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Money Hacks


  • Best Budget Apps 2016-2017: Goodbudget (1 comment)

    The prevailing wisdom is that people spend more when they have a debit or credit card in their hand. Every swipe feels like free money until you get your monthly statement. Enter the envelope system. You put just enough cash in designated envelopes and when the money’s gone, it’s gone — the idea being that making your spending tangible will produce better financial habits. Goodbudget, formerly known as Easy Envelope Budget Aid, has taken this…

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

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

  • Save Bucks on Lower Gas Prices (0 comment)

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

  • How To Save Money Each Month (16 comments)

    Is this the year to focus on saving more? If you’ve been disappointed when you’ve checked out your savings account balance, let’s change that this year by figuring out how to save money each month. How much should I be saving? Actually, advice on the topic of how much you should be saving differs based on who’s giving the advice. At a minimum, most people recommend saving 10 percent of your income. Dave Ramsey recommends saving…

  • Springboard to a Prosperous New Year (6 comments)

    Taking the time for new year planning in relation to your financial goals is a fantastic habit that can pay dividends for years to come. Here at Get Rich Slowly, we’re proud of the content we brought you this year — and we’re excited to go on exploring the topics of personal finance into the years ahead. We’d love to hear what you’d like us to dive into, but first, some highlights of the year that…

  • How to Live Comfortably in Retirement (18 comments)

    Retirement lifestyles depend on your financial success — but financial success is part reality and part perception. In fact, if you moderate what you perceive as financial success, you could improve the financial reality of your future. It’s particularly important to consider this as you approach retirement, but this dynamic actually starts well before you’re ready to retire. It has to do with what kind of lifestyle you think you need. People tend to raise…

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

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

  • How to Spend FSA Money (12 comments)
  • Student loan repayment and the ethics of personal finance (12 comments)

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

    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

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

  • What are Pay as you Earn (REPAYE) Student Loans? (10 comments)

    [This is the second installment in a series examining repaying student loans. Part I was a best practices guide for repaying student loans.]

    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Pay As You Earn (PAYE) was introduced in December 2012 and has been widely touted as one of the best options for those struggling to pay back their student loans. Why is this? PAYE is an income-driven payment plan for federal student loans…

  • Year-end tax planning – 2015 checklist (10 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Suba Iyer.

    Know your taxes! I am a big fan of the philosophy: No one cares more about your money than you do. Even if a professional prepares your taxes every year, learn to do it yourself. Aside from what you’ll save in fees, here are two benefits of learning to prepare your taxes yourself: By doing your taxes on your own, you can learn quite a bit…

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

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

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

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

  • Money mistakes to avoid in your 40s (11 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Suba Iyer.

    With age comes wisdom, so they say — but it also comes with more complicated lifestyles. By the time we reach our 40s, we expect to be savvy, certainly capable of making good financial decisions, and generally well on our way to reaching our goals. But from what I can see, it’s often not the case. We are still in our 30s, but our friends and…

  • 7 sure-fire strategies to win college scholarships (26 comments)

    This is a guest post by Lynnette Khalfani-Cox. How much can hard work in school and when applying for scholarships reduce the overall costs of getting a college degree? Well, in our family’s experience, it’s amounted to nearly $150,000 so far. (I say that because we have two more children to put through college.) Hard work over the years brought choices Our oldest, Aziza, is a high-achieving, ambitious student. She plans to graduate in four…

  • 5 ways to pay yourself first (16 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Recently, we discussed the benefits of paying yourself first. But exactly how do you go about doing that (especially if you feel like you’re living paycheck to paycheck already)? If you are just starting to manage your money or you simply struggle when it comes to budgeting in the first place, paying yourself first may seem like one of those personal finance concepts that sounds good…

  • 5 ways to keep your financial information safer from hackers (19 comments)

    Hey, do you mind if I try to guess one of your passwords? No? Okay, how about “123456” or “password”? Maybe “Max123” or “Bella2011”? Although I hope no Get Rich Slowly readers are using any of these passwords currently, “123456” and “password” are among the most common passwords chosen. And “Max” and “Bella”? Those are some of the most popular pet names; and since pet names are commonly used too — Well … I am…

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

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

  • Ask the Readers: Have you ever opened a retirement account to reduce your taxes? (40 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    As we finished up our tax return this year, it turned out that we owed. Great. We don’t have to scrape the money together. We had planned for the extra liability when an unexpected consulting gig came together for my husband at the end of 2014. But nonetheless, it stings when you have to write a check to the Internal Revenue Service. (And besides, you just want…

  • Investigating a potential employer: Using financial metrics to protect your future (4 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Ryan Takach.

    There is much to consider before you decide to join a company. Of course it is important to understand the company culture, the workload, management style, performance expectations, pay and benefits. But you will also want to be sure that a prospective employer is viable. To help you gauge how strong your continued employment and even potential for career growth is within the company, you may…

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

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

  • Best way to redeem travel points: Why hoarding points is a bad investment (17 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    For most people, pursuing credit card rewards is a game of cat and mouse. You keep a watchful eye on your credit score, seek out the best offers, and strike when the iron is hot. But that is just one component of the hobby; the other part of the equation is that it can be extremely exciting to watch your point balances climb. Obviously, the more…

  • How to buy the right car for your wallet (36 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    The odometer on my car is nearing 223,000 miles. While I am hoping the dented-on-all-four-sides sedan is going to make it to at least 250,000 miles and beyond, realistically, we need to plan for a replacement. But before we go car shopping, we need to decide what we are looking for. There are a lot of things to consider here like the manufacturer, style, color, etc.,…

  • Free online background check — Could a specialty consumer report be costing you? (10 comments)

    This article is by Suba Iyer, who currently writes for FiveCentNickel.com. Ever wonder why you had to pay a deposit to get your utilities turned on when your friend didn’t? Have you noticed that the health insurance premiums for two self-employed people can be different? Well, there are consumer reporting companies in many industries that “… collect information and provide reports on consumers that are used to decide whether to provide consumers credit, insurance, or…

  • How I use negative feelings about finances to my advantage (14 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong.

    I have never had much patience for dwelling. Time is a limited resource and I want to use it in the best possible way. Dwelling is a waste. I also have little patience for sweeping things under the rug and pretending to be happy when I’m not. Ignoring a problem is a great way to ensure it will come back to haunt you later. Plus, in…

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

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

  • Improve your negotiation skills with BATNA (21 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Sam. Sam spent 13 years working in Equities on Wall Street and discusses financial independence strategies on Financial Samurai. Sam is also the founder of the Yakezie Network, the largest personal finance blog network on the web. If you want to know how to get the best deal possible, learn this simple acronym: BATNA. “BATNA” stands for “Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement.” Often times the bulk of money…

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

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

  • Ask the Readers: Do you stress-test your finances? (23 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. As J.D. Roth put it, “Failure is okay.” We all experience it, and we each have to figure out how to deal with it. Some people even study it. In fact, studying failure is a very productive thing to do. A stress-test can be used to study failure in a proactive sense. It can help predict how and when failure will occur within the confines of a safe,…

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

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

  • Overwork and the illusion of a “high-paying” job (68 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. I recently read a short article in The New Yorker titled “The Cult of Overwork.” In it, James Surowiecki writes: “For decades, junior bankers and Wall Street firms had an unspoken pact: in exchange for reasonably high-paying jobs and a shot at obscene wealth, young analysts agreed to work fifteen hours a day, and forgo anything resembling a normal life.” Reading that, I had a thought. If you’re…

  • 5 car maintenance services you can get for free (32 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. We get a lot of pitches at Get Rich Slowly. Despite the underlying marketing agenda, sometimes these pitches contain useful information that is worth sharing. Case in point, Pep Boys emailed us a whole array of free services they offer. My ears perked up for a few reasons: I was impressed with just how many services they offer. It made me wonder about other places that offer free…

  • 8 hacks to help you keep your resolutions (35 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. When I was in the first stage of personal finance, I had two obvious goals: Pay off my credit card Save $10,000 for an emergency fund It was by no means easy. But, I had a plan, and I hit my goal, and it felt so great. And then I set another goal: automatic deposits into a Roth IRA. And I did that too, gaining more confidence and…

  • Spare change: Spending studies, money hacks, and Tina Turner (23 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. I tried to finish my Christmas shopping early, both to avoid crowds and to save money. For instance, my gift to my youngest niece was a baking kit. The girl watches Cake Boss religiously, and every time I see her, she immediately asks if we can bake cupcakes, which she will then douse with sprinkles. So my husband and I bought her the really good baking stuff,…

  • The power of speaking up (38 comments)

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

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

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

  • Ask the Readers: Which Concepts Have Contributed Most to Your Financial Success? (57 comments)

    Note: 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. Over the past few months, I’ve been brainstorming ideas about future book projects. It’s been four years since I started writing Your Money: The Missing Manual, and I’m eager to delve deeper into the subject of personal finance….

  • Reader Stories: 5 money-savvy tips for recovering from a divorce (13 comments)

    This story comes from reader Julia Lawrence. Julia thoroughly enjoys writing about finances, pop culture and selling diamonds! When she isn’t hard at work writing, she spends her time wither with an absolutely adorable Mini Golden Retriever, Jake, and her [new] husband, Mr. Julia Lawrence. Follow Jules at Google+ & @DiamondLining. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with…

  • Reader Stories: The shocking truth about medical bills that can save you thousands (241 comments)

    This reader story is by a longtime GRS reader Sumitha from afineparent.com, a blog founded on the simple belief that “Good Parents Are Made, Not Born.” Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. How much would you think it would cost to…

  • How to save money on vet bills (62 comments)

    A few years ago, a little orange cat showed up on my front porch, and I fed him. You can probably guess what happened next. Yep, he never left. But as with any “free” pet, Hans cost a lot of money. This was especially true in the beginning when we had to have him neutered and vaccinated. We also paid for a six-month supply of flea treatment. Then, Hans injured his paw. It swelled to…

  • Reader Stories: Adventures in negotiating (34 comments)

    This post from Cortney Jansen. Cortney is 29, works as an engineer in the Bay Area and has been reading GRS for a couple of years now. She’s in the third stage of personal finance: debt-free and trying to figure out the best balance for multiple savings goals. This post is part of the Reader Stories series. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or…

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

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

  • How to Buy Brand Name Items at Generic Brand Prices (42 comments)

    This is a guest post from Halina Zakowicz of Your Money and Debt. Like many of you, I’m always looking to save money on brand name items. Aside from drug prescriptions, generics have just never quite “done it” for me — the generic soda I bought went gone flat in hours, the generic toilet paper I’ve purchased has either shred in my hands or never come off the roll, and the generic snack items I’ve…

  • The Best Way to Buy a New Car (46 comments)

    Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is the author of The Predictioneer’s Game, a book about using game theory to get what you want in day-to-day life. Mesquita argues that we can predict and engineer the future by understanding the self-interest of those involved in making decisions. What does that all mean? Well, over at Big Think, Mesquita has provided a short video explaining how to use these ideas to buy a new car. Here are the…

  • Kickstart New Habits with a 30-Day Challenge (52 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. I never make New Year’s resolutions. I’ve got nothing against them, but I’m usually already working on resolutions made throughout the previous year. I’m too impatient to wait for an arbitrary day to start changing something in my life. One example? Less-than-healthful holiday eating habits. I’m a health nut by nature — I crave kale, and soft drinks have zero appeal. But on December 25, you can…

  • Free Money from Banks! (But Watch the Fine Print) (53 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. I earned $200 in less than an hour the other day, without removing any of my clothes. A bank gave me the money (or will, a few months from now) in exchange for opening a business checking account. Why would a bank or a credit union…

  • Smart Ways to Save Money (136 comments)

    In January, I started a savings experiment. The experiment was designed to save money for my “emergency cushion” account without feeling the loss from my pocket or budget. I figured I could probably save about $30 to $50 per month — not much, but not peanuts either. In six months, I hoped to save about $250, which would be a smart way to save money. Last week, a month later than I’d originally intended, I…

  • Playing to Win: Turning Money Management into a Game (65 comments)

    I am a gamer. All my life, I’ve been a fan of games of all types. I’ve played Dungeons and Dragons since I was in the third grade. During 2000 and 2001, Kris and I had marathon bridge sessions with another couple at least once a week. I used to host monthly game nights during which my friends and I played the latest and greatest European board games. For a while, I played in chess…

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

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

  • A Primer on Finding Unclaimed Property (74 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. Finding free money lying around with your name on it seems a little too good to be true, doesn’t it? That’s what I thought when I learned about Missing Money, a website that offers to help you track down unclaimed property that may belong to you. Sometimes free money is for real, though. The site is…

  • My Financial Roadmap and Making Course Corrections (58 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. One of the hazards of blogging is that you can’t always be right. When you’re wrong, you get to be wrong in front of a lot of people. Which can be embarrassing — but also a great learning experience. In April, I wrote about my “frugal” decision to let my broken shower languish, and the critical…

  • 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…

  • A Penny Saved is a Penny Spurned? What to Do with Pockets Full of Change (176 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money. She also writes about frugality, intentional living, and life in general at her own blog, Surviving And Thriving. I regularly empty the change from my wallet. Pennies, nickels and dimes go into a pink piggy bank. Quarters go into “Mr. Nest Egg,” a bank shaped like Humpty Dumpty. The quarters are for when I finally get around…

  • 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…

  • Confessions of a Spendaholic: How to Curb Compulsive Spending (51 comments)

    My name is J.D., and I’m a spendaholic. Now admittedly, I mostly have my spending under control. I’m no longer in debt, and I force myself to make conscious decisions about what I purchase. (Conscious spending is one of the keys to overcoming emotional spending.) Having said that, however, I know that if I relax for even a moment, I’ll be right back in my old habits. I’ll find myself at the grocery store, buying…

  • Use FreeFile to File Your Tax Return for Free (32 comments)

    Tax season is in full swing, and again this year, the Internal Revenue Service is offering a program that allows many U.S. taxpayers to electronically file their tax returns for free: The Free File program provides free federal income tax preparation and electronic filing for eligible taxpayers through a partnership between the Internal Revenue Service and the Free File Alliance LLC, a group of private sector tax software companies. Many companies offer free or paid…

  • Nine Lessons in Wealth-Building from The Millionaire Next Door (103 comments)

    Want to become a millionaire? Then perhaps you should start by studying the behaviors of people who have done it. Check out the lists of the best financial books of all time, and you’re bound to find several that include The Millionaire Next Door: Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy. Written in 1996 by marketing professors William Danko and Thomas Stanley, its main premise is that people who look rich may not actually be rich; they overspend…

  • Reader Story: How to Find Budgeting Nirvana with Mint.com (78 comments)

    This guest post from Geoff Lennon 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. Though I’ve been a GRS reader since early 2007, I’ve largely been a quiet observer. I’ve often wanted to participate more actively in…

  • GRS Housekeeping: Comments, Follow-Ups, and Tweetchats (22 comments)

    It’s a busy week for me. I’ve been writing and editing like mad, trying to prepare for my upcoming trip to South Africa. Things are going well, but there’s still lots more work to do. In the meantime, I realized there are a handful of housekeeping points I need to mention: I’ve changed how I’m responding to comments. I’ve begun to reply “in-line” (for lack of a better term), when I have time. That is,…

  • How to Take Control of Your Finances in 2011 (58 comments)

    The new year is upon us! I’ve talked to a lot of folks lately who have resolved to make this the year they get out of debt. Or start an emergency fund. Or earn more money. These resolutions don’t mean a whit, though, if you don’t have a plan. For the past five years, I’ve shared the following road map, adding one new tip every January. Many GRS readers have used this info to plot…

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

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

  • Finding Financial Benchmarks and Milestones (116 comments)

    In last Wednesday’s link round-up, I pointed to an article over at Gen-Y Wealth in which RJ has listed 20 financial milestones you should reach in your twenties. “I like this list,” I wrote, “and I’d actually love to see similar lists for different age ranges. People could use it as a sort of road map to where they ought to be.” What sorts of milestones were on the list? Things like: Pay off your…

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

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

  • Make More Money: How to Supercharge Your Income (82 comments)

    Nearly every morning, I get up early to go exercise at the local Crossfit gym. While I wait for it to open at 6:30, I do laps around the cold, dark parking garage with my friend Dan. Sometimes we talk about money and how to make money. This morning, for example, Dan asked, “Do you ever feel like you’re not going to make it financially?” “I used to,” I said, “I worried about it all…

  • Budgeting For Mistakes (75 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. How carefully do you budget? Do you account for every dime, or is there some wiggle room in your spending plan? Since I got on the wagon with tracking my spending, there’s no miscellaneous category in my budget anymore. Every dime of my income is accounted for. I know how much I…

  • Money ‘Magic’ to Curb Spending (16 comments)

    Editor’s Note: This post on money ‘magic’ is a bit of a departure from our usual fact-based personal finance advice but in the spirit of Halloween, contributor Sierra Black explores folklore and saving money, with a little spookiness thrown in. It’s Halloween, the season of ghosts, ghouls, and witches! To celebrate, I thought I’d share a little money magic with you that really works. It’s an old Southern folk magic spell called Money Stay With…

  • How to Replace Six Vital Documents (29 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Could you produce your birth certificate, car title, or an old tax return at a moment’s notice? You’re supposed to store vital documents in a fireproof box or keep them in a safe-deposit box, but how many of us actually do that? We may not need these papers often, but when we do need them, we really need them. You need vital documents to sell your…

  • Free Money-Management Spreadsheet (21 comments)

    Having a simple budget template can help you stay on financial track. Whenever I write about personal-finance programs, there’s always a large contingent of GRS readers who chime in to say they prefer the do-it-yourself method. Rather than go with pre-packaged money-management software like Quicken or Mint, they prefer to track their accounts with a home-brewed spreadsheet. (In fact, my wife is one of these folks, too.) I’ve shared a variety of personal-finance spreadsheets in the…

  • How to Find Unclaimed Money (and Unclaimed Property) (79 comments)

    July 21st was the fifteenth anniversary of my father’s death. He died of cancer at age 49, just ten days shy of his fiftieth birthday. When Dad died, he left behind a meager estate. Aside from the custom box business (which, admittedly, was not “meager”), he managed to leave each family member with $5,000 in life insurance proceeds, and that’s about it. His personal finance skills had never been great, and that included estate planning….

  • How to Safeguard Your Social Security Number (57 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. In articles about how to prevent identity theft, I’ve often read that one should never give out his or her social security number (SSN) unless absolutely necessary. That sounds like good common sense. But I recently found myself asking, in what situations is it actually necessary? I’ve mentioned that my husband and I own land on which we are starting to build a home. The land…

  • Ask the Readers: Methods for Effective Money Management? (132 comments)

    On Monday I confessed that since I stopped tracking my spending, I’ve actually had some trouble paying my bills. It’s not that I don’t have the money — I have plenty! — but that I no longer have a system in place to remind myself to take care of routine financial tasks. Quicken was my system, and when I stopped using it, order vanished. In the comments on Monday’s post, Rob Bennett made an astute…

  • Taking Care of Business: Expense Reimbursement (53 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Most employees have to submit expense reports at some point — be it for out-of-town travel, client dinners, special events, or other expenses you incur due to your job responsibilities. Keeping track of these expenses is important, otherwise you’re losing money while on the job and probably not endearing yourself to your company’s finance department, which relies on accurate records and timely reports from employees. It…

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

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

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

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

  • Get Kitchen Gadgets for Less at the Local Restaurant Supply Store (24 comments)

    My pal Chris Guillebeau is out of town on another one of his around-the-world jaunts. While he’s living the high life in Equatorial Guinea, his wife Jolie (the artist behind my Kermit painting) is left to entertain herself here in Portland. What does she choose to do? While away her hours with me and Kris. On a whim, yesterday the three of us made a trip to the local restaurant supply store. This wasn’t my…

  • Reader Story: The $20 Challenge (45 comments)

    This guest post from Jessica is part of the “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general “how I did X” advice, and others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity, and with all sorts of incomes. Note that Jessica won $500 in the GRS video contest for this success story. My husband Paul…

  • Busting the Myths: Why Coupons Are a Valuable Part of Your Financial Arsenal (112 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation in Alaska. This is a guest post from Tara Kuczykowski, who is introducing the basics of couponing to a new generation of coupon clippers through her money-saving blog, Deal-Seeking Mom. Tara is teaching readers across the U.S. how to stretch their budgets in order to make room for occasional splurges. Living the good life while spending less is possible with just a little effort! I was a deal seeker long before…

  • The One-Year Wardrobe Project (100 comments)

    About a year ago, at the advice of GRS readers, I started an experiment. I took all of the shirts and sweaters from my clothes closet and moved them into our spare room. Whenever I needed something to wear, I checked the clothes closet first. If what I needed wasn’t there (as was often the case at first), I went to the spare room to find it. After I’d worn a shirt or sweater once,…

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

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

  • Fixed Expenses and Flexible Expenses: How to Budget for Both (57 comments)

    Having flexible spending can help reduce your stress because you never know when you’re going to get hit by flexible expenses. A few months ago, my local bank and I had a falling out and my husband and I were suddenly very motivated to switch banks. We’d narrowed it down to two choices: Citizens Bank, which has a local branch where I can deposit the cash and many small checks I receive in the course…

  • How to check your federal IRS tax refund status (48 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    April 15th may be a few weeks away, but I’m guessing some of you have already filed your tax return. We, as a matter of fact, just finished our tax return last week. For the second year in a row, we are getting a small refund. (As an aside, we have a large nonrefundable tax credit that is taunting me. Our tax liability wasn’t high enough…

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

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

  • New from the IRS! Use Your Tax Refund to Buy Savings Bonds (29 comments)

    Here’s something cool I learned at Mapgirl’s Fiscal Challenge. Apparently you can now use your tax refund to automatically buy I-series bonds from the U.S. government. As recently as three years ago, I was a huge fan of tax refunds. Despite the arguments against them, I liked getting a tax refund because it was the only way I’d found to save. I’m able to save on my own now, so I no longer aim to…

  • How to get the best rates on your savings — safely (64 comments)

    Over the past year, one of the frequent questions I get is: “Where I can safely invest my money to get a decent return?” For example, Joseph wrote in November: Around February/March, I should have $5,000 to invest. My debts are under control and my wife and I have lowered our monthly expenses. I was wondering if you had any advice on ways to invest $5,000. I don’t want a savings account because the interest…

  • Reader Tip: Pay Your Bills as They Arrive (99 comments)

    Andy sent me a tip by e-mail the other day. This isn’t long enough to be a reader story, but I think it’ll be useful advice for some GRS readers. Andy says he’s learned that if he pays his bills as they arrive, he feels a lot less stressed than if he puts them off to the end of the month. When he got his first credit card, Andy made a habit of paying his…

  • 9 Sneaky Expenses That Eat Away at Your Income (58 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker is a founding member of Untemplater.com, a new multi-author blog focusing on personal finance, entrepreneurship, and life design for people in their 20’s and 30’s. Few concepts have had as great an impact on my family’s financial decision-making as learning how to calculate our real hourly wage. The concept was introduced by (or at least popularized by) the amazing book, Your Money or Your Life. This book…

  • 10 Steps to Financial Success in 2010 (51 comments)

    Ah, the new year. The perfect time to get your life back on track. If one of your goals for 2010 is to take control of your finances, this crash course in financial basics can help guide the way. Here are ten simple but effective steps you can take to build a better financial future. Step #1: Track every penny you spend The authors of Your Money or Your Life urge readers to “keep track…

  • How I Cut my Comcast Cable Bill by 33% (Without Losing Any Service) (256 comments)

    This article started out as the individual experience of one personal finance blogger as he successfully haggled with his cable company to reduce his bill by 33% back in 2009. Unfortunately, that sinking feeling you are overpaying for services such as cable is still alive and well in 2016. But other things have changed dramatically. In 2009, Netflix was still known by many as the company with the red and white DVD sleeves that came…

  • You Can Negotiate Anything (46 comments)

    In May, I wrote about how to negotiate your salary. I argued that following the advice in Jack Chapman’s Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1,000 a Minute is one of the best ways to improve your financial well-being. I still believe it. If you’re looking for work or looking for a raise, you should absolutely read his book. But negotiation is a skill you can use in other parts of your life, too. In…

  • How to Establish a Credit History Without Losing Your Shirt (45 comments)

    This is a guest post from Adam Jusko, founder of IndexCreditCards.com, an information and comparison site for credit cards that maintains a list of over 1200 cards. You can follow Adam on Twitter for quick credit tips and opinions. I’ve previously featured IndexCreditCards as “The Only Credit Card Guide You’ll Ever Need” as a source for credit card offers Among recently-passed credit card regulations is a command that issuers stop giving credit cards to adults…

  • How to Get Your Free Credit Report Online: A Step-by-Step Guide (49 comments)

    Getting your hands on a free copy of your credit report and checking it for errors is one of the easiest ways to help your financial health. Correcting even a small mistake can make a huge difference to your score. A higher score means lower interest rates, insurance quotes, and can even help you land some types of jobs. And it’s never been easier to get a copy of your free credit report. AnnualCreditReport.com is…

  • 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…

  • Minimalist Money: 6 Steps to Simplify Your Financial Life (98 comments)

    This is a guest post from Leo Babauta of the simplicity blog, Zen Habits. Leo also recently started a new blog about minimalism, mnmlist.com. Finances are one of the most complicated things in many people’s lives … and yet, they don’t have to be. With a little effort, you can simplify your financial life and end the money headaches most people face. I consider myself a minimalist. As such, I shy from all kinds of…

  • Your Credit Report Card (69 comments)

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

  • 11 Ways to Spice Up Your Emergency Fund (77 comments)

    This article is by Adam Baker, a GRS Staff Writer. In addition to writing for Get Rich Slowly, Baker blogs over at Man Vs. Debt, where he discusses ways to simplify your financial life. A thriving emergency fund is an essential piece of a healthy financial picture. You’ve heard this a million times before. The basics of emergency funds have been covered in depth. We’re used to hearing discussions on why they’re important and how large…

  • Green Sherpa: An Online Cash-Flow Management Tool (21 comments)

    A couple of months ago, I posted a list of 16 alternatives to Microsoft Money. GRS readers left nearly 200 responses evaluating the various personal finance programs available on the web and for the desktop. One feature that many users crave is the ability to project their future cash flow. While it’s important to track where your money’s gone, some folks find it valuable to predict where money will go in the weeks or months…

  • The Best Ways to Boost Your Retirement (50 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. With the S&P 500 still down more than a third from its 2007 high, we’re all a little unsure about our retirement plans these days. So it’s time for some good old-fashioned elbow grease….

  • How to Earn Free Plane Tickets and Cash Back by Shopping Online (100 comments)

    This is a guest post from April Dykman, an avid GRS reader, and a writer and editor by trade. April is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. In her first article, April described how she discovered freedom from mindless spending. April is an active commenter at this site. When my husband and I went to Italy in 2006, we spent $2500 on plane tickets. We’re planning to spend much less for our next…

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

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

  • Free financial spreadsheets from Google Docs (24 comments)

    Last week, I shared a list of 16 alternatives to Microsoft Money. These applications offer a variety of solutions for managing your personal finances. But not everyone wants to use a specialized computer program to track their spending. Many Get Rich Slowly readers (including my wife) are content to manage their money with a spreadsheet. Spreadsheets are easily customizable, and if you know what you’re doing, they can actually be a lot more powerful than…

  • Should You Write ‘SEE ID’ or Sign Your Credit Cards? (153 comments)

    Last week I had lunch with Hardy, a Get Rich Slowly reader here in Portland. We chatted about life (and personal finance) over burgers and fries. He generously offered to pay the bill. When the waitress returned with the credit card slip, she asked to see his driver license. “What was that all about?” I asked. “Asking for my ID?” said Hardy. I nodded. He flipped over his credit card and showed it to me….

  • The Passive Way to Investment Success (494 comments)

    Many Americans conduct passive investing, which some call “lazy investing.” Though this is a common way to invest, it has its detractors. I just finished reading Paul Farrell’s The Lazy Person’s Guide to Investing, for example, and I found myself drawn to the “lazy portfolios” he describes. Lazy portfolios done by are collections of index funds. Because these portfolios are balanced — they contain stocks and bonds — they mitigate risk while providing excellent returns….

  • Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1,000 a Minute (56 comments)

    Most personal-finance blogs write about cutting expenses. But you can obtain powerful results by looking beyond frugality, by boosting your earning power. One of the best ways to increase your income is at the source: during salary negotiations, either when you land a job or during a performance review. This can be scary. For many people, salary negotiations are an awkward thing. I was discussing this subject recently with my friend Michael, who runs the…

  • Prepaid Cell Phones Can Save You Money (148 comments)

    Last week, I spoke with personal-finance writer Greg Karp about how young adults can save money. We brainstormed ideas for one of his upcoming newspaper columns. “I’m willing to bet that many young people can save money by cutting back on their cell phone,” I said. “It’s kind of shocking how these have become a Need instead of a Want.” “Yeah,” Karp said. “And what about prepaid phones?” “I don’t know anything about them,” I…

  • How to Create Your Own Target-Date Mutual Fund (35 comments)

    This is a guest post from Frank Curmudgeon, who writes about bad money advice at his aptly-named blog, Bad Money Advice. You may have heard of target-date funds. In 2006 they were okayed as default investment options for 401k accounts, so if you said nothing about where you wanted your 401k money to go, you might even have found yourself the proud owner of one. A target-date fund is a mutual fund that is made…

  • 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…

  • Fail-Safe Investing? Harry Browne’s Permanent Portfolio (64 comments)

    “The first rule of investing is don’t lose money; the second rule is don’t forget rule number one.” — Warren Buffett At the end of March, I asked you what topics you’d like to see covered during Financial Literacy Month. I received many great suggestions, and will continue to fulfill requests not just in April, but for months to come. One comment especially caught my eye. Kenneth F. LaVoie III wrote: Never again will I…

  • The Per-Diem System: An Easy Way to Budget Your Spending Money (54 comments)

    This is a guest post from Spencer, a GRS reader in New York. As a guy who just finished paying off $14,000 in credit card debt, I wanted to share one tip that helped me get over the bad debt hump. I allocate my spending money on a per diem system. At the beginning of each cycle of my monthly budget, I set aside funds for: Every fixed expense that I have (rent, cable/internet, groceries,…

  • Direct Stock Purchase Plans: A Better Way to Invest (64 comments)

    If you want to buy stocks but you only have a small amount of money each month to invest and you’re worried about paying too much in brokerage fees, you should consider a direct stock purchase plan. Hundreds of companies that trade on the major stock exchanges allow you to buy shares directly from their transfer agents for very little or no money. Buying without the middleman Years ago, I began buying shares of the Kellogg…

  • WhiteFence Helps You Find Deals on Utilities (37 comments)

    I’m a huge advocate of calling your utilities to ask for rate reductions. But some people are uncomfortable making these sorts of calls. It would be helpful if these folks had a way of using the internet to find better deals. WhiteFence is a web-based service that allows users to do just that. From the about page: WhiteFence is a free service that helps people who are moving or looking to find the best deals…

  • Continuous Service? Dumb Moves from Smart Money (314 comments)

    As part of my ongoing effort to bring you interesting and informative personal-finance information, I subscribe to several magazines, including Smart Money. Smart Money isn’t my favorite money magazine, but it has some useful articles. In 2005, I paid $20 to subscribe to Smart Money for two years. In 2007, I paid $20 to subscribe for another two years. Today I received my latest issue, which included this wrap-around “cover” announcing that “as part of…

  • The Psychology of Passive Barriers: Why Your Friends Don’t Save Money, Eat Healthier, or Clean Their Garages (100 comments)

    This is a guest post from Ramit Sethi, the founder of iwillteachyoutoberich.com, a blog on personal finance and entrepreneurship. His new book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, will be published on March 23rd. A surprising thing happens to people in their forties. After working hard, buying a house, and starting a family, they suddenly realize that they’d better start being responsible with their money. They begin reading financial books and trying to learn…

  • Safe Money in Tough Times: Questions and Answers with Jonathan Pond (58 comments)

    My wife is a public broadcasting fanatic. I recognize its value, but mostly I just tolerate it. (I often joke that NPR is “noise pollution radio” — I can’t think when it’s on.) Usually the television pledge breaks annoy me, but one night last week, the local station employed a clever tactic. They had a financial expert answer viewer questions between pleas for more money. Jonathan Pond bills himself as “America’s financial planner”. He runs…

  • 25 Useful Financial Rules of Thumb (100 comments)

    Lately I’ve found myself using more and more financial rules of thumb. A rule of thumb is a general guideline, an easy way to approximate a value quickly. It’s not meant to be completely accurate. On a whim this weekend, I gathered together many of the general rules I’ve been using, as well as several others I found online. Thanks to those who follow me on Twitter, who also contributed suggestions. For example, @FourPillars wrote,…

  • Money Hack: The Monthly Checkbook Sweep (70 comments)

    At dinner the other night, T.S. told me about a new trick she’s developed to force herself to save money. It used to be that she’d just spend whatever she had in her checkbook. She didn’t spend more than that, so she wasn’t accumulating debt. But like many people, she wasn’t saving either. She spent whatever she had on hand. Because T.S. wants to save, she’s opened an account at ING Direct. She wants to…

  • Save on Cell Phones with Employee and Student Discounts (48 comments)

    Consumer Reports is one of my favorite personal-finance magazines, and for a variety of reasons. Not only does it help readers find quality products at great prices, but it also gives tips for saving money by changing behavior. Even the CR letter column is great! For example, in the most recent issue (March 2009), there’s a letter from Richard Guibilo that offers a tip for saving money on cell phones: Your January report “Best Cell-Phone…

  • Playing with Numbers: Using Spreadsheets to Learn About Money (112 comments)

    One of my favorite personal finance tools is the spreadsheet. Although I’m no Excel master, I’ve found that I can create a spreadsheet to find answers for many money questions that I have. If I run into problems, I ask Google…or my wife. (Kris took an Excel training course.) Here are some recent questions GRS readers have e-mailed me that could be answered in just a few minutes playing with formulas: “Won’t using multiple savings…

  • How to Dispute Credit Card Charges (37 comments)

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

  • Commitment Contracts and StickK.com (21 comments)

    It is not difficult to change for a day. But it can seem almost impossible to change for a year — or a week. Though 2009 is only eight days old, I suspect that many folks are already struggling with their New Year’s resolutions. This problem is the driving force behind StickK.com. StickK helps users to set — and stick to — “commitment contracts”. Here’s how it works: After signing up with stickK, you will…

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

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

  • 9 methods for mastering your money (76 comments)

    2008 was a miserable year for money. The stock market tumbled, unemployment soared, the housing market continued to crumble, and retirement savings shriveled away. Whew! Here’s hoping 2009 will be better! But hope can only do so much. Hope cannot bring change. Action brings change. If one of your goals for 2009 is to take control of your money (instead of letting it keep control of you), this crash course in financial basics can help…

  • Tax-Loss Harvesting: How to Use the Market Downturn to Save on Taxes This Year (26 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation. This is a guest post from Linden Cornett. Linden is a Portland-area professional with an interest in finance. The stock market is down this year, and many people have asked me if I’ve made any changes to my investments as a result. My general strategy is to buy-hold-rebalance my stock and bond investments, so I’ve mainly used this downturn as an opportunity to buy stocks at bargain prices. There is one…

  • Ask the Readers: Are Local Banks Better Than Big Banks? (109 comments)

    Personal finance is about more than just money. People make financial choices because of emotion, of course, but they also make decisions based on their principles. Some people are guided by their faith. But that’s not the only way a person’s conscience can guide him. Josh recently wrote with a question about finding a bank that better matches his personal philosophy: I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the economic crisis, and about the…

  • In Praise of the Adult Allowance (194 comments)

    In the past, many Get Rich Slowly readers have sung the praises of the “adult allowance”. Though I’ve read enthusiastic comments supporting this idea, I’ve never paid it much heed. To be honest, it’s always sounded lame, and I didn’t think it would be useful to me. I was wrong. Accidental allowance Before our short vacation in early October, I pulled $200 out of the ATM. This is unusual for me. I don’t like to…

  • Put your savings on steroids with certificates of deposit (75 comments)

    Certificates of deposit (often simply called CDs), by definition are time deposits. You give your money to the bank and then promise not to touch it for a specific length of time. In general, the longer you agree to let the bank keep your money via a CD investment, the higher the interest rate you will receive. Related >> Best CD Rates [Article continued below…] Editor’s Note: All of the rates discussed in below article…

  • The Balanced Money Formula (88 comments)

    Building a budget is one of the basic tasks of personal finance. But not everyone can keep a budget. As much as I’d like to, I don’t feel comfortable with detailed planning. I continue to use a spending plan as a rough guide to my future, but a traditional budget just doesn’t work for me. Last night I stumbled across the Balanced Money Formula proposed by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Tyagi in their excellent book,…

  • How to Compute Your REAL Hourly Wage (39 comments)

    Like many Get Rich Slowly readers, I credit Your Money or Your Life with changing the way I approach my personal finances. This book transformed my relationship with money, and helped me to understand that by spending beyond my means, I was sacrificing a secure future for today’s passing pleasures. One of the book’s key insights is that time really is money. Or, approaching it from the other direction, money is time. The authors write:…

  • 10 Unconventional Money-Saving Tips (65 comments)

    For me, the hardest part about learning to save was changing my relationship with money. I understood intellectually that I needed to spend less than I earned, and I could see the debt accumulating as I spent, but money management isn’t just about knowing the math. It’s mostly about knowing yourself. It’s about building self-discipline, and about learning to see money in new ways. While browsing at Passion Saving the other day, I discovered an…

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

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

  • Know Your Consumer Rights When it Comes to Credit Cards (56 comments)

    Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared in 2008 but was updated on October 12, 2016. If you have any questions about our content, we’d love to hear from you at editors@getrichslowly.org. Some 3 billion pieces of mail are sent to U.S. consumers each year from credit card companies, according to 2015 statistics highlighted in Business Insider. That’s a lot of marketing to wade through. And, as you know, it’s simply not enough to pay your…

  • How and When to Cancel a Credit Card (80 comments)

    Update: After feedback from readers, I’ve made some clarifications to this post. My recommendations have not changed, but I’ve tried to emphasize the effect closing a credit card can have on your credit score. My recent two-part series on responsible credit card use (Five essential credit card skills and How to choose a credit card) prompted several readers to ask the same question: What’s the best way to cancel credit cards in order to minimize…

  • The Budget Toolbox: 13 Tools for Building a Better Budget (55 comments)

    Sara’s been reading personal finance blogs for a while now, and she’s ready to set up a budget. She’s come to us for help. She writes: I would like to start listing my spending totals into a spreadsheet budget along with setting goals for ‘bigger things’ (trips, winter tires etc). Do you have a budget template that works for you, or could you please recommend a few tips on getting started? A budget can be…

  • How to Choose a Credit Card (63 comments)

    A credit card can be a useful tool or it can be a dangerous weapon. Most of this depends on you — the best credit card in the world won’t help if you spend beyond your means. American adults carry thousands of dollars in average credit card debt. I lived a decade mired in it and I don’t recommend it to anyone. If you’re responsible, however, a credit card can be both convenient and efficient….

  • Credit Card Basics: Five Essential Skills for Mastering Plastic (43 comments)

    The latest issue of Consumer Reports (October 2008) has an article about the new credit card jungle. The faltering economy and the ongoing mortgage crisis may be affecting your credit cards; issuers are raising rates, changing terms, and lowering credit limits. The magazine notes: “Now is an essential time to do a credit-card checkup to make sure your accounts haven’t changed for the worse.” I like the idea of a credit-card checkup, but I don’t…

  • A Few Ways to Raise Cash Quickly (40 comments)

    Disclaimer: After some strong feedback from GRS readers (and from my wife), I’ve made the rare move of heavily editing this article after publication. My hope is that the re-write makes it clear that I am not advocating all of these ideas. Yes, payday loans are on the list, but they’re at the bottom of the list. They’re the worst possible option for scaring up cash. The September issue of Money features an article by…

  • Building a Better Budget: Think Yearly, Not Monthly (26 comments)

    If you struggle with keeping a budget, it may be because you’re trying to predict your spending in time chunks that are just too small. A new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that people who made annual budgets were better able to predict their spending than those who made monthly budgets. From the University of Chicago press release: [Researchers] found that, contrary to popular advice, people were more accurate when constructing…

  • Free Debt Snowball Spreadsheet (28 comments)

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

  • SmartyPig: A Goal-Oriented Savings Account (50 comments)

    Have you ever wanted to pool your money with friends or family to save toward a common goal? While it’s possible to do this with paper and pencil, it’d be easier if there were an online service to automagically track the savings for you. SmartyPig believes it is that service. SmartyPig is a special branded savings account from new type of savings account, with funds held at West Bank of Iowa. It’s specifically created to…

  • Earn Quick Cash by Participating in Medical Research and Marketing Studies (54 comments)

    I made $120 for one hour of work last week. On Tuesday, I participated in a neuroeconomics study at a nearby university. For sixty minutes, I lay inside an MRI scanner while answering questions about money. When I had finished, the researchers paid me $120. In cash. I admit that with the four hour round-trip and the half hour of wait time, my hourly rate drops to something nearer $20, but that’s still not bad….

  • Ask the Readers: Should I Chase Higher Interest Rates? (88 comments)

    Almost eighteen months ago, I wrote a post listing the best on-line high-yield savings accounts. Over 750 comments later, the discussion is still going strong. Kyle recently chimed in with a question many people have: In January, before I started reading Get Rich Slowly, I opened a high-yield investor checking account with Charles Schwab. The interest rate was around 3.75%, but it’s fallen to 2% now. After starting to read your site, I decided to…

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

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

  • Simplify Your Investing: An Introduction to DRIPs (43 comments)

    This is a guest post from Sara, who writes about reaching for a life of greater simplicity and deeper meaning at On Simplicity. I’m a simple girl and I love simple solutions. That’s why I’ve fallen in love with DRIP investing — it’s about as simple as investing gets. If you’re an investor who likes to set it and forget it, DRIPs are a great weapon to have in your financial arsenal. What Is a…

  • Getting Disciplined About Money (63 comments)

    Getting disciplined about money can take many forms. I love to read about the little tricks people use to force themselves to save money. Apparently I’m not the only one. I was sent a brief story from The Boston Globe that describes how Marie Franklin saves every five dollar bill she receives. She’s been doing this for three years, and in that time she’s managed to save $12,000. She writes: This idea will only work…

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

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

  • How to Save Thousands on Your Medical Bills (36 comments)

    Few things can blow a budget like unexpected medical bills. Even those who practice frugality and invest for the future can find their financial plans smashed to pieces by unexpected health problems. And for those who don’t have their financial house in order, a medical crisis can be devastating. Five years ago, I had surgery to replace the ACL on my right knee. Though I am insured through Kris’ job, I found the experience frustrating….

  • How to Open Multiple Accounts at ING (now Capital One 360) (102 comments)

    One of my favorite saving techniques is the use of targeted accounts. If I want to save for something big — like a Mini Cooper, for example — I’ll open a new savings account specifically for this purpose. I first learned about this method from Robert Pagliarini’s The Six-Day Financial Makeover: Traditionally, most people invested for various vague goals and lumped all of their savings together in a single investment account. That’s pretty boring. It’s…

  • Money Tips from Consumer Reports (19 comments)

    The August 2008 issue of Consumer Reports — one of my favorite personal finance magazines — features two articles that may be of interest to readers of Get Rich Slowly. The first offers tips for cutting expenses. The second gives a brief overview of budgeting. Cut your spending by $500 per month The Consumer Reports Money Lab looked for easy ways for the average American to save money. They came up with six suggestions and…

  • How to Avoid Bank Overdraft Fees (45 comments)

    Last fall, I discovered my Quicken data file from the mid-1990s. It contains all my transactions from 01 January 1995 until 06 April 1998. There are many fascinating insights to be gleaned from my crazy spending a decade ago, but as I was looking through my checkbook register, one thing in particular stood out. Before nearly every paycheck, my bank balance would dwindle to $12.33 or $7.14 or something similar. When I was paid, the…

  • Subscribe to Craigslist Search Results to Grab Great Deals (26 comments)

    You’ve been watching Craigslist for a good deal on a hedge trimmer, but you just aren’t having any luck. By the time you find a good listing, it’s been up for an hour and the HedgeHog XR is long gone. You could sit and refresh the farm+garden category constantly, but that’s a waste of time. (Besides, what would your boss think?) Fortunately, there’s a better way. Did you know it’s also possible to watch Craigslist…

  • Personal Finance Made Easy: Pay Yourself First (84 comments)

    Yesterday I shared some financial tips my father gave me when I was a sophomore in college. He didn’t stop there. After I graduated, he continued to offer advice. One of the things he told me was, “Pay yourself first.” To explain, he gave me a copy of George Clason’s 1926 classic, The Richest Man in Babylon. I didn’t read it. In retrospect, I ought to have been a little less stubborn. It took years…

  • The Benefits of Barter (24 comments)

    This is a guest post from Andréa Coutu. So you’ve got big ideas but no way to pay for them: a home renovation, weekend getaway, successful business, dream dinner date, leaner body, new bedroom suite…the list goes on and on. Maybe your bank account has seen better days, or maybe you just don’t want to tie up more money in pursuing a dream. Well, money is just one medium of exchange. By using barter, you…

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

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

  • How to Track Travel Expenses and Stick to a Vacation Budget (37 comments)

    This is a guest post from Debbie Dubrow, who writes about traveling with babies, toddlers, and kids at Delicious Baby. Her site contains personal travel stories, family-friendly city guides, and lots of tips and advice for traveling with children. Most families need to stick to a budget when they travel. But tracking daily expenses, especially in a foreign currency, can be tricky. Here are some easy tips to make it easy to keep track of…

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

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

  • My Paperless Personal Finance System: A Work in Progress (128 comments)

    Last summer, as a part of my quest to get rid of clutter, I began to move toward paperless personal finance. I had planned to share my system only once I’d perfected it, but yesterday Daniel e-mailed to ask for a glimpse of its current state. To go paperless, you might need a scanner (or some other way to convert your documents to digital files). I also recommend using a shredder to dispose of paperwork….

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

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

  • Use a Freedom Account to Prepare for the Unexpected (54 comments)

    My wife has always maintained a sizable savings account, but having extra cash is new to me. Until recently, I had always lived paycheck-to-paycheck, often treading close to a zero dollar balance in my checkbook for months at a time. Now, though, I’ve not only established an emergency account, but set up a couple of targeted accounts as well. (One is for vacations, and the other is for a new car.) My method works for…

  • Making the Move from Spender to Saver (55 comments)

    I pulled out my camera gear last night. It’s been two years since I used it regularly. Before I started Get Rich Slowly, I seriously considered trying to become a professional photographer. But for a long time now, my camera stuff has been gathering dust in the corner of my office. I can’t even remember the last time I used it. It’s fun to look at all my equipment again. It’s fun to handle it,…

  • 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…

  • Negotiate Once, Save Thousands Every Year (22 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jason, who is the author of World Fitness Network, a blog that will teach you how to lift weights, live strong, and change the way you look and feel. Sometimes a few simple actions can save you money year after year. The negotiation process is definitely one of those times. Negotiating works especially well when you deal with a salesperson who is paid by commission. These salespeople often have…

  • Use “Reverse Credit” to Stick to Your Budget (75 comments)

    Ralph sent me e-mail last week describing a clever budget trick he picked up from a friend: My wife and I had dinner last night with a couple of of young women we know. We talked a little about personal finance. One of the girls has an interesting idea on forced savings. She calls it “reverse credit”. “When I want to buy something expensive, I go to the store and buy a $20 gift card,”…

  • Free File: A Fast, Easy Way to File Your Federal Income Taxes (19 comments)

    Tax season is in full swing! Again this year, the Internal Revenue Service is offering a program that allows many U.S. taxpayers to electronically file their tax returns for free. Free File is a free federal income tax preparation and electronic filing program for eligible taxpayers, developed through a partnership between the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Free File Alliance LLC, a group of private sector tax software companies. You may access free commercial…

  • Which is better: a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA? (53 comments)

    When the subject of Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) comes up, the one question that seems to cross everyone’s mind is: Which investment vehicle is better, a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA? The subtle differences between the two types of IRAs are the source of all the confusion, but the answer depends largely on whether you expect to be in a higher or lower tax bracket when you start to draw funds out in retirement…

  • How to Prevent Identity Theft — Deter, Detect, Defend (53 comments)

    Identity theft sucks. Our mail was stolen recently. All that we know we’re missing are some tax documents, but we’re not taking any chances. Rather than wait for the thieves to do any damage, we’ve taken steps to minimize repercussions. After filing a report with the US Postal Service, we received a package of information, including a flyer from the Federal Trade Commission describing techniques to fight back against identity theft. The FTC encourages people…

  • 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…

  • A Free and Simple Budget Planner (50 comments)

    J.D. doesn’t talk a lot about budgeting at Get Rich Slowly — he uses a spending plan — but I want to share a personal budget planner I’ve created that has helped me immensely. I’m not historically a budget person myself, but I’ve been using this for a while and it seems to be working quite well.  I hope that some of you find it useful, too. This budget planning spreadsheet is available in the…

  • The Power of Positive Cash Flow (42 comments)

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

  • Money Hack: Use CDs to Beat Falling Interest Rates (42 comments)

    When the Federal Reserve cuts short-term interest rates, as it did yesterday, you feel the pinch in your savings account. My ING Direct account, for example, has dropped from 4.50% when I opened it to 3.65% today. It may drop again. Brian from The Job Bored dropped a line with a money hack for those who like to chase the highest interest rates. “Why not buy protection?”, he wonders. Here’s how: Since ING makes it…

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

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

  • Missing Money: Finding Unclaimed Property (43 comments)

    On Monday, I received a strange letter in the mail. It was addressed to my father, but sent to my home. My father has been dead for twelve years, and he never saw the house we live in now. The letter purports to be a settlement of some sort of $400 annuity. (I’m unclear on the details and don’t have it with me right now.) Though I’m deeply skeptical that this is anything but a…

  • How to Automate Your Personal Finances (53 comments)

    For the past few months, I’ve been moving toward a system of paperless personal finance. In this guest post from Paul Lussier, he explains his own automated system. Lately J.D. has been talking a lot about automating his finances.  In my world (that of high-tech, software, and large computer systems), we strive to automate as much as possible. By doing this, we hope to minimize error by reducing human interaction, leveraging the power of the…

  • 8 Ways to Take Control of Your Finances in 2008 (60 comments)

    The new year is a time for goals and resolutions. If one of your goals in 2008 is to take control of your money (instead of letting it keep control of you), this crash course in financial basics can help guide the way. Here’s a summary of everything I’ve learned about personal finance. Track every penny you spend The authors of Your Money or Your Life admonish readers to “keep track of every cent that…

  • Is a 6.25% Checking Account the Best Deal in Portland? (48 comments)

    I’m a recent convert to the world of online high-yield savings accounts. Now that I have my debt paid off, I can finally afford to save some money. It was difficult for me to choose an account: Should I go with the highest interest rate? Or should I opt for the best customer service? I’m not a rate-chaser, so I chose ING Direct. Their current 4.10% rate is lower than most places, but I’ve heard…

  • How to Buy and Sell Gift Cards (14 comments)

    Did you get a lot of gift cards for Christmas? Would you rather have cash? Would you rather have a card for another store? Richard O. Johnson at the fascinating Beyond Barter has created a page highlighting smart gift card strategies: how to best acquire or dispose of them. This page offers a wealth of sound, practical tips about gift cards, including information on: Why you should beware of bank gift cards Gift card traps…

  • Paycheck and Withholding Calculators for Year-End Money Moves (14 comments)

    Ah, winter. It’s the time of year that a young man’s thoughts turn to taxes. It used to be that I would rough out our tax situation as soon as the forms became available. Because I insisted on having too much withheld from my paycheck, I was anxious to know how large my tax refund would be. (This was the only way I could make myself save.) Paycheck calculator Next year my financial situation will…

  • Gift Card Tips and Tricks (33 comments)

    This morning’s post on the pros and cons of gift cards generated some great discussion. GRS readers seem fairly evenly divided on the topic. Some of you like gift cards, but many do not. My favorite parts of the conversation were the various gift card hacks people shared: Greg noted “You can frequently get 90-105% of the cash value of a gift card on eBay. For example: here and here.” I’ll suggest this to my…

  • Money Hack: Prepay Your Monthly Bills (75 comments)

    Note: While I think this is a good idea, it’s clear that many readers strongly disagree. Before deciding whether to try this, please read the arguments in opposition. Earlier this year, on a whim, I did something a little odd: instead of just paying my monthly cable and internet bills, I wrote large checks, pre-paying for several months of service. I didn’t have a reason for doing it at the time. I had a momentary…

  • 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…

  • A Brief Overview of Estate Planning Software (22 comments)

    It’s that spooky haunted time of year — my annual post about estate planning! Last year I shared a brief guide to creating a will. Today I’m going to look at a recent New York Times article by Christine Larson that provides an overview of will preparation software. Larson writes, “Recently, the increasing sophistication of software and services for estate planning, combined with growing consumer comfort with online financial management, has led to a boom…

  • Book Review: The Automatic Millionaire (60 comments)

    David Bach is perhaps best known for coining the term the latte factor, a phrase that has almost become a joke in personal finance circles. That’s too bad, really, because Bach has some good ideas. And the latte factor is a marvelous concept, applicable to many people who casually spend their future a few dollars at a time. Bach’s most popular book is The Automatic Millionaire. I’ve referred to it often, but never reviewed it…

  • How to list an eBay auction for maximum profit (39 comments)

    This is a guest post from Mike Panic, a freelance photographer and network administrator. In his spare time, Panic runs three sites: Randomn3ss, iPhotoForum, and iLikeCheapStuff. Over the past eight years I have been buying and selling items on eBay for myself and, more recently, for small businesses. In that time I’ve learned a few tricks to help get maximum profit for items with just a few tweaks during the listing process. Here’s a checklist…

  • An Expert Tip for Saving on Prescription Drugs (29 comments)

    This is a guest post from Shiva, who wrote to offer some advice on how to shop for prescription medicine: don’t assume that the new new stuff is better! I am a general internist — a physician who provides primary care to adult patients — and am on the faculty of a medical school, where I teach medical students and residents. One of my interests is the excess marketing and use of expensive yet marginally effective prescription drugs. I have…

  • 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%…

  • The Grocery Game (70 comments)

    For years, Kris and I have used coupons as one tool to get lower prices when shopping for groceries. Some people are opposed to coupons, but we’ve found that they help us to save money. (Number one tip: don’t use a coupon to buy something you wouldn’t normally purchase.) In the Get Rich Slowly forums, we’ve been discussing how much the average family spends on food. MITBeta wrote: Our budget (two adults and a seven-month-old)…

  • A Quick Trick for Tracking Credit Card Expenses in Quicken (30 comments)

    Some readers are worried about my change in stance regarding credit cards. Misuse of best rewards credit card was the chief reason I came to be buried in debt. For years after coming to my senses, the only way for me to cope with credit cards was not to have one. I still believe that this is the proper course of action for anyone who hasn’t gained control of her finances, and I would never…

  • How to Find Great Deals on eBay (29 comments)

    My friend Lisa is something of an eBay addict. I’ll be at her house admiring something or other and she’ll smile confidentially and whisper, “I got it off eBay.” She recently showed up at a dinner party wearing a smart cocktail dress. When the other women admired it she smiled confidentially and whispered, “I got it off eBay.” At Christmas she made some crafty little things that amazed and delighted the recipients. When we asked…

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

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

  • Thrifty Tips from the Yardsale Queen (20 comments)

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

  • Edmunds True Cost-to-Own Calculator (15 comments)

    During our ongoing discussion of buying a car, somebody pointed to a handy little tool at Edmunds.com. (Edmunds is an excellent resource, sort of like Bankrate, but for cars.) Here’s how their site describes this tool: You’ve narrowed your choices to two new cars, but you can’t seem to decide which one is really the better deal. The purchase price of each car is nearly the same. The features are similar, and you like the…

  • A Working Woman’s Guide to Financial Security (10 comments)

    Sometimes you can find personal finance tools in the most unlikely places. The University of Illinois Extension Service offers a collection of consumer money resources, including tips for thrifty living, credit card smarts fact sheets, and a guide to consumer and family economics. I was most impressed with A Working Woman’s Guide to Financial Security. This series of planning guides has been designed to help women of all ages develop skills they need in order…

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

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

  • How to Improve Your Fuel Economy: 23 Top Tips for Better Gas Mileage (84 comments)

    digg_url = ‘http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2007/05/30/how-to-improve-your-gas-mileage-23-top-tips-for-better-fuel-economy/’; Fuel prices have been hovering at record levels around the United States for the past few weeks. Now is a good time to review of the best ways to improve your gas mileage and save money at the tank. I scoured dozens of web sites and read hundreds of tips — these are the best of the bunch. >> Save Money With Your Vehicle << Purchase a fuel-efficient car The best way…

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

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

  • 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….

  • Saving and Investing: The Impact of Time (2 comments)

    This is part sixteen in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. During the first fifteen days of this video series, Michael Fischer explained the basics of saving and investing, introducing us to stocks, bonds, and compound returns. This week he pulls this information together to show how these concepts affect our investment decisions and our use of credit. He begins…

  • Saving and Investing: Types of Mutual Funds (4 comments)

    This is part thirteen in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. Yesterday Michael Fischer explained how mutual funds allow individual investors to pool money in order to achieve goals that would otherwise be out of their reach. Today he looks at different kinds of mutual funds: Types of mutual funds (2:10) There are several thousand mutual funds available in the…

  • Saving and Investing: What is a Stock Market Index? (6 comments)

    This is part ten in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. Have you ever wondered what all of those numbers on the nightly business report actually mean? Michael Fischer explains: What is a stock market index? (3:44) Just as you cannot accurately gauge the health of a garden from the growth of a single plant, you cannot gauge the health…

  • Saving and Investing: What is a Stock? (4 comments)

    This is part nine in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. Yesterday we learned about bonds, which are small slices of debt. Today Michael Fischer defines stocks, or small slices of equity: What is a stock? (2:37) The stock market has its own unique vocabulary, with “puts” and “calls”, “preferred stock” and “P/E ratios”, “dividends” and “spread”. I’ll cover more…

  • Saving and Investing: What is a Bond? (7 comments)

    This is part eight in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. Today’s episode of “Saving and Investing” moves us from the introductory material to the details of common investments. To begin, Michael Fischer explains bonds: What is a bond? (2:38) This video left me wanting more. Bonds, like leverage, have been a blank spot in my financial education. I’ve never…

  • Saving and Investing: Why do Financial Markets Exist? (4 comments)

    This is part seven in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. In today’s episode of “Saving and Investing”, Michael Fischer explains why we have financial markets. If you’ve been following along, you can probably guess that their primary function is to encourage interaction between providers of capital (savers and investors) and users of capital (companies and governments). Why do financial…

  • Saving and Investing: An Introduction to Financial Statements (12 comments)

    This is part six in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. (Now with correct videos!) Today’s episode of “Saving and Investing” features three short videos, each of which is an introduction to a particular financial statement. Learning to read financial statements can help you evaluate the companies in which you would like to invest. (These statements are mandatory parts of…

  • Free Online Tax Preparation and E-Filing From the IRS (14 comments)

    The Internal Revenue Service offers a program that allows two-thirds of U.S. taxpayers to electronically file their tax returns for free. The Free File program is a free federal tax preparation and electronic filing program for eligible taxpayers developed through a partnership between the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Free File Alliance LLC, a group of private sector tax software companies. Since Free File’s debut in 2003, more than 15.4 million returns have been…

  • Track Your Spending with a Cash Notebook (25 comments)

    I had dinner with my friend TJ tonight. He paid for his meal with cash. After we’d settled the check, he pulled out a small spiral notebook and jotted down some numbers. “What’s that?” I asked. “I’ve started using a notebook to keep track of what I spend,” he told me. “Whenever I pay in cash, I write it down. Otherwise I don’t have any idea where it goes.” “That’s a great idea,” I said….