dcsimg

Planning


  • College Grads: How to Increase Your Salary (4 comments)

    My oldest son recently asked: “What can I do to make sure I get a big, fat salary when I graduate?” He’s a sophomore eyeing chemistry as his career. Having spent his summer working nearly 60 hours a week in a warehouse, I think he’s suddenly come to realize the full-court advantage of a college education. So I took his question to the mat. How can a student leverage college experience in order to maximize his…

  • Retirement Strategies: How are you Doing? (20 comments)

    Ah, retirement strategies. Either a dream or a worry, but either way, you need them. Dreaming of retirement is part of the evolution of life. As a 20-something, you spend time envisioning the amazing career you’ll have and the important work you’ll do. As a 50-something, what you picture is a hammock, an ice-cold beer, and a good book. You picture retirement. For years, The Husband has laughed about the retirees who snag the earliest oil…

  • 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…

  • Planning For the Year Ahead (8 comments)

      Every year we ring in the New Year and experience the phenomenon of being connected to everyone else. We’re tied together by the calendar. Even though we lead separate lives and have distinctly different journeys from every other person, we can’t escape the fact that January 1 starts a new year for us all. Then, of course, there are all the other holidays throughout cultures — and the calendar — that signal rebirth and…

  • How to Handle Financial Disappointments (2 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Are you glad to see the sun set on 2015? In the final days of the year, my kids are home on break. It’s fun to spend extra time with them, but many minutes of the day are filled with our older two children fighting with each other. And squished into the half-time show of their fighting games is some whining from a teething 17-month-old. With…

  • How (and where) to donate unwanted Christmas presents (5 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    If you give (or receive) a gift that misses the mark, returning the item is the natural thing to do. After all, return policies are pretty awesome these days. However, if you decide to make a bigger impact with your gift — an item that you’ve probably survived without just fine for the last year anyway — why not donate it? Why you should think about…

  • Honey progress report: 2015 wrap-up and 2016 goals (16 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Now is the time of year to look back, celebrate your accomplishments, and set goals for the upcoming year. Sharing those goals publicly — whether in the comments, in the GRS forums, or to your friends and family — can make you feel more accountable. With that being said, here’s how this year stacked up in the Honey/Jake household! Updated reckoning in chart form: 2012-present Please note…

  • Inheritance disputes: Avoiding the war when there’s a will (23 comments)
    Unhappy couple meeting with attorney

    The holidays are upon us. It’s the time of the year when family moves from the shadows of a busy life to the foreground. That probably makes it as good a time as any to consider one of the most difficult topics to discuss pertaining to family and finances — the…

  • 10 ways to maximize your end-of-year finances (7 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Oh, 2015, where did you go? It seems only moments ago it was time for New Year’s resolutions, and now here we are again. With only a month left before another year is behind us, you may be wondering how best to maximize this year’s finances. Well, look no further! 1. Prepare for taxes. Hopefully, you’ve already started to put the year-end tax-planning 2015 checklist to…

  • What is an Apprenticeship? (8 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Given that student loan debt in the U.S. tops $1.2 trillion and the average graduate owed over $30,000 in 2015, it’s no surprise topics like how to start paying student loans are necessary. However, if you’re still in school or are still saving for college (or you have kids or grandkids in that category), there’s an option for reducing or eliminating the amount of student loans…

  • How to know when to change your financial plan (11 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Richard Barrington.

    Financial planning is like taking a long car trip. You plan your route, your schedule, and your eventual destination in advance; but then you have to be prepared to adjust for detours, traffic delays, bad weather, fatigue or other unexpected changes. When it comes to financial planning, you face this same conflict between sticking to a long-range plan and dealing with the realities of life that…

  • 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…

  • How do you budget for experiences after debt? (9 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Megan Wells.

    In college, my mind was set on becoming an ethnographic researcher. I wanted to study people and cultures that were new to me while traveling as extensively as possible. After I earned my diploma, I pooled every dollar to purchase a one-way ticket to Costa Rica. Even with my rookie-style budgeting, I was able to make the trip happen – and it didn’t matter that my…

  • Why investing can be better than repaying debt (46 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    It’s a difficult choice: On the one hand, you understand the need to begin investing early to make the miracle of compounding work for you; on the other hand, you know that, when you have debt, making those payments hampers the ability to harness the miracle of compounding. So, what should you do with that $500 you have — invest it or pay down the debt?…

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

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

  • Starting to Save for Retirement at 40 (27 comments)

    There’s something about reaching the big 4-0 that often causes you to re-evaluate your direction in life. And when you do, it’s hard to escape the fact that your day of retirement is indeed approaching faster than you ever thought possible. If you’re one of those who eliminated debt and made investing for retirement a habit since your 20s, there’s very little to do other than enjoy your 40th birthday and continue on with what…

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

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

  • Maneuver toward retirement: What to do in your 30s (25 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    For most people in their 30s, life can feel like a breathless uphill run on a downward escalator. Everything seems to expand: families, homes, social circles, career responsibilities, and income. Managing it all requires more of your immediate attention, so it’s not surprising that retirement planning tends to fall lower on the list of high priorities. For many, just making it through the day is all…

  • 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…

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

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

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

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

  • Are you planning to retire to another job? (25 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    People are living longer, healthier lives. Consequently, they need more income to cover a longer life span than initially expected. That may be what’s fueling an interest among boomers to continue working after retirement instead of pursuing a life of leisure. But it could also be that boomers just like to work. A recent AARP survey determined that 37 percent of nearly 5,000 workers age 50 to…

  • 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…

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

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

  • How to optimize your resume for employment gaps (18 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Are you currently taking a hiatus from paid employment? Maybe you want to stay home with your kids until they’re in school. Maybe you haven’t been able to find another job after a layoff. Maybe you had some savings and took a mini-retirement. Or maybe you just wanted a break. Self-imposed or not, taking a break from the paycheck can be scary. You know what I…

  • How much does it cost to start a side gig? (24 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    So you’re thinking to start a side gig. Congratulations! Whether you are trying to pay off debt or just trying to fully fund your savings account, a side gig can help you reach your financial goals. But be aware: There is a grain of truth to the old adage, “You have to spend money to make money.” Exactly how much money are we talking? The cost…

  • 5 things that undermine automating your finances (21 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Ever feel like your finances are managing you instead of you managing your finances? Late fees pile up, interest charges multiply, and as soon as you find your 401(k) participation paperwork, you’ll fill it out and start participating. If you felt stressed reading that last sentence, you can understand why people choose to automate their finances. The fewer decisions you have to make in a day,…

  • Strategies for an affordable college education (53 comments)

    As you gaze at your newborn or newly adopted son or daughter, one of these thoughts may run through your head: “Will I be able to afford to put you through school?” “Am I required to put you through school?“ “Right now it’s all I can do to pay for Pampers and child care. I’ll worry about college later.” Time has a way of sneaking up on us. Seemingly overnight, that gurgling infant morphs into…

  • Summer splurges you might regret (17 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    Everyone loves a guilty pleasure every now and again – so long as it’s something harmless like belting out your favorite Country Western song on your way to the grocery store. But when it comes to these summer indulgences, you may end up singing the budget blues. Of course, it’s hard to complain about random expenditures if you keep a fully stocked emergency fund in your…

  • How Social Security can help you catch up on retirement savings (36 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    I was chatting with my dad on Father’s Day (he prefers phone calls to Father’s Day gifts), and everything seemed ordinary at first. He asked how Jake and I were enjoying our house and whether I still liked my new job. However, I was in for a surprise. When I asked him how his work was going, he said, “Oh, I retired a couple of weeks…

  • 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…

  • Ready to declare financial independence? (35 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    When will you declare your independence? Your financial independence, that is. What is financial independence? Ah, financial independence — the freedom to work only if and when you want to (because you no longer need the paycheck you earn from your job). Even typing the word “freedom” makes me sit up a little straighter. I am sure you can think of amazing things to do when…

  • The best (and worst) money advice Dad ever gave you (18 comments)

    This article is by Les Masterson. Fathers are great at offering advice – in matters of life, love, and, of course, money.  And while we’ve all resorted to clichés at times, the wisdom fathers impart often stays with their children, who in turn pass that guidance on to the next generation. So in honor of Father’s Day, we wanted to ask readers: What did your father teach you about money? What was his best –…

  • Unexpected funeral costs – 3 financial lessons that could protect your heirs (10 comments)

    This is a guest post by Lynnette Khalfani-Cox. In a little less than 18 months, I lost three treasured family members. First, my husband’s 94-year-old grandmother, Nana, passed away in late 2013 and was laid to rest just before Thanksgiving. At the end of December 2014, my sister Deborah died suddenly and completely unexpectedly. Debby was a 49-year-old healthy, vibrant person, the mother of an 11-year-old daughter, and the most caring individual I’ve ever known….

  • 5 ways to reduce the pain of the inevitable (38 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    Jake and Kelly (not their real names) were very dear friends of ours. Well, Kelly is still, but her husband just recently passed away. Because he was healthy and active, it came as a complete shock to us all — especially to Kelly. A familiar division of labor had developed in their 40 years of marriage. Jake was the one who took care of everything. He…

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

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

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

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

  • How to budget for summer camp (7 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Summer break is quickly approaching. Last year, I was worried about how I would keep the kids entertained; this year, I vacillate between two ends of the emotional spectrum — being excited and feeling a little overwhelmed. Excited, because I say “adios” to the early morning bus routine and the backpack-and-lunchbox ritual for a few glorious weeks. And socks. They quit wearing socks in the summer….

  • Financial stress: Strategies for the sandwich generation (16 comments)
    My husband and I are millennials who expect to be part of the sandwich generation soon. The term “sandwich generation” refers to those who support both an aging parent and a child. As I read the responses to the Ask the Readers article, Are you planning to care for an aging parent, it looks like we have plenty of company, and statistics from the Pew Research Center seem to substantiate that. (http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/01/30/the-sandwich-generation/):

    “Nearly…

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

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

    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

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

  • Ask the Readers: Are you planning to care for an aging parent? (36 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    A few weeks ago, I got an unexpected invitation to lunch from my husband. His afternoon meetings had been rescheduled and he was coming home early. We went to a little Subway store in a shopping center near my office. The patio area in back has a beautiful view of the picturesque homes on the large canal by the bay, and it’s perfect to just talk and…

  • When to use intermittent FMLA (10 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Disclosure: I am not an attorney or HR specialist. This is just my experience with, and understanding of, FMLA. According to the United States Department of Labor (DOL) website, “The Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) provides certain employees with up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave a year, and requires group health benefits to be maintained during the leave as if employees continued to…

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

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

  • The fall and winter seasons of the economic cycle (17 comments)

    (This is Part III in a four-part series about how understanding economic cycles could inform your financial decisions. Part I is Understanding economic cycles: An introduction. Part II is Recognizing economic seasons: recovery and growth. Part IV is How to profit from economic cycles.) You will recall from Part II of this short series about economic seasons that the spring of early recovery and the summer growth season resemble the corresponding seasons in nature fairly…

  • Recognizing economic seasons: recovery and growth (11 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

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

  • Understanding economic cycles: An introduction (13 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

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

  • 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…

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

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

  • How Much to Save for Retirement in My 30s? (And Other Burning Questions) (74 comments)

    Your 30s are a big deal. You may be starting a family or planning to make major purchases, such as a home. It’s also a time when many begin to ask this critical question: How much to save for retirement in my 30s? The short answer is most experts say you should be socking away 15% of your gross income by your 30s — that’s your income before taxes and other deductions. But before you max out…

  • What does Quantitative Easing mean for me now? (25 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    If you have ever heard talk of Quantitative Easing (QE) and “tapering,” you may have been left wondering what it is exactly. The terms are bandied about so frequently these days that it is rather difficult to parse out the facts from the political hype that surrounds every move the Federal Reserve Board, or Fed, makes. Another, more pointed question to ask might be, “Does Quantitative…

  • Ask the Readers: How do you motivate yourself when you feel like giving up? (32 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    Honey Smith’s article about achieving your long-term financial goals got me thinking. It’s one thing to tackle big, long-term goals if you are healthy and employed. But hopefully you have to imagine how difficult it is to stay on track to reach them if you aren’t. What if the bottom has dropped out in your world? What if you lost your job – and even lost your…

  • How to achieve long-term financial goals (16 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    In my last post, I talked about how personal finance is about playing the long game and “making choices that are harder in the short term for the good of the long term.” But when the payoff is so many years down the road, it can be difficult to stay on track. In order to actually reach long-term goals, you have to keep making the right choices…

  • Personal finance and the long game (15 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    When you think about it, personal finance is about playing the long game. Sure, it’s about other things as well. It’s about paying off debt. It’s about spending less than you earn. But when you think about it overall, it’s about making choices that are harder in the short term for the good of the long term. Here’s what I mean…. Saving for retirement Saving for retirement,…

  • 10 tax breaks for 20-somethings (18 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Suba Iyer.

    When I was in my 20s, I was single, without kids, renting, had graduated from college, working at my first job and no interest whatsoever in taxes. My feeling was, Why should I waste time thinking about taxes? As a single, renter with no kids, I would get absolutely no deductions or credits — and in addition to that, I had nothing to itemize. That meant…

  • How to Ladder CDs (24 comments)

    How to build a CD ladder? It’s a great question — unless you have no idea what a CD “ladder” even is. Let’s start at the beginning. A CD ladder is a method of staggering the maturity dates of certificates of deposits so you can invest your money safely and still keep some of it easily available for emergencies. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insures certificates of deposit (or time deposits) just like they…

  • 10 Money Mistakes to Avoid in Your 20s (77 comments)

    Your 20s are filled with milestones and life-changing experiences. It’s a time when the things you learn start to become habits and when financial decisions can either lead you to great success or become a problem for you in the future. It would be great to have perfect foresight so that you knew the best decision to make in every situation – but in the absence of perfect knowledge, even knowing what not to do…

  • 5 military tax deductions service members can claim but often don’t (19 comments)

    As an active-duty military member, preparing and filing your tax return can be a nightmare. Regardless of your duties or where you’re stationed, tax season will cause you to stop what you’re doing to complete this important task. However, Uncle Sam has taken into account your unique lifestyle with special tax laws. These include the extension of deadlines for filing and paying taxes while on active duty in a combat zone. But did you know…

  • How to prevent mobile phone theft (16 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Robert Brokamp.

    Modern technology is amazing. For example, thanks to the wonders of Find My iPhone — an application which allows you to use another device to locate a phone on a map — I was able to watch my stolen iPhone travel northward until the signal stopped deep in the heart of Washington, D.C. I haven’t heard from it since, so I don’t think the person who…

  • Hidden advantages of savings accounts (47 comments)
    Savings accounts? Are you crazy? Boo, hiss. These days, savings accounts are only used as joke fodder for late-night comedians, but there are benefits of a savings account. Take the mom who wants to teach her kids the value of prudent financial management, for example:

    For little Bobby’s eighth birthday, his mother takes him down to the local credit union to open a savings account. Figuring that all the grownups in his life would pour…

  • Beyond Valentine’s Day: Money and relationships (16 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Spoiler alert: Stress ahead! More than three in four women think about money more than sex, and more than one in four Americans in relationships feel money-related stress affects their desire for sex according to a survey conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Yodlee from December 6 to December 10, 2013. The 2,039 U.S. respondents were adults ages 18 and…

  • Finding Retirement Security (55 comments)

    You’ve seen them before: 10 mistakes that could ruin your retirement, 6 things to avoid, and so on. But many of those lists are copies of each other. Make no mistake: Common sense is common sense, and there’s only so many ways to catalog it. The common sense behind any successful savings or investment plan? Rhythm, or doing the same thing month after month. When that rhythm gets disrupted, it can take months, even years…

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

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

  • What should your investment priorities be in 2015? (27 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    I love snow — not the powder-lining you might long for on an overpriced ski slope, but the simple, white stuff that blankets the neighborhood. Our neighbors and friends all think I’m crazy, with the possible exception of the five or six families that happen to live on either side of us whose sidewalks get shoveled for no other reason than my exuberance for exercising out…

  • How to Get Out of Debt on a Low Income (38 comments)
    You’ve seen the get-out-of-debt advice: Quit buying lattes. Sell your stuff. It’s good advice, but it doesn’t apply to you. Because of your low income, a latte hasn’t touched your lips in years. And your stuff? You’ve been limping along for months now. No one wants what you have.

    You know Dave Ramsey says you need a bigger shovel to dig yourself out of this hole; but right now, all you have is a…

  • 30 Days to Better Finances (23 comments)

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

  • Keeping my New Year’s resolutions — what didn’t work for me (and what did) (12 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong.

    At the beginning of the year, I made four main resolutions, financial and otherwise. Max out my retirement Speak up more Consume less Save for a medium-term goal Of these goals, I achieved one and four. Two and three? Well, I did okay. In reviewing my goals, I realized there were a few goal-setting tips that worked well. But first, here’s what didn’t work for me….

  • Looking back on 2014, what could we have done better? (28 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    I honestly cannot believe that this year is already coming to an end, and I still have so much to do to prepare. At my house, end-of-year responsibilities include assessing our retirement situation, getting our business books caught up for tax purposes, and going over our expenses to see if there is anything we could change and do better next year. I’ve been working on that final part…

  • What does it cost to commute? (47 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    In recent posts exploring job searches and the cost of jobs in general, the subject of commute came up in a number of the comments. Readers pointed out that a commute makes a huge difference in whether a job is desirable or not because it has a significant impact on quality of life. I couldn’t agree more. When Jake and I were looking to buy a…

  • Ask the Readers: What personal finance choices will you face in the coming year? (59 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    The New Year is coming, and we’re busy thinking of ways to inspire your personal finance journey in the coming months. Personal finance is about making one choice over another. And at Get Rich Slowly, we’re a deliberate bunch. We actively avoid making hasty decisions. So one thing we’d like to continue to explore – whether it is through someone’s personal journey or just by digging in…

  • 14 smart money moves to make before the end of the year (25 comments)

    It’s a really busy time, I know. But when Suba Iyer told me about how she closes out her year financially, I thought it would be of interest to the readers of Get Rich Slowly. So I asked if she would prepare an article and share her list with us – but in reviewing it, it appears she made it even more comprehensive! Suba currently writes for FiveCentNickel.com. The new year is just around the…

  • How the new healthcare law changes maternity care (27 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    My husband and I got married in December of 2005 and spent the first few years of our marriage enjoying each other without the responsibility of children. Then, after a few years, I found myself longing for a child of our own. Unfortunately, a giant roadblock stood in our way — our health insurance plan did not cover maternity. Those were the days before the new…

  • Ask the Readers: How much are you budgeting for holiday travel? (24 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    Nearly two thirds of Americans are planning to travel at least once between Thanksgiving Day and New Years Day this year, according to the Orbitz Holiday Travel Insider Index. The survey is based off the popular site’s consumer research and booking data, which also indicates that 60 percent of travelers are willing to spend as much as $2,500 on their getaway. Most travelers (68 percent) plan to…

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

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

  • Is living without credit cards the best way to stay out of debt? (50 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Americans might be more responsible now than they were in the early 2000s when it comes to the use of credit. At least, that’s what the evidence from a Gallup poll taken earlier this year seems to suggest. The Gallup poll, which was based on random telephone interviews with 1,026 adults, shows that a full 48 percent claim to pay their credit card balances in full when…

  • What can we learn from Gen Y’s view of money? (25 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Recently, Fidelity released another survey about millennials and money. They found that 47 percent of us are saving for retirement. To me, that stat was really telling about our generation’s view of personal finance, and it’s not unlike other findings. When TIME wrote about the survey, they reported: “Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found that 71% of millennials eligible for a 401(k) plan participate and that 70% of…

  • What does your job tenure say about you? (26 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith. Recently, I wrote about networking strategies that can help advance your career, and that got me to wondering what a “typical” career looks like these days. How have careers been affected by the Great Recession? Are people able to stay in a job and retire if they love it, or is the job market more chaotic than that? And what does it say about you either way? For…

  • Ask the readers: Should we get married sooner to lower our taxes? (61 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. Landen and his fiancé are planning to get married in the fall of 2015 and they’re starting to think about how to blend their financial lives together as they tie the knot. There are always a lot of decisions to make when you get married: Will you keep your finances separate or merge them together? Will you add each other onto your existing bank accounts or close them…

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

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

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

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

  • The problem with being goal-oriented (44 comments)

    A few months before I decided to quit my job and move, I’d made a whole timeline of accomplishments I hoped to reach within the next three to five years. It included a series of backup plans, too, should Plan A not work out (Plan A: become a hugely successful writer, make lots of money, buy a home in Malibu, take many naps). This timeline included mini-goals of what I hoped to accomplish within a…

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

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

  • I was intimidated by investing, but here’s how I got started (33 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. The first time I felt the intimidating pressure of adult responsibility, I was three months out of college. It was my very first job interview, and I was wearing an old sweater and a pair of ill-fitted slacks, sweating. My would-be boss, the man sitting across from me, was only five or six years older than I was, which made me even more nervous. I’d never met…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • No, the American dream doesn’t cost 130K (83 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. A few weeks ago, I was browsing the Internet with my morning coffee when a link to a write-up at USA Today caught my eye. It read “Price tag for the American dream: $130K a year.” The article, which is based on a study conducted by researchers at Cornell University, claims that the rising costs of everything from food to housing have resulted in a new American dream…

  • Are you ready for a major power outage? (68 comments)

    This article is by staff writer William Cowie. Have you considered how your life would freeze to a standstill if a general outage cut electric power for more than two or three days? As every summer dawns, it’s a question more and more people ask, because demand for electric power is growing inexorably, and summertime is when the grid always gets strained to the max. Many experts say all it will take is one unusually…

  • Dissecting retirement savings (34 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. When I finally and completely quit my once-full-time job in May, something changed: Neither my husband nor I have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan. With a significant drop in income, we’re looking at maximizing our now small retirement account contributions. So, how can we get the biggest bang for our buck? Before we talk about that, let me fill you in on my retirement contribution history….

  • Ask the Readers: Are these good enough reasons to buy life insurance? (89 comments)
    This article is by staff writer April Dykman.

    There are a lot of really good reasons to have a life insurance policy, no doubt. If you have children, they’re dependent on your income. You want them to be taken care of should something ever happen to you. If your spouse stays at home with the kids, he or she is dependent on your income. If you stay home with the kids, your spouse is dependent…

  • Ask the Readers: Are the “golden handcuffs” real or self-imposed? (44 comments)

    This article is by editor Linda Vergon. Last December, Honey Smith was in the throes of some major life changes – her husband started his own business, only to sell it and start a new job, adding to the pressure to move and possibly buy a house. She wrote about it in her blog post “When the right choice isn’t obvious” and basically asked the readers which direction she should take. “I’ve been steadfastly against…

  • Student loan update: Interest rate edition (62 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. In my last progress report, I mentioned that I took my student loans off Kwik-pay (autodebit) until after closing on my house. The thinking was that I’d have the money just in case things didn’t go smoothly with the house and move. Originally, I thought I’d re-enable the automatic payments after closing. Then I realized that if I kept my student loans on manual payments, I wouldn’t be…

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

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

  • How to track your spending (and why you should) (82 comments)

    Recently, an old friend emailed me for help with his family’s financial woes. The confession that followed wasn’t pretty, and included tales of student loans, car loans, unrestrained spending, and empty bank accounts. It was all bad news, which I found rather surprising considering their relatively high income. So, of course, I asked about their fixed expenses. What were they? We emailed back and forth for quite a while, and he gave a few more details…

  • Professional investment advice (and why you should ignore it) (77 comments)

    This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D. recently appeared on the Microblogger podcast, where he talked about taking control of his financial life, moving from debt to wealth. In January, I accompanied Kim to an appointment with Paul, her investment adviser from Edward Jones. Paul’s brother was my best friend in grade school and junior high, and we have many mutual friends. I sat and listened while Kim…

  • How to get started investing (33 comments)

    This article is by staff writer William Cowie. Confession time: Despite a financial and business education more comprehensive than most, I never invested. I grew up poor and just couldn’t wait for my first “serious” job and those big bucks. It was so bad, I decided to drop out of college in my senior year. “None of this ivory-tower crap is going to make me any more money,” I told everyone who would listen. Fortunately,…

  • Financing your bucket list (39 comments)

    This is a guest post from Mitch Anthony. Mitch is a sought-after financial services consultant, popular speaker, and host of The Daily Dose radio program. His RetireMentors column appears regularly on CBS marketwatch.com. Mitch earned Financial Planning Magazine’s “Mover & Shaker” award for his pioneering retirement and financial planning work. He has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, and The New York Times. His book Storyselling for Financial Advisors was acclaimed…

  • The opportunity fund: How to be prepared for lucky breaks (32 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money, where he recently wrote about how to retire early. The first step on the road to financial freedom is to eliminate debt. The second is to save for emergencies. Your emergency fund acts as self-insurance, cushioning you from small disasters. Life is full of unexpected surprises, many of which cost money…

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

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

  • Finding the road out of poverty (148 comments)

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

  • Ask the Readers: What do you do when someone constantly hits you up for money? (124 comments)

    A few years ago, I wrote about how to lend money to friends without letting it ruin the friendship. To quickly recap, a friend needed help paying the rent. She had never asked me for money in all the years we’d been friends, so I knew she had to be in a pretty desperate situation. In fact, she was even on medical leave and tried to return to work early, but her doctor (and therefore her…

  • When prepaid college plans work (18 comments)

    This reader story comes from Elaina. 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. Recently in the news I have heard more and more about the pros and cons of prepaid college plans (here, here). This type of plan allows an adult to…

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

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

  • A Meeting With My Financial Adviser (90 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money. Once every six months, whether I need to or not, I meet with my investment adviser from Fidelity. I’ve been doing this for five years, and have come to value the experience as truly educational. On Tuesday, for instance, my new adviser Michael talked me through some income planning. My financial…

  • Review: FlexScore, Part I (The Book) (10 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. There are many personal finance books and tools out there, useful to people in all stages of personal finance. I have a lot to learn before reaching financial independence, and the editorial elves thought it would be useful if I shared some of what I learn with you. My recent reviews include “The Smartest Investment Book You’ll Ever Read” and “Soldier of Finance: Take Charge of Your…

  • When is your financial relaxation due date? (48 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. I am perched in the corner chair, cup of Chai in hand, with just hours before the deadline for this post. I have piles and piles of clean laundry that need to be folded. Dishes need to be washed. I can’t recall the last time I’ve dusted any room in the house. My husband has been working 80-hour weeks for a few weeks, so I am doing…

  • Changing careers: The grass isn’t always greener (76 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Earlier this year, my husband and I made a decision that will change the course of our lives, for better or for worse. After 10 years in the mortuary industry, we decided that it was time for my husband to make a change. He was frustrated, burnt out, and tired of working weekends, late nights, and holidays. He began to wonder if there was something else that he…

  • 7 Rules for Growing Slow (But Sustainable) Wealth (31 comments)

    You can grow — and sustain — wealth if you have nothing right now. Many will argue that fortunes can be made overnight; while that may hold very true in some cases, the majority of those who have made it will tell you it did indeed take a great deal of time coupled with some correct financial choices. For me, wealth did not come solely from entrepreneurship or financial risk, but rather it came as…

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

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

  • Reader Stories: Why, at 25, I made retirement my first priority (48 comments)

    This reader story is from Adam M. Shearer, whose story was prompted by comments from another post. 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. After I was challenged in the comments on a recent article, I was drawn into reassessing my personal…

  • ‘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…

  • Should you prepay your mortgage? (40 comments)

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

  • Five factors for your asset allocation (16 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. When you think of your portfolio, visions of stocks, bonds and cash likely dance in your head. Generally, the mix of those investments is based on some measure of risk tolerance, with a little bit of time horizon calculation thrown in, and — voila! — you have yourself…

  • Couples and money: Lessons from The Queen of Versailles (32 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. I recently got sick for the first time in almost a decade, and was bed/couch-ridden for a good four days. Since I had some time on my hands, I was able to watch a few documentaries on my Netflix queue. One of those was The Queen of Versailles, a film that will make your jaw drop like an episode of Hoarders. It’s hard to believe people really live like…

  • The tyranny of the 401(k) industrial complex (68 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. Like many living beings – including turtles, snakes, and llamas — he’s on Twitter. If you never watch PBS’ “Frontline,” you’re missing out on some of the best journalism on TV. I don’t agree with every viewpoint they advocate, but each episode is thought-provoking and well…

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

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

  • How (and why) to create a financial plan (41 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Lisa Aberle. A few weeks ago, I celebrated another birthday. For whatever reason, birthdays always make me think about how many more birthdays I have to celebrate. And eventually, I think about how my husband would handle the finances in the event of my death. Happy birthday, huh? Although I am unlikely to die anytime soon, you never know. When thinking about my earthly exit, I am bothered most…

  • I’m 30! Am I where I should be with my finances? (85 comments)

    “I can’t believe I’m going to be 30!” I told my Dad at the beginning of the year. I said the same thing when I turned 20, so I knew he would reassure me that 30 actually wasn’t that old. “Nope, 30’s old,” he said. Getting older doesn’t bother me; I actually embrace it and all the experiences that come along with it. That’s also something I say just to make myself feel better. But it’s…

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

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

  • Creating objective rules for spending (36 comments)

    This guest post is from Mr. F, an Australian reader in his mid-20s who works for the government. We’re often told to “spend money on what’s important,” “spend according to your values” or “spend on whatever takes up most of your time.” So, for example, you should spend money when it comes to things like education, or family, or on a mattress. That’s a good guide, but in day-to-day situations you often have to make…

  • How to plan for a worst-case scenario (46 comments)

    As many longtime GRS readers know, a few years ago I quit my job to become a full-time writer. The decision to ditch a job and leap into self-employment always brings up a lot of big questions, like where to get health care and how to adjust to working alone. But the biggest question on my mind was about income. What if I lost a major client and my income suddenly dropped? While I was…

  • Taking the semi-retirement plunge without drowning in debt (60 comments)

    After spending months working 60 or 70 hours per week, realizing that life is all too short, and preparing for our kids to come home, it’s time for a new financial paradigm of my own: I’m semi-retiring. I had always been perplexed by those who, say, retired early to travel to exotic locations. I like working and don’t really like traveling, so my dreams involved some sort of fulfilling employment until I couldn’t work anymore….

  • The most powerful ways to secure your retirement (34 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. Whether you can retire, and whether your money will last after you retire, starts with a very simple maxim: spend less than you have. However, once you start actually crunching some numbers, you find that the equation of retirement is actually quite complicated, with many…

  • New student loan payoff tool (30 comments)

    Stafford, PLUS, Perkins, Direct, private – there are enough types of student loans out there to make your head spin. All of these loans have different criteria and interest rates. This is especially the case if you have loans from before 2012. Pre-2006, when Stafford loans were variable interest, it often made sense to consolidate when you felt that interest rates were low. While this option may still appeal to folks whose priority is the…

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

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

  • Honey’s financial goals for 2013 (126 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Now that I’ve taken stock of where I’ve been in 2012, I’m ready to set goals for 2013. I want my goals to be ambitious enough that meeting them is a true accomplishment requiring me to stretch my growing money-management skills. However, I also want them to be realistic and personal (revolving around my priorities). Goal 1: Pay off $5,000 in student loan principal Since I’ve paid…

  • A few things to consider before becoming an expatriate (23 comments)

    This post is from Justin Boyle. Justin is an experienced English tutor and writing coach who works as a designer in the tech industry. He lives in Austin, Texas, and finds a lot of things interesting, especially food, finance, education, gadgetry, software, art and travel. He never stops thinking about food. He is probably eating right now. There are plenty of possible reasons you could want to leave the U.S. Perhaps you’ve always dreamed about making the sand…

  • Reader Stories: Why giving up $100,000 a year was the right choice (87 comments)

    Steve Chou writes about entrepreneurship and how to start an online store over at MyWifeQuitHerJob.com. In addition, he and his wife run an online store selling wedding handkerchiefs and wedding linens at BumblebeeLinens.com. This story is part of our Reader Stories series. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want submit your…

  • HSA Pros and Cons (107 comments)

    Lately, my dad’s been praising the benefits of having a health savings account. This year, he had the opportunity to get the most of his HSA — bad news for his health, but good news for his wallet (side note: Dad is now doing OK health-wise). If you have one or are considering one, here are all the HSA pros and cons to consider. But first, if you are looking for the 2016 and 2017…

  • When you just can’t get the important stuff done (38 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. This post is not for those of you who have focused minds and empty “to do” lists. Nay, not for those rarefied people who go to bed knowing that they got just about…

  • Get Free Financial Planning Help (10 comments)

    I’ve been working with a fee-only financial advisor recently to be sure all my eggs are in the right nests for my future. I’ve been impressed with her knowledge of law, taxes, insurance, investing — all aspects of financial life. While I’ve covered personal finance topics as a journalist for more than 20 years, I haven’t been so diligent about managing my own affairs. Yes, I’ve been saving for retirement all along, but I’ve been…

  • Reader Story: Dodging Financial Bullets: A Tribute to My Ex (94 comments)

    This guest post from Holly Johnson is part of the “reader stories” feature. Holly is a 32-year-old wife, mother of two, and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She blogs about saving money, frugal habits, and whatever is on her mind at ClubThrifty.com. Want submit your own reader story? Here’s how. I could talk for hours about my ex-boyfriend and all of the terrible decisions he made, his bad habits, and his financial mistakes. Ahhh…..so where do I…

  • 15 Things You Need to Know About Financial Aid (74 comments)

    Timothy M. Hayes, MBA, CFP®, is the founder and President of Landmark Financial Advisory Services, a member of the Garrett Planning Network of fee-only advisors, and an expert in navigating the financial-aid application process. Every January, students and their parents face the daunting prospect of preparing the various financial-aid applications that are required to be submitted in order to determine their eligibility for federal and/or institutional financial aid. Most families find the process, at best,…

  • What Matters in Matters of Love and Finance (166 comments)

    “You need to keep your skills fresh,” said a commenter in a recent post about the finances of parenting, referring to the concept of a mother staying at home with the kids. “In case of death or divorce. I didn’t argue, but I shook my head and rolled my eyes. (I do this to avoid leaving snappy replies to people’s comments. Work with me.) I’ve long felt that combining one’s finances with a potential, or…

  • Reader Story: Finding Hope In The Bleakest Of Situations (99 comments)

    This guest post from Sam is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Sam writes at Financial Samurai and is one of the esteemed colleagues with whom I’m exchanging ideas this weekend at the second annual Financial Blogger Conference. 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 submit…

  • Friendships and Financial Inequality (171 comments)

    A few years ago, I started spending time with a coworker outside of work. She was cool, fun to hang out with, and we had a lot in common. Except income. She worked in a separate department and made significantly more money than I did. Hanging out with her and her friends usually involved dining at fancy restaurants, drinking at fancy bars, and talking about whether we’d go to Greece or St. Bart’s — I…

  • Reader Story: What Would You Do If You Were Rich? (97 comments)

    This guest post from Sean Ogle is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Ogle writes about location-independent living at Location 180. 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. For most of my life I’ve worked under the assumption that money…

  • 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…

  • Is Long-Term Care Insurance Worth It? (84 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 Chip Chinery, who writes about personal finance at Chip’s Money Tips. Chinery won the website award for…

  • Wills, Trusts and Drama: What to Expect When Settling an Estate (65 comments)

    This is a guest post by Jennifer Rose Hale, one of the candidates for a new staff writer position here at Get Rich Slowly. We all face times when we suddenly, necessarily have to become experts on a topic we’d previously given little consideration. Some, like pregnancy, accompany positive changes in our lives. Others, like dealing with funeral planning and estate issues, are entirely the opposite. Yet, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll have to…

  • The Retirement Outlook for 20-Somethings (159 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Tim Sullivan. Over Memorial Day weekend, a few friends and I took an RV to Banff, Canada. I’m from Chicago and have only been in the Pacific Northwest for a few short months. We Chicagoans are flatlanders and the geographical splendor of the snow-caps that now surround me is a source of a daily inspiration. While we were heading through Glacier National Park, I sat at the coffee table…

  • 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…

  • Reader Story: The Bonus of Bi-Weekly Pay (98 comments)

    This guest post from Corinne 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. At my previous job, I was paid on a monthly basis. I loved it. I got all my money for the…

  • How to Spend a Tax Refund (149 comments)

    Hey, average American, what are you planning to do with the tax refund you are about to receive? So let’s start with useful ideas for spending your tax refund for those in the first stage of personal finance and work our way up to those who are less pinched. Depending on which stage of personal finance describes your current financial situation, your tax refund can help you along if you plan carefully. Before we go there,…

  • How to Donate Your Body to Science (150 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. A basic burial averages close to $6,600 in the United States. Many people worry about the financial burden this places on their families. There is a way around this besides opting to be cremated and carrying enough life insurance: whole-body donation. It’s estimated that at least…

  • Planning for My Financial Future (65 comments)

    I’ve been fortunate over the past few years. I’ve managed to get out of debt, quit my day job to write full time, build substantial savings, and am now able to do what I want when I want. I still work hard, of course, but I do so on my own terms. I’m a lucky man. Next year, though, is going to be a year of changes. For one thing, my income might actually decrease….

  • Reader Story: Recovering from Divorce (70 comments)

    This guest post from Gina 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. Back in 2007, I found myself experiencing an unexpected divorce. After the smoke, I realized where I was financially and panicked. However, my inner…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Help a Homeless Friend? (118 comments)

    As the U.S. economy enters its fourth year of turmoil, average folks continue to struggle. At GRS, we’ve shared questions and stories about people who can’t make ends meet, who are losing their homes, and who find themselves out of work. But we’ve never tackled the homeless before. Today, though, Evan wrote with a tough situation. One of his friends is out on the street, and he feels guilty because of it. Should he help?…

  • Reader Story: What My Father’s Death Taught Me About Estate Planning (101 comments)

    This guest post from Jody is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. My dad died recently. He was a good man and a great father. Just three months after he retired (after spending more than 40…

  • Ask the Readers: Which Financial Products Do You Actually Use? (143 comments)

    The financial blogging conference last week was great. My colleagues and I had a lot of thought-provoking discussions, not only in the planned sessions but also late at night in the hotel lobby. One of these impromptu chats focused on the financial products we actually use. Financial bloggers do a lot of product reviews. (I do them too, but I think they’re tedious. Besides, I think there are some ethical grey areas with product reviews,…

  • Engineer Your Retirement (50 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He also has a blog, Twittering thing, and other things that are supposed to be important but he often forgets about, such as hygiene. Robert contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. I get plenty of email from readers, usually filled with…

  • Drama in Real Life: A Place for Mom (261 comments)

    In my ideal world, you’d now be reading an article about the freelancing or entrepreneurship or extreme couponing or one of the half dozen other topics I’ve started to write about. In my ideal world, I’d go to the gym this morning, and then to Spanish lessons this afternoon. In my ideal world, Kris and I would go see the Portland Timbers play this evening. Unfortunately, I don’t live in my ideal world. Instead, I…

  • Reader Story: Negative Budgeting and a Healthy Outlook on Life (52 comments)

    This guest post from Shara is part of the “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general “how I did X” advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. Last year, Shara shared her story about the other side of bankruptcy. On a ride to town the other…

  • Every Purchase Is a Trade-Off (76 comments)

    While I was digging out of debt, I cut back on my comic book habit. I’d been spending a mind-boggling $250 every month on comics — most of which I bought in the form of hard-bound compilations — but for a few of years, I slashed that to less than $50 a month. I also cut my book spending from $100 per month to $50 per month. In other words, I made trade-offs. I decided…

  • How to Make Separate Finances Work: An Interview with J.D. and Kris (199 comments)

    Every couple has its own way of managing money. Some folks share their finances completely. Some — like my wife and me — keep their finances completely separate. Most couples fall somewhere between these two extremes. Writing for the June issue of Redbook magazine, Virginia Sole-Smith highlighted what she calls the new money rules for couples. Experts don’t agree on how couples should manage their money, Sole-Smith says. That’s because there’s no “one size fits…

  • To Automate, or Not to Automate (86 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Lately I’ve been giving my personal finance systems a lot of thought. What is the best way to track my expenses (I’ve yet to figure it out)? Am I allocating my savings in the way that makes the most sense? Should I automate more, or less? Right now I’m both automated and unautomated. Payments for cell phones, my yoga studio membership, Netflix, and charity, for example, are…

  • Your Retirement Account Survival Guide (55 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He also has a blog, Twittering thing, and a piece of carpet that was once in Elvis’ jungle room (no joke!). Robert contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. An IRA is a simple little thing. It’s a common, garden-variety retirement vehicle,…

  • Use a Financial Fire Drill to Prepare for the Worst BEFORE It Happens (49 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. Hey, federal employees: How many of you were you watching the Countdown to Shutdown clock and wondering how you’d cope if salaries were delayed by even a few days? The time to figure out how you would have managed was before the crisis loomed. The same…

  • Financial Security for Unmarried Couples (97 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. Money is one of the biggest issues couples fight about. It’s also one of the most important areas for clear communication. After all, money touches every aspect of our lives. I’ve written before about the importance of having good financial communication with your spouse. It’s doubly important to communicate well with your partner if you’re not…

  • All About Asset Location: How to Make the Most of Your Accounts (68 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He also has a newly reinvigorated blog, and you can have your day interrupted once or twice by his Twittering. Robert contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. When he submitted this, Robert advised, “File this under the ‘long and tedious but…

  • Establish Your Financial Priorities (Worksheet Inside!) (55 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Quick — can you list your top financial priorities? My top priorities (aside from basic living expenses) are building a house and travel. Those are the two things I daydream about the most, and the two things I try to keep in mind when I’m deciding whether I really need all 10 “hard-to-find” books from the used book store or whether I’m overspending on, say, a $100-compost…

  • Emergency Preparedness on a Shoestring (130 comments)

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

  • Tax Prep Costs 2016: How Much Does it Cost to Have Your Taxes Done (96 comments)

    The cost to file income taxes can fall anywhere between zero dollars — as in you do your taxes yourself and file for free — and several hundred dollars, with an average cost of $273 for using a tax preparer, less if you don’t itemize ($159), according to the most recent data available from the National Society of Accountants. To judge the value correctly, though, those costs have to be weighed against the results you get,…

  • College Is a Big, Fat, Hairy Rip-Off! (But Save for It Anyway) (109 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He also has a newly reinvigorated blog, and you can have your day interrupted once or twice by his Twittering. Robert contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. A few weeks ago, the proprietor of this establishment (J.D. “The letters in ‘Get…

  • The Power of Patience (57 comments)

    When I was young, I had no patience. I wanted everything, and I wanted it now. No wonder, then, that I found myself with over $20,000 in credit-card debt just a few years out of college. I was spending to obtain a lifestyle that I wouldn’t be able to afford until I was older. Much older. I’m not the only one with this problem. Many young adults graduate from college or leave home, and suddenly…

  • Reader Story: Sailing Away from the American Dream (52 comments)

    This guest post from Michael Robertson 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. Two years ago, Michael shared a guest post about direct stock purchase plans. Today, he shares his personal story, which is about sailing…

  • Caring for Aging Parents (156 comments)

    As more of my friends enter middle age, they’re talking less about how to care for their kids and more about how to care for their parents. Our mothers and fathers are nearing (and, in some cases, surpassing) seventy years of age, and not all of them are financially prepared. A GRS reader named Shauna recently wrote with a typical scenario: My husband and I are in our early thirties and finally getting our finances…

  • Two Stories About Retirement Planning (106 comments)

    I never know where the personal-finance lessons are going to come from. Today, I heard two stories about retirement from my own family. First, my wife told me that her retirement program at work might be cut. Next, I learned that my family’s box company has had a bizarre retirement crisis of its own. Don’t count your chickens Kris came home frustrated tonight. She’s worked for the state government for almost twenty years (eight of…

  • 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…

  • When Will You Be Able to Retire? (52 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. Permit me to introduce a new term into the financial planning lexicon: goals-based budgeting. (Well, a Google search turned up a few other instances of its use, but they’re on government websites, so no…

  • What is Retirement? (76 comments)

    I just returned from my annual weekend trip to Oregon’s Opal Creek Wilderness area. Every year, I join five other friends to hike into the forest, pitch our tents on the banks of the creek, and sit around the fire talking about life. We drank a lot of whiskey this year, and spent a lot of time at the swimming hole. Paul and Tim at rest above the Opal Creek swimming hole This year, we…

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

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

  • How Do You Define Financial Freedom? (70 comments)

    This post is from Kent Thune. Kent urges and guides readers to place meaning and purpose before money and planning at his blog, The Financial Philosopher. Can freedom be bought? Are there any (financially) poor people who are free? Are there any (financially) wealthy people who aren’t free? If someone were to ask you, “What’s your definition of financial freedom?”, what would you say? Be honest with yourself: Would you reply with a concrete definition?…

  • Preparing for the Future: A Risk-Management Checklist (17 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. Many of you asked for a follow-up to last week’s post about what happens to your stuff when you die; this article offers more info about how to prepare for the inevitable. Some aspects…

  • What Happens to Your Stuff When You Die? (50 comments)

    Most of us have some sort of vague idea about what happens to our assets when we die. The stuff we own gets passed on to the people we specify — assuming we’ve jumped through the right hoops. But what happens to our debts when we die? That’s what Matt wants to know. He wrote recently looking for clarification: My parents are both in their sixites, and don’t have the best financial position. They have…

  • Instructions for the Afterlife: Preparing for the Inevitable (31 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. I hate to get all morbid on you, but if something happened to you today that temporarily or permanently (or immortally, depending on your religious persuasion) put you out of commission, would your family…

  • The Business of Marriage: Five Things You Should Do Before Tying the Knot (46 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. I’m at a friend’s wedding this weekend, traveling with my own husband and kids. The wedding invitation labelled the event as a “triumph of hope over experience”. It is that, and I’m honored to be invited as a witness. But it’s also a business arrangement, something I’m sure my friend (a respected…

  • Are We There Yet? How Will You Know When You’re Rich? (104 comments)

    This is a guest post by Ami Kim, who blogs about searching for a calling at 40 Days to Change. Ami is a long-time GRS reader. Here at Get Rich Slowly, we imbibe many flavors of frugality, smart investing, and money management. Between J.D.’s (and others’) posts and the treasure trove of comments, you could build a path to wealth tailored to your individual income, assets, and circumstances. But how will you know when you’re…

  • 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…

  • Poll: How Much Do You Need to Save for Retirement? (54 comments)

    This post contains an excerpt from Chapter 13 of Your Money: The Missing Manual, my new book from O’Reilly Media. It’s also a part of National Financial Literacy Month. For the past several months, GRS has been running a new poll in the sidebar every two weeks. Mostly, these are curiosities to me. But the poll that just concluded produced an interesting tidbit of information. The most recent poll — which ran simultaneously at Money…

  • How to Self-Diagnose Your Financial Health (38 comments)

    The New York Times Your Money section features consistently great advice from Ron Lieber and his team. (This team includes Carl Richards, who you may remember from his excellent blog Behavior Gap; Richards has shared a couple of guest posts here at GRS in the past.) Last week, Your Money featured an article from Tara Siegel Bernard in which the author explained how to self-diagnose your financial health. “We asked planners what they ask their…

  • Reader question: How much life insurance do you need? (84 comments)

    This is a guest post from Sanford Ellowitz, a New York State licensed insurance agent. He has over 25 years experience in the insurance and financial services industries. He’s also a Certified Financial Planner and a Certified Employee Benefit Specialist. Penny recently wrote with the following question: I’m interested to find out how one sets out a financial plan for life and how much insurance does a person really need because there are so many…

  • How to Be Happy in Retirement (63 comments)

    The March 2010 issue of Consumer Reports Money Adviser has an interesting article on how to avoid regrets during retirement. The article, which draws on a survey of nearly 25,000 subscribers, is simultaneously comforting and cautionary. While only about 20% of folks who haven’t yet retired are highly satisfied with their current retirement planning, 70% of actual retirees report they’re highly satisfied. According to the author, the lesson is: While many of us tend to…

  • Planning a (Debt-Free) Dream Vacation (58 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Most people agree that a vacation is supposed to be relaxing, but planning for one can be just the opposite. Still, poor planning can cost money and time, causing headaches and frustration when you’re supposed to be getting away from it all. Some people like to book a ticket and see where life takes them. Others prefer cruises or tours where the planning is taken care…

  • Start Saving For Next Year’s Christmas Today (40 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker recently listed the Top 10 Money Movies of the Decade. Baker and his family are spending their holiday season hiking around the south island of New Zealand. I have some potentially shocking news for you: Christmas is coming! No, I’m not talking about the one in a few days; I’m referring to the one that’s coming just twelve months down the road. Far too many people…

  • Giving to Receive: What Legacy Will You Leave? (46 comments)

    This is a guest post from Tyler Tervooren, a long-time GRS reader. Tyler is a practical environmentalist who writes about the overlap of money, sustainability, and personal development at Frugally Green. Have you accepted yet that you’re going to die? Have you? Honestly? We’ve been doing it for thousands of years but, for some reason, most of us won’t figure out how to deal with it until it’s too late. This is something every one…

  • Reader Story: Budgeting For a Lifestyle Change (41 comments)

    This is a guest post from Sean Ogle, a former portfolio analyst who is now pursuing his goals of starting a business and seeing the world. You can read more from him at Location180. You can also follow him on twitter @seanogle.  Have you ever thought about doing something different with your life? Maybe you’ve decided that you’d like to do more world traveling. Perhaps you want to explore that entrepreneurial idea that has always…

  • Goals Are the Gateway to Financial Success (61 comments)

    This is the second of a fourteen-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. Yesterday I completed my first marathon. It didn’t happen exactly as I’d planned, but it happened. Instead of running 26.2 miles, I walked the entire course. Some might view this as a failure. Not me. I’m ecstatic to have finally, at the age of forty, met one of my life-long goals. Though I had hoped to run the…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Should You Save for Retirement? (154 comments)

    How much should you save for retirement? Carla dropped me a line because she’s puzzled where the standard “save 10% of your income for retirement” advice originated. She’s afraid that ten percent isn’t nearly enough. Carla writes: The financial experts always say to save 10% for retirement (for example, in your review of The 1-2-3 Money Plan). Buy why 10%? It doesn’t make sense to me. I’m 25. If I retire at the normal age…

  • 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….

  • The Quiet Millionaire (48 comments)

    Despite what you see in the media, financial success generally doesn’t come with a lot of glitz. The wealthiest people I know are the ones you’d least expect. They’ve built their wealth slowly — and quietly. Certified financial planner Brett Wilder has observed the same thing, and has written about the phenomenon in his book, The Quiet Millionaire. Along the way, he shares real-life examples of quiet millionaires. These are the same sorts of people…

  • What is the Value of a College Education? (156 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jason Barr, who writes about personal development at Start Being Your Best. Jason is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. His first post described what he learned from failure. Jason is 32 years old, has been married for seven years, and has a 2-1/2 year old son. He’s now a financial analyst, but he spent five years in the army as a Chinese linguist. What is the…

  • How to budget for an irregular income (72 comments)

    I’ve been a full-time professional blogger for more than a year now. It has been a fantastic experience, a sort of dream come true. But blogging for dollars is not without its drawbacks. As I’ve shared before, I feel socially isolated. I spend most of my time in this office, writing about money. Also, the income can be irregular. For some bloggers, it is very irregular. One month you might have record earnings — and…

  • The Big Book of Everything: A Free Life-Affairs Organizer (95 comments)

    Personal finance organizers are plentiful, but how do you know they work? Last summer, Mark Gavagan mailed me a copy of his It’s All Right Here life and affairs organizer. This three-ring binder is big and unwieldy, but is amazingly comprehensive. It not only offers pages for credit card and saving account information, but also includes space to record family medical history, business information, and more. There are even several pages of vinyl or plastic…

  • Estate Planning 101: Preparing for the Possible — and the Inevitable (35 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. We interrupt this regularly cheerful website to bring you some unpleasant news: You’re not going to live forever. And, just to pile on the unpleasantness, you might become incapacitated before you join that Great…

  • 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 Well on Less in Retirement (65 comments)

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

  • When Does It Make Sense to Stock Up? (160 comments)

    One of my wife’s favorite cosmetic products was recently discontinued. For years she’s used a certain facial cleanser from Avon, so when Avon stopped selling it, Kris was frustrated. She’s tried similar products from other companies, but prefers the one from Avon. It occurred to Kris that maybe she could find the product online. She tracked down a seller on eBay and ordered a two-year supply for $50 (plus shipping). This is double what she…

  • Developing an Investment Policy Statement (46 comments)

    I’m in the process of consolidating all of my investments under one roof. This includes: My Roth IRA (currently with Sharebuilder) My profit-sharing pension through the family box factory (currently with Vanguard) My self-employed 401(k) (now at Fidelity) My non-retirement accounts (scattered hither and yon) Between these accounts I have a large sum to invest. I don’t know the exact total (the market fluctuates daily, and I don’t really know the value of the Vanguard…

  • 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,…

  • 8 Questions to Ask BEFORE Hiring a Financial Planner (121 comments)

    This is a guest post by Jeff Rose, an Certified Financial Planner from Illinois. Rose is also the author of Good Financial Cents, a financial planning and investment blog. Before reading his article, you may want to begin with two previous guest posts from Dylan Ross: What is a financial plan and why have one? and When and how to hire a financial planner. When meeting with a financial planner for the first time, many…

  • How to Find Great Deals on Vacation and Travel (56 comments)

    My wife and I have begun to explore the idea of taking a trip later this year. We’re in the preliminary stages of our research and budgeting. Though we aren’t ready to book anything yet, it’s fun to look at what’s available, and to dream of where we might go. Over the weekend, I polled my followers on Twitter to ask their advice for finding great travel deals. Here are some of the tips and…

  • Financial Independence: The Final Stage of Money Management (46 comments)

    This is the last of a five-part series about the “stages” of personal finance. These stories have intentionally been less polished than most articles at Get Rich Slowly. This is a chance for me to think out loud, to explore an idea with you in an informal way. In February, I wrote that I was entering the third stage of personal finance. As I made my way out of debt and began to save, I…

  • 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…

  • How Much Do You Need to Save for Retirement? (104 comments)

    I’ve had several conversations in the past month with people who are wondering how much to save for retirement. They’re worried they won’t have enough. (And the recent market turmoil only makes matters worse.) The problem is that nobody seems to agree on what assumptions to make when planning for retirement. How much should you assume for inflation? For investment returns? For rising health-care costs? How long should you expect to live? Conventional wisdom Most…

  • 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…

  • George Kinder: Three Questions about Life Planning (31 comments)

    I spent last Tuesday at the mid-winter conference of the local financial planning association. I was there to give a one-hour presentation about financial blogs, but I had a secondary motive. I wanted to hear the keynote speaker, George Kinder. George Kinder takes a unique approach to financial planning. He moves beyond the numbers and tries to address the goals and values of the client. Kinder calls this method “life planning”. From his website: Life…

  • Investing 101: Average is NOT Normal (48 comments)

    This is a guest post from Carl Richards at Behavior Gap. It’s based on one of my favorite posts at his site, and is a terrific complement/counterpoint to my article on how much the stock market actually returns. As he points out, average returns are not normal. On average, stock market returns are higher than inflation, money markets, or bonds. Understanding this is an important step to any successful financial plan, but there is a…

  • “What Next?” The Third Stage of Personal Finance (142 comments)

    I earned more money in 2008 than I’ve ever made in my life. Get Rich Slowly isn’t just a personal success — it’s a financial success, as well. Combine this income with an ongoing campaign of frugality — my spending last year was the lowest it’s been since I started tracking it — and my financial position is rosy. My plan to get rich slowly is succeeding. Financial security Yet despite my increased wealth, I…

  • 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…

  • Ask the Readers: When Is It Okay to Spend Your Savings? (85 comments)

    Amanda wrote with a question this week that I think many GRS readers can relate to: When is it okay to spend your savings? My husband is currently unemployed so we’re just living on my salary, but at least we don’t have to pay for child care.  However, we are spending more than we make.  We had a fair amount stashed away from savings and some inheritance, and we’ve been dipping into this to help…

  • What’s Your Why? The Importance of Finding Meaning in Your Life (28 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation. This is a guest post from Jeremy Martin. You’ve heard the phrase, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” I’ve often wondered about that — should we really settle for half the return just to have a sure thing right now? It could be argued, and convincingly, that our love of immediate gratification is why so many people have so much debt now. Of course, what are…

  • Yes, You Can Achieve Financial Independence (33 comments)

    In the midst of our rush to earn money, our scramble to save for retirement, our focus on frugality, it’s easy to lose sight of why we’re doing this. What is the goal? What is it we’re trying to accomplish by getting rich slowly? For me — and for many others — the answer is Financial Independence. Your Money or Your Life defines Financial Independence as “having an income sufficient for your basic needs and…

  • 10 Essential Steps to Take BEFORE You’re Laid Off (94 comments)

    This is a guest post from Kevin Merritt, founder and CEO of blist, a web-based list-sharing and database application. As a nation we have enjoyed relatively low unemployment for the last five years. At the end of 2007 the unemployment rate stood at 4.6%. By comparison, the U.S. unemployment rate peaked at 24.9% in 1933, during the darkest year of the Great Depression. In October of this year the unemployment rate grew 0.4% to 6.5%,…

  • How to Invest in a Bad Economy (63 comments)

    Yesterday, USA Today published a piece describing how you should invest in a bad economy. Though the market is in shambles, the authors write, it’s no time to panic: Enough. The stock market — and your savings — have gone down steadily, day after day, for more than a year. You’ve lost thousands this month alone. It’s time to do something. But…what? Should you shift more money into stocks? Put it all into a savings…

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

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

  • Creating a Will: It’s Not as Scary as You Might Think (42 comments)

    My friend Sparky called the other day. We chatted about work, we chatted about the economy, and we chatted about investing. We also chatted about our families. We talked about my mother and her health problems, and then we talked about his parents and their health problems. “I can’t believe they haven’t updated their wills,” said Sparky. “What?” I said. “Are you kidding me? How old are they?” “They’re both about 65,” he said. “Maybe…

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

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

  • The Saver’s Tax Credit for Retirement Savings Contributions (30 comments)

    When you don’t have much money, it can be difficult to save for the future. Last month I highlighted San Francisco’s Earned Asset Resource Network, a non-profit organization providing financial assistance and education to those who need it most. Believe it or not, the U.S. government also has ways to encourage people to save. The Saver’s Credit for Retirement Savings Contributions is one of those: One way for low and moderate income Americans to save…

  • Setting and Achieving Family Financial Goals (38 comments)

    When I finally paid off my consumer debt last fall, I set a new goal: build an emergency fund to cover several months of my expenses. Never before had I managed to accumulate more than $1000 in savings. In fact, I’d spent most of my life living paycheck-to-paycheck, constantly flirting with overdraft fees. For the past ten months, I’ve made saving my priority. Instead of using my positive cash flow to buy toys, I funneled…

  • A Practical Wedding (39 comments)

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

  • 7 Tips for Money and Marriage (34 comments)

    My wife and I never fight about money. I used to claim this was because we keep separate finances, but now I know it’s because we share similar financial goals and dreams. Even during those years I was deep in debt, I never did anything that might jeopardize our financial future. Our shared vision has helped us to maintain a successful marriage. We’re not alone, however. Writing in last Wednesday’s New York Times, Tara Siegel…

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

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

  • 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…

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

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

  • Ask the Readers: How Can I Get My Wife to Talk About Money? (91 comments)

    Money management can be difficult, even when you’re on your own. Throw a life partner into the mix and things get more complicated. What can you do if you and your spouse just aren’t on the same financial page? Hal recently wrote with a question: I got married about a year ago to a wonderful girl who is up to her ears in debt, including medical bills and student loans (including federal loans) which have…

  • Die Broke: Spend ’til the End (28 comments)

    Smart personal finance is all about balance. You work while you’re young to provide for the day when you may not be able (or willing) to work any longer. If you don’t save enough, you may find yourself unable to lead the life you want in retirement. But if you save too much when you’re young, you risk sacrificing years of youth and vigor for an uncertain future. In a worst case scenario, you may…

  • The Non-Conformists’ Guide to Making Money (17 comments)

    This is a guest post from Chris Guillebeau at The Art of Non-Conformity. Last week he shared the non-conformists’ guide to personal finance. Today he follows up with thoughts on making money. Chris recently released a short (and free) e-book called A Brief Guide to World Domination. It’s all about rejecting mediocrity and pursuing a higher purpose. I recommend it highly. Working away from work I got my start as an entrepreneur completely by accident….

  • Thoughts on Retirement and Financial Independence (66 comments)

    This may seem strange coming from a fellow who’s not yet forty, but I’ve been thinking a lot about retirement lately. Now that I’ve repaid my debt, now that I’ve begun to save money, I’m curious how much a person actually needs in order to retire. How do you know when you have enough? Too many experts It seems like every expert has a different answer. Some say that you need 70% or 80% or…

  • Using Mini-Retirements to Get More Out of Life: An Interview with Timothy Ferriss (45 comments)

    On a cool Thursday morning last July, I woke early to walk into the hills outside Wells in Somerset County, England. After three-quarters of an hour, I reached a point with a broad vista of the surrounding countryside. I leaned against a fence post and took in the view — I could have sworn I was looking at Hobbiton. After a few minutes of silent contemplation, I walked back to town. I took a brief…

  • 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…

  • Early Retirement Requires Financial and Lifestyle Planning (31 comments)

    As I continue to achieve my short-term goals, my attention is turning increasingly to long-range plans. What is it I want to do with my life? I’ve always toyed with the idea of early retirement, and lately I’ve been reading more about the subject. Three books that have helped me so far are: Timothy Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek, which explores the notion of “mini-retirements”. (I recently recorded a phone interview with Ferriss on this subject…

  • Learning to Love the Emergency Fund (50 comments)

    I wasn’t raised in a culture of saving. My parents never made it a habit, and so could not pass the skill on to me or my brothers. In fact, I didn’t establish my first savings account until three years ago, when I was 36 years old! (I had a passbook savings account as a young boy, but it never had more than $5 in it.) Minor-league start Soon after I decided to take control…

  • What’s the Reason for Saving and Investing? (35 comments)

    Yesterday, in his final piece for The Wall Street Journal, Jonathan Clements shared what he learned from writing 1,008 columns about personal finance in 26 years. What is the reason for all this saving and investing? The short answer is, you save now so you can spend later. But what will you spend your money on? People dream of endless leisure and bountiful possessions. Unfortunately, after a few months, endless leisure often seems like endless…

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

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

  • Budgeting: The Most Important Thing You Can Do With Your Money (35 comments)

    This is a guest post from Joshua Timberman, whose passion for personal finance started after reading Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover. He became debt-free in November. He is the Financial Peace University coordinator at his church, and is an active participant at Get Rich Slowly and other personal finance blogs. The most important thing to do with your money is to give it a plan. A budget. A spending plan. A cash-flow plan. Call…

  • 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…

  • Friends and Money: Coping with Social Spending Situations (37 comments)

    My friend Tim is in a rough spot. He recently got divorced, moved across the country, and started a new job. He’s making less than he used to, but his expenses haven’t declined much. I don’t think he’s gone into debt, but he’s walking a fine line. One problem is that he doesn’t have as much disposable income as most of his friends do. Because they have more money, they want to do more things,…

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

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

  • Calculate Your Economic Stimulus Tax Rebate (62 comments)

    President Bush has signed the economic stimulus package into law. This plan provides tax breaks to businesses that invest in capital equipment, temporarily allows larger mortgages through the Federal Housing Administration (and related entities), and provides a personal income tax cut for 2008. Instead of passing this on when we file taxes next year, the IRS will mail a tax rebate check to most Americans this summer. This is an advance on the reduced taxes…

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

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

  • 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…

  • How to Quit Your Job Gracefully (54 comments)

    Deb Perelman at eWeek recently shared some advice on how to quit your job with your bridges intact. Too often smart employees let their guard down during their final days, and they do things that may actually damage their career. Perelman polled coaches, recruiters, and workplace experts to create a list of steps that can help you leave your job with class: Be sure you’re making the right choice. Sometimes that dream job isn’t. Do…

  • 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…

  • It’s a Wonderful Life and the Value of Social Capital (38 comments)

    Yesterday I made a sales call to a local business, a nursery owned by one of my former high school classmates. Keith and I didn’t move in the same circles and were never friends, but I always appreciated his good nature and quick wit. In just twenty minutes yesterday morning, I got to know him better than I had the entire time we were kids. Like my father, Keith’s dad ran his own business. Both…

  • 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…

  • How to Get Out of Debt (245 comments)

    Editor’s Note: This is a story about how to get out debt. While every situation is different, all financial experts agree that too much debt can cripple your future. It can prevent you from buying a home when you want to, make the cost of borrowing more expensive and turn everyday transactions into tomorrow’s nightmare. This is the story of J.D. Roth, founder of Get Rich Slowly. Twenty years ago, I was a freshman in…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Early Retirement: Couples Who Made It Happen (56 comments)

    I recently mentioned two Liz Pulliam Weston articles in passing. They’re good enough to merit closer attention. Both articles profile couples who found the courage to save money when they were young so that they could enjoy the freedom of early retirement. Weston writes: Think it’s impossible to retire in your 40s? I’d like you to meet some ordinary folks who have done it. “Ordinary” may be a misnomer, because retiring after just 20 years…

  • Reader Advice: How to Live Debt-Free (29 comments)

    Recently I wrote about the transition from “becoming debt-free” to “living debt-free”. One reader e-mailed me some advice that I felt did a good job summarizing what everyone had said. The following was written by James Crocker, and is an excerpt from a much longer message. This post has been edited for clarity. Congratulations! You’re about to accomplish something many people have never done, and something that many others never will do: become debt-free. (Well,…

  • 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%…

  • Questions and Answers about Roth IRAs (Updated!) (40 comments)

    The series on Roth Individual Retirement Arrangements (Roth IRAs) has covered a number of topics — what they are, how (and where) to open one, and which investments are best. Now, in the final part, we turn to some of your questions. Remember: I am not a financial adviser. I’m just a regular guy trying to gather information to help you. If you need more specific answers, please consult a CPA or an investment professional. All of the questions…

  • The New Graduate’s Guide to Financial Freedom (36 comments)

    I graduated from college in 1991 with a degree in psychology and a minor in English lit. I was one course shy of a second minor in speech comm. With credentials like these, it’s no surprise that my first job out of school was knocking on doors, selling crummy insurance to little old ladies in Eastern Oregon. I hated the job, but I could not quit. I was trapped by debt. After I was hired,…

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

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

  • A Collection of Financial Literacy Resources (19 comments)

    April was National Financial Literacy Month. Get Rich Slowly did its part by featuring a video series that explored saving and investing. Here are links to each part in the series: Introduction The power of compounding Providers and users of capital The difference between debt and equity What is leverage? An introduction to financial statements Why do financial markets exist? What is a bond? What is a stock? What is a stock market index? The…

  • Which Should You Choose: Joint or Separate Finances? (91 comments)

    Several months ago I mentioned in passing that my wife and I keep separate finances. I promised to eventually explain why, and to discuss the pros and cons of doing so. Our story When I was a boy, my parents fought about money often. And loudly. They had joint finances, but it didn’t seem to matter. Each accused the other of being financially irresponsible. (Both were right.) Their example left me disenchanted with the notion…

  • What is a Financial Plan and Why Have One? (14 comments)

    In the past, I’ve shared how to use purpose-driven investing and a financial wishlist to meet your goals. Today Dylan Ross, a certified fianncial planner, lends his expertise to explain what a financial plan is and why it’s important to have one. Having a financial plan is a lot like having a travel plan — it identifies where you’re going, how and when you’ll get there, how much it’ll cost, and things do along the…

  • How to Retire Rich Dave Ramsey Style (70 comments)

    Eager to know how to retire rich? It might be surprising that Dave Ramsey‘s site has one of the best money hacks I’ve seen recently. Drive Free, Retire Rich explores the impact of carrying a car payment, and offers ideas on how your money can be used more wisely. Though the sentiment is familiar, I find Ramsey’s approach novel. You want a brand-new sports car that would normally cost you $475 a month. The car you’re…

  • Nintendo Wii: A Study in Planned Saving (12 comments)

    Last May, we held our annual garage sale on the same weekend that the Nintendo Wii was revealed. As I sat in my driveway, selling old stuff, I followed online coverage of the Wii on my laptop. I wanted one. “I’m putting this money in the bank and saving it to buy a Nintendo,” I told Kris. I opened a separate targeted savings account at my credit union specifically for this goal. But I was…

  • How to Manage a Windfall Successfully (20 comments)

    This entry is part of JLP’s October project — a month-long, cross-blog review of the book The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing. Some of what follows is taken directly from the book. You have won $50,000! So, what do you do now? Every day I give advice on following the slow, sure path to wealth. But what happens if you do manage to get rich quickly? What happens if you win the lottery, or hit the…

  • Make a Wish List of Financial Goals (12 comments)

    If one moves confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. — Henry David Thoreau What would you do if money were not a concern? Would you quit your job? Would you travel? Would you live in another state? Another country? Would you write? Would you garden? Would you devote your life to charity? Would you…

  • How and why to start an emergency fund (92 comments)

    “Pay off your debt.” “Max out your IRA.” “Buy a house.” “Get a new job.” Personal finance advisers bombard us with a litany of things we ought to do in order to achieve financial independence. It’s overwhelming. Where’s a person to start? Most personal finance books agree: The first thing you should do — after meeting basic needs, and while reducing spending — is to start an emergency fund. What is an emergency fund? An…

  • Cheap Places to Live Rich (4 comments)

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

  • How Compound Returns Favor the Young (42 comments)

    In an earlier entry about the cost of waiting one year to begin investing for retirement, I posted a chart from AllFinancialMatters that demonstrated the power of compound returns. Vintek posted a math exercise related to the subject. I got this from a book called The Random Walk Guide to Investing by Burton Malkiel. It’s a book I recommend, and I’ll eventually talk about it in the forum. Here’s the exercise: William and James are…

  • Making Early Retirement Happen (2 comments)

    In today’s CNNMoney “Ask the Expert” column, a 33-year-old reader wants to know if he can can count on an early retirement. I’m 33 years old and have $75,000 saved in my 401(k). I make $70,000 a year and contribute 10 percent of my salary to my 401(k). My company then matches the first 6 percent. Am I on track to retire at 55, or should I open a Roth IRA to supplement my 401(k)?…