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Ask the Readers


  • Planning For the Year Ahead (8 comments)

      Every year we ring in the New Year and experience the phenomenon of being connected to everyone else. We’re tied together by the calendar. Even though we lead separate lives and have distinctly different journeys from every other person, we can’t escape the fact that January 1 starts a new year for us all. Then, of course, there are all the other holidays throughout cultures — and the calendar — that signal rebirth and…

  • Your turn: Taming the ‘I wants’ when money is tight (16 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Katie O’Connor.

    It’s hard enough to say no to ourselves when it comes to unnecessary spending — getting that $4.35 latte just because, for example. So why is it always such a surprise when we lose battles against the everyday wants (not needs) of our very determined and savvy children? If this sounds familiar, you aren’t alone. Academics and mental health professionals agree that parental feelings about money…

  • What is your just-getting-started story? (41 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    Unless you are born with a silver spoon, the journey toward financial independence will most likely be arduous. Even those who’ve reached the happy state of retirement have stories to tell about the ups and downs they experienced, their mistakes and triumphs, and what it really took to get there. And most of us — especially those who regularly read this site — are still in…

  • What is the most difficult part of running your own business? (13 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    If you have the opportunity to go into business for yourself, I would recommend you do it. It’s an experience marked by creativity, ingenuity, and extreme growth. It is one of the most challenging, exciting, rewarding, creative, and scary things you can do in life. At least that was my experience. If you’ve never started your own company, your perspective might be colored by some of the romantic…

  • Ever used a zero-percent credit card offer to make a purchase? (38 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Ryan Takach.

    Imagine a scenario where you’ve got the money to make a large discretionary purchase and you’re given the option to finance it through the retailer at interest or open a credit card with an introductory zero interest rate. What would you do — pay cash or just finance it? Note: See also How to Choose a Credit Card for tips on finding the right credit card…

  • Do you practice retiring? (18 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    I know quite a few people who are approaching retirement right now. And from talking to them, one thing is clear to me: There’s a lot of apprehension about making this transition. The pressure to make the right decisions doesn’t stop just because you’re nearing retirement. In fact, from what I can tell, it seems to intensify. There are still a lot of important decisions to make:…

  • The best (and worst) money advice Dad ever gave you (18 comments)

    This article is by Les Masterson. Fathers are great at offering advice – in matters of life, love, and, of course, money.  And while we’ve all resorted to clichés at times, the wisdom fathers impart often stays with their children, who in turn pass that guidance on to the next generation. So in honor of Father’s Day, we wanted to ask readers: What did your father teach you about money? What was his best –…

  • How are you preparing financially for June celebrations? (3 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    My Facebook feed is full of good news these days. This is wonderful news for my friends and family, of course. It’s not necessarily good news for my wallet. “Christmas in July” and of course the actual holiday season aside, it seems to me that June is one of the most festive times of year. Think about it — you’ve got: Engagements Bridal showers Bachelor/bachelorette parties…

  • What will you do when your debt is paid off? (34 comments)
    This is a guest post from former GRS staff writer Donna Freedman.

    I’ve been in debt just once: during and after a two-year-long divorce, a time during which I was also a midlife university student. Good times! Nineteen months after the divorce decree, I zeroed out my legal debt. I also took a deep breath for the first time in years. Unfortunately, I had no idea what to do with the extra money each…

  • Ask the Readers: What are you saving for? (62 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    In the last 12 months, my husband and I both turned 35 years old. Although I hadn’t put my finger on it until now, I think there is something about that age that made us want to reassess our current financial strategy. But the truth is, gratefully, that I think we are on the right track. We are debt-free aside from a small mortgage, we save…

  • Ask the Readers: Will you find other options besides Turbo Tax this year? (73 comments)
    Tax season is fast approaching and, if you are among the diligent, chances are you have already started your annual tax preparation. Close to 40 percent of all Americans use software to do their tax preparation on their own computers, according to the National Retail Foundation; and TurboTax (sold by Intuit, and maker of the ever-popular Quicken and QuickBooks products) is the most popular of the tax-prep software products in use today.

    TurboTax has…

  • When is it okay to re-gift? (42 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    The year I met the man I would marry, we were living in different cities and hadn’t spent much time together when Christmas came around. It was difficult to know what to give, how much to give, and how much to spend. I looked for inspiration. I consulted friends. I visited a lot of stores in search of a great gift. I ended up with a few…

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

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

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

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

  • Ask the readers: Are home security systems worth the money? (61 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. The small, rectangular ceramic flower pots I kept in the two window sills of my bathroom had never budged an inch in the 14 years I owned the home, but one day I saw that one was close to falling out onto the counter below. I wondered if a small earthquake had caused it to move as I pushed it back in place. About a week later, I…

  • Ask the Readers: What is your personal finance calculus? (31 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. When Donna Freedman tackled the subject of teaching our children about money last week, GetAGrip challenged the premise that parents teach and children learn: “All sounds pretty, teach them all this information and they will use it, right? “I’m not advocating not teaching, but just don’t be surprised if they somehow seem to ‘forget’ much if not all of what they were taught and run up the credit…

  • Ask the Readers: How do you know if a vet procedure is really necessary? (71 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. On Monday at 8:30 a.m., I found myself at the veterinarian’s office — where, unknowingly, I would spend the next three hours. The night before, my cat Mia threw up at least five times. In the morning, I found her wedged into a corner of the bathroom. I could tell how she felt just by looking at her. I called the vet’s office near my house right…

  • Ask the Readers: Do singles need to plan differently for retirement? (35 comments)

    This article is by editor Ellen Cannon. I’ve been single since I was divorced in my 30s, and I’ve been planning my retirement on the assumption that I will be single till the end of my days. I’m feeling comfortable financially with where I am in my plan. Yet when I was offered the opportunity to talk to Jacob Gold, a Certified Financial Planner and retirement coach with Voya Financial, about women and retirement, I…

  • Ask the Readers: Are these good enough reasons to buy life insurance? (89 comments)
    This article is by staff writer April Dykman.

    There are a lot of really good reasons to have a life insurance policy, no doubt. If you have children, they’re dependent on your income. You want them to be taken care of should something ever happen to you. If your spouse stays at home with the kids, he or she is dependent on your income. If you stay home with the kids, your spouse is dependent…

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

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

  • Ask the Readers: What Do You Do When You’re Broke? (147 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D. recently launched the Get Rich Slowly course, a year-long guide on how to master your money. His non-financial writing lives at More Than Money. Last week, Mr. Money Mustache visited the Pacific Northwest. While he was in Portland, he and I joined Tyler Tervooren (of the Riskology website) to host what we called “Three Blog Night”. About 100 readers of…

  • Ask the Readers: Do you stress-test your finances? (23 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. As J.D. Roth put it, “Failure is okay.” We all experience it, and we each have to figure out how to deal with it. Some people even study it. In fact, studying failure is a very productive thing to do. A stress-test can be used to study failure in a proactive sense. It can help predict how and when failure will occur within the confines of a safe,…

  • 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…

  • Ask the Readers: How many wedding gifts should you buy? (86 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Earlier this week, I wrote about the problem with trying to buy the perfect gift. Sticking with that gift theme, there’s a question that’s been on my mind: If you’re invited to an engagement party, a bridal shower, and a wedding ceremony all for the same couple, and you attend all three, do you give a gift at each event? See, I’ve been invited to a few weddings…

  • Ask the Readers: What do you do when someone constantly hits you up for money? (124 comments)

    A few years ago, I wrote about how to lend money to friends without letting it ruin the friendship. To quickly recap, a friend needed help paying the rent. She had never asked me for money in all the years we’d been friends, so I knew she had to be in a pretty desperate situation. In fact, she was even on medical leave and tried to return to work early, but her doctor (and therefore her…

  • Ask the Readers: How much are you willing to spend to save a sick pet? (115 comments)

    This article is by managing editor Ellen Cannon. Four years ago, my beloved kitty Zito developed kidney problems. She was only five years old, and her littermate, Mikey, was fine and healthy. But Zito had stopped eating and wasn’t drinking much water. I took her to the vet. An x-ray by the veterinarian showed that one of her kidneys was tiny and the other was not the normal size it should have been. The vet…

  • Ask the Readers: How do you handle irregular income? (40 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Those of you who have read GRS for a while know that when I started writing here more than four years ago, I was gainfully employed as a writer-editor-project-manager type. I had a steady paycheck, and every two weeks, I knew exactly how much money would magically appear in my checking account. Two years later, I gave up that predictable paycheck to pursue life working on my own…

  • Ask the Readers: Best Banks of 2013 — Do you agree with Money magazine? (34 comments)

    Banking is something Get Rich Slowly readers take very seriously. While it can seem like a 0.85 percent to 0.90 percent APY isn’t anything to get excited over, that’s more than 4x the current national average of 0.18 percent APY (according to the MoneyRates Index, a sampling of 100 banks that includes the top 50 retail banks by total deposits and 50 smaller banks). Also if you’re putting your savings with a large bank in…

  • Ask the Readers: High-deductible health insurance: yea or nay? (104 comments)

    Last week reader David  posted a question on Get Rich Slowly’s Facebook page, asking what our thoughts are on high-deductible health insurance plans. We turned to Barbara Marquand, staff writer at Insure.com, to answer his question. Here’s her answer: High-deductible health plans (HDHPs) have become more prevalent in the last few years, but whether one is right for you depends on your health care needs and financial situation. The reason we’re seeing so many of…

  • Ask the Readers: Should you move for work? (37 comments)

    These days, if you’ve got work, you’re among the lucky. And not to be picky, but the sad fact is that even if you have work, there’s a real chance you may be “under-employed” – where you either can’t get enough hours to meet your expenses or the jobs that are available to you are far below your abilities. There are a lot of situations out there: from the long-term unemployed to those who keep…

  • Ask the Readers: What’s the best way to prepay your mortgage? (46 comments)

    Recently, Mandy sent a question via our Facebook page (like this site, it’s a really active community with more than 35,000 followers). We turned to our colleague Keith Gumbinger, vice president of HSH.com and a mortgage expert who is regularly interviewed by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and many other publications, for an answer to her question. Others who want to pay off their mortgage faster may also benefit from this guidance….

  • Ask the Readers: Have you ever fallen for a scam? (44 comments)

    Every day, my dad gets his mail and reads every last thing – no matter what it is. The process can take an hour, sometimes two. There are advertisements, bills, surveys, requests from charitable organizations – and notices of winnings and awards. Tonight, he received a “notification of delivery” that declared he was the “Sole Recipient” of a 2013 Mercedes-Benz CLS automobile if he would return the “property recipient certificate” with a $20 processing and…

  • Ask the Readers: What personal finance skills should college students learn? (70 comments)

    Last Friday, J.D. asked you what concepts have contributed to your financial success, and you responded with lots of good thoughts. Today, reader D. Post has a question for you about personal finance skills college students should learn. Here’s his situation: GRS, I’ve just about made it through college and am about to start my senior year! I’ve had a fun time at school and still have a good-sized chunk of change in the bank,…

  • Ask the Readers: Which Concepts Have Contributed Most to Your Financial Success? (57 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. After a year off, J.D. is once again writing here at GRS. His non-financial writing can still be found at More Than Money. Over the past few months, I’ve been brainstorming ideas about future book projects. It’s been four years since I started writing Your Money: The Missing Manual, and I’m eager to delve deeper into the subject of personal finance….

  • What Are the Best Financial Accounts and Tools Available? (49 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. After a year off, J.D. is once again writing here at GRS. His non-financial writing can still be found at More Than Money. As a personal-finance blogger, it’s my responsibility to keep up-to-date on the latest in the financial industry. Whose advice is worth heeding? (And whose advice sucks?) What are the current tax rates? Where’s the best place to save…

  • Ask the Readers: Would you let your insurance company monitor your driving for a discount? (104 comments)

    Privacy is a big issue for people these days, what with every website able to see where you go, what you’re searching for and serve up ads. With the NSA looking at emails and phone calls from regular folks, the issue is bigger than ever. But would you elect to be monitored if it would save you money? You’ve probably seen the commercials for Progressive insurance’s Snapshot pay-as-you-drive device. State Farm has a similar program…

  • Ask the Readers: Post-divorce — buy out wife or sell house? (73 comments)

    This reader question comes from Rick. He’s asking for the readers’ advice on this common dilemma that many divorced people face. My wife and I had a pretty good handle on our finances and were on track for meeting all of our major financial and life goals…college for the kids and retirement for us. We are both 43 and have two kids, ages 10 and 8. My wife went through a mid-life crisis last year…

  • Ask the Readers: What would it take to quit your job and pursue your passion? (86 comments)

    This guest post is from Michelle who blogs at Making Sense of Cents. Lately I have been thinking a lot about whether I should pursue what I love and enjoy my life more, or stick it out with my job that provides stable income. Recently, I was reading a post about how one reader quit her very promising and high-paying career so that she could enjoy life instead. After I read that post, I read about how…

  • Ask the Readers: What lifestyle changes have you made to improve your finances? (83 comments)

    Newish GRS reader Jennifer is beginning her financial journey, and she shared her strategy so far. So here I am, mid-30s, buried in an obscene amount of credit card debt, and very little to show for it other than my piles and piles of STUFF. Man, I love me some stuff. I’ve lived in denial for years… “Yes, I have a lot of credit card debt, but so long as I can pay my bills…

  • Ask the Readers: How can I help my father get financially set? (74 comments)

    Dealing with family members who aren’t as financially savvy or frugal as you are is a common problem. Reader Mike in New Hampshire wrote to tell us his dilemma, and he wants your thoughts on what he should do. Here’s his story (and here is the update to his story): In college I majored in Communication and Journalism, so when it came time to choose electives to meet the requirements for math and science I…

  • Ask the Readers: What will make you feel financially secure? (78 comments)

    If you’re a regular reader of Get Rich Slowly, you are focused on getting out of debt, saving, retirement goals – all of those money issues we all deal with. But at what point would you or do you feel financially secure? I think my own sense of financial security came once I had paid off all of my debts (excluding my mortgage) and had enough money to save a chunk each month. Certainly, having…

  • Ask the Readers: Would you give a child a credit card? (126 comments)

    I’m personally a proponent of making teenagers authorized users on credit cards. My thinking is that it gives the parent the opportunity to teach their kids about managing credit while they’re at home and how to read a credit card statement (explain what the different interest rates mean, how fees are applied, etc.) while starting to build a credit file for their children. Of course, I don’t have kids, so I have never had to…

  • Ask the Readers: What can you do this month to earn an extra $150? (93 comments)

    And here we are in March! We’d like to check in with a series of challenges to help us achieve some goals this year. In February, we gave you the challenge of giving up something (or a series of somethings) for one month to save $250. How did you do? One of our staffers (and her partner) gave up alcohol, soda, a daily hot-chocolate habit, and suspended their gym membership for the month and resolved…

  • Ask the Readers: Can you retire without a pension or 401(k)? (57 comments)

    This short reader post from GRS reader A Single Saver caught our eye. A 401(k) or IRA fund seems almost mandatory by personal finance standards, and yet, here a reader writes how her retirement looks good without them. What do you think? Would you be able to provide a retirement for yourself without retirement investment accounts? Can a single woman retire without a pension or a 401(k)? That was my dilemma. As a contract worker,…

  • Ask the Readers: What will you give up this month to save $250? (101 comments)

    Welcome to February! In early January, we asked people what are their savings goals this year. But reading El Nerdo’s post on Tuesday made me think about how focusing on a short-term goal could help us achieve a long-term goal. So we’ve come up a series of challenges to help us achieve some goals this year. Here’s the February challenge for our GRS community: What will you give up for just one month to save…

  • Ask the Readers: Is credit monitoring worth the money? (46 comments)

    Reader Bryce wrote to us this week with this question for the readers: “What are your thoughts on companies like freecreditreport.com, where they charge $16.95/month to have access to your Experian credit report? Is checking your credit weekly/monthly worth the $16.95/month?” First of all, you are legally entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the main credit reporting companies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can get them via the government’s official…

  • Ask the Readers: How much rent should I charge my in-laws? (122 comments)

    Money issues among family members are difficult, to say the least. A reader named The Lessor wrote to us recently about his sticky family situation: I have a brother-in-law who decided to pursue ministry work overseas. He is married to a European girl and they live with her mother most of the year. Each year they return to the U.S. to keep citizenship/residency, visit with family, and fundraise for additional money to keep them living…

  • Ask the Readers: How do you manage your clothing expenses? (133 comments)

    It seems like the fight against Stuff is ongoing, whether it’s toys, electronics, books, CDs, tools or anything we consume. Yesterday, Holly talked about fighting the battle of the toy bulge. Recently, reader Adrian G. posed this question for the readers: How many clothes do your kids have? My 14-year-old son was out of town, so I sneaked into his room to catch him up on some laundry and weed out the too-small clothes. Even…

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

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

  • Ask the Readers: Is traditional advice killing your job search? (25 comments)

    “Vince” was halfway through his MBA program and struggling to find an internship. So, he took his career counselor’s advice and blasted his resume and cover letter to 30 companies.”I just tried to shoot out as many resumes as possible,” says Vince. Nine companies called him back, but the interviews didn’t go well. He only got one offer, and it wasn’t for a particularly great internship. If Vince followed his career counselor’s advice, why was…

  • Ask the readers: Do you repair your own car to save money? (86 comments)

    This post is from Ollie Geiger, a personal finance writer who contributes to MoneyRates.com. As a former auto mechanic and service manager, my dad’s car expertise has saved our family from countless binds. Over the years, he’s done everything from replacing my wife’s broken timing belt in the parking lot of her apartment complex to rebuilding our truck’s toasted alternator at a motel high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. A master of seeing mechanical possibilities,…

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

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

  • 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…

  • Ask the Readers: If parents are paying for college, are any majors off limits? (257 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jacqueline Whiton, who self-financed her undergraduate education and MBA. She is interested in personal finance and is saving to fund her three teenagers’ anticipated college expenses. After saving since your child was in preschool, you celebrate euphorically when your son or daughter is accepted to the college of his or her choice. You’d always imagined that your math whiz would become a chief financial officer (CFO), but are surprised…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Do You Spend on Charitable Giving? (220 comments)

    The deeper I get into the third stage of personal finance, the more I think about my responsibilities to help others who are in need. For years, Get Rich Slowly readers have been encouraging me to contribute to charity, but I’ve always been reluctant to do so. This wasn’t part of my family culture as a boy (we were the ones in need), so it’s been a struggle to come to terms with it as…

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

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

  • Ask the Readers: Best Alternatives to Cable Television? (179 comments)

    I’ve written two major articles here at Get Rich Slowly about how to cut costs on cable television. In March 2007, I wrote about cheap alternatives to cable television, and in February 2009, I followed that up by describing how I cut my television bill in half. But it’s been more than three years since I visited this topic, and I’ve started to get email from readers who want an update. But it’s not just…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Do You Spend on Self Improvement? (160 comments)

    I’m a firm believer in personal development. Self-improvement is part of living a rich life. In fact, when I started this blog six years ago, the self-improvement category was one of the first I implemented. Over the years, I’ve published dozens of articles on the subject, including: Getting to now: How to beat the procrastination habit The power of yes: A simple way to get more out of life Luck is no accident: 10 ways…

  • Frugal or Foolish? Our Cruise-Ship Wedding (202 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 Honey Smith, who says she’s at the beginning of her debt-reduction journey. How much should you spend…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Do You Spend on Fun? (93 comments)

    Over the past year, I’ve occasionally used the “Ask the Readers” feature at Get Rich Slowly to poll people about their budgets and spending habits. So far, I’ve asked folks: How much do you spend on food? How much do you spend on clothes? How much do you spend on gifts? How much do you spend on health insurance? How much do you spend on housing? How much do you spend on kids? For today’s…

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

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

  • Is Your Spending Normal? (112 comments)

    Over the past year, one of the most popular features here at Get Rich Slowly has been the monthly “how much do you spend on X?” question. I started these informal and unscientific surveys on a whim. I wanted too see what sort of spending ranges we held as a population of relatively money-savvy citizens. In the past year, we’ve looked at the following spending categories: How much do you spend on food? How much…

  • Ask the Readers: Which Credit Cards Do You Use? (237 comments)

    Though I steer clear of writing about credit cards at Get Rich Slowly, I use them all the time. I used to be an anti-credit card zealot. Because irresponsible use of credit cards had led me to tens of thousands of dollars in consumer debt, I thought they couldn’t possibly be used for good. My attitude toward credit cards has changed over the years. First, my wife showed me that it was perfectly possible to…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Save Money While Making Minimum Wage? (148 comments)

    It can be tough to get out of debt and build savings even if your income is above average. If it’s average (or less), the challenge becomes even greater. And what if you’re earning only minimum wage (or something a little over)? In cases like this, is saving even possible? Yesterday, a reader named Andrew asked this question on the Get Rich Slowly page at Facebook: Andrew’s question from Facebook I love this question. Andrew…

  • Ask the Readers: Income? Or Negative Savings? (93 comments)

    I’ve been fielding reader questions at Get Rich Slowly for almost six years now. In that time, we (you and I) have answered 202 questions, most of which have been about the Big Picture, about things that apply to everyone. Sometimes, though, it can be interesting to get a bit more specific. For instance, Julie wrote recently with a question that, by her own admission, is technical and fussy. Well, let’s be technical and fussy…

  • Ask the Readers: All I Ever Worry About is Money (183 comments)

    Though I try to keep the “Ask the Readers” column general so that the advice can apply to many people, sometimes I get specific questions that seem important enough to be addressed. That’s the case this week. A young GRS reader named Rebecca dropped a line the other day looking for help. She’s just getting started in life, but feels overwhelmed by personal finance. She worries about money all of the time. Here’s her story:…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Retire Early? (124 comments)

    Though many readers of this site have modest financial goals, others are more ambitious. Many want to get rich. (That’s not surprising; after all, this blog is called Get Rich Slowly.) But I think most GRS readers are aiming at something in between. For instance, Charlotte wrote recently to ask about a goal that many of us have. She wants to know how to make early retirement a reality. Here’s Charlotte’s message: My husband is…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Do You Spend on Housing? (462 comments)

    Over the past few months, I’ve occasionally used the “Ask the Readers” feature at Get Rich Slowly to poll people about their budgets and spending habits. So far, I’ve asked folks to share their spending on food, clothes, gifts, and health insurance. Now I want to look at a bigger item in your budget — probably the biggest. Let’s talk about how much you spend on housing. More than other expenses, your housing costs are…

  • Ask the Readers: Basic Financial Frameworks? (81 comments)

    One common request from new GRS readers is some sort of central location where they can find a list of introductory articles to guide their progress. This is a great idea, and I’m working on it. Some of the GRS elves are working on a “Guide to Money” that will provide some of this info, but I envision a single page that collects all of the relevant articles for folks starting out. In the meantime,…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Should I Save (and What Should I Save For)? (107 comments)

    Many of the reader questions I get here at Get Rich Slowly follow a familiar formula. The person sends me a breakdown of her income and expenses, also sharing how she’s allocating her savings. From these figures, my correspondent wants to know if I’d make changes to her budget. Unfortunately, I’m not qualified to answer questions as specific as these. (And I don’t have time to answer them all!) That said, there are often certain…

  • Ask the Readers: When Is It Okay to Use Your Emergency Fund? (101 comments)

    It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a person in want of a good fortune must be in possession of an emergency fund. Hilarious literary allusions aside, the emergency fund — or rainy-day savings, or whatever you want to call it — is one of the bedrocks of basic personal finance. A solid savings account is like self-insurance; it can offer some protection when life seems intent on drowning you with one financial crisis after…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Do You Spend on Health Insurance? (337 comments)

    Behind the scenes, the GRS elves and I have been working to streamline the process for submitting reader stories, guest posts, and financial questions. As part of this, I’ve been reading through every question submitted over the past year. I’ve noticed some patterns. One topic I’m seeing over and over again is health insurance. We’ve explored health insurance a few times in the past, but we don’t do so often. For one, it’s complicated. For…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Help a Homeless Friend? (119 comments)

    As the U.S. economy enters its fourth year of turmoil, average folks continue to struggle. At GRS, we’ve shared questions and stories about people who can’t make ends meet, who are losing their homes, and who find themselves out of work. But we’ve never tackled the homeless before. Today, though, Evan wrote with a tough situation. One of his friends is out on the street, and he feels guilty because of it. Should he help?…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Money Do You Need Before You Have Kids? (268 comments)

    For the most part, this site reflects my values and my experiences. That’s natural. One of the first rules of writing is to “write what you know”. This is one of the main reasons I’ve brought staff writers aboard here at Get Rich Slowly — their experiences are different than mine, and they bring different perspectives into play. Sometimes I have big blind spots in my life (financial and otherwise). One rather large blind spot…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Do You Spend on Gifts? (126 comments)

    As Kris and I near the end our trip to Peru, we’ve begun to make preparations for our return home. That means shopping. I spent some time today buying books, for instance. Keeping in mind my recently-drafted guidelines of what to buy, I picked up a couple dozen Spanish translations of classic novels and popular children’s books. These books are all tiny (about the size of a religious tract) and cost only S/1.50 each, which…

  • Ask the Readers: Which Financial Products Do You Actually Use? (143 comments)

    The financial blogging conference last week was great. My colleagues and I had a lot of thought-provoking discussions, not only in the planned sessions but also late at night in the hotel lobby. One of these impromptu chats focused on the financial products we actually use. Financial bloggers do a lot of product reviews. (I do them too, but I think they’re tedious. Besides, I think there are some ethical grey areas with product reviews,…

  • Ask the Readers: How Would You Sell a Collection? (100 comments)

    I am a collector. I always have been. When I was a boy, my parents gave me one closet in the trailer house to have as my very own. They called it the “rat’s nest” because I’d fill it up with all the sorts of things a boy might collect: bugs and twigs and baseball cards and comic books, among other things. As an adult, I’ve remained a collector. It’s both a joy and curse….

  • 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…

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

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

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Do You Spend on Food? (399 comments)

    Five years ago, I posted the first-ever “Ask the Readers” question here at Get Rich Slowly. “How much do you spend on food?” I asked in a short post (the likes of which one never sees around here anymore). For five years, people have been posting their food budgets for others to see. Shauna wrote earlier this week asking for an update: Would you consider doing an update to the “How much does your household…

  • Ask the Readers: Is a Used Car Still a Good Deal? (138 comments)

    Because new cars tend to lose value rapidly, the conventional wisdom is that it usually makes more sense to buy a used vehicle instead of a new one. But is this rule of thumb always true? Has it changed in the past few years? That’s what Lily wants to know. She writes: Time Moneyland recently reported that used vehicle prices have hit a 16-year high. On the radio, car companies are asking people to trade…

  • Ask the Readers: But HOW Do You Track Every Penny You Spend? (186 comments)

    It’s tough to dig out of debt (or make other changes to your spending habits) if you don’t know where your money goes. I tried for years to turn things around, but was unsuccessful until I started tracking every penny I spent. Armed with info about my actual spending habits (instead of perceived patterns), I was able to make a realistic budget. But getting started with expense tracking can be overwhelming. There’s so much data!…

  • Best Savings Accounts for 2015 (106 comments)

    J.D. first posted this online savings account article back in March 2007, when interest rates were well over 1 percent. Since then, of course, interest rates at online banks have run under or just at 1 percent, making it hard for savers to make headway on their goals. Our sister site, MoneyRates.com, does a quarterly analysis of savings rates, called America’s Best Rates, which shows the highest interest rates offered during the previous quarter. The…

  • Ask the Readers: How Can I Earn Extra Money? (122 comments)

    The realm of personal finance blogs is large. It’s filled with general money blogs like Five Cent Nickel and The Simple Dollar and Get Rich Slowly. But there are many smaller corners of this world where writers cover smaller pieces of the personal finance puzzle. For instance, there are: Investment blogs like Crawling Road, Oblivious Investor, and Seeking Alpha (which has grown beyond mere bloghood). Economics blogs like Greg Mankiw’s Blog, the always-awesome Marginal Revolution,…

  • Ask the Readers: Pay Off the Mortgage or Keep the Money in Savings? (231 comments)

    It’s tough to write a personal-finance blog for five years without repeating topics. New readers come and old readers go. Meanwhile, the needs of existing readers are constantly changing. I try not to repeat material too often, but sometimes it’s clear it’s time to revisit a subject. Now is one of those times. Lately, I’ve received several questions like this one from Robin, who wants to know if she should pay off her mortgage: I’ve…

  • Ask the Readers: I’m Getting Older — Should I Save or Should I Travel? (112 comments)

    Long-time GRS reader Sheila (aka PawPrint) dropped a line earlier this year because she’s facing a financial dilemma. She and her husband want to be responsible — to save for retirement — but they’re afraid that doing so means they won’t be able to pursue other passions, such as travel. Sheila writes: My husband is nearly 60. As we watch friends and relatives succumb to cancer (mostly) in their late sixties, I wonder about our…

  • Ask the Readers: How Can I Handle “Required” Office Spending? (217 comments)

    “Money is more about mind than it is about math.” — That’s one of the fifteen tenets of the Get Rich Slowly philosophy. By this I mean that psychology and emotion and relationships play a bigger part in our financial choices than the pure mathematics of any given situation. This manifests itself in lots of ways. Sometimes, it even crops up in the workplace. A reader we’ll call Erin wrote recently with the following dilemma:…

  • Ask the Readers: What Is My Financial Obligation to My Family? (271 comments)

    Last Friday’s question about the moral implications of spending prompted a great discussion, as well as a few personal messages. One of those e-mails was from Dave, who wrote with his own ethical dilemma. Instead of looking at the world at large, Dave wants to know how to handle a financial dilemma closer to home: with his own family. Here’s his story: I read your site though I no longer need it. I did a…

  • Ask the Readers: What Are the Moral Implications of Spending? (241 comments)

    Most reader questions I share at Get Rich Slowly are meant to solve a problem — somebody has a financial dilemma they’re hoping you folks can help them fix. But Rita sent a different kind of question. She doesn’t want to solve a problem — she wants to stir debate. Rita writes: I ask myself “How much is enough?” several times daily. My husband and I make good money — over $100,000 in combined income…

  • Ask the Readers: Should We Rent or Should We Buy? (100 comments)

    Is it better to rent or buy? We’ve discussed this age-old housing question several times in the past, but it’s always been on a theoretical level. Sometimes what seems simple in theory is tougher to figure out when you have to make a decision in Real Life. That’s the case for Erik, who dropped a line yesterday to ask whether, based on his personal circumstances, he should rent an apartment or buy one. Here’s what…

  • Ask the Readers: I’ve Tracked My Expenses — Now What? (103 comments)

    At the end of August, a very patient Stephanie sent me an interesting question. When I didn’t answer her e-mail, she sent it again in January. I replied, promising to post her question while I was in Africa — but I didn’t get to it. Now it’s April. I think it’s time to set things right. Here’s what Stephanie has to say: For a year now, I’ve tracked every single penny that comes and goes…

  • Ask the Readers: Saving vs. Debt Reduction (99 comments)

    The tone and content at Get Rich Slowly have shifted a lot in the past five years. When I started this site, I was a financial novice. I was learning about smart money management. Now, I’m in what I call the third stage of personal finance, and the basics come naturally. (Most of the time, anyhow.) I’m glad that GRS has evolved with me. At the same time, though, I sometimes forget to focus on…

  • College Is a Big, Fat, Hairy Rip-Off! (But Save for It Anyway) (109 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He also has a newly reinvigorated blog, and you can have your day interrupted once or twice by his Twittering. Robert contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. A few weeks ago, the proprietor of this establishment (J.D. “The letters in ‘Get…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Should You Spend on Self Improvement? (89 comments)

    Ah, it’s good to be home and finally getting back into something of a routine. As part of that routine, I’ve been reading hundreds of e-mails, including quite a few reader questions — like this one from Annie. Annie writes: I’m 25, and starting to take personal finance seriously. I’m in graduate school, and am very fortunate to have an educational trust that allows me to do this without loans. Knowing how lucky I am,…

  • Ask the Readers: Best Non-U.S. Personal Finance Sites? (52 comments)

    People are the same all around the world. Everyone struggles with the same things — including money. Because of this, financial advice from one country is generally applicable to other countries, as well. Sort of. While general advice is easy to transfer from one culture to another, the specifics are often lost in translation. In the U.S., we have a Roth IRA. But in Canada, they have an RRSP. And in the U.K.? Well, I’m…

  • Ask the Readers: Should I Sell My Car? (181 comments)

    The Friday “Ask the Readers” column generally follows a set format: I introduce the topic, share a reader e-mail, give my best advice, and then ask for your feedback. Today’s column is a little different. Sarah sent me a 1000-word question, and rather than write any sort of response, I’m just going to let her have the entire space. Everything that follows is from Sarah. I have a question for other GRS readers. It’s a…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do I Motivate My Boyfriend to Save Money? (104 comments)

    Although we cover the topic once or twice a year, I constantly get questions from people who are frustrated by the financial habits of their spouses and partners. Some people are Spenders, and some people are Savers. What can you do to get both partners on the same page? Linda is the most recent GRS reader with a relationship issue. She wrote to ask how to get her boyfriend motivated to save money. Here’s her…

  • Ask the Readers: The Best Online Bank for Service and Security? (148 comments)

    It’s been a while since I’ve written about the best online bank accounts. Usually when I cover online banks, I’m focused on their interest rates, such as in this constantly-updated list of which online high-yield savings accounts are best. But interest rates have been low for nearly three years now, and there’s not much difference between earning 1.11% on your savings at one bank and 1.09% at another. In an environment like this, how do…

  • Ask the Readers: Should We Buy Our Dream House? (213 comments)

    What happens when a great opportunity comes along, but you don’t quite have the resources to take advantage of it? That’s what Greg wants to know. He and his wife have found their Dream House. They think they can buy the place — but only if they’re willing to take on some short-term debt in addition to the mortgage. Greg wants to know if this is a smart move. Here’s his story: My wife and…

  • Ask the Readers: Is It Okay to Buy a Christmas Gift from a Thrift Store? (170 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…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Negotiate with Credit-Card Companies? (56 comments)

    A reader calling herself Florida Girl dropped a line recently to share her story of financial woe. Though she’s beginning to get a handle on her finances, she’s struggling to cope with the cost of her past choices. She needs help. I’m struggling to keep up with the minimum payments on my credit cards. Unfortunately, I’m paying for past mistakes. I no longer shop and spend recklessly, but the aftermath of my past life left…

  • Ask the Readers: How Can We Afford to Buy a House? (176 comments)

    Though they could fall farther, housing prices are starting to seem reasonable again in many parts of the United States. Mortgage rates are cheap, too. Naturally, that means some GRS readers are beginning to express an interest in buying a home. But prices are still high in a lot of places — including Washington, D.C., which is where William lives. He recently dropped a line to ask for advice: He’d like to buy a home…

  • Ask the Readers: Financial Advice for an 18-Year-Old? (114 comments)

    Last week, Isaac asked Get Rich Slowly readers for advice on how to handle life after grad school. He’s about to enter the workforce and needed tips on what to do until he gets his first paycheck. Isaac was very pleased with your helpful responses. This week, we’ve got a chance to help somebody even younger than Isaac. Nico is 18, a sophomore in college, and financially clueless. He needs help! Here’s his story: I’m…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do I Survive Until I Get My First Paycheck? (95 comments)

    Isaac wrote recently with a question about how to make the transition from college to the Real World. He has a good degree, but it’ll take him time to find a job, especially since the economy is still sluggish. He’s worried about how he should handle is finances in the meantime. Here’s his question: I recently graduated from college with a degree in electrical engineering. I’m currently living at home with my family while I…

  • Ask the Readers: Should I Sell My Home to Pay Off My Debt? (100 comments)

    Yesterday we had a great discussion about some of the financial choices I’m facing, but today it’s time to look at a decision a GRS reader is trying to make. Catherine wrote to ask if it makes sense to sell her home so that she can become debt-free and have the freedom to pursue a simpler life: I’m in my mid-forties, self-employed in a high-cost city where I live in a one-bedroom condo that I…

  • Ask the Readers: “Help! I Co-Signed on a Loan and Now I Wish I Hadn’t!” (147 comments)

    Ah, relationships. Without other people, money management would be easy! Easy-er, anyhow. But love, family, and business relationships tend to make people do things they know they really oughtn’t. Take Patrick, for example. He fell in love, and it led him to commit a financial faux pas. Here’s Patrick’s l-o-n-g story and his questions: A couple years back, I met a girl, fell in love, and we moved in together. A few months into our…

  • Ask the Readers: Should I Invest or Prepay My Mortgage? (181 comments)

    Kelley wrote recently with the sort of dilemma I get asked about all of the time: Is it better to invest or to prepay a mortgage? We’ve covered this topic in the distant past, but it’s time to review the debate for current readers. First, let’s look at Kelley’s e-mail: My husband and I are on the right track. At age 25, our only debt lies in our home mortgage. We have the six-month emergency…

  • Ask the Readers: Methods for Effective Money Management? (132 comments)

    On Monday I confessed that since I stopped tracking my spending, I’ve actually had some trouble paying my bills. It’s not that I don’t have the money — I have plenty! — but that I no longer have a system in place to remind myself to take care of routine financial tasks. Quicken was my system, and when I stopped using it, order vanished. In the comments on Monday’s post, Rob Bennett made an astute…

  • Ask the Readers: From London to Los Angeles? (74 comments)

    When Kris was young, her family moved all of the time. Her father was in the Air Force, so they were rarely in one place for long. I, on the other hand, have always lived within the same 25-mile radius. For 41 years. More and more, I feel the itch to live somewhere new, if only for a little while. In fact, I wish I’d lived elsewhere when I was younger. But moving (and living…

  • Ask the Readers: Should I Take Out a Loan to Buy a Car? (114 comments)

    If smart money management were just about math or opening the highest interest savings account, this stuff would be easy. But there are a variety of complex factors that come into play when we have to make financial decisions. For example, Alyssa wrote recently to ask for advice. She needs to buy a car at the end of the summer, but she doesn’t know whether to take out a loan or pay cash. Here’s her…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Choose a Savings Account? (45 comments)

    Here’s a little twist to the typical Ask the Readers column. Yesterday, I exchanged e-mail with financial writer Liz Weston. She gave me advice for this Friday’s post, and in return she asked the following question: I’m writing about all the bonuses you can get for opening a savings account or other financial account (like $50 to open an ING checking account, for example). Is this something your readers like to do? How do they…

  • Ask the Readers: Should I Stick With My Adjustable-Rate Mortgage? (56 comments)

    In February, Get Rich Slowly reader Abby wrote with questions about her adjustable-rate mortgage (or ARM, for short). She’s had an ARM for seven years now, and the rate is due to reset in 2010. She wants to know what her best course of action is. Abby writes: In Fall 2003, I began my career as a teacher and bought my first house at 23. I shopped around for a home loan, borrowing a little…

  • Ask the Readers: Sell the Car or Keep It? (142 comments)

    I love the sometimes-weekly Ask the Readers feature, even if I’m not great about sticking to my intended schedule. And usually I’m able to work with folks to condense their questions to a small space, which leaves me plenty of room to share my thoughts. This week, Martina sent me a lengthy e-mail that does a better job of laying out the pros and cons of her situation than I could. Read on to hear…

  • What Does It Take to Make You Switch Banks? (170 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker, whose own blog featured the hit post 42 Ways to Radically Simplify Your Financial Life. When I was 14 years old, I opened my very first checking account at Bank One. That’s where my Dad banked and so that’s where he drove me when I asked to open an account. Over the years, I continued to give them my business. By 16, I had opened another checking…

  • Reader question: How much life insurance do you need? (84 comments)

    This is a guest post from Sanford Ellowitz, a New York State licensed insurance agent. He has over 25 years experience in the insurance and financial services industries. He’s also a Certified Financial Planner and a Certified Employee Benefit Specialist. Penny recently wrote with the following question: I’m interested to find out how one sets out a financial plan for life and how much insurance does a person really need because there are so many…

  • Ask the Readers: What If Your High-Paying Job Makes You Miserable? (109 comments)

    On Thursday, I featured a guest post from Free Money Finance that proved to be surprisingly controversial. His five steps to six figures in seven years offered solid common-sense career advice for those looking to boost their incomes. Many readers disliked the post. (Though they didn’t hate it as much as FMF’s previous guest article.) Though I don’t share all of your complaints, I do think some of you made an excellent point: Just as…

  • How Much Money Should I Save? Answering the Big Question (117 comments)

    A couple of weeks ago, we had a fine discussion about how much we should save for retirement. But how much should we have saved for today? How much should we have in cash reserves? As I write my own book, I’m reading (and re-reading) dozens of other money manuals. While perusing Bert Whitehead’s, I came across his table of “minimum base liquidity.” (Whitehead is a highly-educated financial advisor. He uses terms like “minimum base…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Should You Save for Retirement? (154 comments)

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

  • Ask the Readers: How to Face a Family Financial Crisis? (91 comments)

    With the arrival of the GRS staff writers, the semi-regular “ask the readers” column has a new home. Look for this feature most weekends. “Ask the readers” is your chance to get (and give) advice about real-life financial dilemmas. An anonymous GRS reader submitted a question last week that hits close to home: I have a family member that this past year has been in serious financial trouble. He is one of the most ambitious…

  • Compound Interest: One Percent Can Make All the Difference (44 comments)

    How many of you consider the effects of compound interest (or “compound returns”, if you prefer) when you make financial decisions? I mention the concept from time-to-time — and I’ve even devoted whole articles to the extraordinary power of compound interest — but I don’t know if others keep the notion in mind when they work with their finances. When I was younger, when I was struggling with money, I only had a fuzzy notion…

  • Employee or Entrepreneur? The Pros and Cons of Self-Employment (114 comments)

    In my recent review of Pam Slim’s Escape from Cubicle Nation, Chett left the following comment: I was talking with a good friend last week who is self-employed. I told him I envied his entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to “go it alone.” He told me he envied my work as a teacher and the set hours and guaranteed pay check and insurance. (I told him there was nothing “set” about the hours, so I…

  • The First Three Steps to Financial Freedom (55 comments)

    The hardest part of money management is just getting started. Once you have some momentum, it’s easier to make the right choices. Kay has been reading personal finance blogs for almost a year now, and she knows that she needs to make some changes, but she doesn’t know how to begin. She writes: I want to get serious about being good with my money, but I don’t know where to start. I never developed good…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Handle a Windfall? (79 comments)

    It’s been a while since we touched on the subject of windfalls: money that unexpectedly falls into your lap. It’s been so long, in fact, that I’ve started to receive questions about them, including this one from Aaryn: I wanted to get your advice as far as the distribution of windfalls. Would you put a certain percentage in a savings account? Invest it? Keep some in your regular checking account? What is your recommendation? Would…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Choose a Mortgage Broker? (58 comments)

    For most of us, buying a home is the largest purchase we’ll ever make. There can be a lot of pressure to get things just right; you don’t want to pay more than you have to. A good broker or lender can help — but how do you find a good broker or lender? That’s what Erin wants to know: My husband and I are in the market for a house as first-time homebuyers. We’ve…

  • Ask the Readers: Debt Consolidation or Consumer Credit Counseling? (79 comments)

    One of my favorite parts of Get Rich Slowly is the weekly “Ask the Readers” section. It’s fantastic to see how well this community pulls together to help each other find solutions to financial dilemmas. Most of the questions come via e-mail, but last week I met a man named Aaron who reads the site. He told me that he could use some reader advice for his situation. Here’s Aaron’s story: My girlfriend has managed…

  • The High Cost of Cats and Dogs: Are Pets Worth the Money? (235 comments)

    Kris and I don’t have kids. We have cats. We have four of them. Our “children”: Nemo, Simon, Maxwell, and Toto. We’d have more, but Kris won’t allow it. She says I’m in danger of becoming the Crazy Cat Gentleman. On the whole, I cannot imagine my life without these animals. They bring us joy and fulfillment, and the cost is minimal. Under normal circumstances, our four cats cost us a total of about $750…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Organize Your Account Information? (86 comments)

    Between my personal accounts, my business accounts, and the joint accounts I have with my wife, it’s difficult for me to keep track of my essential information. As we’ve been working to refinance our house, for example, there have been several times I’ve had to dig for needed account numbers and statements. I’m not the only one with this problem. Earlier this month, Meghan wrote to ask: How do you compile a comprehensive list of…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Prioritize Savings Goals? (73 comments)

    Once you’ve paid off your debt, it’s time to save. But for many of us, it’s difficult to know where to start. Via Twitter (and edited slightly), @funkyknitwit asks: How do you set priorities with savings? I have so many things I want to save for, but I don’t know where to start! What I mean is, how can I decide which thing I should work towards first? My budgeting is already in order. This…

  • Ask the Readers: Is It Unethical to Work a Second Job? (212 comments)

    To build wealth — or to get out of debt — you must create a positive cash flow. That is, you must spend less than you earn. One way to do this is to cut costs. Another is to increase your income. Because it has worked so well in my own life, I encourage people to boost their income whenever possible: ask for a raise, make money from hobbies, change careers. For many, the most…

  • Ask the Readers: How to rent out your spare room? (124 comments)

    Last month, Alison from Diamond-Cut Life shared a guest post about providing lodging to a housemate in exchange for work (instead of rent). Her story prompted a number of readers to ask about the mechanics and practicalities of actually renting an extra room to generate income. For example, Penny wrote with the following: In August, my brother-in-law moved in with us. By December, he couldn’t find a job, so moved back out. While I had…

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

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

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

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

  • Ask the Readers: Are Local Banks Better Than Big Banks? (109 comments)

    Personal finance is about more than just money. People make financial choices because of emotion, of course, but they also make decisions based on their principles. Some people are guided by their faith. But that’s not the only way a person’s conscience can guide him. Josh recently wrote with a question about finding a bank that better matches his personal philosophy: I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the economic crisis, and about the…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Cash Do You Stash? (260 comments)

    “How much cash do you carry in your wallet?” my friend Michael asked at lunch last Sunday. “I don’t know,” I said. “Somewhere between $40 and $100, I guess. That’s how much I take out of the ATM when I need it. Why do you ask?” “Well, I read something the other day that said the average person keeps about $175 on hand. That seems like a lot.” “That does seem like a lot,” Kris…

  • Ask the Readers: How Can I Get My Wife to Talk About Money? (91 comments)

    Money management can be difficult, even when you’re on your own. Throw a life partner into the mix and things get more complicated. What can you do if you and your spouse just aren’t on the same financial page? Hal recently wrote with a question: I got married about a year ago to a wonderful girl who is up to her ears in debt, including medical bills and student loans (including federal loans) which have…

  • Ask the Readers: Buy a Car or Pay Off Debt? (124 comments)

    Earlier this week, April wrote with a personal finance predicament. She and her husband need to buy a car, but it’s not something they’d budgeted to do any time soon. Fate intervened: My husband and I are trying to pay down our debt and to save money. This morning he called to tell me that he had been rear-ended in traffic. He’s fine, thankfully, but he thinks they’ll total his car, which was paid for….

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

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

  • Ask the Readers: What Do You Splurge On? (161 comments)

    I write a lot about frugality, about saving for the future. But what about enjoying life today? My friend Matt recently asked, “Amid all the saving and sacrifices you make to keep your financial life in order, what is your one extravagance that you deem worth spending money on? I know with you it’s that Filson clothing stuff, right? Maybe Apple products?” He’s right. I love both Filson and Apple. I don’t often splurge on…

  • Ask the Readers: What Can I Do If My Girlfriend Isn’t Serious About Money? (90 comments)

    In the Get Rich Slowly forums, DannyBoy has a question that I think many people face: “What can I do if my girlfriend isn’t serious about money?” He writes: I’m the sort of person who essentially looks into every area of his life to save, start investing, and be smart about money as much as possible. Do you think that somebody like myself, who cares so much about where his money goes, can be happy…

  • Ask the Readers: How To Find Work That You Love? (93 comments)

    During yesterday’s discussion about the value of a college education, several people noted that it’s difficult to decide what to study when you don’t know what you want to do with your life. This reminded me of a recent question from the Get Rich Slowly discussion forums. Shaun wants to know: How do you find work that you love? It’s been said, “If you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life.”…

  • 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…

  • Ask the Readers: How Can You Help a Family Member in Financial Trouble WITHOUT Loaning Them Money? (73 comments)

    “The Tim” is in a bind. He’d like to help his brother-in-law out of a tight spot, but he’s not interested in loaning him money. What are his options? Here’s his story: My brother-in-law is currently in his third year of college at a private university. He is paying for his schooling without any financial assistance from his parents, as they had somewhat of a falling-out a few years ago. Recently, his job came to…

  • Ask the Readers: What if You’re Frugal But Your Roommates Aren’t? (62 comments)

    Eleanor wrote with a question that could test even the mightiest personal finance expert. “What,” she asks, “can you do when you want to save money and your roommates don’t care?” I share a house with four roommates.  This saves me at least $200 a month from what I would be paying if I lived in an apartment.  But roommates raise expenses in other, unexpected ways.  I have been trying to cut down on monthly…

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

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

  • Ask the Readers: Is It Better to Invest or to Prepay a Mortgage? (194 comments)

    Paul writes with a common question that illustrates how challenging personal finance can be, even when you’re doing the right things. Sometimes it’s difficult to choose between several good options. Here’s his dilemma: I refinanced my house a few years ago at a great rate (5-3/8%). At the time, we had a lot of equity in the house so we borrowed against it in order to build an addition. After we were finished, we had…

  • Ask the Readers: Save for a Down Payment, or Put Money into Home Equity? (27 comments)

    Matt has a question about the best way to save for upgrading his house: My wife and I bought a small house before our wedding, and we know that eventually (say, within the next five years) we’ll need to move. We’ll want to start a family and will need more space. We purchased our current home with an 80/20 loan, instead of putting down the traditional 20% down-payment. At the time we could afford the…

  • Ask the Readers: Finding a Financial Advisor? (33 comments)

    Last week we helped a reader get started with stocks. This week Rebecca asks how to take the next step. Where should she go for help? For my birthday this year my Grandmother gave me some stocks. She uses Edward Jones, but tells me that I can go anywhere. Would anyone be able to recommend a good “financial advisor” company? I’m looking for someplace: Local (in Portland, Oregon) or maybe something that has a good…

  • Ask the Readers: Escaping from an Upside-Down Loan? (29 comments)

    Many of us are in similar positions: we’ve discovered sound personal finance skills, but only after making some dumb decisions. I’m still paying down a $16,000 home equity loan that represents my residual credit card debt. John writes with a similar problem, one that he hopes he might escape. A little over a year ago, I bought a new VW Jetta. I now have a hefty car and insurance payment, which I’ve been making every…

  • Reader Question: Socially Responsible Investments? (6 comments)

    A Get Rich Slowly reader recently submitted a question: “What options exist for socially responsible investment?” My husband and I save, and we own a house and may invest in more property later, but one thing we won’t do is play the stock market.  We spend a lot of time thinking about the ills of the world and the way to live our lives to make things even a little better. It seems to us…