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Odds and Ends


  • The Prodigal Son Returns: J.D. Roth Is Back at Get Rich Slowly (62 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. As of last Thursday, J.D. is once again writing here at GRS. His non-financial writing can still be found at More Than Money. Hey, everybody. It’s J.D. here. I founded this site, and I wrote and edited the content for many years. Last autumn, I retired from writing here. Today, I’m unretiring — just like a professional athlete. My role at…

  • ‘Gen Z’ is financially-savvy, with one big exception (50 comments)

    If someone handed you $500, what would you do with it? A whopping 70 percent of those in Generation Z say they’d save at least part of it, and among them, 34 percent would save it for college. That’s just one of the findings in TD Ameritrade’s 2nd Annual Generation Z Survey that shows that teens and early 20-somethings* are refreshingly money-savvy. Although they haven’t got it all figured out just yet. Affording higher education Almost half…

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

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

  • What IS Financial Responsibility? (178 comments)

    This article is from new staff writer Honey Smith. “Be Responsible. Take responsibility for your actions.” It sounds simple, right? But what responsibility means to me has changed over the course of my life. In fact, there are so many definitions of responsibility that Wikipedia doesn’t even have a definition listed on its main responsibility page! There are over fifteen types listed there with links to their respective pages (though to be fair, one is…

  • How much to tip (and to whom) (205 comments)

    Note: This article is a reprint. Several readers have suggested that one way for Get Rich Slowly to retain my voice although I’m no longer a regular contributor is to re-publish old articles like this. This is a keen idea, especially on days like today when the staff writer hasn’t turned in his assignment! Every time I get my hair cut, I’m faced with a dilemma — should I tip the barber or not? I…

  • How Much Is Your Time Worth? (91 comments)

    This is a guest post by Joel Runyon of Impossible HQ. Did you see the Justin Timberlake thriller In Time last year? Probably not. Nobody else did either. Well, I did, I guess. And while the movie wasn’t very good, it contained an interesting idea that I think relates to personal finance. The movie’s plot revolves around a world where everyone is genetically engineered to live until they’re 25. After that, they have exactly one…

  • Getting Rich Slowly vs. Taking Financial Risks (37 comments)

    For the next week (or two), we’ll be sharing “audition” pieces from folks interested in being new staff writers at Get Rich Slowly. Your job is to let us know what you think of each of these writers. Pay attention, give feedback, and after a couple of weeks we’ll ask which writers you prefer. This article is from Kristin Wong, who also writes at The Heart Beat blog for MSN Living. Her first audition article…

  • What Your Loose Change is Really Worth (83 comments)

    For the next week (or two), we’ll be sharing “audition” pieces from folks interested in being new staff writers at Get Rich Slowly. Your job is to let us know what you think of each of these writers. Pay attention, give feedback, and after a couple of weeks we’ll ask which writers you prefer. This article is from Elizabeth Falwell. “You’ve got to look for the date,” my grandfather reminded me as we sorted through…

  • How to Do a Wallet Audit (90 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Frugal Cool blog for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. On my way to the 2011 Financial Blogger Conference last year I encountered three young men who’d made a non-traditional career choice: mugging tired-looking, middle-aged women pulling suitcases. They got me as I headed for the train to the airport, taking a little over $80 and…

  • Professional Sports: A Waste of Time, Money, and Energy? (170 comments)

    This is a post from staff writer Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. You know what I like to do on a beautiful fall day? Sit on a couch and watch other people exercise! Furthermore, I cheer for a bunch of people I’ll never meet, representing…

  • Is Your Spending Normal? (112 comments)

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

  • This I Believe: 43 Lessons from 43 Years (94 comments)

    Because I’m a nerdy kind of guy, I have some nerdy traditions. In the past, one of those nerdy traditions has been to celebrate my prime-number birthdays with a big party. When I turned 37, for instance, I hosted a poetry recital. Two years ago, we held a “bacon bash”, which was a lot of fun. This year, I was going to host a travel-themed party to celebrate my 43rd birthday. Certain major life events…

  • Class Consciousness and Social Mobility (241 comments)

    Kris and I have returned from three weeks traveling in Argentina and Chile with a group from our university alumni association. My favorite parts of these trips are when we get to interact with the locals, not just because I can use my Spanish, but also because it’s a chance to see how they live their lives. I did get to do some of that on this trip, but not as much as I would…

  • Why Financial Literacy Fails (and What to Do About It) (166 comments)

    One of my resolutions since returning from Peru is that I’m going to be more responsive to requests from reporters. I’ve generally tried to weasel out of interviews in the past because they always made me uncomfortable. I’ve done enough of them now, though, that I’m able to answer questions without having a panic attack. Most interviews are pretty formulaic, really. And my message doesn’t change, so it’s easy to say things like “spend less…

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

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

  • Why I Still Pick Up Pennies (168 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. The most-read piece I ever wrote for MSN Money’s Smart Spending blog was an essay called “See a penny? Pick it up!” It got more than 1,657,000 hits before MSN changed blog platforms. After that, the penny essay and most of the other things I’d written…

  • Ask the Readers: How Would You Sell a Collection? (100 comments)

    I am a collector. I always have been. When I was a boy, my parents gave me one closet in the trailer house to have as my very own. They called it the “rat’s nest” because I’d fill it up with all the sorts of things a boy might collect: bugs and twigs and baseball cards and comic books, among other things. As an adult, I’ve remained a collector. It’s both a joy and curse….

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

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

  • Reader Story: Winning the Lottery (120 comments)

    This guest post from Tina 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. If you enjoyed this story, please consider joining our facebook community at our Get Rich Slowly Facebook Page. Although I know the schadenfreude of…

  • When Renting Is Smarter Than Buying (96 comments)

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

  • 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…

  • The Lottery: An “Investment” for Fools (with Bonus Lottery Simulator!) (162 comments)

    Over the years, I’ve done some foolish things with my finances. I’ve squandered money on comic books. I’ve speculated on risky stocks, hoping to make a quick fortune. I’ve paid a gazillion dollars — or something close to it — in credit-card interest and bank fees. I spent large windfalls on the latest technological gadgets. No, I’m by no means perfect with money. One trap I’ve managed to avoid, though, is the lottery. Playing the…

  • 42 Goals in 42 Months (118 comments)

    I’m not big on holidays. They seem fabricated — an excuse to sell stuff. Thanksgiving is a big exception. So too are birthdays. I think everyone should celebrate birthdays in a big way. For me this year, that means commandeering Get Rich Slowly to go a little off topic. I’m not writing about money today. I’m writing about personal goals and self-improvement. Success Junkie I’m obsessed with self-improvement. For good or ill, all my life…

  • Affirm Your Way To Wealth (82 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. This morning, I did something unusual. After I brushed my teeth, I looked in the mirror and recited: “People love to give me money!” “I am rich and wonderful.” “I am now earning a great big income doing what satisfies me.” I admit, I felt silly. I love a lot of New…

  • Developing Systems That Work (75 comments)

    In my fantasy life, I’m an organized guy. In the real world, that’s just not the case. I do my best to stay on top of things — I make lists, use a calendar, ask Kris for help — but there always seems to be something slipping through the cracks. Before we left for Africa, for example, I hid my wallet. I always do this when we go on a long trip. (I don’t use…

  • Gaming Without Breaking the Bank (59 comments)

    Though J.D.’s back on the blog, he’s still a bit behind — so much e-mail! — so here’s a guest-post from Tim Ellis, who writes Seattle Bubble when he isn’t glued to a screen, zoned out on video games. You can find him playing as “TH3 T1M” on Xbox Live and on PSN. I’ve been an avid gamer ever since I bought my first Nintendo Entertainment System when I was ten. Today I have a…

  • Redbox vs. iTunes vs. Netflix vs. Blockbuster (92 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Sometimes I think that Netflix was the best thing to ever happen to me (er, besides my wonderful husband, of course). You see, when I was a Blockbuster customer, I was notoriously bad about racking up late fees. I would flat-out forget I even had a movie to return. There’s no telling how much money I wasted in late fees. So when Netflix came on the scene,…

  • Are E-Books Cost Effective? The Pros and Cons of E-Books (143 comments)

    Yesterday, Google opened its ebookstore for business. The search giant joins Apple and Amazon (and Barnes & Noble) in a fast-growing field. Electronic books will never completely replace paper books, but they’re going to make up a sizable portion — and maybe even the majority — of the market sooner than you think. Naturally, more and more GRS readers are moving to e-books. In fact, I’ve had a couple of people ask me about them…

  • Three Posters About Personal Finance (16 comments)

    I’m a sucker for charts and graphs. I once attended an Edward Tufte course just for kicks. Though I don’t do much with charts and graphs around GRS, I always admire the work of others. For example, last year when I shared my guide to understanding the federal budget (and the follow up on the truth about taxes), I pointed to Jess Bachman’s annual Death and Taxes poster, which attempts to visualize the entire U.S….

  • Advice from a Billionaire: What to do With a Windfall (42 comments)

    A long-time GRS reader named Andy dropped me a line the other day to point out an article on the Forbes website. Forbes interviewed billionaire Mark Cuban (best known as the owner of the Dallas Mavericks pro basketball team) about his secrets to building and keeping a fortune. Andy particularly liked Cuban’s answer to the penultimate question, which is about what to do with a windfall. (Or, I suppose, what to do with a bunch…

  • 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…

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

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

  • Money Myths and the Importance of Thinking for Yourself (136 comments)

    When I sat down to write Your Money: The Missing Manual, I knew I wanted to start with a chapter on happiness. (Well, to be fair, I was going to conclude the book with this chapter; my editor suggested moving it to the beginning, which was a stroke of genius.) In particular, I wanted to make the point that money doesn’t buy happiness. Because we all know that’s true, right? Well, not so much, as…

  • Calculating Your Life-Time Income (30 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker recently released an online guide entitled, Unautomate Your Finances. J.D.’s note: According to Facebook, today is Baker’s birthday. Happy birthday, Adam! In continuing celebration of Financial Literacy Month, my GRS contributions throughout April are covering basic techniques to raise your financial awareness. Last week we covered a few methods of getting to know your debt. This week we’re going to attack the income side of the…

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

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

  • How Much Stuff Does One Man Need? (158 comments)

    It seems like every time I travel, I come home committed to win my war on Stuff. This time was no different. I lived out of a single carry-on bag while vacationing in Belize last week, and even that felt luxurious. Now I’ve returned to a house packed with doodads and gewgaws, knick-knacks and baubles. The more I purge Stuff from my life, the more I travel, and the more I see (and read) about…

  • Outsourcing Life: Unconventional Advice for When You’re Financially Secure (309 comments)

    This is a guest post from Erica Douglass. After selling her online business for a million dollars at age 26, Erica “temporarily retired”. She now writes an online business blog at erica.biz. This is very much an article about advanced personal finance techniques, and doesn’t necessarily reflect my own philosophy. You’ve pulled yourself out of debt, are saving a reasonable amount of income for your retirement, have built an emergency fund, and your daily needs…

  • Learning to Use Money as a Tool (82 comments)

    It’s pretty clear by now that I have a different relationship with money than when I started Get Rich Slowly. I’m by no means perfect with the stuff, but I’ve become firmly entrenched in the camp that sees money as a tool. (I used to see it only as a means to instant gratification.) Here’s a tiny example. Taking a page out of Trent’s book, Kris has been on a crock pot kick lately. This…

  • A Brief Guide to Holiday Tipping (95 comments)

    I’m getting more requests this year for holiday tipping info than ever before. For example, Nina wrote: “Can you provide some guidelines for Holiday Tipping Etiquette for the holiday season? I’m at a complete loss…” To be honest, I don’t know much about holiday tipping. It’s not something I was raised with. I covered it briefly in my guide to how much to tip, but I’m basically as in the dark as Nina is. To…

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

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

  • The Guilt of Wealth (168 comments)

    Yesterday I shared a guest post from Leo of Zen Habits. His guide to minimalist money was a sort of overview of good financial skills, useful information for those in the first stage of personal finance. But some long-time GRS readers couldn’t relate to Leo’s post. Today’s post goes in the opposite direction. It’s a meditation for those in the third stage of personal finance (or beyond), and it’s probably going to seem foreign to…

  • The Seven Enemies of Financial Success (55 comments)

    Earlier today, I wrote about Brett Wilder’s The Quiet Millionaire. It’s different than most personal finance books I’ve read. It’s targeted at those who are further along their financial journeys rather than at those just starting out. Still, there are bits and pieces in The Quiet Millionaire that are applicable to everyone. I particularly liked Wilder’s list of the seven enemies to financial success (which is my phrase, not his). Over the past few weeks,…

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

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

  • How Money-Transfer Scams Work (54 comments)

    I’ve been half-heartedly looking at bicycles lately. Part of me pines for a new city bike, but the rational side of my brain knows that I have two decent bikes already. Still, I’ve killed a lot of time by paging through the Craigslist bike ads. At the top of every ad is the following warning about scams: I’ve always wondered exactly how these scams work, but I’ve never taken the time to look it up….

  • The Ascent of Money (31 comments)

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

  • Why Pursue Financial Freedom? (58 comments)

    Your financial choices do not stand in isolation. They have a cumulative effect. As you pay off debt, as you save for retirement, as you reduce your spending, you are creating a snowball of right action. Or, to use a better metaphor, each smart choice you make creates ripples throughout your life. As you work toward financial freedom, you make it easier for yourself to accomplish other goals. With the help of my Twitter followers,…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Handle a Windfall? (79 comments)

    It’s been a while since we touched on the subject of windfalls: money that unexpectedly falls into your lap. It’s been so long, in fact, that I’ve started to receive questions about them, including this one from Aaryn: I wanted to get your advice as far as the distribution of windfalls. Would you put a certain percentage in a savings account? Invest it? Keep some in your regular checking account? What is your recommendation? Would…

  • 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 Boat Experience: The Means Justify the Ends (42 comments)

    This is a guest post from Michael H. It’s the story I alluded to when I first wrote about the third stage of personal finance. I was afraid to run this story when Michael submitted it last year. I thought it encouraged foolish behavior. Now I understand that it does no such thing. Instead, it points to goals, and the reasons for our frugality and saving. For the past 10 years, our family has gone…

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

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

  • The Miser’s Peril: Why You Should Save for Tomorrow AND Enjoy Today (55 comments)

    I recently dropped in to speak with my accountant (who is also a good friend). We chatted about my finances, and we spent a little time discussing Get Rich Slowly. Somehow the conversation turned to frugality, and he told me a little story about one of his clients. A true story Like many of us, Mr. and Mrs. Smith were careful with their money. Mr. Smith handled the family finances — the income, the investing,…

  • Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems: Why Pro Athletes Go Broke (23 comments)

    Last week’s issue of Sports Illustrated featured a fantastic article from Pablo S. Torre that describes how (and why) athletes go broke. Generally, it’s for the same reasons that people like you and me go broke: they don’t know enough about money. But pro athletes are also besieged by many people who are eager to help them “invest” their fortunes: “With athletes, there’s an extraordinary metamorphosis of financial challenge,” says agent Leigh Steinberg, who has…

  • 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…

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

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

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

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

  • 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…

  • The High Cost of Cats and Dogs: Are Pets Worth the Money? (235 comments)

    Kris and I don’t have kids. We have cats. We have four of them. Our “children”: Nemo, Simon, Maxwell, and Toto. We’d have more, but Kris won’t allow it. She says I’m in danger of becoming the Crazy Cat Gentleman. On the whole, I cannot imagine my life without these animals. They bring us joy and fulfillment, and the cost is minimal. Under normal circumstances, our four cats cost us a total of about $750…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Organize Your Account Information? (86 comments)

    Between my personal accounts, my business accounts, and the joint accounts I have with my wife, it’s difficult for me to keep track of my essential information. As we’ve been working to refinance our house, for example, there have been several times I’ve had to dig for needed account numbers and statements. I’m not the only one with this problem. Earlier this month, Meghan wrote to ask: How do you compile a comprehensive list of…

  • How I Cut My Television Bill in Half (146 comments)

    I’ve had several requests lately to update my two-year quest to find cheap alternatives to cable television. In March of 2007, Kris and I were paying $65.82 for a deluxe digital cable package that we rarely used – money that could have been used to pay down debt or increase the balance on my savings account. “$65.82 a month isn’t a fortune,” I wrote at the time, “but it’s a lot of money to pay…

  • Ask the Readers: Is It Unethical to Work a Second Job? (212 comments)

    To build wealth — or to get out of debt — you must create a positive cash flow. That is, you must spend less than you earn. One way to do this is to cut costs. Another is to increase your income. Because it has worked so well in my own life, I encourage people to boost their income whenever possible: ask for a raise, make money from hobbies, change careers. For many, the most…

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

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

  • 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…

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

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

  • Grocery Shopping in New Delhi (26 comments)

    This is a guest post from my friend Kris, an American writer living in India. She and her husband are in New Delhi to participate in an educational exchange program. The juxtaposition of cultures has been interesting. When you think of grocery shopping in New Delhi, please don’t imagine your local Safeway or City Market, with aisles wide enough for two pushcarts passing as shoppers stroll, browse, select. Our grocers — or rather, “departmental store” — is…

  • Phishing Scams in Plain English (32 comments)

    Internet con artists are clever. Even smart people can be duped sometimes. Even those who keep active watch against scams and schemes can make mistakes. As I checked e-mail this morning, I was baffled by a notice from Paypal. “Your eCheck payment of $29.90 USD to jdroth@xxxx.com has been deposited into your recipient’s account,” the message read. But why would I be paying myself? “Do you know what this is?” I asked Kris. “Why are…

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

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

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Cash Do You Stash? (260 comments)

    “How much cash do you carry in your wallet?” my friend Michael asked at lunch last Sunday. “I don’t know,” I said. “Somewhere between $40 and $100, I guess. That’s how much I take out of the ATM when I need it. Why do you ask?” “Well, I read something the other day that said the average person keeps about $175 on hand. That seems like a lot.” “That does seem like a lot,” Kris…

  • The Millionaire Quiz (46 comments)

    How much do you know about millionaires? Kris recently had dinner with her friend Linda, who is a high school social studies teacher. As they ate, Linda bemoaned the lack of personal finance and economics education in the United States. She mentioned that every year she gives her economics students a short “Millionaire Quiz” to see just how much they know about wealth and where it comes from. They do poorly at it, which surprises…

  • Best Financial Magazines (72 comments)

    Get Rich Slowly reader Beth wrote recently looking for help in finding the best financial magazines: I’m a public library worker, and my library needs personal finance advice! We feel strongly that we need to keep a personal finance magazine in circulation, but the ones we’ve subscribed to in the past have been met with the deafening silence of complete disinterest. We’ve had Money for a year with no checkouts; before that, we had Fortune…

  • Simplify Your Life with a Stuff Replacement Fund (42 comments)

    One thing that prevents me from getting rid of more clutter in my life is the worry that someday, for some reason, I’ll want it again. Maybe I don’t use the rice cooker now, but what if I need it in the future? It’s thinking like this that keeps me from achieving the simple life I long for. After writing about the idea of having recently, I decided to re-read Your Money or Your Life,…

  • Why I Don’t Track My Net Worth (59 comments)

    Earlier today I described net worth, and asked if it were the most important number in personal finance. Many people believe that it is. For them, it acts as a motivator, a sort of “life scorecard”. For others — and I’m one of them — net worth is just another number. As I do my finances, Quicken computes my net worth, but it seems largely irrelevant to me. I don’t even know what the number…

  • How to Win the Lottery (132 comments)

    Ray Otero cannot buy a break. For the past three years, he’s spent $500 to $700 a week playing the lottery, but he’s only won big a few times: $1,000 once and $2,000 twice. Still he keeps playing. He’s sure his luck is bound to change. Otero’s story, told in a recent New York Times article, is simultaneously funny, poignant, and exasperating. This New York City building superintendent simply wants the “easy life” for his…

  • Marvelous Magazine Ads from 1904 (33 comments)

    This post contains many scanned images. Click on any detail to see a larger version. I believe that one of the best ways to reduce spending is to limit your exposure to advertising. Marketers employ powerful persuasive techniques to circumvent our rational minds, encouraging us to spend our hard-earned money on things we don’t really need. This isn’t anything new. Advertising has been a pervasive part of American culture for more than a century. I…

  • 8 Tips for Saving Money on Hobbies and Pastimes (67 comments)

    Lee wrote with an innocent question about photography equipment yesterday. Little did she realize I’d already been thinking about the broader issues of her dilemma. Here’s an abridged version of her message: A friend asked me about cameras. He went shopping last weekend and saw lenses that ranged from $200 to $700. He felt that the lower-end lenses would not work for him, but he wasn’t prepared to spend $700, so he went home. Now…

  • 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….

  • The Best Advice I Ever Got: 40 Great Money Tips (28 comments)

    CNNMoney has posted a gallery of money tips from 40 “great minds”, ranging from Derek Jeter to Tim Ferriss to Burton Malkiel. Each participant provided an anecdote about the best piece of financial advice they ever received. I’ve listed some of the highlights below. Remember: this is the best advice given to these people. It’s the financial advice they feel has made the biggest difference in their lives. Dean Kamen, Segway inventor: “Find work in…

  • Stale Checks: How Long Can Someone Wait to Deposit a Check? (90 comments)

        While running errands this afternoon, I stopped by the bank to deposit a check. All of the tellers were occupied with difficult clients. (I’m old-fashioned and go inside to make deposits for my business finances.) While I waited, I eavesdropped on the nearest conversation. A woman was frustrated because she’d just opened a checking account a few weeks ago, and now it was overdrawn. She couldn’t understand. “I don’t see how that’s possible,”…

  • The Economics of a POW Camp (15 comments)

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

  • The 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…

  • Richer Than Rockefeller: Putting Wealth in Perspective (64 comments)

    This is a guest post from Bob at ChristianPF.com. Bob writes about personal finance from a Christian perspective. John D. Rockefeller founded the Standard Oil company in 1870. He was the first American billionaire and one of the richest men to ever live. I am sure many people today wish they could have walked in his shoes. If, somehow they could, I think some would find it to be eye-opening. Are you richer than John…

  • Five Tips for Effective Consumer Complaints (26 comments)

    I hate big corporations — they’re bureaucratic nightmares. Three years ago, Verizon claimed that our family business had signed up for a $37.20 monthly listing in their telephone directory. We had not. I spent nearly six months battling their customer service department to get the charges removed. I made phone calls and sent registered letters, but still they insisted we’d signed up for service we’d never requested. Eventually, through internet sleuthing, I found the e-mail…

  • Best Personal Finance Podcasts (39 comments)

      Podcasts are a great and free way to learn about saving and investing. Here are some of the very best personal finance podcasts we feel are worthy of your “must-listen” line-up: Planet Money Planet Money is perhaps the best all-around podcast about money and economics out there right now. The production values are extremely high — as you’d expect from any NPR show — but it stands out for its ability to explain the most complex…

  • The Outrageous Cost of Storing Stuff (110 comments)

    I have too much Stuff. Odds are, you do too. In fact, Americans own so much Stuff that they don’t have room to store it all. Our basements and attics are full. Our garages and workshops are overflowing. Our passion for Stuff has spawned a growing industry devoted to providing space for all of the crap we own. This afternoon on NPR, Marketplace featured a story about the recession-proof self-storage industry. Reporter Andrew Phelps originally…

  • 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…

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

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

  • How to Handle a Door-to-Door Salesman (215 comments)

    On Saturday morning, a young man knocked at our door. He wanted to sell us new windows. Kris tried to brush him aside gently, but he was persistent. He didn’t leave until he’d scheduled an appointment to give us an hour-long in-home presentation about his company’s product. “We do need storm windows,” Kris told me after he’d gone. “That’s true,” I said. “But I don’t like buying from door-to-door salesmen.” The worst job I ever…

  • What To Do About Stolen Mail? (105 comments)

    When I came home on Wednesday, there was no mail in our mailbox. That seemed strange, but it happens sometimes. I didn’t think much about it. Tonight, though, we realized we were missing our latest Netflix movies. We checked the web site, and sure enough — they should have arrived Wednesday. “Uh oh,” I said. “This could be trouble.” “We mostly get catalogs and personal finance magazines,” Kris said. “We don’t get checks in the…

  • Ads I Hate: Athletic Clubs (81 comments)

    For the past few months, a gym to which I used to belong has been sending me “special offers” in an attempt to entice me to return. Because I’ve begun focusing on fitness, these almost work. But so far frugality has prevailed. It bugs me, though, that the “limited time offer” isn’t so limited. First it expired at the end of November, then the end of December, then the end of January, and now the…

  • “Simplify, Simplify!” — In the Footsteps of Thoreau (19 comments)

    This is a guest post from Mark Cunningham, one of the co-authors of The Prosperous Peasant. Cunningham is a member of the Woodstock Writers Guild, the monthly writing group to which I belong. In my twentieth year I packed a large cardboard box with belongings and headed east by train to begin my artistic life in Massachusetts, 3,000 miles from California, where I’d been born and raised. I wanted to live near Walden Pond and…

  • Beating the High Cost of Weddings: How We Did It, and How You Can Too (95 comments)

    Think you need to spend a fortune to tie the knot? It’s just not so. Kris and I got hitched for a couple grand in 1993. In this guest post from JerichoHill, he explains how he kept costs down for his wedding last summer. Weddings are expensive affairs. Couples often spend tens of thousands of dollars for an event that lasts only a day or two. I know, I know — the memories last a…

  • Why Religion is an Important Part of Personal Finance (212 comments)

    This is a guest-post from Free Money Finance. J.D. is on vacation in Europe. This guest-post has had some very passionate comments. I felt it appropriate to reference J.D’s thought on the matter included in this article “I’ve intentionally kept my political and religious leanings obscure at Get Rich Slowly — they have no bearing on personal finance.” However, FreeMoneyFinance disagrees and took time out from their very busy schedule to post a very lengthy…

  • The Problem with the Bank of Mom and Dad (39 comments)

    An anonymous poster at AskMetafilter wonders should parents finance grad school? Should parents help their children pay for grad school if they can afford it? My parents are divorced, but both are in households considered in the top 1% of the US in terms of income and net worth. After limited financial assistance from them during undergrad, I am getting no help at all for grad school. Am I out of line to expect that…

  • More Money: 5 Ways to Earn Extra Cash in Your Spare Time (69 comments)

    The discussion yesterday about how to earn money when you’ve lost your job got me thinking about ways to earn extra income outside regular employment. None of these are quick fixes, but they’re ways to generate cash in your spare time. Get a second job vslide_var1 = ‘vslide-extracash’; A second job can be an excellent way to earn extra money if you have the time and energy. Why have a second job? To pay off…

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

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

  • How to Haggle (12 comments)

    Some people know how to haggle. They’re able to bargain with shopkeepers in order to save a few bucks on pair of shoes, a book, or a piece of furniture. I’ve never haggled before except at garage sales and in World of Warcraft. Computer games are one thing, real-life is another. Real-life haggling scares me. Recently, I’ve stumbled upon several stories about haggling. An AskMetafilter user writes: I’ve heard that it’s okay to negotiate the…

  • Plan for Saving One Hundred Thousand Pounds (1 comment)

    (by Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1756) As I spent some weeks last winter in visting my old acquaintance in the Jerseys, great complaints I heard for want of money, and that leave to make more paper bills could not be obtained. Friends and countrymen, my advice on this head shall cost you nothing; and if you will not be angry with me for giving it, I promise you not to be offended if…

  • Free Comics from the Federal Reserve (3 comments)

    Many frugal folks are geeks at heart. Now you can indulge both sides of your personality with comic books from the Federal Reserve Bank! The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has been publishing educational cartoon-style booklets since the 1950s. “The Story of the Federal Reserve System” is one of ten titles currently available. The comic book is intended for the general public, especially students in high school and introductory-level college economic courses. Up to…

  • The Frugal Photographer (6 comments)

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