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Economics


  • What the Brexit Vote Means for Your Wallet (11 comments)

    Brexit: A primer for Americans. Voters in Britain singlehandedly ignited an international crisis with their historic decision to leave the European Union last week. The British exit, or “Brexit” for short, continues to dominate the news, spawning talk of regret, a re-vote and recovery from what The New York Times described as a massive Brexit “hangover.” It’s easy to think the June 23rd vote won’t have an impact on family finances over on this side…

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

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

  • 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….

  • How to profit from economic cycles (15 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 IV 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 III is The fall and winter seasons of the economic cycle.) In the…

  • 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…

  • Recognizing economic seasons: recovery and growth (11 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 II in a four-part series about how understanding economic cycles could inform your financial decisions. Part I is Understanding economic cycles: An introduction. Part III is The fall and winter seasons of the economic cycle. Part IV is How to profit from economic cycles.) In Part…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 9 reasons you may never retire (45 comments)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • The new way to get rich slowly (84 comments)

    This article is by staff writer William Cowie. The face of getting rich slowly is changing right before our eyes, even as the status quo is failing. Before this year’s State of the Union address, the President’s media supporters, fretting about his low approval rating, fumed: “…never during his time in office has the state of the economy been better — yet rarely has he gotten such low marks from the public for his handling of it.”…

  • The ‘cost’ of gun ownership (215 comments)

    As some of you might know or remember, I have been considering the purchase of a firearm for some time. Two posts ago I mentioned it while talking about being victim of a robbery, and reader Tyler Karaszewski wrote a cogent and passionate comment that began, “I think it’s sad that so many of our responses to these sorts of events are to (quite literally) begin escalating an arms race.” My following post was about…

  • HDHP with HSA: friend or foe? (62 comments)

    This is a guest post from Joanna Lahey, an associate economics professor at the George H. W. Bush School of Government and Public Service and a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. The opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of the aforementioned institutions. This is the final article in her series on health insurance. Here are the first, second and third articles. Remember way back when in…

  • Health insurance options for the self-employed (42 comments)

    This is a guest post from Joanna Lahey, an associate professor of economics at the George H.W. Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University and the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). The opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of the aforementioned institutions. This is the third of four articles on health insurance. The final part will be published next Saturday. Here are the first and second…

  • Insurance: Share the risk (84 comments)

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

  • Dollar Coins: Or, In Other Words, a New Tax (155 comments)

    “You need 75 more cents!” the woman at our favorite burger joint, Little Big Burger, said brightly after I sent my 9-year-old to order another serving of truffle oil fries with all the change I could find in my bag. Thankfully, I knew I’d sent enough money: I’d stashed a dollar coin in my bag, saving the Abraham Lincoln because, well, Lincoln. These fries were just good enough to let Lincoln go. Dollar coins are…

  • Is Your Spending Normal? (112 comments)

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

  • America’s Love-Hate Relationship with Wealth (187 comments)

    I was on the road for the past two months, first in Chicago, and then in Bolivia and Peru. As always happens, one of the side effects of travel is that I’ve been living in a media vacuum. For the past few weeks, I’ve heard almost nothing of current events. That means I arrived home to find a strange phenomenon: Protestors “occupying” Wall Street. And Oakland. And Portland. And probably many other places as well….

  • All That Glitters: Why I’m Not Investing in Gold (217 comments)

    Over the past two years, I’ve received a lot of requests to write about investing in gold and silver. I’ve ignored these requests. For one, I feel unqualified to comment. For another, I’m afraid that anything I do say will just make people angry. Last week I realized, however, that I don’t have to come at this as an expert. Because I’m not one. Instead, maybe we can have a discussion about the pros and…

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

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

  • The Tiger Mother and You: Are We Preparing Our Kids for a Better Financial Future? (120 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. Those of you who are parents — and those of you who came from them — may have already read the Wall Street Journal article by Amy Chua (which is an excerpt from her…

  • 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…

  • Want to Make More Money? Go Back to School! (31 comments)

    Lately, I’ve been more vocal about the importance of looking for ways to boost your income. Cutting costs is awesome — don’t stop — but if you really want to supercharge your debt reduction or your saving, you have to look for ways to earn more money. “That’s great,” some commenters have said, “but how do we earn more money.” That’s a fair question, though it’s much tougher to answer than, “How do I spend…

  • Reader Story: How We Became Reluctant Landlords (62 comments)

    This guest post from Jolyn 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. You can read more about Jolyn’s financial adventures at Budgets are the New Black. My husband and I bought our first home in Las…

  • Does Saving Stimulate the Economy More than Spending? (73 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. When the 2008-09 financial crisis hit, my husband and I were debt-free and building our savings. We were proud of what we’d accomplished, and I used to stare at our savings balance with a smile after every payday. At the time, all I seemed to hear was that we Americans had to spend our way out of a recession, that spending was the key to growth….

  • Yes, You WILL Get Social Security (127 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. We hear a lot about the doubts over the future of Social Security. Here are a few I’ve come across: “Three-fourths of those 18 to 34 don’t expect to get a Social Security check…

  • 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…

  • Why Are Interest Rates So Low Right Now? (and Where Should You Put Your Money?) (72 comments)

    I’ve been plowing through my e-mail lately in my never-ending quest to reach inbox zero. As a result, I’ve been answering tons of reader questions. And when I can’t answer them (or when I think a colleague can do a better job), I try to refer the question to somebody else. Over the weekend, for example, LP wrote: I’m a college student and have started saving up and setting aside money, and I feel that…

  • Do Credit Cards Take from the Poor and Give to the Rich? (148 comments)

    My philosophy on credit cards has changed completely in the last five years. I’ve gone from anti-credit-card to pro-credit-card — but only for those who can use them responsibly. I think they’re a great convenience, and I like getting cash back when I use mine. But not everyone thinks this cash-back feature is a good thing. In fact, my inbox is a-flutter with folks who want me to comment on the recent credit-card study from…

  • Is a Weak Euro Good for U.S. Travelers? (52 comments)

    It had to happen eventually! A GRS staff writer has finally submitted an article on a topic I was planning to cover. This post from April Dykman is stronger than the one I’d put together, though, so I’ve just tacked an addendum to the end. Europe’s financial crisis is leading to a weaker euro and more travel deals designed to attract American tourists. According to media reports, the state of the euro might make a…

  • What Do Ancient Spice Traders and the Modern Financial Industry Have in Common? (22 comments)

    This is a guest post from Chett Daniel, who writes about improving your life through personal fitness and personal finance at 5k5k.org. Last year, Chett shared what fourth-graders “know” about money. What role do financial professionals have in our personal finance lives today and in the future? Are they still the gateway to understanding financial info that’s too difficult for the common person to grasp? Or have they created a profit-producing “need” that is slowly…

  • The Truth About Taxes (229 comments)

    Note: Although I try to keep GRS a politics-free zone, today’s topic is inherently political. I’ve stayed as neutral as possible in the article, but I know that there’ll be some political discussion in the comments. Please keep conversation civil, as always. Because I was frustrated with my own ignorance about the U.S. federal budget and our tax system, I recently spent twelve hours researching a variety of tax topics. From my research came two…

  • Understanding the Federal Budget (141 comments)

    Note: Although I try to keep GRS a politics-free zone, today’s topic is inherently political. I’ve stayed as neutral as possible in the article, but I know that there’ll be some political discussion in the comments. Please keep conversation civil, as always. Recently at The Simple Dollar, Trent posed the question, “How much do taxes matter to you?” As might be expected, his readers responded with passionate comments from both sides of the political spectrum….

  • 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…

  • The Ascent of Money (31 comments)

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

  • The Fall and Rise of Personal Savings (58 comments)

    Americans are beginning to save again, or so the media is reporting. The personal saving rate has jumped from 0.4% in 2007 to a whopping 6.9% in May. But what does that mean? Is it a good thing? And how long will it last? The personal saving rate “Personal saving rate” is an economic term for income that is not used immediately to buy goods and services. It’s money that consumers save for the future….

  • Three Lessons from Warren Buffett (34 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Beginning today, Robert will contribute one article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. It’s my hope that he’ll bring a fresh perspective to this site, while also providing coverage of topics where I have weaknesses. Today he’s writing about one of my financial heroes, Warren Buffett. From what I can tell, there were no drugs, no free love, and just a little…

  • Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression (31 comments)

    We’ve heard a lot of rhetoric lately about how this is the worst economy since the Great Depression. Maybe that’s true and maybe it isn’t, but even if it were, what would it mean? I have no frame of reference for these sorts of claims. They smack of hyperbole, but I can’t be sure. In my lifetime, the closest I’ve come to experiencing anything like the Depression was during the recession of the early 1980s,…

  • 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…

  • The Credit Crisis — Visualized (36 comments)

    Over at Vimeo, Jonathan Jarvis has created a ten-minute film that offers an overview of the credit crisis. If you’ve been struggling to understand what went wrong with the American economy, this will give you some of the basics: The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo. If you’d like more information, I encourage you to carve out time to listen to two radio broadcasts, both from NPR’s This American Life: “The Giant…

  • The National Economy Versus Your Personal Economy (52 comments)

    Yesterday I attended the mid-winter conference of the local financial planning association. I listened to various speakers talk about the economy and how it relates to personal finance. One of the presenters was John Mitchell, a local financial guru, who spoke about the current economic climate in the state, the nation, and the world. Mitchell’s presentation was outstanding — I wish I had recorded it. He argues that this country has encountered similar problems before,…

  • The Best Recession-Proof Jobs (114 comments)

    In The Little Book of Bull Moves in Bear Markets (which I recently reviewed), author Peter Schiff provides a list of the best jobs to beat the economic collapse he predicts is just around the corner. “I foresee the following as the 10 strongest professions and industries over the coming decade and beyond,” he writes. His list: Engineering, because the abandoned U.S. industrial base will need to be re-tooled. Construction, to rebuild the American infrastructure….

  • Faces of World Poverty: 20 Arresting Photographs (34 comments)

    What do we picture when we think about poverty? What stereotypes do we have about what poverty looks like? What do they mask from us? What do they keep us from seeing? While putting together my two main posts for Blog Action Day, I came across a number of arresting photographs depicting poverty around the world. It became clear to me that poverty takes many forms — poverty has many faces. These are a few…

  • 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,…

  • The Economics of a POW Camp (15 comments)

    In a 1945 issue of Econimica, R. A. Radford wrote about the economic organization of a P.O.W. camp. Radford spent at least two years (the timeline isn’t clear) as a prisoner in Italy and Germany during World War II. He used his experience as the basis for a paper about “financial” transactions among his fellow inmates. He found that although economic activity as a prisoner is severely curtailed, the ideas and habits of the outside…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

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

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

  • 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:…