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Choices


  • Dear Diary: I live at home and I’m still broke — Part I (25 comments)

    Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Living at home post undergrad has many rewards. If you were fortunate to have parents like mine, where rent-free is the name of their game, you might agree that it’s like winning the lotto! After a contract I was working on changed due to mutual agreement, I ended a job with the hope of tackling personal and business ventures. Technically, I wasn’t broke because I had no job. I was broke…

  • Gap Year Programs: Where do you Stand? (6 comments)

    “Gap years” are nothing new, but it was still pretty surprising when the most watched college decider in the nation – Malia Obama – elected to defer her entrance to Harvard University. My immediate reaction as the mother of a high school freshman was…pretty impressed. It’s never an easy decision to go against the grain of expectations and most 17- or 18-year-old’s reaction to a Harvard acceptance letter would be so long folks, hello Cambridge….

  • Setting Financial Goals (11 comments)

    Setting financial goals isn’t easy. If you live paycheck-to-paycheck, saving even a little money each month can be difficult. Then there is all the conflicting advice out there. What if matters were made even more complicated by “impostor syndrome”, a term coined by two American psychologists, Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, in 1978. Simply put, it is the belief that what other people perceive of as accomplishments due to your skill, intellect, or other internal…

  • How to Open a SEP-IRA (16 comments)

    Learning how to open a SEP-IRA, a self-employed individual retirement account, doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s the experience of Lisa Aberle, a Get Rich Slowly contributor who had been working as an independent contractor since 2010, along with working a full-time job, and in 2014 left that full-time job. That meant she no longer had access to a company-sponsored retirement plan and had to figure out the remaining path to retirement as a sole…

  • How to Hire a Financial Planner (or Not) (61 comments)

    Millions rely on financial professionals to do their investing for them but not everyone knows how to hire a financial planner the right way — or when to say no to one. On the surface, the rationale for hiring a financial planner or advisor seems valid. People feel intimidated by the whole investing thing. It seems like a jungle out there and, to boot, most people know someone who lost it all with bad investments….

  • How to Handle Financial Disappointments (2 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Are you glad to see the sun set on 2015? In the final days of the year, my kids are home on break. It’s fun to spend extra time with them, but many minutes of the day are filled with our older two children fighting with each other. And squished into the half-time show of their fighting games is some whining from a teething 17-month-old. With…

  • 7 ways financial goals are like dieting (5 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Richard Barrington.

    Dieting is not a popular topic around the holiday season; but perhaps with caloric temptations everywhere you turn, this is the best time to be thinking about it. Similarly, the holidays are a time of year when people tend to let themselves go financially, so a reminder about financial discipline might also be timely. After all, working toward financial goals is like dieting. I recently wrote…

  • How (and where) to donate unwanted Christmas presents (5 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    If you give (or receive) a gift that misses the mark, returning the item is the natural thing to do. After all, return policies are pretty awesome these days. However, if you decide to make a bigger impact with your gift — an item that you’ve probably survived without just fine for the last year anyway — why not donate it? Why you should think about…

  • Keeping the spirit of Christmas alive (3 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    By the time you read this, most likely all that’s left of your neatly wrapped presents are scraps of wrapping paper, crumpled bows, and empty boxes. Hopefully, the kids are playing with their new toys and you’ve been reading an ebook on your new Kindle Paperwhite. I’ve described a warm and cheery scene, and I hope it feels that way to you — but what if…

  • 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…

  • Honey progress report: 2015 wrap-up and 2016 goals (16 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Now is the time of year to look back, celebrate your accomplishments, and set goals for the upcoming year. Sharing those goals publicly — whether in the comments, in the GRS forums, or to your friends and family — can make you feel more accountable. With that being said, here’s how this year stacked up in the Honey/Jake household! Updated reckoning in chart form: 2012-present Please note…

  • Inheritance disputes: Avoiding the war when there’s a will (23 comments)
    Unhappy couple meeting with attorney

    The holidays are upon us. It’s the time of the year when family moves from the shadows of a busy life to the foreground. That probably makes it as good a time as any to consider one of the most difficult topics to discuss pertaining to family and finances — the…

  • Thanksgiving 2015 (7 comments)
    This article is by William Cowie.

    During the past year (and in years prior), all of us at Get Rich Slowly have been focused on money. And yes, that includes you. If you count them, I suspect the comments contain more words than the posts. GRS would be nothing without you. None of the writers or editors here profess to have all the answers about how best to manage our personal finances. And that’s…

  • How to maximize returns while minimizing investment risk (7 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    Back in 2005, someone wrote that Priceline.com would be a good stock in which to invest. At the time, I used Priceline because I traveled frequently. I also knew of Peter Lynch’s investing-for-success strategy, which boils down to buying stock in companies you do business with. I looked at the stock, which traded for around $20 to $25 at the time, thought about it … and…

  • 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….

  • Why Buying Individual Stocks is a Bad Idea (26 comments)

    Even if you’ve never made an overt decision to invest in the stock market, stocks form the foundation of your retirement investing. (At least if you’re like the vast majority of Americans, they do.) That’s because your 401(k) — or equivalent employer retirement plan — is only allowed to invest in mutual funds, and most mutual funds invest in the stock market. If you are investing through a Roth IRA account, though, you do have…

  • Pay off student loans or invest — how to move toward funding retirement (30 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    In my recent post, “Why investing can be better than paying down debt,” Dianecy’s comment raised a question faced by many: What do you do about investing when you have student loans? It is quite the dilemma, actually, because the best time to start funding your retirement is when you’re still in your 20s. And as anyone who has been reading Get Rich Slowly for more…

  • How you and your community can improve your finances (6 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Have you ever received a financial boost by being part of a community? Back in April, I wrote about how (and why) to build community. Along with the article, we also conducted a survey (both of the GRS community and, later, of the general population) about points in the article. The survey covered questions such as: Does your community improve your lifespan? Can you rely on…

  • Maneuver toward retirement: What to do in your 30s (25 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    For most people in their 30s, life can feel like a breathless uphill run on a downward escalator. Everything seems to expand: families, homes, social circles, career responsibilities, and income. Managing it all requires more of your immediate attention, so it’s not surprising that retirement planning tends to fall lower on the list of high priorities. For many, just making it through the day is all…

  • 8 ways credit cards may cost you more than they should (21 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Richard Barrington.

    You pay for convenience. That’s the simple reality of economics. Having a cab — or even an Ubermobile — pick you up is more expensive than catching a bus. Eating out costs more than making a meal yourself. So, when you consider the tremendous convenience credit cards offer, it should be no surprise that consumers end up paying a hefty price to add convenience to their…

  • Maintaining liquidity as you reduce debt — how a savings account helps (19 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Are you ready to start killing your debt? Whether you make the minimum payment or you’re ready to accelerate your debt repayment like a mad man/mad woman, you need a strategy to make that happen. Why you need a debt-repayment strategy While you have to make the minimum payment on your debt each month, what happens if you want to accelerate your payments? If your budget…

  • Social investing in the wake of the Volkswagen scandal: Have your say (23 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Katie O’Connor.

    Caught red-handed On the off-chance you haven’t heard about it, Volkswagen, the German car maker, is in a world of trouble. The company was caught using software to game emissions testing, a flat-out cheating move that affects some 11 million vehicles. Not surprisingly, shares in Volkswagen tanked as soon as the news broke, down now by as much as 30 percent. Shareholders raced to clear their…

  • Great small cities for millennials (or anyone seeking affordable urban spaces) (57 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Megan Wells.

    Millennials are weird. I should know; I am one. For years, our unorthodox lifestyle choices and money habits have been confusing to our elders. And perhaps the most unprecedented millennial-ish move we’ve been making is the avoidance of home ownership. With home-buying at an all-time low according to the Census Bureau, the finger is easily pointed at us as a likely cause. But instead of leveling…

  • When investing in yourself is wise (38 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    You’ve heard it before, many times probably: Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make. Really? How do we know that’s true? Google the term “investing in yourself” and you’ll find numerous references to things like explore your creative side, nurture your mind and body, sleep and relax, say no to others, do things you love. You get the picture. The term is commonly…

  • Side job helps chop 25-year payoff plan to 6 months (30 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    What do you do when you want to pay off your debt but you calculate it will take 25 years to do so on your current income? Well, if you’re Adrienne Dorison, you start a side business and start shoveling yourself out of debt faster! Another reason to get out of debt Before her income grew, though, she still had a large student loan when she…

  • Why you should make a home your first investment (69 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    Originally, this was to be a two-part series discussing the pros and cons of buying a home as opposed to investing. The purpose wasn’t to pick a winner or loser, per se. (After all, one of the main tenets of Get Rich Slowly is that you really should do what works for you.) Instead, the purpose was to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of both options…

  • 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,…

  • How to Invest in Index Funds (8 comments)

    This is the third installment of a three-part series examining index funds. In Part I, we looked at the managed mutual fund market. In Part II, we looked at how an index is calculated and what an index fund is. In this installment, we’ll consider how to evaluate index funds and where to buy them. Despite the fact managed mutual funds still dominate the mutual fund landscape, there has been a steady migration of assets…

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

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

  • Should you buy a home or invest? (70 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    The path toward retirement and financial independence usually involves buying a home and investing for retirement and the future. But, what if you had to choose? William Cowie posed this question to me recently and asked which path I would take to financial independence if given the option. My answer: I would invest for the future and forgo the house in a New York minute. Let’s…

  • What is an index fund exactly? (11 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    [This is the second installment in a series examining index funds. In Part I, we looked at the managed mutual fund market. In this installment, we will look at how an index is calculated and what an index fund is. In Part III, we’ll consider how to evaluate index funds and where to buy them.] In the first part of this series, we saw that mutual…

  • 35 tips for packing a lunch your kid will eat (21 comments)
    This is an article from former GRS staff writer Donna Freedman.

    About four in 10 elementary school students bring lunch from home. But it’s not likely to be a good one, according to a 2014 study from Tufts University. Not one of the lunchboxes examined met all five National School Lunch Program standards, and only 27 percent of the meals met at least three NSLP recommendations (fruits, vegetables, low- or nonfat dairy, whole grains,…

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

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

  • Meal plans and delivery programs — costly or cost-effective? (29 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    The three biggest items in most people’s budgets are usually housing, transportation, and food. That’s because they are needs; but like most needs, costs can range from the inexpensive, no-frills version to the outrageously expensively extravagances seen on some reality TV shows. For example, you could live in a studio apartment or a mansion, take shanks’ mare or drive a luxury car, slap a PB &…

  • 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…

  • Balancing expectations for bonus-and-raise season (17 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Megan Wells.

    Everyone’s inner-optimist is a loud-mouth. “Yes, you deserve a gigantic increase in pay.” It’s that time of year when you hear about your bonus and raise. “You’re obviously going to get it. So go ahead. Start fantasizing about it!” That’s just what we do. We see dollar signs and start day-dreaming about what we can do with that extra amount of money. “Which savings account should…

  • What the Chinese stock market crash can teach you (9 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    By some accounts, China’s stock market has been in free fall. In less than a month, the Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index (SSEC) — the Chinese equivalent of America’s S&P 500 stock index — saw a 30 percent drop in value. Media reports have ranged from indifference to breathless comparisons with the great stock market crash of 1929, followed by dire predictions for you and yours….

  • 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 ……

  • Revisiting the credit union vs. bank debate: Which is better? (24 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    Judging from the comments in Kristin Wong’s article “Credit unions vs. banks: Things to consider“ back in January 2014, there was a lot of interest – and a fair amount of skepticism – in what credit unions have to offer. The sentiments went in a lot of different directions. People were quick to point out that interest rates on deposits at credit unions were usually much higher…

  • How to cancel COBRA insurance (6 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    In a recent article, I described what COBRA insurance is and my experiences obtaining it. One of the biggest complaints I had about COBRA was the sign-up process. Signing up for COBRA insurance had to be initiated by my employer, and it was a paper process to boot. This meant there was a lag between when I signed up and when I received proof of insurance….

  • The good side of quitting (24 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Richard Barrington.

    Does quitting have a bad rap? When it comes to the job market, quitting is happening more these days than at any time in the past several years. We tend to associate quitting with giving up or giving in, so you may be surprised to learn that economists are very happy when people quit. This might be a good time to consider why economists like it…

  • How we saved big with a balance transfer (18 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    When my husband and I started dating in 2004, he moved across the country to go back to school and live closer to me. Yep, much to our surprise {insert sarcasm here}, his bachelor’s degree in theater arts hadn’t helped him land his dream job. Therefore, he decided to do something different instead and chose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in mortuary science. As it is…

  • Real-life case study: Should I save money or pay off debt? (36 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    An issue was raised in the comments of my recent post, Celebrating One Year of Homeownership. In that post, I mentioned that we currently have over $30,000 in liquid savings. At least one reader felt that, with our level of debt (currently over $390,000), that this was an excessive amount and instead we should pay down some of our debt. So I thought that this was…

  • How to pick an index fund (12 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Ryan Takach.

    Stock-picking can be difficult, especially if you don’t have the ability to monitor the market and your investments consistently. Managed investments — such as mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) — have become a popular choice because they provide exposure to a wide array of securities that would otherwise be out of reach for the average investor. So many reasons to love index funds The fund…

  • What is COBRA insurance? (and other frequently asked questions) (7 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Next week marks my two-month anniversary at my new job. Huzzah! In addition to celebrating my new, higher salary, I am also feeling simultaneously challenged and less stressed. I feel challenged because my new job is in an entirely different industry than my former position. But I’m definitely less stressed because the performance expectations are reasonable and my colleagues are fun and friendly. I may even…

  • Unexpected funeral costs – 3 financial lessons that could protect your heirs (10 comments)

    This is a guest post by Lynnette Khalfani-Cox. In a little less than 18 months, I lost three treasured family members. First, my husband’s 94-year-old grandmother, Nana, passed away in late 2013 and was laid to rest just before Thanksgiving. At the end of December 2014, my sister Deborah died suddenly and completely unexpectedly. Debby was a 49-year-old healthy, vibrant person, the mother of an 11-year-old daughter, and the most caring individual I’ve ever known….

  • 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…

  • How to develop your child’s full potential (8 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Have you ever had the nagging sense that you were just floating through life? Stuck in a dead-end job, perhaps? Wasting your abilities, but unsure what to do about it? Almost everyone I know has felt that way at least once. But let me ask you another question: Has that dissatisfaction caused you to spend too much money, as sort of a band-aid on a stagnant…

  • 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…

  • What’s your position on debt? Read this first (62 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    You hear it all the time, here and many other places: Debt is bad — evil, even — you know, like smoking and drinking and gambling. Yet, despite overwhelming evidence that smoking is bad for us, almost one person out of every five still smokes. And in the past year, that number has not declined significantly. The government even has campaigns to get people to stop…

  • Financial stress: Strategies for the sandwich generation (16 comments)
    My husband and I are millennials who expect to be part of the sandwich generation soon. The term “sandwich generation” refers to those who support both an aging parent and a child. As I read the responses to the Ask the Readers article, Are you planning to care for an aging parent, it looks like we have plenty of company, and statistics from the Pew Research Center seem to substantiate that. (http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/01/30/the-sandwich-generation/):

    “Nearly…

  • How to deal with expensive friends (37 comments)
    No matter what I do to prevent it, spring budget creep always seems to take hold this time of year. Sometimes it seems as if the dollars start flying out the door the second the temperature starts to rise. And although I budget for all of our known expenses, the extra expenditures still add up — and hurt.

    Part of our creep is a product of spring clean-up — mulch, new plants and flowers,…

  • Pros and cons of homeschooling (74 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    What if the average cost to educate a child was over $5,000 but you could drop it to just over $500 per child? According to a really old (1997) report on homeschooling, you could do just that by taking your child out of public school and schooling them at home. Last winter, after several days off school with bitter-cold temperatures, coupled with a few serious cases…

  • Why bankruptcy should be your last resort (39 comments)

    (Petrish Dyer is an active military Navy Chief, currently stationed in Japan. Please understand that her duties and time zone may prevent her from responding to comments in a timely manner even though she would like to. Petrish is also the founder of debtfreemartini.com where she blogs and inspires others to live a debt-free life.) A few years ago, I was at my lowest point financially. I was looking for a solution to rise above…

  • Job search tips that work (19 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    You may have noticed that, since last September, many of my posts here at Get Rich Slowly have focused on the job search. Some of you may have wondered why I would write about such a topic at all, since my job tenure was over seven years. Well, it’s because I have been job-hunting. And I succeeded! As I write this, I just wrapped up my…

  • Ask the Readers: Cheap luggage or expensive luggage? (45 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    It’s spring! Don’t you just feel like hitting the road? Well, maybe you do if you don’t travel for a living. Either way, luggage. I’ve had my fair share of experiences with luggage over the years. Lost luggage, broken luggage, matching luggage — you name it. Currently, I travel with a non-descript, black roller that I can barely distinguish from anyone else’s. I bought it for $49…

  • Ask the Readers: How do you challenge your financial status quo? (16 comments)
    While the rest of our group galloped up the mountain in Haiti, I was stuck at a flat area partway up with two other people in our party who just couldn’t make it another step: a man who was pushing 80 and another guy who was overweight. I was so frustrated with my lack of stamina and embarrassed at my inability to push my early-30s self any more physically.

    Considering that I used to…

  • Ask the Readers: What rate of return are you seeking and how much risk will you accept? (20 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    We spent a fair amount of time exploring investments in the month of March. We looked at how to ladder certificates of deposit (CDs), scrutinized the decision to include gold in your portfolio, and even considered the growth of hedge funds. Over the months and years, we have discussed rental properties, peer-to-peer lending and everyone’s favorite, the index fund. There are a lot of reasons to invest…

  • We’re eating our house! (28 comments)
    This is a guest post from former GRS staff writer Donna Freedman.

    A blogger who goes by “empressjuju” thinks she and her husband spend too much on restaurants. “Every month we find ourselves rushed, or tired, or invited out with friends and there goes the budget,” she wrote in a post on her website, (the) Vegas in Austin. Her husband wondered whether it is unreasonable to spend less. Given that they want to be…

  • How to achieve long-term financial goals (16 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    In my last post, I talked about how personal finance is about playing the long game and “making choices that are harder in the short term for the good of the long term.” But when the payoff is so many years down the road, it can be difficult to stay on track. In order to actually reach long-term goals, you have to keep making the right choices…

  • Why gold should be part of your investment portfolio (47 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    [Editor’s note: This is Part II of a two-part series on whether it makes sense to include gold in your portfolio. Part I is “Should gold be part of my portfolio?“] This is the second installment of a two-part series about gold as an investment for your portfolio. The two posts may appear like a candidate’s debate or popularity contest, but they really aren’t. Our purpose…

  • Should gold be part of my portfolio? (35 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Robert Brokamp.

    [Editor’s note: This is Part I of a two-part series on whether it makes sense to include gold in your portfolio. Part II is “Why gold should be part of your investment portfolio.”] Humans have valued gold for several millennia, and that will likely continue. It is understandable, then, that a human such as yourself might consider trading some green for gold. I say, “Don’t bother,”…

  • Personal finance and the long game (15 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    When you think about it, personal finance is about playing the long game. Sure, it’s about other things as well. It’s about paying off debt. It’s about spending less than you earn. But when you think about it overall, it’s about making choices that are harder in the short term for the good of the long term. Here’s what I mean…. Saving for retirement Saving for retirement,…

  • Should you travel in your 20s? (60 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    When my mom was in her early 20s, she took a few months to travel abroad with a few of her college friends. I wouldn’t call it an around-the-world trip since they only visited a few regions, but I would call it amazing. So amazing, in fact, that my mom shared numerous stories of her travels with me as I was growing up. I remember those…

  • Ask the Readers: How much are you willing to sacrifice to reach your financial goals? (30 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    When I packed my hospital bag before having a baby last summer, I tucked my laptop in along with everything else. I thought I might squeeze in some work between contractions, or when the baby was sleeping. Or something. (I’ll pause while you all laugh.) The laptop actually did make it out of the bag once while I, already bleary from lack of sleep, held my baby…

  • Retirement Travel and Frugal Living (47 comments)

    Retirement travel is in. Out is the era of spending unending retirement days on a golf course in plaid pants and interminable games of bridge with the blue-rinse set.

    The new generation of retirees is looking for more adventure, with more activity … and lower costs. Few strategies deliver like the recreational vehicle (RV) retirement lifestyle. A few years ago, my wife and I got a glimpse of it in the most unexpected…

  • Should I get a part-time job in college? (34 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Short answer? Yes. But that wasn’t very interesting, now was it? So let’s weigh the options for working while in school to get a better understanding of why you should consider it. Working as a way to pay for school There are lots of stories about people working their way through school. Unfortunately, it is becoming less common in some quarters, but perhaps the biggest reason…

  • Beyond Valentine’s Day: Money and relationships (16 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Spoiler alert: Stress ahead! More than three in four women think about money more than sex, and more than one in four Americans in relationships feel money-related stress affects their desire for sex according to a survey conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Yodlee from December 6 to December 10, 2013. The 2,039 U.S. respondents were adults ages 18 and…

  • Finding Retirement Security (55 comments)

    You’ve seen them before: 10 mistakes that could ruin your retirement, 6 things to avoid, and so on. But many of those lists are copies of each other. Make no mistake: Common sense is common sense, and there’s only so many ways to catalog it. The common sense behind any successful savings or investment plan? Rhythm, or doing the same thing month after month. When that rhythm gets disrupted, it can take months, even years…

  • Financial benefits of solar panels? Not so fast! (43 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    In my homeownership and priorities progress report in September, I mentioned that Jake and I were considering getting solar panels installed on our new house. Although that was our last priority, our first priority was replacing our HVAC unit. We thought there might be HVAC units that were made to be compatible with solar panels. As a result, we decided that it might make sense to investigate…

  • How to turn down a job offer (or resign) gracefully (18 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    So, you’ve done it. You’ve considered all the costs of a new job, networked your heart out, and considered all aspects of your job offer. Now you are facing one of two outcomes: Pull the trigger! Take the new job. Not good enough! For whatever reason, you’ve decided to decline the offer. Either way, someone is going to be on the receiving end of some bad news….

  • The importance of financial balance — a conversation with my mom about money (46 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong.

    It seems like an odd goal for a kid; but when I was little, I wanted to be financially secure. Of course, I didn’t put it that way. Instead, I declared, “When I grow up, I want to be rich.” Incidentally, so did my parents. I remember rolling quarters with them, while they explained to me the importance of saving. At a young age, I realized I’d…

  • 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…

  • Why we spend: Are you falling for these costly biases? (29 comments)

    This article is by Suba Iyer, who currently writes for FiveCentNickel.com. Until a few years ago, I used to frequent a store that gave $10 (technically a credit of $10 toward future purchases, but it wasn’t cash) back for every $50 purchase. Whenever I got to $40 in purchases, I would add unplanned items to bring the total up to $50 as I couldn’t leave the “free” $10 on the table. My rationale was that these items were technically free. But in reality, the rationalization…

  • 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,…

  • How to Get Out of Debt on a Low Income (38 comments)
    You’ve seen the get-out-of-debt advice: Quit buying lattes. Sell your stuff. It’s good advice, but it doesn’t apply to you. Because of your low income, a latte hasn’t touched your lips in years. And your stuff? You’ve been limping along for months now. No one wants what you have.

    You know Dave Ramsey says you need a bigger shovel to dig yourself out of this hole; but right now, all you have is a…

  • How to evaluate mutual funds to boost your returns (14 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Robert Brokamp.

    I’m a bit of a nut about Christmas; I even have a daughter named Noelle. So this time of year can be a bit of downer for me. The tree gets disassembled, the Bing Crosby CDs get packed away, and the holiday cards stop coming. Regarding that last one, however, the void in my mailbox will soon be filled by a different type of tiding —…

  • 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…

  • The power of focusing on what you can control (25 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong.

    A few years ago, my boyfriend lost his awful job. It shouldn’t have happened. He worked hard, came in early, left late, powered through sick days and rarely took lunch. This workaholic, counterproductive behavior was highly encouraged by his Lumberg-esque boss. Like I said, it was an awful job. It wasn’t a good time for Brian. He was in debt, he lived in a 400 square…

  • 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….

  • Heed the Ghost of Yourself Yet to Come (28 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Robert Brokamp.

    Back in July of 2013, I decided to move on from the turtle-logoed pages of Get Rich Slowly in order to devote more time to other professional and familial responsibilities. However, a few months ago I managed to find time to once again join this merry band of bloggers, which gives me the opportunity to pass along the results of a survey I included in my “farewell”…

  • Questions to ask before paying more for quality (21 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong.

    There’s something to be said for spending more on a quality item. If frugality is about getting the most value out of something, spending more on quality can actually be thrifty. In a recent post, I admitted that I once splurged on a $200 coat. A couple of readers rightfully pointed out that an expensive purchase isn’t always a waste of money. If it is a high-quality…

  • What does it cost to commute? (47 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    In recent posts exploring job searches and the cost of jobs in general, the subject of commute came up in a number of the comments. Readers pointed out that a commute makes a huge difference in whether a job is desirable or not because it has a significant impact on quality of life. I couldn’t agree more. When Jake and I were looking to buy a…

  • 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….

  • Ask the Readers: What personal finance choices will you face in the coming year? (59 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    The New Year is coming, and we’re busy thinking of ways to inspire your personal finance journey in the coming months. Personal finance is about making one choice over another. And at Get Rich Slowly, we’re a deliberate bunch. We actively avoid making hasty decisions. So one thing we’d like to continue to explore – whether it is through someone’s personal journey or just by digging in…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • The pros of experiencing the cons of poverty (40 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    At the beginning of October, I slipped five crisp Benjamins into my purse. I don’t usually carry any cash at all, so I was feeling flush with $500 in my pocket. It was all part of a simple experiment: Could I save on my grocery budget if I only paid in cash? While I will share more in the future about what I specifically learned about groceries…

  • How I use negative feelings about finances to my advantage (14 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong.

    I have never had much patience for dwelling. Time is a limited resource and I want to use it in the best possible way. Dwelling is a waste. I also have little patience for sweeping things under the rug and pretending to be happy when I’m not. Ignoring a problem is a great way to ensure it will come back to haunt you later. Plus, in…

  • Is living without credit cards the best way to stay out of debt? (50 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Americans might be more responsible now than they were in the early 2000s when it comes to the use of credit. At least, that’s what the evidence from a Gallup poll taken earlier this year seems to suggest. The Gallup poll, which was based on random telephone interviews with 1,026 adults, shows that a full 48 percent claim to pay their credit card balances in full when…

  • How to be generous with money (66 comments)

    How to be generous with money when you don’t have a ton — that’s a major question. Here’s how one Get Rich Slowly contributor, Lisa Aberle, discovered some essential truths about money, friendship and giving. An ice storm was coming. The last time we’d had an ice storm we were childless and lost power for five days. The romance of sleeping in front of the fireplace quickly cooled off along with the temperature in the house….

  • What can we learn from Gen Y’s view of money? (25 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Recently, Fidelity released another survey about millennials and money. They found that 47 percent of us are saving for retirement. To me, that stat was really telling about our generation’s view of personal finance, and it’s not unlike other findings. When TIME wrote about the survey, they reported: “Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found that 71% of millennials eligible for a 401(k) plan participate and that 70% of…

  • What does your job tenure say about you? (26 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith. Recently, I wrote about networking strategies that can help advance your career, and that got me to wondering what a “typical” career looks like these days. How have careers been affected by the Great Recession? Are people able to stay in a job and retire if they love it, or is the job market more chaotic than that? And what does it say about you either way? For…

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

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

  • 9 reasons you may never retire (45 comments)

    This article is by staff writer William Cowie. My mom passed away a little less than a year ago. All her life she was the picture of health: She walked every day and ate super-healthy. The extended family dreaded going there, because they knew there would be no sugary goodies, only healthy (boring) eats. We used to joke and say she was so healthy they’d have to shoot her on the Day of Judgment ……

  • Will canning your food save you money? (44 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. When I was a child, we lived on a farm that had a grape arbor loaded with Concord grapes. Each September, my mom would can jars upon jars of grape juice, and I have fond memories of evenings around the kitchen table as our family ate popcorn and drank that delicious stuff (which doesn’t taste like anything I’ve ever purchased from a store). Well, apparently, nostalgia set…

  • Lifestyle inflation: How to decide if it’s ever okay (81 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Despite that I don’t own it, I like my apartment. It’s got a mountainous view, it’s comfortable, and my neighbors are few but friendly. Sure, I’d like to own a home someday. But, unless I move to another city, that probably isn’t going to happen in the next few years. I’m fine with that. Like my neighbor said, I’d rather live here than anywhere else, at least for…

  • How not to approach rising home prices (33 comments)

    This article is by staff writer William Cowie. My wife and I took the dog for a walk the other day in our neighborhood. About half a block up the street we met Heather and George as they were unloading one of those moving PODS thingies. We introduced ourselves and asked their life’s story, or at least the part about buying the house they were moving into. Turns out they were buying something better than…

  • The problem with being goal-oriented (44 comments)

    A few months before I decided to quit my job and move, I’d made a whole timeline of accomplishments I hoped to reach within the next three to five years. It included a series of backup plans, too, should Plan A not work out (Plan A: become a hugely successful writer, make lots of money, buy a home in Malibu, take many naps). This timeline included mini-goals of what I hoped to accomplish within a…

  • A better way to calculate the value of your time (20 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. It’s both fascinating and useful to calculate the value of your time. Financial freedom gives you options and flexibility. But without time, that means nothing. Time is a precious resource that we should spend wisely. But you already know this — we’ve written about it quite a bit. Knowing the value of your time is helpful for a variety of reasons: If you’re a freelancer, it can help you…

  • Bad advice about having a baby I’m glad I followed (55 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    Last week I was out walking with a friend when she admitted she was scared she would never have kids. “We’ll never be able to afford them,” she said as we made our way around the block and up the next street. She and her husband are about our age (and not getting any younger), and I could tell she was worried. “Oh, I’m sure you’ll…

  • Starting a garden to pay off debt: Really!?! (87 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Some personal finance advice is just plain ridiculous. I’m talking about the kind of advice that’s great for filling up a webpage but that had neither saved nor made anyone money ever. Or maybe you could follow it and save money, if you wanted to hate your life. I’m not entirely innocent, I admit. I’m sure I’ve espoused my share of well-meaning-yet-impractical advice in the last seven years….

  • Why I voluntarily slashed my salary (77 comments)

    This is a guest post from former GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. She is currently a staff writer at Money Talks News, freelances for a number of magazines and PF sites, and blogs about money and midlife at DonnaFreedman.com. In January 2007, I wrote an article about being recently divorced, helping to support a disabled adult child and working toward a university degree in my late 40s. “Surviving (and thriving) on $12,000 a year” went…

  • 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…

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

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

  • The daycare debate: A double-edged sword (120 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. As many of you know, my husband had a career crisis that left him unemployed for several months last summer. It was scary, but we learned a lot from the experience — including the fact that the grass isn’t always greener and that we really needed to learn to be happy with what we had. And, beyond that, we now feel blessed that he found a new job…

  • Weird ways our brains control our money habits (22 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for money psychology studies. And it’s not just because I write about money. On a sheer curiosity level, they’re fascinating. But they also serve as a great reminder that money is more about mind than it is about math. It’s interesting to see exactly how our brains work when it comes to habits like spending and saving. And not only is it…

  • Reader Stories: 4 ways to make money with your old junk (21 comments)

    Sharon M. shared some of her personal finance journey with us this week. 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. About a year ago, I had to downsize from a 5200-square-foot house to an apartment. After my husband was laid off, we decided to…

  • Our brains on scarcity: Breaking out of the trap (Part II) (17 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. (This is a two-part series. Part I is “Our brains on scarcity: The trap of not having enough.”) For my last post, I wrote about the book “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much.” To recap, researchers Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir conducted a series of experiments and found that scarcity — whether it’s a lack of time, money or food — drastically changes our behavior….

  • Our brains on scarcity: The trap of not having enough (Part I) (36 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. (This is a two-part series. Part II is “Our brains on scarcity: Breaking out of the trap.”) I recently discovered the book “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much.” To be honest, I don’t even remember how I came to find out about the book. Maybe someone recommended it; maybe I read about it somewhere. Lately, I’ve been overwhelmingly busy, and, as a result, my short-term…

  • Improve your negotiation skills with BATNA (21 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Sam. Sam spent 13 years working in Equities on Wall Street and discusses financial independence strategies on Financial Samurai. Sam is also the founder of the Yakezie Network, the largest personal finance blog network on the web. If you want to know how to get the best deal possible, learn this simple acronym: BATNA. “BATNA” stands for “Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement.” Often times the bulk of money…

  • 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…

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

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

  • One expense you have control of in ways you never thought (38 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    What do you spend most of your money on? For most people, their two biggest expenses are their home and car(s). If you remember the post comparing expenses in 1913 to 2012, you might recall the three things that Mr. Average spent most of his “raise” on were: Housing (36 percent of the raise) Income taxes (28 percent), and Transportation (24 percent) A majority of the increase…

  • 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…

  • Act surprised: Your wedding ring is a terrible investment (101 comments)

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

  • Teaching life skills to your children (22 comments)

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

  • In defense of frugality (52 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Frugality isn’t very sexy. I’ll admit that. For most people, the concept of thrift probably conjures images of coupon clipping, stock photos of piggy banks, and Benjamin Franklin — none of which are terribly glamorous. Frugality, is, however, in line with the concept of getting rich slowly. We’ve learned that building wealth has much to do with living below your means. You have to increase your income,…

  • 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?)…

  • Honey progress report: Big change edition (21 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Well, the last couple of months have been a pretty wild ride in The Honeycomb. We moved out of our old place and concluded our experience with Cash for Keys, we bought a house and moved, and I am experimenting with a new student loan payoff strategy. Let’s explore each of these big changes a bit further, shall we? Big change 1: The culmination of “Cash for…

  • Taking the Chairman’s Flight and other career-limiting moves to avoid (114 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Sam. Sam spent 13 years working in Equities on Wall Street and discusses financial independence strategies on Financial Samurai. Sam is also the founder of the Yakezie Network, the largest personal finance blog network on the web. Working on Wall Street was tough. I felt like I was constantly being hazed by anybody senior to me. “Sam, go get me some coffee.” “Sam, I ordered a double macchiato with…

  • 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…

  • What type of procrastinator are you? (20 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Aah, procrastination. Controlling our time can be difficult, and most of us are intimately familiar with the act of delaying the act of starting or completing a task. Piers Steel, professor of human resources and organizational dynamics at the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary and author of “The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done,” has made the study…

  • Coming to terms: retirement vs. financial independence (58 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D. recently launched the Get Rich Slowly course, a year-long guide on how to master your money. Last Sunday, I shared the transcript of a recent conversation between me and Mr. Money Mustache. We talked a lot about retirement and what it takes to get there. “You and I are both supposedly retired, and yet we’re doing this work here where…

  • One year later: The benefits and tragedies of self-employment (79 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Almost exactly a year ago today, I quit my full-time job to pursue my passion — writing. It was one of the proudest moments of my life, but it was also terrifying. I had spent the last six years working alongside my husband, a mortician, in the funeral industry. My job certainly wasn’t perfect; but it was stable, well-paying, and sometimes fun. I also loved the people…

  • Eating healthy on a slim budget (72 comments)

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

  • A conversation with Mr. Money Mustache (30 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money, where he recently wrote about how to be happy. As part of the Get Rich Slowly course, I interviewed 18 of my favorite financial experts. Combined, these interviews comprise over eight hours of audio and more than 200 pages of written transcripts, all of which are available as part of the…

  • 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…

  • Talking with Gretchen Rubin about money and happiness (23 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money, where he recently wrote about how to be happy. As part of the Get Rich Slowly course (out this Tuesday!), I interviewed 18 of my favorite financial experts (and non-financial experts). Combined, these interviews comprise over eight hours of audio and more than 200 pages of written transcripts, all of which…

  • Foreclosure from the tenant’s perspective: Honey’s story (32 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith. In November, we thought we’d reached the last straw in terms of the condo we have been renting. We’d had numerous problems with our place and our landlord (namely, not fixing things when they broke — major or minor). However we ultimately decided that, although the right choice wasn’t obvious, there were too many aspects of our lives up in the air to move at that moment. Then, on…

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

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

  • The cultural shift toward financial security (27 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. In the past few months, I’ve had a noteworthy number of conversations about the trend toward frugality. More of my friends seem interested in finding ways to save, I can’t throw a rock at the Internet without hitting a money-saving “hack,” and, during a job interview, I had a lengthy discussion about how “personal finance is now trendy.” Get Rich Slowly reader and money blogger Mrs. PoP noticed…

  • What’s the value of work-life balance? (54 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith. I was really struck by Kristin Wong’s recent article “Overwork and the illusion of a ‘high-paying’ job.” It’s not something that I’ve had to deal with personally, though I’ve seen people close to me wrestle with it. As an attorney, Jake makes a six-figure salary at his new job, but probably works 80+ hours in a week. While this is undoubtedly tough (on his health, on his…

  • Why we aren’t saving for our children’s college educations (143 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. For a few years, I got to skip Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step 5. Save for our children’s college education? That was an easy one…since we didn’t have children, that answer was NO! But now we have two kids (soon to be three), which means our days of delaying that decision are over. And since our oldest child is ten, we’ve already missed out on a decade of compounding….

  • Charity, hobby, or mistake? The cat we didn’t keep (62 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Jake and I have two cats and a dog. To us, having pets is one of the most important aspects of our lives and identity. You might even consider it a hobby. Unfortunately, it is a hobby that, as you will see, has not always been entirely strategic. Our love for animals has permeated much of our lives. I’ve been vegetarian for over a decade, and Jake was…

  • The joy of being average (94 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Sam. Sam spent 13 years working in Equities on Wall Street and discusses financial independence strategies on Financial Samurai. Sam is also the founder of the Yakezie Network, the largest personal finance blog network on the web. When I asked the community whether we have the duty to live up to our potential, many of you balked at the notion of living up to anybody else’s standards but your own….

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

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

  • Financing your bucket list (39 comments)

    This is a guest post from Mitch Anthony. Mitch is a sought-after financial services consultant, popular speaker, and host of The Daily Dose radio program. His RetireMentors column appears regularly on CBS marketwatch.com. Mitch earned Financial Planning Magazine’s “Mover & Shaker” award for his pioneering retirement and financial planning work. He has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, and The New York Times. His book Storyselling for Financial Advisors was acclaimed…

  • How to Handle a Windfall (29 comments)

    When my father died in 1995, he left behind a small life insurance policy that awarded each family member $5,000. It wasn’t much, but it was the best he could do based on the fact that he had cancer. He hadn’t been much of a planner, and hadn’t been good with money, so that $5,000 per person was actually a significant amount. At the time, I was deep in debt. I had over $20,000 in…

  • 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…

  • Material Stuff Can Make You Happy (70 comments)

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

  • Student loans: Lessons learned, choosing a major, and overcoming regrets (113 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. In 2009, Kasey O. graduated college with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Media Arts & Animation. With the support of her family, friends, school guidance counselors, and high school teachers, she had finally earned a college degree in a field that fulfilled her passion. Kasey was proud, hopeful, and ready to begin her dream career. But unfortunately for Kasey, things weren’t exactly what they seemed. What Kasey didn’t…

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

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

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

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

  • The small-house experiment (Part 1) (112 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. A few weeks ago, I wrote about how my husband and I are moving to be closer to his new job. Well, it’s been a whirlwind of chaos and uncertainty ever since. Since I wrote that post, we put our house on the market and began the search for a new home. And despite the fact that we’re excited for the opportunity to move on with our lives,…

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

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

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

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

  • The day my dishwasher died (78 comments)

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

  • How I’m changing my relationship with money (27 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. As a teenager, I had a part-time job that was already mundane and dreadful enough, but then Kelly P. was hired. For whatever reason, Kelly and I were instantly repelled by each other. She thought I was too dorky to bear; I found her voice impossibly grating. She over-pronounced her esses. All it took was one shift. One evening, Kelly and I were stuck together. Alone. For…

  • Changing careers: The grass isn’t always greener (76 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Earlier this year, my husband and I made a decision that will change the course of our lives, for better or for worse. After 10 years in the mortuary industry, we decided that it was time for my husband to make a change. He was frustrated, burnt out, and tired of working weekends, late nights, and holidays. He began to wonder if there was something else that he…

  • Declutter and save your sense (34 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. Once, I couldn’t find a matching pair of shoes, so I  put one foot in a ballet flat and the other in a tennis shoe and acted like I had sprained my ankle. True story. You may wonder then why this girl is writing an article on decluttering and disorganization and their relationship to finances, especially since I still have a lot to learn. While there are…

  • 4 signs you’re over your job & 5 things you can do about it (29 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong.

    Over the summer, I read a book that likened a miserable job to hanging onto the edge of a cliff. I thought it was an appropriate analogy. Like most people, I’ve been there, and that’s totally what it feels like. You know you have to let go, but letting go is scary. You could land in a better spot, or you could meet your ruin. The author argued…

  • Could you say no to your mom? (73 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jeff Rose, CFP who blogs at GoodFinancialcents.com. Jeff is well known among bloggers for his various causes: The Debt Movement, The Roth IRA Movement and The Life Insurance Movement.  His first book, Soldier of Finance, officially releases September 9, 2013. “Heck no!” Imagine if a stranger asked you one of the following questions: Can I borrow your credit card to make a quick purchase? I don’t have any cash on…

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

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

  • How I canceled cable and gained a new outlook on life (107 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    When my husband and I began our journey out of debt, our monthly bills were overwhelming. Of course, we were paying for all of the regular stuff like our mortgage, utilities and various insurance policies. However, we were also paying for things that we knew we wanted to live without — credit card bills, furniture that we had financed, magazine subscriptions. I also like to remind…

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

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

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

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

  • 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…

  • Should you prepay your mortgage? (40 comments)

    Welcome to Throwback Thursday! Many in the GRS community have been reading the site since J.D. Roth began posting in 2006, but many of you are new to the community. We’re going to start re-posting some of the most popular — and useful articles — from the past. The financial advice and ideas are still valid, and well worth bringing back to light. Originally published on June 17, 2006, this article offers various points of…

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

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

  • The cost of workaholism (66 comments)

    “What are your resolutions this year?” a girlfriend recently asked me. I thought about the areas of my life I’d like to improve upon and responded, “I’d like to work less. I think I’m a workaholic.” She paused for a bit then hesitantly said, “…that doesn’t sound like a problem…” And indeed, when I’d talked about this with my mom just a week earlier, she said, “That’s a good addiction.” But it’s easy to confuse hard work…

  • 5 reasons to refinance your mortgage (71 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I refinanced my mortgage for the second time in a year. The second refinance wasn’t actually part of my master plan, but I ended up having to refinance in order to remove my private mortgage insurance. And although refinancing our home again proved to be a huge pain, we are now saving $135 per month by no longer paying private…

  • Insurance: An easier way to comparison shop (34 comments)

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

  • My student loan story: How I paid it off in a year (115 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Kristin Wong. Today I pulled out a file in my cabinet that’s been gathering dust since 2007: STUDENT LOAN. In 2007, I paid that sucker off, and I haven’t looked back since. Well, except to check my credit report. I wanted to make sure the nightmare was really over, after all. It wasn’t too much of a nightmare, really. With interest, I owed a little over $12,000. But when…

  • Minimalist parenting: The frugal choice (77 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Sarah Gilbert. The woman on the radio sounded panicked. She lived in Los Angeles, and because of her neighborhood (weird homeless guy on the corner; busy streets all around) she didn’t trust her kids to play outside. So she spent her time driving them to activities where they would get… physical activity. It sounded a little awful, and it sounded expensive. I had been interviewed for this piece (my…

  • Creating objective rules for spending (36 comments)

    This guest post is from Mr. F, an Australian reader in his mid-20s who works for the government. We’re often told to “spend money on what’s important,” “spend according to your values” or “spend on whatever takes up most of your time.” So, for example, you should spend money when it comes to things like education, or family, or on a mattress. That’s a good guide, but in day-to-day situations you often have to make…

  • Relationship deal breakers, then and now (66 comments)

    This is a post from staff writer Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. I recently had breakfast with a woman I dated almost 20 years ago, soon after I graduated from college. She’s married now, with two beautiful kids and a husband who seems like one of those solid, true-blue, stay-at-home-dad kind of guys. I’m married now, too…

  • How to File a Consumer Complaint (100 comments)

    Editor’s note: Knowing how to file a consumer complaint is a necessary part of being an informed consumer. Here’s one experience from a Get Rich Slowly contributor with a list of tips and tricks anyone can use. A few months ago, I decided that I needed new furniture. I didn’t want new furniture. My 3-year-old couch and loveseat were in great condition. On the other hand, I began to realize that I had once again…

  • Take a deep breath: Letting go of financial stress (31 comments)

    I’ve been reading through some of my old posts and thinking about what I wanted for this, my very-end-of-the-year statement on money. And what I saw was a lot (a lot) of angst and worry and stress. It was appropriate, as I’d spent most of the day in a kind of crazy wound-up worked-up state, getting ready for what should be a lovely, restful retreat with a few friends from my writer’s group. Part of…

  • When you just can’t get the important stuff done (38 comments)

    This is a post from staff writer Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. This post is not for those of you who have focused minds and empty “to do” lists. Nay, not for those rarefied people who go to bed knowing that they got just about…

  • Lessons from a master (53 comments)

    I have been re-watching the documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” for the past couple of months. I’ve seen it at least 10 times, probably more, while writing drafts for this article. I’ve watched it alone, with my wife, with friends, and I don’t tire of it; I’ve recommended it to everyone I know, and now I’m wholeheartedly recommending it to you. This little gem of a documentary by David Gelb takes a look at the…

  • Earning more vs. spending less: The decision (89 comments)

    This is the last article in a series. Here are round 1, round 2, and round 3. The need to specialize I have been wrestling now for some time with the question of where to focus one’s energies: whether to earn more or whether to save more. Of course you want to do both, but to get really good at something it takes time, effort, patience and dedication — just like anything you want to…

  • The rise and fall of the shopaholic (86 comments)

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

  • Side gigs vs. day jobs (132 comments)

    This post is from new staff writer Honey Smith. If you’re in debt — especially if you’re in significant debt — frugality will only get you so far. To really make a dent, you have to increase your income. The option recommended most frequently on personal finance blogs I have read is freelancing or consulting on the side. Another option is a second job (usually hourly work of some kind). However, side jobs aren’t always…

  • Frugality and Financial Independence (99 comments)

    This is the first article from new staff writer Lisa Aberle, who has replaced Tim Sullivan. When I first started reading Get Rich Slowly in 2007 or 2008, financial independence was only a dream. At that time, my husband and I were struggling financially. We had: two mortgages one car payment no emergency fund nothing left over after each paycheck a zillion home improvement projects to do – and no money to do them I…

  • 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…

  • Reader Story: Dream Home or Dream Life? (146 comments)

    This guest post from Holly Johnson 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. A few months ago, we were seriously considering moving. Frustrated by a few of the shortcomings of our current residence,…

  • How Much Is Your Time Worth? (91 comments)

    This is a guest post by Joel Runyon of Impossible HQ. Did you see the Justin Timberlake thriller In Time last year? Probably not. Nobody else did either. Well, I did, I guess. And while the movie wasn’t very good, it contained an interesting idea that I think relates to personal finance. The movie’s plot revolves around a world where everyone is genetically engineered to live until they’re 25. After that, they have exactly one…

  • 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…

  • Reader Story: Re-Evaluating the Rat Race (168 comments)

    This guest post from Joe is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. Over the last year, some of my friends have left their day jobs to become a full-time bloggers. Their stories are inspirational, but their choice…

  • How One Decision Can Help You Retire Faster (154 comments)

    This is a guest post by Dee Bauer from SmallHouseLife.com, where she shares information about abundant living in small spaces. Do you sometimes wonder if you’ll ever be financially stable enough to retire? Or maybe it’s not so much about retirement as it is about financial independence. Personally, I don’t want to wait until I’m in my 60s to enjoy financial freedom and extended leisure time! As a result of one decision, my husband and…

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

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

  • Spend on the Things You Do Every Day (133 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. I used to be guilty of spending money on the life I thought I lived, rather than the life I was actually living. To illustrate what I mean, consider the following past expenditures: Snowboarding apparel, for my first and only snowboarding trip to date. Evening dresses from Bluefly.com. Yes, they were purchased at a big discount, but I had nowhere to wear them! A mountain bike. I…

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

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

  • The Economics of Country Mouse vs. City Mouse (115 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. I’ve lived in a small town for most of my life. The drive home includes steep hills with panoramic views and winding country roads that ramble past ranches and wide-open fields. But I didn’t always have positive feelings about the country life. In high school, I hated it. All of the action was in the city, where coffee shops, museums, restaurants, and concerts happened. When I moved…

  • Hostels For Adults: Spend Travel Money Where it Counts (163 comments)

    This post is from new staff writer Sarah Gilbert. When I was 23, I stayed at my first (and last) Ritz Carlton, in Palo Alto. It was only a stop on a string of fabulous business hotels from which I’d collected small bars of soap and shoe shine mitts: The Breakers in Palm Beach, Hotel Nikko Beverly Hills, the Pierre and the Plaza and the Waldorf-Astoria and three different W Hotels in New York City…

  • Why Leaving My Job in Finance Was the Best Decision Ever (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. Ogle writes about travel and entrepreneurship at Location 180. He also helps people build small businesses they can run from anywhere on earth at Location Rebel. This is my third guest post at Get Rich Slowly. The responses from my first two stories — Budgeting for a Lifestyle Change…

  • How Much Is a Clean Home Worth? (96 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. Last month I wrote a post on do-it-yourself beauty and personal care products. That touched a nerve with a lot of people: some loved it, some hated it; it seemed like everyone had something to say. At the time I’d planned to follow up with a post on do-it-yourself cleaning products for the home, but I’ve…

  • When Renting Is Smarter Than Buying (96 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. In my article on Spotify last week, a couple of commenters took me to task for suggesting that subscribing to access for music could be better than buying your own permanent copies of the songs you love. A few thought that, as a personal-finance writer, I should be urging people to buy their stuff instead of throwing money…

  • Sunk Costs and Smart Decisions (147 comments)

    As I write this, I’m on a flight back to Portland. I’ve spent the weekend with former GRS staff writer Adam Baker and his wife Courtney in Indianapolis, Indiana. Ostensibly, we were there to take part in GenCon, a huge gaming convention. We did play plenty of games, but we also had a lot of fun just hanging around and chatting. It was great to take a four-day break after months of being “on” all…

  • 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…

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

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

  • Biking vs. Driving Calculator (113 comments)

    For the past two months, I’ve been conducting an informal experiment looking at commuting costs. Spurred by the high cost of gas — $4 per gallon to fill my Mini!?! — I decided to use alternate transportation: my feet. In May, I walked over 200 miles. In June, I’ve walked less but biked more. Related >> My Mini and the Power of Saving Walking and biking takes more time, it’s true, but not as much…

  • Big House, Little House (272 comments)

    I am constantly changing. While many people are much the same today as they were yesterday (or last week or twenty years ago), I’m always evolving. This isn’t necessarily good or bad — it’s just who I am. Some of my friends think I’m fickle. I get that. (Kris tells me that I go through “phases”.) I prefer to view this constant change as growth. I don’t want to be the same person tomorrow as…

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

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

  • Reader Story: The Costs and Savings of Bicycle Commuting (186 comments)

    This guest post from Duran Valdez 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. For the past two years, I’ve been riding a bicycle to work. Mostly because I’m cheap. My commute is a 12-mile round trip…

  • Reader Story: How I Built My Own House — Without a Mortgage (152 comments)

    This guest post from Ian is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. It’s the extended version of the story he shared in his prize-winning entry to this year’s GRS video contest. Some reader 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. It dawned on me…

  • Is an MBA Worth It? (106 comments)

    This is a guest post from long-time reader Gal Josefberg. Gal writes about self-improvement at Equally Happy and healthy living at 60 in 3. I’ve recently hired my second employee, a newly-graduated technical writer who aspires to one day run his own business. He’s proactive, punctual, hardworking and very capable. The mentor in me wants to make sure he has a great career ahead of him. So imagine my alarm when I heard him say,…

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

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

  • When Does Minimalism Go Too Far? (124 comments)

    This is a guest post from Katy Wolk-Stanley of The Non-Consumer Advocate, a blog about frugality, food waste, environmentalism, simple living and finding thrift-store bargains. She describes herself as a “mother, utility bill scholar, laundry hanger-upper, library patron, frequent napper, and Buffy enthusiast.” When not blogging (or napping) Katy works as a high-risk labor and delivery nurse. Katy’s blog has been featured in many major media outlets, including The National Enquirer, which featured Whitney Houston…

  • How I Invest My Money (59 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. Two weeks ago, I elaborated by sharing how I make money. Last week, I turned to the other half of the basic personal-finance equation: I shared how I spend money. (Or, more precisely, the ways in which I try not to spend money.) Today, I’ll share the ways I…

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

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

  • 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…

  • Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, or Do Without (178 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. My shower is broken. The water comes out just fine, and it doesn’t leak. But the temperature control is busted, so it only comes out at one temperature: as hot as it gets. Here’s the embarrassing part: It’s been like this for a year. Frugal or lazy? When the temperature thingy broke (and here you see…

  • Follow-up: Taking a 20% pay cut (32 comments)

    I get a lot of requests for follow-ups to reader stories and reader questions. People want to hear how things turned out. Because I want to know how things turned out, too, I’ve started a semi-regular feature at Get Rich Slowly. Whenever I hear back from a previous poster, I’ll share an update so that we can all know what happened. Tim Stobbs wrote in September of 2010 to explain why he loved his 20%…

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

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

  • Do Programmable Thermostats Really Save Money? (126 comments)

    Programmable thermostats save you money. That’s a no-brainer, right? You’ve seen that advice in books and magazines and on personal-finance blogs — even here at Get Rich Slowly. Well, it turns out programmable thermostats aren’t the miracle device we’ve believed all along. In fact, sometimes using a programmable thermostat costs more than not having one at all. But the fault doesn’t lie with the thermostat. The trouble, as my father used to say, is the…

  • How to Spend Your Money (256 comments)

    Yesterday, as I was otherwise occupied (I spent five hours writing a post about programmable thermostats, a post nobody will even like!), the conversation on Donna Freedman’s article got a little cranky. Donna wrote about pinching pennies on some things so that she could splurge on others. In Donna’s case, that meant a trip to England. Tyler K., who’s always a little cranky, wrote in response: I’m just waiting for the post where someone’s passion,…

  • You Can Have It All (Just Not All At Once) (63 comments)

    This post is from new GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Living With Less personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. Like J.D., Donna has been traveling lately — but she’s in merrie olde England, not Africa. Earlier this month, I attended a candlelit baroque concert at the historic St.-Martin-in-the-Fields Church. The Festive Orchestra of London was delightful. My seat cost £8 (about…

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

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

  • Setting Your Homebuying Priorities – Price, Quality, Location: Pick Any Two (42 comments)

    This is a guest-post from Tim Ellis, author of Seattle Bubble, a blog and forum dedicated to real-estate market conditions in the Seattle area. Tim is a long-time GRS reader. Previously on GRS, Tim has written about renting vs. buying and renting in a new city. A localized variant of this post appeared on Seattle Bubble earlier in February. Before I got into the blogging and real-estate analysis business, I spent the first decade or…

  • Reader Story: Sailing Away from the American Dream (52 comments)

    This guest post from Michael Robertson 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. Two years ago, Michael shared a guest post about direct stock purchase plans. Today, he shares his personal story, which is about sailing…

  • Redbox vs. iTunes vs. Netflix vs. Blockbuster (92 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Sometimes I think that Netflix was the best thing to ever happen to me (er, besides my wonderful husband, of course). You see, when I was a Blockbuster customer, I was notoriously bad about racking up late fees. I would flat-out forget I even had a movie to return. There’s no telling how much money I wasted in late fees. So when Netflix came on the scene,…

  • The Time Value of Money (or Why 25 Years of Cable TV Doesn’t Cost as Much as You Think) (31 comments)

    This guest post is from Stephen Popick, a government economist and founder of Coffeecents.org, a personal finance program for young adults. Popick is the long-time administrator of the Get Rich Slowly discussion forums. He loves coffee, even if his habit will cost him a latte-a-day million in thirty years. Just after Christmas, Carl Hendley of The Motley Fool wrote about his cable bill and how much lost investment income that money represented. As an economist,…

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

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

  • Conscious Spending in Action (167 comments)

    Kris and I pulled the plug on our television last week. We canceled cable, gave our DVD player to her sister, and moved the television to the workshop until we can find a buyer. We’re now officially TV-free. Sort of. We haven’t given up TV shows and DVDs entirely — we’re just consuming this entertainment via other methods. Namely, we use: iTunes subscriptions for Glee, The Office, 30 Rock, The Biggest Loser, and The Amazing…

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

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

  • 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…

  • How Much is Pet Insurance? (98 comments)

    Pet insurance costs will vary based on the type of pet, its age and other factors, but one national pet insurance company recently quoted us a policy online of $94.54 per month with a $200 deductible for a 6-year-old mixed breed, female dog. That number can go higher or lower depending on the deductible, very much like human insurance. While becoming a more recognizable option, most pets are not privately insured. According to the North…

  • Are E-Books Cost Effective? The Pros and Cons of E-Books (143 comments)

    Yesterday, Google opened its ebookstore for business. The search giant joins Apple and Amazon (and Barnes & Noble) in a fast-growing field. Electronic books will never completely replace paper books, but they’re going to make up a sizable portion — and maybe even the majority — of the market sooner than you think. Naturally, more and more GRS readers are moving to e-books. In fact, I’ve had a couple of people ask me about them…

  • 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….

  • Should You Pay Off Your Mortgage Early? (93 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. Everyone’s looking for safe investments these days. Unfortunately, there’s a price for security: low returns. A five-year certificate of deposit at a major bank like Ally pays just 2.4% APY today, and a five-year…

  • Emergency Fund vs. Debt Snowball: What’s the Top Priority? (80 comments)

    A few weeks ago, in my review of Mary Hunt’s Debt-Proof Your Marriage, I mentioned that she advocates building a 3-6 month emergency fund before beginning to snowball your debt payments. That’s not my approach, and I criticized it a little in my review. Several commenters said they agreed with Hunt — that an emergency fund should trump debt repayment. It’s an interesting issue, so I figured I’d explore both sides of it in a…

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

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

  • Living Like a Millionaire on Pennies a Day (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. Last fall, I quit my job. As nice as it was to have a steady paycheck and the prestige of being known as a “portfolio analyst”, there was one key component that was…

  • College Savings: The Basics of Saving for College (47 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. Got kids? If so, you’re probably hoping to send them to college. And you know it won’t be cheap. College costs are rising faster than inflation, and have been for decades. But that doesn’t mean you can’t afford a good education for your kids, even if you have a modest salary or…

  • Why I Buy Local (172 comments)

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

  • Life After Debt: What It’s Like in the Third Stage of Personal Finance (245 comments)

    I paid off the last of my debt in 2007, quit my day job in 2008, and have been working to build wealth ever since. As I wrote early last year, I’m in the Third Stage of personal finance: I’ve paid off my debt, built a cash cushion in savings, and am maxing out my retirement accounts. And after doing all of these things, I have money left over to spend on comic books and…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Casting Stones: When Is It Okay to Judge? (239 comments)

    I’ve been stewing over something for the past few days, and I’m finally ready to write about it. I’m not a fan of judging others and their actions. Like Atticus Finch, I believe you never really know a person until you stand in their shoes and walk around in them. But I’m human. Like everyone, there are times I can’t help passing judgment. And although I know that judging others isn’t productive, sometimes I’m at…

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

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

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

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

  • Money Myths and the Importance of Thinking for Yourself (136 comments)

    When I sat down to write Your Money: The Missing Manual, I knew I wanted to start with a chapter on happiness. (Well, to be fair, I was going to conclude the book with this chapter; my editor suggested moving it to the beginning, which was a stroke of genius.) In particular, I wanted to make the point that money doesn’t buy happiness. Because we all know that’s true, right? Well, not so much, as…

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

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

  • Reader Story: I Bought a Fire Station for My First Home (67 comments)

    This post is part of the new “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general “how I did X” advice, and others will be examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. Today’s reader story is a little bit different; I wrote it after interviewing the subject. For Your Money: The Missing Manual, I knew I wanted to include stories from average folks like you and…

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

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

  • The Balance Between Splurger and Miser (68 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Before I changed my habits, I spent money without much thought. In college, if I had a two-hour break between classes, I’d drive to the mall. Once I started working full time, my coworker and I would bring our lunches to work just so that we’d have the entire hour to shop. If I was bored, I’d wander into the cosmetics superstore Sephora for entertainment. Even…

  • Living Like No One Else (99 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a quote from J.D.’s review of The Total Money Makeover: Printed on the bottom of every page…is the book’s motto: “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” My husband and I recently made an unusual decision, and I’m in need of a motto that I can repeat to myself every time I…

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

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

  • How I Made My Peace with Hiring a Housekeeper (173 comments)

    This is a guest post from my ex-wife. It’s a response to the debate on Erica’s recent article about outsourcing life. J.D. and I have been employing an independent housekeeper for about 10 years. The one who’s been working for us for almost five years, Michele, is fantastic and we feel lucky to have her. (We found her through Craigslist). Housecleaning is her full-time job. It took us some time to get over our self-imposed…

  • 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…

  • When to replace your car (139 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Robert Brokamp.

    Over the holidays, we said good-bye to an old family member. It was definitely her time to go. She leaked, she conked out at odd times, and she stank. Of course, I’m talking about our old vehicle: a minivan with 182,000 miles on it. I didn’t let go of her easily; after all, we didn’t get rid of our previous car until it had 264,000 miles…

  • Suze Orman Jumps Aboard the “Pay With Cash” Bandwagon (188 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker recently listed the Top 10 Money Movies of the Decade. For years now, Dave Ramsey has recommended ditching credit cards and paying with cash. (Specifically, Ramsey advocates the use of an envelope budgeting system.) In fact, this anti-credit card stance is one of the biggest problems critics have with his philosophy; they often point out that “responsible” credit card use would yield a higher credit score….

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

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

  • How Much House Do You Need? (162 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. For more than a decade, Jay Shafer of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company has lived in an 89 square-foot home. His decision to live in a tiny house came from concerns about the effects a larger house would have on the environment, and his desire to not maintain a lot of unused or unusable space. Obviously Jay’s home is at the extreme low end of how small…

  • Do What Works for You (56 comments)

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

  • Large Amounts Matter Too (46 comments)

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

  • The Pitfalls of Buying in Bulk (75 comments)

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

  • The Paradox of Choice and the Dangers of Perfection (81 comments)

    As important as I believe National Save for Retirement Week is, I have to confess that after four days (five, if you count Sunday), I’m bored of it. My short attention span has dwindled. (Imagine the difficulties I’m having as I try to concentrate on writing a book for three months solid!) Instead, I want to shift gears for a moment and talk about a subject with immediate real-life implications: the dangers of perfection. Good…

  • Should You Stop Funding Retirement to Focus on Debt? (81 comments)

    This article is by GRS staff writer Adam Baker. In addition to his work at Get Rich Slowly, Baker blogs over at Man Vs. Debt, where he compiles the most famous and inspiring quotes on debt. This article is a part of National Save for Retirement Week, and a sort of follow-up to yesterday’s post about the choice between retirement or a down payment. Whether you should halt your retirement contributions in order to focus…

  • Which Comes First: The House or the Nest Egg? (85 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. It’s also a part of National Save for Retirement Week A few weeks ago, J.D. asked me to consider writing a post on retirement for National Save for Retirement Week. As it was intended, National Save for Retirement Week made me reflect on the state of my and my husband’s retirement accounts. Currently, our retirement savings are a tad pitiful. I have a 403(b) through my…

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

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

  • Spend less than you earn (50 comments)

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

  • 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 Choose the Right Bank Account (53 comments)

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

  • What is the Value of a College Education? (156 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jason Barr, who writes about personal development at Start Being Your Best. Jason is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. His first post described what he learned from failure. Jason is 32 years old, has been married for seven years, and has a 2-1/2 year old son. He’s now a financial analyst, but he spent five years in the army as a Chinese linguist. What is the…

  • Extreme Personal Finance: Daniel Suelo, The Man Without Money (82 comments)

    Previously in my semi-regular Extreme Personal Finance series, I’ve highlighted: A couple who paid off their $220,000 mortgage in three years People who live on $12,000 a year Don Schrader, the man who lives on $10 a day Rina Kelley, the reporter who lived for one month as a freegan Yesterday, my friend Castle sent me the story of a man who makes these other folks look like spendthrifts. The man without money Writing for…

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Cut Your Food Costs With a Stand-Alone Freezer (65 comments)

    Kris and I recently bought another side of beef. Well, to be more accurate, we purchased one third of a cow. Every year, we go in with several other families to split an animal. This year, our portion of the purchase comprised: 46 pounds of lean hamburger (in 24 packs) 36-1/8 pounds of roasts (in 10 packs) 31-1/4 pounds of steak (in 20 packs) We also received 2-1/4 pounds of beef tongue that we’re giving…

  • Office Space: Why I Rented a Place to Write (75 comments)

    I recently leased office space for Get Rich Slowly. For about a year, I’d been working out of an office I’d created in one of our spare bedrooms. This seemed like an ideal solution: I was able to work from home (with my cat companions!) while utilizing empty space. In reality, this arrangement proved a blessing and a curse. Yes, it was convenient to have a home office. But I also found that the boundaries…

  • The Boat Experience: The Means Justify the Ends (42 comments)

    This is a guest post from Michael H. It’s the story I alluded to when I first wrote about the third stage of personal finance. I was afraid to run this story when Michael submitted it last year. I thought it encouraged foolish behavior. Now I understand that it does no such thing. Instead, it points to goals, and the reasons for our frugality and saving. For the past 10 years, our family has gone…

  • Starting a Business After a Job Loss (25 comments)

    This is a guest post from Matt, a long-time GRS reader. After earning a master’s degree in electrical engineering, my father joined a large technology company where he did quite well for himself. The company transferred him twice, requiring him to pick up and move his newly-created family across the country. Then he was laid off. Vowing never to let this happen again, he leveraged his network to recruit good people for a new electrical…

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

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

  • When Does It Make Sense to Stock Up? (160 comments)

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

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

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

  • Prepaid Cell Phones Can Save You Money (148 comments)

    Last week, I spoke with personal-finance writer Greg Karp about how young adults can save money. We brainstormed ideas for one of his upcoming newspaper columns. “I’m willing to bet that many young people can save money by cutting back on their cell phone,” I said. “It’s kind of shocking how these have become a Need instead of a Want.” “Yeah,” Karp said. “And what about prepaid phones?” “I don’t know anything about them,” I…

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

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

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

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

  • Saving Money and the Environment: Where Green and Frugal Meet (62 comments)

    This is a guest post for Earth Day from Beth H., who writes about saving time, money, and the environment at Smart Family Tips. Going “green” has a bit of a bad rap. As soon as marketers realized it was profitable to be green, suddenly all sorts of products flooded the marketplace with eco-friendly claims. It can be overwhelming. Is it really necessary to buy all this “stuff” to be green? Are these products really…

  • 8 Questions to Ask BEFORE Hiring a Financial Planner (121 comments)

    This is a guest post by Jeff Rose, an Certified Financial Planner from Illinois. Rose is also the author of Good Financial Cents, a financial planning and investment blog. Before reading his article, you may want to begin with two previous guest posts from Dylan Ross: What is a financial plan and why have one? and When and how to hire a financial planner. When meeting with a financial planner for the first time, many…

  • 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…

  • Finding Balance Between Time and Money (102 comments)

    Lately my personal focus has been on finding balance in my life. I’m trying to discover the proper place for money — and for time. Over the past few years, I’ve allowed money to become too important. I’ve worked too much, and that has hurt other aspects of my life. I don’t have time for anything else. As part of this process, I’ve been reading the new edition of Your Money or Your Life, the…

  • The High Cost of Having Children (161 comments)

    Because my wife I do not have children, I feel that it’s important to bring in outside voices to talk about money and kids. This is a guest post from Cathy, who writes about family finances, parenting, and cooking at Chief Family Officer. I would never in a million years want to give up my children just because they cost too much. But recently, the cost of having children hit home as I was reading…

  • Oversaving Does Not Lead to Happiness (51 comments)

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

  • 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 Psychology of Passive Barriers: Why Your Friends Don’t Save Money, Eat Healthier, or Clean Their Garages (100 comments)

    This is a guest post from Ramit Sethi, the founder of iwillteachyoutoberich.com, a blog on personal finance and entrepreneurship. His new book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, will be published on March 23rd. A surprising thing happens to people in their forties. After working hard, buying a house, and starting a family, they suddenly realize that they’d better start being responsible with their money. They begin reading financial books and trying to learn…

  • Defeating Temptation: 10 Questions to Ask Yourself When You’re Tempted to Buy (99 comments)

    You’re in the mall or at the Electronics Emporium. There’s nothing you need to buy, but you’re killing time while your spouse finishes an errand. As you wait, you browse. You admire the Thneeds. Look! There’s a new one! It’s bright and shiny and you think it will make you happy, so you pick it up, walk to the register, and purchase it. You’re the proud owner of the latest Thneed. But when you get…

  • Kansas or Bust: Considering Cost of Living (98 comments)

    I called my little brother yesterday. He lost his home to foreclosure last fall, and things have only continued to get worse. He and his wife are doing the best they can, but they feel overwhelmed. “What’s the latest?” I asked. Tony gave me an update. We talked about his problems with insurance, and with the bank, and with the debt settlement service. We talked about his options for the future. “All things considered, I…

  • Why You Shouldn’t Keep a Mortgage Just for the Tax Deduction (108 comments)

    This is a guest post from CJ at WiseMoneyMatters.com. This post represents CJ’s viewpoints, which are not necessarily my viewpoints. (Although I, too, hope to pay off my mortgage early.) Note: This is embarrassing. I don’t think I’ve ever had a post with an error like this slip by me before. I apologize. I’ve removed the offending section, not out of any attempt at revisionism, but out of interest in accuracy. Please let me know…

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

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

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

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

  • How I Cut My Television Bill in Half (146 comments)

    I’ve had several requests lately to update my two-year quest to find cheap alternatives to cable television. In March of 2007, Kris and I were paying $65.82 for a deluxe digital cable package that we rarely used – money that could have been used to pay down debt or increase the balance on my savings account. “$65.82 a month isn’t a fortune,” I wrote at the time, “but it’s a lot of money to pay…

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

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

  • Refinancing Made Easy: Our Story (93 comments)

    I recently had lunch with Winston, the Get Rich Slowly intern. We talked about our families, our finances, and our plans for this site. Winston mentioned that, at my prompting, he and his wife were refinancing their home. “The local credit union was able to give us a deal,” he said. “We got a 15-year loan at 4.625% for just 1/3 of a point.” “I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t done anything about my…

  • Why I Drive a 13-Year-Old Car (277 comments)

    This is a guest post from Joel Berry. I recently had a talk with a friend about why I haven’t purchased a new car. He can’t understand why I still drive a 1995 Geo Prizm. I can afford to buy a new car, but I choose not to. The fact is, driving an older car saves me money! To prove my point, I ran some numbers. I was surprised by how much money I’ve saved…

  • 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 Defense of Buying Books (108 comments)

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

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

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

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

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

  • How to Afford Anything (But Not Everything) (61 comments)

    You can have anything you want — but you can’t have everything you want. That’s the lesson I learned from a recent conversation with my cousin. And that’s the lesson photographer Ken Rockwell imparts in an essay that explains how to afford anything. Our ability to buy expensive toys has nothing to do with how much money we do or don’t earn. Like everything in life, it has everything to do with how well you…

  • Thoughts on a Scooter-Based Lifestyle (68 comments)

    This is a guest post from Stephen Popick, administrator for the Get Rich Slowly discussion forums. Two years ago when I bought my People 150cc scooter, I was teased ceaselessly by my car-loving friends. It wasn’t so long ago that gas was under two dollars a gallon, and the need for more efficient wheeled transportation wasn’t as “in your face” as it is now. Today, when my friends talk about my scooter (or my wife’s)…

  • Investing in a Bear Market (93 comments)

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

  • 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…

  • How Do You Turn Passion into a Career? (And Should You?) (32 comments)

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

  • Could Tithing Lead Some Americans to Lose Their Homes? (192 comments)

    Last week, USA Today featured an article on Christians who continue to tithe even as they face foreclosure. Tithing is the practice of donating 10% of your gross income to your church. It’s not a common practice (only 5% of American adults tithe), but it’s important to those who choose to do so. It’s a component not just of Christianity, but other religions as well. But what happens when tithing interferes with your ability to…

  • Research Reveals Credit Cards Encourage Spending (61 comments)

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

  • Best Financial Magazines (72 comments)

    Get Rich Slowly reader Beth wrote recently looking for help in finding the best financial magazines: I’m a public library worker, and my library needs personal finance advice! We feel strongly that we need to keep a personal finance magazine in circulation, but the ones we’ve subscribed to in the past have been met with the deafening silence of complete disinterest. We’ve had Money for a year with no checkouts; before that, we had Fortune…

  • How to Choose a Credit Card (63 comments)

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

  • A Few Ways to Raise Cash Quickly (40 comments)

    Disclaimer: After some strong feedback from GRS readers (and from my wife), I’ve made the rare move of heavily editing this article after publication. My hope is that the re-write makes it clear that I am not advocating all of these ideas. Yes, payday loans are on the list, but they’re at the bottom of the list. They’re the worst possible option for scaring up cash. The September issue of Money features an article by…

  • How to Win the Lottery (132 comments)

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

  • 8 Tips for Saving Money on Hobbies and Pastimes (67 comments)

    Lee wrote with an innocent question about photography equipment yesterday. Little did she realize I’d already been thinking about the broader issues of her dilemma. Here’s an abridged version of her message: A friend asked me about cameras. He went shopping last weekend and saw lenses that ranged from $200 to $700. He felt that the lower-end lenses would not work for him, but he wasn’t prepared to spend $700, so he went home. Now…

  • Ask the Readers: Should I Chase Higher Interest Rates? (88 comments)

    Almost eighteen months ago, I wrote a post listing the best on-line high-yield savings accounts. Over 750 comments later, the discussion is still going strong. Kyle recently chimed in with a question many people have: In January, before I started reading Get Rich Slowly, I opened a high-yield investor checking account with Charles Schwab. The interest rate was around 3.75%, but it’s fallen to 2% now. After starting to read your site, I decided to…

  • 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 Cope with a Lousy 401(k) Plan (42 comments)

    “The Mole” is a certified financial planner and public accountant who, in his spare time, provides a behind-the-scenes view of the financial planning industry for Money magazine. In his most recent column, The Mole explains how to deal with a bad 401(k) plan. “401(k) providers don’t actually care how they make money,” he writes, “just as long as they make a tidy profit.” The providers can make money by: Offering good choices to employees, but…

  • Die Broke: Spend ’til the End (28 comments)

    Smart personal finance is all about balance. You work while you’re young to provide for the day when you may not be able (or willing) to work any longer. If you don’t save enough, you may find yourself unable to lead the life you want in retirement. But if you save too much when you’re young, you risk sacrificing years of youth and vigor for an uncertain future. In a worst case scenario, you may…

  • Five Tactics for Pursuing Voluntary Simplicity (26 comments)

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

  • The Art of Frugal Living (43 comments)

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

  • Using Mini-Retirements to Get More Out of Life: An Interview with Timothy Ferriss (45 comments)

    On a cool Thursday morning last July, I woke early to walk into the hills outside Wells in Somerset County, England. After three-quarters of an hour, I reached a point with a broad vista of the surrounding countryside. I leaned against a fence post and took in the view — I could have sworn I was looking at Hobbiton. After a few minutes of silent contemplation, I walked back to town. I took a brief…

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

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

  • Finding Affordable Health Insurance When You’re On Your Own (67 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jason Gingerich, a volunteer with the Archimedes Movement to work for a comprehensive solution to America’s health care crisis. He also works for a non-profit organization that offers health insurance, among its other products. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of his employer. In America’s current healthcare system, in most cases, you’re better off with the crowd. Usually, that crowd is your employer or a government pool…

  • Reader Story: Beware of Scams and Pyramid Schemes (108 comments)

    In the past, I’ve shared the story of the worst job I ever had. In a lot of ways, it felt like I was part of a pyramid scheme or multi-level marketing operation. I’ve been approached to participate in similar operations since then: once by my veterinarian (?!?) and once by a stranger in a book store. Sometimes you cannot tell a scam is a scam until you see it up close, and then the…

  • Making the Move from Spender to Saver (55 comments)

    I pulled out my camera gear last night. It’s been two years since I used it regularly. Before I started Get Rich Slowly, I seriously considered trying to become a professional photographer. But for a long time now, my camera stuff has been gathering dust in the corner of my office. I can’t even remember the last time I used it. It’s fun to look at all my equipment again. It’s fun to handle it,…

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

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

  • I Quit My Job — What Should I Do With My 401k? (86 comments)

    When you leave your job, you have several choices regarding your 401(k). These options for a 401(k) rollover are pretty much universal, meaning they apply to every 401(k) and to every job change situation. Your options are: Cash the 401(k) plan and receive a full pay-out I’ve listed this option first because it has the most serious ramifications. First, if you take a full payout, you will have to pay taxes on the plan —…

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

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

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

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

  • Scratch Beginnings: An Interview with Adam Shepard (152 comments)

    I just finished reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America for the third time. In this book, the author chronicles three one-month stints working as one of the American poor. Her goal is to demonstrate that it’s difficult to succeed as a waitress, or a maid, or a Wal-Mart employee. This is a book that I wanted to like — I sympathize with the author’s motives — but what could…

  • Mortgage Prepayment Made Easy: Own Your Home in Half the Time (205 comments)

    Because I recently eliminated all of my non-mortgage debt, I have a significant positive cash flow. The $1,000 per month I was putting toward debt can now be used for investing. I’m making maximum contributions to my Roth IRA, of course, but that still leaves several hundred dollars each month available for other purposes. This has forced me to evaluate my financial goals. Mortgage prepayment options For the past year, Kris and I have discussed…

  • An Angel on One Shoulder and a Devil on the Other (44 comments)

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

  • The Value of a College Education (141 comments)

    I’ve been thinking lately about the value of a college education. I earned a B.A. in Psychology from Willamette University in 1991 (with a minor in English Lit, and almost another minor in Speech Com). What have I done with this degree? Almost nothing. Yet I do not regret the money and years I spent working to earn it. The financial value of a college degree Does earning a college degree make a difference to…

  • Parents.com Stay-at-Home Calculator (44 comments)

    When a new baby arrives, young couples face a decision. If both parents work, who should stay home with the child? The mother? The person with the smallest salary? Or should both parents continue to work? Often this decision is about more than money — personal values may determine the best course of action. But sometimes both parents continue to work because they believe they need the income. In her book Miserly Moms [my review],…

  • The Year-Long GRS Project: How Much Does a Garden Really Save? (108 comments)

    Kris and I are huge fans of gardening. We grow our own flowers, herbs, fruit, berries, and vegetables. We’re not able to supply all of our needs, but we do what we can. For the past two years, I’ve argued that this is an excellent way to save money if you have the time and the space. But is it really? An actual weekend harvest from August 2006. During the next year, Kris and I…

  • A Life Well-Lived is Not About the Bling (82 comments)

    I love real-life stories of people who get rich slowly. Paul Navone, a 78-year-old resident of Millville, New Jersey, is one of those. On December 21st, Navone donated $1 million to Cumberland County College. He still has millions left. How did he earn his money? The old-fashioned way: lots of hard work. Navone never attended high school. He began working in local glass factories at the age of 16. In 50 years, he never made…

  • Is a 6.25% Checking Account the Best Deal in Portland? (48 comments)

    I’m a recent convert to the world of online high-yield savings accounts. Now that I have my debt paid off, I can finally afford to save some money. It was difficult for me to choose an account: Should I go with the highest interest rate? Or should I opt for the best customer service? I’m not a rate-chaser, so I chose ING Direct. Their current 4.10% rate is lower than most places, but I’ve heard…

  • Ready to Tackle Your Debt? Two Alternatives to Home Equity Loans (17 comments)

    Earlier today I wrote about using a home equity loan to pay off credit cards. I suggested that this may be a good option for somebody who has arrested her spending and is ready to focus on debt elimination. It’s a move that carries a big downside, though, and is certainly not a good choice for everyone. When I took out my home equity loan in 1998, I wasn’t aware of any other options. I…

  • Using a Home Equity Loan to Pay Off Credit Cards (49 comments)

    This is a “dueling bloggers” post between me and Jim at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity. Read his post about not using home equity to pay off unsecured debt, and share your thoughts about this issue with us! You’ve spent the past few years being dumb with money. You realize that now. Your credit cards are maxed out, you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, and you cannot see a way out. You plan to sell some stuff and to…

  • The Thrill of Paying Off a Mortgage (87 comments)

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

  • The Pros and Cons of an Interest-Only Mortgage (50 comments)

    This is a guest post from Mrs. Micah of Finance and Life. Look for a related post later today. Getting an interest-only mortgage can seem like a great idea when you’re trying to buy a house and can’t afford a down payment (or if you have bad credit). Earlier this week, I read the story of a couple who are celebrating home-ownership under just such a situation. But while they’re happy, odds are that this…

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

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

  • The New York Times Rent vs. Buy Calculator (43 comments)

    Is it better to buy or rent? It’s one of the eternal personal finance questions, and one that each person has to decide for herself. There are lots of non-financial factors that affect this decision, of course, including your hobbies, lifestyle, and personal psychology. Despite these non-financial considerations, often the choice comes down to money. What makes the most financial sense? In July, guest-author Tim Ellis shared his thoughts on the rent vs. buy debate…

  • Roth IRA vs. Traditional IRA: Which is the Best Deal? (23 comments)

    I’m often asked, “Which is best, a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA?” There’s no one right answer. Which option you choose depends on your goals, and it depends on what you think your income will be like in the future. In theory, there’s no difference between the eventual returns. In practice, there are a variety of factors that can affect your decision, of which tax rates are perhaps the most notable. Walter Updegrave at…

  • 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.”…

  • Want to Save the Environment? Buy Less Stuff! (71 comments)

    A few weeks ago I wrote about my realization that I have too much Stuff. For two decades, I had been a willing participant in our consumerist culture, buying books and magazines and video games and compact discs and George Foreman grills. After twenty years of this, all I had to show for it was a mountain of debt and a home filled with Stuff. Recently, Kris and I have been working to purge our…

  • Is a Money Merge Account a Good Way to Pay Off Your Mortgage? (800 comments)

    Over the past few weeks, I’ve received several questions about money merge accounts (sometimes called “Australian mortgages”). I haven’t paid much attention to these because I’m unfamiliar the products. But when Abbie wrote last week, I decided to do some research. Here’s what she said: My financial guy handed me a DVD for United First Financial the last time I spoke with him.  Apparently they are a company that uses “sophisticated algorithms” to compute how…

  • Three Questions About Money and Ethics (105 comments)

    Lady Kemma recently wrote with a question about money and ethics: Last week I went out with my work department. After feeding 30 people, all with individual checks, I left the harried waitress a generous tip. My colleague said, “You’re leaving too much tip.” I said, “The poor lady earned it.” I left the money on the cash tray and got up to leave. My colleague proceeded to take some of the money off my…

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

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

  • How Those Evil Credit Cards Can Be Good for You (96 comments)

    This guest post from Justin McHenry is sure to be controversial. Though I just spent three weeks using a credit card while on vacation, I’m still wary of them. McHenry has some thoughts for people like me. When people ask me what I do and I tell them I run a credit card comparison site, they generally look away, as if I’ve just said I’m a pimp. Or a crack dealer. Or a crack-dealing pimp….

  • Career Advice for the College Graduate (28 comments)

    This is a guest post from Lisa Lessley Briscoe. My friend (and fellow Bearcat) Lisa writes: “I was just poking around on GRS (I don’t usually read) and noticed that you’d posted an entry for college graduates recently. Funny how summer rolls around and you start thinking about stuff.” She’s passed along some additional advice for those just entering the workplace. Congratulations, you just graduated from an excellent liberal arts college! You worked incredibly hard…

  • Why I Applied for a Credit Card (and Why It’s Not the End of the World) (38 comments)

    Credit cards ruined my life. Between 1989 and 1998, I accumulated nearly $25,000 in credit card debt. During that time, I added about $2,500 of new debt every year (over $200 each month). I was a compulsive spender. Eventually, the debt load became so great that I was forced to face the problem. I cancelled my credit cards, rolled the debt into a home equity loan, and haven’t carried a personal credit card for the…

  • Which Should You Choose: Joint or Separate Finances? (91 comments)

    Several months ago I mentioned in passing that my wife and I keep separate finances. I promised to eventually explain why, and to discuss the pros and cons of doing so. Our story When I was a boy, my parents fought about money often. And loudly. They had joint finances, but it didn’t seem to matter. Each accused the other of being financially irresponsible. (Both were right.) Their example left me disenchanted with the notion…

  • Real-life choices: Retirement savings vs. debt reduction (47 comments)

    I’ve accumulated $3500 and I don’t know what to do with it. As you may recall, I am carrying the remainder of my credit card debt in the form of a home-equity loan (or HELOC). The current balance on this debt is $15,000 and I’m paying a 9.25% finance charge. I intend to have this debt eliminated by March 2008. It’s an ambitious goal. In order to make this happen, I’ve had to forego investing…

  • What’s It Like to BORROW Money with Prosper? (34 comments)

    I recently posted two entries (1, 2) with experiences from people who loaned money through Prosper, the person-to-person lending service. “But where are the reviews from borrowers?” some of you asked. Tricia at Blogging Away Debt has borrowed money from Prosper. Here’s her story. When I first heard about people-to-people lending through Prosper.com last year, a light bulb went off in my head. Would everyday people be willing to lend me money so I could…

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

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

  • I Do Not Use Credit Cards (73 comments)

    I don’t like credit cards. Many smart people — including my wife — use them wisely and never have problems. I’m not one of those people. Most of my money woes stem from credit card debt acquired when I was first out of college. Eventually I wised up — I have not carried a personal credit card in more than five years. NCN at No Credit Needed has posted a detailed list of the reasons…

  • How to Retire Rich Dave Ramsey Style (70 comments)

    Eager to know how to retire rich? It might be surprising that Dave Ramsey‘s site has one of the best money hacks I’ve seen recently. Drive Free, Retire Rich explores the impact of carrying a car payment, and offers ideas on how your money can be used more wisely. Though the sentiment is familiar, I find Ramsey’s approach novel. You want a brand-new sports car that would normally cost you $475 a month. The car you’re…

  • The Amazing Frugal Christmas Savings Spectacular! (52 comments)

    Look for the first-ever Get Rich Slowly contest at the end of this entry! HO HO HO! I had intended to post a series of articles on how to save money at Christmas, but they’ve taken longer to write than I expected. Now it’s a little late to leak them out one at a time. Instead, I’ve bunched the information together into a colossal tip-filled extravaganza! Here are some great ways to save money while…

  • Nintendo Wii: A Study in Planned Saving (12 comments)

    Last May, we held our annual garage sale on the same weekend that the Nintendo Wii was revealed. As I sat in my driveway, selling old stuff, I followed online coverage of the Wii on my laptop. I wanted one. “I’m putting this money in the bank and saving it to buy a Nintendo,” I told Kris. I opened a separate targeted savings account at my credit union specifically for this goal. But I was…

  • How to Manage a Windfall Successfully (20 comments)

    This entry is part of JLP’s October project — a month-long, cross-blog review of the book The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing. Some of what follows is taken directly from the book. You have won $50,000! So, what do you do now? Every day I give advice on following the slow, sure path to wealth. But what happens if you do manage to get rich quickly? What happens if you win the lottery, or hit the…

  • Make a Wish List of Financial Goals (12 comments)

    If one moves confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. — Henry David Thoreau What would you do if money were not a concern? Would you quit your job? Would you travel? Would you live in another state? Another country? Would you write? Would you garden? Would you devote your life to charity? Would you…

  • Money and Values: When Frugality Goes Too Far (79 comments)

    Title changed to more accurately reflect post content. Thanks for pointing this out, guys! Frugal folks are often condemned as cheap, but these things are not the same. But sometimes there is a danger of becoming too concerned with money. Tawra Kellam warns about crossing the line from frugality to something less ethical. There are times when it’s tempting to lie, steal or break one of the other 10 Commandments to get a good deal…

  • In Praise of the Debt Snowball (69 comments)

    Here’s how the Debt Snowball method worked for me: During my twenties, I accumulated nearly $25,000 in consumer debt. I had a spending problem. With time, I was able to get my spending under control (mostly), but I still owned overwhelming debt. How could I get rid of it? The personal finance books all suggested the same approach: Order your debts from highest interest rate to lowest interest rate. Designate a certain amount of money to…

  • How Not to Be Frugal: Too Many Magazine Subscriptions (26 comments)

    Sometimes a great deal isn’t. Because I have a small computer consulting business, I’ve been placed on a mailing list for “corporate rate” magazine subscriptions. Corporate rate subscriptions are unbelievably cheap, on the order of $10 or $12 a year for many magazines. Being the frugal fellow that I am, when I received my first offer for a corporate-rate subscription, I signed up. Sure, it was a subscription for Business 2.0, a magazine I’d never…

  • The Only Credit Card Guide You’ll Ever Need (23 comments)

    I don’t like credit cards. They’re a dangerous trap, especially for the young. Many smart people disagree with me, though, and have learned to use credit cards to their advantage. This guide provides solid credit card information so that you can make smart choices. I’ve structured this as a series of questions and answers. There’s sure to be a lot missing. Please let me know what else should be included here, and I’ll add it….

  • 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…

  • Cheap Places to Live Rich (4 comments)

    Forbes has a report on 150 cheap places to live. Author Richard Karlgaard points out the obvious: it’s more expensive to live in some places than others. A $4,000,000 home in San Diego might only cost $700,000 in Bend, Oregon. Why hasn’t everyone moved to Bend? Karlgaard contends that most of us are trapped in old ways of thinking, that we believe we must live where we work. Technology is changing that. This is the…

  • Is it Safe to Pay Bills with a Credit Card? (1 comment)

    Here’s an interesting money question from AskMetafilter: What are the potential downsides to using a credit card to pay my monthly bills, assuming I pay off the balance every month? I currently pay all my bills from my checking account and have recently thought about getting a credit card with some kind of rewards for this purpose instead. I won’t be carrying a balance on the card; I just want to try and get something…

  • 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…

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

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