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Budgeting


  • Best Budget Apps 2016-2017: Goodbudget (1 comment)

    The prevailing wisdom is that people spend more when they have a debit or credit card in their hand. Every swipe feels like free money until you get your monthly statement. Enter the envelope system. You put just enough cash in designated envelopes and when the money’s gone, it’s gone — the idea being that making your spending tangible will produce better financial habits. Goodbudget, formerly known as Easy Envelope Budget Aid, has taken this…

  • Best Budget Apps 2016-2017: You Need a Budget (7 comments)

    Money and Budgeting App Reviews 2016-2017: You Need a Budget If you’re ready to account for where every cent of your money goes, You Need a Budget could work for you. The app is based on the premise of “giving every dollar a job,” meaning you budget for every expense — fixed, discretionary or otherwise. Want to buy a new purse or pair of shoes? If your monthly clothing budget is $100, then you may…

  • The High Cost of Summer (0 comment)

    “No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks.” And for many parents, no more child care for eight hours a day. Summertime — every child’s dream season — can be every working parent’s nightmare. Think about it: From late August or early September through mid-June, working parents have the luxury of public education to make sure their children are cared for, watched over, intellectually stimulated and exercised. Yes, it’s education. Yes, your…

  • Financial goals when the going gets tough (30 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    Last month, the December 2015 Consumer Confidence Index ®, showed improvement over the previous month: “Consumer confidence improved in December, following a moderate decrease in November,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “As 2015 draws to a close, consumers’ assessment of the current state of the economy remains positive, particularly their assessment of the job market. Looking ahead to 2016, consumers are…

  • How To Save Money Each Month (16 comments)

    Is this the year to focus on saving more? If you’ve been disappointed when you’ve checked out your savings account balance, let’s change that this year by figuring out how to save money each month. How much should I be saving? Actually, advice on the topic of how much you should be saving differs based on who’s giving the advice. At a minimum, most people recommend saving 10 percent of your income. Dave Ramsey recommends saving…

  • What do you budget for pet travel or care over the holidays? (10 comments)

    It used to be quite rare to find a pet in the cabin of a plane; but according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, about 2 million pets are transported by air every year in the U.S. Out of curiosity, I went to a couple websites to see how much it costs to travel with a pet: Southwest – $95 per pet carrier Delta – $125 American – $125 Jet Blue – $100 (non-refundable, but…

  • 10 ways to maximize your end-of-year finances (7 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Oh, 2015, where did you go? It seems only moments ago it was time for New Year’s resolutions, and now here we are again. With only a month left before another year is behind us, you may be wondering how best to maximize this year’s finances. Well, look no further! 1. Prepare for taxes. Hopefully, you’ve already started to put the year-end tax-planning 2015 checklist to…

  • 7 surprising results when you pay your kids for chores (30 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    One of our parenting goals is to rear frugal kids. Take care of their stuff. Spend wisely. Save for a rainy day. Making the goal is easy, but implementing the goal? Definitely harder. How our (current) allowance system works Over the last couple of years, we’ve been experimenting with the best ways to teach our kids to manage money. What I’ve learned is that it’s best…

  • How do you decide what to spend on a computer? (29 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    Decide to buy a computer these days and immediately you’re confronted with a complex decision process wherein you pit features against price. The choice is intensely personal and a total reflection of your tastes, priorities, and pocketbook. I know how I’ve gone about it in the past, but I was curious to see how other people approach the problem. It wasn’t hard to get people to talk….

  • How do you budget for experiences after debt? (9 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Megan Wells.

    In college, my mind was set on becoming an ethnographic researcher. I wanted to study people and cultures that were new to me while traveling as extensively as possible. After I earned my diploma, I pooled every dollar to purchase a one-way ticket to Costa Rica. Even with my rookie-style budgeting, I was able to make the trip happen – and it didn’t matter that my…

  • Budget smart now – enjoy great holidays later (16 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Richard Barrington.

    Let me say for the record that I hate rushing the holiday season – the appearance of Santa Claus in the stores as soon as the Halloween decorations are cleared out, hearing Christmas carols before the first snow has fallen, that kind of thing. So why am I writing about holiday shopping when temperatures are still pushing 80 degrees at  the end of September? Well, I’m…

  • 19 tips for building your own food bank (29 comments)
    This is a guest post from former GRS staff writer Donna Freedman.

    Grocery prices got you down? Fight back by building your own food bank, i.e., a pantry full of staples you bought at rock-bottom prices. This is not emergency food, mind you, to be saved for the next hurricane or other disaster. The point is to eat from this pantry all along, replenishing when prices are best. The practice saves you money in…

  • The Balanced Money Formula: Should you let it get out of balance? (23 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    I bet a lot of people have a similar experience when they realize they have a problem with their finances. They create a budget – or they try to anyway – and, somewhere down the road, they get frustrated with the amount of effort required to keep it up. Ultimately, a lot of them give up budgeting altogether. That was J.D. Roth’s experience. Mine too. As J.D.’s…

  • How to start paying student loans – best practices guide (18 comments)

    [This is the first installment in a series examining repaying student loans. Part II will discuss an alternative payment plan, Revised Pay As You Earn or REPAYE.] As someone who started off her debt reduction journey on Get Rich Slowly with some pretty astronomical student loan debt, I’ve learned the hard way about the repayment process. And with school starting up again and many feeling tempted to borrow, I wanted to share some of that…

  • 10 splurges that won’t break the bank (32 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    There’s a popular, little myth going around that being frugal means that every penny must be pinched or saved in an online high-yield savings account and that, as a result, it’s not okay to splurge once in a while. But a more balanced approach could make it easier to stick to a spending plan, thereby making your long-term financial success more likely. To be clear, though,…

  • Master this personal finance concept (45 comments)

    Nothing worth doing in life is easy. I grew up with my dad preaching that to me, and I know I’m better person for it. Although I don’t always make the right decisions when it comes to my money, I am definitely doing better now that I understand the importance of sticking to my budget and building personal savings. People in my generation, millennials, are generalized to be lazy, entitled, and spendthrifts; and while I…

  • Getting real (and serious) about your financial future (16 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Have you ever wanted — really wanted — to change your financial situation but, when you tried, you felt like you were slogging through wet cement or trying to turn a huge ship around? You got exhausted and stopped, right? Change is like that. You can change — and you can also make it easier for yourself. But first, are you clear about why you want…

  • Summer splurges you might regret (17 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    Everyone loves a guilty pleasure every now and again – so long as it’s something harmless like belting out your favorite Country Western song on your way to the grocery store. But when it comes to these summer indulgences, you may end up singing the budget blues. Of course, it’s hard to complain about random expenditures if you keep a fully stocked emergency fund in your…

  • Couple erases $55K student loan debt in 14 months (55 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    Andrew and Amanda Argue were both working for public accounting firms in Miami, Florida, when they met. As young, ambitious professionals, they fell right into the hard-charging lifestyle of certified public accountants — where your rapid ascension to partner is determined by the number of hours you rack up. Managing their career trajectories meant that eating out became the norm because, as Amanda put it ……

  • The benefits of paying yourself first (26 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    By the time I became interested in personal finance, I had grown tired of the most popular personal finance clichés. I was tired of Suze Orman’s incessant denials, David Bach’s Latte Factor® theory, and Dave Ramsey’s simple ideas and assertions on how everyday Americans should be living their lives. But now that many years have passed, I realize that each popular personal finance saying holds a…

  • Limited income, big family, major savings: Meet the Economides clan (15 comments)

    When Steve and Annette Economides got married in 1982, they made a conscious decision to always live below their means. The couple from Scottsdale, Arizona, even made the pact a part of their wedding vows. Then the car broke down. This is usually the part in the story where taking on a little bit of debt seems perfectly OK to do. After all, Americans collectively owe nearly $12 trillion in outstanding household debt. Sometimes other…

  • How do you establish the value proposition for personal growth? (12 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Ryan Takach.

    I spend a lot of time working toward my financial goals, but lately I’ve been thinking about personal growth. I’m at an inflection point in my financial plan. I don’t run any debt balances. I feel I’m saving enough and making smart investments. I believe I can afford to shift some focus to other interests. I started reading more by checking books out from the library….

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

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

  • How to invest even if you’re treading water financially (27 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    A 20-something acquaintance of ours recently received an inheritance of a few tens of thousands of dollars from an aunt unexpectedly. Naturally, all of us were very happy for her, and it wasn’t long before I asked what for me was the obvious question: “So, are you going to invest the money?” She looked at me as if I wanted her to bet on the frog…

  • 7 grocery staples more expensive this summer (15 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Summer may not have arrived according to the calendar, but it sure seems like it’s arrived based on the weather. The sunshine and balmy breezes may have you dreaming of backyard barbeques, luscious produce, and fresh salads. But your grill’s charcoal might not be the only thing on fire this year. Some food prices are heating up too, so watch your food budget. Beef After planning…

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

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

  • Celebrating one year of homeownership (46 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    It’s been just over a year since we bought our house and, as part of my celebration, I thought now would be a good time to dig into the numbers in more depth. How did our financial projections hold up to reality? The monthly budget: Then and now The first data I’d like to share is a list of monthly expenses from when we were renting…

  • Ask the Readers: What expense do you most want to dump? (75 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    Is there a bill you pay that you absolutely detest? Occasionally, I’ll get an attitude about paying one bill or another. (Ha! Paying taxes on April 15 is one bill that comes to mind immediately, for example.) I recognize that there is a reason I have the bills that I have to pay. For the most part, each represents a service that I decided was valuable and…

  • The tax mistake that could hurt you now or next year (16 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Suba Iyer.

    Presumably, it has been a little more than a month since you submitted your tax return for 2014. Did you end up owing the IRS or did you get a refund? There are plenty of personal finance articles that discuss the pros and cons for each of these situations. So we will skip those discussions and go right to the point: Are you happy with your…

  • How to homeschool on one income (9 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    When I wrote about the pros and cons of homeschooling recently, I left one major piece of the puzzle untouched: How does a family handle the loss of income if a stay-at-home parent is required? It’s not just the loss of monthly income. The parent who stays at home doing the bulk of the educating is also missing out on some other benefits of employment (employer…

  • How much to save for maternity leave (45 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    The United States policy on maternity leave can be a touchy subject among families, and especially women. Unlike all other wealthy countries, many of which mandate weeks and months of paid leave for natural and adoptive mothers and fathers, the U.S. mandates no such thing. In fact, the last movement toward maternity fairness in the U.S., the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), included…

  • How to budget for summer camp (7 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Summer break is quickly approaching. Last year, I was worried about how I would keep the kids entertained; this year, I vacillate between two ends of the emotional spectrum — being excited and feeling a little overwhelmed. Excited, because I say “adios” to the early morning bus routine and the backpack-and-lunchbox ritual for a few glorious weeks. And socks. They quit wearing socks in the summer….

  • 10 tips for when you can’t find a job (19 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    For the last few months, I’ve been talking about various aspects of job-hunting. But what do you do if you can’t find a job? OK, you can start with cutting your budget to the bone and applying for public assistance programs if you are eligible. But what next? Well, as with many things, the short answer is: It depends. On what, you may ask? Here’s what…

  • What McDonald’s and Walmart raising wages could mean for the economy (27 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    That Walmart, and more recently, McDonald’s are giving their workers much-overdue raises is now old news. What few realize is those raises might cost you a lot more than you expect — even your job. Think that’s a little overstated? Hear me out. The good news Many have documented the fact that this recovery has, for the most part, bypassed America’s rank and file. Employment statistics…

  • How to build wealth from scratch (39 comments)
    When you are living paycheck to paycheck, down on your luck, or living a student lifestyle, it can be difficult to imagine a world where you are suddenly building wealth. Take this comment from Kendra on one of our Ask the Readers posts, “What do you do when you’re broke?”

    “I feel like like Caleb a bit — in that most of these blogs don’t cover how to get started. I mean for a…

  • Financial benefits of being over 60 (16 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    Do you dread getting older? There is no need to. Getting old is not all creaky joints and hearing aids. Above and beyond the joys of travel and sleeping in, there are many benefits awaiting those who cross the bridge of the great 6-0. I mentioned in an earlier post that our life expectancy is increasing with every passing year. Not only are we living longer, but…

  • Ask the Readers: Do you measure your progress? (44 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    Have you heard the saying, “You are what you eat”? It rolls off the tongue so easily, doesn’t it? These are words to the wise if you are interested in a healthy lifestyle, however, they may not offer much help for your finances. But there is a similar thought — one of the truths I have seen so often in business as well as in personal…

  • Calculating your emergency fund: providing for opportunities and a higher cost of living (49 comments)

    After a brief stint in the automotive industry in Detroit, Ryan Takach moved to Chicago to work for a major financial institution. The antics of traders on the trading floor stoked his curiosity for the markets, and an ex-pat assignment in London provided additional exposure to the global financial system. These experiences encouraged his investing and provided the financial foundation to manage the money challenges of a 30-something. He currently lives in San Francisco enjoying…

  • Honey Progress Report: 2014 wrap-up and 2015 goals (48 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    The new year is a time to look forward; but in order to do that, you need to know where you’ve been. Before I set my goals for 2015, I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything that happened last year. Updated reckoning for me in chart form: 2012-present Please note that I have consolidated some separate accounts of the same type into one category…

  • How to save money from falling gas prices (21 comments)
    This is a guest post from former GRS staff writer Donna Freedman.

    The price of gasoline in the U.S. dropped for 97 days straight beginning in late September 2014. According to the American Automobile Association, the gas we buy today costs an average $1.11 per gallon less than this time last year. Averages are great liars, of course. The average cost of gas in Anchorage, Alaska, right now is $2.87 while folks in Columbia,…

  • Get a good workout without a gym membership (57 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    Recently, my sister and I were discussing our love/hate relationships with exercise when she told me something that struck me as funny. Apparently, she has trouble convincing herself to jog as long as she should, so she devised a plan. “When I know I’m not very motivated, I’ll have my husband get in the car and drop me off a few miles from home,” she said…

  • What else to consider when accepting a job offer (22 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Let’s say that you and your prospective employer come to a satisfactory arrangement and you accept a new position. Surely you can loosen the purse strings a bit and relax now, right? Well, maybe. Sometimes promises and expectations don’t align with reality. While this can sometimes occur because a company is deceptive, other times this happens because everyone — both employer and potential employee — are…

  • 30 Days to Better Finances (23 comments)

    Learning to manage your finances isn’t something most people would put at the very top of their “most fun thing to do” list, but we all know that we ignore money and budgets at our peril. Having a strong handle on what money is going in and what money is going out is an essential first step. But you don’t have to be overwhelmed. By setting aside between five and 30 minutes each day, you…

  • Keeping my New Year’s resolutions — what didn’t work for me (and what did) (12 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong.

    At the beginning of the year, I made four main resolutions, financial and otherwise. Max out my retirement Speak up more Consume less Save for a medium-term goal Of these goals, I achieved one and four. Two and three? Well, I did okay. In reviewing my goals, I realized there were a few goal-setting tips that worked well. But first, here’s what didn’t work for me….

  • Looking back on 2014, what could we have done better? (28 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    I honestly cannot believe that this year is already coming to an end, and I still have so much to do to prepare. At my house, end-of-year responsibilities include assessing our retirement situation, getting our business books caught up for tax purposes, and going over our expenses to see if there is anything we could change and do better next year. I’ve been working on that final part…

  • How to Save for a House (64 comments)

    How to save for a house? It’s a common question among newly married couples, but this was not our first marriage milestone. My wife and I didn’t wait too long after our wedding to create a family. We were parents one week before our first anniversary. Our apartment was too small for a third human, so we endeavored to buy a house. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a lot of cash on hand since we moved…

  • Are you holding yourself back with these money lies? (35 comments)

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

  • Christmas gifts that keep on giving (44 comments)
    This is a guest post from former GRS staff writer Donna Freedman.

    Anyone who has lived on the margin has likely felt the anxiety that comes with having just about enough to get by. That’s why I’d like to suggest a holiday present that can make a short- or long-term difference in someone’s life — the gift of breathing room. Got a barely-afloat friend or family member or one who is inching toward the red…

  • How does a strong dollar affect you? (16 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    You have probably heard it before: At the end of yet another melancholy rant about how bad things are in America, someone inevitably adds “… and then the dollar is so weak, too.” Well, lament no longer because the dollar recently reached a seven-year high. How is the dollar measured? The U.S. dollar is used to measure so many things. The gold price is quoted around…

  • Can a cash grocery budget save you money? (78 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    As I mentioned in my last article, I experimented with paying cash only for my October groceries. I had only one goal in mind: Spend less on groceries so I could save more money each month. Well, my little experiment opened a whole can of worms. The experiment Basically, I always try to keep my grocery spending in check, but I usually don’t limit quantity or variety…

  • A six-figure income, and still paying off debt? (51 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong.

    At another site, I recently wrote about a tool that shows you online prices in terms of hours worked. I used a random item — a fancy coffee maker that costs $116 — as an example. It would take someone who earned $38 an hour approximately three hours of work to pay for that item. A reader replied that, if they made $38 an hour, they…

  • Ask the Readers: How much are you budgeting for holiday travel? (24 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    Nearly two thirds of Americans are planning to travel at least once between Thanksgiving Day and New Years Day this year, according to the Orbitz Holiday Travel Insider Index. The survey is based off the popular site’s consumer research and booking data, which also indicates that 60 percent of travelers are willing to spend as much as $2,500 on their getaway. Most travelers (68 percent) plan to…

  • Painless ways I save money in every category of my budget (71 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. I get frustrated when people don’t understand what it means to be frugal. A few criticisms of frugality I’ve come across: Frugality is a waste of time. Frugality distracts you from earning more money. Frugal people deny themselves of any enjoyment. I’ve already written in detail about how these arguments are silly. They might apply to being cheap, but they don’t apply to being frugal. The point…

  • Can Getting One Month Ahead Save Your Budget? (44 comments)

    There are usually ways to save money each month — believe it or not. For instance, once upon a time, my husband and I were pretty clueless when it came to how we spent the money we earned at our 9 to 5 jobs. We made a decent income but struggled to keep track of where it was all going and, more importantly, why it always managed to disappear into thin air. I won’t bore…

  • 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…

  • Ask the Readers: How much does a creative costume cost to make? (32 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. Whenever I’ve purchased a pre-packaged Halloween costume, I’ve usually been disappointed. They rarely fit and the material and accessories are chintzy. But I take my hat off for the clever people that make their own costumes. Extra points if it’s hilarious. Year after year, these people seem to out-do themselves. I don’t know how they do it! In 2011, April Dykman looked at Halloween spending for us. “According…

  • How I budget with a variable income (22 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. It seems like everybody’s goal lately is to leave their job and become a freelancer. And that’s great! Freelancing gives you flexibility and control — and, plus, you get to work from home in your yoga pants. But as someone who has transitioned into that role full-time, there are certain things I do miss about having an employer: 401(k) match Insurance benefits Free coffee Office buddies Income…

  • Honey progress report: Homeownership and priorities edition (68 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. In May, Jake and I bought a house and moved in. We’ve been loving it so far! People who have always lived in a place with decent structural integrity may not appreciate it, but considering the many problems with our previous rental, it feels like we live in a palace now. At the time of my last post on homeownership, we had about $10,000 in liquid savings. Beefing up our…

  • Hiccups on the way to combining finances (32 comments)

    This is a guest post from Kathleen O’Malley, who writes about finding joy in a simple, frugal life at Frugal Portland. It happened fast. We barely talked about it, but all of a sudden, about a week after we got engaged — and before we were really ready — my fiancé and I had combined our finances. I can pinpoint the impetus: Southwest Airlines was offering a promotion where if you got both the Plus…

  • Dissecting retirement savings (34 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. When I finally and completely quit my once-full-time job in May, something changed: Neither my husband nor I have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan. With a significant drop in income, we’re looking at maximizing our now small retirement account contributions. So, how can we get the biggest bang for our buck? Before we talk about that, let me fill you in on my retirement contribution history….

  • The high cost of keeping up with the Joneses (69 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. In late 2004, Kim Parr and her family upgraded their lifestyle with a brand new home in a rural area. As an optometrist with a higher-than-average salary, it seemed like the natural thing to do. After all, Kim’s husband had a secure (albeit lower-paying) job in education and their combined household income was finally in the six-figure range. They had earned it. Unfortunately, the Parrs soon found that…

  • Becoming friends with your future self (25 comments)

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

  • Student loan update: Interest rate edition (62 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. In my last progress report, I mentioned that I took my student loans off Kwik-pay (autodebit) until after closing on my house. The thinking was that I’d have the money just in case things didn’t go smoothly with the house and move. Originally, I thought I’d re-enable the automatic payments after closing. Then I realized that if I kept my student loans on manual payments, I wouldn’t be…

  • A Guide to Managing Your Fear of Money (27 comments)

    [Editor’s Note: Kristin Wong penned this article on money management tips even through your fears a couple years ago, but it’s as relevant today as it was then.] My first year of high school, I was looking for an easy, goof-off elective — a class that would allow me to take a break in between Geometry and English, and maybe catch up on some magazines or take a quick nap. “Debate” sounded right up my…

  • Your landline: Think twice before cutting the cord (127 comments)

    This article is by staff writer William Cowie. A while ago, my wife and I did what we do from time to time — ask if there’s another cost-saving opportunity we’ve overlooked. I don’t know about you, but the quest for fiscal prudence is generally at its highest in our household after some indulgent purchase. “Hey, look! We can compensate for this luxo-foobie by slashing costs here!” (Are we the only people who do this?)…

  • The only two things you need to remember about funeral costs (31 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. When someone has to make funeral arrangements, they often look to the funeral home for help. They select one of the three coffins suggested by the funeral home. Often it’s part of a mid-priced package deal, one that includes pretty much everything you need, and then some. And in a lot of ways, it makes sense that we turn to the experts, especially if we’ve never had…

  • Is this where you can cut the most the quickest? (94 comments)

    This article is by staff writer William Cowie. The post a couple of weeks ago about the whole income inequality thing brought out some good insights and raised several new questions. We love to play board games, and one of our favorites is Acquire, a great money game which seems to have acquired (no pun intended) quite a cult following through the years. (Good luck trying to get a good one on eBay for under…

  • 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…

  • More on how to stop buying clothes you never wear (49 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. More than four years ago, I wrote a post for Get Rich Slowly about how to stop buying clothes you never wear. I wasn’t sure how it would go over, to be honest. We don’t discuss fashion much in our little corner of the Internet, and I also worried about being judged for my sordid, non-frugal past. But it was a problem I’d had struggled with, and it…

  • Don’t have savings? Quit making excuses (81 comments)

    This guest post is from former GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes for a number of websites, including Money Talks News and Retail Me Not, and blogs about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. I’m back, and I sound just like your mom: Save that damned emergency fund, already. This week (Feb. 24-March 1) is America Saves Week. And not a moment too soon: As a nation, we’re losing ground. An ASW…

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

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

  • Money lessons I’ve learned since writing for Get Rich Slowly (43 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. For the past year and I half, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing for Get Rich Slowly. That’s not to say it hasn’t been a challenge. Some weeks, I’m completely run down and don’t feel like thinking too hard about anything, much less personal finance. But I do my best to jumpstart my brain and produce something that I hope at least some of you will find useful. Writing…

  • Coping with job loss (47 comments)

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

  • Reader Stories: How we saved one year’s salary in Roth IRAs in grad school (56 comments)

    This reader story is from Emily, a graduate student living in North Carolina who blogs about transitions in young adulthood and living well on less at Evolving Personal Finance. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. My husband, Kyle, and I recently…

  • The power of a zero-sum budget (49 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. There’s been a lot of talk about budgeting here at Get Rich Slowly. For instance, Kristin recently wrote about her adventures using the envelope system. I wrote about the reasons your budget might be failing. And, a variety of guest posters and staff writers have touched on the topic with articles like these: How I kept to my budget and still have everything I want Budgeting: The Most Important…

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

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

  • Heal your money shame in 3 simple steps (23 comments)

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

  • Reader Stories: 5 money-savvy tips for recovering from a divorce (13 comments)

    This story comes from reader Julia Lawrence. Julia thoroughly enjoys writing about finances, pop culture and selling diamonds! When she isn’t hard at work writing, she spends her time wither with an absolutely adorable Mini Golden Retriever, Jake, and her [new] husband, Mr. Julia Lawrence. Follow Jules at Google+ & @DiamondLining. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with…

  • How to cure a spending hangover (37 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Holly Johnson. A few weeks ago, my husband and I took a somewhat frugal vacation to an all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. And while I was very excited to visit a new city and explore, I was equally excited about the financial details of the trip. Since we had chosen an all-inclusive resort, our entire vacation was easy to budget and plan for. A sum of $800…

  • Redeeming your credit card rewards — what do you do with them? (51 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Kristin Wong. I recently came across an interesting statistic. According to a poll from Harris Interactive, 41 percent of people rarely or never redeem their credit card rewards. It almost hurts to know all of those rewards are going to waste. A more recent study found that 73 percent of Americans are enrolled in rewards programs but have no idea how many points they have. That used to be…

  • Adventures in returning to the envelope system (72 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Kristin Wong. I first read about the envelope system back in college. I used it regularly, but after graduating and paying off my debt, I sort of abandoned it. I’d gotten a hold of my finances, and I figured I could budget safely without having to use this tactic. I could afford to give myself a break. Then, last month, I realized just how much of a break I’ve given…

  • Reader Story: 6 things I did because I was poor that made me poorer (41 comments)

    Matt Stokes is a freelance writer, editor, blogger, and TV producer in New Orleans. His first novel, Generation Why, is a humorous look at the difficulties of college graduates in the 2010s who don’t know what to do with their lives. The book came out in 2012 and is available from Amazon. Follow him on Twitter @mattstokes9. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or…

  • The truth about being broke (109 comments)

    Are you tired of being broke? It’s been a long time since I’ve been broke, but I can still remember exactly what it felt like. I can picture all the ugly details of the way I used to struggle; the empty bank account, the awkward moments, the feelings of despair…. And honestly, one particularly awkward conversation with my sister still plays clearly in my mind to this day: “Hey sis, I’m coming into town this weekend,” she…

  • How I kept to my budget and still have everything I want (49 comments)

    This guest post is from Darlene Bauer, who works from home in the beautiful Texas Hill Country.  She created BlogBoldly.com as a platform to help newcomers learn to build their own profitable online business. Years ago, when I was single and on a tight budget, I devised a fun way to get practically everything on my wish list and have money left over! I was in my twenties and waited tables for a living, so…

  • Travel on a budget: The all-inclusive vacation (60 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Holly Johnson. Last year, I was talking with a friend right after she had returned from a relaxing week in the Caribbean. “We did an all-inclusive,” she said to me with a glimmer in her eyes. “A what?” I had no idea what she was talking about. After chatting about it for a quite a while, she clued me in on how an all-inclusive vacation works and what some…

  • Are you saving when you should be spending? (20 comments)

    This guest post is from Jacob McMillen. He likes to write about topics for men and teach people how using Save1 Eastbay coupons can help feed starving children around the world. More often than not, the best way to save a dollar is to not spend it in the first place. There is no shortage of tips, tricks and methods available for saving $5 here and 35¢ there. Doing a quick web search for “saving…

  • Reader Stories: Using the waterfall money management system (59 comments)

    This is a guest post from Andrew Selby. Andrew writes about debt management programs at his Debt Consolidation Blog. 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 your own reader story? Here’s how. After fighting, scratching and clawing for years, I had finally paid off my college loans and was…

  • 13 smart ways to be frugal at work without looking like a cheapskate (62 comments)

    This is a guest post from Ivan Chan. Ivan teaches busy professionals simple ways to manage money and worry less in life at Wealthy Without Worry. Being frugal is hard. You’ve been so disciplined all week with your spending, you’ve kept to your budget, and you’ve even resisted buying that new thing you wanted to try. You are on target to meet your savings goals for this month, and then your colleagues at work invite…

  • Decrease your budget’s bite by saving money on meat (68 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Lisa Aberle. J.D. has already covered ways to save money on food. But this time, I wanted to focus on animal protein. According to a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, meat makes up over 22 percent of our at-home food (not out-to-eat or alcohol) budget. Obviously, you can cut your food budget by decreasing your meat consumption. But if you want to eat meat, how can you do it most…

  • Reader Stories: How 5 daily habits rocked my financial world (28 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jillian Beirne Davi. Jillian is a Transformational Money Coach and the founder of Abundant Finances, a service that helps you get yourself out of debt and start amassing abundant savings in record time (without deprivation or eating cat food for dinner). 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Are automatic payments all they’re cracked up to be? (92 comments)

    This post is by staff writer April Dykman. A few weeks ago, I paid a sky-high electric bill. After some investigation, I saw the problem: the electric company charged a $200 deposit fee for starting electric service at our new house. The deposit was supposed to be waived, since we had a good payment history with the electric company. Only here it was, on our bill. And since we’re on autopay, the electric company had…

  • Is it possible you don’t need an emergency fund? (92 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Lisa Aberle. Common personal finance advice recommends building an emergency fund. In fact, how and why to have an emergency fund has been covered here before. But like so much common advice, it doesn’t apply to everyone — and it certainly doesn’t apply to every stage of personal finance. Sometimes I get financial tunnel vision and focus on my financial checklist (Pay off debt? Check. Have an emergency fund of three…

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

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

  • Reader Story: Costs and savings of having a stay-at-home parent (82 comments)

    This post comes from Lynn Svenson, who blogs at The Photographer’s Wife. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. One of the biggest impacts to my wallet (and heart) this past year was having a baby. Of course, there are plenty of…

  • How to save money while seeing the world (40 comments)

    This is a guest post from Matt Kepnes, who writes about travel and more at Nomadic Matt. His advice has been featured in The New York Times, CNN, The Guardian UK, Lifehacker, Budget Travel, BBC and Yahoo! Finance among others. Kepnes is the author of the just-published How to Travel the World on $50 a Day. Forget what the magazines say about travel. Forget what you see in commercials. They’re all wrong: Travel isn’t expensive….

  • The value of vacation (57 comments)

    As you read this, my husband and I are just days away from a romantic, kid-free vacation in the Caribbean. Since we weren’t able to take a honeymoon, we spent the last few years saving like maniacs in order to have enough money for this special trip. We reached our savings goal in June and decided to take advantage of an early booking discount on Expedia.com. Since then, we have been eagerly counting down the…

  • How to Save and Invest Money (70 comments)

    When we decided that we were going to start investing more in 2013, I didn’t know where we would find the money in our budget. My personality embraces risk… as long as all our other savings goals are met and our bills are paid. So, because I wanted to have fun investing (and not lose sleep at night), I knew I could not cut our retirement contributions or our savings deposits. What I hoped was…

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

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

  • Join the Debt Movement (40 comments)

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

  • Honey’s financial goals for 2013 (126 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Now that I’ve taken stock of where I’ve been in 2012, I’m ready to set goals for 2013. I want my goals to be ambitious enough that meeting them is a true accomplishment requiring me to stretch my growing money-management skills. However, I also want them to be realistic and personal (revolving around my priorities). Goal 1: Pay off $5,000 in student loan principal Since I’ve paid…

  • Driven crazy by car loans (95 comments)

    My long commute means my car has a lot of miles on it. Right now, it’s cruising up to 180,000 miles and still going strong. While we’re hoping to make it to 250,000, approximately 30,000 miles goes on the odometer each year. My car-buying philosophy In a rare piece of verbal financial advice from my father, he told me to always pay for my vehicles with cash. He said, since they depreciated, I should pay…

  • Adopting strategies to pay for big expenses (84 comments)

    I like the idea of financial independence, and if I’d had my way, we would have started our family once we had college fully funded for each child. Plus, a healthy emergency fund, a do-I-want-to-be-a-working-mom-or-not fund, and a minivan fund. But I didn’t want to be 80 years old at my children’s high school graduations either. Ironically, as it turns out, we decided to build our family through international adoption, a notoriously expensive way to…

  • Earning More vs. Spending Less, Round 1: Housing (210 comments)

    Spending less than you earn can be accomplished by earning more, spending less, or both. Yet most people in the personal finance world tend to support one strategy over the other with greater fervor.  It’s not a logic thing: it’s a personality issue that may have to do with risk tolerance, optimism, entrepreneurship, class background, religious outlook, cultural practices, and other unknown factors. Sometimes this can be situational. When work doesn’t deliver one might focus…

  • Saving for a Big Purchase (86 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Tim Sullivan. I love the jeans I’m wearing. I actually wear them almost four days a week. Chances are that if you see me, I’m wearing these jeans. They’re my only pair. When I bought them, I very gladly put down my $200 cash and left the store with a smile. The jeans I had before them cost the same, and I wore them until they got holes in…

  • 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…

  • Frugal or Foolish? Our Cruise-Ship Wedding (202 comments)

    For the next week (or two), we’ll be sharing “audition” pieces from folks interested in being new staff writers at Get Rich Slowly. Your job is to let us know what you think of each of these writers. Pay attention, give feedback, and after a couple of weeks we’ll ask which writers you prefer. This article is from Honey Smith, who says she’s at the beginning of her debt-reduction journey. How much should you spend…

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

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

  • Classifying Wants and Needs (80 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Tim Sullivan. We all have our ways of destressing after a long day. One of my weirdest and most beloved post-work, take-a-load-off strategies has always been cruising the aisles of gourmet grocery stores just to look at packaging. Give me an aisle of fancily bottled extra virgin olive oil, and I’ll need at least an hour. Nothing is more calming to me than fancy fonts on fancy jars of…

  • Is Your Spending Normal? (112 comments)

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

  • The Costs and Benefits of the Family Dog (161 comments)

    This is a guest post by Justin Reames, who blogs at The Family Finances. Growing up, I remember watching shows like “Lassie” and movies like “Old Yeller” and “Where the Red Fern Grows”. These were old movies when I was a kid, but they were free to rent from the library, so we watched more than our fair share of old movies. Because of those shows, I always thought it would have been nice to…

  • How I Stopped Excessive Gifting (117 comments)

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

  • Reader Story: The Bonus of Bi-Weekly Pay (98 comments)

    This guest post from Corinne 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 with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want submit your own reader story? Here’s how. At my previous job, I was paid on a monthly basis. I loved it. I got all my money for the…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • How to Spend a Tax Refund (149 comments)

    Hey, average American, what are you planning to do with the tax refund you are about to receive? So let’s start with useful ideas for spending your tax refund for those in the first stage of personal finance and work our way up to those who are less pinched. Depending on which stage of personal finance describes your current financial situation, your tax refund can help you along if you plan carefully. Before we go there,…

  • Detecting and Preventing Lifestyle Creep (82 comments)

    This is a guest post from freelance writer Jessica Ward. For three years, I’ve been patting myself on the back. The household expenses remain the same every month, and we’re getting out of debt. In spite of increases in costs, we’ve found efficiencies and made room. But, as they say, after pride comes the fall. I discovered this month that we’re actually making less progress every month now than when we first started making monthly…

  • Budgeting Dilemma: How Do You Decide What You Can Afford? (101 comments)

    This is a guest post from No Debt MBA, who is trying to pay for an MBA from a top-five business school without student loans. This is a post that asks questions but offers no answers. My significant other and I had an interesting discussion the other night. We were trying to make plans for a week of vacation this summer and were deciding between two different options: A cross-country trip with plane tickets where…

  • Reader Story: Negative Budgeting and a Healthy Outlook on Life (52 comments)

    This guest post from Shara is part of the “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general “how I did X” 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. Last year, Shara shared her story about the other side of bankruptcy. On a ride to town the other…

  • 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!…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • How I Spend My Money (118 comments)

    Earlier this month, I shared a new financial framework I’ve been developing, one that stresses earning, spending, and saving as the building blocks of personal finance. Last week, I elaborated by sharing how I make money. This week, I’m turning to the other half of the basic personal-finance equation: spending. Or, more precisely, the lack of it. Instead of talking about theoretical ways to cut costs, I’m going to share the things that Kris and…

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

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

  • 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,…

  • An 11-Year-Old’s First Budget (75 comments)

    This is a guest post from Andrea Deckard, who publishes Savings Lifestyle, a website that helps people save on what they need so they can spend on what they want. Growing up, my parents taught me very little about financial responsibility. It wasn’t until college, when my parents expected me to pay my own car insurance, that I was forced to learn the basics of budgeting. It was just one bill, but it was traumatic…

  • Reader Story: How to Find Budgeting Nirvana with Mint.com (78 comments)

    This guest post from Geoff Lennon 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. Though I’ve been a GRS reader since early 2007, I’ve largely been a quiet observer. I’ve often wanted to participate more actively in…

  • Reader Story: How Our Simple, No-Category, Mostly-Cash Budget Accidentally Paid Off the Car (42 comments)

    This guest post from Heather 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. Besides teaching elementary band and running a personal training business, Heather keeps a healthy-living blog called Change Is Possible, plays trombone in a local…

  • My $132,683 Comcast Bill (100 comments)

    This is a guest post from Carl Hendley of The Motley Fool. He’s substituting for Robert Brokamp, the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. Brokamp generally contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks, but he’s had the audacity to take a vacation over the holidays, so Hendley is filling in. $132,683 — That’s how much I’m paying for cable. Now, I do have HBO, Showtime, and 386 other…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Build a Wardrobe on a Budget? (239 comments)

    If you were building your wardrobe from scratch, how would you do it? Would you prioritize quality? Would you emphasize cost? Or is there some happy balance between the two? That’s what GRS reader author J.D. wants to know. He writes: I’m a 40-something guy who’s lost 40-something pounds over the past year. This is a good thing. But now my old clothes don’t fit. As a frugal fellow, this creates something of a dilemma….

  • Getting Started – Review of the Mint.com Signup Process (159 comments)

    On Tuesday, I wrote that I’ve decided to track my finances again. I’m doing fine financially, but after a few months of not watching my income and expenses closely, I feel a little lost. I miss the ability to know exactly where my money’s going. I had intended to install the new desktop version of Quicken, which is what I’ve been using for years. (Before that, I used Andrew Tobias’s Managing Your Money, but that…

  • Budgeting For Mistakes (75 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. How carefully do you budget? Do you account for every dime, or is there some wiggle room in your spending plan? Since I got on the wagon with tracking my spending, there’s no miscellaneous category in my budget anymore. Every dime of my income is accounted for. I know how much I…

  • The Quest for the Best Budget (38 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. We can do two things with our money: spend it or save it. (Actually, there are other possibilities — eating it! smoking it! — but we’ll limit our discussion to what sane people do.)…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • The Legal Nomad on Saving for Travel (39 comments)

    As you’ve probably noticed, travel has become a priority in my life. There are number of reasons for this. For one, I love it. I love visiting other cities, other states, other countries. I love seeing how different people live, and how they do things. Here in the U.S., we are so myopic — we tend to focus on just our way of life, so that it becomes difficult to imagine that there are billions…

  • Free Microsoft Money Download Now Available (21 comments)

    In 2016, who would want a personal finance software package with no online component or support? Apparently many do when it’s completely free. The best budgeting software if often a matter of personal taste and people are still downloading the now-defunct Microsoft Money now that it’s available with no cost or license. Ever since Microsoft quit producing Microsoft Money Plus in 2011, its popular personal-finance software program, they’ve offered a bare bones version in the…

  • Free Money-Management Spreadsheet (21 comments)

    Having a simple budget template can help you stay on financial track. Whenever I write about personal-finance programs, there’s always a large contingent of GRS readers who chime in to say they prefer the do-it-yourself method. Rather than go with pre-packaged money-management software like Quicken or Mint, they prefer to track their accounts with a home-brewed spreadsheet. (In fact, my wife is one of these folks, too.) I’ve shared a variety of personal-finance spreadsheets in the…

  • Planning for Budget Busters: Home Ownership (41 comments)

    This video post is the third of a four-part series from staff writer Adam Baker. Baker previously featured a post on his own blog entitled Cost of Living Abroad: Dozens of Bloggers Share Their Expenses. Last week, I introduced the concept of a Budget Buster, which is any irregular expense that I fail to plan for. These are’t true emergencies, but rather expenses that pop up to surprise me, even though I should have easily…

  • Why I No Longer Track Every Penny I Spend (149 comments)

    When I struggled with money during the 1990s, I had no clue what I was spending each month. I made my financial decisions based on my checkbook balance: If there were a few bucks left, I’d find ways to spend the money; if my balance was close to zero (as in $10 or $20), I’d turn to my credit cards. Where did this money go? If you’d have asked me, I wouldn’t have known. As…

  • Fixed Expenses and Flexible Expenses: How to Budget for Both (57 comments)

    Having flexible spending can help reduce your stress because you never know when you’re going to get hit by flexible expenses. A few months ago, my local bank and I had a falling out and my husband and I were suddenly very motivated to switch banks. We’d narrowed it down to two choices: Citizens Bank, which has a local branch where I can deposit the cash and many small checks I receive in the course…

  • How to Manage Your Financial Vices (96 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker, whose own blog featured a real life negotiation example in the huge post Negotiation Tips for Beginners. Each of us have specific items or activities for which we are more than willing to pay a premium. In fact, deciding what we are and aren’t willing to spend money on is one of the core issues in personal finance. A willingness to pay extra for everything would quickly…

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

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

  • Start Saving For Next Year’s Christmas Today (40 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker recently listed the Top 10 Money Movies of the Decade. Baker and his family are spending their holiday season hiking around the south island of New Zealand. I have some potentially shocking news for you: Christmas is coming! No, I’m not talking about the one in a few days; I’m referring to the one that’s coming just twelve months down the road. Far too many people…

  • Why I Broke Down and Joined Mint (111 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. I haven’t tracked our expenses since June. Not to appear completely incompetent, I do check our accounts on a regular basis to verify the charges and withdrawals. But I can’t tell you how much we spent on groceries in August or how much we spent on fuel in October without printing out some statements and manually doing the math. For a long time, I dutifully downloaded…

  • Reader Story: Budgeting For a Lifestyle Change (41 comments)

    This is a guest post from Sean Ogle, a former portfolio analyst who is now pursuing his goals of starting a business and seeing the world. You can read more from him at Location180. You can also follow him on twitter @seanogle.  Have you ever thought about doing something different with your life? Maybe you’ve decided that you’d like to do more world traveling. Perhaps you want to explore that entrepreneurial idea that has always…

  • Green Sherpa: An Online Cash-Flow Management Tool (21 comments)

    A couple of months ago, I posted a list of 16 alternatives to Microsoft Money. GRS readers left nearly 200 responses evaluating the various personal finance programs available on the web and for the desktop. One feature that many users crave is the ability to project their future cash flow. While it’s important to track where your money’s gone, some folks find it valuable to predict where money will go in the weeks or months…

  • Making the Most of Small Windfalls (74 comments)

    It’s a big day at Get Rich Slowly HQ. Later this morning, I’ll speak with my book editor for the first time. This project is about to devour large chunks of my life. Fortunately, the new Staff Writers will pick up the slack. (Actually, to be fair, I think they’ll more than pull their own weight.) Here, then, is the first contribution from Adam Baker, Get Rich Slowly’s first-ever Staff Writer! Receiving a “mini-windfall” of…

  • How to budget for an irregular income (72 comments)

    I’ve been a full-time professional blogger for more than a year now. It has been a fantastic experience, a sort of dream come true. But blogging for dollars is not without its drawbacks. As I’ve shared before, I feel socially isolated. I spend most of my time in this office, writing about money. Also, the income can be irregular. For some bloggers, it is very irregular. One month you might have record earnings — and…

  • Free financial spreadsheets from Google Docs (24 comments)

    Last week, I shared a list of 16 alternatives to Microsoft Money. These applications offer a variety of solutions for managing your personal finances. But not everyone wants to use a specialized computer program to track their spending. Many Get Rich Slowly readers (including my wife) are content to manage their money with a spreadsheet. Spreadsheets are easily customizable, and if you know what you’re doing, they can actually be a lot more powerful than…

  • 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…

  • Good-Bye, Microsoft Money! 12 Powerful Personal Finance Programs (295 comments)

    Microsoft Money is no longer available for purchase. Microsoft has essentially conceded that there’s no demand for the personal finance software product. From the website: With banks, brokerage firms and Web sites now providing a range of options for managing personal finances, the consumer need for Microsoft Money Plus has changed. After suspending annual updates of Money Plus in 2008, Microsoft is announcing today that we will no longer offer Microsoft Money Plus for purchase…

  • Eating Organic on a Frugal Budget (47 comments)

    Is it possible to eat local organic food on a food-stamp budget? That’s the question Salon’s Siobhan Phillips set out to answer recently. For one month, Phillips and her husband gave themselves a budget of $248 to “eat ethically” in New Haven, Connecticut. She writes: I had wondered about the elitism of ethical eating ever since I started reading about the movement in books like The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Fast Food Nation, and Food Politics. When…

  • My First Budget: Drafting a Plan for Discretionary Spending (98 comments)

    I’ve decided to develop a budget. This probably sounds strange coming from a guy who has been anti-budget all his life. Besides, haven’t I paid off all my debt? Don’t I have a positive cash-flow of over $1,000 per month? Yes, these things are true. But I’ve noticed something troubling: I’ve begun to experience that lifestyle inflation I’m always warning others about. Lifestyle inflation is the natural tendency to increase our spending as our incomes…

  • How to Live Well on Less in Retirement (65 comments)

    Though I’m not close to retirement myself, one GRS reader recently sent me a link to an article from the monthly newsletter from AARP (the American Association of Retired Persons). In the April 2009 issue of AARP Bulletin, Elizabeth Pope wrote about how to live well on less money. Pope profiles three families who have structured their personal finances in order to pay for necessities — and luxuries — now that they’re finished working. One…

  • The Per-Diem System: An Easy Way to Budget Your Spending Money (54 comments)

    This is a guest post from Spencer, a GRS reader in New York. As a guy who just finished paying off $14,000 in credit card debt, I wanted to share one tip that helped me get over the bad debt hump. I allocate my spending money on a per diem system. At the beginning of each cycle of my monthly budget, I set aside funds for: Every fixed expense that I have (rent, cable/internet, groceries,…

  • My Used Mini Cooper and the Power of Saving (225 comments)

    For the past two years, one of my top financial goals has been to save for a Mini Cooper. Just like a child with a toy catalog, I’ve spent hours on the Mini website playing with colors and options packages, building my own dream vehicle. Whenever I’m tempted to buy small indulgences, I ask myself, “Would I rather have this or a Mini?” Until the beginning of last week, however, I thought I still had…

  • Why We Chose a 30-Year Mortgage (125 comments)

    Last week, I announced that Kris and I have refinanced our mortgage at 4.96% for 30 years. In the comments, Ian expressed disappointment that we’d opted for the longer term when we could have afforded to take out a 15 year mortgage at 4.625%. “Starting your 30 years over is no way to get rich slowly,” he wrote. He has a point. Kris and I took out the 30-year mortgage because we wanted a safety…

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

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

  • Save Money with Regular Home Maintenance (49 comments)

    In 2004, Kris and I bought a hundred-year-old farmhouse. We’d been living in a 1976 ranch-style home that was virtually maintenance-free. We knew that our new house was quirky, and that it needed some remodeling, but we didn’t quite understand the extent to which maintenance would dominate our lives. Every summer, we’ve had a major project. Or two. This year is no different. In previous years we’ve remodeled the bathroom, replaced the electrical system, hung…

  • Money Hack: The Monthly Checkbook Sweep (70 comments)

    At dinner the other night, T.S. told me about a new trick she’s developed to force herself to save money. It used to be that she’d just spend whatever she had in her checkbook. She didn’t spend more than that, so she wasn’t accumulating debt. But like many people, she wasn’t saving either. She spent whatever she had on hand. Because T.S. wants to save, she’s opened an account at ING Direct. She wants to…

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

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

  • In Praise of the Adult Allowance (194 comments)

    In the past, many Get Rich Slowly readers have sung the praises of the “adult allowance”. Though I’ve read enthusiastic comments supporting this idea, I’ve never paid it much heed. To be honest, it’s always sounded lame, and I didn’t think it would be useful to me. I was wrong. Accidental allowance Before our short vacation in early October, I pulled $200 out of the ATM. This is unusual for me. I don’t like to…

  • The debt-to-income ratio: How much house can you afford? (139 comments)

    Housing is the largest expense in the budget of most families. But how much is too much to spend on shelter? An article in Saturday’s New York Times contains a shocking example of one woman who crossed the line: What she got was a mortgage she could not afford. Toward the $385,000 cost, [Christina] Natale made a down payment of $185,000, a little less than what she took away from the sale of her grandfather’s…

  • Could You Eat Healthfully on One Dollar a Day? (94 comments)

    “How much does it really cost to eat a healthy diet?” asks Tara Parker-Pope in a recent New York Times article. Among other findings, she notes: Nearly a billion people, or about 15% of the world population, live on a dollar a day for food. [Note: Obviously the cost of living varies from country-to-country — spending a dollar a day for food in Portland is different than spending a dollar a day for food in…

  • 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,…

  • A Practical Wedding (39 comments)

    Speaking of weddings, Kate F. wrote the other day to share a tip: I am just starting the wedding planning process and have been really disheartened by the wedding industry and the realization that what to me is a lot to spend ($5000) is literally laughable by most involved in the industry.  I finally came across a blog that I feel fits with my vision of a simple, debt-free wedding: A Practical Wedding. I’ve never…

  • 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…

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

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

  • SmartyPig: A Goal-Oriented Savings Account (50 comments)

    Have you ever wanted to pool your money with friends or family to save toward a common goal? While it’s possible to do this with paper and pencil, it’d be easier if there were an online service to automagically track the savings for you. SmartyPig believes it is that service. SmartyPig is a special branded savings account from new type of savings account, with funds held at West Bank of Iowa. It’s specifically created to…

  • Do-It-Yourself Landscaping Can Save Thousands (31 comments)

    This is the first post from Winston, the new GRS editorial assistant. My wife and I have saved thousands of dollars by landscaping our own yard. Four years ago, we were feeling overwhelmed by our back yard. We’d been in our home for a couple of years, had spent some time and money on the inside, and were ready to move on to backyard projects.  We spent a couple of seasons moving dirt around, trying…

  • Use a No-Spend Month to Become Mindful of Money (45 comments)

    Yesterday, Amy Jo pointed me to a site called SmallNotebook.org where Rachel is nearing the end of a self-imposed No-Spend Month. Though the name is something of a misnomer — this exercise is more of a Spend Less Month — it’s still an interesting concept. For the entire month of July, Rachel’s family of three set a budget of $250 to spend on food, gas, clothing, household items, and entertainment. They’re doing this “to stretch…

  • How to Open Multiple Accounts at ING (now Capital One 360) (102 comments)

    One of my favorite saving techniques is the use of targeted accounts. If I want to save for something big — like a Mini Cooper, for example — I’ll open a new savings account specifically for this purpose. I first learned about this method from Robert Pagliarini’s The Six-Day Financial Makeover: Traditionally, most people invested for various vague goals and lumped all of their savings together in a single investment account. That’s pretty boring. It’s…

  • 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 Track Travel Expenses and Stick to a Vacation Budget (37 comments)

    This is a guest post from Debbie Dubrow, who writes about traveling with babies, toddlers, and kids at Delicious Baby. Her site contains personal travel stories, family-friendly city guides, and lots of tips and advice for traveling with children. Most families need to stick to a budget when they travel. But tracking daily expenses, especially in a foreign currency, can be tricky. Here are some easy tips to make it easy to keep track of…

  • Use a Freedom Account to Prepare for the Unexpected (54 comments)

    My wife has always maintained a sizable savings account, but having extra cash is new to me. Until recently, I had always lived paycheck-to-paycheck, often treading close to a zero dollar balance in my checkbook for months at a time. Now, though, I’ve not only established an emergency account, but set up a couple of targeted accounts as well. (One is for vacations, and the other is for a new car.) My method works for…

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

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

  • 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…

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

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

  • Budgeting: The Most Important Thing You Can Do With Your Money (35 comments)

    This is a guest post from Joshua Timberman, whose passion for personal finance started after reading Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover. He became debt-free in November. He is the Financial Peace University coordinator at his church, and is an active participant at Get Rich Slowly and other personal finance blogs. The most important thing to do with your money is to give it a plan. A budget. A spending plan. A cash-flow plan. Call…

  • 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…

  • How to Automate Your Personal Finances (53 comments)

    For the past few months, I’ve been moving toward a system of paperless personal finance. In this guest post from Paul Lussier, he explains his own automated system. Lately J.D. has been talking a lot about automating his finances.  In my world (that of high-tech, software, and large computer systems), we strive to automate as much as possible. By doing this, we hope to minimize error by reducing human interaction, leveraging the power of the…

  • 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…

  • Book Review: The Automatic Millionaire (60 comments)

    David Bach is perhaps best known for coining the term the latte factor, a phrase that has almost become a joke in personal finance circles. That’s too bad, really, because Bach has some good ideas. And the latte factor is a marvelous concept, applicable to many people who casually spend their future a few dollars at a time. Bach’s most popular book is The Automatic Millionaire. I’ve referred to it often, but never reviewed it…

  • Recurring Monthly Costs: Which Are Worth It? Which Are Not? (120 comments)

    I met some friends at a local restaurant Monday night. While chatting, we found ourselves bopping to the music playing on the radio. For more than hour, great song followed great song: U2, Eurythmics, The Police, Elvis Costello, The Clash, New Order. But the ambient noise made it impossible to know what station we were hearing. “I have to know what this is,” I said at last. “This could be my new favorite radio station.”…

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

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

  • Want to Save? Give up the Big Things! (9 comments)

    My wife — the NPR addict — pointed me to a Marketplace commentary by Amelia Tyagi. Tyagi says not to focus on small expenses, but to focus on big expenses. You can listen to the piece in RealAudio format from the NPR web site, or read this transcript: Clip those coupons. Shift to that cheap, scratchy toilet paper. And whatever you do, don’t buy any more lattes at Starbucks. You’ve heard it before. Some famous…

  • Tricks for Tracking Your Money? (13 comments)

    We all know that we should track our spending, but not everyone actually does. How does one develop this discipline? One AskMetafilter user pleads: Do you have any tricks to ensure that you track your money? I would like to track what I spend and what I spend it on. I have software to do this, but I hardly ever use it. I’m looking for more of a software-independent way of thinking about my cash…

  • Handy Personal Finance Spreadsheets (32 comments)

    Good personal finance spreadsheets are hard to find on the web because sploggers monopolize the search results. Still, I’ve managed to collect links to a stack of them that I’d like to share. Spreadsheets more useful than web-based calculators because: You can modify the fields and formats to meet your own needs, You can create “what-if” scenarios by making copies of a sheet, and You can save the data for later use. The following links…

  • YMOYL 2006 Review (5 comments)

    This is a guest post by Cat Connor. Every year I try to review the steps in Your Money or Your Life to see how we’re doing.  It’s been about two years since my last review, but much to my delight, I found we are following most of the steps well, and I just needed to update some numbers. Step 1: Making Peace With The Past A: Determine your total lifetime earnings The book was…