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Being Frugal


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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Senior Discounts: Adding to Those Happy Golden Years (16 comments)

    I turned 53 on Tuesday. My daughter made me breakfast. My husband gave me roses. AARP sent me another membership solicitation. It all adds up to one thing: senior discounts. Like many, when the AARP pitch arrives in the mail, I ditch it. I’M NOT OLD, I say to anyone who is listening (usually just the dog). Just this season on the Netflix series Frankie and Grace, one of the characters — who is in…

  • Tips to Spend Less Money (10 comments)

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

  • Save Bucks on Lower Gas Prices (0 comment)

    Have you been enjoying the sharply-reduced cost of gasoline this year? Lower petroleum prices add up to slick savings for the typical American; but in the back of your mind, there’s that nagging thought… “This isn’t going to last.” You are probably right. Oil prices are notoriously cyclical, what goes up tends to go down, and vice versa. Proving this to be true, gas prices began to tick up this month, reaching a six-month high…

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

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

  • Save money on your bike commute (36 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    This year, my husband decided to commute to work again – on his bicycle. He’s not alone. The number of people commuting by bike has increased every year since 2009, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Back then, it was just over 687,000 Americans that biked to work. By 2014, the figure had climbed to more than 832,000. What’s surprising is that the number of active commuters…

  • What’s your best personal finance tip? (85 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    We started a project on our Facebook page a couple days ago. We asked the scrimpers and savers to give us their best personal finance tip — and, so far, a few people have offered their advice: “The early bird gets the worm.” “Stop eating out.” “Buy what you need, not what you want – and never what society tells you you want!” “Ditch cable/satellite, make meal…

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

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

  • 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…

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

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

  • 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…

  • Layoff to start-up: 8 tips from a successful entrepreneur (7 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Ted Leonhardt’s plunge into entrepreneurship was just that — a plunge. After working for a small graphic design agency for eight years, he lost his job and was facing an uncertain future. “I was in survival mode,” he recalls. With a mortgage and a baby, he had to do something quickly. He caught a break when one of his former employer’s clients encouraged one of their…

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

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

  • 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…

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

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

  • Brown bag lunch strategies for grown-ups (29 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Eating out for lunch. For many of us, it’s one of the biggest temptations we face at work every day because it’s a tasty, convenient excuse to get out of the office and socialize (or not!) with our coworkers. But there are good reasons not to eat out for lunch too — like how long it takes, how bad it can be for the waistline, how…

  • 3 ways to beat McDonald’s All-Day Breakfast menu on speed and price (27 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Are there seasons in your life where you’re more likely to swing through the drive-thru because you’re tired, stressed, or overwhelmed? Fall is like that for me. My friends start talking boots and flannel. Pumpkin Spice Lattes start showing up in my Instagram feed. And the corn mazes and pumpkin farms open for business. And me? While I love colorful leaves and impossibly blue autumn skies…

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

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

  • 11 frugal ways to prepare for an emergency (33 comments)
    This is a guest post from former GRS staff writer Donna Freedman.

    According to the U.S. government, all citizens should have enough supplies to survive for at least three days in an emergency. Depending on where you live, “emergency” could mean tornado, earthquake, blackout, flood, wildfire, hurricane, ice storm or zombie apocalypse. How ready do you feel? It is possible to put together an emergency kit without breaking the bank. In fact, you may…

  • What is your just-getting-started story? (41 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    Unless you are born with a silver spoon, the journey toward financial independence will most likely be arduous. Even those who’ve reached the happy state of retirement have stories to tell about the ups and downs they experienced, their mistakes and triumphs, and what it really took to get there. And most of us — especially those who regularly read this site — are still in…

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

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

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

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

  • Summertime reads: How to get cheap or free books (31 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    I have always been a big reader. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m introverted — so introverted, in fact, that I almost lost my fourth grade reading challenge. First, you had to go up to the teacher and tell her that you’d read something. Second, after you told her, she gave you a big sticker and you had to go up to your name on the…

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

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

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

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

  • 5 ideas for a productive staycation (13 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    According to a recent blog by the Wall Street Journal, Americans leave $52.4 billion on the table each year in unused paid time off (not including sick or personal leave). This lowers employee productivity and can lead to burnout and retention issues. It is also quite expensive for companies themselves, since the time and money associated with PTO are liabilities on their balance sheets. Sometimes, though,…

  • 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 ……

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

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

  • Ideas for a cheap vacation (21 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    It’s been a long time since my wife and I had the luxury of thinking in terms of vacation. When we came to America more than 30 years ago, we also discovered two things: People in America work very hard, probably harder than anywhere else in the world. Two weeks’ vacation seems to be the norm here, while in Europe and the rest of the world…

  • 7 things camping can teach you about money (18 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    My wife and I are new to camping. Well, it sure seems that way. When we came to America over 30 years ago, we bought Kermit, our green camping van, which we took coast to coast three times. We were young, our hair still had color. And we (being students) had time enough to see all the states (except, for some unexplained reason, West Virginia). But…

  • 11 ways to entertain your kids this summer for free (with stuff you already have!) (6 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Are you frantically trying to smother the “I’m bored”s at your house too? Most of the country is knee-deep in their kids’ summer vacation now, and our house is no exception. Keeping our children entertained and out of mischief is a full-time (and, if I’m honest, a little overwhelming too) job. When I start feeling frazzled by sibling fights and whining, I want to cope by…

  • Pay what you want — and get what you need (13 comments)
    This is a guest post from former GRS staff writer Donna Freedman.

    Looking for a cheap date, some budget-friendly culture, or ways to make your next vacation more affordable? Four words: “Pay what you want,” or PWYW. Theaters, museums, comedy troupes and other organizations may offer PWYW days or nights, where you hand over only as much as you can afford. Think of it as happy hour for entertainment — a way to get…

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

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

  • 5 times to leave landscaping to the professionals (32 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the various costs that pop up when you’re a homeowner. Things like furnace/AC Repair, having to put on a new roof, and annual maintenance can take a bite out of your savings account — and leave you wondering why you ever stopped renting in the first place. That’s why it makes sense to save money and take care of certain…

  • How to minimize your grad school debt (27 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    If you or a loved one will be headed to graduate school this fall, chances are you are worried about more than dorm survival. Instead, you may be wondering how to avoid six-digit student loan debt. It’s a valid fear — no one wants to end up where I started. Fortunately, there are ways to earn a graduate degree while avoiding financial catastrophe. Using myself as…

  • 12 ways to celebrate Memorial Day this weekend (9 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    (From time to time, we look into the subject of frugal travel and vacation ideas. Holly Johnson’s post on How to save money on family vacations is one example. This year, we thought it would be fun to find some frugal and interesting ways to celebrate Memorial Day around the country. We’d love you to share your tips for a frugal Memorial Day weekend in the…

  • Ask the Readers: How are you leveraging personal relationships? (8 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    I recently started a new job; and while I didn’t know anyone at the company prior to applying, that doesn’t mean that everything was one giant coincidence. A few years ago, one of my grad school friends mentioned that he was doing freelance SEO (search engine optimization) work for attorneys. Curious, I asked him to teach me. His response was to conference me in on a…

  • Replacing our HVAC, Part II: Installation, rebates, and timing (14 comments)

    (This is Part II in a two-part series about replacing an air conditioning unit. Part I is Honey Progress Report: Replacing our HVAC, Part I. Honey Smith’s experience investigating solar panels is chronicled in Financial benefits of solar panels? Not so fast.)

    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    It’s been over a year since we bought our house and, while homeownership has been a fulfilling experience thus far, it hasn’t been cheap….

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

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

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

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

  • Caring for your garden tools (4 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    “Spring has sprung,” as they say in my little corner of the Midwest. Our magnolia tree is in partial bloom, the daffodils and hyacinths are in full bloom, and most trees are starting to bud. I love this time of year! If you have been missing J.D. Roth’s garden posts, I plan to share periodic posts with a gardening theme. Speaking of gardening, some of our…

  • How to save money on family vacations (28 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    Earlier this month, my little family of four embarked on a much-needed spring getaway to the Caribbean. I’m sure that doesn’t sound frugal at all, but rest assured that it was. After a year of planning and a whole lot of strategizing, we were able to book that particular trip for what amounted to a boatload of hotel loyalty points, a bunch of airline miles, and…

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

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

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

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

  • How to build community relationships (9 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    We spend a lot of time talking about green here on Get Rich Slowly. But let’s direct our attention for a couple minutes to another color: blue. I first read about the Blue Zones in a magazine a few years ago. These blue zones were identified after researching some of the longest living people on the planet. Although nine characteristics were associated with these blue zones,…

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

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

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

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

  • Ask the readers: How are you saving on spring break? (29 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    How are you saving on spring break? A few weeks ago, I attended a daytime get-together comprised mostly of mothers of school-aged children. With spring break approaching, the topic inevitably came up, to which everyone in the room simultaneously let out a grunt of frustration. Unlike some parts of the country, our school system works on a modified year-round schedule. So instead of one week of…

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

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

  • How to save money on dental bills (32 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, around 108 million Americans go without dental insurance during any given year. And since paying the full weight of dental care is often out of the question for those living on low incomes, many people simply choose to go without or get by with as few cleanings and check-ups as they possibly can. However, if you do…

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

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

  • Ask the Readers: Was your most memorable Valentine’s Day expensive? (21 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Love is in the air at this time of year, and the Internet is full of tips and tricks for how to celebrate Valentine’s Day on every end of the spending spectrum. All price points are represented, from customized jewelry to those with something a little more affordable in mind for Valentine’s Day. In past years, we’ve asked people to share their Valentine’s Day plans, but this…

  • Wedding savings accounts: How I saved for my wedding (44 comments)
    This article is by contributor Holly Johnson.

    When my husband proposed to me on July 10th, 2005, I was ecstatic. In fact, I’m pretty sure I screeched “Yeeeeeeeeessssssssssssssssssssssssss” before he could even pull the ring out of his pocket. Our plan was to move into the little apartment above his work — it was part of his compensation package — then get married the following summer. Unfortunately (fortunately?), a few of the older ladies…

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

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

  • How to raise a frugal child (39 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Sometimes you find clues of your kids’ financial education progress in the strangest places. “Dear Santa” – began my seven-year-old daughter’s letter, published in our local newspaper – “May I have more money? I will save it to buy a house or car.” (I know. I still can’t believe she wrote it, either.) “I want for my brother a horse that is real…” and “For my baby brother; he…

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

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

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

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

  • 30 Days to Better Finances (23 comments)

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

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

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

  • How to Save for a House (64 comments)

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

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

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

  • Saving money when you have no time (27 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    A few weeks ago, I participated in an “Ask the Experts” segment on a huge site in the mommysphere, CafeMom.com. The focus of the project was saving, budgeting, and frugality, and my job was simply to answer questions that readers sent in. Sounds easy, right? Unfortunately, I quickly found that I am no longer equipped to answer many of the inquiries I would have sailed through just a…

  • How four families survived lean times (22 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Because I couldn’t meet my self-imposed cash budget of $500 in the month of October, I had to use other sources to meet our overage. But despite having lived under tight financial circumstances throughout some periods my life, I have always had enough to get by and things haven’t been (well, usually they haven’t been) too stressful for me. But I wanted to talk to people who…

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • How to be generous with money (66 comments)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Fire: Oh, that will never happen to me (45 comments)

    This article is by staff writer William Cowie. Laughter and hooting filled the house as my wife had Karen and a few other friends over for a mid-morning tea. (Such are the joys of retired life.) The chirping of a cell phone rose from the pile of purses on the sofa. Nobody paid it any attention — whoever it is can leave a message was the general sentiment. Sure enough, the chirping stopped. But then…

  • The most money I’ve ever lost (31 comments)

    Several years ago, my husband and I were planning to build a house. We bought the land and cleared the build site. We then started working with an architect, which is how we lost $12,500 in a matter of months. Here’s how it went down. Losing thousands When I hired this architect, whom I now refer to as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, I thought I’d done my due diligence. The guy was profiled as one of the top architects…

  • 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…

  • Reader Stories: How to avoid borrowing from your future self (58 comments)

    This reader story comes from Paul. 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’ve always had what I term a “fluid budget”; that is, I always make sure I have more money coming in than going out and I don’t track every…

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

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

  • Why I voluntarily slashed my salary (77 comments)

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

  • How to eat on $4/day (55 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. I spend a lot of money on food. (More than I spend on my mortgage.) Part of it is need, of course. But much of it is want, because I’m both an enthusiastic cook and a health nut. I view food as a cross between health care and hobby. And I know I’m fortunate to be in a position to buy things like freshly pressed olive oil…

  • Ask the Readers: What is your personal finance calculus? (31 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. When Donna Freedman tackled the subject of teaching our children about money last week, GetAGrip challenged the premise that parents teach and children learn: “All sounds pretty, teach them all this information and they will use it, right? “I’m not advocating not teaching, but just don’t be surprised if they somehow seem to ‘forget’ much if not all of what they were taught and run up the credit…

  • Ask the Readers: How do you know if a vet procedure is really necessary? (71 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. On Monday at 8:30 a.m., I found myself at the veterinarian’s office — where, unknowingly, I would spend the next three hours. The night before, my cat Mia threw up at least five times. In the morning, I found her wedged into a corner of the bathroom. I could tell how she felt just by looking at her. I called the vet’s office near my house right…

  • Money extremes: From spendthrift to tightwad to somewhere in the middle (22 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Many years ago, when I was paying off a car loan and some credit card debt, I became really frugal. Almost obsessively frugal. I looked for every possible way to save money, and I dreaded ever having to spend money. Then one morning my husband accidently broke our coffee carafe. I helped him clean up the glass and caught myself feeling anxious about having to buy a…

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

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

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

    Sharon M. shared some of her personal finance journey with us this week. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. About a year ago, I had to downsize from a 5200-square-foot house to an apartment. After my husband was laid off, we decided to…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • In defense of frugality (52 comments)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Giving makes us happier, but what if you don’t have much to give? (39 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, or maybe it’s that I’m in a better financial place than I was just a few years ago, but lately, I’ve been thinking a lot more about giving back. In recent years, it’s becoming more important to me to be socially conscious and charitable. I’m secure, I’m healthy, and I’m free. That contentment seems to urge me to check in on…

  • Another visit with the real Millionaire Next Door (16 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money, where he recently wrote about how to be happy. It was sunny last Friday afternoon, so I decided to go for a ride. Because Kim has been riding motorcycles all her life, I took a training class last August and now own a used Honda Rebel. When the weather’s nice in…

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

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

  • Finding the road out of poverty (148 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. Until I reached my early 20s, I believed that my childhood had fewer financial advantages than the average childhood. Once I gained more life experience, I saw that my family hadn’t been as poor as I thought we were. That doesn’t mean we weren’t poor, though. We wore hand-me-downs, didn’t go on vacations much, qualified for reduced school lunches, things like that. But we were “poor with…

  • Pick your hobbies strategically and save (73 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith. For the most part, we think of hobbies as activities that we naturally gravitate toward. The idea of being strategic in our selection of hobbies may seem contradictory to their very nature! However, I think that being strategic in the selection and pursuit of hobbies isn’t mutually exclusive with enjoying yourself. What’s more, you have options in how to strategize. The hobby-as-side-gig option One obvious method of making…

  • Before and after: A $6 ceiling fan makeover (50 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Being a homeowner is expensive. Correction: Being a homeowner who wants to tear out and replace everything in the house is expensive. But my home is also my hobby. It’s one of those expenses that falls into the “needs list” (shelter) and the “wants list” (my complete kitchen remodel). Living in aesthetically pleasing surroundings puts me at ease almost as much as a really mean massage, the kind…

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

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

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

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

  • Reader Story: My grandmother’s home remedies (54 comments)

    This reader story come from SB, a regular reader and commenter on GRS. SB writes about personal finance and personal development topics at One Cent at a Time. 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. This is my second guest post at this…

  • Saving money with my feet: The joys of a walkable neighborhood (73 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money, where he recently wrote about the regrets of the dying. On Saturday, I bumped into Rhonda at the local natural food market. Rhonda is one of Kris’s co-workers and friends. I haven’t seen her much since the divorce, although we live only a mile-and-a-half apart. For 20 minutes, she and I…

  • Reader Stories: A blessing in disguise (21 comments)

    This Reader Story comes from Madeline Roche, who blogs at Ballingonabudget.org. 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. Over the past three months, my savings account has been in flux. I was faced with some serious car maintenance duties and I made a lump-sum payment…

  • Millennials aren’t as bad with money as everyone thinks (32 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Last summer, I hung out with my brother on his college campus. He and his roommate live very much like typical college students — a fridge full of free food from my brother’s catering job, a hodgepodge of hand-me-down furniture, etc. Nothing terribly out of the ordinary with their lifestyle. They’re broke, but happy, twenty-somethings. What I did find interesting was their view of money. They had…

  • Do expiration dates make us wasteful? (68 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Before I dig into this topic, let me just put this out there: Expiration dates are important and you should always consider them so you don’t get food poisoning and end up in the hospital or whatever. Please don’t interpret this post as my arguing that expiration dates are total bull. That being said, expiration dates are total bull. Just kidding! Well, kind of. I recently came across…

  • Reader Story: How much frugal is too much frugal? (69 comments)

    This Reader Story is from GRS reader Mel from brokeGIRLrich.com. Mel recently paid off her student loans and is focusing on a frugal lifestyle to help her navigate the uncertain world of entertainment employment. 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. Like lots…

  • The power of speaking up (38 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Last month, my boyfriend and I took a weekend trip to Seattle to celebrate our anniversary. We got a great deal on a hotel using a discount app. We’d stayed at this hotel before, and the view was gorgeous. The price was also reasonable and the room was clean. We checked in, unloaded our bags and pulled back the curtains, preparing to take in Seattle’s beautiful skyline, which…

  • How to meal plan and save some cash (62 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. Few questions are as unwelcome or unanswerable (at least in my house) as “What’s for dinner?” Every few months, I make futile attempts to meal plan or grocery shop smarter. I spread out cookbooks, I write down recipes, I make shopping lists, and then everything disappears (it seems) and I am back to my usual chaotic “It’s 4:45 and what are we going to eat again?!” In…

  • Reader Story: Yes, you can do yoga on a budget (36 comments)

    This Reader Story is from GRS reader Charu. He loves staying physically active and has recently gotten addicted to yoga. You can check out his free e-book on yoga for beginners at his blog, strongyogi.com. 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. In…

  • Reader Stories: On money and happiness (45 comments)

    This reader story is from a longtime GRS reader Sumitha, who blogs at afineparent.com. 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. Ever miss the good ol’ days when life seemed so much simpler? When happiness was a lot easier to access and contentment seemed…

  • Things that babies just don’t need (158 comments)

    Just the other day, I was grocery shopping with my husband and kids when we made an interesting discovery. We were in the baby aisle picking up some diapers for our youngest when my four-year-old picked up a small package and asked me what it was. “What’s this, Mommy?” I picked it up and looked. And looked. And got really confused. “Ummmm…..pacifier wipes?” According to the packaging, they were food-grade pacifier wipes. “What do you do with…

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

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

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

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

  • 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…

  • A wine guide for frugal folks (31 comments)

    This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. After a year off, J.D. is once again writing here at GRS. His non-financial writing can still be found at More Than Money. Kim and I first connected on a wine tour 18 months ago. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that we’ve continued to build our relationship over glasses of chardonnay and carménère and (especially) Champagne. We enjoy wine, and we’ve had…

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

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

  • Smartphone, dumb mobile plan (59 comments)

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

  • Can you be friends with rich people? (73 comments)

    I wanted to title this post, “Can you be friends with people in decidedly different financial situations than you?” but that wasn’t very catchy. (And I know: some of you ARE rich!) But I was reading the acclaimed recent novel, “The Interestings,” with my writer’s craft book group (we discuss books based on writing analytics rather than whether characters and stories are likable). The book’s main character is just ordinary, with an ordinary job and ordinary…

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

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

  • The truth about being broke (109 comments)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • The 5 most popular coupon sites (and one with a mission) (39 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. I tried for years to be a coupon clipper. Every now and then, I’d decide I was going to save as much money as possible on my groceries, or at least on stuff like toothbrushes and razor blades. I’d gather all the coupon circulars that normally went straight in the garbage, and I’d review the ads and clip the coupons that spoke to me. Sometimes, I’d even…

  • Save money by cutting food waste (45 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Lisa Aberle. I barely brushed the surface of combating food waste in a recent article, but the comments added so much to the article that I thought I could stop at just one. And then I found some more statistics. In the U.S.: We waste 40 percent of edible food It costs $750 million just to dispose of the food we waste And when you consider the extra costs of packaging, transporting,…

  • Reader Stories: Bicycle commuting and frugality (54 comments)

    This is a guest post from Catherine. She is 27 and was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minn. where she resides with her cat, Monty. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and is trying to figure out her career path. 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…

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

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

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

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

  • Reader Stories: How 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…

  • New recipes on the cheap: The Pinterest strategy (78 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. When I became a vegetarian 10+ years ago, I bought two cookbooks: a 20-minutes-or-less cookbook and a five-ingredients-or-less cookbook. I was trying to keep things simple. I got by on these two cookbooks for a long time, mostly because while I was cooking as a student I lived in places with antique gas stoves. I was afraid to use anything but the stovetop, my toaster oven or the microwave…

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

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

  • Minimalist parenting: The frugal choice (77 comments)

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

  • The sneaky sales strategies of your local grocery store (98 comments)

    It’s Thursday, and I’ve been to the grocery store five times this week. This isn’t normal for me. Usually, I take the time to plan and list what I need and get everything in one frugal, fell swoop. Not this week. Nope — this week I battled with work, deadlines and 14 days’ worth of laundry. They all won — I surrendered. In fact, after I write this, I’ll be making yet another trip to…

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

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

  • Food fight: Waging a war against food waste (93 comments)

    Back in December, I decided to eat more fruits and vegetables. No matter what, I was going to eat more of them. And that’s saying something, especially since I’ve created a few excuses to avoid eating healthy food. Even though my main excuse wasn’t the expense, it’s still an obstacle to healthy eating. At least, that’s a common excuse I hear when eating better food comes up in conversation. And I wanted to know if…

  • Professional shoe repair: Save money, time, and your feet (74 comments)

    While on my way back from getting some hot tea in the break room at work, I noticed that one of my shoes was making a strange noise. Upon getting back to my office, I saw why: the heel cap had fallen off and was lying next to my chair. Hmm, I thought. Maybe that’s why I’ve been tripping so much lately. Because I had been tripping. Enough to be embarrassed. I had jokingly chalked…

  • Romanticizing poverty and learning financial independence (103 comments)

    In high school, I babysat a kid whose parents were pretty well off. And by “well off,” I mean they were crazy rich. One day I decided to take the kid out for ice cream — my treat. When we got to the ice cream shop, I only had enough money to buy him the small, and he wanted the large. What then followed wasn’t exactly a temper tantrum; it’s probably better described as a…

  • 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…

  • New life for old DVD movies: The answers to scratches and breaks (17 comments)

    This is a guest post from freelance writer Jessica Ward. DVD games and movies For several years, we’ve fought the occasional skip, fingerprint or ding in our DVD movies, and have typically been able to resolve the damage with our Skip Doctor repair kit, however, sometimes bad (very bad) things happen to good movies. Last month, my 7-year-old daughter got careless with some of her favorites and in the end, two had cracks all the…

  • Once-a-month cooking made easy (76 comments)

    Stephanie Cornais found a cooking method that saved time and money, but it left her exhausted. Stephanie, who blogs about parenthood and healthy living at Mama and Baby Love, would cook a month’s worth of meals in one day, then store them in the freezer. It’s an idea that’s been around for awhile. In fact, J.D. wrote about it back in 2007. By batch cooking, not only do you have healthy, home-cooked meals when dinner…

  • Beyond money: How my community saves me, part two (32 comments)

    After I turned in my last article, I thought of so many other instances of how my community pays big dividends: We got a 50-pound bag of free flour when a warehouse had a fire which slightly damaged the packaging At an auction, an acquaintance wanted a single item, but she had to buy the whole box to get it. Inside the box was a bag of clothespins that I’d been looking for. I offered…

  • Frugality and Financial Independence (99 comments)

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

  • 25 Ways to Give (Without Breaking the Bank) (113 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Frugal Cool blog for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. In the past nine months I’ve found $12.89 in singles and specie. The cash has shown up in a number of places, but most of it is from coins I picked up. As usual, I’ll squirrel away the found funds until Thanksgiving, at which time I’ll…

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

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

  • Ask the Readers: Best Alternatives to Cable Television? (179 comments)

    I’ve written two major articles here at Get Rich Slowly about how to cut costs on cable television. In March 2007, I wrote about cheap alternatives to cable television, and in February 2009, I followed that up by describing how I cut my television bill in half. But it’s been more than three years since I visited this topic, and I’ve started to get email from readers who want an update. But it’s not just…

  • Which is Cheaper: In the Kitchen (87 comments)

    Until the end of this week, we’re sharing “audition” pieces from folks interested in being new staff writers at Get Rich Slowly. Your job is to let us know what you think of each of these writers. Pay attention, give feedback, and after a couple of weeks we’ll ask which writers you prefer. This article is from long-time GRS reader Sarah Greesonbach. Her first audition piece was about surviving student loans. Here at GRS, we’ve…

  • The Reckoning (or, What Mint Revealed) (298 comments)

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

  • Reader Story: How I Use Superfrugality Month to Curb Lifestyle Inflation (52 comments)

    This guest post from Marisa Bell-Metereau is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want submit your own reader story? Here’s how. Every year in February, once the holidays are over and life is slowly returning to normal, my boyfriend and I…

  • Reader Story: Saying Good-Bye to a 16-Year-Old Car (91 comments)

    This guest post from Joel Berry is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want submit your own reader story? Here’s how. I’m writing this post as a follow up to my first post about why I drove a 13-year-old car. In…

  • 27 Frugal Uses for a Dead Phone Book (70 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Frugal Cool blog for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. While consulting a professional about writing-related aches and pains, I was asked to describe my work station. When he heard that I used a laptop flat on the desk he told me that changes must be made. Among other things, he wanted me to get the…

  • Reader Story: Home Haircuts Can Save Time and Money (133 comments)

    This guest post from Shannon D 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. My wonderful husband likes to keep his hair short and precise. He works outdoors but dislikes hats, so keeping his hair looking proper is…

  • Five easy ways to save money (105 comments)

    There are numerous ways to save money, but many people think putting funds away is difficult. Rather than stopping themselves from opening a savings account, they could start with easy ways to save money and build their funds to meet their financial goals. 5 easy ways to save money I’m writing to you sitting next to a jar. This jar is stuffed full (okay, imagine it gently filled — it’s a small jar) of $5…

  • Reader Story: A Frugal, Happy Life (95 comments)

    This guest post from Clara 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 story seems especially appropriate after the news I shared this week. Two and a half years ago, my marriage ended. I left a comfortable…

  • Stealth Savings: Sneaky Ways to Fatten Your Account (110 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. Have trouble saving money? Time for some mind games. Hide cash via direct withdrawals. Get free money from banks. Name an account for a goal. Make your savings “one-way,” i.e., really hard to tap. The unemployed and underemployed may feel — with good reason! — that…

  • Frugality Advice from Millionaires (59 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jaime Tardy of Eventual Millionaire. After paying off $70,000 and quitting a six-figure job, Jaime became a business coach. She also interviews millionaires every week for tips and advice. Jamie has appeared on CNN, MSNMoney.com, Fortune.com, Success Magazine, the Yahoo homepage, and more. Ever since I was little I’ve been curious about the idea of having one million dollars. My mom told me to marry a rich man (!),…

  • 20 Ways to Spend $20 (77 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. Since she just found out she is going to be a grandmother, expect to be bombarded with cute-baby anecdotes about seven months from now. If you draw a paycheck, you’re due an extra $160 in January and February thanks to the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation…

  • Expectations and Your Money (56 comments)

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

  • Reader Story: The 30-Day No-Restuarant Challenge (136 comments)

    This guest post from Michelle is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. This seems like a natural follow-up to Friday’s reader question about when to start a family. 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. My family just finished a month-long hiatus from…

  • Cashing in on Craigslist: How I’ve Saved Thousands of Dollars Buying Used (77 comments)

    In August, I wrote about Ryan Finlay, who makes a living through Craigslist arbitrage. Many readers wanted to hear more about how Ryan uses Craigslist to make and save money. In this guest post, Ryan explains how to use Craigslist to save money on high-ticket items like appliances and furniture. If there’s enough interest, he may share more Craigslist tips in the future. Meanwhile, be sure to check out his new site: ReCraigslist.com. “A penny…

  • Drugstore Price Comparison: Online vs. In-store (46 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman, who recently wrote about her desperate attempt to find authentic tacos al pastor in Austin, Texas. I used to buy most of my drugstore items online. One reason was convenience — I typically have to go to two or three stores to find everything I use, especially since I favor earth- and people-friendly personal care items. But health food stores don’t always carry other basics we use,…

  • How Much Do We Owe Others? (And When Should We Walk Away?) (241 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. Last January I loaned money to a friend who was in financial crisis: Her vehicle was about to be repossessed. The transaction troubled me for a number of reasons, which I detailed at my personal website in a post called “I’m not a payday lender. But…

  • Why I Love the Megabus: A Closer Look at a Seldom-Used (but Cheap!) Way to Travel (129 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money. She also writes about frugality, intentional living, and life in general at her own blog, Surviving And Thriving. I’m in the middle of a month-long trip to the East Coast: a little work, but mostly tourism. Although the conference I attended was in New York City, I flew to Philadelphia because it’ll be easier for me to…

  • How to Get Cheap Drugs (92 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money. She also writes about frugality, intentional living, and life in general at her own blog, Surviving And Thriving. Six of the highest-selling prescription medications in the United States will be “off-patent” before the end of 2012. The costs associated with those currently pricey meds will drop faster than the Dow on a bad day. This is great…

  • How to Save on Your Cell Phone Plan with Secret No-Contract Deals (132 comments)

    This is a guest post from social-media maven Laura Roeder. Laura first told me this story in January, and I used it as the basis for one of my columns for Entrepreneur magazine. Over lunch recently, she offered to write a guest post about her experience. I told her I’d be glad to share it. Secret phone plans? No contracts? Unadvertised payment plans with no interest? These are all available. But you’ll never know until…

  • Frugal Back-to-School Shopping (115 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money. She also writes about frugality, intentional living, and life in general at her own blog, Surviving And Thriving. According to the National Retail Federation, we’ll spend $68.8 billion outfitting our students for school this year. Yes, I said $68.8 billion. Sounds like a lot of money, right? But the NRF actually considers this “flat.” More than 80%…

  • Frugal Beauty: How to Look Good on a Budget (292 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. Pinching pennies doesn’t mean you can’t make yourself pretty. Yes, it’s true that personal-care products and services can take a big bite out of your budget. By the time you’ve paid for your salon visit, your skin cream, your hair product, and your lip balm, you can easily be out $100 or more in any given…

  • Reader Story: The Product of Frugal Parents (99 comments)

    This guest post from Simon Cunningham 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. A lot of reader stories featured on Get Rich Slowly are from people who got “saved” from bad financial habits, who were burned…

  • How to Spend Money (Even If You Think You Shouldn’t) (70 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money. She also writes about frugality, intentional living, and life in general at her own blog, Surviving And Thriving. Last year the zipper on my winter coat broke. Not before time, mind you; I’d had it so long that I couldn’t remember exactly when I bought it. My best guess is 25 years. Gut reaction: Oh no! I…

  • 10 Ways to Build a Gift Closet That’s Both Deep and Cheap (109 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money. She also writes about frugality, intentional living, and life in general at her own blog, Surviving And Thriving. The holidays are about six months away. Why wait until the last minute to shop? Answer: You shouldn’t. And you won’t have to if you have a decently stocked gift closet. Some people I know keep their eyes open…

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

    This guest post from Duran Valdez is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. For the past two years, I’ve been riding a bicycle to work. Mostly because I’m cheap. My commute is a 12-mile round trip…

  • Discounted Gift Cards: The New Coupon (49 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money. She also writes about frugality, intentional living, and life in general at her own blog, Surviving And Thriving. I’m currently house-sitting in Anchorage, where one of my duties will be kid-wrangling while my niece does the Alaska Run for Women. The first order of the day: Breakfast at IHOP, my treat — and at 8% less because…

  • Ask the Readers: How Can I Handle “Required” Office Spending? (217 comments)

    “Money is more about mind than it is about math.” — That’s one of the fifteen tenets of the Get Rich Slowly philosophy. By this I mean that psychology and emotion and relationships play a bigger part in our financial choices than the pure mathematics of any given situation. This manifests itself in lots of ways. Sometimes, it even crops up in the workplace. A reader we’ll call Erin wrote recently with the following dilemma:…

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

    This guest post from Ian is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. It’s the extended version of the story he shared in his prize-winning entry to this year’s GRS video contest. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. It dawned on me…

  • Breakfast on the Fly — and on the Cheap (146 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money. She also writes about frugality, intentional living, and life in general at her own blog, Surviving And Thriving. Everybody talks about the cost of lunches out. But what about breakfast? How much are those bagels or egg-and-cheese burritos costing you each week? The first meal of the day can be challenging. Some people aren’t hungry when they…

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

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

  • Reader Story: How I Learned About Frugality from De-Cluttering (121 comments)

    This guest post from Claire Brown 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’m writing to you today from sunny London about how I learned frugality by throwing things away. This may sound counter-intuitive; if being…

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

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

  • Emergency Preparedness on a Shoestring (130 comments)

    This post is from new GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. Images of devastation emerged after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. We watched water sweep away vehicles and houses; we saw stunned men and weeping women in the ruins. But we also heard about survivors whose homes weren’t flattened or inundated, people who subsisted on stockpiled…

  • Recipe: Spicy Pickled Carrots (37 comments)

    This guest post from my wife is yet another installment in her ongoing quest to grow and preserve food for our household. I’ve had the canning bug pretty bad for the last week or two. But although Spring has officially begun, our garden is months away from producing anything worth turning into jam, pickles, or other home-canning treasures. Plus, farmers’ markets and produce stands are still closed for the season. Summer harvests can be beautiful….

  • Living Below Your Means Is Like Saving for Retirement Twice (81 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 also has a newly reinvigorated blog, and you can have your day interrupted once or twice by his Twittering. Robert contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. Hello, GRSers. Today, let’s revisit something I tacked on to the end of my…

  • How to Spend Your Money (256 comments)

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

  • Frugality and the Long-Distance Relationship (36 comments)

    This is a guest post from Kelly M., who writes about long-distance relationships at Long-Distance Life. Long-distance relationships can be exciting, challenging, fulfilling, and all sorts of other adjectives…but “frugal” rarely makes the list. And for good reason — the transportation costs alone in maintaining a relationship with someone in a different city, state, or country can pack a powerful punch to your pocketbook. So how do you embrace frugality as a value without devaluing…

  • Compound Returns in the Garden: How Long-Term Planning Pays Off When Growing Your Own Food (52 comments)

    A lot of folks have been asking if my wife and I will be doing the Get Rich Slowly garden project this year. That’s the plan! After a one-year hiatus, Kris and I intend to track our spending and our profit for the food we grow on our land. January saw no spending and no harvest, though. To get us started, here’s a guest post from my wife about the long-term rewards of gardening. What…

  • Five DIY Valentine’s Day Ideas for Frugal Sweethearts (42 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Valentine’s Day is a commercialized holiday, but I say, “So what!” Sure, you don’t need a holiday to show appreciation for your significant other, but why miss out on the extra chance to do it? Besides, you don’t have to celebrate the way the commercials tell you to, with boxes of cream-filled chocolate, stuffed animals, jewelry, or an overpriced prix fixe menu. A cold and miserable V-Day…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do I Motivate My Boyfriend to Save Money? (104 comments)

    Although we cover the topic once or twice a year, I constantly get questions from people who are frustrated by the financial habits of their spouses and partners. Some people are Spenders, and some people are Savers. What can you do to get both partners on the same page? Linda is the most recent GRS reader with a relationship issue. She wrote to ask how to get her boyfriend motivated to save money. Here’s her…

  • Fight Rising Prices by Building Your Own Food Bank (102 comments)

    This post is from new GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Living With Less personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food prices are expected to rise as much as 5.5% in 2011. Those prices aren’t likely to go back down. So why not invest in food futures, i.e., your own pantry? Put it this way:…

  • Beyond Tupperware: Frugal Food Storage (101 comments)

    This post is from new GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Living With Less personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. To hear the storage industry tell it, every kitchen needs plastic containers in a dozen sizes. You need specialized storage, too: triangles for wedges of pie, say, or deviled-egg sarcophagi with little divots to cradle each demi-oeuf. Oh, and lots of foil,…

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

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

  • Getting Paid to Tell Lies: Mystery Shopping as a Frugal Hack (61 comments)

    This post is from new GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Living With Less personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. Two persistent rumors about mystery shopping: It’s a scam. It’s not a scam — and you can get rich doing it! Allow me to set these rumors to rest: Mystery shopping is not a scam. (Well, sometimes it is. More on that…

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

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

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

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

  • How to Feed Your Soul for Cheap: 12 Ways to Enjoy High Culture for Less (36 comments)

    This post is from new GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Living With Less personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality, intentional living and lifeitsownself at Surviving And Thriving. The Seattle Art Museum is hosting a show called “Picasso: Masterpieces From the Musee National Picasso, Paris” through 12 January 2011. It costs $20 to see the 150 paintings, sculptures, prints and photos. This is an important show and no doubt…

  • How to Lower Your Heating Bills This Winter (88 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. The chilly season is upon us. If you live in North America, you’ve probably had at least a few cold nights by now. Up in my neck of the woods — in the Boston area — we’ve had our central heat running for a few weeks. Which means we’re in full swing…

  • The Joys of Home Canning (53 comments)

    This guest post from my wife is yet another installment in her ongoing quest to grow and preserve food for our household. Making jam makes me happy. Okay, that’s only partly true. I’m also happy making jelly, preserves, and syrups — and I’m pretty darn pleased with conserves, marmalades, and most things pickled. No matter that I could never eat everything I make — even with J.D.’s help — the mere process is somehow satisfying…

  • Save Money on Shipping with Free Boxes from USPS (56 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker previously featured an article on his own blog entitled “How I paid off $15,000 in 9 months by selling my Stuff on Ebay“. There I was, bustling around the kitchen making lunch for my daughter when our late morning routine was interrupted:Boom! Boom! Boom! Milligan and I glanced toward the front door where the thunderous pounding had originated. “Holy cow!” I thought to myself, “There are…

  • Surprising Secrets of the Cheapskates Next Door (98 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jeff Yeager, author of the newly-published The Cheapskate Next Door. Yeager calls himself the Ultimate Cheapskate — and his wife agrees. Yeager is also a contributor at Wise Bread and on the Early Retirement forums. “Sure, we could afford to spend more, but why would we? It wouldn’t make us any happier.” — Those are the words I’ve spent the last two-and-a-half years traveling the country to hear. It’s…

  • How to Use a Food Dehydrator to Preserve Your Harvest (36 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. It’s been a long time since she chimed in around here. Have no fears: She’s the frugal heart of our homestead, and she’s always looking for ways to grow and preserve our food. As Get Rich Slowly readers know, J.D. and I have a thriving garden with maturing fruit trees, monstrous berry plants, and an annual vegetable garden. Much of the time, I turn the garden bounty…

  • Reader Story: Rich Dad, Stingy Dad (201 comments)

    This guest post from Anna 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 experience with money is probably the opposite of many readers here. I’ve always had money. I got a…

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

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

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

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

  • Save Money by Baking Your Own Bread (64 comments)

    Ah, at last: The sun has arrived in Oregon. It’s not hot, but it’s warm, and we’ll take it. The coming of summer means I can stop whining about the rain, and it also means that Kris and I have started baking bread more often. (During the winter, our house is too cold for the dough to rise.) We’re still using the easy and cheap home-made bread recipe we stumbled upon a couple of years…

  • Dress Yourself For Free: How to Host A Clothing Swap (73 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. I spend almost nothing on clothes. According to Mint, I’ve spent $199.50 to clothe my family of five this year. They say the average U.S. household has spent $1258.62. That’s more than six times my spending. It’s been years since I walked into a clothing store, tried on styles I liked and…

  • Save Money by Carrying a Water Bottle (63 comments)

    I’ve intended to begin featuring entries from the recent GRS video contest, but things keep getting in the way. Let’s change that! Starting today, I’ll use Saturdays to highlight some of my favorites, both winners and not-winners. To begin, here’s a tip that didn’t win a prize. Austin from Foreigner’s Finances is teaching English in Japan. He says that one of his favorite ways to save money is to always carry a water bottle with…

  • Reader Story: Surviving and Thriving (36 comments)

    This guest post from Donna Freedman 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. A few years ago I had about $130 to my name and was struggling to balance…

  • 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…

  • Reader Story: Traveling cross-country dirt cheap (74 comments)

    This guest post from Michelle Russo 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. This story is perfect for Memorial Day weekend, which kicks off the summer holiday season in…

  • Reader Story: How I Got Married on the Cheap — And Loved It! (122 comments)

    This guest post from Lars is part of a new feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Every Sunday will include a reader story (in the new “reader stories” category). Some will be general “how I did X” stories, and others will be examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success. I got married last month. It was a bit of a whirlwind romance — at the beginning of 2009, we’d been talking about an…

  • The Art of the Potluck (36 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. Today’s my deadline for turning in the manuscript for Your Money: The Missing Manual (which has an official cover now!). I still have to finish the retirement chapter, so I’m hunkered down in the word mines. While I’m spending all of my time at the office, Kris came to the rescue with an article about one of our favorite frugal pastimes: potlucks with friends. J.D. and I…

  • The Best Pot Roast Ever: A Frugal Recipe for November (48 comments)

    “It’s been a long time since you shared a recipe at Get Rich Slowly,” I told Kris last week. “What about that pot roast recipe?” she asked. “You love that.” “Yes. Yes, I do,” I said. This guest post from my wife may be the best thing I’ve ever shared at Get Rich Slowly. It’s certainly the tastiest. I’m usually a from-scratch kind of cook, and the sort of “semi-homemade” ingredients for this pot roast…

  • The Pitfalls of Buying in Bulk (75 comments)

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

  • Small Amounts Matter (60 comments)

    This article is the fifth of a fourteen-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. Getting started with smart personal finance isn’t always easy. It’s one thing to read about the steps you should take, but it’s another thing to actually do them. Your debt is so overwhelming or your saving goals so lofty that you begin to believe that the only way you’ll ever get where you want to be is…

  • Slash Your Grocery Bill With Store-Brand Products (136 comments)

    The October 2009 issue of Consumer Reports contains an article extolling the virtues of generic store-brand products. While shoppers used to sacrifice quality when choosing generic, that’s no longer the case. From the article: If concern about taste has kept you from trying store-brand foods, hesitate no more. In blind tests, our trained tasters compared a big national brand with a store brand in 29 food categories. Store and national brands tasted about equally good…

  • How to Shop at an Estate Sale (40 comments)

    At 10am yesterday morning, Kris and I climbed into the Mini Cooper and to head for the county fair. We’d only been driving for a few minutes when Kris pointed at a sign. “Look! An estate sale,” she said. “Let’s stop.” Kris and I like estate sales better than garage sales because they usually feature nearly everything a person has ever owned — not just the cast-offs. Family members have generally pulled the plum pieces,…

  • Frugality in Practice: Alternate Modes of Transportation (118 comments)

    I’ve always been a car guy. It’s not that I’m mechanically inclined or that I get into the latest makes and models — neither of these is anywhere close to the truth — but that a car has always been my primary mode of transportation. When I was a boy, my family lived in rural Oregon, six miles from the nearest town. Automobiles were our only real option for getting around. Even when I went…

  • Where to Find Free Activities and Events in Your Area (65 comments)

    This is a guest post from Lynn, a long-time reader of personal-finance blogs. Lynn is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. She is the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) of her family, and is working hard to increase her financial health after years of many poor financial choices. Our family has been going through a transformation from a paycheck-to-paycheck family to a family that has money in the bank.  While I wouldn’t say we…

  • A Visit to the Island of Misfit Foods (84 comments)

    This is a guest post from Karawynn, who writes about personal finance at Pocketmint. Karawynn is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. Karawynn has been blogging since before “blogging” was a word. About a mile from my house there’s a slightly shabby strip mall housing a Dollar Store, a Ross Dress for Less, and something called a ‘Grocery Outlet’. For two years I’ve driven past that sign — on my way to Costco,…

  • How to Use Couchsurfing to See the World (108 comments)

    This is a guest post from Baker, who writes about personal finance at Man vs. Debt. Baker is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. Along with his wife and 15-month-old daughter, Baker has recently moved overseas to New Zealand, where his young family is passionately continuing their own personal “war” on debt. What if I told you there was a different way to travel? A way to see the world outside of the…

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

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

  • Eating Organic on a Frugal Budget (47 comments)

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

  • 3 Easy and Delicious Ways to Preserve Your Berry Harvest (20 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife, who has her own fan club around here. “You should have a section at GRS called Kris’ corner,” one reader wrote recently. That’s unlikely to happen, but she’s happy to drop by now and then with recipes and helpful hints. Here’s what she has to say about fresh berries. Berry season is beginning in Oregon. Strawberries ripen first, and they’re followed quickly by raspberries, blueberries, currants, and…

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

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

  • How to Live a Rich Life — On a Budget (23 comments)

    This is a guest post from Philip Brewer of Wise Bread. For today only, Wise Bread is giving away $15 Ebates bonuses and a chance to win one of five Flip Cams with the purchase of their new book 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget. A bon vivant is a person who lives well — someone who enjoys the best things in life, especially with regard to food and drink. The stereotypical…

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

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

  • The Secrets of Financial Freedom: An Interview with the Millionaire Next Door (141 comments)

    Today is the last day of Financial Literacy Month. To tie everything together, I thought it would be fun to share an interview my real millionaire next door, a man we’ll call John. He used the basic tenets of money management to build wealth and to retire early. Here’s how I described John when I first wrote about him last year: John is a 71-year-old retired shop teacher who lives in a modest ranch house…

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

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

  • A Very Small Adventure: Riding the Bus (119 comments)

    I had a big day today, though I’m sure many of you will laugh: I rode the bus for the first time. Actually, I’ve been on buses many times before. I rode a school bus as a child, and I’ve used public transportation in other towns. I’ve even used the light-rail trains here in Portland. But I had never used the city’s bus system until this afternoon. Brave new world I took my new-used Mini…

  • Oversaving Does Not Lead to Happiness (51 comments)

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

  • Some Thoughts on the Return to Traditional Skills (105 comments)

    I give several media interviews each month. As the economy changes, so do the questions. Recently, as you can imagine, reporters have been asking me what people can do to save money. This question gets boring after a while. There are only so many ways a fellow can say, “Spend less than you earn by reducing unnecessary expenses.” Lately I’ve been trying to spice up interviews by promoting what I call “traditional skills”. When I…

  • Starting Seeds Indoors: Jump-Start Your Garden Today (56 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife, who has received several requests to describe her method for starting seeds indoors. In some parts of the U.S., vegetable and flower seeds can be successfully planted directly into the garden. But in many areas, the growing season is too short to allow this. Cool spring soil temperatures and cold weather can prevent seeds from germinating or kill young seedlings. If you wait until the weather warms,…

  • Magazines (and Websites) About Homesteading and Self-Sufficiency (107 comments)

    When I was a boy, my father used to buy Mother Earth News from the grocery store. The magazine was filled with stories about self-sufficient country living, the sort of thing my dad aspired to. I’d read the magazine after he was finished, but never really understood the appeal of building your own greenhouse or raising goats. Now, as an adult, it makes a little more sense. Kris and I are not radically self-sufficient, but…

  • Confessions of a Butcher: Eating Steak on a Hamburger Budget (39 comments)

    Every week, I receive a couple of books in the mail from authors and publishers. (This week there were six!) They’re hoping that I’ll find time to review their work at Get Rich Slowly. I do my best, but it’s impossible to read everything. When John Smith offered to send me his book, Confessions of a Butcher, I wasn’t expecting much. I’ve read a few niche books like this, and they’re usually uninspiring. As a…

  • Recession Romance: Make a Delicious Valentine’s Day Dinner at Home (59 comments)

    With Valentine’s Day approaching, I polled my Twitter followers for their favorite frugal and romantic date ideas. Some of the great responses included: From @Finc_Confluence: “A photo scavenger hunt worked well for us recently. Inexpensive, memorable, and a great conversation piece!” From @MrsMicah: “Borrow an old movie from the library, enjoy with blankets and maybe hot chocolate. We had fun with The Awful Truth recently.” From @JoyfulAbode: “Go for a walk and hold hands (very…

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

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

  • The Razor’s Edge: Lessons in True Wealth (161 comments)

    Our friends have a profound effect on our personal finance habits. Some friends can lead us to spending and to debt. Others offer insight into the virtues of thrift. For me, my friend Sparky has been the latter. Through his example, I learned that frugality can help me achieve my goals. “Develop a plan that is so amazing, so glowing, that you are willing to walk blurry-eyed to work every day to make the money…

  • 7 Tips for Starting Your Own Vegetable Garden (78 comments)

    Early January. Though it’s the dead of winter, many of us are dreaming about our summer vegetable gardens. The seed catalogs have begun to appear in the mailbox. Kris and I received eight of them today: Images of summer… It might seem crazy to start thinking about a vegetable garden in January. It’s cold outside! But believe it or not, now is the perfect time to begin preparing for a successful autumn harvest. Over the…

  • Book Review: 365 Ways to Live Cheap! (28 comments)

    Today I am reviewing new books written by two colleagues: Trent from The Simple Dollar and Leo from Zen Habits. As you read these reviews, please remember that I am friends with both authors. Mary Hunt bills herself as America’s favorite cheapskate. In 2005, she published a little volume entitled Everyday Cheapskate’s Greatest Tips, which contained “500 simple strategies for smart living”. Hunt’s book didn’t offer any sort of narrative or broad overview of money…

  • The GRS Garden Project: Winners and Losers for 2008 (37 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. Our gardening for the year came to a close around Halloween. Although we’ll harvest herbs all winter — I’ve started an indoor herb garden with clearance-sale seeds! — the cold and wet Willamette Valley winter makes outdoor work miserable. And this year we’ve even had snow and ice: The garden in winter The garden in summer But the gardening cycle will begin anew with a seed order…

  • In Defense of Buying Books (108 comments)

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

  • Embracing the Thrift-Store Ethic: 18 Top Tips for Buying Used Clothes (134 comments)

    If the national media is any indication, more people are embracing the notion of buying used clothing from thrift stores and consignment shops. Last week, USA Today ran a story describing how secondhand stores are reaping the benefits of recession: As Americans look for ways to cut spending, they are scooping up bargain clothes, accessories, toys and furniture once owned by someone else. “We’re sorry about the economic situation, … but it is a good…

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

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

  • Finding Good Wines at Great Prices: Expert Advice for Frugal Wine Lovers (70 comments)

    I love wine but I’m not a wine snob. I don’t speak the lingo, and I don’t want to. All I know is that some wines taste better than others, and that some wines cost more than others. For me, the best bottle of wine is one that tastes great but doesn’t break the bank. With the dinner party season coming up, how can I find good wines at great prices? I turned to Gary…

  • The GRS Garden Project: November Update (30 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I are tracking how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for November. This month’s garden update is small. As winter approaches, there’s less for us to do, and all that we harvest are herbs (and those only occasionally). Our major garden task this month was raking leaves. For most people, this is simply yardwork, but for us it’s a chance to work on the…

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

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

  • The GRS Garden Project: October Update (39 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I are tracking how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for October. October can be something of a relief for gardeners. The bulk of the harvest is finished, and all that remains is to pick the last straggling fruits and vegetables, and to begin cleaning up. While it’s sad that the harvest is winding to a close, it’s comforting to know there’ll be a…

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

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

  • 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…

  • Once-a-Month Shopping: Save More by Shopping Less (147 comments)

    How often do you go to the supermarket? Could you get by making only one trip per month? What if it saved you money? My wife and I are both reading America’s Cheapest Family by Steve and Annette Economides. During his time as an ad salesman, Steve was “shocked to read in a food industry publication that grocers expect six of ten items consumers pick up in the store to be unplanned purchases.” Steve and…

  • A Practical Wedding (39 comments)

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

  • Frugality in Practice: Home Canning (59 comments)

    “What do you do with all that produce?” one reader asked recently about our garden. “Do you really eat it all, or does it go to waste?” We eat it, but not at once. Though we enjoy a lot of the food fresh from the garden, we preserve most of it for later. I’m fortunate that Kris loves to can, and so we enjoy the fruits of our labor year-round. Canning was once a vital…

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

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

  • Five Tactics for Pursuing Voluntary Simplicity (26 comments)

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

  • Saving at the Supermarket: 15 Great Grocery Shopping Tips (73 comments)

    Kris and I went grocery shopping this weekend. We stopped at Bob’s Red Mill — a local health-food store — to use some “buy one, get one free” coupons. “You can get anything you want,” Kris told me, “except hot cereal.” “Why can’t I get hot cereal?” I asked. “I love hot cereal.” “I know,” Kris said. “But you buy it all the time. You buy it faster than you eat it. Just last week,…

  • Cheap Vacation: Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown (56 comments)

    Last weekend, long-time GRS reader Vintek came to Portland. Kris and I joined him and his wife for a Saturday morning culinary tour. On our four-hour trek, we visited a bakery, a cooking store, and a brewery (where I drank beer for the first time — seriously). Along the way, I saw places and learned things about the city that were new to me. Afterward I realized how fun it would be to actually spend…

  • The Art of Frugal Living (43 comments)

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

  • How to Make Your Own Small-Batch Strawberry Jam (9 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. Making your own jam doesn’t have to be a big production. While it’s sometimes most efficient to do things in bulk with all the right gear, the small-scale option can be better if you’re just starting out and want to make jam without much initial investment. Also, for the home gardener it’s common to have only a few cups of berries ripe at any one time, rather…

  • Buying Cheap Spices: Unit Pricing in Action (67 comments)

    In yesterday’s discussion of how unit pricing can save you money, John made a passing comment that merits closer attention. He wrote: I use unit price all the time when shopping and it’s super convenient that the stores do it for you. I did an analysis of spices that come prepackaged versus a bulk food store here and the difference is ridiculous! John wanted to stock up on basic spices, but didn’t want to spend…

  • Unit Pricing: Get More Food for Less Money (66 comments)

    This is a guest post from Charlie Park at PearBudget. Recently, Get Rich Slowly readers got upset at the idea of spending $6 on a gallon of milk. Reading that, I had to chuckle a little bit: Shortly before we had to give it up, our milk went up to $11 a gallon. Yup. You read that right: $11. A gallon. Technically, the milk was free, but the boarding and care of the animals that…

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

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

  • How to Save Hundreds by Playing the Drugstore Game (100 comments)

    This is a guest post from Cathy, who writes about family finances, cooking, and parenting at Chief Family Officer. I love the philosophy of getting rich slowly by doing the fundamentals: spend less than you earn, pay off debt, and invest wisely. One way that I save money is with what I call The Drugstore Game. The Drugstore Game involves combining manufacturer and store coupons, and taking advantage of a store’s best deals. When played…

  • Use Raspberry Leaves to Make Your Own Herbal Tea (18 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. I drink a lot of herbal tea, but until recently I hadn’t considered making my own. When we moved into our house, one of the first things we did was prepare an area in the yard for cane berry crops. We planted blackberries, marionberries, and raspberries. Now, four years later, the canes have grown humongous in Oregon’s favorable climate. They’re so long that we’ve criss-crossed them on…

  • Get Quality Stuff For Cheap from Local College Students (35 comments)

    Almost a year ago, a reader named Emily wrote with a great tip about finding good deals from local college students. I lost her e-mail until recently, but that’s okay. Her advice is perfect for this time of year. Here’s what she says: If you happen to live around a university, the end of the semester (especially the end of the spring semester and during the summer) is the absolute best time to get great…

  • A Real Millionaire Next Door (136 comments)

    Kris and I love our neighborhood. People are friendly and helpful, yet mostly mind their own business. It’s a perfect combination. One of our favorite neighbors is the old guy next door. Let’s call him John. John is a 71-year-old retired shop teacher who lives in a modest ranch house on half an acre, the same house he’s had for over forty years. He has an old barn filled with salvaged lumber, outdated appliances, and…

  • Oven-Roasted Asparagus: A Quick and Frugal Recipe for April (38 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife, who has her own little fan club around here. Maybe she should start a food blog! Asparagus used to be one of those foods that I loved to eat restaurants, but rarely made at home. For some reason I thought it was difficult to prepare, or that you needed special equipment to do so. Eventually I learned the error of my ways, and I’ve been happily cooking…

  • Frugality in Practice: Turn Your Junk Mail into Garden Mulch (36 comments)

    In yesterday’s discussion about how to stop junk mail, icup mentioned using junk mail for mulch. Intrigued, I asked for more information. Here’s what he had to say. I’m more interested in saving money than saving the environment, but when I see junk mail piling up every day, it makes me stop to think about the sheer amount of waste that junk mail creates. As a homeowner with multiple mulch beds, I also feel a…

  • Frugality in Practice: The DIY Footrest (41 comments)

    I’ve been working at home for a month now. I like it. The first week was a little scary, but the past few weeks have been immensely productive. I’ve caught up on e-mail. I’ve conducted and given some interviews. And I’ve planned some posts for the future. Most of my day is spent at my desk writing. The first few days were awful. My wrists hurt. I couldn’t find the right chair height to match…

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

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

  • How to Get Rid of Ants (Without Calling an Exterminator) (243 comments)

    I hate ants. At our old house, Kris and I were constantly at war with the little devils. Every time we suffered another invasion, every time they managed to find the pantry, every time they discovered the cat food, every time they ruined my chocolate chip cookies, I would berate them with colorful euphemisms. Eventually it got so bad that we had to bring in an exterminator. It seemed crazy to hire an exterminator to…

  • How to Live on Less and Love It (64 comments)

    Charlotte forwarded a great article from Mother Earth News. (When did they go online? It seems so antithetical to their nature!) In “Live on Less and Love It!”, Craig Idlebrook describes 75 ways that his family enjoys life while spending and consuming less. And he should know. He’s a practitioner of extreme personal finance: On paper, my wife and I are poor. How poor? In 2005 we made $4,303.84 combined; in 2004 we made half…

  • Cinnamon Spice Muffins: An Easy, Frugal Recipe for March (31 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife, whose January recipe for baked potato soup garnered rave reviews. March in our part of Oregon means rain, rain, rain. I’d like to be out working in the yard, but the cold and wind keep me inside where I work off my frustration by baking. This easy and frugal recipe is nice for a brunch or family breakfast. Cinnamon Spice Muffins don’t call for any exotic ingredients…

  • Ask the Readers: What Can I Do If My Girlfriend Isn’t Serious About Money? (90 comments)

    In the Get Rich Slowly forums, DannyBoy has a question that I think many people face: “What can I do if my girlfriend isn’t serious about money?” He writes: I’m the sort of person who essentially looks into every area of his life to save, start investing, and be smart about money as much as possible. Do you think that somebody like myself, who cares so much about where his money goes, can be happy…

  • Minimalist Meals: Fantastic Food in Ten Minutes or Less (38 comments)

    One of the best ways to save money on food is to eat more meals at home. Better yet, eat more meals that you prepare instead of foraging from boxes and cans. With today’s busy lifestyles, this can be a difficult transition to make, especially if you’ve never been much of a cook. But quick, cheap, healthy food is possible. Mark Bittman bills himself as “The Minimalist” — he’s all about simple, informal meals using…

  • How to Prepare for a Baby (Without Going Broke) (92 comments)

    This is a guest post from Lynnae of beingfrugal.net, a blog about frugal living and getting out of debt. Preparing for a baby doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.  Magazines and TV ads will tell you that you need to spend a fortune in preparation for your little darling’s arrival, but it’s simply not true.  When my husband and I were expecting our first child, my husband was working at a small radio…

  • My Frugal Valentine: Cheap Ways to Say “I Love You” (33 comments)

    I don’t like Valentine’s Day — it fosters the notion that romance is something for special occasions. Worse, it’s yet another commercial holiday filled with cards, chocolates, flowers, and gifts. I reject the idea that romance is only for special occasions, and I reject the idea that buying stuff somehow demonstrates affection. I believe it’s important for couples to find ways to express their love year-round. If you do choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day, don’t…

  • The GRS Garden Project: January Update (35 comments)

    During 2008, my wife and I will be tracking how much time and money we spend growing food in our garden. (Important note: Kris tells me she is not going to track her time, which may throw a monkey wrench into the works, but I’m going to do my best to coax her into providing this information anyhow.) January is always a slow month in the garden, but it’s also full of promise. It’s time…

  • Hearty Baked Potato Soup: A Quick and Frugal Recipe for January (60 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. You can find many versions of cream-of-potato soup on the internet, ranging from those made with instant mashed potatoes flakes and dried onions, to gourmet creations that use Yukon Golds and heavy cream. The recipe below is my favorite for those nights when a cold wind is blowing outside, I haven’t planned something specific for dinner, and I’m low on fresh produce. I almost always have the…

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

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

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

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

  • Frugality in Practice: Keeping Warm in Winter (96 comments)

    Cold cold cold — I am cold. Remember George Bailey’s “drafty old barn” in It’s a Wonderful Life? Our place is like that. This 100-year-old farmhouse is cold all winter long. There are drafts at the doors, there’s inadequate insulation, and we have 30 windows in 1800 square feet. (Our old house had eight windows in 1400 square feet.) Every year, we do a little more to make this place energy efficient, but it’s a…

  • How to Eat at a Swanky Restaurant Without Blowing Your Monthly Food Budget (81 comments)

    Kris and I joined some friends last weekend for a 40th birthday celebration at Bluehour, a swanky Portland restaurant. While the other couples spent $150 to $250 for their meals, we escaped paying only $52, including tip. We hadn’t planned to do this, but our unintentional parsimony taught us a few ways to save the next time we dine out at a fancy restaurant: Eat a healthy snack before you go to take the edge…

  • Frugality in Practice: Do-it-Yourself Home Maintenance (26 comments)

    I hate plumbing. Whenever a faucet begins to leak or a drain clogs, my stomach sinks. I know it means hours of frustrating work. It’s not that plumbing is difficult — it’s just that I’m not well-versed in the ways of home-improvement. Somehow I missed that part of Manhood Training. Despite my apprehension, over thirteen years of homeownership, I’ve made it a point to do as much repair work as I’m able. It has saved…

  • 16 Ways to Eat Healthy While Keeping it Cheap (193 comments)

    This is a guest post by Mehdi, author of StrongLifts.com. If you enjoy this post, check out his site. Eating healthy is important. . Eating healthy: Lowers disease risks Increases productivity Gives you more energy Makes you stronger You probably think eating healthy is expensive. I’ll be honest — it is. But there are tricks to spare your savings account and keep it low cost. Here are sixteen ways to eat more healthy while keeping…

  • Thrifty Tips from the Yardsale Queen (20 comments)

    This is a guest-post from Chris Heiska, The Yardsale Queen. Some people believe the myth that there’s only junk at yardsales and thrift stores. That is absolutely not true. Buying at yardsales doesn’t necessarily mean that you are buying someone’s used, dirty castoffs. I often find Christmas wrapping paper still attached to the box, or a wedding card tucked inside of a box that was probably a duplicate wedding gift (and now the present that…

  • Ask the Readers: What if You’re Frugal But Your Roommates Aren’t? (62 comments)

    Eleanor wrote with a question that could test even the mightiest personal finance expert. “What,” she asks, “can you do when you want to save money and your roommates don’t care?” I share a house with four roommates.  This saves me at least $200 a month from what I would be paying if I lived in an apartment.  But roommates raise expenses in other, unexpected ways.  I have been trying to cut down on monthly…

  • How to Eat Vegetarian on the Cheap (41 comments)

    I recently posted two articles for frugal carnivores: a guide to cheap cuts of beef and another on on how to buy a side of beef. GRS-reader Sally has produced an introduction to eating vegetarian for cheap. Though her tips are for herbivores, many are useful to omnivores, as well. About a year-and-a-half ago, for health reasons, my husband and I committed ourselves to a mostly vegetarian lifestyle. At home we eat entirely vegetarian; when…

  • The Cost-Per-Day Expense Chart (25 comments)

    Elizabeth has a lifehack that allows her to manage both money and space. She writes: “This helped me curb my lifestyle choices when I was in high school and first on my own.” Here is her guest entry. Possessions scare me. My parents are pack-rats, and their house is full of things that have no right to be there. Desk space is taken up by dirty coffee cups, stacks of notebooks, and priceless, irreplaceable piles…

  • Making the Most of Cheap Cuts of Beef (17 comments)

    You don’t need to buy a side of beef to get cheap, great-tasting meat. Excellent inexpensive steaks and roasts are available at every supermarket. Here’s a brief guide to common cuts. The information in this article is derived from two Cook’s Illustrated pieces: “An Illustrated Guide to Beef Roasts” (Nov/Dec 2002) and “Tasting: Inexpensive Steaks” (Sep/Oct 2005). Inexpensive Steaks These steaks were priced $6.99/pound or less when Cook’s Illustrated tested them in 2005. Best Cuts…

  • Manage Your Finances Like a Professional Gambler: Small Things Add Up (60 comments)

    Here’s a guest entry from Tynan. This is the first of a series of posts about how a professional gambler looks at money. Look for additional installments in coming weeks. I was eighteen, and a freshman in college. For the past few years I’d been making a few hundred dollars a month selling Palm Pilots on eBay. It was a lot of money for a teenager with no real expenses, but of course I spent…

  • DIY Microwave Popcorn (38 comments)

    Back in the Olden Dayes, we made popcorn on the stove. If we were good, then Sunday night before The Wonderful World of Disney, mom would heat some oil in a skillet and pop the corn. It was delicious. Then, of course, came the microwave, and with it came popcorn in a bag. It’s all so very convenient. But sometimes I miss the Olden Dayes. Here’s an old AskMetafilter question (found via frykitty): “Is it…

  • Five Fantastic Frugal Tips for Christmas (14 comments)

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

  • Frugality in Practice: Shopping for Second-Hand Clothes (24 comments)

    On a street corner near our house is a store called The Dig, which advertises “most clothes $3 – $4 – $5”. Many of these are items of the latest fashions, which have been rejected for whatever reason. Clean and organized, the store also has dressing rooms, something many thrift stores lack. I used to mock Kris for going to The Dig. It looked like a dive. Then I joined her for a trip a…

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Don’t Confuse Frugality With Depriving Yourself (7 comments)

    Jonni McCoy’s Miserly Moms: Living on One Income in a Two Income Economy lists eleven miserly guidelines designed to help families reduce expenses. The first of these is: Don’t confuse frugality with depriving yourself. This is the most important aspect of being successful at saving money. […] If any money-saving activity makes you feel cheap or tight, you will eventually abandon your efforts. That is not the price we need to pay to reach our…

  • 26 cheap camping tips (24 comments)

    Backpacking and camping are awesome frugal activities. It costs nothing to take a hike. It costs a bit more to camp overnight, but even that can be done inexpensively. While browsing the web for camping stuff, I stumbled upon a great list of frugal suggestions that were originally posted to the Usenet group rec.scouting on 03 December 1994! According to the original poster: These low-cost equipment/ideas/fixes for Scouting and camping in general [were] originally found…

  • Ten Things You Shouldn’t Buy New (14 comments)

    Liz Pulliam Weston at Money Central lists ten things you shouldn’t buy new. Some things are best purchased new — lingerie pops to mind — but lots of other stuff depreciates quickly while still having plenty of useable life left. Here are ten items where the cost vs. use equation strongly tilts toward buying used. Books — Most books are read only once. Books are also easy to find cheap, or at your public library….

  • The Frugal Photographer (6 comments)

    Expensive hobbies and a frugal lifestyle can be tough to balance. Few hobbies are more expensive than photography. So what’s a frugal photographer to do? The three best cheap things you can do to improve your photography skill are: Learn your camera. Read your camera manual, and carry it with you. This is the cheapest improvement you can make. Learn what your camera can and cannot do. Make a lot of photographs. Take a class…