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Debt


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

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

  • In Case Of Emergency: The College Credit Card (7 comments)

    My favorite scene in the 1985 movie “The Sure Thing” is when John Cusack and Daphne Zuniga are stranded in the middle of nowhere, cold and hungry, and it starts to torrentially pour. Seeking shelter in a locked trailer, John bangs incessantly on the padlock with a stone, while Daphne reaches into her bag looking for lock-picking tools and pulls out … a credit card. “I have a credit card. I have a credit card,”…

  • 21 Ways to Stretch Your Dollar While in College (2 comments)

    The graduation parties are over, and it’s time to get down to business. Armed with a sense of maturity and independence, you are ready to conquer your coursework in order to snare your first dream job. But if you’re like most college students, your pocketbook has nary a dollar to its name. Whether you’re a rising freshman, a dorm veteran or a parent of either, here are 21 commonsense money-saving strategies that can stretch your…

  • Our Journey to College…and Debt (23 comments)

    It was all over the news last week that the college Class of 2016 will graduate with an average — an average — of $37,000 in debt, the most ever. This is a 6 percent increase over the Class of 2015 (those lucky dogs graduated with an average loan debt of $35K). Experts say that if these kids’ starting salaries are more than their total debt, they should be able to pay them off in…

  • How to use a balance transfer card for holiday debt (28 comments)

    Have you received your credit card bill for December yet? If so, you’re not the only one. As this Federal Reserve Board chart shows, Americans accumulate about $30 billion in credit card debt in the last quarter every year – and then attempt to pay it off in the first quarter of the New Year. The problem is they rarely succeed at paying off the entire balance. By the end of the first quarter every…

  • Taking control of your mortgage debt (18 comments)
    This article is by GRS contributor Richard Barrington.

    I remember my first mortgage. Getting it seemed like a bureaucratic hurdle on the way toward buying a home, and I couldn’t wait to get the paperwork done and out of the way. By the time we bought our second house, I was 10 years older and wiser. I played a much more active role in choosing a mortgage and negotiating terms that time, and saved us…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • How I Stopped Worrying About Money (Almost) (30 comments)

    It might be the incessant nagging of an unpaid bill or a stomach-churning plunge in the stock market, but suddenly you don’t know how to stop worrying about money. Join the club. Even having a decent nest egg of savings and a solid financial plan is no cure for money worries because the more you know about personal finance, the more you understand how fragile any plan and any investment program can be. Still, I…

  • Student loan repayment and the ethics of personal finance (12 comments)

    [This is the third installment in a series examining repaying student loans. Part I was a best practices guide for repaying student loans. Part II discussed an alternative payment plan, Revised Pay As You Earn or REPAYE.]

    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Quick Links How is AGI determined? How can I lower my AGI? Is it ethical to artificially lower my AGI? Is it smart to artificially lower my AGI? In…

  • What else can young people do to jumpstart their lives? (26 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    According to a new Pew Research Center analysis, the number of young women living with relatives is rising – to levels not seen since the 1940s. Fully 36.4 percent of young women between the ages of 18 to 34 are not financially capable of striking out on their own these days – even though five times more of them are college-educated today. The gender gap It’s no…

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

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

  • Tailor your circumstances to your strategy (3 comments)
    Tailor your circumstances to your strategy. Sounds a bit backwards, doesn’t it? Most of the time, we take the path of least resistance and tailor our strategy to our circumstances. And that can certainly work if all your finances need is some minor tweaking. But if you have a large goal in mind or you need to address debt, you may need a different approach.

    Prioritizing circumstances and strategies Defining the life you want…

  • 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…

  • Why investing can be better than repaying debt (46 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    It’s a difficult choice: On the one hand, you understand the need to begin investing early to make the miracle of compounding work for you; on the other hand, you know that, when you have debt, making those payments hampers the ability to harness the miracle of compounding. So, what should you do with that $500 you have — invest it or pay down the debt?…

  • 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…

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

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

  • 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…

  • Master this personal finance concept (45 comments)

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

  • Alternatives to the multi-generational survival tool (32 comments)
    This is a guest post from former GRS staff writer Donna Freedman.

    A whole lotta folks are way too comfortable with credit card debt, according to the “Generations Apart” study from Allianz Life. Nearly half of the Generation Xers and Baby Boomers surveyed consider plastic to be “a financial survival tool.” Guys, guys, guys: The credit card is not a superhero. Sure, one swipe saves the day, but it’s only that day. What will…

  • Retire at 40: A 24-year-old in pursuit of financial freedom (13 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    The way Thomas Frank looks at it, everything in his young life has been leading him to get better at controlling his finances. In high school, he saw a cool video game he wanted to buy — no, had to have. It took him three weeks to earn the $350, but he actually spent it buying cool clothes and hanging out with friends instead. His key…

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

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

  • The best (and worst) states for saving money and getting ahead 2015 (29 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Megan Wells.

    Looking to save versus spend? Eager to sock money away not just for a rainy day but potentially for stormy months, even years, ahead? Consider heading to the Heartland. The Midwest is home to some of the very best places to save money and get ahead in the U.S., according to a new analysis by Get Rich Slowly. To find out which parts of the U.S….

  • 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…

  • Life after debt – experimenting with financial balance (18 comments)

    This article is from returning staff writer Tim Sullivan. I first became part of the Get Rich Slowly community six years ago. I lived in Austin, Texas, at the time and had to travel a lot between jobs. I say that I drove a scooter to save money on gas; but really, it was because I couldn’t afford a reliable car. The fact it cost me less than $2 to fill up my tank for…

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

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

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

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

  • Ask the Readers: Will higher interest rates make you save more money? (17 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    Interest rates are expected to rise later in 2015. What will you do with this information? You could make the case that you haven’t missed much if you didn’t keep your money in a savings account over the last few years. But still, we all need liquid funds to one degree or another – and the sooner the interest rate goes up on those balances, the better….

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • The fall and winter seasons of the economic cycle (17 comments)

    (This is Part III in a four-part series about how understanding economic cycles could inform your financial decisions. Part I is Understanding economic cycles: An introduction. Part II is Recognizing economic seasons: recovery and growth. Part IV is How to profit from economic cycles.) You will recall from Part II of this short series about economic seasons that the spring of early recovery and the summer growth season resemble the corresponding seasons in nature fairly…

  • 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…

  • Understanding economic cycles: An introduction (13 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    (Since April is Financial Literacy Month, a number of articles will be devoted to more educational topics. This is Part I in a four-part series about how understanding economic cycles could inform your financial decisions. Part II is Recognizing economic seasons: recovery and growth. Part III is The fall and winter seasons of the economic cycle. Part IV is How to profit from economic cycles.) Getting…

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

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

  • What does Quantitative Easing mean for me now? (25 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    If you have ever heard talk of Quantitative Easing (QE) and “tapering,” you may have been left wondering what it is exactly. The terms are bandied about so frequently these days that it is rather difficult to parse out the facts from the political hype that surrounds every move the Federal Reserve Board, or Fed, makes. Another, more pointed question to ask might be, “Does Quantitative…

  • 10 Money Mistakes to Avoid in Your 20s (77 comments)

    Your 20s are filled with milestones and life-changing experiences. It’s a time when the things you learn start to become habits and when financial decisions can either lead you to great success or become a problem for you in the future. It would be great to have perfect foresight so that you knew the best decision to make in every situation – but in the absence of perfect knowledge, even knowing what not to do…

  • 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…

  • If the recession is over, where are the jobs? (29 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    A few weeks ago, we asked the question “What is your investment strategy?” and described the survey Get Rich Slowly did of attitudes toward investing and a few related subjects. In that post, we noted, with a degree of surprise, that over 40 percent of respondents did not invest at all — and that the youngest respondents were the largest group of non-investors. What follows might…

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

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

  • How to 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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….

  • Reader Stories: Living in a Car to Pay Off Debt (85 comments)

    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. I don’t spend lavishly on clothes, hair appointments, or travel. I drive a 12-year-old Honda Civic. I got into debt by trying different business investments, including real estate and selling refurbished tablets. I also took out…

  • Reader Stories: Your debt-paying personality (24 comments)

    This reader story comes from long-time reader and commenter Bill McFadin, aka Cybergeezer, who commented that he had submitted a story months ago that never ran. We asked if he would resubmit the article, which he kindly did — and then he submitted another one! 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…

  • An updated reckoning and why we became homeowners: Honey’s story (81 comments)

    This story is by staff writer Honey Smith. The dust has (mostly) settled from our home purchase. As a result, I thought it would be a good time to post an updated version of “the reckoning.” I also thought I’d share our reasoning for moving forward with homeownership at this point in our personal finance journey. The Reckoning Please note that I have consolidated some separate accounts of the same type into one category for simplicity’s…

  • Honey progress report: More milestones edition (65 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Last year’s August update was full of good news, and it seems to be a yearly tradition! I will go over each update and its impact on my life, but the bottom line is: My student loan balance now starts with an eight! Jake paid off his credit card debt! I got a raise! Sometime last November or December, I told Jake I could feel it in my…

  • Reader Story: Could crowd funding help this guy pay off his mortgage? (239 comments)

    We get dozens of requests at GetRichSlowly.org every day. They are usually queries such as “Can I guest post to promote my business?” (No.) “Will you share our infographic with your readers?” (No.) Last week we received one that intrigued me. The writer had started a crowd-funding effort to pay off his mortgage and he wanted me to share it with the Get Rich Slowly community. I replied, “Why would anyone want to pay off…

  • Car payments: ‘Til death do us part (81 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Your car breaks down on the side of the road … again. It’s rush hour and it won’t start. You have to have it towed and you’re not happy about it. At all. So what do you do? You head to the local dealership in a fury, ready to replace it with something far more reliable, but also affordable. But the dealership has a few tricks up their…

  • More on motivation and money (29 comments)

    In my last post, I talked about motivation and money. Motivation is a huge yet under-discussed concept in personal finance, I think. While big wins may be the quickest way to wealth, that doesn’t mean you’ll reach your goals overnight. Even if you have become wealthy, you still need motivation to manage your money and prioritize your spending. After all, if you want to stay wealthy, then you can have anything you want but not everything you want. And if…

  • Student loan debt: Learning to save yourself (116 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. In late 2008, Lance Cothern reunited with his high school girlfriend Tori after several years apart. Lance was almost ready to earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting, and Tori was a sophomore studying nursing at a four-year public university at the time. After a few years of dating, the conversations turned serious and they started planning a future together. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to either of them, Tori had…

  • Motivation and money (34 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Especially for those of us like me who are in the midst of the long, hard slog of debt pay-down, staying motivated can be tough. How do you keep your excitement up and your determination high when financial independence is barely visible on the horizon? Here are some methods for staying the course when your goals will take months or years (heck, even decades) to achieve. 1. Keep…

  • 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…

  • 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…

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

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

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • #StudentLoanDebt is trending (91 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith. Since I have over $92,000 in student loan debt myself at last count, perhaps I’m just finely attuned to news coverage on this issue. However, my very unscientific observation is that there have been quite a few articles on student loan debt in the news lately, particularly graduate school and Ph.D. debt. And I think that devoting more attention to this issue is definitely a good thing. What’s…

  • 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…

  • How to avoid binge-shopping (62 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. It seems contradictory, but I love being frugal and I also love spending money. Over the last few years, however, my love of frugality has outweighed my love of spending — and it’s been good for my savings. Yes, it’s OK to spend money sometimes. If you have it, and you’re comfortable with your present and future finances, by all means, spend away. But a lot of…

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

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

  • Reader Story: Free at last (32 comments)

    This guest post is from Mary Newcome. 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. I remember what it was like to live in my first apartment at age 17. Although not old enough to legally sign a lease agreement, I guess my full-time employment…

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

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

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

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

  • 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…

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

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

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Look, Mom! I’m on TV! (27 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Kristin Wong. “If they cleaned this place up, it could be pretty nice.” –My mom’s take on NYC. This week my mom was kind enough to take some time off work and accompany me to New York, where I was a guest on one of her favorite shows, “Fox & Friends.” “Did you know Gretchen Carlson won Miss America?” my mom asked me when I first told her about…

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

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

  • Reader Stories: How I became a home entrepreneur to get out of debt (37 comments)

    This reader story is from Kelly Crawford. Kelly is a “mompreneur” and contributing author for five blogs, including her own, Generation Cedar. 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. I had left my job to raise my two children and was now expecting…

  • 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…

  • Avoiding credit card traps (12 comments)

    This is a guest post from John Ulzheimer. John is a recognized expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft, and is the Senior Columnist at Credit Card Insider. He is twice Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) certified by the credit reporting industry’s trade association and has been an expert witness in more than 100 cases involving credit issues. Formerly of FICO and Equifax, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes…

  • 5 debt lessons from ‘Braveheart’ (20 comments)

    This guest post is by Ben Edwards of MoneySmartlife.com. His book “Debt Heroes,” which chronicles the stories of 21 people who got out of debt, was published in December. Get Rich Slowly readers may download a free copy of the book from Sunday, March 24, through Thursday, March 28 on Amazon.com. Ask anyone struggling to pay off big loans whether debt is oppressive and their answer will likely be yes. As you may know, debt…

  • 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…

  • The hassle of being in debt (110 comments)

    This post is from contributor Holly Johnson. A few months ago, I wrote about how we dug ourselves out of debt. Once we cut our expenses and stopped living beyond our means, it didn’t take long to make significant progress against the tens of thousands of dollars we owed. And after a few years of struggle and sacrifice, we finally paid everything off. Once all of our consumer debts were gone, we turned our focus…

  • Bouncing back from financial grief and loss (39 comments)

    This guest post is from Psychotherapist Bobbi Emel who specializes in helping you face life’s significant challenges and regain your resiliency. Download her free ebook, “Bounce Back! 5 keys to survive and thrive through life’s ups and downs.” You can find her blog at http://www.TheBounceBlog.com. Some reader stories are guest posts containing information or general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These posts feature folks with all…

  • New student loan payoff tool (30 comments)

    Stafford, PLUS, Perkins, Direct, private – there are enough types of student loans out there to make your head spin. All of these loans have different criteria and interest rates. This is especially the case if you have loans from before 2012. Pre-2006, when Stafford loans were variable interest, it often made sense to consolidate when you felt that interest rates were low. While this option may still appeal to folks whose priority is the…

  • Join the Debt Movement (40 comments)

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

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

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

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

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

  • Driven crazy by car loans (95 comments)

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

  • Is investing optional? (101 comments)

    This guest post from William Cowie. William has contributed to ConsumerismCommentary.com, BudgetsAreSexy.com and other personal finance blogs, including his own, . We’ve all seen this bumper sticker, haven’t we? Other than singing the Disney song from “Snow White,” how does it make you feel? “Wouldn’t it be great if I didn’t HAVE to…?” And isn’t that most people’s fantasy: not having to go to work? Other than most fantasies, this one is actually achievable. How?…

  • Frustrations with my new student loan servicer (97 comments)

    This post is from new staff writer Honey Smith. Since I only took out Stafford loans while I was in school, I was able to consolidate almost all my student loans into a single balance through a program called the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP). After I consolidated, I was able to use a website (which I believe was maintained by the federal government) to track my loan balance and otherwise access my account….

  • 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…

  • Reader Story: From recession to best financial shape of my life (53 comments)

    This guest post from William Cowie is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. William has contributed to ConsumerismCommentary.com, BudgetsAreSexy.com and other personal finance blogs. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want submit your own reader story? Here’s how. Fresh out of college in South Africa in…

  • Reader Story: Dodging Financial Bullets: A Tribute to My Ex (94 comments)

    This guest post from Holly Johnson is part of the “reader stories” feature. Holly is a 32-year-old wife, mother of two, and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She blogs about saving money, frugal habits, and whatever is on her mind at ClubThrifty.com. Want submit your own reader story? Here’s how. I could talk for hours about my ex-boyfriend and all of the terrible decisions he made, his bad habits, and his financial mistakes. Ahhh…..so where do I…

  • Student loan debt: How I got in deep (335 comments)

    This article is from new staff writer Honey Smith. My mother was quadriplegic by the time I was in high school. My dad was a real estate agent who worked on commission, so he worked long hours to make ends meet. As a result, I took on a lot of responsibility at a young age. I cooked and cleaned and did all the grocery shopping. I did the laundry and paid the bills (in the…

  • Are Universities Immoral? (218 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. By popular request, J.D. has added photos of cats once again. Yes, this is another article bemoaning the cost of a college degree, and the amount of student debt that many graduates take…

  • Reader Story: How My Upbringing Helped Me Avoid Debt and Build Wealth (129 comments)

    This guest post from long-time GRS reader SB 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. SB writes about personal finance and personal development topics at One Cent At A Time. Some of you might recognize me. I’ve…

  • Continuing Education May Make You Wiser — But Richer? (100 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Sarah Gilbert. I live in a world in which I am blessed with lots of friends who are writers, but even I — social media maven that I am — would put my writing community at far less than a thousand. Yet a few weeks ago, there I was in Chicago with (according to one estimate) 11,000 writers, editors, publishers, and writing teachers. It was the Association for Writers…

  • Paying for College: A High School Student’s Quest to Stay Debt-Free (129 comments)

    This is a guest post from Chase Miller, a high school student from Orange County, California. He loves to surf, travel, Tweet, and catalog life through photography. “Where are you going to college?” “What are you going to major in?” “What kind of career do you want?” As senior year flies by like a speeding car, there are certain questions I have been asked countless times by friends, family members, and coworkers. These questions are…

  • How to Have More Money (84 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jerrold Mundis, author of the classic How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt, and Live Prosperously [here’s my review]. Mundis is a writer and financial therapist. The final book in his trilogy on personal money is Making Peace with Money. His website is Mundis Money. You can have more money. And you can have it — get it — without turning your life upside down or…

  • Protecting Yourself Against Sexually-Transmitted Debt (54 comments)

    This is a guest post from Claire Brown. Previously at GRS, Claire shared a reader story about how she learned about frugality from de-cluttering. As we hit the season of Christmas parties and New Year bashes, many GRS readers are probably thinking about 2012 financial resolutions, budget gifts and how to whip up a frugal feast for 25th of December. Some of you may also be fearing that annual call from a family member in…

  • Reader Story: How Debt Put My Dreams on Hold (85 comments)

    This guest post from Jason Jacobs 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. Jason wants to be financially free so he and his wife can be missionaries with no strings attached. You can read about his journey to becoming fat free at FindingMyFitness.com. When we’re young and stupid, we don’t think about…

  • Reader Story: My Falling Credit Score (and Why It’s Not the End of the World) (88 comments)

    This guest post from Matt 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. This is a rare reader story that appeared elsewhere first. I saw it on Matt’s blog last week and asked if I could reprint…

  • How My Generosity Got Me $8,000 in Debt (105 comments)

    This is a guest post from Logan Sachon. Her piece originally appeared at Bundle.com. I am in debt: $8,000 on two credit cards, to be precise. The debt occurred over several years, and includes a few periods when I was living off the cards because I was in between jobs. Perhaps $1,000 of the debt was spent on plane tickets to visit my parents on the East Coast, my job on the East Coast, or…

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

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

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

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

  • Reader Story: How I Avoided Student Loans (101 comments)

    This guest post from Crystal 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. Crystal writes about finding the balance between paying the bills, saving for the future, and budgeting for the fun stuff at the aptly-titled Budgeting…

  • 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…

  • How to Lend Money to Friends (Without Ruining the Relationship) (179 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Lending money to friends and family is a generous act — one that could easily backfire and even ruin your relationship. Most of the time when someone is considering a loan to a family member, I think, “Don’t do it.” There can be other ways to help. But when it’s someone you care about, logic only plays one role in the decision-making process. Not too long ago…

  • When To Walk Away From A Bad Mortgage (255 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. Since the housing bubble burst, many Americans have found their finances underwater. They’re paying on homes that are worth much less than the mortgages against them. More than a few have chosen to walk away from these debts. Called a “walkaway” or a “strategic default”, deliberately defaulting on your mortgage is becoming…

  • 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…

  • 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…

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

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

  • 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…

  • Reader Story: Scholarships for Fun and Profit (42 comments)

    This guest post from Alison 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. This is one of the best reader stories I’ve ever featured. I’m a graduate of the George Washington University, a school now known as…

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

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

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

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

  • Ask the Readers: What Can I Do About My Student Loans? (135 comments)

    I do my best to cover a variety of topics here at Get Rich Slowly. Personal finance is a v-a-s-t topic, and there’s a lot of specialized knowledge. But there’s no question I have blind spots. Because Kris and I have no kids, I don’t write much about children and money. Student loans are another blind spot for me. Still, I know a lot of GRS readers have questions about student loans. You folks e-mail…

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

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

  • Reader Story: Debt-Free by 30 — Including the Mortgage! (121 comments)

    This guest post from Jesse (who juggles) is part of the “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general “how I did X” advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. My wife and I paid off our house in April while we were both still 29 years…

  • What Happens to Your Stuff When You Die? (50 comments)

    Most of us have some sort of vague idea about what happens to our assets when we die. The stuff we own gets passed on to the people we specify — assuming we’ve jumped through the right hoops. But what happens to our debts when we die? That’s what Matt wants to know. He wrote recently looking for clarification: My parents are both in their sixites, and don’t have the best financial position. They have…

  • Reader Story: The Other Side of Bankruptcy (213 comments)

    This guest post from Shara is part of the “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general “how I did X” advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. J.D.’s note: Over the past couple of months, I’ve shared a couple of reader stories that involve bankruptcy or…

  • Reader Story: I Paid Off $70,000 in Debt and Quit My Job! (76 comments)

    This guest post from Jaime Tardy 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. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity, and with all sorts of incomes. In 2005, I was working more than 60 hours a week in a position that required…

  • 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…

  • Is Your Spouse Hiding Debt? Recovering from Financial Infidelity (53 comments)

    I’m on vacation in Alaska. This is a guest post from MP Dunleavey, editorial director of DailyWorth.com, a free daily personal finance email for women. I’ve been a fan of Dunleavey’s writing for a long time, and am pleased to have her swing by GRS. Infidelity is always devastating. But if your spouse or partner has been cheating on you by hiding pricey vices or illicit spending sprees, the consequences can be far worse than…

  • 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…

  • Money, Stress, and Your Health (46 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. A 2009 AP/AOL survey, Debt Stress in the United States, found that American adults are experiencing significantly more debt-related stress than reported four years ago when a similar survey was conducted. The survey also found that those with high stress levels were likely to experience health problems, including headaches, back pain, muscle tension, depression, anxiety, ulcers, and heart problems. It seems that a high level of…

  • Reader Story: I Was Drowning in Debt (29 comments)

    This guest post from Steven 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 Steven is the author of Hundred Goals, a blog about achieving you goals while managing your finances.) Three years ago, I was drowning in debt. Week after week, I found myself…

  • 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…

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

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

  • 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…

  • Reader Story: How I Ruined My Credit Score, and How It Didn’t Ruin My Life (154 comments)

    This guest post from the redoubtable Tyler K 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. Tyler is an active commenter at GRS, and never afraid to share his opinion! Like J.D., I once had a big problem with debt. Unlike J.D., I didn’t…

  • Reader Story: How I Paid Off $18,000 in Student Loans While Still in Graduate School (84 comments)

    This guest post from Andrea 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. I am a graduate student, working towards a PhD, and I hope to graduate in 2012. Prior to starting my PhD program I acquired a significant amount of student loan debt…

  • Reader Story: How I Paid Off $18,500 in Debt (69 comments)

    This guest post from Rita marks the start of a new feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Every Sunday will include a reader story (in the new “reader story” category). Some will be general “how I did X” stories, but most will be like this: An example of how a GRS reader achieved financial success. I discovered Get Rich Slowly from a link on MSN Money in the fall of 2008. I’d just purchased a…

  • 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…

  • Pros and Cons: 30-Year Mortgage vs. 15-Year Mortgage (114 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. My husband and I are in the early stages of building a house. As we modify our floor plans, the amount we’ll need to borrow to build is on our minds. It’s probably going to be the most expensive thing we’ll ever purchase, and we need to decide what we want to borrow and what loan term we’ll want. The main differences between 15- and 30-year…

  • Your Credit Report Card (69 comments)

    Mark Frauenfelder is the co-founder of my favorite sites, Boing Boing (which is a “directory of wonderful things”). Mark’s also a GRS reader. He dropped me a line the other day to tell me about a new project he’s been following. Today, Credit.com is launching a free new online financial tool called Credit Report Card. This tool is designed to provide users with a quick snapshot of their credit reports. According to the site’s FAQ,…

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

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

  • Reader Success Story: Debt Free on $2,000 a Month (77 comments)

    We interrupt this series of Staff Writer auditions to bring you a brief success story from a Get Rich Slowly reader. I receive several of these a month (often several a week), and sometimes wish that I had a place to share them all. Instead, I just make the time to share a handful every year. This morning, Jay wrote to share his own tale of dedication: Hey JD! I am very excited to tell…

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

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

  • 25 Essential Books about Money (49 comments)

    I shared a list of my favorite books about money once before, but that was over two years ago. I’ve read dozens of books since then (and thumbed through dozens more). Here is a revised list of 25 great books about money. These are all books that I found entertaining or influential. There are still many “big name” books that I haven’t read, such as “A Random Walk Down Wall Street” and “The Intelligent Investor,”…

  • Should Repaying Debt Be an Obsession? (75 comments)

    Some people never take control of their finances because they’re afraid that doing so would require them to give up everything they enjoy. I don’t believe that’s true. Getting out of debt requires hard work and sacrifice, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun along the way. Aaron recently sent the following e-mail: You paid off $35,000 in debt in just over three years. Does that mean you were balls-to-the-wall dedicated and had no…

  • 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…

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

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

  • Like a Drug: Suze Orman on Credit Cards (42 comments)

    I recently participated in a conference call with Suze Orman, who is working to promote Best Life Week. This series runs on The Oprah Winfrey Show all this week, and is intended to help viewers “jumpstart 2009 and make it the best year ever!” Hyperbole aside, it was great to have a chance to speak with Suze Orman, who will be sharing money tips with Oprah viewers this Thursday. I tried to ask her about…

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

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

  • Drama in Real Life: Foreclosure! (128 comments)

    Most of the time, the talk about the housing bubble and the credit crisis and the faltering U.S. economy seem rather abstract to me, as if people were discussing a problem in Canada or Mexico. Or Norway. I’ve spent the past four years focused on my own financial situation, ignoring the outside world. The national economy often seems remote from my own personal economy. But there are millions of average people who have been affected…

  • Thoughts on the Financial Crisis from an Actual Economist (39 comments)

    This editorial is from Stephen Popick, a real-life government economist. He’s also the administrator for the Get Rich Slowly discussion forums. Why did the current financial crisis happen?  I don’t think a fully comprehensive answer could fit into a few paragraphs, but I can give some brief thoughts. As of this morning, otherwise sound companies are encountering financial difficulties.  If we think of the current financial crisis as being a simmering pot on an oven,…

  • Free Debt Snowball Spreadsheet (28 comments)

    Vertex42, a site devoted to Microsoft Excel templates, spreadsheets, and calendars, has posted a free debt snowball calculator that will help you create a debt snowball spreadsheet. From the description: This spreadsheet allows you to choose different debt reduction strategies, including the debt snowball effect (paying the lowest balance first) and highest interest first. Just choose the strategy from a dropdown box after you enter your creditor information into the worksheet.   This file contains two…

  • The Dirty Secrets of Debt Reduction (and What to Do About Them) (74 comments)

    When I was a sophomore in college, I got my first credit card. I thought it was awesome — it was like free money. Soon I got another credit card, and before long I’d maxed them both out. I entered the work force with a handicap. I had the start of a nasty credit habit. Because I’d grown up in a poor family, I had no notion of proper money skills. I made some bad…

  • Life Without Credit Cards (78 comments)

    For some people, best credit card deals are useful tools. For others, they’re a gateway to debt. My first step toward controlling my spending was to cut up my gas cards and move to a cash-only system. It was nearly a decade before I felt I could trust myself with a personal credit card again. You might believe that credit cards are a necessary part of modern life, but it’s just not true. During my…

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

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

  • The Negative Saving Rate and the Age of Easy Credit (81 comments)

    “My generation doesn’t know how to be thrifty,” writes Eve Conant in the current issue of Newsweek. She describes how her grandfather — who fled his native Ukraine during World War II — would store plastic bags filled with leftover bread crusts in the closet of his new home in California, a house he bought with $13,000 cash. “He couldn’t shake old habits,” Conant writes. “Or were they old virtues?” Now, many decades after Arkady’s…

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

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

  • The Power of Positive Cash Flow (42 comments)

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

  • Are Mortgage Rates Tied to the Federal Funds Rate? (29 comments)

    The Federal Reserve has lowered short-term interest rates twice in the past week by a total of 1.25 percentage points. (They lowered the federal funds rate, not the prime lending rate, though that falls in lockstep with the former.) Many people are excited because they believe this will lead to lower rates on fixed-term mortgages, meaning the average person may be able to save big bucks by refinancing. One GRS reader wrote yesterday to ask:…

  • What Are Debt Snowballs Made Of? Debt Snowflakes! (53 comments)

    During the twenty years I carried consumer debt, I made several attempts to change my habits. Every time I decided to lick the debt monster, I would follow the advice in the financial books: I’d arrange my debts in order, listing the one with the highest interest rate first. I’d pay extra on this bill for a couple of months, but then give up in frustration because I didn’t seem to be making any progress…

  • 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…

  • How to Get Out of Debt (245 comments)

    Editor’s Note: This is a story about how to get out debt. While every situation is different, all financial experts agree that too much debt can cripple your future. It can prevent you from buying a home when you want to, make the cost of borrowing more expensive and turn everyday transactions into tomorrow’s nightmare. This is the story of J.D. Roth, founder of Get Rich Slowly. Twenty years ago, I was a freshman in…

  • 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…

  • Are You a Shopaholic? Six Steps to Curb Compulsive Spending (92 comments)

    I had dinner with my friend Sue the other night. Over pasta and clams, we talked about life and money. She told me about her brother. “He’s a compulsive spender,” said Sue. “He spends money even when he doesn’t have any.” “What do you mean?” I asked. “Well,” she said, “for one thing, he spends his money before he gets it. For example, when he was still working with Big Computer Company, Inc., somebody told…

  • A Rough Guide to Repaying Student Loans (62 comments)

    There are certain aspects of personal finance that I’ve never had to deal with. Student loans are one of these. But student loans are a huge concern for many people. This guest-post from SJean is an introduction to repaying these debts. There are really two things to know about student loans: How to get them, and what to do when you have to start paying them back. I’m going to write about the latter, as…

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

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

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

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

  • How to Eliminate Debt in Bursts Instead of Incrementally (42 comments)

    This guest post is by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, one of my favorite blogs. Most of the time, the standard advice about debt elimination is to pay it off incrementally, over a period of time. We’re advised to be patient, and to hold on tight until the day comes when we pay off our debt. That’s good advice, and I endorse it — however, many people have trouble doing things gradually. For them, I…

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Huge Debts Paid Off Fast (3 comments)

    When my accountant sends me an article, I pay close attention. Today he forwarded a piece from Liz Pulliam Weston, one of my favorite professional money commentators. In Huge Debts, Paid Off Fast Pulliam Weston writes about people who have overcome staggering debt through hard work and determination. How did they do it? Among other things: They made debt payoff a priority, although most continued to save for retirement as well. They kept their basic…

  • What Happens When You Try to Get Rich Quickly (31 comments)

    Robert Kiyosaki, Robert Allen, and Loral Langemeier would have you believe that in order to get rich all you need to do is throw your money into real estate, sit back, and let the profits come. It’s not that simple. There’s risk involved. You have to know what you’re doing. Jon forwarded a link to what he calls “a personal finance trainwreck”. He writes: “If this guy is for real (and there appears to be…

  • 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…

  • The Secret History of the Credit Card (9 comments)

    How did the United States become a nation of debtors? When did credit cards become popular? Did you know that many modern credit card policies are the creation of one man? The Secret History of the Credit Card was a 2004 “Frontline” presentation from the Public Broadcasting System. The program examines the nation’s use of credit and, more specifically, the methods used by credit card companies to obtain enormous profits. The Secret History of the…

  • Anatomy of a Credit Score (22 comments)

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

  • How Many Credit Cards Should You Carry? (16 comments)

    An AskMetafilter user wonders: How many credit cards do typical people have? For various reasons I have four credit cards. I always thought of this as too many, but haven’t cancelled mine since the crappiest one is also the oldest, and has no fee, and I want to maintain the age of the card on my credit report. Most people I know have one or two cards. But reading online forums on credit, I see…