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House and Home


  • Entrepreneurs Face Credit Challenges When Purchasing a Home (0 comment)

    Plenty of Americans have that entrepreneurial spirit. Being your own boss and setting your own hours is liberating, and millions of Americans have made the leap. But there are special credit challenges to be aware of, especially in the first two years of striking out on your own. Self-employed Americans by the numbers According to a 2014 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 14.4 million Americans are self-employed. (When you factor in part-time independent…

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • I just organized my files, and here’s what I did (21 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    I don’t like clutter at all, but it’s oh so easy for stuff to build up and get out of control – especially when it comes to paper. If you really like everything to be neat and tidy – but you don’t want to spend your life managing the mess – read on. The problem with paper I dream about going paperless. But the fact is that…

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

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

  • 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…

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

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

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

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

  • Do you practice retiring? (18 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    I know quite a few people who are approaching retirement right now. And from talking to them, one thing is clear to me: There’s a lot of apprehension about making this transition. The pressure to make the right decisions doesn’t stop just because you’re nearing retirement. In fact, from what I can tell, it seems to intensify. There are still a lot of important decisions to make:…

  • 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…

  • 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 profit from economic cycles (15 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

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

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • The sharing economy and taxes (14 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Suba Iyer.

    Etsy, TaskRabbit, Uber, AirBnB, and numerous other technologies make earning a little extra income (or even a full-time income) easier than ever. Almost anyone can be a micropreneur these days, even if they started out just pursuing a hobby. The sharing economy or peer-to-peer economy is growing at a record pace by leveraging disruptive technologies. But a lot of people don’t seem to understand how the…

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

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

  • 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 long will mortgage rates stay low? (15 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    Mortgage interest rates have been steadily dropping, and they’ve been doing that for a very long time — so long that most people can’t even remember rates higher than, say, 7 or 8 percent. How short our memories are: Those with gray hair remember that rates haven’t always been this low. This chart, compiled from Freddie Mac data, shows how the interest rate for 30-year fixed…

  • 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…

  • Ask the readers: Are home security systems worth the money? (61 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. The small, rectangular ceramic flower pots I kept in the two window sills of my bathroom had never budged an inch in the 14 years I owned the home, but one day I saw that one was close to falling out onto the counter below. I wondered if a small earthquake had caused it to move as I pushed it back in place. About a week later, I…

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

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

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

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

  • 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…

  • Buying rental property: Sometimes getting rich means taking it slowly (52 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. I have two second cousins who serve in the military — both brave young men I am proud to call my family. We don’t always talk much, though. The age gap can be a roadblock and those boys are always traveling around, serving overseas and living on bases in order to fulfill their military duties and finish school. Still, social media makes it easier than it used…

  • 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…

  • Honey progress report: Homeownership and priorities edition (68 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. In May, Jake and I bought a house and moved in. We’ve been loving it so far! People who have always lived in a place with decent structural integrity may not appreciate it, but considering the many problems with our previous rental, it feels like we live in a palace now. At the time of my last post on homeownership, we had about $10,000 in liquid savings. Beefing up our…

  • 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….

  • Looking out for your finances as a renter (26 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Landlords and property owners have their fair share of problems: They have to manage, accommodate, repair, etc., their property. It’s a lot of responsibility, and with great responsibility comes great headache. But it ain’t all roses for renters, either. We’ve got rent increases, security deposits, and unannounced, inescapable construction. Last Saturday, I woke up to the sound of drilling on the wall next to which I sleep….

  • Challenging traditional measures of financial success: Homeownership (155 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. (This is Part II in a series about challenging traditional measures of financial success. Part I is The “Ivory Tower”: Reconsidering the college investment. Part III is The 9-to-5 job: Challenging how we earn a living.) Last week, I was having dinner with my neighbor, a magnetic woman with a free spirit and a really youthful soul. She’s been renting the apartment above mine for something like…

  • 8 Surprise expenses for new homeowners (84 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Over a year ago, I bought my first home. And while I’d been warned about the extra expenses that come with homeownership, there were still some surprises. I don’t mean the “unexpected” costs of property taxes and repairs — expenses that are often covered in articles about new homeownership. “Surprise! There’s no landlord to come fix your garbage disposal.” Is that really a surprise to anyone, though?…

  • Teaching life skills to your children (22 comments)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Why home prices are climbing again, and what you should do about it (31 comments)

    This article is by staff writer William Cowie. Chances are home prices in your neighborhood have been rising lately. Strangely enough, that only made the news when, for last November, Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller index of home prices in 20 top cities fell the grand total of 0.1 percent. The Federal Reserve tracks a national composite home price index for the country, which looks like this: Home price index since 1987 (all data available) Is this…

  • How to spring clean your financial house (33 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. It’s almost spring, you guys. I don’t know about the weather in your neck of the woods, but that’s a welcome thought where I’m at, and I live in Texas! (Northerners, feel free to make fun of my idea of a cold winter. I don’t care. I did not sign up for anything colder than highs of 50 degrees.) At any rate, I’ve been on a cleaning…

  • Maximizing your dollar: Renovating a historic house for the rental market (6 comments)

    This story comes from Anastasia Mann. Anastasia Mann is an associate at Trimark Properties, a leading provider of historic house rentals, student housing and apartments in Gainesville, FL. To check out their historic infill developments, visit their website. 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…

  • 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…

  • Food spending: When bad habits attack (94 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. In 2010, my husband and I were pregnant with our second child. And although we were making plenty of money, we were burning through all we made at lightning speed. Yep, we were wasting it. In fact, we were spending money we didn’t even have by financing cars, miscellaneous purchases, and trips. And, even though we had a baby on the way and two rental properties, we didn’t have…

  • How to winterize your home (72 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. As I write this, the back side of my house is mostly exposed to the studs with loose fiberglass hanging out in the area where landscaping will be someday. That’s right: Some crazy people choose to do remodeling projects in the middle of the coldest part of winter. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense, considering this article is about winterizing your home. Having one wall with…

  • Ask the Readers: How much are you willing to spend to save a sick pet? (115 comments)

    This article is by managing editor Ellen Cannon. Four years ago, my beloved kitty Zito developed kidney problems. She was only five years old, and her littermate, Mikey, was fine and healthy. But Zito had stopped eating and wasn’t drinking much water. I took her to the vet. An x-ray by the veterinarian showed that one of her kidneys was tiny and the other was not the normal size it should have been. The vet…

  • Home remodeling — when you can’t (or don’t want to) DIY (41 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. When my husband and I walked into our last home for the first time, we felt like we were walking right into the ’70s. With disco-era fixtures and old smelly carpet, the four bedroom colonial was quite the sight. Oh, and let’s not forget the orange laminate flooring that graced the kitchen and bathrooms. Except for the master bathroom, of course. It had shag carpet. But, for every…

  • 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…

  • In the kitchen: When less is more (85 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. When I moved into my first apartment, my kitchen was stocked in an appropriate college-student fashion: cast-off pieces of stained Tupperware, cheap pots and pans that warped when they got hot, and a few new gifts that my practical relatives had given me for high school graduation presents. By the time my husband and I were engaged, I thought that “real” cooks had certain types of tools…

  • The small house experiment, Part 2 (98 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. A few months ago, my husband mustered the courage to try a new career only to discover that the grass isn’t always greener. In other words, he hated it. And, after some initial disappointment, I was okay with him leaving that job and going back to the industry where he began. Fortunately, once he began looking for a new job, we got lucky. After a week or so of sending…

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

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

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

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

  • The day my dishwasher died (78 comments)

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

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

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

  • How to make room for redecorating in your budget (40 comments)

    After living in apartments with white walls for most of my adult life, I was excited to become a homeowner when my husband and I got married. Paint options! Landscaping! Curtains! My house was a blank canvas, just waiting for me to decorate it. Well, the decorating buzz wore off quickly after I found out how expensive everything was. I thought, naively, that asking my mother-in-law to sew some curtains for me would be a…

  • Declutter and save your sense (34 comments)

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

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

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

  • Garage Sale Tips and Tricks (52 comments)

    Last weekend, I hosted a garage sale with my brother, my ex-wife, and my girlfriend. It was a raging success. We cleared out tons of stuff, and we netted over $2500 in the process. I’ve hosted many yard sales over the years (and shopped at dozens more) and have developed some strong opinions about what works best. I’ve heard people complain that garage sales aren’t worth the time. But they can be quite profitable if…

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

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

  • Reader Story: I bought a foreclosure house on the courthouse steps (77 comments)

    This guest post is from Naomi Mannino. Naomi is a freelance consumer personal finance and health journalist who reports on health, medical and personal finance news and how it will affect your life today. You can follow Naomi on Twitter @naomimannino. 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…

  • Should you prepay your mortgage? (40 comments)

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

  • 6 ways to lower your home insurance (31 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. As a new homeowner, I recently had to buy a homeowners insurance policy. And as a personal finance writer, I tried to take my own advice and “shop around.” To be honest, it was a pain, and the rates I was getting on my own were way too high. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if I wasn’t also trying to close on a house. In the end, I…

  • How to throw a yard sale when you’re an apartment dweller (13 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong.

    For someone who hates accumulating stuff, I sure have a lot of it. There’s the skirt suit that I haven’t worn in four years, for example. Or the ALF lunchbox that I just can’t part with. Oh, and my indispensable collection of PEZ dispensers. I could go on, but this is a money blog, not a humble brag about all the cool toys I have. At any…

  • Are you prepared to buy a home? (49 comments)

    This is a post from staff writer April Dykman. For many, owning a home is still “the American dream.” According to Gallup’s annual Economy and Personal Finance survey, 56 percent of Americans own a home and 25 percent plan to purchase one in the next 10 years. But sometimes buyers fall in love with a home, only to find out that they don’t qualify. Or worse, they barely manage to qualify, but at a sky-high interest rate. That’s…

  • Reader Stories: I bought a duplex to save money on rent (36 comments)

    This story is from Karl Boericke. He is the author of The Frugal Berry, money-saving tips of all kinds for home, office, and small business. In 1990, I was honorably discharged from the Navy and quickly found a job in an electronics manufacturing company as a technician in their test department. While renting an apartment at the time, I wondered how I would ever be able to afford to buy a house with my meager…

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

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

  • Oops, I may have broken my nest egg (42 comments)

    This is a post from staff writer Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. Financial success can be due to making good decisions or avoiding big mistakes. In many cases, the biggest mistakes happen after good decisions, because the stakes have become higher. As an example, let’s consider the dilemma of Motley Fool reader Jim, who emailed us this…

  • The hassle of being in debt (110 comments)

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

  • Will a low appraisal wreck your refi? (29 comments)

    The 30-year fixed mortgage rate keeps getting lower and lower, making it a great time to refinance your mortgage and cut your monthly payment. But as Pat Esswein, associate editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, reports, homeowners have to clear a few hurdles before they can refinance. One of those hurdles is the appraisal, which determines the value the bank will assign to your home. That’s an important number because it determines your refinancing options…

  • Ask the Readers: How much rent should I charge my in-laws? (122 comments)

    Money issues among family members are difficult, to say the least. A reader named The Lessor wrote to us recently about his sticky family situation: I have a brother-in-law who decided to pursue ministry work overseas. He is married to a European girl and they live with her mother most of the year. Each year they return to the U.S. to keep citizenship/residency, visit with family, and fundraise for additional money to keep them living…

  • Ask the Readers: What should you consider when buying a house at 25 (or any age for that matter)? (78 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jenna Forstrom. I always wanted to have my own house.  My parents flipped houses while I was growing up and I like creating spaces and using my hands, plus it always sounded like a good investment.  I graduated college at 21 and decided my next goal was to buy a house by 25.  So, after graduation, I moved back home to Portland to live with my mom. Some people…

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

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

  • Stuff: How to protect it (92 comments)

    How much is your property worth to you? For all the discussion of emergency funds and disaster preparedness that goes on in the personal finance blogosphere, I rarely, if ever, read anything about protecting yourself from property crime. Perhaps because it’s an unpleasant subject, perhaps because many people have never experienced it, but I don’t hear a big conversation about the subject in PF discussions. And yet, for many of us, a sizable portion of…

  • Reader Stories: An ode to the condo lifestyle (63 comments)

    This post is from Ashley B. She’s 26 years old, lives in Minnesota, and works in the accounting department of a small company. This story is one of our Reader Stories series. 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 to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. I have never quite…

  • Being a landlord: Is it worth it? (145 comments)

    This is a guest post from Holly Johnson. Holly is a 32-year-old wife, mother of two, and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She blogs about saving money, frugal habits, and whatever is on her mind at ClubThrifty.com. In 2006, my husband and I bought our first rental property. We put 10 percent down ($8,500) on a small brick ranch in the same Midwestern community that we call home. I had gotten my real estate license several years…

  • Should You Buy A Fixer-Upper? (84 comments)

    Fixer-upper (noun). A home you purchase at a reasonable price, but one that requires an unreasonable amount of money in repairs and renovations. Okay, so I made up that definition, and it’s not always true. Buying fixer-uppers can get you more house than you would normally be able to afford at a reasonable price. They can be pleasantly inexpensive. But they can also be money pits, masquerading behind a façade of charming woodwork and arched doorways. As tempting…

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

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

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

    This guest post from Holly Johnson is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want submit your own reader story? Here’s how. A few months ago, we were seriously considering moving. Frustrated by a few of the shortcomings of our current residence,…

  • Sheet Dreams: How to Shop for Bed Sheets (98 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 Lisa Aberle, who promises she could contribute stories on DIY projects and rural living. After finding holes…

  • How to Buy Quality Furniture (64 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 Karawynn Long, who writes about personal finance at Pocketmint. It’s an article she originally shared at GRS…

  • Home insurance and pipes that go ‘pop’ in the night (76 comments)

    This is a guest post by Suzanne Clemenz, who writes for Insure.com. Suzanne designed her passive solar home and remodeled two others. She worked with architects and contractors on floor plans, electrical work, painting, windows, flooring installations, flood prevention walls and stonework, major drainage issues, an irrigation system, and landscaping. It’s alarming to be awakened by the distant, mysterious sound of running water. But on Sunday, November 6, 2011, that’s what happened to me. Two…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Do You Spend on Housing? (462 comments)

    Over the past few months, I’ve occasionally used the “Ask the Readers” feature at Get Rich Slowly to poll people about their budgets and spending habits. So far, I’ve asked folks to share their spending on food, clothes, gifts, and health insurance. Now I want to look at a bigger item in your budget — probably the biggest. Let’s talk about how much you spend on housing. More than other expenses, your housing costs are…

  • Going to the (Organic) Mattresses (143 comments)

    This post is by staff writer April Dykman. I’ve dropped a rather obscene amount of money on bodywork in the last few years. I’ve had an evolving team of chiropractors, massage therapists, and acupuncturists. I’ve bought books on physical therapy exercises. Some things have worked, others have not. In the end, the pain always comes back. I have chronic shoulder pain. My arms also frequently go numb in the middle of the night. I don’t…

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

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

  • Let Go of the Spatula: Reconsidering Wedding Registries (237 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Tim Sullivan. My brother, my best friend, and my girlfriend’s sister are all getting married in the upcoming year, so I’ve heard a lot about wedding registries lately, and there seem to be many pros and cons. Personally, one of my least favorite things in life is going to Crate and Barrel, walking around with my scanner gun, and seeing that the only things that fit into my price…

  • How we paid cash for our first home (268 comments)

    This is a guest post from Crystal Paine, the Money Saving Mom. Paine is a wife, homeschool mom to three, self-proclaimed minimalist, and wannabe runner. For practical help and inspiration to get your life and finances in order, visit her blog, Money Saving Mom, or purchase a copy of her brand-new book, The Money Saving Mom’s Budget. When my husband and I got married nine years ago, we had an audacious dream of paying cash…

  • A Place of My Own (577 comments)

    Two months ago today, I asked my wife for a divorce. I won’t be writing about the personal aspects of the divorce at Get Rich Slowly. In fact, other than some brief background at my personal site, I don’t intend to write it about it on the web at all. Kris and I are both emotional wrecks right now; the wounds are fresh and raw for both of us. Note: Kris and I are working…

  • Reader Story: Can a Saver Learn to Spend? (61 comments)

    This guest post from Felix 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 suspect I’m representative of a large group of Get Rich Slowly readers. Early on, my financial competency was average — I don’t have…

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

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

  • Our Roof Repair: A Typical Tale of Working with Contractors (95 comments)

    My wife and I have been homeowners for nearly twenty years. In that time, we’ve done a lot of home improvement ourselves. But we’ve also learned when it’s best to hand projects to the pros. (To be honest, this is most of the time.) It’s great to be able to do small jobs yourself, but it’s also important to recognize when something’s beyond your ability. During the past 18+ years, we’ve learned that working with…

  • Old Friends: Scenes from a Class Reunion (52 comments)

    I am getting old, my friends. I am getting old. It’s no longer just a feeling, either. More and more, there are objective real-world reminders that I’m not the young man I once was. Kris and I spent last weekend, for instance, hanging out with other old folks at our 20-year college reunion. We had a blast, of course. Though we don’t see most of our old friends as often as we’d like, when we…

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

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

  • 10 Easy Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill (151 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. I don’t know what the weather is like where you live, but here in Austin, Texas, the heat and drought are the topic of 85% of conversations (that’s science). As a native Texan, I usually roll my eyes when people lament about the heat. One of my friends summed it up nicely: “I’m tired of hearing people talk about the weather. It’s hot in the summer and…

  • When Renting Is Smarter Than Buying (96 comments)

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

  • Reader Story: How I Sold My Condo and Saved $5,000 (111 comments)

    This guest post from Nick Rothacher, the self-taught economist, 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. Six months ago, my wife and I sold our two-bedroom, two-bath condo located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake…

  • Big House, Little House (272 comments)

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

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

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

  • Buying a Home? Pay Attention to Property Inspection (68 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. A house is the most expensive thing most of us ever will purchase. If you plan to stay put for some time, you could be paying on your mortgage for the next 15 to 20 years. But as any homeowner knows, expenses don’t stop at the purchase price and mortgage interest. You’ll also pay a small fortune in insurance, upkeep, and repairs over the years. This is…

  • The Basic Allowance for Housing: Helping Military Members Afford a Home (61 comments)

    Today is Memorial Day in the United States, a federal holiday to commemorate U.S. soldiers who died while in military service. This is a guest post from Chris Birk, a recovering journalist and the director of content and communications for Veterans United Home Loans, the nation’s leading dedicated VA-approved lender. Birk writes about mortgages and military home buying for a variety of sites and publications, from the Huffington Post and About.com to Mortgage News Daily…

  • Reader Story: How I Built My Own House — Without a Mortgage (151 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…

  • Reader Story: Rental Properties from the Tenant’s Point of View (171 comments)

    This guest post from Avery 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. From time to time, stories on Get Rich Slowly talk about rental properties, usually from the perspective of a small-time landlord, and inevitably, there…

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

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

  • 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…

  • American Cookery: Magazine Ads from 1939 (26 comments)

    My wife knows me pretty well. At a recent garage sale, Kris picked up the November 1939 issue of American Cookery magazine. She wanted it for the recipes. But after she was finished, she handed it off to me. “You’ll want to look at the ads,” she said. She was right. Fun trivia: American Cookery magazine was originally called The Boston Cooking-School Magazine. The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book was first published in 1896 and written…

  • 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….

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

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

  • Living on less in Mexico (66 comments)

    In 2006, my husband and I bought a house in the center of Guanajuato, a city in Mexico’s Central Highlands, where we live about one-third of the year. We didn’t buy the house because it’s a cheaper place to live; we were motivated because we’d been visiting this town for five years and fell in love with it anew every time we came. Despite the fact that we live pretty simply in the States, it’s…

  • Geographic Arbitrage: Save Money by Leaving The Country (76 comments)

    This is a guest post from Gary Arndt, who has been traveling around the world non-stop since March 2007 and has visited over 80 countries. He blogs at Everything-Everywhere.com, which was named one of the 25 Best Blogs of 2010 by Time Magazine. Let’s start with the obvious: Costs aren’t the same everywhere. You may already be aware of this on some level, but until you’ve traveled extensively, it isn’t something you really understand. The…

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

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

  • 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…

  • When To Walk Away From A Bad Mortgage (255 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. Since the housing bubble burst, many Americans have found their finances underwater. They’re paying on homes that are worth much less than the mortgages against them. More than a few have chosen to walk away from these debts. Called a “walkaway” or a “strategic default”, deliberately defaulting on your mortgage is becoming…

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

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

  • Should You Pay Off Your Mortgage Early? (92 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. Everyone’s looking for safe investments these days. Unfortunately, there’s a price for security: low returns. A five-year certificate of deposit at a major bank like Ally pays just 2.4% APY today, and a five-year…

  • 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…

  • Ask the Readers: How Can We Afford to Buy a House? (176 comments)

    Though they could fall farther, housing prices are starting to seem reasonable again in many parts of the United States. Mortgage rates are cheap, too. Naturally, that means some GRS readers are beginning to express an interest in buying a home. But prices are still high in a lot of places — including Washington, D.C., which is where William lives. He recently dropped a line to ask for advice: He’d like to buy a home…

  • How to slay energy vampires (54 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. April is writing a series on money monsters for the recently launched Pageonce blog, including fighting zombie debt and how to Frankenstein your savings. There are demons that can suck the life force from you — and you unknowingly invited them into your home. Vampire electronics may not suck your blood, but they’ll drain you of nickels and dimes for every dollar you spend on energy. The…

  • Moving? Rent First, Ask Questions Later (57 comments)

    This is a guest-post from Tim Ellis, author of Seattle Bubble, a blog and forum dedicated to discussing real estate market conditions in the Seattle area. Tim is a long-time GRS reader. During my last trip to Europe, he shared a controversial article on renting vs. buying. Given the fact that each year around sixteen million Americans move to a new county, it’s likely that at some point in your life you’ll find yourself moving…

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

    This guest post from Jolyn is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. You can read more about Jolyn’s financial adventures at Budgets are the New Black. My husband and I bought our first home in Las…

  • Book Review: The Skinny on Real-Estate Investing (22 comments)

    Book Week at Get Rich Slowly comes to a close today. Well, I guess tomorrow’s Ask the Readers is about books, but this is the final review. I’ve saved the best for last. Over the past year, I’ve had a chance to read several titles in the “Skinny On” book series. And although I’ve only mentioned them in passing here at GRS, I love these books. Today I want to tell you about them. The…

  • Reader Story: I Paid for Graduate School by Renting out Rooms (49 comments)

    This guest post from Mike Choi 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. Almost two years ago, J.D. shared an “ask the readers” column about how to rent out your spare room. In that post, Penny…

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

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

  • Unusual Abodes: The Grain Bin Home (40 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. I’m a fan of unusual homes. From tiny homes to recycled homes, I’m fascinated by unconventional ways one can build houses that save on construction costs and future utility bills. Our own house plans are for plastered walls with straw bale infill, and we’re close to breaking ground. But when I picked up the latest issue of granola crunchy Mother Earth News, for a minute I…

  • Planning for Budget Busters: Home Ownership (41 comments)

    This video post is the third of a four-part series from staff writer Adam Baker. Baker previously featured a post on his own blog entitled Cost of Living Abroad: Dozens of Bloggers Share Their Expenses. Last week, I introduced the concept of a Budget Buster, which is any irregular expense that I fail to plan for. These are’t true emergencies, but rather expenses that pop up to surprise me, even though I should have easily…

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Bigger Isn’t Always Better: Remembering to Appreciate What I Already Have (196 comments)

    Walking home from work today, I decided to take the long way. Most of the time, I choose the easy quarter-mile stroll downhill from the office to our happy half acre (or happy .62 acre, if you’d like to be precise). But to celebrate the first day of summer, I took the river-forest loop. The river-forest loop is exactly what it sounds like: a series of quiet streets that wend along the east bank of…

  • How Quickly Wants Can Turn to Needs (42 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker recently featured a post on his own blog entitled, Are You Eating Yourself Into Debt? As some of you know, Courtney and I recently spent just under a year traveling abroad with our two-year-old daughter. A couple of months ago, we returned home to Indiana and decided that we’d take a six month break from our mobile lifestyle. Our decision meant we needed to start looking…

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

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

  • How I Generate Extra Income by Letting Strangers Pay My Rent (81 comments)

    This is a guest post from Rebecca Rosenfelt, the founder of RealSavvyRealEstate.com, a website devoted to demystifying the home buying process for first-time home buyers. I almost never pay the entirety of my rent. I don’t have roommates and I’ve never been evicted. In the four years I rented a one-bedroom New York City apartment, I paid the full rent only one month. I now own a condo in Portland, Oregon, and I almost never…

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

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

  • Living Like No One Else (99 comments)

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

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

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

  • How My Real Estate Investing Adventure Came to an End (58 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker, whose own blog previously featured a comparison of money gurus in Dave Ramsey vs. Suze Orman. This is final article of a three-part series on how he stumbled into real estate investing at age 23. Be sure to read part one and part two. In the second part of this series, I discussed two mistakes I made when jumping into real estate investing. Despite running a successful property management…

  • Lessons Learned from Rushing Into Real-Estate Investing (40 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker, whose own blog recently featured a must-see graphic on credit card transactions around the world. This is part two of a three-part series on how he stumbled into real estate investing at age 23. Be sure to read part one here. When we last left off, I’d just walked away from my first real estate closing with an eight-unit apartment building and $1000 cash in my hand. I was…

  • Does Renting Make Sense? (271 comments)

    Writing Your Money: The Missing Manual has been intense. I’ve spent a ton of time researching personal finance topics ranging from buying a car to funding a 401(k) to the relationship between money and happiness. My research has reinforced some of my convictions (index funds are the best investment for 99% of personal investors, for instance) but has toppled others. One of my beliefs that’s been set on its head is that Americans are better…

  • Reader Story: Rental Properties for the Average Joe (84 comments)

    This guest post from Barry 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. Barry’s post is also part of an accidental “real estate week” kicked off by Baker’s story. For years I’d heard the rental horror stories,…

  • How I Bought an 8-Unit Apartment Building with No Money Down and Walked Away with $1000 Cash at Closing (98 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker recently outlined his ambitious 2010 goals for his blogging, business, and life. When I was 23, I bought an eight-unit apartment building with no money down. And I walked away with $1,000 cash at closing! Sounds pretty fancy, right? Wrong. It was one of the dumbest (and riskiest) moves I’ve made in my young life. I escaped without a scratch, but it was due to an…

  • Reader Story: How I Cut 16 Years from My Mortgage in Just One Hour (124 comments)

    This guest post from Caitlin of ClutterCubed (a blog about ridding clutter from your life) 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. Back in September, one hour of my time cut 16 years off my mortgage!…

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

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

  • Reader Story: A Very, Very Fine House (59 comments)

    This morning, April wrote about trying to figure out how much house you need. In the comments, Tyler K. shared a photo of the house he and his wife live in. It has 450 square feet: “Last year our joint gross income was about $170,000,” Tyler wrote, “but we still find this house plenty adequate, and it means our housing costs are proportionally half of the 30-35% of income that people generally recommend.” I was…

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

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

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

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

  • 9 Ways You Can Knock the Socks off Your Next Landlord (48 comments)

    This article is by GRS staff writer Adam Baker. Currently, Baker is fat and in debt. We all know how to rent a typical, cookie-cutter apartment or house. Find a contact number. Set-up a walk through. Fill out the application. Pay your fee and wait for a response. But sometimes typical just doesn’t cut it. Maybe you’re looking to secure a unique apartment in an irresistible location. Or you might be seeking the only house for rent in a certain…

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

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

  • Furniture Shopping Secrets: How to Tell Superior from Shoddy (56 comments)

    This is a guest post from Karawynn Long, who writes about personal finance at Pocketmint. Karawynn is a semi-regular contributor for Get Rich Slowly. She has been blogging since before “blogging” was a word. Here at the Koke-Long house we’re in the market for some furniture. Our living room is currently semi-furnished with a comfortable but deteriorating Ikea couch and some leftover dining chairs; we’d like a nice armchair or two and some tables. I’ve…

  • Renters Insurance: Peace of Mind for Ten Bucks a Month (132 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. On 02 August 2005, my friend Frank and his partner awoke at 2:45 a.m. to the dog barking and a neighbor knocking on their door. The apartment complex was on fire. They grabbed their dog and whatever they could carry and ran from the building. “We lost everything,” he says. Later they’d find out that it was arson. A former employee of the apartment complex stole…

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

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

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

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

  • Understanding Your Home Appraisal (33 comments)

    This is a guest post from Liz Freeman, who writes about mortgage and finance issues. Freeman is the spokesperson for ShopRate.com, an online tool for finding the lowest mortgage rates since 2000. “If I’m willing to pay X for the home, it must be worth X, right?” There’s a lot of truth to that statement. Most accountants will tell you that the proper value of anything is either the lower of what it cost to…

  • How to Buy a Mattress (145 comments)

    After my post about mattress shopping the other day, Garrison contacted me. “My home just flooded and due to renters insurance I was thrown into the market for a new mattress,” he said. “I called up my long-time best friend whose entire family is in the mattress business. I used his advice in my purchase and I’ve been completely satisfied.” Here’s what Garrison’s friend, Justin, had to say. I’ve written a lot here to help…

  • Preparing to Shop for a New Mattress (113 comments)

    On Monday, I mentioned that Kris and I are ready to replace our 15-year-old mattress. I don’t sleep well on it, though I sleep fine on other mattresses. I only mentioned this to illustrate a point, but I was surprised at how many readers commented on my situation. Jason’s comment was typical: I’ve found that sleep is the absolute root of everything. With decent sleep, I’m a better man, father, athlete, spouse, employee and all…

  • The Accidental Slumlord (47 comments)

    Several years ago — as I was clawing my way out of debt — I did a dumb thing and subscribed to Newsweek. I didn’t subscribe for just one year — I subscribed for four. As penance, I wrote an early GRS article about how having too many magazine subscriptions is un-frugal. Recently, though, I’ve come to love my Newsweek subscription. The magazine underwent a radical re-design last month, and jettisoned all of the stupid…

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

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

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

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

  • The Neighborhood Plant Swap (19 comments)

    This is a guest post from Kris. Earlier this month, I shared the notion of SwapLucks. Kris recently participated in a similar event, trading plants with friends and neighbors. Last weekend, my friend Rhonda hosted a Plant Swap. It was so successful that she’s decided to make it an annual event. Although this story is specifically about gardeners sharing plants, the process could easily be adapted to parents sharing kids’ clothes and toys, cooks swapping…

  • Why Our Heating Bill Ballooned This Winter (63 comments)

    Kris and I own an old house. During the winter, the cold air seeps in through cracks in the windows and beneath gaps in the doors. We’ve done what we can to keep our heating costs low, and we make a handful of additional improvements every year, but I still feel like we’re living in a “drafty old barn” (to quote George Bailey). Sometimes all of our hard work goes for naught. For example, we…

  • The High Cost of Having Children (161 comments)

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

  • Why We Chose a 30-Year Mortgage (125 comments)

    Last week, I announced that Kris and I have refinanced our mortgage at 4.96% for 30 years. In the comments, Ian expressed disappointment that we’d opted for the longer term when we could have afforded to take out a 15 year mortgage at 4.625%. “Starting your 30 years over is no way to get rich slowly,” he wrote. He has a point. Kris and I took out the 30-year mortgage because we wanted a safety…

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

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

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

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

  • 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…

  • Save Money with Regular Home Maintenance (49 comments)

    In 2004, Kris and I bought a hundred-year-old farmhouse. We’d been living in a 1976 ranch-style home that was virtually maintenance-free. We knew that our new house was quirky, and that it needed some remodeling, but we didn’t quite understand the extent to which maintenance would dominate our lives. Every summer, we’ve had a major project. Or two. This year is no different. In previous years we’ve remodeled the bathroom, replaced the electrical system, hung…

  • Refinancing Made Easy: Our Story (93 comments)

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

  • Ask the Readers: How to rent out your spare room? (124 comments)

    Last month, Alison from Diamond-Cut Life shared a guest post about providing lodging to a housemate in exchange for work (instead of rent). Her story prompted a number of readers to ask about the mechanics and practicalities of actually renting an extra room to generate income. For example, Penny wrote with the following: In August, my brother-in-law moved in with us. By December, he couldn’t find a job, so moved back out. While I had…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • How to Save $5000 a Year — As a Homeowner or a Renter (63 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation. This is a guest post from Alison Wiley, who writes about more joy and less consumption at Diamond-Cut Life. Friendly married couple, both professionals in sustainability, seeks one competent, friendly person to serve as Home & Garden Manager in exchange for free rent. That’s the opener to the Craigslist ad that has saved us about $5,000, turned our weedy front lawn into a beautiful garden, and freed up six hours of…

  • 6 Must-Have Characteristics to Look for When Buying a Home (59 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation. This is a guest post from G.E. Miller, author of the 20somethingfinance.com blog for young professionals. With home prices down, foreclosures up, there’s an influx of great homes on the market with less competition vying for them. The next year or so may present some prime buying opportunities for those willing to do some homework, and who meet the prerequisites of home ownership. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, one of the…

  • 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…

  • The Cinnamon Bear: An Old-Time Radio Christmas Tradition (39 comments)

    Because I love The Cinnamon Bear so much, I post this exact same article every year on the 29th of November. If you have young children — and even if you don’t — I encourage you to listen to these old radio broadcasts with your family. Holiday traditions don’t have to be expensive. Some of the best traditions don’t cost anything at all. When I was a boy, Christmas meant The Cinnamon Bear. During the…

  • Plant a Tree to Add Beauty and Value to Your Home (27 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. She speaks for the trees. There’s nothing like a breathtaking autumn to make us notice the trees. And fall is the perfect time to start thinking about adding a tree to your property. J.D. and I are lucky to have many mature trees on our lot, but that didn’t stop us from planting more when we moved in. We added four fruit trees and a Japanese Zelkova…

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

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

  • 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…

  • The First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit (68 comments)

    First-time home buyers are now eligible for a tax credit of up to $7,500 under the U.S. Housing and Economic Recover Act of 2008. To qualify for the tax credit, purchasers must close on a home between 09 April 2008 and 01 July 2009. Married couples with incomes up to $150,000 qualify for the full tax credit, as do single taxpayers with incomes below $75,000. (Those with higher incomes may be eligible for a partial…

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

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

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

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

  • How to Prepare for Buying a Home (49 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jim, my friend and colleague at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity. When I bought a home three years ago, the economic climate was different from today. Back then, a house would could be listed on Friday and a contract signed by Monday. It was easy to get a loan (too easy, in fact) and you could make every mistake in the book and still find yourself a home. Despite the…

  • Do-It-Yourself Landscaping Can Save Thousands (31 comments)

    This is the first post from Winston, the new GRS editorial assistant. My wife and I have saved thousands of dollars by landscaping our own yard. Four years ago, we were feeling overwhelmed by our back yard. We’d been in our home for a couple of years, had spent some time and money on the inside, and were ready to move on to backyard projects.  We spent a couple of seasons moving dirt around, trying…

  • Back to Basics: A Guide to Traditional Skills (39 comments)

    Based on reader suggestions, Kris and I made a trip to Costco on Friday to buy bulk yeast and a fifty-pound bag of bread flour. (We’re serious about this whole home-made bread thing.) While I waited for Kris to pick up some other groceries, I leafed through Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills edited by Abigail R. Gehring. “Wow,” I thought. “I am the target audience for this book.” I bought it….

  • Gardening Basics: What to Do with All That Extra Zucchini (41 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. I could not have written this — I hate zucchini. Ah, summer. Or, as it’s sometimes known, zucchini season. If you were one of those brave souls that planted zucchini this year, it’s about to start exploding. Or perhaps where you live, it’s already mid-explosion! It’s time to start finding ways to use all that produce. Fresh zucchini is great when grilled with a bit of olive…

  • Selling Your Existing Home While Buying a New One (34 comments)

    Kris and I had been in our first house for ten years when our dream home fell in our lap one day. Until then, we had no plans to move. We were completely unprepared to sell our existing home while buying a new one. Eventually we made it happen, but we violated a number home-buying best practices as we scrambled to make our dream a reality. We were particularly worried about how to time things…

  • 11 Tips for First-Time Homebuyers (93 comments)

    This is a guest post from Mike at Quest for Four Pillars, a Canadian financial blog. Buying a house is a difficult process — there are large sums of money involved, the transaction costs and hassle of moving mean that you can’t just buy another house if you don’t like the one you end up with, and you don’t have enough information to make a completely informed decision. The best you can do is to…

  • Estimate Your Electricity Costs with a Web-Based Calculator (21 comments)

    It’s been a couple years since I mentioned Michael Bluejay’s fantastic Saving Electricity site. It’s a treasure trove of practical tips for household power management. Bluejay offers information on: The difference between natural gas and electric appliances How much electricity costs Electricity myths and much more While doing research for an upcoming post, I discovered Bluejay’s guide to how much electricity different devices use. This single page can answer most of your questions about power…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • How to Stop Junk Mail in Its Tracks (59 comments)

    This article is part of Financial Literacy Month. Most Americans receive a daily flood of junk mail. Some savvy citizens take a stand against the torrent. My friend Pam gets great delight from calling the sender of every catalog she receives in order to be removed from their mailing lists. This works well, but there are easier ways to deal with the problem. Here’s a list of four tools you can use to keep the…

  • The Bountiful Container: Gardening in Small Spaces (25 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. I’ve been gardening for almost fifteen years. I started with flowers, added herbs and vegetables, then a few fruits, then a lot more. I’ve gardened in plots and pots and raised beds. I’ve drooled over bedding plants, spent too much on whatever was my obsession-of-the-moment (bulbs! daylilies! gooseberries! ornamental grasses!), and have certainly read my fair share of plant books and magazines. By this time, I’m somewhat…

  • 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…

  • Suze Orman’s Ultimate Protection Portfolio (and a Do-It-Yourself Alternative) (60 comments)

    For the past few months, I’ve been pursuing a paperless personal finance system. I’ve scheduled electronic transactions with my bank, and I scan important documents when I receive them. My method is still very much in “beta”, but I hope to write about it later this year. My sister-in-law, Tiffany, isn’t a computer geek, but she’s been trying to get her financial documents organized, too. So when she saw an advertisement for Suze Orman’s Ultimate…

  • Home-Made Treats for Backyard Birds (19 comments)

    This is a guest post from my wife. If there’s one area of our household budget where frugality goes out the window, it’s the birds. There’s a large picture window over our kitchen sink, and I love to spend my Saturday mornings standing with a cup of tea, watching our neighborhood avian community. Or I keep an eye on the flight activity while I do the large-batch cooking that will see us through the week….

  • Daily Links: Free Downloadable Suze Orman e-Book! (22 comments)

    Want a free book from financial guru Suze Orman? Until 8pm Eastern on the evening of February 14th, the Oprah Winfrey site is giving away a free PDF version of Orman’s latest book, Women & Money. To find the download, scroll to the bottom of this page. The book is available in both English and Spanish editions. (Thanks, Anne!) If you want something a bit more romantic than a personal finance book today, check out…

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

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

  • 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…

  • 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…

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 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…

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

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

  • Learning to Love the Not-So-Big House (101 comments)

    I had lunch with my friend Cameron a few weeks ago. Over plates of Kung Pao Chicken and Mongolian Beef, the conversation drifted toward personal finance. We began to talk about the repairs and upgrades we’ve been making to our homes. Kris and I bought our current house three years ago; Cameron and his wife bought their home two years ago. Both were big upgrades from what we had previously owned. And though neither couple…

  • Accelerated Mortgage Payments (and the GRS Amortization Calculator) (48 comments)

    What if you’ve reviewed the compromises required to pay your mortgage early and the idea still appeals to you? You might pay a bank to set up a bi-weekly payment plan or a money merge account. But you can do just as well by taking mortgage acceleration into your own hands. Here are three options I’ve considered: Rather than pay my mortgage, I could deposit my money into a high-yield savings account earning roughly 5%…

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

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

  • 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…

  • Blow-by-Blow Account of a Housing Addition, part one: Costs (8 comments)

    This is a guest post from JerichoHill. Recently my fiancée and I have engaged in a bit of home-renovation. Several years ago, Julie bought half of a duplex in a suburb of Washington, D.C. It is rather small for a house today, with two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a finished basement. The bedrooms were small because the duplex was constructed in the early 1960s. Her place was large enough for a spoiled-rotten dog and the…

  • 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…

  • Ask the Readers: What’s the Best Way to Save for a Down Payment? (50 comments)

    When I asked recently for topics you’d like to see covered at Get Rich Slowly, many of you expressed interest in learning more about how to purchase a home. Jason sent the following question: What’s the best vehicle to save money for a house? I’m probably more than a year from purchasing my first real estate. While maxing out my Roth IRA and building a nice emergency fund, I need to start saving specifically for…

  • Ask the Readers: Is It Better to Invest or to Prepay a Mortgage? (194 comments)

    Paul writes with a common question that illustrates how challenging personal finance can be, even when you’re doing the right things. Sometimes it’s difficult to choose between several good options. Here’s his dilemma: I refinanced my house a few years ago at a great rate (5-3/8%). At the time, we had a lot of equity in the house so we borrowed against it in order to build an addition. After we were finished, we had…

  • Save Big By Canceling Private Mortgage Insurance (21 comments)

    When you buy a home, you learn there are many little costs that accumulate over time: mortgage, interest, insurance, utilities, maintenance, etc. Many of these are recurring expenses about which little can be done. There is one expensive, however, that homeowners can eliminate, and should do so as soon as possible. Lenders require private mortgage insurance (commonly called PMI) from homebuyers who take out loans that are more than 80 percent of a property’s value….

  • An Introduction to Square-Foot Gardening (73 comments)

    I grew up in the country — gardening meant a large plot, plowed and raked, and then planted with long, widely-space rows of vegetables. It also meant weeding and hoeing, weeding and hoeing. Gardening was a chore. When Kris and I bought our first home, we both wanted a vegetable garden, but we didn’t want the drudgery that came with it. Besides, we didn’t have a big space in the country — we had an…

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

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

  • 7 Mistakes That Make Homeowners Targets for Burglars (35 comments)

    I received an advertisement in the mail yesterday for a publication called Bottom Line Personal. The ad included several money tips. My favorite was the list of “Top Mistakes That Make Homeowners Prime Targets for Burglars”. To get the real scoop on how to protect your home, we asked the best of all sources — a reformed burglar. This former burglar stole over $70 million worth of jewelry during his career, and spent 11 years…

  • Save Money on Plumbing Whether or Not You Do It Yourself (8 comments)

    A few weeks ago I mentioned Curbly, a new community-based DIY site. Here’s a guest-post from one of the Curbly’s featured writers, Alex Russell. Copper’s proper. That’s the saying, anyway. But the problem now with copper for your plumbing has nothing to do with reliability. It’s cost. Over the past year, the retail price of copper tube for plumbing has almost doubled. However, there is a great money-saving alternative. Using PEX for your new water…

  • Review: Kill-a-Watt Electricity Usage Monitor (68 comments)

    In June I shared some tips for reducing home energy costs. Most of the information came from Michael Bluejay’s excellent guide to saving electricity. I was curious how much electricity invidual appliances use, so I ordered a gadget that Bluejay recommends: the Kill-a-Watt electricity meter. The official web site declares: Connect your appliances into the Kill A Watt™, and assess how efficient they are. A large LCD display counts consumption by the Kilowatt-hour just like…

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

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

  • Cheap Places to Live Rich (4 comments)

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

  • Saving Electricity: How to Reduce Your Energy Costs (18 comments)

    How much electricity does your computer use? Your refrigerator? Your washer and dryer? Do you know how to save money on water heating costs? Michael Bluejay‘s guide to saving electricity answers these questions and more. Bluejay calls himself “Mr. Electricity” — the title is apt! My guide on Saving Electricity gives you a bit more than you might get elsewhere. I explain exactly what a kilowatt hour is and how much you pay for one….