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Psychology


  • 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…

  • 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…

  • How to navigate relationships as your finances change (8 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Have you ever lost a close friend because your financial situations were too different? Maybe your friendship started when you were on similar financial ground, bonding over bowls of ramen noodles, for instance. But once out of college, your first job paid a lot more than theirs did; or perhaps, the shoe was on the other foot — you’re still flipping burgers and your friend is…

  • Ask the Readers: How do you challenge your financial status quo? (16 comments)
    While the rest of our group galloped up the mountain in Haiti, I was stuck at a flat area partway up with two other people in our party who just couldn’t make it another step: a man who was pushing 80 and another guy who was overweight. I was so frustrated with my lack of stamina and embarrassed at my inability to push my early-30s self any more physically.

    Considering that I used to…

  • 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 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…

  • Why we spend: Are you falling for these costly biases? (29 comments)

    This article is by Suba Iyer, who currently writes for FiveCentNickel.com. Until a few years ago, I used to frequent a store that gave $10 (technically a credit of $10 toward future purchases, but it wasn’t cash) back for every $50 purchase. Whenever I got to $40 in purchases, I would add unplanned items to bring the total up to $50 as I couldn’t leave the “free” $10 on the table. My rationale was that these items were technically free. But in reality, the rationalization…

  • The power of focusing on what you can control (25 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong.

    A few years ago, my boyfriend lost his awful job. It shouldn’t have happened. He worked hard, came in early, left late, powered through sick days and rarely took lunch. This workaholic, counterproductive behavior was highly encouraged by his Lumberg-esque boss. Like I said, it was an awful job. It wasn’t a good time for Brian. He was in debt, he lived in a 400 square…

  • 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….

  • Are you holding yourself back with these money lies? (35 comments)

    This article is by Suba Iyer, who currently writes for FiveCentNickel.com. In 2009, I was all excited to start looking for a house to buy. I had been working in a well-paying job for almost five years at that point and I figured I shouldn’t be throwing money down the drain renting. Well, reality came crashing down when I finally looked at my savings. It wasn’t even enough to be a good emergency fund, let alone a down payment….

  • Ask the Readers: Is financial ability intrinsic or learned? (25 comments)

    This article is a guest post by Maggie O’Neill. Thanks to my big brother — and by that I mean my oldest brother — I’ve always had an interest in savings and retirement planning, although I haven’t been able to do much more than think about it until lately. That oldest brother, Pete, is the person responsible for opening my eyes to investing and, in fact, made the first financial stake for me when I was…

  • To what do you attribute your success — hard work or good fortune? (34 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Every now and then, I get an email from a fellow writer who’s just starting out and wondering where to begin. “How did you do it?” they ask. “How did you make freelance writing your career?” It’s flattering, but what do I say? First of all, I’m still working to reach my own writing goals, so I’m not even sure I’d be the best person to ask….

  • 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…

  • What’s Wrong with Consumerism and Materialism? Lots (88 comments)

    Earlier this year, I started volunteering at my local library for a couple of hours a week. I’m a big fan of libraries, and I wanted to find a way to give back. And for some odd reason, I felt compelled to do something good. I couldn’t really pinpoint why, so I chalked it up to getting older. At the library, one of my duties is to make sure one of the weekly programs doesn’t go…

  • Preventing failure before it is an option (29 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. When I wrote an article about poverty, I wasn’t sure where Brandon and Leah, the two people I shared about, would be in the next few months. I needn’t have wondered. Turns out, nothing has changed. Despite receiving money from various people for rent, access to free babysitting, and bags of groceries, the last few months have been peppered with evictions, arrests, jail, and now prison. Unfortunately, I…

  • Change is hard: Willpower versus habit (19 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Recently on GRS I’ve been exploring the concept of motivation. But what if you didn’t need to be motivated at all? What if you did what needed to be done automatically, without even thinking about it? You’ve probably heard a version of the saying before: We’re creatures of habit. But what are habits, exactly? How are they formed? Why are they important? And how can we form good…

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Motivation and money (34 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Especially for those of us like me who are in the midst of the long, hard slog of debt pay-down, staying motivated can be tough. How do you keep your excitement up and your determination high when financial independence is barely visible on the horizon? Here are some methods for staying the course when your goals will take months or years (heck, even decades) to achieve. 1. Keep…

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

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

  • Becoming friends with your future self (25 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. I fight splurges less often than I used to, but the urge still pops up occasionally. Sometimes, it’s okay to splurge; but mostly, I find myself wanting to resist temptation. There are a few questions I ask when I’m mulling over a purchase: Do I have money saved for this? Do I feel like I’m stealing money from a financial goal? Am I simply being impulsive? Will I…

  • Teaching life skills to your children (22 comments)

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

  • A Guide to Managing Your Fear of Money (27 comments)

    [Editor’s Note: Kristin Wong penned this article on money management tips even through your fears a couple years ago, but it’s as relevant today as it was then.] My first year of high school, I was looking for an easy, goof-off elective — a class that would allow me to take a break in between Geometry and English, and maybe catch up on some magazines or take a quick nap. “Debate” sounded right up my…

  • What type of procrastinator are you? (20 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Aah, procrastination. Controlling our time can be difficult, and most of us are intimately familiar with the act of delaying the act of starting or completing a task. Piers Steel, professor of human resources and organizational dynamics at the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary and author of “The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done,” has made the study…

  • ‘When She Makes More’: 10 rules for breadwinning women (144 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s recently launched the Get Rich Slowly course, a year-long guide on how to master your money. A few years ago, my little brother moved his family to Seattle. His wife had received a promotion and an opportunity to work at her company’s flagship location. The offer was too good to refuse. There was just one problem: They moved before Tony…

  • Talking with Gretchen Rubin about money and happiness (23 comments)

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

  • The 10 habits of financially successful people (39 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money, where he recently wrote about the relationship between action and fear. A couple of weeks ago, a reporter from Kiplinger interviewed me about financial habits. “Do you think there are specific habits that make certain people more successful with money than others?” she asked. I generally don’t like to make generalizations,…

  • The joy of being average (94 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Sam. Sam spent 13 years working in Equities on Wall Street and discusses financial independence strategies on Financial Samurai. Sam is also the founder of the Yakezie Network, the largest personal finance blog network on the web. When I asked the community whether we have the duty to live up to our potential, many of you balked at the notion of living up to anybody else’s standards but your own….

  • A case for “hard work pays off” (42 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Over the weekend, a friend of mine came to visit. She’s a career counselor and, while I wasn’t looking for free advice, the conversation naturally turned to my job hunt. “How’s it going?” she asked. “It’s bleak,” I complained. “Oh, I know.” She told me about clients she’s worked with who went on second and third interviews. Those clients were sure they got the job. Then they…

  • Do we have a duty to live up to our potential? (85 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Sam, the Financial Samurai. It takes a while to discover who we are. During my sophomore year in high school, Coach Stucker hounded me in gym every week to try out for the football team. “You’d make a great cornerback,” he’d say after seeing me run a 4.5, 40. At 5’10” and 155 pounds, I felt undersized, but at least I could move and bench 225 pounds. “I don’t…

  • Can we really change our financial habits if our backs aren’t against the wall? (56 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Sam, the Financial Samurai. I recently had a discussion with a friend who made an argument why it’s better to eat out in Manhattan than to save money by cooking because of the convenience and the joy of eating with friends. I’m all for breaking bread with good people, just not so much if you’re concerned about income. My friend just went through a divorce and eventually needs to find…

  • Material Stuff Can Make You Happy (70 comments)

    Experiences vs. money — What makes us happier? The current line of thinking, which quite a few studies support is that experiences make us happier than “stuff.” Here’s an example from Livescience.com: If you’re trying to buy happiness, you’d be better off putting your money toward a tropical island getaway than a new computer…The results [of a Cornell University study] show that people’s satisfaction with their life-experience purchases — anything from seeing a movie to going on…

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

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

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

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

  • Coping with job loss (47 comments)

    A few weeks ago, I lost a freelance job. I won’t dish the details, because it’s not relevant to this post, and I’m still friendly with my contacts there. What is relevant to this post, however, is that I’ve had a big change in income. I went from being able to stash away more than enough in retirement and medium-term savings to barely being able to pay my monthly expenses. Today, as I contemplate low-paying gigs…

  • 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…

  • Reader Stories: How a healthy lifestyle saved my money and my life (64 comments)

    This Reader Story comes from Gunnar, a filmmaker, a computer geek, a traveler and most recently an entrepreneur, who has launched the blog Wosla to inspire others to get healthy and save money. 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. Until recently…

  • Are English-speakers less likely to save money? (30 comments)

    If you speak English, you probably have a harder time saving money than someone who speaks German. That’s because the language you speak influences your money habits, according to a Yale study published this year. In The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior: Evidence from Savings Rates, Health Behaviors, and Retirement Assets, behavioral economist M. Keith Chen writes: “Languages differ in whether or not they require speakers to grammatically mark future events. For example, a…

  • 5 money excuses that held me back (58 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. It’s been several months now that I’ve been on a savings lockdown. It’s been going well, except for this past weekend, when I had a relapse. I over-splurged on everything — food, shopping, beer — and I’m officially hungover. My buzz started when a client check came early, making me feel super rich and burning the hell out of my pockets. Oh, I know. It’s OK to…

  • Ask the Readers: Have you ever fallen for a scam? (44 comments)

    Every day, my dad gets his mail and reads every last thing – no matter what it is. The process can take an hour, sometimes two. There are advertisements, bills, surveys, requests from charitable organizations – and notices of winnings and awards. Tonight, he received a “notification of delivery” that declared he was the “Sole Recipient” of a 2013 Mercedes-Benz CLS automobile if he would return the “property recipient certificate” with a $20 processing and…

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

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

  • You Are the Boss of You: How to Find Success with Life and Money (72 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. It marks his return as a contributor to this site. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money. “What do you think is the difference between successful people and unsuccessful people?” an interviewer asked me earlier this week. “Well, I don’t like to make generalizations,” I said, “but I’ve thought about this question a lot. While there are certainly…

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

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

  • Talk about money: The key to financial literacy? (54 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sarah Gilbert. April’s post about financial literacy struck something in me, especially the part about the “Fallacy of Financial Literacy.” The idea here is that we are sold tools to increase our financial literacy, when in fact they only increase our knowledge of products the banks who create the tools can use to their profit and our detriment. The reason we don’t know enough to object seems to be rooted…

  • Financial literacy: What’s my motivation? (36 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Were you required to take a personal finance class in high school? I wasn’t. And I’m not in the minority. In fact, only 13 states require a personal finance class for graduation, and just five states require testing student knowledge in personal finance, according to the Council for Economic Education’s 2011 Survey of the States: Economics and Personal Finance Education in Our Nation’s Schools. And even if…

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

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

  • Lessons from a widow: The real value of money (67 comments)

    Last year, one of my friends lost her husband. After decades of marriage, they said their final goodbyes. Since I work in a mortuary, I often witness some of the worst days of people’s lives. And that day was no different. My friend’s husband, the father of her children, was gone. No matter what anyone said or did, nothing could change that unfortunate truth. She was sad, but she had embraced the inevitable. My friend…

  • Throwing away an old rule (74 comments)

    Fellow peasants, unite! The time has come to overthrow the old order! GRS rule #3 says, “Spend less than you earn.” But why should we continue to do that always? Because of tradition? Because of authority? Because that’s what everyone else claims they are doing? To the guillotine with the old rules, I say. It’s time for revolution! It’s time to turn the old laws upside down. It’s time to say something better. It’s time…

  • Relationship deal breakers, then and now (66 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. I recently had breakfast with a woman I dated almost 20 years ago, soon after I graduated from college. She’s married now, with two beautiful kids and a husband who seems like one of those solid, true-blue, stay-at-home-dad kind of guys. I’m married now, too…

  • The morality of personal finance (80 comments)

    I was running last Sunday night. I had waited too long to start my run, and it was dark. I’ve taken to using my iPhone to track my runs, because I’m very motivated by the additive nature of all my runs over time. (I’m over 900 miles!) But I don’t like to use the earbuds when running in the city, especially at night, because of the need to stay alert for those pesky fast cars;…

  • Join the Debt Movement (40 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jeff Rose, a Certified Financial Planner who writes about financial planning topics at Good Financial Cents. His first book, Soldier of Finance, is slated to be released the fall of 2013. His latest project, named The Debt Movement, is to help people pay off $10,000,000 of debt in 90 days. You can join the movement and a chance to earn some of the $10,000 debt scholarship money by visiting…

  • Take a deep breath: Letting go of financial stress (31 comments)

    I’ve been reading through some of my old posts and thinking about what I wanted for this, my very-end-of-the-year statement on money. And what I saw was a lot (a lot) of angst and worry and stress. It was appropriate, as I’d spent most of the day in a kind of crazy wound-up worked-up state, getting ready for what should be a lovely, restful retreat with a few friends from my writer’s group. Part of…

  • Ask the Readers: Do you lend money to friends? (108 comments)

    “What’s a little money between friends?” That common question has wrecked more than a few friendships. Reader Alexa (who blogs at Single Moms Income) is in that situation now. She recently sent us a story and a question. Here’s her tale. I moved back home near the end of July where I immediately reconnected with one of my old friends — we’ll call him J — whom I hadn’t seen in several years. In just…

  • Why we buy: The science of shopping (42 comments)

    This is a guest post from J.D. Roth. J.D. founded Get Rich Slowly and now writes at More Than Money. Ready or not, the holidays are here and the shopping season is upon us. Although I wish I could convince you not to shop during November and December — I’m a fan of Buy Nothing Day myself — I realize I’m in the minority. It’s Black Friday. It’s Christmas. People are going to shop. If…

  • Is investing optional? (101 comments)

    This guest post from William Cowie. William has contributed to ConsumerismCommentary.com, BudgetsAreSexy.com and other personal finance blogs, including his own, . We’ve all seen this bumper sticker, haven’t we? Other than singing the Disney song from “Snow White,” how does it make you feel? “Wouldn’t it be great if I didn’t HAVE to…?” And isn’t that most people’s fantasy: not having to go to work? Other than most fantasies, this one is actually achievable. How?…

  • Lessons from a master (53 comments)

    I have been re-watching the documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” for the past couple of months. I’ve seen it at least 10 times, probably more, while writing drafts for this article. I’ve watched it alone, with my wife, with friends, and I don’t tire of it; I’ve recommended it to everyone I know, and now I’m wholeheartedly recommending it to you. This little gem of a documentary by David Gelb takes a look at the…

  • The rise and fall of the shopaholic (86 comments)

    As a college student, I often took up side jobs to make extra cash. One of those side jobs included selling random things on eBay. It was easier and slightly more lucrative than holding a garage sale every weekend. Once, I sold a pair of highly coveted boots that I no longer wore. They went for $75, or in college currency, one textbook. I’d already started wrapping them up and brainstorming my budget when I…

  • Tips for the Introverted Negotiator (80 comments)

    In my last article, I talked about saving money on the big things, like cars and houses. Multiple readers contributed good reasons why we don’t save as much money as we should on cars and houses. But one of my favorite comments was from Tracy: See, it would never even occur to me to negotiate on a car, nor do I have any desire to. I realize this costs me extra money and it would…

  • 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…

  • What IS Financial Responsibility? (178 comments)

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

  • The Politeness Tax (158 comments)

    This article is from staff writer Kristin Wong. The other day, I ordered a small pizza for lunch. The delivery guy showed up, sweating from the summer sun, and told me my total was $10. I had a twenty-dollar bill on me. As I handed it over to the exhausted, out-of-breath pizza guy, I felt bad asking for change. So, against my better judgment, I gave him the entire twenty.  A 100 percent tip. You’re…

  • Fighting Financial Pressure from Friends (88 comments)

    Right now, I’m on my first-ever visit to Ithaca, New York. I’m attending my third wedding in the past month. These three weddings have taken me to three different states and three different time zones. My girlfriend and I just got another invite to a sorority sister’s upcoming nuptials this fall and had the same first thought: “Do we have to?” Our friends and family are important to us and we want to support each…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do You Handle Money Mistakes? (64 comments)

    Getting started with smart money management can be tough. It can be frustrating. For one, you have to discard so many old habits. Plus you have to develop new habits. And, toughest of all, you have to deal with the constant small (and large) mistakes you make as you’re getting the hang of saving and investing. In a lot of ways, learning to be smart with money can be like learning to ride a bike….

  • How Saving Money Cost Me Money (86 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. I used to have…

  • How to Handle People Who Undermine Your Success (100 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Do you have someone in your life who is a bad influence when it comes to your financial or career goals? I’ve known a people like that. Typically this happens when you’re trying to make new, positive changes in your life. For example, when I decided to not buy a new car for awhile, one friend gave me a hard time about it, making fun of my…

  • Ask the Readers: Why Don’t People Talk About Money? (291 comments)

    On Wednesday, I visited a fifth-grade class in McMinnville, Oregon to talk with the kids about money. I had a great time, and I’ll share more about the experience on Monday. Today, though, I want to start by sharing a question I received from one of the students. “How much money do you have?” Hannah asked when I called on her. “I’m not going to answer that?” I said. “Nobody answers that,” said a boy…

  • How to Change Your Spending Habits (32 comments)

    This is a guest post from Charles Duhigg, the author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and How to Change. Learn more at www.ThePowerOfHabit.com. When you get to the cash register, what do you do first? Do you imagine the balances due on various credit cards, and choose the one with the smallest outstanding debt? Do you mentally compare APRs and make the optimal financial choice? Do you calculate whether…

  • Trading Time for Money (70 comments)

    Last week, I was complaining to my Spanish tutor (who, by the way, thinks I always complain). “Ideally, I’d be writing less,” I told her. “I want to have more time to learn Spanish and to focus on other passions. But I just got an offer to write a couple more articles per week. And I would get paid for the work!” My tutor shook her head. “Por la plata baila el mono,” she told…

  • A Philosophy of Failure (80 comments)

    Though I’ve been reading and writing about money for six years now, I still do stupid things sometimes. Most of these errors are un-interesting — it’s the compulsive spending that’s interesting, and I seem to have that under control — but sometimes it’s instructive to look at the mundane mistakes I make, like shopping while hungry. Well, last week I made another relatively un-interesting mistake, but one that’s educational at the same time. Since it’s…

  • Are You Afraid to Earn More? (137 comments)

    This is a guest post from Rya Hristova. Rya had her reader story featured at Get Rich Slowly last year. She writes a Bulgarian personal-finance blog called kadebg.com. Did you grow up in a modest family? Walking to school or taking the bus instead of having your own car? Wearing clothes your siblings have grown out of, instead of getting designer clothes? Always trying to make do or do without? And now in your adult…

  • Getting Emotional About Money (40 comments)

    This is a guest post from Danielle LaPorte author of the forthcoming book, The Fire Starter Sessions: A Soulful + Practical Guide for Creating Success on Your Own Terms. This material appears in the book in a slightly different format. The value you place on money is hugely driven by emotion. Behind every dollar you spend, there’s an emotion attached to it. Get clear on the emotional driver, and you get clear on your relationship…

  • The Cost of Being an Overachiever (108 comments)

    This post is by staff writer April Dykman. “What do you do for a living?” That’s one of the first questions we ask each other in our society. The choice of how you earn a living tells others a lot about you, whether those preconceived notions are accurate or not. If you’re at a party and someone says they’re an neurosurgeon, that’s pretty impressive. You know that meant years of study and took a lot…

  • Class Consciousness and Social Mobility (241 comments)

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

  • Can Money Buy Freedom? (124 comments)

    On Saturday, my friend Tyler hosted a blog meetup. I first met Tyler several years ago. He was a GRS reader who dropped me a line to see if I’d meet him for dinner. I said “yes” — as I almost always do. Now, several years later, Tyler runs a successful blog of his own. It was fun to see his readers come out to support him. Note: I’ve never hosted a meetup for GRS…

  • Reader Story: Why I Lied About Money (84 comments)

    This guest post from Aloysa is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. You can read more from Aloysa at My Broken Coin. For six years, I lied to my ex-husband about how much money I was making….

  • How to Fend Off Financial Trolls (34 comments)

    Note: It’s a rare thing, but it happens once or twice a year: Life has reared its ugly head, and there’s no fresh story for you this morning. Instead, enjoy this classic from the Get Rich Slowly archives. Money is more about mind than it is about math — that’s one of the fundamental precepts of this site. If you improve your self-esteem, if you improve your mental attitude, if you improve your knowledge, you…

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

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

  • What Are the Differences Between the Rich and the Poor? (366 comments)

    A common question is: What is the difference between a rich man and a poor man? Long ago, when this site was young, I reviewed Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker. Eker believes that we each possess a “financial blueprint,” an internal script that dictates how we relate to money. Our blueprints are created through lifelong exposure to money messages from the people around us. Unfortunately, Eker says, most of us have…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Cope with Financial Mistakes? (88 comments)

    Nobody’s perfect. This should be obvious, but we all tend to forget it — and often. We judge other people for their mistakes, and often we judge ourselves even more harshly. I do this too. When I do something that I know is wrong (or merely foolish), I get down on myself, which often leads me to make further mistakes. Lately, for instance, I’ve been struggling with my diet and exercise. I spent eighteen months…

  • Decision Fatigue: Why Willpower Isn’t Always Enough (85 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. A Snickers bar can save you money. Not just a little money either. Used correctly, it could potentially spare you thousands of dollars. That’s the gist of new research on a phenomenon called “decision fatigue”. Decision fatigue is what happens to people when they’ve made too many choices. As your brain gets tired, you become worse…

  • Sunk Costs and Smart Decisions (147 comments)

    As I write this, I’m on a flight back to Portland. I’ve spent the weekend with former GRS staff writer Adam Baker and his wife Courtney in Indianapolis, Indiana. Ostensibly, we were there to take part in GenCon, a huge gaming convention. We did play plenty of games, but we also had a lot of fun just hanging around and chatting. It was great to take a four-day break after months of being “on” all…

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

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

  • Playing to Your Strengths (52 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Childwild.com. Shortly after finishing college, a friend of mine was fired from his first job. He kept showing up to work late — sometimes hours late. He was charming and smart and reasonably good at his work, but his employer just couldn’t rely on him to be at his desk on time, so they let him go….

  • 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…

  • The Psychology of Consumerism (202 comments)

    This is a guest post from David M. Carter, a graduate of the master of applied positive psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania, and the first graduate of the program to emphasize the inherent link between increased well-being and sustainable consumption. A recent story in my local newspaper dealt with a sad-case family. The son was in jail for drugs, and his mother was trying desperately to find a way to give her son…

  • How to Spend Your Way to Happiness (109 comments)

    You know the old adage “money can’t buy happiness”? Researchers Elizabeth Dunn, Dan Gilbert, and Timothy Wilson say it’s a myth. Drawing on empirical research, they’ve identified key ways that people can get more bliss for their buck. The link between money and happiness has been studied for decades, and the result is always the same: Money does buy happiness — but less than most of us think. After a certain point — having basic…

  • Affirm Your Way To Wealth (82 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. This morning, I did something unusual. After I brushed my teeth, I looked in the mirror and recited: “People love to give me money!” “I am rich and wonderful.” “I am now earning a great big income doing what satisfies me.” I admit, I felt silly. I love a lot of New…

  • 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…

  • 10 Money Lessons from Music Lyrics (57 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. When you’re looking for personal finance advice, you probably check out books and websites like GRS, but what about turning on the radio? Recently, I wrote about the cost of love and mentioned several songs with lyrics about love and money. This got me thinking about how many songs have lyrics about money in general and what lessons we can learn from them. Yeah, I know, I…

  • Wants, Needs, and the Sense of Entitlement (56 comments)

    This is a guest post from Gail Vaz-Oxlade, the host of the popular Til Debt Do U$ Part on CNBC (Saturday nights at 10 and 10:30). Gail is a columnist for MoneySense, Chatelaine, and Zoomer Magazine and blogs daily at her website, where she also offers terrific tools people can use to dig themselves out of the hole. Gail’s latest book is Debt-Free Forever. I’ve been working with a lot of people lately who can’t…

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

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

  • What to Do When You’re Completely Unsure (26 comments)

    This is a guest post by Tyler Tervooren of Advanced Riskology, a blog with resources for extraordinary risk takers. You can follow him on Twitter @tylertervooren. Personal finance is full of confusing concepts, puzzling equations, and no lack of professionals with conflicting advice about what you ought to be doing and how you ought to go about doing it. With all that information swirling around in your head, and mixed with a general uncertainty about…

  • How to Use a Commitment Contract to Change Your Habits (45 comments)

    This is a guest post from Pop at Pop Economics, a great new blog about investing, personal finance, economics, and more. It’s now 9pm on August 30th. I’ll finish this guest post by 11:59pm on August 31. I know this, because if I don’t, I’ll lose $1,000. Call it an incentive. I’ve written about behavioral economics over at Pop Economics for three-quarters of a year now. There are an infinite number of subjects to cover,…

  • How Much is Enough? On Average, About $75,000 Per Year (102 comments)

    A few weeks ago I wrote about how money really can buy happiness, but how much money is enough? A big-screen TV isn’t a ticket to happiness, but a vacation might be. Giving your money away can boost your well-being, and so can investing it in time with your family. A new study from Princeton hangs a price tag on that happiness: $75,000 [PDF summary]. That’s the annual household income that gives you the most…

  • Book Review: Mind Over Money (20 comments)

    “Financial success is more about mastering the mental game of money than about understanding the numbers.” That’s the first tenet of the Get Rich Slowly philosophy. That math of personal finance is simple; it’s controlling your habits and emotions that’s difficult. In Mind Over Money, the father-son team of Ted and Brad Klontz provide a thorough discussion of the psychology of personal finance. They argue that our relationships with money are complex and not wholly…

  • Action Not Words: The Difference Between Talkers and Doers (104 comments)

    It’s Sunday morning and I should be editing articles in advance of my upcoming vacation. Instead, I just got done playing another game of Starcraft II. Since the game was released on July 27th, I’ve played many games of Starcraft II. In fact, I’ve played at least 150 games of Starcraft II. (I know this because the game keeps track of your record. I played 50 training matches, and have since won 47 and lost…

  • Money CAN Buy You Happiness! (61 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. In today’s article, she tackles a topic I’ve been meaning to write about, but haven’t made the time. Contrary to popular belief, money can buy you happiness — if you spend it on the right things. That’s the skinny from the New York Times Business section, which last week took a close…

  • How to Build Confidence and Overcome Fear (36 comments)

    “How to Build Confidence and Overcome Fear” is a rare GRS re-run; it originally appeared on 17 February 2009. I’m dealing with a family crisis, and haven’t had time to write. Things should be back to normal tomorrow. Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering. — Yoda Last week I did something that scared the hell out of me. I stood in…

  • Productivity Lagging? Take a Siesta (35 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. I’ve discovered that one of the biggest benefits to being a full-time freelancer can be one of its drawbacks: setting ones own schedule. Don’t get me wrong, it’s the reason I wanted to get into freelancing in the first place, but I keep wondering if I’m working enough. Am I getting enough done in a day? How often should I take a break, and for how…

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • The Importance of Finishing What You Started (34 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation in Alaska. This is a guest post by Bill Goodwin, who co-edits the debating site Dissense. Bill has been following the GRS gospel since converting to the religion of financial common sense three years ago. Personal finance blogs, and none more so than Get Rich Slowly, offer a wealth of resources for people looking to master their spending and take charge of their fiscal health. Want to know how snowball your…

  • Getting Paid to Lose Weight with HealthyWage (47 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker recently posted a transparent personal update entitled “When to Quit Traveling“. Today J.D. is very thankful to have staff writers, because his computers (plural!) are on the fritz, and he has no time to write about money… I struggle with weight. In fact, it’s a far more difficult issue for me than personal finance. Honestly, I’m not completely sure why, but it’s true. There are many…

  • Money, Stress, and Your Health (46 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. A 2009 AP/AOL survey, Debt Stress in the United States, found that American adults are experiencing significantly more debt-related stress than reported four years ago when a similar survey was conducted. The survey also found that those with high stress levels were likely to experience health problems, including headaches, back pain, muscle tension, depression, anxiety, ulcers, and heart problems. It seems that a high level of…

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

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

  • Warren Buffett on the Lottery of Birth (70 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. One of the reasons J.D. asked me to join his merry band of GRS writers was so that I could add the occasional investing lesson to the line-up. Today, I’m going to hand that…

  • The Balance Between Splurger and Miser (68 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Before I changed my habits, I spent money without much thought. In college, if I had a two-hour break between classes, I’d drive to the mall. Once I started working full time, my coworker and I would bring our lunches to work just so that we’d have the entire hour to shop. If I was bored, I’d wander into the cosmetics superstore Sephora for entertainment. Even…

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

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

  • Book Review: The Happiness Project (47 comments)

    One of my core beliefs is this: It’s more important to be happy than it is to be rich. My personal experience bears this out (though I’m fortunate to be both), as do the anecdotes I receive from GRS readers. In fact, of all my fourteen philosophies, this one is most important. It’s so important that I chose to open Your Money: The Missing Manual with a chapter on happiness. No surprise then that for…

  • To Find Happiness, One Millionaire Gives His Wealth Away (43 comments)

    One of the primary themes of Get Rich Slowly (and of Your Money: The Missing Manual) is that it’s more important to be happy than it is to be rich. I learn this lesson over and over again, but sometimes it seems like I forget it just as often. At the end of last summer, before I started the book project, was one of the happiest times of my life. Everything was in balance, and…

  • Break Out of Your Comfort Zone to Achieve Success (44 comments)

    This is a guest post from Flexo of Consumerism Commentary. Flexo is embarking on a ten-day, ten-blog tour. Previously at Get Rich Slowly, he’s shared how to be CFO of your own life. Humans are wired to seek comfort, and as a result much of daily life is focused around familiar patterns and habits. When something threatens to break those habits, we feel uncomfortable and nervous. These negative feelings are easily avoided by continuing to…

  • It’s More Important to Be Happy Than to Be Rich (72 comments)

    This article is the final installment of a 14-part series that explored the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. Here’s the opening paragraph from my forthcoming book, Your Money: The Missing Manual. It’s the sum of everything I’ve learned during my five-year journey to get rich slowly: You don’t want to be rich — you want to be happy. Many people mistakenly believe that the former leads to the latter. While it’s certainly true that…

  • Where’s Your Financial Comfort Level? (138 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the advisor for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. I must confess to a new habit: I collect discarded ATM receipts. It all started when I walked by the bank in the building next to Motley Fool Intergalactic Headquarters, and found one such…

  • Failure is Okay (55 comments)

    This article is the 10th of a 14-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. Yesterday, for the first time in my 40-1/2 years on this earth, I went ice skating. Initially, I was scared to try, but I eventually gave in to the taunts from my eight- and ten-year-old friends. I love roller skating and I’m not too bad at it, but the ice skating…well, it sucked. It took me eight…

  • The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good (54 comments)

    This article is the ninth of a fourteen-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. You want the best — for yourself, for your spouse, for your family. You want the best car, the best house and mortgage, the best job, the best mutual funds, and the best savings account. You want things to be perfect. We all do. But perfection comes with a price. Research has shown that those who are…

  • Do What Works for You (56 comments)

    This article is the seventh of a fourteen-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. I struggled with debt for over a decade. I made several attempts to tackle the trouble, but nothing seemed to work. Compulsive spending was part of the problem — I bought anything I wanted, even if I couldn’t afford it — but there was another factor, too. Everything I’d read gave the same advice for debt reduction:…

  • The Paradox of Choice and the Dangers of Perfection (81 comments)

    As important as I believe National Save for Retirement Week is, I have to confess that after four days (five, if you count Sunday), I’m bored of it. My short attention span has dwindled. (Imagine the difficulties I’m having as I try to concentrate on writing a book for three months solid!) Instead, I want to shift gears for a moment and talk about a subject with immediate real-life implications: the dangers of perfection. Good…

  • The Guilt of Wealth (168 comments)

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

  • Money is More About Mind Than It Is About Math (88 comments)

    This is the first of a fourteen-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. I had a group of old high-school friends over to the house last weekend. As the daylight faded and the cool of the evening settled, we sat around a blazing fire talking about life. We shared the good things we’ve done over the past twenty years — and we shared the bad. Inevitably, the conversation turned to money….

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

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

  • Discovering (and Challenging) Your Financial Values (48 comments)

    This is a guest post from Karawynn, who writes about personal finance at Pocketmint. Karawynn is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. In her first article, she visited the Island of Misfit Foods. Karawynn has been blogging since before “blogging” was a word. My parents taught me nothing about money management. My dad opened a checking account for me in high school and showed me how to use the checkbook register. Beyond that,…

  • Peer Pressure and Money: Do You Spend Differently with Friends? (85 comments)

    This is a guest post from Neal Frankle, a Certified Financial Planner and the blogger at The Wealth Pilgrim. Neal is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. His first post explored the benefits of starting a side business. For background on Neal’s personal story, check out his recent article about how he went from homeless to homeowner. Have you ever sat down at a restaurant, reviewed the menu, wanted to leave but stayed…

  • Failing Forward: Transforming Mistakes into Success (22 comments)

    Sometimes the best personal finance books aren’t about personal finance. In June 2006, for example, I shared a brief review of Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. Ostensibly this book is about creativity and overcoming procrastination, but I found its lessons valuable for pursuing my financial goals. Last year I read Mastery by George Leonard. On the surface, this book has nothing to do with money, yet it’s one of the best books about money…

  • Do Experiences Lead to Greater Happiness Than Material Purchases? (59 comments)

    The August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research arrived in my mailbox yesterday. It contains an interesting article from Nicolao, Irwin, and Goodman entitled “Happiness for Sale: Do Experiential Purchases Make Consumers Happier than Material Purchases?” This is a topic we’ve skirted at Get Rich Slowly, but never fully explored. Many readers have offered anecdotal evidence that they get more “bang for their buck” by spending money on experiences instead of Stuff. This new…

  • Lower Your Expectations, Increase Your Happiness (87 comments)

    “Did you listen to Rick Steves this afternoon?” Kris asked me on Sunday. I shook my head. “That’s too bad,” she said. “It was about the relationship between money and happiness. I think you would have liked it — and so would your readers.” “But I just wrote about happiness!” I said. “J.D.,” she said. “You can never write too much about happiness.” And so I tracked down last weekend’s episode of Travel with Rick…

  • Economic Stimulus and the Marginal Propensity to Consume (99 comments)

    This is a guest post from Kevin, who writes about getting and staying out of debt at No-Debt Plan. Previously at GRS, Kevin wrote about the power of attentive spending. Many Americans will begin receiving a few extra dollars in their paychecks this month. Thanks to the latest round of economic stimulus from the federal government, the monthly take-home pay of most workers will increase by about $50. Economists and politicians hope that this is…

  • Finding Balance Between Time and Money (102 comments)

    Lately my personal focus has been on finding balance in my life. I’m trying to discover the proper place for money — and for time. Over the past few years, I’ve allowed money to become too important. I’ve worked too much, and that has hurt other aspects of my life. I don’t have time for anything else. As part of this process, I’ve been reading the new edition of Your Money or Your Life, the…

  • Oversaving Does Not Lead to Happiness (51 comments)

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

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

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

  • Defeating Temptation: 10 Questions to Ask Yourself When You’re Tempted to Buy (99 comments)

    You’re in the mall or at the Electronics Emporium. There’s nothing you need to buy, but you’re killing time while your spouse finishes an errand. As you wait, you browse. You admire the Thneeds. Look! There’s a new one! It’s bright and shiny and you think it will make you happy, so you pick it up, walk to the register, and purchase it. You’re the proud owner of the latest Thneed. But when you get…

  • The Light at the End of the Tunnel (25 comments)

    This is the third of a five-part series about the “stages” of personal finance. In the first part I described the zeroth stage of money management, in which I was fumbling in the dark, spending compulsively and accumulating debt. Last week I described the first stage, in which I finally saw the light and began to repay my debt. Today I share what happened next. Last night at dinner, my friend Mike told me about…

  • Implementing the Debt Snowball: A Personal Journey (46 comments)

    This is the second of a five-part series about the “stages” of personal finance. Last Sunday, I shared part one: “Fumbling in the Dark”. In June of 2004, Kris and I bought a new house. On paper, we could afford the upgrade. In reality, things felt pinched. For one thing, my consumer debt had grown to over $35,000. The increased housing payments didn’t help. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was the extensive…

  • The Ongoing Battle with Lifestyle Inflation (61 comments)

    This is a guest post from Mike Young, who runs The Secure Student, a program that teaches high school students how to manage their money. In high school, I had a small allowance from my parents every week. When I spent my allowance on gas, food, whatever — that was it. I had to wait until next week before I saw another dime. I remember having to really think about what I spent my money…

  • Fumbling in the Dark (77 comments)

    I’ve had good control of my saving and spending for nearly two years now. I still make poor choices now and then, but they don’t have the consequences they would have a decade ago. A decade ago, I was in debt. Today, I am not. That’s one of the advantages of being debt-free: when you do something dumb, the repercussions are not as severe. But I remember a time when each bad choice brought me…

  • How to build confidence and destroy fear (102 comments)

    Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering. — Yoda Last week I did something that scared the hell out of me. I stood in front of nearly 200 financial planners and I talked to them about why financial blogs are a good thing. I’m a confident writer. I’ve been doing this long enough that I know my strengths and my limitations. I’ve…

  • 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…

  • Behavior Gap: The Psychology of Investing (19 comments)

    At Behavior Gap, Carl Richards is on a mission to help investors overcome the self-destructive behaviors that prevent them from prospering. Over the past week, while preparing for an upcoming presentation to a conference of financial planners, I’ve had the chance to e-mail and speak with Carl about his site and his goals. “Any way we can encourage people to think about money is good,” he told me. He wants people to become aware of…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Money Would it Take For You to Compromise Your Principles? (207 comments)

    An Allegory There was once a man who became a vegetarian. Because he believed that all living creatures have souls, he swore he would never again consume animal flesh. For three years, he ate only vegetable matter. People offered him money to eat meat, but he steadfastly refused. “Will you try a turkey sandwich for $2?” a woman asked one day. “No,” he said. “Will you try this hot dog for $20?” a little boy…

  • You Are Not Your Money (40 comments)

    Joe S. sent me a recent New York Times editorial from Ben Stein, who describes being approached by representatives from Bernard Madoff. Madoff ran a Wall Street hedge fund which reportedly “never lost money”. Stein thought it sounded fishy, and he didn’t take the bait. “I have never heard of an entity that could make money in all kinds of markets consistently, year in and year out,” Stein writes. “I have never heard of a…

  • 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…

  • When Less is More: The Importance of Perceived Value (71 comments)

    The things we buy have an absolute value — the price we pay for them — but they also possess relative perceived values. Not everything with the same price holds the same value to me. An $80 pair of work boots might be worth much more to me than an $80 sweater or an $80 meal in a restaurant. And I can often (not always) derive more value from something cheap than from a more…

  • You Can’t Always Get What You Want: The Dark Side of Personal Finance (127 comments)

    I drove down to clean the moss of the roof of my mother’s house last week. I spent several hours on top of the house with my cousin Nick, scraping and hosing and blowing away years of green growth. We chatted as we worked. I told him that I was going to speak with a literary agent on the following day, and that I hoped I might soon have a book deal. “How does that…

  • 10 Unconventional Money-Saving Tips (65 comments)

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

  • What Does it Mean to Be Rich? (151 comments)

    I had lunch with my accountant the other day. Sabino is more than a financial advisor to me — foremost, he’s a close friend. I told him about my current circumstances, about how I’m now making more as a writer than I did when I worked at the box factory, about how I’ve been saving money, about how Kris and I are beginning to contemplate paying more on our mortgage. “How does it feel to…

  • How Do You Turn Passion into a Career? (And Should You?) (32 comments)

    Ask Metafilter is one of my favorite sites on the internet; I’ve been an active member there for years. It’s a great place to get advice on many subjects, including money. And careers. Recently a user named Entropic asked a question about “finding your passion”, which received an awesome reply from my pal Grumblebee. Here, with permission (and a tiny bit of editing), is that Ask Metafilter exchange. Entropic How did you find your passion?…

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

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

  • Research Reveals Credit Cards Encourage Spending (61 comments)

    Conventional wisdom says that people spend more when they use credit than when they use cash. But is it true? In The Money Answer Book, Dave Ramsey writes: When you pay in cash, you can “feel” the money leaving you. This is not true with credit cards. Flipping a card up on a counter registers nothing emotionally. If you use plastic instead of cash you will spend 12 percent to 18 percent more. This is…

  • The Never-Ending War Against Advertising (90 comments)

    I spoke with a reporter the other day. She was looking for ways to fight the urge to shop. “My top tip is to avoid advertising,” I told her. “That sounds nice,” she said, “but how do you actually do that?” I talked about how I used to read comic book blogs and participate in comic book forums, and how doing these things led me to increase my spending on comics. When I stopped visiting…

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

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

  • The Sunk-Cost Fallacy: Good Money After Bad (97 comments)

    My mother spent three weeks in the hospital in August. Her extended stay affected me in lots of little ways I couldn’t anticipate. To escape my daily worries, I went searching for a little solace — I re-activated my World of Warcraft account. World of Warcraft is a subscription-based online computer game. As a player, you become immersed in a virtual fantasy world, interacting with thousands of other players from around the globe. It’s great…

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

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

  • The Psychology of Happiness: 13 Steps to a Better Life (105 comments)

    We think we know what will make us happy, but we don’t. Many of us believe that money will make us happy, but it won’t. Except for the very poor, money cannot buy happiness. Instead of dreaming of vast wealth, we should dream of close friends and healthy bodies and meaningful work. The Psychology of Happiness Several years ago, James Montier, a “global equity strategist”, took a break from investing in order to publish a…

  • Five Tactics for Pursuing Voluntary Simplicity (26 comments)

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

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

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

  • Is It More Important to Be Rich or to Be Happy? (54 comments)

    Sometimes we in the United States forget how privileged we are. Because of our relative wealth, we can make claims like “it’s more important to be happy than it is to be rich”. In this guest post, Saravanan P of Engineer’s Finance argues that for the poor, money is more important than happiness. Though this post has been heavily edited, keep in mind that English is not Saravanan’s native language. Being happy is a state…

  • The Art of Frugal Living (43 comments)

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

  • Why It Pays to Ignore Financial News (27 comments)

    Financial news can be dangerous to the health of your investment portfolio. I spent some time yesterday reading recent articles about the stock market. What I found was mostly hysterical hype (“Gasp! Dow Jones Industrials tumble 400 points!”). All the financial stories seemed to be written as if our investment horizons were days, not years. No wonder people panic when the stock market hits a rocky patch. But do daily market movements — even 400…

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

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

  • Ask the Readers: “I’m Doing Well Financially But My Family Is Not” (147 comments)

    Personal finance would be easy if it were only about the numbers. But it’s not. Money management not only requires that we master our own whims and emotions, but that we navigate the sometimes rocky waters of our personal relationships. Rachel wrote looking for help with a stormy situation. What happens when you gain control of your finances but the people around you continue to struggle? Here’s her story: I’m having issues because I’m doing…

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

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

  • 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…

  • Seven Traits of Successful People (45 comments)

    This is a guest post from Pinyo, author of Moolanomy, a personal finance blog about money, wealth, investing, and more. Ever wonder why some people can never do wrong? I have been observing successful people around me, and experimenting with different ideas. Here are the seven traits that I’ve found work well for me in many situations. I think they will make you richer and more successful in many ways. Successful people know what they…

  • Don’t Panic! Coping with Financial Mistakes and Setbacks (43 comments)

    When I was young and stupid, I became addicted to spending. I got my first credit card in college, and over the next fifteen years, I accumulated $35,000 in debt. I’m debt-free now, and have even begun building a nest egg, but I didn’t reach this place without making a lot of financial mistakes along the way. And I still make mistakes. Dealing with mistakes and setbacks is an important tool in your personal finance…

  • What’s the Safest Thing I Can Do with My Money? (41 comments)

    “What’s the safest possible thing that I can do with my money?” wonders Afroblanco over at Ask Metafilter: I take bearishness to an extreme. Having witnessed the 2000 tech crash, I have no faith in the stock market or the US economy. I keep all of my money (USD) in a savings account. However, with the recent financial turmoil, I have a few questions: Is it conceivable for the FDIC to fail? If so, is…

  • Proven Methods for Servers to Increase Their Tips (127 comments)

    In 2004 Dr. Michael Lynn, associate professor at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, produced a paper entitled “Mega Tips: Scientifically Tested Techniques to Increase Your Tips” [PDF]. If you work in a restaurant, reading this pamphlet could help you increase your earnings. But if you don’t work in food service, knowing these techniques may help you separate good service from subtle manipulation! Lynn writes: The techniques described [here] were mostly tested in low…

  • Money and Security: Fear of the Future (55 comments)

    This is a guest post from Plonkee Money. Plonkee lives in England, where she writes about personal finance. A friend of mine has a tendency to be swayed by conspiracy theories, his favorites being The Da Vinci Code and the fictionalization of the Apollo Moon Landings. I was talking to him the other day, and he asked if I knew that money held in savings accounts was loaned out to other people and that banks…

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

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

  • 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…

  • Are You a Shopaholic? Six Steps to Curb Compulsive Spending (92 comments)

    I had dinner with my friend Sue the other night. Over pasta and clams, we talked about life and money. She told me about her brother. “He’s a compulsive spender,” said Sue. “He spends money even when he doesn’t have any.” “What do you mean?” I asked. “Well,” she said, “for one thing, he spends his money before he gets it. For example, when he was still working with Big Computer Company, Inc., somebody told…

  • Understanding the Seven Habits of Wealth (38 comments)

    This is a guest post from Dough Roller, a Washington D.C. blogger who writes about building wealth, one dollar at a time. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit. — Aristotle We tend to define our lives by the big events: graduation, marriage, children, a big promotion, retirement. What often gets neglected are the little things we do every day, the little things that make the big…

  • The Smell of Money: Marketers Use Scent to Encourage Spending (29 comments)

    When you shop, you are manipulated in myriad subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways. Everything from store layout to background music to package design is carefully planned to make you more likely to part with your hard-earned dollars. New Scientist reports that marketers are now learning to “recruit smell for the hard sell“: Scent, marketeers say, is the final frontier in “sensory branding”. Of all our five senses, smell is thought to be the most closely linked…

  • Three Questions About Money and Ethics (105 comments)

    Lady Kemma recently wrote with a question about money and ethics: Last week I went out with my work department. After feeding 30 people, all with individual checks, I left the harried waitress a generous tip. My colleague said, “You’re leaving too much tip.” I said, “The poor lady earned it.” I left the money on the cash tray and got up to leave. My colleague proceeded to take some of the money off my…

  • Getting to Now: How to Beat the Procrastination Habit (82 comments)

    I am a procrastinator. I always have been. It’s a character flaw, and I admit it. I’ve tried all sorts of things to beat the habit — Getting Things Done, e-mail reminders, dozens of list systems — but the only thing that seems to work is to: Do it now. This is blindingly obvious, I know, but many people lose sight of this fundamental skill. It’s not that we don’t know that we should do…

  • What if the Stock Market Makes You Nervous? (31 comments)

    A couple of readers have mentioned that they’re nervous about the stock market’s recent volatility. I’ve read similar concerns on other blogs and financial news sites. People are worried that the stock market’s performance over the last month portends an impending bear market, and they don’t know what to do. Reading these concerns reminded me of Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes, which I reviewed last week. In the book, the authors discuss panic…

  • Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes (and How to Correct Them) (21 comments)

    Money is more about mind than it is about math — that’s one of the key tenets of this site. People make financial decisions based not on mathematical ideals, but on emotion. There’s actually a branch of economics called behavioral finance devoted exclusively to this phenomenon, exploring the interplay between economic theory and psychological reality. On a recent train ride across Ireland, I read a book on behavioral economics called Why Smart People Make Big…

  • The Power of Yes: A Simple Way to Get More Out of Life (130 comments)

    For much of my adult life I’ve been shackled by fear. I’ve been afraid to try new things, afraid to meet new people, afraid of doing anything that might lead to failure. This fear confined me to a narrow comfort zone. Recently, however, I made a single small change that has helped me to overcome my fear, and allowed me to get more out of life. Last fall somebody at Ask Metafilter posted a question…

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

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

  • Beware the Insidious Power of Marketing (46 comments)

    Advertising is powerful. Avoiding it — in print, on radio, on television — is one of the best ways to control your urge to spend. When you willingly expose yourself to commercial pitches, you risk spending more than you intend. I’ve posted two articles recently about how marketing manipulates us to buy things. Allow me to belabor this point one last time before I move on. It’s important. Corporations manipulate us in subtle ways. We…

  • Facing and Fighting Financial Trolls (18 comments)

    Money is more about mind than it is about math — that’s one of the fundamental precepts of this site. If you improve your self-esteem, if you improve your mental attitude, if you improve your knowledge, you will improve your finances. To this end, it’s important to avoid negative messages about money. It’s difficult to improve your mental attitude when you’re besieged by financial trolls. What are financial trolls? In a recent article, Steve Pavlina…

  • Secrets of the Millionaire Mind (74 comments)

      Initially, T. Harv Eker’s Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth seems cast from the same mold as Loral Langemeier’s The Millionaire Maker (my review): full of vague promises, unsupported claims, and thinly-veiled sales pitches for products and seminars. It’s true that Eker is guilty of some of these faults. But ultimately I could not help but like the book once I stopped thinking of it as a personal finance…

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

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

  • Control Impulse Spending with the 30-Day Rule (49 comments)

    I made a trip to Costco to buy business supplies last week. While browsing the software, I spotted the latest version of Quicken. I picked up the box and looked at the list of new features. I felt that urge creep upon me — the urge to spend. “Maybe the Mac version is out, too,” I thought. “I should stop by Fry’s to check.” Then I thought of the $50 it would cost to upgrade….

  • How to Haggle (12 comments)

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