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Consumerism


  • Why Gym Memberships Can be a Smart Investment (18 comments)

    I’ve just come from the gym. My arms are so spent I can barely type. My glutes are killing me as I sit on my wooden chair. I am guzzling ice water and still sweating a little. An hour of concentrated exercise with a trainer — part of my gym memberships — has left me feeling both exhausted and accomplished. I love my gym. My gym membership costs us $158.46 per month. I can hear…

  • What’s the Cure for the High Cost of Prescriptions? (6 comments)

    The recent uproar over the cost of EpiPens, the life saving self-injection device that contains epinephrine, a chemical that narrows blood vessels and opens airways in the lungs to offset an allergic reaction, has garnered tremendous media attention and consumer outrage. Through massive marketing and outreach efforts by the manufacturer, Mylan, EpiPen has become to the go-to device for anyone facing a potentially serious or life-threatening allergic reaction. It is a brand that has “become”…

  • Grocery Shopping: Is it Eating Up Your Cash? (19 comments)

    Food. You can’t live without it, but it sure can be expensive. It’s also a time suck, especially because the grocery stores spend so much time playing bait-and-switch with us, requiring Inspector-Clouseau-level skills to find, for example, the pine nuts. For those who have been following my tales on GRS, it should come as no surprise The Husband does the grocery shopping, at least the bulk of it. I tend to suffer from sensory overload…

  • Community Supported Agriculture and Your Budget: Is It Worth It? (9 comments)

      We joined a CSA this year, our first time venturing into the realm of Community Supported Agriculture. I have been intrigued with the concept for several years, as I have friends who rave about their weekly boxes of fresh veggies from a local farm. A special deal popped up in my Facebook feed in late winter and I decided to do it. We shelled out $475 ($450 for the CSA and $25 one-time delivery…

  • Father Knows Finances (5 comments)

    The world celebrated Father’s Day on Sunday (or is it just an American thing?) and it got me thinking: What’s the best financial advice your dad ever gave you? My father was never big on dishing out guidance, although when I was in college he did tell me it was always a good idea to nurse a beer rather than chug it. When it came to money, I only remember two things: When I got…

  • Our Kids’ Data Usage is Killing Us (20 comments)

      The first rule of Data Club is don’t go over your monthly data allotment. The second rule of Data Club is if you do go over, only go over a little. The third rule of Data Club is hope Dad doesn’t notice we’ve gone over our data allotment because he will be mad and will give us a talking-to. Ah, data. The modern-day parents’ nightmare. In my parents’ day, we had a phone bill,…

  • Lemonade’s Life Lessons (4 comments)

    I love this time of year. School’s out, the days are long, the sunshine is warm. And the kids need cash. These days, they have jobs. Real jobs. The 18-year-old works at a local coffee shop and babysits. She is accumulating cash for college. The 15-year-old is excited to start work at a local farmstand selling fresh veggies to mini-van-driving suburban moms. It is fun and exciting to see them start their working lives, searching…

  • Tips to Spend Less Money (10 comments)

    If you need tips to spend less money, you’ve come to the right judgment-free zone. I feel like I should introduce myself. “Hello. My name is Elissa, and I am an unconscious spender.” (“Hello, Elissa.”) “I give myself a $200 allowance every two weeks, but when the cash is gone, I use the credit card or hit the ATM. A hundred here, a hundred there. I feel like that Fast Cash $60 button is a…

  • How to create a frugal holiday dinner for four or more (10 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    From late November until early January, we fill our stomachs and empty our wallets. As I sat down to plan my own little family’s Christmas dinner, I didn’t mind the stomach-filling so much, but I would like to keep our wallets as full as possible too … without the necessity of tapping into our online savings account. So, I decided to calculate some holiday feasts … on a…

  • Talking turkey about Black Friday savings (12 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Were you imagining a thermos of hot coffee, maybe even a sleeping bag or tent to protect you from the elements as you camp out for hot Black Friday deals? Maybe you enjoy the mad rush of adrenaline you get when you spot and lunge for the last remaining iPad that’s on sale at an improbable price. Or maybe, just maybe, you actually prefer to avoid…

  • Open Enrollment 2016 dates and how to shop for health insurance (16 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Suba Iyer.

    Have you started shopping yet? No, I’m not talking about shopping for the holidays; I’m talking about something more important – your health insurance. It’s that time of year when many employers have their open-enrollment period and the federal and state health insurance marketplaces are open for business. Open enrollment is your annual opportunity to review and make changes to your health insurance plan so you…

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

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

  • How do you entertain out-of-town guests for free? (9 comments)

    The holiday season is fast approaching, and you might be planning to travel home to spend time with family – or your family could be coming to see you. Either way, travel expenses add up quickly, leaving little to no room for entertainment once you’re together. Sometimes that’s not a problem because there’s so much to do anyway. But other times, it really could put a crimp in your budget or strain your guests’ finances….

  • Things you never knew were taxable (16 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    When you order something online, does the retailer charge you sales tax? Do you pay attention to that? I haven’t always. Online purchases and sales tax After we became Amazon Prime users, our online internet orders went waaaaaay up. That free shipping will getcha every time. That year, my husband and I sat in our CPA’s office, as oblivious to most tax things as, unfortunately, every…

  • What discounts can I get with a student ID? (8 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Student discounts are an interesting topic. They don’t typically give you a discount for anything on campus, because those amenities are paid for by your tuition and “miscellaneous registration fees” — though lots of student groups on campus offer free food in exchange for your attendance and involvement at their events. No, student discounts are actually given at the discretion of retailers and service providers. And…

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

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

  • The secret to making extra money with eBay (52 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    Once upon a time, I decided it was high time I sell some of my stuff on eBay to make some extra cash. Since it was just after the holidays, I decided to get the ball rolling with a new shirt I had just received for Christmas. Even though it was cute, the shirt fit a little small for my taste. And even worse, the store…

  • Keeping a Pet Healthy on a Budget (25 comments)

    [Editor’s Note: We loved all the social media posts of awesome dogs in honor of National Dog Day (Aug. 26), so we thought we’d revive this popular post to help you keep your best friend happy and healthy — without breaking the bank.] There’s no such thing as a free puppy. Or kitten. Or hamster, lizard, fish or rabbit. Even if someone hands you a critter outright, you can expect to spend between $580 to…

  • Investing 101: A primer on mutual funds (7 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    [This is the first installment in a series examining index funds. We’ll discuss the managed mutual fund market first to form a basis of comparison with index funds. In Part II, 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.] We can’t predict the future…

  • The identity theft no one is talking about (2 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Jacqueline Leppla.

    It’s bad enough when some scammer gets your credit card, but what happens when they steal your access to health care? Even worse, what if that person is a member of your family or a member of the health care field we are supposed to trust? It’s not an isolated concern. Medical identity theft represented 42.5 percent of the breaches identified in 2014 according to the…

  • Why you should avoid sales tax holidays (14 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    It sounds good, doesn’t it? For one day per year, skip paying sales tax on — depending on the state — school supplies, clothing, computers, hurricane supplies, and other essential items. After all, depending on your state’s tax rate, you could save up to 7 percent off your purchases. The brief history of sales tax holidays Although the first sales tax holidays — no sales tax…

  • Act fast for double cash back rewards from Discover (14 comments)

    This article is by Curtis Arnold, CardRatings.com editor-in-chief. It’s not often that a credit card company offers to double its usual rewards on a range of its plastic for an entire year — but that’s precisely what Discover is doing for new customers with its current limited-time offer. How the offer works Discover’s eye-catching offer applies to cash-back cards including: Discover it® card-Double Cash Back your first year, Discover it®-Double Cash Back your first year,…

  • 10 innovative tools under $100 for Father’s Day (5 comments)

    This article is from returning staff writer Tim Sullivan. I haven’t spent a Father’s Day with my dad for over a decade. Don’t get me wrong, my father is awesome. If I could jet-set at will, I’d be flying non-stop to make him Bloody Marys every third Sunday in June. This year is different, though. A break in my schedule and a new nephew in the family means I am back in my hometown for…

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

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

  • How to use coupons effectively (29 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    I like saving money — but it has to be easy. And spending hours clipping and organizing coupons, or planning epic shopping trips based on my coupon stash is not easy. Most of the time — if I clip coupons at all — they end up floating around the bottom of my purse, expired. Instead, I usually choose to save in other ways. Yet, there are coupons….

  • Ask the Readers: Do you use technology to save money? (38 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    Last week’s bitter-cold temperatures presented an awful time for my furnace to start acting funny. It would shut off for no reason only to restart when I fiddled with the thermostat. Then it would shut off again without me realizing it, only for the temperature to plunge to 50 degrees while I plugged away at my laptop. Then, all of a sudden, I would be absolutely…

  • Honey Progress Report: Replacing our HVAC, Part I (22 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    As I mentioned in my homeownership and priorities post, one housing project that we wanted to tackle sooner rather than later was replacing our HVAC unit. Within months of moving into our new house, we had to shell out a thousand bucks to repair our 20-plus-year-old HVAC unit when it broke on a 108-degree day. While we haven’t had a problem since (knock on wood), the fellow…

  • Advantages of online grocery shopping (41 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    As someone who doesn’t like to shop for groceries (or lug them all from my car to the house), the thought of finding a service that helps me avoid the check-out line altogether is very appealing. A service that would put my groceries away would be even more amazing, but I won’t get carried away. Even without that added bonus, though, the advantages start to stack…

  • How to prevent mobile phone theft (16 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Robert Brokamp.

    Modern technology is amazing. For example, thanks to the wonders of Find My iPhone — an application which allows you to use another device to locate a phone on a map — I was able to watch my stolen iPhone travel northward until the signal stopped deep in the heart of Washington, D.C. I haven’t heard from it since, so I don’t think the person who…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • What should your investment priorities be in 2015? (27 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    I love snow — not the powder-lining you might long for on an overpriced ski slope, but the simple, white stuff that blankets the neighborhood. Our neighbors and friends all think I’m crazy, with the possible exception of the five or six families that happen to live on either side of us whose sidewalks get shoveled for no other reason than my exuberance for exercising out…

  • 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,…

  • 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…

  • 30 Days to Better Finances (23 comments)

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

  • 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 can I do with the gift cards I don’t want? (17 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    Chances are, you’ll get at least one gift card for Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa this year — whether you like it or not. If you are lucky, your card might be something you could use right away — like an Amazon gift card or one for your favorite store. But you might not be that lucky. You might end up with a gift card to a store…

  • 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…

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

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

  • 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…

  • 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…

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

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

  • What’s Wrong with Consumerism and Materialism? Lots (88 comments)

    Earlier this year, I started volunteering at my local library for a couple of hours a week. I’m a big fan of libraries, and I wanted to find a way to give back. And for some odd reason, I felt compelled to do something good. I couldn’t really pinpoint why, so I chalked it up to getting older. At the library, one of my duties is to make sure one of the weekly programs doesn’t go…

  • Breaking the stress spending cycle (36 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Lately, life has been a little hectic. I have a full schedule of work. I’m trying to plan a surprise party. I’m working on three different passion projects. My laundry needs to be washed. Hell, I need to be washed. It’s noon and I haven’t even showered. I don’t mind a packed schedule, and I’ve learned to better manage my time. But for those moments when a…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Becoming friends with your future self (25 comments)

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

  • 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…

  • 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?)…

  • Money challenges: Why I’m OK with them, and a few of my favorites (52 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. I’m not usually a fan of gimmicks. But if the sole purpose of a gimmick is to save some extra cash, I guess I’m OK with it. We talked about this recently, but there seems to be a heightened interest in frugality lately. Maybe that’s why I’ve noticed a whole crop of money-saving challenges popping up all over the Internet, from personal finance blogs to Pinterest. And then,…

  • 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…

  • Spending less than you earn so the Joneses don’t keep up with you (69 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. Why spend less than you earn? There are the obvious reasons. Spending more than you earn isn’t sustainable, of course. You can’t build your net worth unless you spend less than you earn. And spending less than you earn decreases your stress level. But is there another reason to spend less than you earn … something that doesn’t benefit you at all? Keeping up with the Joneses is…

  • The 10 habits of financially successful people (39 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money, where he recently wrote about the relationship between action and fear. A couple of weeks ago, a reporter from Kiplinger interviewed me about financial habits. “Do you think there are specific habits that make certain people more successful with money than others?” she asked. I generally don’t like to make generalizations,…

  • 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…

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

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

  • 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…

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

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

  • 5 signs you might be a credit junkie (17 comments)

    This guest article was written by Beverly Harzog. Beverly is a nationally recognized credit card expert, consumer advocate, and author of Confessions of a Credit Junkie: Everything You Need to Know to Avoid the Mistakes I Made (Career Press, November 2013). She runs a popular credit card blog on her website, www.BeverlyHarzog.com. She’s appeared on Fox News, ABC News Now, CNN Newsource, and is a frequent guest on syndicated radio shows across the country, including ABC…

  • 7 Money-saving strategies that can cost you more (45 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. I’m in the middle of renovating a house, a project that started in January 2013 and will end — well, who knows when it will end? We have a lot of plans for this house. Truly, the only reason we’re able to afford this project is because we’re doing the work ourselves. And the only reason that DIY is saving us money is because we have my…

  • Bad customer service? Talk to the CEO (36 comments)

    This month, I started getting collection calls. Apparently my Internet provider wanted $61 for a modem that I returned last May. I’d been trying to resolve the problem for months, but nothing seemed to work. No matter how many times I asked to speak with a supervisor and was promised that the matter would be taken care of, that “I’ll be the last person you’ll have to talk to,” I was getting nowhere. During the…

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

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

  • The day my dishwasher died (78 comments)

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

  • 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…

  • Smartphone, dumb mobile plan (59 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Why do most smartphone plans require us to pay for stuff we don’t want or use? I wondered this after looking at my last three bills and plan usage. So I asked around, and it seems it’s a pretty common scenario. “I pay $190 for two phones with unlimited talk, text and data,” said Morgan S. Without a computer at home, she says, “I basically use my…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • My teens spent $400 on fast food last month (and how I learned to deal with it) (104 comments)

    This guest post is from Naomi Mannino. Naomi is a freelance consumer personal finance and health journalist who reports on health, medical and personal finance news and how it will affect your life today. You can follow Naomi on Twitter @naomimannino. My 19-year-old daughter came to me sobbing and wanting to borrow $20 for a concert because she didn’t have any money. I simply said, “Nope.” That made the sobbing worse. Now, before you accuse…

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

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

  • Why I plan on driving my car into the ground (159 comments)

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

  • Throwing away an old rule (74 comments)

    Fellow peasants, unite! The time has come to overthrow the old order! GRS rule #3 says, “Spend less than you earn.” But why should we continue to do that always? Because of tradition? Because of authority? Because that’s what everyone else claims they are doing? To the guillotine with the old rules, I say. It’s time for revolution! It’s time to turn the old laws upside down. It’s time to say something better. It’s time…

  • 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…

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

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

  • Why we buy: The science of shopping (42 comments)

    This is a guest post from J.D. Roth. J.D. founded Get Rich Slowly and now writes at More Than Money. Ready or not, the holidays are here and the shopping season is upon us. Although I wish I could convince you not to shop during November and December — I’m a fan of Buy Nothing Day myself — I realize I’m in the minority. It’s Black Friday. It’s Christmas. People are going to shop. If…

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

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

  • 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…

  • How much to tip (and to whom) (205 comments)

    Note: This article is a reprint. Several readers have suggested that one way for Get Rich Slowly to retain my voice although I’m no longer a regular contributor is to re-publish old articles like this. This is a keen idea, especially on days like today when the staff writer hasn’t turned in his assignment! Every time I get my hair cut, I’m faced with a dilemma — should I tip the barber or not? I…

  • How to Change Your Spending Habits (32 comments)

    This is a guest post from Charles Duhigg, the author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and How to Change. Learn more at www.ThePowerOfHabit.com. When you get to the cash register, what do you do first? Do you imagine the balances due on various credit cards, and choose the one with the smallest outstanding debt? Do you mentally compare APRs and make the optimal financial choice? Do you calculate whether…

  • How Retailers Manipulate Consumers (90 comments)

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

  • Expectations and Your Money (56 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sarah Gilbert. I started wrapping my gifts in old newspaper years ago. I know. It sounds so cheap it’s almost bah, humbug! Please don’t roll your eyes and stop reading now. Wait! I started doing it because I couldn’t stand the silliness of it all. Most Christmases I wrapped my gifts hours before they were opened, often late at night on Christmas Eve. I’d have a bag full of…

  • 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 Do You Spend on Gifts? (126 comments)

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

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

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

  • Dissatisfied Customer? Make an Effective Complaint (42 comments)

      I’ve often heard that there are two kinds of customers, those who will complain and those who won’t. The ones who complain are better for a company because they’re more likely to stick around if the company can successfully resolve their issue. The customer who doesn’t complain, on the other hand, is more likely to quietly go elsewhere. But sometimes it’s uncomfortable to be the squeaky wheel. Even though I write about money and…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • The Psychology of Consumerism (202 comments)

    This is a guest post from David M. Carter, a graduate of the master of applied positive psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania, and the first graduate of the program to emphasize the inherent link between increased well-being and sustainable consumption. A recent story in my local newspaper dealt with a sad-case family. The son was in jail for drugs, and his mother was trying desperately to find a way to give her son…

  • Book Review: Early Retirement Extreme (212 comments)

    For over five years now, I’ve spent most of my waking hours reading and writing about money. I’ve learned a lot. Using this knowledge, I’ve been able to get out of debt, build savings, and even begin pursuing my passions. What’s next? As time passes, I find myself thinking more about financial independence and early retirement. No surprise then that over the last couple of months I’ve been obsessed with Jacob Lund Fisker’s Early Retirement…

  • What To Do with All That Clutter: Sell It, Swap It, Give It Away (75 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. This Saturday (May 14th) is Give Your Stuff Away Day, a worldwide celebration of getting rid of clutter. People all over the world will be gathering up their unwanted possessions and taking them to the curb, where they hope neighbors and passersby will adopt their stuff. As the event organizers say: Because of all the shopping…

  • 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…

  • The Investment Piece: One Investment That’s No Investment At All (123 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. It never fails. Whenever I venture into a store, especially a clothing store, I inevitably hear the phrase that makes me want to stage an impromptu personal-finance intervention: “It’s an investment piece.” As in, “This jacket is a little pricey, but it’s a classic — an investment piece.” Or, “I need to invest in a pair of versatile black dress shoes.” I hear it in stores, I…

  • 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…

  • How to Spend Your Way to Happiness (109 comments)

    You know the old adage “money can’t buy happiness”? Researchers Elizabeth Dunn, Dan Gilbert, and Timothy Wilson say it’s a myth. Drawing on empirical research, they’ve identified key ways that people can get more bliss for their buck. The link between money and happiness has been studied for decades, and the result is always the same: Money does buy happiness — but less than most of us think. After a certain point — having basic…

  • The Lottery: An “Investment” for Fools (with Bonus Lottery Simulator!) (162 comments)

    Over the years, I’ve done some foolish things with my finances. I’ve squandered money on comic books. I’ve speculated on risky stocks, hoping to make a quick fortune. I’ve paid a gazillion dollars — or something close to it — in credit-card interest and bank fees. I spent large windfalls on the latest technological gadgets. No, I’m by no means perfect with money. One trap I’ve managed to avoid, though, is the lottery. Playing the…

  • Tax Prep Costs 2016: How Much Does it Cost to Have Your Taxes Done (96 comments)

    The cost to file income taxes can fall anywhere between zero dollars — as in you do your taxes yourself and file for free — and several hundred dollars, with an average cost of $273 for using a tax preparer, less if you don’t itemize ($159), according to the most recent data available from the National Society of Accountants. To judge the value correctly, though, those costs have to be weighed against the results you get,…

  • 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,…

  • Gaming Without Breaking the Bank (59 comments)

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

  • Wants, Needs, and the Sense of Entitlement (56 comments)

    This is a guest post from Gail Vaz-Oxlade, the host of the popular Til Debt Do U$ Part on CNBC (Saturday nights at 10 and 10:30). Gail is a columnist for MoneySense, Chatelaine, and Zoomer Magazine and blogs daily at her website, where she also offers terrific tools people can use to dig themselves out of the hole. Gail’s latest book is Debt-Free Forever. I’ve been working with a lot of people lately who can’t…

  • 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,…

  • 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…

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

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

  • A Non-Consumer Christmas: Simple Gifts for Kids and Grown-Ups (48 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. Not sure what to buy for your loved ones this year? Still singing the recession blues? Consider buying nothing at all. I didn’t buy anything on Black Friday, I didn’t buy anything today, and I won’t tomorrow. This holiday season, I won’t be going near a mall. Under our tree, there will…

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

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

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Stopping Shopping Momentum (35 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. Shopping momentum is the bane of many budgets. You may have a good grip on your money most of the time, but once you’ve opened up your wallet to make one purchase, it’s easy to just keep spending. People sometimes experience shopping momentum during times of stress or transition: when they’re traveling,…

  • Who’s Spying on (and Profiting from) Your Browsing Habits? (37 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. One of the fastest-growing businesses on the Web is tracking data about your Internet use — everything from comments you leave on websites to health information and financial status — and selling it to companies that want to target ads to specific customer profiles. Algorithms are even used to make predictions about you based on your profile, from how likely is it that you’ll repay a…

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

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

  • Dress Yourself For Free: How to Host A Clothing Swap (73 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. I spend almost nothing on clothes. According to Mint, I’ve spent $199.50 to clothe my family of five this year. They say the average U.S. household has spent $1258.62. That’s more than six times my spending. It’s been years since I walked into a clothing store, tried on styles I liked and…

  • Three Passive Barriers I Use to Counter Consumerism (37 comments)

    This video post is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker previously featured a post on his own blog entitled, Dave Ramsey Vs. Suze Orman. Passive barriers are those small mental impediments that keep us from making smart choices. Things like over-drafting your bank account because you’re too lazy to stop by the bank to make a deposit, or not going for a run because it’s a pain to get your exercise clothes together. But while…

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Do You Get What You Pay For? (108 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Like many of you, I’m a proponent of quality over quantity. I’d rather buy one good coat that will get me through three seasons and last for years than replace a poorly-made, cheap one every year. But it’s important to consider that expense is not necessarily an indication of quality. And even when the more expensive item is of higher quality, it might not be the best buy….

  • 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…

  • How to Turn Your Clutter Into Cash (39 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the advisor for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, this article is all about green: How to make more of it by selling your Stuff. Even though I can’t peer into your closets or surveil your garage (or…

  • The Hidden Cost of Spending While In Debt (51 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker, who recently released an 83-page guide entitled Unautomate Your Finances. Courtney and I are big fans of what we call “mental filters”. These are simple little tips and tricks that we can use to increase our financial awareness. (J.D. likes to call these tips and tricks money hacks.) For example, I’ve talked before about how we taped a picture of our daughter to our credit cards while…

  • The High Cost of Clutter (81 comments)

    This post is from new staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. Last week, J.D. wrote about Stuff; today, Sierra shares her thoughts on the costs of clutter. Do you have piles of papers lurking on your desk? Mountains of laundry looming beside your bed? Shelves double-stacked with knick-knacks? I have a bit of a clutter problem myself. The other day, I spent…

  • How Much Stuff Does One Man Need? (158 comments)

    It seems like every time I travel, I come home committed to win my war on Stuff. This time was no different. I lived out of a single carry-on bag while vacationing in Belize last week, and even that felt luxurious. Now I’ve returned to a house packed with doodads and gewgaws, knick-knacks and baubles. The more I purge Stuff from my life, the more I travel, and the more I see (and read) about…

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

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

  • Furniture and Scambags: Adventures on Craigslist (99 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the advisor for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. I’ve already told you how the wife and I weed out our closets every summer and have a yard sale with the results. Last weekend, we did some big off-season pruning because — in…

  • 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…

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

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

  • Further Adventures in My War on Stuff (102 comments)

    Long-time readers of Get Rich Slowly know that I’ve been waging an ongoing battle against Stuff — the clutter and crap I managed to collect during 20 years of wanton spending and debt. Though I’ve managed to curb my spending (and have slowed the influx of Stuff), I’m still surrounded by constant reminders of my old habits. Last week, Colleen wrote to ask for an update on this seemingly-endless war: I was wondering if you…

  • Do Experiences Lead to Greater Happiness Than Material Purchases? (59 comments)

    The August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research arrived in my mailbox yesterday. It contains an interesting article from Nicolao, Irwin, and Goodman entitled “Happiness for Sale: Do Experiential Purchases Make Consumers Happier than Material Purchases?” This is a topic we’ve skirted at Get Rich Slowly, but never fully explored. Many readers have offered anecdotal evidence that they get more “bang for their buck” by spending money on experiences instead of Stuff. This new…

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

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

  • 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…

  • The Spending Habits of the Average American (107 comments)

    Last week, Diane dropped a line asking for information about American consumer spending. She wrote: I am trying to find sites that will provide average spending habits — such as how much an average person spends on food per week or how much a family spends on entertainment, that sort of thing. I am hoping to see where my habits line up with someone of similar means in the same part of the country. I’m…

  • How to save money on food: Great tips from three years of Get Rich Slowly (36 comments)

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

  • 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…

  • Economic Stimulus and the Marginal Propensity to Consume (99 comments)

    This is a guest post from Kevin, who writes about getting and staying out of debt at No-Debt Plan. Previously at GRS, Kevin wrote about the power of attentive spending. Many Americans will begin receiving a few extra dollars in their paychecks this month. Thanks to the latest round of economic stimulus from the federal government, the monthly take-home pay of most workers will increase by about $50. Economists and politicians hope that this is…

  • Want to See Your Credit Report for Free? FreeCreditReport.com vs. AnnualCreditReport.com (50 comments)

    Mark Frauenfelder (founder of the awesome Boing Boing) has a piece at PC.com that asks: When is a free credit report not a free credit report? The answer, of course, is: When it comes from FreeCreditReport.com. FreeCreditReport.com, which has raised the ire of many, does allow people to look at their credit reports free for seven days, but then automatically enrolls users into a $15/month credit monitoring service. This last fact is a problem. Frauenfelder…

  • How to Dispute Credit Card Charges (37 comments)

    In yesterday’s USA Today, Kathy Chu offered tips to help consumers with disputes on credit card charges. This is a nice companion piece to this morning’s GRS post about thwarting credit-card company tricks. “No industry statistics are available about how often such disputes are won by consumers,” Chu writes. “But to maximize their chances, consumers should know how to navigate the maze of rules governing credit card disputes.” She shares five ways to increase your…

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

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

  • A DIY budget Christmas: 99 great gifts to start right now (211 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Yes, it’s July. You’re probably enjoying backyard cookouts, vacations, and long, warm bike rides. An article on Christmas? Not yet, right? Unless you, like me, want to avoid my unimaginative gift-giving default — the ubiquitous gift card. Thoughtful gift-giving takes time, especially if you are going to make the gift yourself. So here is a list for you, in plenty of time, so you can get…

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

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

  • Ask the Readers: Favorite Frugal Christmas Ideas? (126 comments)

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

  • The Never-Ending War Against Advertising (90 comments)

    I spoke with a reporter the other day. She was looking for ways to fight the urge to shop. “My top tip is to avoid advertising,” I told her. “That sounds nice,” she said, “but how do you actually do that?” I talked about how I used to read comic book blogs and participate in comic book forums, and how doing these things led me to increase my spending on comics. When I stopped visiting…

  • Marvelous Magazine Ads from 1904 (33 comments)

    This post contains many scanned images. Click on any detail to see a larger version. I believe that one of the best ways to reduce spending is to limit your exposure to advertising. Marketers employ powerful persuasive techniques to circumvent our rational minds, encouraging us to spend our hard-earned money on things we don’t really need. This isn’t anything new. Advertising has been a pervasive part of American culture for more than a century. I…

  • The Story of Stuff (131 comments)

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

  • Five Tips for Effective Consumer Complaints (26 comments)

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

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

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

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

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

  • The Outrageous Cost of Storing Stuff (110 comments)

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

  • How to Handle a Door-to-Door Salesman (215 comments)

    On Saturday morning, a young man knocked at our door. He wanted to sell us new windows. Kris tried to brush him aside gently, but he was persistent. He didn’t leave until he’d scheduled an appointment to give us an hour-long in-home presentation about his company’s product. “We do need storm windows,” Kris told me after he’d gone. “That’s true,” I said. “But I don’t like buying from door-to-door salesmen.” The worst job I ever…

  • 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 Pros and Cons of Gift Cards (77 comments)

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

  • 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…

  • The Smell of Money: Marketers Use Scent to Encourage Spending (29 comments)

    When you shop, you are manipulated in myriad subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways. Everything from store layout to background music to package design is carefully planned to make you more likely to part with your hard-earned dollars. New Scientist reports that marketers are now learning to “recruit smell for the hard sell“: Scent, marketeers say, is the final frontier in “sensory branding”. Of all our five senses, smell is thought to be the most closely linked…

  • Best yard sale checklist: The ultimate guide to garage sale prep (61 comments)
    This article is by contributor Lisa Aberle.

    Have you ever hosted a yard sale with dismal sales? You made a dollar per hour for your efforts. No fun. If you want to add to your savings account or start an emergency fund by throwing a yard sale, use these tips to host an epic event. Yard Sale Tip Sections Define your goal Scheduling your sale Merchandise Differentiate your event Advertising Supplies Pricing Staging Avoiding…

  • Five Fantastic Frugal Tips for Christmas (14 comments)

    In my recent Christmas article, I asked you to submit your favorite ideas for saving money during the holidays. Your suggestions were great. Among the best were these (which I’ve edited slightly): Samuel’s tip: “Give your ‘favorite things’ as gifts. Find items you love and use everyday, then share these with others. By giving favorite things, the focus is on sharing things you like rather than how much you spent. For example, my ‘favorite thing’…

  • 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…

  • Basic tips on tipping: How much and to whom? (487 comments)
    This article is by staff writer J.D. Roth.

    [Editorial note: There is a lot of confusion over how much to tip and to whom. What should be a simple decision is often clouded by cultural mores and traditions. The desire to acknowledge the service you’ve been given is a personal choice, largely a measure of the value you attribute to the service — perhaps even a reflection of your own values. The concern around…

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

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