the good life while spending less is possible with just a little effort! I was a deal seeker long before…

  • The Savvy Shopper’s Guide to the Farmers’ Market (48 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Shopping at a farmers’ market is a great way to eat healthier and support local agriculture, but if you’ve ever been to one, you know that the food isn’t cheap. When you’re used to fairly inexpensive tomatoes from the supermarket, the price of locally-grown, heirloom tomatoes can be a bit of a shock, leading some consumers to wonder what makes the market tomatoes so much pricier….

  • Save Money by Reducing Subscriptions and Avoiding Long-Term Contracts (48 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. On his own blog, Baker recently shared his 26 life lessons learned in 26 years of living. In continuing celebration of Financial Literacy Month, my GRS contributions throughout April are covering basic techniques to raise your financial awareness. We’ve previously touched on the topics of debt and income. Today we’ll tackle two of my favorite tips for ensuring conscious spending. Purge your subscriptions Subscriptions, even small ones,…

  • If You’re Going to Buy a Warranty, Shop Around (70 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. I’m writing this post on my brand new MacBook, which I just purchased yesterday. I can honestly say I’ve never been less excited to buy a computer. The reason for my ambivalence is that I already bought this laptop four months ago, replacing a seven-year-old “little iBook that could.” But two weeks ago a water bottle (that I thought was closed) toppled over, splashing water on…

  • The Perils and Pangs of a Pricey Purchase (95 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. I must begin this tale of consumer conflict — both internal and external — with four caveats: I’m on the other side of 40, gaining weight, out of shape, and from a family with…

  • Online Tools for Mindful Consumerism (29 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. For many people, mindful consumerism starts with questioning the desire to buy Stuff. The reason might be to save money or avoid clutter — maybe both. It’s the first part of a journey to differentiate needs from wants and make mindful decisions about where to spend our hard-earned money. But at some point, most of us will consume. We’ll buy food or clothing or household items….

  • The Best Time to Buy Almost Everything (76 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. My mom has a sixth sense when it comes to bargain hunting. Where I’m thrilled to get 25 percent off and free shipping, she’s finding deals of 70 percent off and getting inside scoop from the salespeople, who probably have her on speed dial should a ginormous everything-must-go-or-we-torch-it clearance sale come along. Okay, so I’m exaggerating, but not by much. The point, however, is that the…

  • Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous…on Lease (184 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Most of us, at one time or another, have seen a photo of a celebrity with an “it” bag, even if just in tabloids at the supermarket check-out. Most of the time they are over-sized totes, logo prominently displayed, on the arm of an actress or pop star. (Sometimes I wonder if the tinier celebrities could, in fact, fit inside their own handbag.) And as ridiculous…

  • Ask the Readers: Do You Buy Christmas Gifts For Your Spouse? (165 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker recently listed the Top 10 Money Movies of the Decade. At this point, I hope you’ve done most of your Christmas shopping (and/or making). Only the brave or the foolish have yet to form a holiday shopping plan of attack. *looks around* Alright, so I have a minor confession to make: Courtney and I don’t buy gifts for each other. To put it more bluntly, we just…

  • Comics and Cons: Adventures on eBay (58 comments)

    If you follow me on Twitter, you know that between writing chapters for Your Money: The Missing Manual I’ve been wrestling with eBay “customer service”. Note the quotes. It’s difficult to tell the full story in 140-character chunks, though. Since Robert started the day with a post about his adventures on Craigslist, let’s end it with with one about my adventures on eBay. I’ve been using eBay since September 1998. I’ve bought and sold items…

  • 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…

  • The Anti-Stuff Holiday Gift Guide (84 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. For the past couple of years, my husband and I have not exchanged traditional, wrapped-and-Christmas-bowed gifts. Instead, we plan an experience. We started our anti-Stuff celebrations because neither of us could think of a gift we truly wanted. Then we’d each be scrambling to think of something, anything, since not giving a box with a bow was unacceptable. This way, the pressure is off, and we create memories…

  • The Regrets of Christmas Past (79 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the advisor for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. Every summer, my wife and I cull our closets for stuff we and our kids no longer use. This is followed by a yard sale (complete with the obligatory lemonade stand from our kids),…

  • Large Amounts Matter Too (45 comments)

    This article is the sixth of a fourteen-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. Last winter, Kris and I re-financed our mortgage. In one fell swoop, we trimmed our monthly payments for principal and interest from $1386.60 to $1137.69, boosting our cash flow by $248.91 per month. If we had consumer debt, that’s $248.91 per month we have could used for our debt snowball. It’s $248.91 per month we could stick…

  • The Pitfalls of Buying in Bulk (75 comments)

    This is a guest post from Sierra Black, a long-time GRS reader and the author of ChildWild, a blog where she writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale. Previously at Get Rich Slowly, Black told us about sweating the big stuff. Buying in bulk is great, right? You get the things you want and need, and pay less for them. As an added bonus, you don’t have to shop as…

  • 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…

  • How to Stop Buying Clothes You Never Wear (110 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. A couple of years ago, I had a Great Closet Clean-Out. My clothing racks and drawers were overflowing at the time, and some of it still had price tags. Hoping to accomplish that European knack for owning less and looking better, I donated, consigned, and gave away about 75 percent of my wardrobe. Today it’s 100 times more functional. These are the best tips I picked…

  • Furniture Shopping Secrets: How to Tell Superior from Shoddy (53 comments)

    This is a guest post from Karawynn Long, who writes about personal finance at Pocketmint. Karawynn is a semi-regular contributor for Get Rich Slowly. She has been blogging since before “blogging” was a word. Here at the Koke-Long house we’re in the market for some furniture. Our living room is currently semi-furnished with a comfortable but deteriorating Ikea couch and some leftover dining chairs; we’d like a nice armchair or two and some tables. I’ve…

  • Slash Your Grocery Bill With Store-Brand Products (136 comments)

    The October 2009 issue of Consumer Reports contains an article extolling the virtues of generic store-brand products. While shoppers used to sacrifice quality when choosing generic, that’s no longer the case. From the article: If concern about taste has kept you from trying store-brand foods, hesitate no more. In blind tests, our trained tasters compared a big national brand with a store brand in 29 food categories. Store and national brands tasted about equally good…

  • The Personal Finance Hour, Episode 20: Spending Smart with Greg Karp (7 comments)

    On this week’s installment of The Personal Finance Hour, Jim and I spent the hour talking with nationally-syndicated financial columnist Greg Karp. Greg is the author of The 1-2-3 Money Plan, which I reviewed last week. We had a wide-ranging conversation about spending smart. Spending Smart One of Karp’s mottos is, “You can’t outearn dumb spending.” Some people believe they can always just earn more money to sustain their lifetyle — but their lifestyle often…

  • Should You Buy It? A Flowchart for Evaluating Potential Purchases (69 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. My husband and I are in the process of building a home on 4.5 acres in the Texas hill country. At the moment, we’re still in the planning phase — not quite ready for blueprints. Last month, our architect asked us to start thinking about the make and model of the kitchen appliances we want for our home. Visions of sleek, Thermador cooktops and double ovens danced…

  • How to Shop at an Estate Sale (38 comments)

    At 10am yesterday morning, Kris and I climbed into the Mini Cooper and to head for the county fair. We’d only been driving for a few minutes when Kris pointed at a sign. “Look! An estate sale,” she said. “Let’s stop.” Kris and I like estate sales better than garage sales because they usually feature nearly everything a person has ever owned — not just the cast-offs. Family members have generally pulled the plum pieces,…

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

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

  • 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…

  • A Visit to the Island of Misfit Foods (84 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. Karawynn has been blogging since before “blogging” was a word. About a mile from my house there’s a slightly shabby strip mall housing a Dollar Store, a Ross Dress for Less, and something called a ‘Grocery Outlet’. For two years I’ve driven past that sign — on my way to Costco,…

  • Saving Money on Everyday Stuff (19 comments)

    I haven’t made the time to piece together a “links roundup” lately, which is too bad. I’ve collected a lot of articles worth mentioning, even if they don’t merit full posts of their own. I try to share many of these stories on Twitter, but I’ve collected three that deserve special attention. They’re each packed with money-saving ideas for everyday shopping. Real Simple’s “Save on Everyday Stuff” Last week, Real Simple published a collection of…

  • Buying Food: Grocery Shopping Tips from 1950 (51 comments)

    The American housewife! Who has a more important or more responsible occupation? Wife, mother, laundress, counselor, maid, chef, purchasing agent. All of these are her duties at one time or another. So begins Buying Food, a home economics film from 1950. Buying Food is fascinating not just for its shopping tips, but also for the inside look at a grocery store from 60 years ago. (Self-service grocery stores were introduced in 1916 and grew in…

  • Impulse Spending: The Present and the Past (56 comments)

    I had a wave of nostalgia on Friday. My brother called to tell me that there was a problem with the computer network at the box factory. Though I no longer work for the family business, I’m still the company’s computer guy. So, I drove out to the office, tinkered with the network, and ended up having to make a run to Fry’s Electronics to pick up some parts. Not so long ago, Fry’s was…

  • How to Buy a Mattress (140 comments)

    After my post about mattress shopping the other day, Garrison contacted me. “My home just flooded and due to renters insurance I was thrown into the market for a new mattress,” he said. “I called up my long-time best friend whose entire family is in the mattress business. I used his advice in my purchase and I’ve been completely satisfied.” Here’s what Garrison’s friend, Justin, had to say. I’ve written a lot here to help…

  • Preparing to Shop for a New Mattress (113 comments)

    On Monday, I mentioned that Kris and I are ready to replace our 15-year-old mattress. I don’t sleep well on it, though I sleep fine on other mattresses. I only mentioned this to illustrate a point, but I was surprised at how many readers commented on my situation. Jason’s comment was typical: I’ve found that sleep is the absolute root of everything. With decent sleep, I’m a better man, father, athlete, spouse, employee and all…

  • A Day at the Community Garage Sale (32 comments)

    Kris and I had a l-o-n-g day today. We rose early and drove to one of Portland’s nicest neighborhoods for the 24th annual Eastmoreland Garage Sale. Officially, there were 141 families hawking their Stuff. Unofficially, there were well over 200. For seven hours, Kris and I walked up and down the quiet residential streets — not so quiet today, as they bustled with a carnival-like atmosphere. (This year, there were plenty of people playing Michael…

  • How to Save Money on Food: Great Tips from Three Years of Get Rich Slowly (35 comments)

    While driving to our monthly book group discussion on Saturday, Kris and I had a conversation with our friend Courtney. Courtney’s family is beginning to feel a financial squeeze. Her husband’s employer is cutting jobs. To keep working, he’ll have to take a pay cut and move back to the position he left a couple of years ago. “I’ve started to read personal finance books,” Courtney told us. “We know we’re going to have to…

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

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

  • 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…

  • Product Specifications Influence Consumer Preference (35 comments)

    When you make a major purchase, how do you choose between competing products? Do you buy solely on price? Or do you consider features, quality, and brand reputation? A new study in the April 2009 issue of Journal of Consumer Research reveals that our purchasing decisions are susceptible to the influence of external descriptions. When we shop, we may spend too much when we base our decisions on product specifications. The researchers found that “even…

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

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

  • How to Save $100 (or More) at the Grocery Store This Month (75 comments)

    This is a guest post from Erin, who writes about frugal food at $5 Dinners. When gas prices were soaring in the summer of 2008, my family was scrambling to find ways to save money. We could not reduce the prices at the gas pumps, we were locked into the lowest interest rate on our mortgage, and our budget was maxed out. I knew the only way we could continue without running into the red each month…

  • 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…

  • Confessions of a Butcher: Eating Steak on a Hamburger Budget (39 comments)

    Every week, I receive a couple of books in the mail from authors and publishers. (This week there were six!) They’re hoping that I’ll find time to review their work at Get Rich Slowly. I do my best, but it’s impossible to read everything. When John Smith offered to send me his book, Confessions of a Butcher, I wasn’t expecting much. I’ve read a few niche books like this, and they’re usually uninspiring. As a…

  • Fashion on a Budget: Organizing and Updating Your Wardrobe for Spring (62 comments)

    This is a guest post from Carrie at It’s Frugal Being Green. My own “fashion” is limited to Costco and Goodwill, so it’s difficult for me to offer advice for those who want to dress for success. Carrie has some tips for those who need to be fashionable and still save on clothes. The spring clothes-shopping season is rapidly approaching, and I’m ready. I have my calendar marked twice a year — once in early…

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

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

  • Quick Tips for Eating Organic (63 comments)

    Last week, I spoke with Lou Bendrick, who writes the Checkout Line column at Grist, a site devoted to environmental news and commentary. Bendrick answers reader questions about making “green” food-choices. Recently Karl wrote to ask her: With the economic crunch, how is it going to be possible to afford healthy foods for my family, especially organics. Before the interview, I surveyed my Twitter followers for help. I asked: “Do you eat organic? How do…

  • In Defense of Buying Books (108 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation. This is a guest post from Ann Zerkle, a Get Rich Slowly lurker, and the founder of Heroes of Capitalism. I know J.D. has posted many times about how going to the library saves money, but I personally love to buy books. Even after reading the arguments about saving money over the year, going to the library and everything else, I still think buying some books is good for me. This…

  • Alternatives to Buying New (21 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation. This is a guest post from The Thrifty Homeowner. There are a couple of things in life that I think I do well: saving money and decreasing my household’s waste. Obtaining a great value or helping out the environment are both excellent things to do separately, but I often try to combine them for maximum benefit. Used or new? Before I make almost any purchase, I first consider options other than…

  • The Good Consumer (36 comments)

    In my favorite section of David Mitchell’s brilliant Cloud Atlas, Sonmi-451 is a clone who works in a fast-food restaurant in near-future Korea, a society ruled by corporcracy (a government of corporations). In this seemingly utopian world, citizens are consumers, and their purpose in life is to spend. Commonplace items are known by their brand-names: a theater is a disneyarium, a video display is a sony, a vehicle is a ford. Television is not TV,…

  • Finding Good Wines at Great Prices: Expert Advice for Frugal Wine Lovers (70 comments)

    I love wine but I’m not a wine snob. I don’t speak the lingo, and I don’t want to. All I know is that some wines taste better than others, and that some wines cost more than others. For me, the best bottle of wine is one that tastes great but doesn’t break the bank. With the dinner party season coming up, how can I find good wines at great prices? I turned to Gary…

  • The 3-Day Cooling-Off Period: Myth and Reality (48 comments)

    In 2001, I bought some magazine subscriptions from a couple of college students who were selling them door-to-door. I’d had my own miserable experiences trying to sell things to strangers, so I had a policy of buying from any kid who wanted to sell me something. I let the young man and young woman come into the house, and I listened to their pitch. I browsed through a glossy brochure that listed a bunch of…

  • Black Friday — Or Not? (82 comments)

    This weekend will be important for U.S. retailers. They’ll be counting their pennies carefully. With retail sales already down sharply from 2007, merchants are eager for a strong start to the holiday shopping season. The day after Thanksgiving — now dubbed “Black Friday” — has become something of a ritualized cultural experience, and one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Many people view the day as a chance to grab stellar deals on…

  • A Do-It-Yourself Christmas: 34 Great Homemade Gifts You Can Make (203 comments)

    Last month, I asked readers to share their favorite frugal Christmas ideas. You responded with over a hundred fantastic tips. One common theme for saving money and adding meaning during the holiday season was to make gifts yourself. My wife and I are lucky to have many crafty friends. Every year, I’m delighted to see what they create for the holiday season. I drew on our own experience, pulled some of your best tips from…

  • Confess Your Shopping Sins with Spendster (3 comments)

    Spendster is a new site that allows users to share video stories about impulse buying, over-spending, and wasting money on Stuff they don’t need. These video confessionals are fun to watch (I would never buy that) until you realize just how much junk you probably have in your own life. This embedded widget should show you one such story: Add Spendster to your page According to the site, “a spendster is someone who in a…

  • Gift Cards and Bankruptcy: What To Do When Stores Go Broke (16 comments)

    This is a guest post from Kwame Kuadey, CEO & Founder of GiftCardRescue.com, a site for selling and swapping gift cards. Kwame is also author of GiftCardBlogger.com, a blog about gift cards. What would you do if you purchased a gift card today and found out next week that the gift card issuer had gone bankrupt? The current economic meltdown has driven some well-known companies to file for bankruptcy: The Sharper Image Linens ‘n Things…

  • 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…

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

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

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

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

  • Ask the Readers: Smart Shopping for Big-Ticket Items? (56 comments)

    Shopping for expensive items can be a tense, frustrating experience. You’re never sure you’re choosing the best product or getting the best deal. Jason recently wrote looking for help: After reading some Consumer Reports blogs, particularly about vacuum cleaners, I came across a comment about “staying within your budget” when you’re trying to decide what vacuum to buy. My question is: How do you budget for occasional necessary expenses? You had a post recently about…

  • 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…

  • Fighting Food-Budget Killers (78 comments)

    At MSN Money, Liz Pulliam Weston has an article about fighting what she calls food-budget killers, those items at the grocery store that can put an extra strain on your pocketbook. Weston’s story gives tips for how to save money on the five foods with the biggest price jumps in the past year: flour, eggs, sweet peppers, milk, and dried beans. But the article got me thinking about food-budget killers in a different way. High…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Missing the Target: Lousy Store Policies Can Thwart Frugal Intentions (81 comments)

    This is a guest post from The Tim at the Seattle Bubble blog, a site about the housing bubble. He also writes The Naked Loon, a Seattle-centric satirical publication. One way our family keeps the entertainment budget slim is by not buying new release DVDs, but waiting to buy movies until they drop below $10. About a month ago, my wife purchased the DVD movie “Never Been Kissed” for $5.50 from the discount shelf at…

  • Why I Fought to Save Three Bucks (and Why You Should Too) (201 comments)

    This guest post comes from Donna Freedman, a blogger at MSN Money’s Smart Spending blog. Donna is one of my favorite personal finance writers. This is a reprint (with permission) of one of her recent pieces. On Friday I visited Office Depot for school backpacks at the killer price of $2.99. Along with other loss-leader school supplies, they’ll be donated to a local social services agency. At the checkout, I handed over a “20% off…

  • 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…

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

    “Look at this,” Kris said yesterday when she returned from grocery shopping. She held up two yogurt containers for me to see. “So what?” I said. “Black cherry yogurt.” “Look closer,” she said.   “That one’s smaller,” I said. “Did they change the container size?” “Yes,” she said. “But they didn’t change the price.” The incredible shrinking yogurt I’ve received several e-mails lately from readers noting the same thing. They go to buy a product…

  • Saving at the Supermarket: 15 Great Grocery Shopping Tips (73 comments)

    Kris and I went grocery shopping this weekend. We stopped at Bob’s Red Mill — a local health-food store — to use some “buy one, get one free” coupons. “You can get anything you want,” Kris told me, “except hot cereal.” “Why can’t I get hot cereal?” I asked. “I love hot cereal.” “I know,” Kris said. “But you buy it all the time. You buy it faster than you eat it. Just last week,…

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

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

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

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

  • The 13 Commandments of Savvy Consumers (33 comments)

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

  • The Story of Stuff (131 comments)

    Every time I write about Stuff, readers point me to The Story of Stuff, a 20-minute video about where Stuff comes from and where it goes. Until today, however, I’d never taken time to watch it. According to the web site: From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a…

  • Buying Cheap Spices: Unit Pricing in Action (67 comments)

    In yesterday’s discussion of how unit pricing can save you money, John made a passing comment that merits closer attention. He wrote: I use unit price all the time when shopping and it’s super convenient that the stores do it for you. I did an analysis of spices that come prepackaged versus a bulk food store here and the difference is ridiculous! John wanted to stock up on basic spices, but didn’t want to spend…

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

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

  • 2008 Consumer Action Handbook (11 comments)

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

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

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

  • Five Tips for Effective Consumer Complaints (26 comments)

    I hate big corporations — they’re bureaucratic nightmares. Three years ago, Verizon claimed that our family business had signed up for a $37.20 monthly listing in their telephone directory. We had not. I spent nearly six months battling their customer service department to get the charges removed. I made phone calls and sent registered letters, but still they insisted we’d signed up for service we’d never requested. Eventually, through internet sleuthing, I found the e-mail…

  • Extreme Personal Finance: Crissy Thompson, the Coupon Queen (56 comments)

    Changed the title and URL, everyone. Sorry. I hadn’t planned to post anything this afternoon, but about a million people (maybe a million-and-a-half) sent me a story about Crissy Thompson from Gainesville, Georgia. Crissy sometimes spends just $10 a week on groceries. For her family of five. How does she do it? Coupons. Jay Watson spent a day with Crissy to learn the secret of her success. Crissy was pregnant with her third child and…

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

    On Saturday, The New York Times published a brilliant chart illustrating the spending of the average American: “Each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics gathers 84,000 prices in about 200 categories,” the paper writes, “like gasoline, bananas, dresses and garbage collection.” These numbers form the Consumer Price Index, one common measure of inflation. And this graphic makes that information accessible. This chart is neat for several reasons: The circle itself represents 100% of the average…

  • Wedding Registries: A Love-Hate Relationship (150 comments)

    This is a guest post from Betsy Teutsch, who writes about socially responsible investing, savvy consuming, and sustainable living at Money Changes Things. The practical side of me loves wedding registries, and the values-driven side of me has grown to loathe them as brides and grooms seem ever bossier. Registries are nothing new, of course. We registered for gifts in 1973, and as a result received two lovely sets of china and ten place-settings of…

  • 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…

  • Don’t Underestimate the Value of Comparison Shopping (40 comments)

    Consumers underestimate the power of comparison shopping, claims a five-year-old report from the Consumer Federation of America. “Consumers often do not realize that, for most products, a wide range of prices are available and, therefore, consumers often pay too much for the items they buy.” [The study] results show that most consumers need a far lower price savings to persuade them to comparison shop than can actually be obtained from shopping around. These findings are…

  • The Outrageous Cost of Storing Stuff (110 comments)

    I have too much Stuff. Odds are, you do too. In fact, Americans own so much Stuff that they don’t have room to store it all. Our basements and attics are full. Our garages and workshops are overflowing. Our passion for Stuff has spawned a growing industry devoted to providing space for all of the crap we own. This afternoon on NPR, Marketplace featured a story about the recession-proof self-storage industry. Reporter Andrew Phelps originally…

  • Money and Values: The Ecology of Commerce (66 comments)

    Over the weekend I posted a flippant note about saving money on milk. I hoped to spur conversation about unit pricing, but it led instead to a comparison of milk prices around the U.S. and Canada. This discussion was more interesting than the one I had intended. “Wow,” I said to Kris after reading some of the comments. “Can you believe anybody would pay $6 a gallon for milk.” “But it’s organic milk,” Kris said….

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

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

  • Frugality in Practice: The DIY Footrest (41 comments)

    I’ve been working at home for a month now. I like it. The first week was a little scary, but the past few weeks have been immensely productive. I’ve caught up on e-mail. I’ve conducted and given some interviews. And I’ve planned some posts for the future. Most of my day is spent at my desk writing. The first few days were awful. My wrists hurt. I couldn’t find the right chair height to match…

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

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

  • 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…

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

    Did you know that when you buy a gift card, you’re essentially loaning money to a company? Chris H. forwarded a MSNBC story that describes how after bankruptcies, gift cards can be worthless: The Sharper Image announced late last month that it was suspending the acceptance of gift cards, at least temporarily. It urged shoppers to check the company Web site later this month for an update. That is typical of businesses that reorganize under…

  • How to Inoculate Your Children Against Advertising (91 comments)

    This is a guest post from Lisa Tiffin, a freelance writer who covers food, lifestyle, business, and green living. I have a confession to make: I like commercials. Even though they can be boring, insulting, and just plain bothersome, on some level they intrigue me. I often wonder why certain ads fail miserably while others succeed in catapulting a brand to the forefront of store shelves. I like commercials because I enjoy guessing which will…

  • 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…

  • An Angel on One Shoulder and a Devil on the Other (45 comments)

    We received a Costco coupon book in the mail today. Costco — a membership warehouse store — has very low prices and generally does not take coupons. A few times a year, though, they send out flyers with special discounts. Kris flipped through the book first, clipping coupons for kleenex, cat litter, and ziploc bags. When she was finished, I picked it up to look for things she’d missed. On the first page, I nearly…

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

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

  • 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…

  • Frugality Doesn’t Have to Mean Sacrificing Quality (88 comments)

    This is a guest post from Amanda, a Colorado tech writer and an activist for children with congenital heart disease. I grew up poor: single-wide trailer-house, shared-a-room-with-two-sisters, garage-sale-wardrobe, government-cheese, worked-full-time-in-high-school, and paid-for-my-own-cap-and-gown poor. You might think that growing up poor would have made me frugal. Not so. While I do have an overwhelming urge to get the “most” for my money, I often see “most” as only quantity, and that’s not smart financially. Quality trumps…

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

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

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

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

  • 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…

  • Gift Card Tips and Tricks (33 comments)

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

  • The Pros and Cons of Gift Cards (76 comments)

    There’s always a lot of fuss this time a year about gift cards. Some people love them, and some people hate them. I’m sort of in the middle. On the one hand, I continue to believe that anything a big company wants you to purchase is probably not in your best interest. That is, if a mega-corporation is all fired up to sell gift cards, you can bet they’re a profit center, which probably means…

  • Track Price Drops with Price Protectr (14 comments)

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

  • Ads I Hate: Life Takes VISA (71 comments)

    My first two “Ads I Hate” posts seem to have struck a nerve (1, 2). You folks really hate the consumerist mentality these ads promote. From the e-mail and comments I received, it seems that you especially loathe the “Life takes VISA” ad campaign. Nick pointed me to this ad featuring the New Orleans Saints: I think the point of is pretty clear: all the hip folks use VISA, and only the outdated preppy man…

  • 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…

  • Get More Bang for Your Buck by Using Coupons and Sales Wisely (17 comments)

    This is a guest post from Amanda, a Colorado tech writer and an activist for children with congenital heart disease. My conversion to frugality began about a year ago, but it’s only been recently that I’ve become good at it. We’ve been saving money by being aggressive with a cash-only purchase plan. If we can’t afford it, we don’t buy it. This only works if you know ahead of time what you need and how…

  • 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…

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

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

  • Ads I Hate: Barbie Shopping Boutique (23 comments)

    Russell Heimlich passed along the following ad that seeks to plant the seeds of consumerism in our children, making the task of financial literacy more difficult further down the road. “You never run out of money!” Indeed? Here’s what The Consumerist had to say when they wrote about this toy last Monday: Fashion Fever Shopping Boutique, the correctly named Barbie toy, features a built-in credit card swiper and a life-size credit card for young children…

  • Use it or Lose It: Getting Value from the Things You Own (27 comments)

    This is a guest post from Amanda, a Colorado tech writer and an activist for children with congenital heart disease. Two key tactics in our strategy for frugality have included moving to buy only what we need and will actually use, and to only pay cash for purchases. Despite good intentions, we have backslid a few times.   We started down the slippery slope while attending a wedding near Rocky Mountain National Park last Memorial Day. As a “couple-time-treat”…

  • 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…

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

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

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

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

  • Ask the Readers: Tips and Tricks to Save on Food? (119 comments)

    Food budgets vary widely, even for similar families living in the same city. As we’ve discussed in the past, one family of four might budget $800/month for food, while another budgets $300, and a third spends $520. Many people wonder how it’s possible to eat so inexpensively. Mallow’s recent post in the forums is typical: I have no idea how you guys are living off of $120-$150 a month for food. Either the groceries around…

  • Bank of America Demonstrates How to Alienate Potential Customers (64 comments)

    Last month I shared stories of good customer service Kris and I have experienced recently. Sadly, this sort of thing seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Tim wrote to share a frustrating experience he had with Bank of America, the kind of thing The Consumerist covers all the time. Here’s his story: My employer ran a promotional thing where if you completed a set of “healthy living” tasks, they gave you $25. …

  • The Grocery Game (70 comments)

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

  • Grocery Store vs. Farmers Market: Which Has the Cheapest Produce? (47 comments)

    Last year I asked, “How much do you spend on food?” Answers varied widely. Some commenters couldn’t comprehend that others could spend so much — or so little. I’ve always believed that buying produce at the farmers market is a good way to cut food costs. But is it really? This weekend I decided to find out. Over the past two days, I’ve surveyed produce prices at five different locations: the farmers market, a produce…

  • 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 True Cost of Souvenirs (65 comments)

    As you read this, I’m wending my way back from New York to Portland. I probably have some souvenirs with me. In this guest-post from Nina at Queercents, she discusses why souvenirs aren’t a good idea. “Souvenirs are perishable; fortunately, memories are not” — Susan Spano Last weekend, Jeanine and I cleaned the garage. We still can’t get two cars in the two-car garage, but it’s a two-part project to be continued this weekend. We…

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

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

  • Thrifty Tips from the Yardsale Queen (20 comments)

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

  • Good Customer Service Still Exists (40 comments)

    This is a guest-post from my wife, who recently had a great customer service experience. I brown-bag my lunch on workdays, often making enough dinner to have leftovers for the next day’s lunch. As such, I wanted to invest in some quality microwavable dishes. About three years ago, I splurged on a set of six “Rock n Serve” Tupperware containers of various sizes. They’re perfect for microwaving lunches, with a pop-up vent in the top…

  • Frugality in Practice: Small Victories (23 comments)

    Sometimes I get giddy when I save just a little bit of money. The cyan ink in our printer ran dry yesterday. When I went to the store today I had the option of buying name-brand ink for $8 a cartridge or off-brand ink for $6 a cartridge. And the off-brand stuff was on sale at a 50% discount. Of course I bought the off-brand stuff. In fact, I stocked up. I cleared the store…

  • How to Save a Dollar (44 comments)

    Here’s a guest-post from my cousin, Mrs. Darling. She previously shared information on how to raise a family on one income (here’s part two). The third part to that series will appear here in August. It’s another gorgeous morning filled with birdsong. It’s also the beginning of another busy week. We spent all Sunday afternoon running from store to store in search of a TV. Now we didn’t just go out all willy-nilly. Oh no!…

  • How To Escape the Gift Trap (60 comments)

    This is a guest-post from my wife. Amanda recently sent J.D. an e-mail looking for advice about gift-giving: My husband and I have made huge lifestyle changes since our son was born with congenital heart disease four years ago. He’s had five open-heart-surgeries, and we’ve had some killer medical bills. My husband stays home with both of our kids to help prevent Liam from getting sick too often, so we’ve gone down to one income,…

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

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

  • The Completely Consumed Increment, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Used Stuff (14 comments)

    I’ve written before about how paying for quality can paradoxically sometimes be the cheapest option. In this guest entry, Handworn explains how his hobby — antique collecting — helps his finances. Collecting made me an investor. I started by collecting coins. As I grew up and my interests changed, I had to do something with my collection. I sold it. My collection of coins became a collection of license plates and street signs on the…

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

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

  • Easy Ways to Spend Less on Your Computer (52 comments)

    Here’s a guest entry from reader Cliff Barbier, who gives us the low-down on the world of cheap computing. Computers permeate our lives. We bank on computers, we buy with computers, and we communicate using computers. Yet these machines still hold an element of mystery that makes some people apprehensive about how to spend less without getting shortchanged. I have been repairing and working on computers for a living for a decade now. Currently, I…

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

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

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

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

  • 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….

  • The ThriftShopper.Com (7 comments)

    Thrift stores are an excellent source for inexpensive books, furniture, and clothing. I visit the local Goodwill about once a month to browse my favorite sections for bargains. (I’m wearing a $3 sweater as I type this. My personal finance library is built around books purchased at thrift stores.) Some people are wary of thrift shops — they think they’re dirty and cheap. Others don’t know where to begin. If you’re in the latter camp,…

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

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

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

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

  • The Bargainist (3 comments)

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

  • The Budget Wino: Advice for Frugal Oenophiles (13 comments)

    Buying wine at the grocery store can be a crapshoot. The local Safeway has hundreds to choose from, yet I know from experience that not all these wines are good. In fact, a few I hope never to drink again. Sometimes I try to increase the odds of turning up a good bottle buy paying $20 or $25, but even then I’m taking a risk. As disappointing as a bad $7 bottle of wine can…

  • How to Eat Vegetarian on the Cheap (41 comments)

    I recently posted two articles for frugal carnivores: a guide to cheap cuts of beef and another on on how to buy a side of beef. GRS-reader Sally has produced an introduction to eating vegetarian for cheap. Though her tips are for herbivores, many are useful to omnivores, as well. About a year-and-a-half ago, for health reasons, my husband and I committed ourselves to a mostly vegetarian lifestyle. At home we eat entirely vegetarian; when…

  • 24 Craigslist Tips, Tricks, and Resources (41 comments)

    Yesterday The Consumerist pointed to a couple of Curbly posts about how to buy stuff on Craigslist [one, two]. These articles have some good tips, but I think there’s more to say. My Craigslist experience Cragislist is one of the seven wonders of the internet. You can use it to find a job, buy a car, get a date for Saturday night, and sell that old couch. The site is free to use for almost…

  • Book Review: The Consumer Trap (8 comments)

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

  • Inside the Mind of a Spendthrift (8 comments)

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

  • Reader Survey: Shopping Malls or Thrift Stores? (40 comments)

    When I was young, I loved to go to the mall. In high school, if I needed to shop for clothes, I shopped at the mall. If I wanted to buy books, I went to the mall. If I wanted new records or tapes (remember those?), I made a trip to the mall. The mall was a magic wonderland filled with fabulous prizes. In college, when I began to use credit, the mall became even…

  • Black Friday vs. Buy Nothing Day (13 comments)

    This weekend will be huge for U.S. retailers. The day after Thanksgiving — now dubbed “Black Friday” — has become something of a ritualized cultural shopping experience. Many people view the day as a chance to grab stellar deals on Christmas gifts. But others scorn it as a crass display of commercialism, antithetical to the spirit of the holiday season. Some go so far as to celebrate the day after Thanksgiving as “Buy Nothing Day”….

  • My 3 Cents: Consumer Reviews (3 comments)

    People love to complain about lousy products and crummy customer service. Last week, I complained in this very space about my Ford Focus. My3cents.com bills itself as “the leading source of real consumer advice.” It’s a place to share your experiences with others. Visitors come to learn, interact and voice opinions regarding companies, products and services in our open community. Learn from other consumer experiences, and help others learn from your own personal consumer experiences….

  • Online Grocery Flyers from MyGroceryDeals.com (8 comments)

    I recently received e-mail from mygrocerydeals.com pitching their site: We are a free service that allows consumers to go online, do their grocery pre-shopping based on advertised grocery flyer specials, look at nutritional information, create their shopping list, and then head out to their selected store(s) with list in hand. We have recently mapped 50,900 zip codes into our database and then lined up the grocery markets and local stores along 4,400 county lines to…

  • An Easy Way to Save on Auto Parts (9 comments)

    Here’s a tip from Israel in SoCal: Last time I was at Kragen Auto Parts I was charged around $30 for a set of spark plug wires. Online they were priced for 18. It turns out that the price online is cheaper for most of their retail items. Also they have a “buy online and pick up at store” function to their website. Once time before, one of their reps told me to print out…

  • Unwarranted: Why You Should Avoid Extended Warranties (30 comments)

    A Get Rich Slowly reader pointed to a Washington Post article about extended warranties. “Unwarranted” discusses the psychological reasons consumers buy these products, explores industry profitability, and emphasizes that most experts recommend against purchasing extended service contracts. The decision to buy an extended warranty [...] defies the recommendations of economists, consumer advocates and product quality experts, who all warn that the plans rarely benefit consumers and are nearly always a waste of money. “The things…

  • Save Money with a Frugal Buyers Club (3 comments)

    Here’s an intriguing idea from Bankrate.com’s monthly frugal $ense contest. Douglas Jost Saint Louis suggests: Form a group of frugal buyers in your local area, preferably from people you are willing to shop with and trust. Assign tasks to each member to find the lowest price for certain everyday products. In some cases you may be able to shop together to save money by buying in bulk or may be able to save time if…

  • The Good Stuff: Choosing Quality Over Price (32 comments)

    Saving money doesn’t have to be dull. It’s possible to be too frugal, to deny yourself too much. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can enjoy the good life — eating out, spending time with friends, indulging yourself — while exercising thrift. The key is balance. One way to practice financial prudence while living the good life is to buy quality products, products that are a pleasure to use, products that will last…

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

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

  • How Retailers Lure You to Shop and Buy (5 comments)

    Think you’re exercising free will when you go shopping? Think again. Retailers are using an expanding arsenal of psychological weapons in the battle to part consumers from their money. In May I reviewed Paco Underhill’s Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping. Underhill describes how stores construct an environment that subtly encourages customers to spend money, and to spend as much as possible. Last week USA Today published a feature entitled Just browsing at the…

  • Some Thoughts on Discouraging Materialism in Children (17 comments)

    Does your infant sport clothes from Baby Gap? Does your three-year-old carry a Gucci handbag? Does your first-grader have a Playstation, an iPod, and $80 shoes? What sort of message does it send to children when parents give them these sorts of expensive things? What sort of attitude toward money does this foster? Lynn writes with some thoughts on encouraging sound financial habits in children at an early age: So many people focus on the…

  • Trunk Clothes: A Sure Sign You Have a Spending Problem (0 comment)

    My little brother has no respect for Blogathon. I mentioned him earlier because he was taught his son that two pairs of shoes equals one iPod. (Remember that they’re moving, and his wife is packing sixty pairs of shoes.) He just called to chat. I told him I was busy, but he offered me another story and gave me permission to print it. His wife used to work at Nordstrom. While there she took advantage…

  • Plan a Weekend of Bargain-Hunting with GarageMaps (2 comments)

    Garage sales are a fun way to exercise your frugal impulses. Instead of heading to the mall on a weekend, take some time to cruise the sales in your city, looking for deals. To make it easier to plan your outing, Get Rich Slowly reader Fraser is building garagemaps.com, a web-based garage-sale mapping tool. He writes: My wife and I are garage sale junkies, heading out to search for bargains every Saturday morning. She used…

  • Cheap Geek Tips (4 comments)

    The Bargain Queen offers a list of ten cheap geek tips, her advice for saving money on technology. For example: Buy the best quality you can afford. If you’ve done your homework, you’ll know the best options at each price-point. So you buy the cheapest option that will do the job, right? Not always. In some cases, spending more will only get you a fancier brand name and packaging. In others, it means the difference…

  • Free Online Coupon Codes (11 comments)

    Currentcodes.com is a clearing-house for coupon codes offered by online retailers. Hundreds of well-known online stores like Barnes and Noble, Staples, and Amazon.com have a place within their shopping cart for a “coupon code” that gives a percent or dollar amount off your purchase. If you don’t know the code, you can’t take advantage of the discount. You can find these secret discount codes and coupon codes listed on many sites across the internet but…

  • Price vs. Ethics: Is the Best Price the Best Choice? (3 comments)

    Cribcage took exception to a comment I posted yesterday. In the further discussion of things your supermarket won’t tell you, I quoted a Digg-user who works at a grocery store: Since I have started changing prices I have noticed a lot of tricks that Safeway uses. [...] Everything at a grocery store is close to double the price of Walmart or Target. Aside from the fact that it is pure hyperbole, this statement reveals a…

  • 17 Ways to Save Big at the Supermarket (15 comments)

    My wife isn’t one of those women who can buy hundreds of dollars of groceries for $12.93. She is, however, a frugal shopper, and can often trim an $80 bill to a $60 bill. Here are some of her top tips: Don’t shop for groceries if you’re hungry. You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s true. Studies show that folks who shop when they’re hungry buy more. It’s true for me: If I go to…

  • Ten Things Your Supermarket Won’t Tell You (18 comments)

    Howdy, Cracked.com visitors. SmartMoney has altered its URL structure since I posted this more than two years ago. Using the Wayback Machine, I’ve managed to dig up the source article in two parts: part one, part two. Thanks for visiting, and thanks for noting the correction. SmartMoney has a list of ten things your supermarket won’t tell you. Though this was first published five years ago, it’s still informative: “We trick you into paying higher…

  • Frugality in Practice: Community Garage Sale (9 comments)

    My wife and I attended a huge garage sale yesterday. Each year, Portland’s posh Eastmoreland neighborhood holds a community garage sale. About 150 households participated this year. We spent a beautiful summer morning looking for bargains. This sale is good because it features a dense concentration of wealthy homes. The things they’re selling are generally of higher quality than at your run-of-the-mill garage sale, and most are just looking to get rid of the stuff,…

  • The Cheapest Way to Buy Booze (6 comments)

    SmartMoney proclaims it has discovered the cheapest way to buy booze. Stocking up on enough alcohol for a party can cost a small fortune. Your best bet — visit your local warehouse clubs, which regularly offer discounts of 10% to 30%. But what about those hefty membership fees, you ask? Thanks to some little-known state laws, nonmembers can purchase alcohol without paying a membership fee. These laws date back to the 1930s, when Prohibition was…

  • Penny Pinchers: I Want My Four Dollars (13 comments)

    A new Barnes and Noble bookseller recently opened near us. To promote the store, they mailed out ten-percent-off coupons. I dragged Kris with me last Saturday, and spent half an hour learning the layout. I managed to hold myself to $51.93 worth of books, which, after the 10% discount, were only going to cost me $46.73. But when I went to pay for them, I ran into trouble. The clerk scanned my coupon and threw…

  • Penny Pinchers: More Frugal Than You (0 comment)

    “That’s a nice shirt,” José said to me today. José is my shop foreman. “You like it?” I asked. “I got it cheap!” “I’ve got one just like it,” he said. “Same color. Same brand. Same everything.” “How much did you pay? I only paid six dollars for mine,” I said proudly. “I got it at Goodwill.” “Yeah?” said José. “I paid a dollar-fifty. I got mine at the Salvation Army.”

  • More Lessons from ‘Why We Buy’ (3 comments)

    As promised, here are some final thoughts on Paco Underhill’s Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping. In my previous entry about using this book to learn to spend less, I discussed how the more time a person spends in a store, the more money he’s likely to spend. Remembering that, check out the following stats: Here’s the actual breakdown of average shopping time from a study we performed at once branch a national housewares…

  • How to Spend Less – Lessons From ‘Why We Buy’ (13 comments)

    Do you want to spend less at the store? In Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, author Paco Underhill gives some indirect insights into how consumers can win the retail battle. Here are some easy changes you can make to help reduce your spending: Spend less time in stores. Underhill writes, “The amount of time a shopper spends in a store (assuming he or she is shopping, not waiting in line) is perhaps the…

  • Book Review — Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping (3 comments)

    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 seemed to be targeted at store owners who want to improve their sales. Admittedly, these are two sides of the same coin — author Paco Underhill touches on the psychological aspects of shopping as he discusses how retailers can…

  • The Best Time to Buy (0 comment)

    When is the best time to buy a house? A car? Airline tickets? Did you even realize there were best times to buy certain items? According to CNNMoney, you can save a lot if you know the best times buy certain popular items. For example: Airline tickets Buy on Wednesday. Buy domestic tickets at least two weeks in advance, and even earlier for international flight. If you can’t wait, then buy tickets just a couple…