dcsimg

Basics


  • Creative Ways To Reduce Student-Loan Debt (3 comments)

    Each time tuition rises, students become more dependent upon loan programs to pay for school. But the long-term consequences of those decisions means students and graduates will spend years working to get rid of the financial strain associated with student-loan debt.  Time.com put it best: “This year, more than two-thirds of college graduates graduated with debt, and their average debt at graduation was about $35,000, tripling in two decades.” Your game plan to reduce student-loan…

  • Get Rich Slowly turns 10! Celebrating our first decade (18 comments)

    My name is J.D. Roth. Ten years ago today, I started a little blog about money. This blog, in fact. When I started Get Rich Slowly, I had no idea what it would become. Just a year earlier, I had summarized all the best advice from the personal-finance books I’d been reading into a single article for my personal site. It’s when I first began to recognize that all the books had a common thread:…

  • 11 Things to Know about Bonds (18 comments)

    Bonds can be great low-risk investments but chances are you have never purchased a bond … and probably never will. Same with me. I simply don’t have the capital to commit over $100,000 to purchase the typical bond. But I do believe there are reasons to learn about bonds nonetheless, even if it’s an investment you don’t think you’ll ever make. Never say “never,” right? Well, the fact is… You may already be invested in…

  • What you need to succeed against the odds (23 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    It’s the end of summer and some of us are going back to school, trying to learn more, become more. Others are already established in their professions, working to build the life of their dreams. Maybe you’re someone that got knocked down and have to build your dreams over again. Maybe you started out the year with a resolution, a goal, or a purpose to achieve. Where…

  • 5 ways to pay yourself first (16 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Recently, we discussed the benefits of paying yourself first. But exactly how do you go about doing that (especially if you feel like you’re living paycheck to paycheck already)? If you are just starting to manage your money or you simply struggle when it comes to budgeting in the first place, paying yourself first may seem like one of those personal finance concepts that sounds good…

  • How to dispute credit card charges (13 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    According to a 2013 Nilson report, credit and debit card fraud were the cause of over $11.2 billion in losses in 2012. And if you think that sounds bad, just wait; it’s expected to get much worse. As USA Today reported last year, hackers and scammers have turned stealing credit card numbers into an art form. By focusing on major retailers such as P.F. Chang’s, Target, and…

  • Ask the Readers: How do you teach your children about net worth? (20 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    Back in 2008, Holly P left a comment on J.D. Roth’s article about teaching kids to invest saying: “I’d love to know how your sibling got your nephew to think about actually saving. Despite repeated efforts to get them to save, my kids want to spend every cent as soon as it hits their palms.” It’s a common problem for parents. They see the need to teach…

  • Should Cash be Part of Your Emergency Fund? (59 comments)

    When I was in college, one of my co-workers at my part-time, on-campus job gave me a funny little gift that I use to this day. What was it? It’s called a “wallet fairy.” According to the note that came with my little talisman, you put it in your wallet and “you’ll never be out of money when you need it.” I can’t honestly say that the “magic” has been foolproof. I believe I’ve mentioned…

  • What’s the definition of success? (22 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Just because two people hear the same word or phrase, doesn’t mean that they are conceptualizing the same thing. For example, I live in the desert, so when I say that it’s “cold,” it’s a pretty safe bet that I’m talking about something different than the person who lives in Vermont. Similarly, if I say it’s “humid,” I am probably not thinking about the same thing as…

  • What to do during the “What’s Next?” stage of finance (43 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. When I first started writing for Get Rich Slowly, I’d just become interested in my finances. While I’ve always been frugal, I started to realize there was much more to personal finance than finding ways to save money. Here’s where I was, financially, at that time: I was rebuilding my recently depleted emergency fund. I had just started to earn more. I was working hard for my money,…

  • 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…

  • How to track your spending (and why you should) (82 comments)

    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 while, and he gave a few more details…

  • The power of profit margin (40 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money, where he recently wrote about how to be happy. After six months of work, my guide about becoming the Chief Financial Officer of your own life is ready for launch! Be Your Own CFO will be released on April 22. Over the next couple of weeks at Get Rich Slowly, I’ll…

  • Reader Stories: The Notebook (Part 2) (23 comments)

    Jim, a reader of our Facebook page, shared some of his personal finance journey in Facebook comments a while back. We reached out and asked him if he would elaborate so we could share his story with the Get Rich Slowly website readers. This is Part 2. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial…

  • How to get started investing (33 comments)

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

  • Why paying with cash hurts (and why it should) (58 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. These days, my monthly budget is on the boring side. Aside from our regular spending, I’ve got a mortgage payment to fork over, groceries to buy, and utility bills to pay. Throw in some payments to my kids’ 529 plans and my SEP-IRA and I’m basically done for the month. After all of the bills are paid, the key for us is making sure that the rest…

  • The Sheep and the Wolves: Smart investing made simple (36 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money, where he recently wrote about winning the jackpot. Imagine that you’re a farmer. You live in a rural county where everybody raises sheep. The county’s farmers, on the whole, prosper. Their flocks tend to grow by 10 percent every year. Some years are better than others. In the best years, the…

  • Big wins: The quickest way to wealth (106 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money, where he recently wrote about the difference between tenacity and talent. There’s a divide in the world of personal finance. On one side are the folks who offer advice for scrimping and saving your way to financial success. On the other are the experts who scoff at frugality and champion big…

  • Book review: “Personal Finance for Dummies, 5th Edition” (18 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. There are many personal finance books and tools out there, useful to people in all stages of personal finance. I have a lot to learn before reaching financial independence, and the editorial elves thought it would be useful if I shared some of what I learn with you. My recent reviews include “FlexScore, Part I (The Book)” by Jeff Burrow, CFP, and Jason Gordo, AIF as well…

  • The one-page guide to financial freedom (74 comments)

    This year, I learned a lot about money. I think the biggest breakthrough I had in 2013 was to connect the ideas of personal and financial freedom. I spent a week in Ecuador talking with folks about this subject, and then I spent a couple of months putting my thoughts onto paper. I’ve done a lot of writing and thinking and speaking on this topic. But you know what? I’ve come to realize that the…

  • Money lessons from the Grinch, Scrooge, and Buddy the Elf (35 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Every December, my husband and I have a Christmas movie marathon. We watch as many holiday movies as we can between December 1 and December 31, which is a fun way to get into the spirit. (Here in Texas, we often have 70-degree days in December, so we have to get into the spirit somehow…) This year, I started thinking about all of the great personal finance…

  • 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,…

  • 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…

  • Reader Stories: How I paid off $610,000 in debt, became a dad and quit my job — in 2 years (57 comments)

    This reader story comes from John Corcoran, an attorney, former Clinton White House writer and blogger at SmartBusinessRevolution.com, where he writes about how to use smart political strategies in business. You can download his free ebook, “10 Ways to Use Secret Political Strategies and Tactics to Grow Your Business.” Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels…

  • You Are the Boss of You: How to Find Success with Life and Money (72 comments)

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

  • Do you read the fine print? (39 comments)

    This post is written by staff writer April Dykman. We’ve all heard the advice to “read the fine print” before we sign anything, but does anyone actually do it? I recently spoke with a man we’ll call Randy. Six months ago, Randy went to a state fair, the kind that vendors of all kinds descend upon to hawk their wares. One of those vendors was a hot tub company with a very recognizable name. They’ve…

  • Your budget isn’t working. Here’s why. (82 comments)

    Before my husband and I got our financial act together, we didn’t have a household budget. Since we didn’t have and sort of plan, we spent all of our discretionary income on “wants” and financed anything that cost more money than we had. And the scariest part is that we never really thought much of it. Our income always lasted until the next payday, so we never worried about making ends meet. But, after years of frivolous…

  • Talk about money: The key to financial literacy? (54 comments)

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

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

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

  • Review: ‘All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan’ (44 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. There are many personal finance books out there, useful to people in all stages of personal finance. I have a lot to learn before reaching financial independence, and the editorial elves thought it would be useful if I shared some of what I learn with you. So for the foreseeable future, I will be reviewing one PF-related book per month. I won’t necessarily be reviewing the latest bestsellers in…

  • Professional shoe repair: Save money, time, and your feet (74 comments)

    While on my way back from getting some hot tea in the break room at work, I noticed that one of my shoes was making a strange noise. Upon getting back to my office, I saw why: the heel cap had fallen off and was lying next to my chair. Hmm, I thought. Maybe that’s why I’ve been tripping so much lately. Because I had been tripping. Enough to be embarrassed. I had jokingly chalked…

  • Getting rich slowly on my own terms (47 comments)

    Over the last six months, I have had several articles published at Get Rich Slowly. However, I have never had the pleasure of formally introducing myself. My name is Holly Johnson, and I am a 32 year-old wife and mother of two young children. I work alongside my husband at a small family owned mortuary in the rural Midwest. I began my own journey out of debt a little over two years ago, and it…

  • Insurance: Share the risk (84 comments)

    This is a guest post from Joanna Lahey, an associate professor of economics at the George H.W. Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University and the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). Ellen’s note: Joanna has written four articles about health insurance. This is the first, and every Saturday for the next month, we’ll be publishing one. Given the readers’  concern over the cost of health insurance as well as the…

  • How to Pick the Best Darned Account for You (9 comments)

    This is a post from staff writer Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. Happy World Wide Invest Better Day! What, you’re not familiar with this holiday? Well, it might because we at The Motley Fool invented it, and today is the first time we’re going to…

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

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

  • 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….

  • Where I’m Starting From: Honey’s Story (384 comments)

    This article is from new staff writer Honey Smith. Hello. I’m Honey Smith. I’m thrilled to be a part of the GRS community, though of course a little embarrassed that it’s essentially as an object lesson to others of what not to do. However, I do hope that everyone on the site learns something along with me. For those of you who are financially comfortable (or close to it), those lessons may be about empathy…

  • Signs of Financial Relationship Trouble? (179 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Sarah Gilbert. With my husband across the planet in Kuwait for most of the past two years, we don’t fight a lot. When we do fight, it’s about three things: what I’m doing with the kids. What things are going to be like when he comes back (for leave, or for good). And money. We started out so well? At the beginning of our relationship, I had a great…

  • Financial Education for Fifth Graders (81 comments)

    I’ve finally overcome my fear of speaking in public (though speaking in front of 1000 people at next month’s World Domination Summit may bring that fear back) and have actually found that I enjoy talking to various groups about money. I think the key is not to over-prepare. In early May, for instance, I made a presentation for Adelante Mujeres, a group working to strengthen the local latina community. I spoke to about 25 immigrant…

  • What is a Roth IRA? A Short and Simple Guide (85 comments)

    Note: This post is part of the Roth IRA Movement event organized by Jeff Rose at Good Financial Cents. Today, dozens of financial bloggers are posting articles about Roth IRAs. This is mine. Most of us know we should save for retirement, but sometimes it’s tough to get started. If your employer sponsors a retirement plan — especially if it offers a generous match to your contributions — that’s usually the best place to begin….

  • 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,…

  • Four-Week Financial Boot Camp (6 comments)

    Yesterday I wrote about three 30-day challenges that can help you start forming new habits, and I recently learned about one more. MyMoneyCircles is offering a four-week personal finance boot camp, starting on January 9. The site aims to combine expert money-management advice with social circles to make success quick and easy. Leading the boot camp is The Money Coach, nationally known personal finance expert and New York Times best-selling author Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, who teaches…

  • 12 Steps to Financial Freedom (46 comments)

    Editor’s Note: This article on attaining financial freedom was originally published in 2012 but was updated in October 2016. We discuss many aspects of personal finance at Get Rich Slowly. We explore ways to earn more money, get out of debt, and build an emergency fund. We talk about the psychology of money management, and we share tips and tricks for making the most of your savings and your career. Basically, we do our best to help…

  • Why Financial Literacy Fails (and What to Do About It) (166 comments)

    One of my resolutions since returning from Peru is that I’m going to be more responsive to requests from reporters. I’ve generally tried to weasel out of interviews in the past because they always made me uncomfortable. I’ve done enough of them now, though, that I’m able to answer questions without having a panic attack. Most interviews are pretty formulaic, really. And my message doesn’t change, so it’s easy to say things like “spend less…

  • How Did My Phone Bill Get So High?!? Why You Should Pay Attention to Your Bills (45 comments)

    This is a guest-post from Tim Ellis, author of Seattle Bubble, a blog and forum dedicated to real-estate market conditions in the Seattle area. Tim is a long-time GRS reader. Previously on GRS, Tim has written about renting vs. buying, renting in a new city, setting homebuying priorities, and gaming without breaking the bank. Recently my wife and I sat down for the first time in a couple of years to review and update our…

  • Compound Interest vs. Increased Income — Which Matters More? (54 comments)

    Like nearly everyone else on the internet, I’m a fan of xkcd, the nerdy webcomic from Randall Munroe. My wife, who’s a chemist, loves xkcd’s science episodes (such as this and this), while I like everything else (especially this and this). And let’s not forget the map of online communities! Many of you e-mailed to tell me that yesterday’s xkcd tackled a subject near and dear to our hearts: personal finance. Specifically, Munroe poked a…

  • 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: 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!…

  • Putting First Things First (74 comments)

    The morning is my time. Five days a week, I’m up at 5:30. I come downstairs, sip a diet soda or a cup of tea (lapsang souchong), and spend a few minutes checking e-mail and approving comments. By 5:45, I’m in my gym clothes and out the door. I walk through the quiet streets of my neighborhood, greeting the birds and the cats and the dogs. I admire the flowers. I notice all the small…

  • Why I Hate “New, Unique” Money Tips (123 comments)

    Today I’m going to rant. I get a lot of requests from reporters who want quotes for their stories about personal finance. That’s fine. I’m happy to help when possible. What bugs me, though, is that nearly every single reporter pitches her story with the same caveat: “I need tips about saving, but I don’t want the same old stuff. I need new, unique ways to save money.” sigh “New, unique ways to save money”…

  • How to Build a Better Budget (77 comments)

    This article on building a better budget is the written version of a workshop I gave last week at a local public library. It refines material from several past posts on the subject. If I’d planned ahead, I could have used this for Financial Literacy Month in April. “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” ~ John C. Maxwell For most people, budgeting is about as fun…

  • The Financial Literacy Toolkit (15 comments)

    It’s critical to have a financial literacy toolkit when planning your finances. You need first to learn the basic skills like setting smart financial goals. But once you have that ground work, you move onto  budgeting, bank accounts, credit, credit cards, investing, insurance and estate planning. That’s where a financial literacy toolkit comes in — and we have it all for you here in this article. Here’s a list of financial literacy resources to help…

  • Five Ways to Outwit the ATM (142 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. Automated teller machines are from the devil, and debit cards are Satan’s imps. Sure, it’s great to be able to get cash whenever you want. The problem is, well, you can get cash whenever you want. Not only do…

  • Five Years of Get Rich Slowly (77 comments)

    Five years ago today, I started a new blog. Inspired by the success of a popular post at my personal site, I sat down to create what I thought would be the first personal-finance blog on the internet. I was wrong, of course; there were plenty of similar blogs before mine. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. In the Beginning… In April 2006, I was still deep in debt. I’d begun…

  • Setting Smart Financial Goals (25 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com This article is part of Financial Literacy Month at Get Rich Slowly. Goals are critical to financial success. We’ve written about them a lot here at GRS; in fact, one of J.D.’s core tenets for getting rich slowly is “The road to wealth is paved with goals.” Not all goals are created equal, however. A bad…

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

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

  • Earning, Spending, and Saving: The Building Blocks of Personal Finance (62 comments)

    Note: This article is part of Financial Literacy Month at Get Rich Slowly. A couple of weeks ago, Robert Brokamp explained how living below your means is like saving for retirement twice. On the surface, his advice was pretty conventional: The more you save today, the more you’ll have tomorrow. This is similar to a point I’ve been repeating for the past five years. Smart personal finance can be reduced to one simple equation: [WEALTH]…

  • You Can Have It All (Just Not All At Once) (63 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. Like J.D., Donna has been traveling lately — but she’s in merrie olde England, not Africa. Earlier this month, I attended a candlelit baroque concert at the historic St.-Martin-in-the-Fields Church. The Festive Orchestra of London was delightful. My seat cost £8 (about…

  • Back to the Stone Age: Low-Tech Expense Tracking (94 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. As many of you know, before I was a GRS staff writer, I was a GRS reader and active commenter. I’d say the bulk of my early personal-finance education came from this website, and it’s most definitely the resource I credit for spurring me to get serious about paying off debt and saving money. So last year when J.D. started talking about falling off the tracking-every-penny wagon,…

  • The Tao of the Dow: All About Stock Market Indexes (15 comments)

    This is a guest post from MP Dunleavey, who is a contributing editor at Money magazine and the editorial director at Daily Worth, which offers free, daily money tips for women. What exactly is the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the mythic number that punctuates each day’s stock market report? I’ve always wondered. Now, with the Dow crossing 12,000, I decided to roll up my sleeves and delve into what that 12,000 really means. Why should…

  • The Most Important Factor in Retirement Savings (67 comments)

    “Wanna see something neat?” Kris asked the other night. She was holding the year-end statement from her work-based retirement plan. “Sure,” I said. “Show me the money.” She handed the statement to me. “Look at my account balance,” she said. “Look how it’s grown. It went down a little bit in 2008, but because I kept contributing, the balance has gone crazy during the last two years.” Kris’s retirement account took a hit in 2008,…

  • Think You Can’t Afford an Emergency Fund? Think Again! (78 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. Once upon a time it was enough to have a three-month emergency fund; now I hear we should aim for enough to cover a year’s worth of food, shelter, and other basics. A swell idea in theory, but this could actually discourage…

  • What’s a Credit Score? An Intro to Credit Reports and Credit Scores (43 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. A good friend of mine recently asked me what a credit report is and how he could get his hands on his. My friend has a PhD. He’s a smart guy, and generally savvy about life. If he was asking me this question, he can’t be the only one wondering. So I…

  • Underachievement and the All-or-Nothing Mindset (67 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. There have been a slew of great articles lately on why resolutions fail, and I agree wholeheartedly with them. I’ve never had much success with resolutions myself — they always fall by the wayside after a few months, and by summer I don’t even remember that I’d set resolutions in the first place. Nevertheless, I set a lot of goals in 2010 that I reached. For example,…

  • How to Take Control of Your Finances in 2011 (58 comments)

    The new year is upon us! I’ve talked to a lot of folks lately who have resolved to make this the year they get out of debt. Or start an emergency fund. Or earn more money. These resolutions don’t mean a whit, though, if you don’t have a plan. For the past five years, I’ve shared the following road map, adding one new tip every January. Many GRS readers have used this info to plot…

  • Earning Extra Income: Tips for Positive Cash Flow (50 comments)

    A few weeks ago, I shared a monster list of ways to make more money. These weren’t cheesy chores or slimy scams, but legitimate ways a person could earn extra income if they needed. Most of the suggestions were drawn from GRS reader stories, from my friends’ lives, or from my own experience. They’re ways real people make real money when times are tough. After I posted the list, though, I had a few people…

  • Three Posters About Personal Finance (16 comments)

    I’m a sucker for charts and graphs. I once attended an Edward Tufte course just for kicks. Though I don’t do much with charts and graphs around GRS, I always admire the work of others. For example, last year when I shared my guide to understanding the federal budget (and the follow up on the truth about taxes), I pointed to Jess Bachman’s annual Death and Taxes poster, which attempts to visualize the entire U.S….

  • How to Save: Putting “Pay Yourself First” into Practice (79 comments)

    For many people, saving is tough. Between housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, credit-card debt, student loans, and other expenses, there never seems to be enough left to set aside for long-term savings. And that’s the problem. Most people try to save something out of what’s left over instead of saving first. One of the oldest rules of personal finance is to pay yourself first. All the money books tell you to do it. All the personal…

  • Where’s the Money, Honey? Why You MUST Track Your Spending (59 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. People are always scratching their heads about where their money…

  • DIY Personal Finance: How to Take Control of Your Financial Life (30 comments)

    This story originally appeared on Boing Boing in slightly different form. It’s my favorite article I’ve ever written. I’m not a trained financial professional; I don’t have a degree in finance, and I’m not a certified financial planner. I have no formal training. I’m just an average guy who was deep in debt, and finally got fed up with his situation. After deciding to turn things around, I read dozens of financial books, and used…

  • Unemployed? Underemployed? Here’s How to Get Help (54 comments)

    For a long time, GRS readers have been requesting a list of resources for low-income families struggling to get by. I haven’t put anything together because I don’t know much about the subject. Fortunately, I know somebody who does. In this guest post, Donna Freedman lays out the nuts and bolts of finding help when you’re in financial distress. Plenty of people who once made a good living are joining the ranks of the poor…

  • 5 Habits of Highly-Effective Credit Card Users (71 comments)

    This is a guest post from Beverly Harzog, who writes about credit cards and personal finance at Card Ratings. Harzog is the co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Person-to-Person Lending. When I was in my early twenties, I was a credit card mess. I’d go shopping with my credit card in hand and not worry about how much I spent until the bill came. At that point, though, I’d start worrying a great deal…

  • How much should you spend on a car? (52 comments)

    There are all sorts of rules of thumb about how much you should spend on a home, but what about that other major expense in your life — your vehicle? Have you ever wondered how much to spend on a car? I’ve thought about this question before, but never really considered that there might be an answer. (Well, no answer other than “as little as possible.”) But the folks over at BeFrugal have put together…

  • Insurance basics: How car insurance works (59 comments)

    This is the third part in a short series about insurance basics. In the first part, I explained how insurance works. In the second, I shared some general tips about how to save on insurance of all types. Today’s article offers info about auto insurance. You’ve had car insurance since you were old enough to drive, but how much do you really know about it? At its heart, your policy probably contains a few basic…

  • Insurance basics: How to save on insurance (34 comments)

    This is the second part in a short series about insurance basics. Last week, I explained how insurance works. Next week (or possibly the week after), I will offer some tips on car insurance. Today’s article offers some general insurance tips useful for most situations. All insurance works pretty much the same way: You pay a premium (a set amount of money) to the insurance company, usually on some sort of schedule (monthly or yearly,…

  • Reader Story: Patience and Persistence Pay Off (60 comments)

    This guest post from Alissa is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. I like all of the reader stories I publish, but for some reason I particularly like this one. Update: Now with photos! Alissa e-mailed…

  • 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…

  • Insurance Basics: How Insurance Works (32 comments)

    I don’t write a lot about insurance around here. For one thing, insurance is kind of boring. For another, I don’t know a lot about it. Still, insurance is an important part of personal finance, and my silence on the subject hasn’t gone unnoticed. Josh wrote last week to make a request: I’ve been reading your blog for about a year now, and I consider it a constant source of valuable information. However, one area…

  • 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…

  • How to Use a Credit Card (Without Going Into Debt) (62 comments)

    Last Friday, we had a great discussion about the socio-economic implications of credit-card rewards programs (or lack of implications, depending on your viewpoint). The conversation wasn’t nearly as tedious as my description makes it sound. In response to that article, Califia e-mailed: [Could you provide] a quick elaboration of this statement from your recent post: “I’ve gone from anti-credit-card to pro-credit-card — but only for those who can use them responsibly.” How do you define…

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

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

  • The Rewards of Frugality and Thrift (or, Why We Scrimp and Save) (139 comments)

    Over the past couple of weeks, more than a few GRS readers have complained about the site’s tone. These folks are afraid that Get Rich Slowly is turning into a column that’s only about frugality and self-denial, one that is neglecting the “rich” part of the blog’s title. These concerns came to the fore in last week’s article about remembering to appreciate what I already have. In that discussion, ObjectiveGeek wrote: I want the best…

  • High interest: How to choose between checking, savings, and CDs (52 comments)

    In a rocky economy, high interest rates are the holy grail of conservative investors, especially those who don’t want to invest in bonds. But in this rocky economy, “high interest” hasn’t really meant much: High-interest savings accounts are returning below two percent! Get Rich Slowly readers are just like everybody else. A couple of times a week, I get e-mail from somebody looking for higher interest rates, but puzzled about where to find them. So,…

  • 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…

  • Instructions for the Afterlife: Preparing for the Inevitable (31 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. I hate to get all morbid on you, but if something happened to you today that temporarily or permanently (or immortally, depending on your religious persuasion) put you out of commission, would your family…

  • Reader Story: Learning to Read the Fine Print (63 comments)

    This guest post from Joel is part of the “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general “how I did X” advice, and others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. (Note that Joel is the author of the Blog Of Impossible Things, a blog documenting his attempts to live an extraordinary life by doing impossible things.) I recently moved from Chicago to Indianapolis…

  • Three Things the Amish Taught Me About Money (65 comments)

    Yesterday, a couple of readers pointed me to a CNN Money article about why Amish businesses don’t fail. Good timing, because today’s guest post is from the author profiled in that piece. This is a guest post from Erik Wesner, who researched the Amish for his new book Success Made Simple: An Inside Look at Why Amish Businesses Thrive. He blogs about Amish culture at Amish America. Most people associate the Amish with certain things:…

  • Don’t Wait for a Discount — Ask for One (67 comments)

    This post is short and sweet and to the point. Folks, I cannot stress how important it is to check all of your accounts for possible savings at least once a year. This includes your bank accounts, your credit accounts, your utility accounts, and more. Basically, you should review every account that involves a financial relationship at least yearly. It’s easy to do this. Just call the customer service number and ask if there are…

  • The Get Rich Slowly Philosophy (44 comments)

    There’s been an influx of new readers at Get Rich Slowly lately. To serve as an intro the new folks (and to celebrate the site’s fourth anniversary, and in honor of Financial Literacy Month), today I’m going to review my financial philosophy. Although we covered each of these points in turn last autumn, it’s been a while since I collected these core values in one location. Based on my research — and my experience with…

  • Calculate How Much Your Debt Costs You Per Month (46 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. Read what Baker had to say about J.D.’s new book, Your Money: The Missing Manual, in his recent review on Man Vs. Debt. As you all know, April is Financial Literacy Month. To celebrate, my weekly contributions throughout the month will cover basic techniques to raise your financial awareness. In my opinion, raising awareness is the first step to tackling financial literacy! When initially dealing with the problem…

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

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

  • Reader Tip: Pay Your Bills as They Arrive (99 comments)

    Andy sent me a tip by e-mail the other day. This isn’t long enough to be a reader story, but I think it’ll be useful advice for some GRS readers. Andy says he’s learned that if he pays his bills as they arrive, he feels a lot less stressed than if he puts them off to the end of the month. When he got his first credit card, Andy made a habit of paying his…

  • How to Talk with Your Spouse About Money (74 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. Talking about money is one of the great taboos of our culture. I know more about my friends’ sex lives than I do about their bank statements. Many of us find it hard to discuss finances under the best circumstances. When we’re…

  • Learning to Use Money as a Tool (82 comments)

    It’s pretty clear by now that I have a different relationship with money than when I started Get Rich Slowly. I’m by no means perfect with the stuff, but I’ve become firmly entrenched in the camp that sees money as a tool. (I used to see it only as a means to instant gratification.) Here’s a tiny example. Taking a page out of Trent’s book, Kris has been on a crock pot kick lately. This…

  • 10 Steps to Financial Success in 2010 (51 comments)

    Ah, the new year. The perfect time to get your life back on track. If one of your goals for 2010 is to take control of your finances, this crash course in financial basics can help guide the way. Here are ten simple but effective steps you can take to build a better financial future. Step #1: Track every penny you spend The authors of Your Money or Your Life urge readers to “keep track…

  • Getting Started with Asset Allocation (37 comments)

    This is a guest post from Dylan Ross, a certified financial planner and a long-time GRS reader. If you’re new to investing, recognize the merits of using low-cost index funds, but you’re not sure how to allocate your long-term savings among various types of index funds, this information is for you. Asset allocation basics While there are many ways to divide investment assets into different categories, there are two main classifications: stocks and bonds. Here’s…

  • It’s More Important to Be Happy Than to Be Rich (72 comments)

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

  • Action Beats Inaction (50 comments)

    This article is the 13th of a 14-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. Five years ago, I was a different man. I had no savings, retirement or otherwise. I was literally living paycheck-to-paycheck on $42,000 a year. (Meaning: I had between $0 and $20 every time I got paid.) I was over $35,000 in debt. I had a job I hated because it had no meaning in my life. I…

  • Nobody Cares More About Your Money Than You Do (44 comments)

    This article is the 12th of a 14-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. I’ve read a lot of stuff lately about how scammers take advantage of other people. (Here, for example, is a brief summary of seven psychological tricks con artist use.) It’s easy to think that those who lose their money are just unfortunate suckers. That’s not always true. Often they’re folks just like me and you who get…

  • A Brief Guide to Holiday Tipping (95 comments)

    I’m getting more requests this year for holiday tipping info than ever before. For example, Nina wrote: “Can you provide some guidelines for Holiday Tipping Etiquette for the holiday season? I’m at a complete loss…” To be honest, I don’t know much about holiday tipping. It’s not something I was raised with. I covered it briefly in my guide to how much to tip, but I’m basically as in the dark as Nina is. To…

  • Financial Balance Lets You Enjoy Tomorrow AND Today (75 comments)

    This article is the 11th of a 14-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. It originally appeared at Soul Shelter in a slightly different form. For more than a decade, I was buried in debt. My relationship with money was poor. I earned a decent salary, but I couldn’t seem to get ahead. I lived paycheck-to-paycheck on $40,000 a year. I’d frequently find myself standing in a store, holding a stack…

  • Failure is Okay (55 comments)

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

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

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

  • Slow and Steady Wins the Race (56 comments)

    This article is the eighth of a fourteen-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. One reason I got into financial trouble during my early twenties was that I wanted everything right now. I looked at what my parents had, and it didn’t occur to me that they’d been working their entire lives to get to that point. I wanted the same level of comfort, and I wanted it today. I wanted…

  • Do What Works for You (56 comments)

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

  • Large Amounts Matter Too (46 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

  • How to Get Your Free Credit Report Online: A Step-by-Step Guide (49 comments)

    Getting your hands on a free copy of your credit report and checking it for errors is one of the easiest ways to help your financial health. Correcting even a small mistake can make a huge difference to your score. A higher score means lower interest rates, insurance quotes, and can even help you land some types of jobs. And it’s never been easier to get a copy of your free credit report. AnnualCreditReport.com is…

  • Small Amounts Matter (60 comments)

    This article is the fifth of a fourteen-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. Getting started with smart personal finance isn’t always easy. It’s one thing to read about the steps you should take, but it’s another thing to actually do them. Your debt is so overwhelming or your saving goals so lofty that you begin to believe that the only way you’ll ever get where you want to be is…

  • Pay yourself first (63 comments)

    This article is the fourth of a fourteen-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. It’s also a part of National Save for Retirement Week. One of the oldest rules of personal finance is the simple admonition to pay yourself first. All the money books tell you to do it. All the personal finance blogs say it, too. Even your parents have given you the same advice. But it’s hard. That money…

  • Spend less than you earn (50 comments)

    This is the third of a fourteen-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.” — Charles Dickens, David Copperfield When people ask me for my top tip on personal finance, they’re often disappointed. My top tip isn’t sexy. “To get out of debt and to build wealth,”…

  • Minimalist Money: 6 Steps to Simplify Your Financial Life (98 comments)

    This is a guest post from Leo Babauta of the simplicity blog, Zen Habits. Leo also recently started a new blog about minimalism, mnmlist.com. Finances are one of the most complicated things in many people’s lives … and yet, they don’t have to be. With a little effort, you can simplify your financial life and end the money headaches most people face. I consider myself a minimalist. As such, I shy from all kinds of…

  • 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…

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

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

  • Money is More About Mind Than It Is About Math (88 comments)

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

  • 11 Ways to Spice Up Your Emergency Fund (77 comments)

    This article is by Adam Baker, a GRS Staff Writer. In addition to writing for Get Rich Slowly, Baker blogs over at Man Vs. Debt, where he discusses ways to simplify your financial life. A thriving emergency fund is an essential piece of a healthy financial picture. You’ve heard this a million times before. The basics of emergency funds have been covered in depth. We’re used to hearing discussions on why they’re important and how large…

  • 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…

  • How to Choose the Right Bank Account (53 comments)

    On my first day of college, I chose a checking account because the bank was handing out free Frisbees. This was my only bank account for nearly 20 years. Eventually I opened a savings account at the local credit union. Then I discovered the benefits of a high-yield savings account. Last autumn I opened my first certificate of deposit. And just a few months ago, I started a money market account. Why so many accounts?…

  • The Seven Enemies of Financial Success (55 comments)

    Earlier today, I wrote about Brett Wilder’s The Quiet Millionaire. It’s different than most personal finance books I’ve read. It’s targeted at those who are further along their financial journeys rather than at those just starting out. Still, there are bits and pieces in The Quiet Millionaire that are applicable to everyone. I particularly liked Wilder’s list of the seven enemies to financial success (which is my phrase, not his). Over the past few weeks,…

  • A Call from Capital One (79 comments)

    I don’t often post follow-ups to previous articles, especially after just a few days. But following Tuesday’s post on two-cycle billing, a couple of things happened that deserve mention. Understanding Grace Periods Several readers suggested that what I experienced was not two-cycle billing but the lack of a grace period. Special thanks especially to Kitty, who linked to the American Express document on understanding grace periods. Kitty wrote: If you didn’t pay your previous month’s…

  • A Small Mistake (129 comments)

    Important note: Despite what the credit card company told me, and despite my own mis-information, this story below apparently does NOT relate to two-cycle billing. Instead, my frustration stems from the way some credit card companies handle their grace periods. Thanks for all of the commenters who pointed out the error. Here’s a follow-up to this situation. For almost a decade, I refused to use a personal credit card. I knew that I couldn’t control…

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

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

  • How Money-Transfer Scams Work (54 comments)

    I’ve been half-heartedly looking at bicycles lately. Part of me pines for a new city bike, but the rational side of my brain knows that I have two decent bikes already. Still, I’ve killed a lot of time by paging through the Craigslist bike ads. At the top of every ad is the following warning about scams: I’ve always wondered exactly how these scams work, but I’ve never taken the time to look it up….

  • The Ascent of Money (31 comments)

    Beginning tonight, public television stations in the United States will broadcast a four-part series from economist and historian Niall Ferguson, The Ascent of Money. This is an expanded version of a documentary that first aired in January. Here’s a description of The Ascent of Money from the official site: For millions of people, the recession has generated a thirst for knowledge about how our global economic system really works, especially when so many financial experts…

  • Learning to Budget with A Money Jar System (77 comments)

    This is a guest post from Steve Martile, a life coach and the author of the personal-growth blog Freedom Education. Here he describes a money jar system for budgeting that actually reminds me of Elizabeth Warren’s balanced money formula, but with a little more detail. Managing money doesn’t restrict freedom — it creates freedom. While that’s probably not the first time you’ve heard this, you’ve got to start managing your money if you want to…

  • How to Open a Money Market Account (51 comments)

    \ Here’s how to open a money market account, a type of savings account that offers the security of FDIC insurance, the higher interest rates of a savings account and the flexibility of access that comes with a checking account: Shop around. Find a bank or credit union that’s offering a competitive interest rate with the features you value the most — don’t just go for the bank down the street or where you have…

  • Why Pursue Financial Freedom? (58 comments)

    Your financial choices do not stand in isolation. They have a cumulative effect. As you pay off debt, as you save for retirement, as you reduce your spending, you are creating a snowball of right action. Or, to use a better metaphor, each smart choice you make creates ripples throughout your life. As you work toward financial freedom, you make it easier for yourself to accomplish other goals. With the help of my Twitter followers,…

  • 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…

  • Credit Union Service Centers Provide Shared Branching (30 comments)

    Note: Oops. I accidentally had comments closed on this post. Not even sure how that happened. They’re on now. Chris M. sent me e-mail last week to share some thoughts on rewards checking and on credit unions. I’m a fan of both. In his message, Chris offered a handy tip for those of us who use credit unions instead of banks: In reviewing your past posts, I realized that you might not know about something…

  • Un-Broke: What You Need to Know About Money (40 comments)

    I don’t watch much television; I’m more of a books and magazines and newspapers kind of guy. But I’ll make an exception this Friday. ABC will be broadcasting a special entitled Un-Broke: What You Need to Know About Money. According to the website: Schools teach us almost everything, but not “Money 101.” For the basics on finance, turn to UN-BROKE: What You Need to Know About Money. It’s an unconventional look at the fundamentals of…

  • How to Build Wealth, Ignore Wall Street, and Get on With Your Life (235 comments)

    This is a guest post rom Bill Schultheis, author of The New Coffeehouse Investor: How to Build Wealth, Ignore Wall Street, and Get On With Your Life. Schultheis is an investment advisor in Kirkland, Washington. To learn more, visit his website. What a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago everyone was chasing the next hot stock. Equity markets were generating double digit annual returns and dot-com companies were doubling overnight. Greed was widespread in…

  • How much money should you save? (52 comments)

    As an editor at CNNMoney, Walter Updegrave has answered hundreds, if not thousands, of reader questions on everything from retirement to advice on saving money. Lionel from San Diego wrote in with a question that all of us have: What percentage of income should someone save in order to be considered financially responsible? I’m wary of spending now because of the bad economy, but I don’t know how much I should be saving on a monthly…

  • How to find the right CD or money market account (21 comments)

    This is a guest post from Richard Barrington, a Chartered Financial Analyst and 20-year veteran of the financial industry. Barrington blogs regularly at MoneyRates.com. Conservative savings vehicles such as certificates of deposit (CDs) and money market accounts look especially appealing these days, despite low interest rates. But how do you pick the right savings vehicle for your needs? There are many options, and a little information will help you make the best choice for your…

  • An introduction to life insurance (69 comments)

    Many of you have asked for life insurance information, so Ray from Financial Highway offered to provide this guest post on the subject. This is new info for me, too. Protecting your family from financial disasters is one of the fundamental components of financial planning. Life insurance should be a core part of that planning process. This article is a basic primer on life insurance, which should introduce you to the concept and give you…

  • How to Create Your Own Target-Date Mutual Fund (35 comments)

    This is a guest post from Frank Curmudgeon, who writes about bad money advice at his aptly-named blog, Bad Money Advice. You may have heard of target-date funds. In 2006 they were okayed as default investment options for 401k accounts, so if you said nothing about where you wanted your 401k money to go, you might even have found yourself the proud owner of one. A target-date fund is a mutual fund that is made…

  • How to Read a Mutual Fund Prospectus (28 comments)

    This is a guest post from Neal Frankle, a Certified Financial Planner, and the author of Wealth Pilgrim, a blog about his financial journey. If we’ve learned anything from the current financial crisis, we’ve learned that it’s important to understand what it is we’re actually investing in. No more black-box investing, right? That’s true of the folks on Wall Street, but it’s also true of the average mutual-fund investor, too. If you invest in mutual…

  • Investing 101: How Bonds Work (35 comments)

    You probably know how to find and buy stocks, but how do bonds work? Unfortunately, while online stock brokers have made stock investing child’s play over the last 10 years, bond investing has been slow to catch up. In fact, on many online broker sites, online bond platforms don’t even exist. That’s made the world of individual bond investing pretty murky. You know that a certain percentage of your portfolio should be allocated to bonds…

  • Investing for Your Future (8 comments)

    Sometimes you can find financial advice in the most unlikely of places. Recently, I was browsing the website of the Oregon State University extension service for gardening information. Kris and I have found that university extension offices often have fantastic resources for do-it-yourselfers. Our extension office has gardening calendars and how-to articles, for example. Apparently the extension office also offers a variety of financial resources. The front page of the OSU extension website promotes a…

  • Investing 101: An Introduction to Asset Allocation (31 comments)

    This is a guest post from ABCs of Investing, a new site for novice investors. ABCs of Investing offers one short and simple investing post each week. Understanding asset allocation is a key piece of financial literacy. In my last post at Get Rich Slowly, I explained the basics of passive investing and why it’s a good strategy. I explored the differences between index funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and showed how they’re great tools for…

  • How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt, and Live Prosperously (50 comments)

    Once or twice a year, my wife and I spend a Saturday combing the local thrift stores looking for bargains. Kris is mainly after clothes. I target books — especially personal-finance books. On one recent trip, I picked up a two-dollar copy of How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt, and Live Prosperously, a 1988 book from Jerrrold Mundis. How to Get Out of Debt is built on the principles of Debtors…

  • Direct Stock Purchase Plans: A Better Way to Invest (64 comments)

    If you want to buy stocks but you only have a small amount of money each month to invest and you’re worried about paying too much in brokerage fees, you should consider a direct stock purchase plan. Hundreds of companies that trade on the major stock exchanges allow you to buy shares directly from their transfer agents for very little or no money. Buying without the middleman Years ago, I began buying shares of the Kellogg…

  • The Fundamental Rules of Investment Success (28 comments)

    John Templeton was born in the small town of Winchester, Tennessee in 1912. As a young man, he graduated first in his class from Yale University before earning a law degree as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in England. Eventually he became a billionaire by popularizing globally-diversified mutual funds. Templeton started his own mutual-fund company in 1954. He sold his firm to Franklin Resources in 1992, which became known as Franklin Templeton Investments after…

  • What Fourth-Graders “Know” About Money (50 comments)

    Financial Literacy Month begins today. What better way to kick things off than with a story from the trenches? This is a guest post from Chett Daniel, who writes about improving your life through personal fitness and personal finance at 5k5k.org. Every day when I go to work, I have a chance to influence the lives of children. I left a well-paying corporate job nearly two years ago, taking a 50% cut in pay to…

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

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

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

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

  • Book review: I Will Teach You to Be Rich (40 comments)

    Today I am reviewing a new book written by a colleague. As you read this review, please remember that I am friends with author. For comparison, you can see my reviews of two other books by friends here and here. I’m often asked to recommend personal-finance books for young adults. I’ve read a few (and have more in my to-read stack), but there are only two that I promote in my presentations to students: Debt…

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

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

  • How Marginal Tax Rates Work (95 comments)

    Yesterday I hosted a guest article about the mortagage-interest tax deduction. As part of his argument that this tax break should not be used to justify buying a house, CJ from Wise Money Matters looked at the savings by tax brackets. What CJ did not consider (and what escaped my notice, and even that of my accountant) was the concept of marginal tax rates. Although I was mortified to have let such a blatant error…

  • Implementing the Debt Snowball: A Personal Journey (46 comments)

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

  • The Ongoing Battle with Lifestyle Inflation (61 comments)

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

  • Fumbling in the Dark (77 comments)

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

  • 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…

  • How to build confidence and destroy fear (102 comments)

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

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

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

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

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

  • 5 Credit Card Company Tricks — and How to Thwart Them (56 comments)

    This is a guest post from Justin McHenry, president of Index Credit Cards, a credit card comparison and information site. Index Credit Cards was named “most comprehensive” by Reader’s Digest in its October 2008 issue, and regularly cited by both old and new media. True or False? Credit card companies lure you in with big promises, but bury the nasty stuff in fine print. It would be hard to find many people that disagree. Unfortunately,…

  • 9 methods for mastering your money (76 comments)

    2008 was a miserable year for money. The stock market tumbled, unemployment soared, the housing market continued to crumble, and retirement savings shriveled away. Whew! Here’s hoping 2009 will be better! But hope can only do so much. Hope cannot bring change. Action brings change. If one of your goals for 2009 is to take control of your money (instead of letting it keep control of you), this crash course in financial basics can help…

  • Personal Finance 101: How to Pay Your Utility Bills (17 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation. This is a guest post from Wanda, who wrote to tell me that a shocking number of people have trouble paying their utility bills correctly. How do you pay your bills? My father taught me to pay them on time and in full. That’s great advice, but there is so much more to correctly paying your bills. As a small town municipal employee, I have assisted people with their water bills…

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

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

  • Investing 101: An Introduction to Index Funds and Passive Investing (57 comments)

    This is a guest post from ABCs of Investing, a new site for novice investors. ABCs of Investing offers two short and simple investing posts each week. Personal finance bloggers are vocal proponents of passive investing in index funds and exchange-traded funds. But not everyone knows much about these, and not a lot of bloggers do a good job of explaining the basics of passive investing. This post is intended to explain the basics —…

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

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

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

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

  • Making the Most of Your Checking Account (104 comments)

    In the past, we’ve discussed the best online high-yield savings account, covered the basics of certificates of deposit, and even explored the beauty of Roth IRAs. But we’ve never talked about checking accounts. Many people believe checking accounts are the dinosaurs of the banking world. They’re not extinct yet. In the past few weeks, I’ve received two questions about them: “Where can I get the best rate on a checking account?” “How much should I…

  • Put your savings on steroids with certificates of deposit (75 comments)

    Certificates of deposit (often simply called CDs), by definition are time deposits. You give your money to the bank and then promise not to touch it for a specific length of time. In general, the longer you agree to let the bank keep your money via a CD investment, the higher the interest rate you will receive. Related >> Best CD Rates [Article continued below…] Editor’s Note: All of the rates discussed in below article…

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

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

  • The Balanced Money Formula (88 comments)

    Building a budget is one of the basic tasks of personal finance. But not everyone can keep a budget. As much as I’d like to, I don’t feel comfortable with detailed planning. I continue to use a spending plan as a rough guide to my future, but a traditional budget just doesn’t work for me. Last night I stumbled across the Balanced Money Formula proposed by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Tyagi in their excellent book,…

  • How to Compute Your REAL Hourly Wage (39 comments)

    Like many Get Rich Slowly readers, I credit Your Money or Your Life with changing the way I approach my personal finances. This book transformed my relationship with money, and helped me to understand that by spending beyond my means, I was sacrificing a secure future for today’s passing pleasures. One of the book’s key insights is that time really is money. Or, approaching it from the other direction, money is time. The authors write:…

  • Investing in a Bear Market (93 comments)

    On 09 October 2007, the Dow Jones Industrials hit a record high, closing at 14,279. What a difference a year makes: Last Friday, the Dow closed at 8451, and there’s a good chance it will drop even further. Unsurprisingly, my inbox is filled with e-mail from people who wonder what they should do. Here are some typical questions from readers like you: “Originally we had planned to open Roth IRAs this weekend, but with the…

  • The Millionaire Quiz (46 comments)

    How much do you know about millionaires? Kris recently had dinner with her friend Linda, who is a high school social studies teacher. As they ate, Linda bemoaned the lack of personal finance and economics education in the United States. She mentioned that every year she gives her economics students a short “Millionaire Quiz” to see just how much they know about wealth and where it comes from. They do poorly at it, which surprises…

  • How and When to Cancel a Credit Card (80 comments)

    Update: After feedback from readers, I’ve made some clarifications to this post. My recommendations have not changed, but I’ve tried to emphasize the effect closing a credit card can have on your credit score. My recent two-part series on responsible credit card use (Five essential credit card skills and How to choose a credit card) prompted several readers to ask the same question: What’s the best way to cancel credit cards in order to minimize…

  • The Budget Toolbox: 13 Tools for Building a Better Budget (55 comments)

    Sara’s been reading personal finance blogs for a while now, and she’s ready to set up a budget. She’s come to us for help. She writes: I would like to start listing my spending totals into a spreadsheet budget along with setting goals for ‘bigger things’ (trips, winter tires etc). Do you have a budget template that works for you, or could you please recommend a few tips on getting started? A budget can be…

  • Net Worth: The Most Important Number in Personal Finance? (50 comments)

    Do you know your net worth? Your net worth is a snapshot of your financial life at one moment in time, a single number representing your financial health. It’s the total of everything you’ve earned and spent until today. In The Wall Street Journal Complete Personal Finance Guidebook, Jeff Opdyke writes: Knowing your net worth is important…if only for one reason: It forces you to interact with your financial life, keeping you in touch with…

  • How to Choose a Credit Card (63 comments)

    A credit card can be a useful tool or it can be a dangerous weapon. Most of this depends on you — the best credit card in the world won’t help if you spend beyond your means. American adults carry thousands of dollars in average credit card debt. I lived a decade mired in it and I don’t recommend it to anyone. If you’re responsible, however, a credit card can be both convenient and efficient….

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

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

  • Credit Card Basics: Five Essential Skills for Mastering Plastic (43 comments)

    The latest issue of Consumer Reports (October 2008) has an article about the new credit card jungle. The faltering economy and the ongoing mortgage crisis may be affecting your credit cards; issuers are raising rates, changing terms, and lowering credit limits. The magazine notes: “Now is an essential time to do a credit-card checkup to make sure your accounts haven’t changed for the worse.” I like the idea of a credit-card checkup, but I don’t…

  • How to Win the Lottery (132 comments)

    Ray Otero cannot buy a break. For the past three years, he’s spent $500 to $700 a week playing the lottery, but he’s only won big a few times: $1,000 once and $2,000 twice. Still he keeps playing. He’s sure his luck is bound to change. Otero’s story, told in a recent New York Times article, is simultaneously funny, poignant, and exasperating. This New York City building superintendent simply wants the “easy life” for his…

  • The Psychology of Happiness: 13 Steps to a Better Life (105 comments)

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

  • Using an Allowance to Teach Kids About Money (40 comments)

    This is a guest post from Nickel, who writes about personal finance at Five Cent Nickel. Since that and his four kids don’t keep him busy enough, he’s launched another site more narrowly focused on credit card offers. Though small was your allowance, you saved a little store; and those who save a little shall get a plenty more. — William Makepeace Thackeray Just over three years ago, we decided to start paying our kids…

  • Leverage, Luck, and Living Well: A Conversation with Financial Columnist Scott Burns (16 comments)

    During the first week of July, I had the privilege to chat with financial author Scott Burns. What was intended to be a brief interview about his new book, Spend ’til the End [my review] lasted for nearly two hours. Burns was fascinating. It has taken weeks to edit this conversation into something digestible for the web. It’s still quite long, but I hope it’s as interesting to you as it is to me. You…

  • The Best Advice I Ever Got: 40 Great Money Tips (28 comments)

    CNNMoney has posted a gallery of money tips from 40 “great minds”, ranging from Derek Jeter to Tim Ferriss to Burton Malkiel. Each participant provided an anecdote about the best piece of financial advice they ever received. I’ve listed some of the highlights below. Remember: this is the best advice given to these people. It’s the financial advice they feel has made the biggest difference in their lives. Dean Kamen, Segway inventor: “Find work in…

  • Stale Checks: How Long Can Someone Wait to Deposit a Check? (90 comments)

        While running errands this afternoon, I stopped by the bank to deposit a check. All of the tellers were occupied with difficult clients. (I’m old-fashioned and go inside to make deposits for my business finances.) While I waited, I eavesdropped on the nearest conversation. A woman was frustrated because she’d just opened a checking account a few weeks ago, and now it was overdrawn. She couldn’t understand. “I don’t see how that’s possible,”…

  • Simplify Your Investing: An Introduction to DRIPs (43 comments)

    This is a guest post from Sara, who writes about reaching for a life of greater simplicity and deeper meaning at On Simplicity. I’m a simple girl and I love simple solutions. That’s why I’ve fallen in love with DRIP investing — it’s about as simple as investing gets. If you’re an investor who likes to set it and forget it, DRIPs are a great weapon to have in your financial arsenal. What Is a…

  • Five Tactics for Pursuing Voluntary Simplicity (26 comments)

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

  • Back to Basics: A Guide to Traditional Skills (39 comments)

    Based on reader suggestions, Kris and I made a trip to Costco on Friday to buy bulk yeast and a fifty-pound bag of bread flour. (We’re serious about this whole home-made bread thing.) While I waited for Kris to pick up some other groceries, I leafed through Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills edited by Abigail R. Gehring. “Wow,” I thought. “I am the target audience for this book.” I bought it….

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

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

  • The Four Pillars of Investing (15 comments)

    For the past year, I’ve been looking for a book to recommend for novice investors, a book that would offer sensible advice without becoming too technical. I believe I’ve finally found that book — The Four Pillars of Investing, In the book, William Bernstein describes how to build a winning investment portfolio. He doesn’t focus on the details — he tries to explain fundamental concepts so that readers will be able to make smart investment decisions…

  • Money Tips from Consumer Reports (19 comments)

    The August 2008 issue of Consumer Reports — one of my favorite personal finance magazines — features two articles that may be of interest to readers of Get Rich Slowly. The first offers tips for cutting expenses. The second gives a brief overview of budgeting. Cut your spending by $500 per month The Consumer Reports Money Lab looked for easy ways for the average American to save money. They came up with six suggestions and…

  • How to Avoid Bank Overdraft Fees (45 comments)

    Last fall, I discovered my Quicken data file from the mid-1990s. It contains all my transactions from 01 January 1995 until 06 April 1998. There are many fascinating insights to be gleaned from my crazy spending a decade ago, but as I was looking through my checkbook register, one thing in particular stood out. Before nearly every paycheck, my bank balance would dwindle to $12.33 or $7.14 or something similar. When I was paid, the…

  • Personal Finance Made Easy: Pay Yourself First (84 comments)

    Yesterday I shared some financial tips my father gave me when I was a sophomore in college. He didn’t stop there. After I graduated, he continued to offer advice. One of the things he told me was, “Pay yourself first.” To explain, he gave me a copy of George Clason’s 1926 classic, The Richest Man in Babylon. I didn’t read it. In retrospect, I ought to have been a little less stubborn. It took years…

  • Financial Advice from My Father (When I Was Nineteen) (44 comments)

    Today is Father’s Day in many countries, including the United States. While sorting some old letters and photos recently, I stumbled across a letter my dad wrote to me during my sophomore year of college. This is my father’s financial advice to me when I was nineteen years old. I haven’t attempted to edit — any misspellings are his. J.D.’s Points to Ponder Warning — Make sure you read them all. There may be some…

  • The New Reader’s Guide to Get Rich Slowly (40 comments)

    Get Rich Slowly — recently named most inspiring money blog by Money magazine — is devoted to sensible personal finance. You will not find any get-rich-quick schemes here. Nor will you find multi-level marketing fads or hot stock tips. I am not pitching any product or book. Instead, you’ll find daily information about personal finance and related topics. I share stories about debt elimination, saving money, and practical investing. I also post occasional reviews of…

  • 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…

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

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

  • Saving with Albert: Teaching a Four-Year-Old the Value of Money (33 comments)

    My friend Albert — age four — loves electricity. Ever since he was young (ha!) he’s been fascinated by the stuff. His parents have carefully nurtured his hobby. Now that Albert’s older, they’ve decided this might be a good way to teach him about money. In this guest post from my friend Lisa, she describes how they’re helping Albert take the financial plunge. My son Albert loves his collection of colored light bulbs with all…

  • Robert Kiyosaki: Increase Your Financial IQ (72 comments)

    The problem with the standard financial advice is that it’s bad advice. You’ve been told to work hard, save money, get out of debt, live below your means, and invest in a well-diversified portfolio of mutual funds. But this advice is obsolete — so argues Robert Kiyosaki in his new book, Rich Dad’s Increase Your Financial IQ. Increase Your Financial IQ is the latest installment in Kiyosaki’s tremendously popular “Rich Dad” series of books. These…

  • Life After School: Advice for New Graduates (51 comments)

    On Tuesday evening I gave my first-ever presentation about personal finance. I spoke to a group of about 70 graduating seniors from Western Oregon University. My talk went okay. It wasn’t terrible, but it certainly wasn’t good. It’s a start. I learned a lot, and I’ll do better next time. I was the fourth and final speaker of the evening, though. Before I talked about personal finance, three WOU alums spoke about life after college….

  • How to Stop Junk Mail in Its Tracks (59 comments)

    This article is part of Financial Literacy Month. Most Americans receive a daily flood of junk mail. Some savvy citizens take a stand against the torrent. My friend Pam gets great delight from calling the sender of every catalog she receives in order to be removed from their mailing lists. This works well, but there are easier ways to deal with the problem. Here’s a list of four tools you can use to keep the…

  • Building Your First Budget (52 comments)

    This article is part of Financial Literacy Month. I’ve never been a budgeter. Budgets seem too prescriptive to me — I prefer to use a “spending plan” instead. But after a month as a full-time writer, I suspect a budget may be in my future. My income is fine, but it’s highly variable. I’m accustomed to a steady, consistent paycheck, and I don’t have that anymore. I also have some savings goals that I’d like…

  • Learning to Love the Emergency Fund (50 comments)

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

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

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

  • What If You Didn’t Start Saving Early? Advice for Late Bloomers (30 comments)

    “Saving is the key to wealth,” I wrote last week while trumpeting the extraordinary power of compound interest. “If you do not spend less than you earn, and if you do not save the difference, you cannot build the wealth you desire.” The younger you are when you begin saving, the more time compounding has to work in your favor, and the wealthier you can become. “The next best thing to starting early,” I wrote,…

  • Saving and Investing: An Introduction to Diversification (25 comments)

    April is Financial Literacy Month, during which Get Rich Slowly will explore the fundamentals of personal finance. Today we’ll take a quick look at diversification. Last year, I shared a series of YouTube clips from Michael Fischer, who is on a mission to educate people about essential personal finance skills. His book, Saving and Investing, is 132 pages of fantastic financial information. Fischer doesn’t provide any scams or gimmicks — he just gives the facts….

  • How to Conquer Your Fear of Investing (33 comments)

    Writing for Kiplinger.com last month, Erin Burt laid out some tips to help conquer your fear of investing. This article is specifically aimed at those who are nervous about getting started in the stock market. She writes: The thought of possibly losing any money is a terrifying prospect. And the fact that today’s economy has seen better days probably isn’t helping those fears. Investing in the stock market has its risks. But if you give…

  • The extraordinary power of compound interest (129 comments)

    If you are young, you may not think you need to invest or open a retirement account. You probably think it is easier to worry about it five years from now — or ten. You’re wrong. Time is on your side now, especially when it comes to compound interest. No matter what your age, now is the time to begin saving for retirement. In The Automatic Millionaire, David Bach writes, “The single biggest investment mistake you can…

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

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

  • Luck Is No Accident: 10 Ways to Get More out of Work and Life (46 comments)

    Some people are luckier than others. How many of you believe this? Why do you believe it? Are you one of the lucky ones? Or does luck seem to pass you by? And just what is luck, anyhow? According to John D. Krumboltz and Al S. Levin, there’s no such thing as luck. In fact, they shirk the use of the word in their book Luck Is No Accident: Making the Most of Happenstance in…

  • The Key to Wealth is Being Satisfied with What You Already Have (77 comments)

    For the past few weeks, I’ve been making sales calls with David, my replacement at the box factory. We’re visiting existing customers to explain the transition. Most of my clients know that I’m part-owner in the family business. “Why are you leaving?” they want to know. “What are you going to do now?” “I’m going to write,” I say. “About what?” some of them ask. “Personal finance,” I say, and that’s usually the end of…

  • Review: Dave Ramsey’s ‘The Total Money Makeover’ (174 comments)

    According to Get Rich Slowly founder J.D. Roth, Dave Ramsey and his influential book “The Total Money Makeover” changed his life: “In the fall of 2004, I had over $35,000 in consumer debt. I was making a solid middle-class salary, but I lived paycheck to paycheck. My money habits were terrible. When I looked into the future, all I saw were years of toil to pay for the things I’d already purchased. “Then a friend…

  • A Free and Simple Budget Planner (50 comments)

    J.D. doesn’t talk a lot about budgeting at Get Rich Slowly — he uses a spending plan — but I want to share a personal budget planner I’ve created that has helped me immensely. I’m not historically a budget person myself, but I’ve been using this for a while and it seems to be working quite well.  I hope that some of you find it useful, too. This budget planning spreadsheet is available in the…

  • The Power of Positive Cash Flow (42 comments)

    When I lived paycheck-to-paycheck, there never seemed to be enough money to go around. I was perpetually $50 or $100 short of what I needed. Because I was spending more than I earned, I fell further behind every month. I had a negative cash flow, which led to more debt, which put me deeper in the hole. It is mathematically impossible to get ahead with a negative cash flow — in order to save money,…

  • How to stop fighting with your spouse about money (59 comments)

    This is a guest post from GLBL, who writes about personal finance at Gather Little by Little. Many sources cite money as the number one cause of marital strife. Some of you probably know this from first-hand experience. I can relate, too. My wife and I are very close, but money has always been a touchy subject, and unfortunately has led to a more than a few “disagreements”. Last year, we decided to get control…

  • What to Consider When Opening Your First Brokerage Account (23 comments)

    This is a guest post from Dong, who writes about personal economy at Ask Dong. Who can forget their first time? I certainly can’t.  I was 22 and fresh out of school.  The NASDAQ was around 4000, and young turks like myself were getting jobs that we had no business holding.  The times were good. Even if I couldn’t work for a dot-com, there was no reason for me not to invest in them. The…

  • 8 Ways to Take Control of Your Finances in 2008 (60 comments)

    The new year is a time for goals and resolutions. If one of your goals in 2008 is to take control of your money (instead of letting it keep control of you), this crash course in financial basics can help guide the way. Here’s a summary of everything I’ve learned about personal finance. Track every penny you spend The authors of Your Money or Your Life admonish readers to “keep track of every cent that…

  • The Random Walk Guide to Investing: Ten Rules for Financial Success (18 comments)

    In 1973, Burton Malkiel published A Random Walk Down Wall Street, in which he argued that a blindfolded monkey could pick stocks as well as a professional investor. Though I bought a copy of Random Walk for $3.99 at the local Goodwill last year, I haven’t read it. It looks dense. I know it’s written for the layman, but it still seems rather academic. In 2003, Malkiel published The Random Walk Guide to Investing, “a…

  • A Brief Introduction to Insurance (25 comments)

    This is a guest post from Aaron Pinkston. He used to help other insurance agents understand insurance. Now he prefers dealing directly with the public. Insurance is an oft-misunderstood financial tool. I feel like it’s my responsibility to help folks out with their questions when I can. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m the patron saint of insurance, but I do think the world would be a slightly better place if I could…

  • Book Review: All Your Worth (39 comments)

    Three years ago, I decided to get out of debt. I hit the books, reading one personal finance title after another, searching for answers. Two books — Your Money or Your Life and The Total Money Makeover — were perfect for my situation. They gave me the tools I needed to tackle my problems. Now I’ve found a third book that would have been useful at the start of my journey to financial freedom. All…

  • Why You SHOULDN’T Prepay Your Monthly Bills (62 comments)

    Earlier today I wrote that I like to prepay my monthly bills. I acknowledged that some people might think this was dumb, but that I liked to do it anyhow. It’s not often that I share something with which GRS readers vehemently disagree. This is one of those rare cases. Because there’s so much opposition to this idea, and because each of these points is valid, I’ve combed the comments to compile a list of…

  • A Brief Overview of Estate Planning Software (22 comments)

    It’s that spooky haunted time of year — my annual post about estate planning! Last year I shared a brief guide to creating a will. Today I’m going to look at a recent New York Times article by Christine Larson that provides an overview of will preparation software. Larson writes, “Recently, the increasing sophistication of software and services for estate planning, combined with growing consumer comfort with online financial management, has led to a boom…

  • Understanding the Seven Habits of Wealth (38 comments)

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

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

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

  • What is Financial Security? (136 comments)

    This is a post by Michael Mihalik, author of Debt is Slavery (and 9 Other Things I Wish My Dad Had Taught Me About Money). Wouldn’t it be great to be financially secure — to never have to worry about money? What would it take to get there? In fact, what exactly is financial security? Ask ten people to define how much money it takes to attain financial security and you will probably get ten…

  • The Upside of Risk: Why Market Volatility is a Good Thing (13 comments)

    The November 2007 issue of Kiplinger’s has a great article from James K. Glassman called “The Upside of Risk”. Glassman’s explanation of market risk is wonderful. Normally, I’d post an excerpt from the online version of the article and then point you to it, but I can’t find this piece anywhere on the web. Instead, I’ll post a longer excerpt than normal. Imagine a world in which stock investments performed the same year after year….

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

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

  • An Imperfect Credit Score is Not the End of the World (13 comments)

    This is a guest post from Kim McGrigg of Money Management International, the nation’s largest nonprofit credit and debt counseling firm. I often warn consumers about the little things that can have a big impact on their credit score. Today, I’m in more of a “don’t sweat the small stuff” kind of a mood. It is apparent that some people take this credit reporting stuff very seriously. In fact, one consumer recently took time out…

  • A Working Woman’s Guide to Financial Security (10 comments)

    Sometimes you can find personal finance tools in the most unlikely places. The University of Illinois Extension Service offers a collection of consumer money resources, including tips for thrifty living, credit card smarts fact sheets, and a guide to consumer and family economics. I was most impressed with A Working Woman’s Guide to Financial Security. This series of planning guides has been designed to help women of all ages develop skills they need in order…

  • Roth IRA Mutual Funds: What Investments are Best for Roth IRAs? (42 comments)

    So you are in the market for a Roth IRA, that popular, flexible, tax-advantaged vehicle that can be used to save for retirement — smart choice — but here comes the next question: which investments are best for a Roth IRA? Roth IRA mutual fund options for investment There are three basic options for your Roth IRA investments: Index funds Exchange traded funds (or ETFs) Managed mutual funds It’s essential whatever you choose it has as low an…

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

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

  • How to Open a Roth IRA (256 comments)

    You’ve heard how awesome Roth IRAs are and how starting one now can mean big bucks when you’re older. You’ve even done some research so you have a vague idea of how a Roth IRA works. Now what? How do you actually open a Roth IRA for yourself? The good news is that it’s surprisingly easy to set up a retirement account and begin investing in your future. Here’s what to do… How to open…

  • What is a Roth IRA and Why Should You Care? (97 comments)

      IRAs are tax-advantaged accounts that can hold your retirement investments. It’s easy to get intimidated by IRAs. Here is an example of a common email we receive on the subject of IRAs: “I’m going to open a Roth IRA on my own, and I’d like to know what online sites you or your readers would suggest. I want to invest in index funds, having heard they are the bee’s knees, but books and the…

  • Proper Care and Feeding of Your Credit Score (46 comments)

    Your credit score is like a pet monster under the bed. Feed it and care for it, and it will do your bidding. But if you neglect it, it will turn against you. But beware! Taking good care of it can bring you dangerously close to its sharp teeth. Your credit score determines the types of credit you can obtain, and how much you will be charged in interest. Last year I described the anatomy…

  • A Collection of Financial Literacy Resources (19 comments)

    April was National Financial Literacy Month. Get Rich Slowly did its part by featuring a video series that explored saving and investing. Here are links to each part in the series: Introduction The power of compounding Providers and users of capital The difference between debt and equity What is leverage? An introduction to financial statements Why do financial markets exist? What is a bond? What is a stock? What is a stock market index? The…

  • When and How To Hire a Financial Planner (14 comments)

    Last week Dylan Ross, a certified financial planner, explained what a financial plan is and why it’s important to have one . Today he discusses why you might want to hire somebody to help you create one. Typically people seek the help of a planner when they don’t have the time, know-how, or desire to do create their own financial plan. In its 13 February 2006 issue, Newsweek featured a great article by Jane Bryant…

  • Saving and Investing: The Impact of Time (2 comments)

    This is part sixteen in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. During the first fifteen days of this video series, Michael Fischer explained the basics of saving and investing, introducing us to stocks, bonds, and compound returns. This week he pulls this information together to show how these concepts affect our investment decisions and our use of credit. He begins…

  • Saving and Investing: Types of Mutual Funds (4 comments)

    This is part thirteen in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. Yesterday Michael Fischer explained how mutual funds allow individual investors to pool money in order to achieve goals that would otherwise be out of their reach. Today he looks at different kinds of mutual funds: Types of mutual funds (2:10) There are several thousand mutual funds available in the…

  • Saving and Investing: What is a Stock Market Index? (6 comments)

    This is part ten in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. Have you ever wondered what all of those numbers on the nightly business report actually mean? Michael Fischer explains: What is a stock market index? (3:44) Just as you cannot accurately gauge the health of a garden from the growth of a single plant, you cannot gauge the health…

  • Saving and Investing: What is a Stock? (4 comments)

    This is part nine in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. Yesterday we learned about bonds, which are small slices of debt. Today Michael Fischer defines stocks, or small slices of equity: What is a stock? (2:37) The stock market has its own unique vocabulary, with “puts” and “calls”, “preferred stock” and “P/E ratios”, “dividends” and “spread”. I’ll cover more…

  • Saving and Investing: What is a Bond? (7 comments)

    This is part eight in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. Today’s episode of “Saving and Investing” moves us from the introductory material to the details of common investments. To begin, Michael Fischer explains bonds: What is a bond? (2:38) This video left me wanting more. Bonds, like leverage, have been a blank spot in my financial education. I’ve never…

  • Saving and Investing: Why do Financial Markets Exist? (4 comments)

    This is part seven in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. In today’s episode of “Saving and Investing”, Michael Fischer explains why we have financial markets. If you’ve been following along, you can probably guess that their primary function is to encourage interaction between providers of capital (savers and investors) and users of capital (companies and governments). Why do financial…

  • Saving and Investing: An Introduction to Financial Statements (12 comments)

    This is part six in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. (Now with correct videos!) Today’s episode of “Saving and Investing” features three short videos, each of which is an introduction to a particular financial statement. Learning to read financial statements can help you evaluate the companies in which you would like to invest. (These statements are mandatory parts of…

  • The Road to Wealth is Paved with Goals (39 comments)

    Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich, recently shared his thoughts on a New York Times profile of Russ Whitney, a real estate mogul who charges thousands of dollars to learn the secrets of his success. (Whitney helped inspire Casey Serin’s foreclosure odyssey. John T. Reed has extensive information on Whitney, not all of it negative.) Ramit’s post prompted me to read the original New York Times article. I began the…

  • Financial Education: Are Schools Doing Enough? (63 comments)

    I read a lot about the lack of financial education in the United States. It’s a popular topic among personal finance bloggers and in media interviews. But I wonder how widespread the problem really is. At my high school during the mid-eighties, juniors were required to take a semester of personal finance. I thought the class was lame. It wasn’t challenging. I never did any of my homework, and so earned an F on every…

  • Beware the Insidious Power of Marketing (46 comments)

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

  • Are Index Funds the Best Investment? (61 comments)

    For 35 years, Bay Area finance revolutionaries have been pushing a personal investing strategy that brokers despise and hope you ignore. [This is] the story of a rebellion that’s slowly but surely putting money into the pockets of millions of Americans, winning powerful converts, and making money managers from California Street to Wall Street squirm. So writes Mark Dowie in a recent issue of San Francisco magazine. Dowie describes how Google prepared for its IPO…

  • Facing and Fighting Financial Trolls (18 comments)

    Money is more about mind than it is about math — that’s one of the fundamental precepts of this site. If you improve your self-esteem, if you improve your mental attitude, if you improve your knowledge, you will improve your finances. To this end, it’s important to avoid negative messages about money. It’s difficult to improve your mental attitude when you’re besieged by financial trolls. What are financial trolls? In a recent article, Steve Pavlina…

  • How Do You Teach Kids the Value of Money? (35 comments)

    At the grocery store yesterday, I passed a man and his daughter in the snack aisle. She was maybe ten or eleven, a little overweight, and begging for cookies. He was tall and muscular, a blue-collar type, clearly exasperated with her. “You have no conception of how hard your mother and I work to earn money, do you?” he said. There was desperation in his voice. This brief encounter has been in my mind ever…

  • An Introduction to Mutual Funds (18 comments)

    The GRS discussion forums have become spam magnets. They weren’t used much anyhow, so I’m taking them down. (To be replaced by something better in the future.) I don’t want to lose any of the contributions from readers, though, so I’ll move the best posts to this blog over the next few weeks. This first post is an introduction to mutual funds from VinTek — original thread here. This is a very basic introduction to…

  • 8 Ways to Make Bill-Paying Easier (17 comments)

    My friend Mike is well-off. He lives alone, makes a good salary, invests wisely, and doesn’t spend money on foolish endeavors. Yet he often gets charged late fees. Why? Because he’s disorganized. He brings his bills home, throws them on the table, and they get lost under a mass of paper during the weeks that follow. When he remembers his bills, he pays the late fees, and sends extra money to cover the next few…

  • How and why to start an emergency fund (92 comments)

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

  • Survey: What Does Money Mean to You? (44 comments)

    Get Rich Slowly is the final entrant in JLP’s Question-of-the-Day Marathon. There have been many thought-provoking questions over the past month; I hope you’ve had a chance to contribute at some of the participating sites. My question is: What does money mean to you? When I was a boy, my family was poor. Money then meant necessities to me. It was the key to obtaining essentials, especially food and clothing. Sometimes it opened other doors,…

  • 27 Money Tips for College Students (95 comments)

    School’s back in session, and with it come life-lessons in money management for students. But personal finance can be easy, even if you’re just starting out. You just have to know how it works. All of the following are concepts I wish I had known before heading to college. Money Management Now that you’re on your own, you might be tempted to spend money on all the things your parents wouldn’t let you have before….

  • Make Money Quick! In the Stock Market! (16 comments)

    There is no reliable way to make money quickly. If there were, everyone would be doing it. Get-rich-quick schemes are just that: schemes. Sure, it’s possible to get lucky at a casino, or to make a well-timed stock pick, but these feats are the exception, not the rule. They generally are not reproducible. An AskMetafilter user recently pleaded for some hot stock tips. Where online do you go to find “best buys” about new and…

  • Which Financial Records to Keep (and How Long to Keep Them) (35 comments)

    An AskMetafilter user wonders how long to keep receipts: I have been keeping all of my receipts for some time now. Every day, I enter them into my money tracking system (presently just a text file where I capture date, payee and amount). Then I file the receipts away in folders by month. My question: does it do me any good to save the receipts, or is having the data good enough? […] I’ve never…

  • The Most Important Money Tip (32 comments)

    Personal finance is easy. It’s simple. There is one fundamental law that governs your money. If you master this, you have mastered the entire game: To gain wealth, you must spend less than you earn. In David Copperfield — one of my favorite books — Charles Dickens wrote: Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery. That’s all it takes….

  • Plan for Saving One Hundred Thousand Pounds (1 comment)

    (by Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1756) As I spent some weeks last winter in visting my old acquaintance in the Jerseys, great complaints I heard for want of money, and that leave to make more paper bills could not be obtained. Friends and countrymen, my advice on this head shall cost you nothing; and if you will not be angry with me for giving it, I promise you not to be offended if…

  • Saving Electricity: How to Reduce Your Energy Costs (18 comments)

    How much electricity does your computer use? Your refrigerator? Your washer and dryer? Do you know how to save money on water heating costs? Michael Bluejay‘s guide to saving electricity answers these questions and more. Bluejay calls himself “Mr. Electricity” — the title is apt! My guide on Saving Electricity gives you a bit more than you might get elsewhere. I explain exactly what a kilowatt hour is and how much you pay for one….

  • Action Girl’s Guide to Living (7 comments)

    Sarah Dyer‘s Action Girl isn’t a superhero in the traditional sense. She has her own comic book, sure, but her super power is the ability to help people take charge of their own lives. Dyer has a personal agenda, and she’s pleased to share it with the world. Here is an abridged version of Action Girl’s Guide to Living (follow the link for Dyer’s extended version):

  • Anatomy of a Credit Score (22 comments)

    Your credit score plays an increasingly important role in your financial health. But what is it? And how does it affect what you pay for loans and credit cards? Your credit score is a single number that indicates your creditworthiness. This number is derived from various pieces of information contained in your credit report. Your credit report is accumulated by various credit agencies — credit card companies and banks and other financial institutions, who pass…

  • How Compound Returns Favor the Young (42 comments)

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