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Real-Life


  • 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…

  • 7 surprising results when you pay your kids for chores (30 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    One of our parenting goals is to rear frugal kids. Take care of their stuff. Spend wisely. Save for a rainy day. Making the goal is easy, but implementing the goal? Definitely harder. How our (current) allowance system works Over the last couple of years, we’ve been experimenting with the best ways to teach our kids to manage money. What I’ve learned is that it’s best…

  • What sparked my investigation into medical identity theft (4 comments)

    When the oral surgeon recommended that our daughter have her wisdom teeth removed, we thought we knew what to expect both medically and financially. Morgan’s two sisters underwent this procedure in the past, and we adopted a brave “Let’s get this over with!” attitude as we scheduled her operation. We expected the least painful part of the procedure to be the surgery bill because the girls are covered under both their parent’s dental insurance. It…

  • 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…

  • Getting real (and serious) about your financial future (16 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Have you ever wanted — really wanted — to change your financial situation but, when you tried, you felt like you were slogging through wet cement or trying to turn a huge ship around? You got exhausted and stopped, right? Change is like that. You can change — and you can also make it easier for yourself. But first, are you clear about why you want…

  • 7 things camping can teach you about money (18 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    My wife and I are new to camping. Well, it sure seems that way. When we came to America over 30 years ago, we bought Kermit, our green camping van, which we took coast to coast three times. We were young, our hair still had color. And we (being students) had time enough to see all the states (except, for some unexplained reason, West Virginia). But…

  • 11 ways to entertain your kids this summer for free (with stuff you already have!) (6 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Are you frantically trying to smother the “I’m bored”s at your house too? Most of the country is knee-deep in their kids’ summer vacation now, and our house is no exception. Keeping our children entertained and out of mischief is a full-time (and, if I’m honest, a little overwhelming too) job. When I start feeling frazzled by sibling fights and whining, I want to cope by…

  • Life after debt – experimenting with financial balance (18 comments)

    This article is from returning staff writer Tim Sullivan. I first became part of the Get Rich Slowly community six years ago. I lived in Austin, Texas, at the time and had to travel a lot between jobs. I say that I drove a scooter to save money on gas; but really, it was because I couldn’t afford a reliable car. The fact it cost me less than $2 to fill up my tank for…

  • Ask the Readers: Was your most memorable Valentine’s Day expensive? (21 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Love is in the air at this time of year, and the Internet is full of tips and tricks for how to celebrate Valentine’s Day on every end of the spending spectrum. All price points are represented, from customized jewelry to those with something a little more affordable in mind for Valentine’s Day. In past years, we’ve asked people to share their Valentine’s Day plans, but this…

  • 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…

  • How to turn down a job offer (or resign) gracefully (18 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    So, you’ve done it. You’ve considered all the costs of a new job, networked your heart out, and considered all aspects of your job offer. Now you are facing one of two outcomes: Pull the trigger! Take the new job. Not good enough! For whatever reason, you’ve decided to decline the offer. Either way, someone is going to be on the receiving end of some bad news….

  • The importance of financial balance — a conversation with my mom about money (46 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong.

    It seems like an odd goal for a kid; but when I was little, I wanted to be financially secure. Of course, I didn’t put it that way. Instead, I declared, “When I grow up, I want to be rich.” Incidentally, so did my parents. I remember rolling quarters with them, while they explained to me the importance of saving. At a young age, I realized I’d…

  • Honey Progress Report: 2014 wrap-up and 2015 goals (48 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    The new year is a time to look forward; but in order to do that, you need to know where you’ve been. Before I set my goals for 2015, I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything that happened last year. Updated reckoning for me in chart form: 2012-present Please note that I have consolidated some separate accounts of the same type into one category…

  • What else to consider when accepting a job offer (22 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Let’s say that you and your prospective employer come to a satisfactory arrangement and you accept a new position. Surely you can loosen the purse strings a bit and relax now, right? Well, maybe. Sometimes promises and expectations don’t align with reality. While this can sometimes occur because a company is deceptive, other times this happens because everyone — both employer and potential employee — are…

  • What can I do with the gift cards I don’t want? (17 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    Chances are, you’ll get at least one gift card for Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa this year — whether you like it or not. If you are lucky, your card might be something you could use right away — like an Amazon gift card or one for your favorite store. But you might not be that lucky. You might end up with a gift card to a store…

  • Christmas gifts that keep on giving (44 comments)
    This is a guest post from former GRS staff writer Donna Freedman.

    Anyone who has lived on the margin has likely felt the anxiety that comes with having just about enough to get by. That’s why I’d like to suggest a holiday present that can make a short- or long-term difference in someone’s life — the gift of breathing room. Got a barely-afloat friend or family member or one who is inching toward the red…

  • How to be generous with money (66 comments)

    How to be generous with money when you don’t have a ton — that’s a major question. Here’s how one Get Rich Slowly contributor, Lisa Aberle, discovered some essential truths about money, friendship and giving. An ice storm was coming. The last time we’d had an ice storm we were childless and lost power for five days. The romance of sleeping in front of the fireplace quickly cooled off along with the temperature in the house….

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Deals on wheels: Should you buy your child a car? (98 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. As far as I know, only one reader of Get Rich Slowly knows me personally. And last week, I was having lunch with my one-person fan club. (Actually, I am not sure she’s even a fan, but she did buy my lunch. Thanks, Lisa!) “You really stirred up some controversy with one of your recent posts,” Lisa said, a forkful of salad in hand. “You must mean…

  • One year later: The benefits and tragedies of self-employment (79 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Almost exactly a year ago today, I quit my full-time job to pursue my passion — writing. It was one of the proudest moments of my life, but it was also terrifying. I had spent the last six years working alongside my husband, a mortician, in the funeral industry. My job certainly wasn’t perfect; but it was stable, well-paying, and sometimes fun. I also loved the people…

  • More on how to stop buying clothes you never wear (49 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. More than four years ago, I wrote a post for Get Rich Slowly about how to stop buying clothes you never wear. I wasn’t sure how it would go over, to be honest. We don’t discuss fashion much in our little corner of the Internet, and I also worried about being judged for my sordid, non-frugal past. But it was a problem I’d had struggled with, and it…

  • My year-long quest to create a guide to mastering money (25 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. “How would you like to write an Unconventional Guide?” my friend Chris Guillebeau asked me last spring. As long-time readers know, I’ve joined Chris to travel across the U.S. by train, travel across Norway by train, and produce the first three editions…

  • Another visit with the real Millionaire Next Door (16 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. It was sunny last Friday afternoon, so I decided to go for a ride. Because Kim has been riding motorcycles all her life, I took a training class last August and now own a used Honda Rebel. When the weather’s nice in…

  • 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….

  • Money lessons I’ve learned since writing for Get Rich Slowly (43 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. For the past year and I half, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing for Get Rich Slowly. That’s not to say it hasn’t been a challenge. Some weeks, I’m completely run down and don’t feel like thinking too hard about anything, much less personal finance. But I do my best to jumpstart my brain and produce something that I hope at least some of you will find useful. Writing…

  • Money lessons from the Grinch, Scrooge, and Buddy the Elf (35 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Every December, my husband and I have a Christmas movie marathon. We watch as many holiday movies as we can between December 1 and December 31, which is a fun way to get into the spirit. (Here in Texas, we often have 70-degree days in December, so we have to get into the spirit somehow…) This year, I started thinking about all of the great personal finance…

  • Things that babies just don’t need (158 comments)

    Just the other day, I was grocery shopping with my husband and kids when we made an interesting discovery. We were in the baby aisle picking up some diapers for our youngest when my four-year-old picked up a small package and asked me what it was. “What’s this, Mommy?” I picked it up and looked. And looked. And got really confused. “Ummmm…..pacifier wipes?” According to the packaging, they were food-grade pacifier wipes. “What do you do with…

  • How I’m changing my relationship with money (27 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. As a teenager, I had a part-time job that was already mundane and dreadful enough, but then Kelly P. was hired. For whatever reason, Kelly and I were instantly repelled by each other. She thought I was too dorky to bear; I found her voice impossibly grating. She over-pronounced her esses. All it took was one shift. One evening, Kelly and I were stuck together. Alone. For…

  • Reader Story: Free at last (32 comments)

    This guest post is from Mary Newcome. 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. I remember what it was like to live in my first apartment at age 17. Although not old enough to legally sign a lease agreement, I guess my full-time employment…

  • How I Sold My Comic Books (and Why) (114 comments)

    It’s fun to meet readers for coffee or lunch. It used to seem a little strange that random strangers knew so much about my life, but nowadays it just makes conversations easier. People always want to know about three things: How’s Kris, my ex-wife? (Answer: Kris is fine. We see each other often. I help her with tech stuff and share my Portland Timbers tickets with her and her boyfriend. She gives me pickles.) How…

  • 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…

  • Ask the Readers: What personal finance skills should college students learn? (70 comments)

    Last Friday, J.D. asked you what concepts have contributed to your financial success, and you responded with lots of good thoughts. Today, reader D. Post has a question for you about personal finance skills college students should learn. Here’s his situation: GRS, I’ve just about made it through college and am about to start my senior year! I’ve had a fun time at school and still have a good-sized chunk of change in the bank,…

  • Confessions of a former online trading broker (50 comments)

    This is a guest post from John S. John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, a husband and a veteran of the financial services industry. He’s passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. Follow him on Twitter. Learn investment lessons during his years working as an online trading broker. For four and a half years I dragged myself dutifully to…

  • That time I got hit by a drunk driver (55 comments)

    This post is written by staff writer Kristin Wong. I’ve never liked Sundays. Especially Sunday evenings. They feel like denial to me. It’s like I’m clinging on to the last bit of weekend, and sometimes I actually convince myself that Monday isn’t just a few hours away. But then the shops close early, I realize I can’t stay up late, and there’s no escaping the inevitable: the weekend is over. Sundays are the worst. But one…

  • Look, Mom! I’m on TV! (27 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Kristin Wong. “If they cleaned this place up, it could be pretty nice.” –My mom’s take on NYC. This week my mom was kind enough to take some time off work and accompany me to New York, where I was a guest on one of her favorite shows, “Fox & Friends.” “Did you know Gretchen Carlson won Miss America?” my mom asked me when I first told her about…

  • Reader Stories: How I built up the courage to quit a promising career with a six-figure salary (42 comments)

    This reader story is from a longtime GRS reader Sumitha, who blogs at afineparent.com. 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. I said goodbye to a promising career with a six-figure salary last month. I have dreamed about this moment for over…

  • 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…

  • How to File a Consumer Complaint (100 comments)

    Editor’s note: Knowing how to file a consumer complaint is a necessary part of being an informed consumer. Here’s one experience from a Get Rich Slowly contributor with a list of tips and tricks anyone can use. A few months ago, I decided that I needed new furniture. I didn’t want new furniture. My 3-year-old couch and loveseat were in great condition. On the other hand, I began to realize that I had once again…

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

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

  • 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;…

  • 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…

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

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

  • 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…

  • Adopting strategies to pay for big expenses (84 comments)

    I like the idea of financial independence, and if I’d had my way, we would have started our family once we had college fully funded for each child. Plus, a healthy emergency fund, a do-I-want-to-be-a-working-mom-or-not fund, and a minivan fund. But I didn’t want to be 80 years old at my children’s high school graduations either. Ironically, as it turns out, we decided to build our family through international adoption, a notoriously expensive way to…

  • 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…

  • 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…

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

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

  • Student loan debt: How I got in deep (335 comments)

    This article is from new staff writer Honey Smith. My mother was quadriplegic by the time I was in high school. My dad was a real estate agent who worked on commission, so he worked long hours to make ends meet. As a result, I took on a lot of responsibility at a young age. I cooked and cleaned and did all the grocery shopping. I did the laundry and paid the bills (in the…

  • Where I’m Starting From: Honey’s Story (384 comments)

    This article is from new staff writer Honey Smith. Hello. I’m Honey Smith. I’m thrilled to be a part of the GRS community, though of course a little embarrassed that it’s essentially as an object lesson to others of what not to do. However, I do hope that everyone on the site learns something along with me. For those of you who are financially comfortable (or close to it), those lessons may be about empathy…

  • The Power of Personal Tranformation: Change Your Self, Change the World (116 comments)

    Note: On July 8th, I gave the closing keynote at World Domination Summit 2012. After listening to Brené Brown talk about vulnerability, Susan Cain talk about introversion, Scott Harrison talk about building wells in Africa, and Chris Brogan talk about bravery — after listening to all of these professional speakers, I took the stage. I’m just an average guy. I shared what I’ve learned about how to change your life. This is the text of…

  • Signs of Financial Relationship Trouble? (179 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Sarah Gilbert. With my husband across the planet in Kuwait for most of the past two years, we don’t fight a lot. When we do fight, it’s about three things: what I’m doing with the kids. What things are going to be like when he comes back (for leave, or for good). And money. We started out so well? At the beginning of our relationship, I had a great…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Hunting for Health Insurance (223 comments)

    I am sick. For the past ten days, I’ve been wrestling with a high fever, a cough, a persistent sore throat, and a general malaise that’s kicking my ass. Basically, I’m the sickest I’ve been in over a decade. (The last time I was this sick? The evening that The Fellowship of the Ring premiered. I went to see it with friends, but don’t remember a thing about that night because I was sick with…

  • 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…

  • How and Why I Sold Get Rich Slowly (327 comments)

    When I started Get Rich Slowly — on 15 April 2006 — it made very little money. It earned a few pennies per day. Slowly, the income grew. A few pennies per day turned into a few dollars per day, and that turned into tens of dollars per day. Eventually I was making enough money from this site that I could quit my day job to blog full time. The last time I mentioned my…

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

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

  • A Place of My Own (577 comments)

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

  • 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…

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

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

  • How Did My Phone Bill Get So High?!? Why You Should Pay Attention to Your Bills (45 comments)

    This is a guest-post from Tim Ellis, author of Seattle Bubble, a blog and forum dedicated to real-estate market conditions in the Seattle area. Tim is a long-time GRS reader. Previously on GRS, Tim has written about renting vs. buying, renting in a new city, setting homebuying priorities, and gaming without breaking the bank. Recently my wife and I sat down for the first time in a couple of years to review and update our…

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

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

  • How Much Do We Owe Others? (And When Should We Walk Away?) (241 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. Last January I loaned money to a friend who was in financial crisis: Her vehicle was about to be repossessed. The transaction troubled me for a number of reasons, which I detailed at my personal website in a post called “I’m not a payday lender. But…

  • On the Road to Nowhere: The True Story of My First (and Worst) Job (67 comments)

    It’s Labor Day in the United States, the holiday that traditionally marks the end of summer and the beginning of the new school year. Officially, it’s intended as “a day off for the working citizens”. As usual, GRS is taking a short break. This is a reprint of a column from five years ago. Your job is one of your most important assets. It gives you earning power. It can bring you personal fulfillment. But…

  • 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…

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

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

  • 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: The Product of Frugal Parents (99 comments)

    This guest post from Simon Cunningham 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. A lot of reader stories featured on Get Rich Slowly are from people who got “saved” from bad financial habits, who were burned…

  • How My Generosity Got Me $8,000 in Debt (105 comments)

    This is a guest post from Logan Sachon. Her piece originally appeared at Bundle.com. I am in debt: $8,000 on two credit cards, to be precise. The debt occurred over several years, and includes a few periods when I was living off the cards because I was in between jobs. Perhaps $1,000 of the debt was spent on plane tickets to visit my parents on the East Coast, my job on the East Coast, or…

  • Big House, Little House (272 comments)

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

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

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

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

    This guest post from Ian is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. It’s the extended version of the story he shared in his prize-winning entry to this year’s GRS video contest. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. It dawned on me…

  • How I Invest My Money (59 comments)

    Earlier this month, I shared a new financial framework I’ve been developing, one that stresses earning, spending, and saving as the building blocks of personal finance. Two weeks ago, I elaborated by sharing how I make money. Last week, I turned to the other half of the basic personal-finance equation: I shared how I spend money. (Or, more precisely, the ways in which I try not to spend money.) Today, I’ll share the ways I…

  • How I Spend My Money (118 comments)

    Earlier this month, I shared a new financial framework I’ve been developing, one that stresses earning, spending, and saving as the building blocks of personal finance. Last week, I elaborated by sharing how I make money. This week, I’m turning to the other half of the basic personal-finance equation: spending. Or, more precisely, the lack of it. Instead of talking about theoretical ways to cut costs, I’m going to share the things that Kris and…

  • Rebalancing in Real Life (54 comments)

    Earlier today, Robert Brokamp wrote about the importance of rebalancing your investment portfolio. Over time, as your various investments rise and fall, your actual asset allocation drifts from your intended asset allocation, slowly pulling you away from your investment goals. I’ve recently been working to rebalance my own investment portfolio, so I thought it might be instructive to walk through the process over the next couple of weeks as I try to bring things back…

  • How I Earn My Money (73 comments)

    A lot of what we write here at Get Rich Slowly is theoretical. “This is how you should do things,” we say. Or, sometimes, the articles are meant for inspiration: “Here are some great ideas for taking control of your finances!” We don’t write as often about the things we actually do with our own money. In the early days of the site, I shared many of my own experiences. I’ve gotten away from that…

  • An 11-Year-Old’s First Budget (75 comments)

    This is a guest post from Andrea Deckard, who publishes Savings Lifestyle, a website that helps people save on what they need so they can spend on what they want. Growing up, my parents taught me very little about financial responsibility. It wasn’t until college, when my parents expected me to pay my own car insurance, that I was forced to learn the basics of budgeting. It was just one bill, but it was traumatic…

  • How to Lend Money to Friends (Without Ruining the Relationship) (179 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Lending money to friends and family is a generous act — one that could easily backfire and even ruin your relationship. Most of the time when someone is considering a loan to a family member, I think, “Don’t do it.” There can be other ways to help. But when it’s someone you care about, logic only plays one role in the decision-making process. Not too long ago…

  • Budgeting For Mistakes (75 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. How carefully do you budget? Do you account for every dime, or is there some wiggle room in your spending plan? Since I got on the wagon with tracking my spending, there’s no miscellaneous category in my budget anymore. Every dime of my income is accounted for. I know how much I…

  • Life After Debt: What It’s Like in the Third Stage of Personal Finance (245 comments)

    I paid off the last of my debt in 2007, quit my day job in 2008, and have been working to build wealth ever since. As I wrote early last year, I’m in the Third Stage of personal finance: I’ve paid off my debt, built a cash cushion in savings, and am maxing out my retirement accounts. And after doing all of these things, I have money left over to spend on comic books and…

  • 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…

  • Ask the Readers: “Help! I Co-Signed on a Loan and Now I Wish I Hadn’t!” (147 comments)

    Ah, relationships. Without other people, money management would be easy! Easy-er, anyhow. But love, family, and business relationships tend to make people do things they know they really oughtn’t. Take Patrick, for example. He fell in love, and it led him to commit a financial faux pas. Here’s Patrick’s l-o-n-g story and his questions: A couple years back, I met a girl, fell in love, and we moved in together. A few months into our…

  • Downshifting: The First Day of the Rest of My Life (76 comments)

    “This is it,” I told my wife last Monday. “This is what?” Kris asked. “This is the first day of the rest of my life,” I said. She knew what I meant. For the past few years, I’ve been living in a self-created whirlwind of busy-ness. I know a blog like this often seems calm and quiet on the surface, but underneath there’s usually a flurry of turbulent activity. “Look,” I said, showing her my…

  • The Rewards of Frugality and Thrift (or, Why We Scrimp and Save) (139 comments)

    Over the past couple of weeks, more than a few GRS readers have complained about the site’s tone. These folks are afraid that Get Rich Slowly is turning into a column that’s only about frugality and self-denial, one that is neglecting the “rich” part of the blog’s title. These concerns came to the fore in last week’s article about remembering to appreciate what I already have. In that discussion, ObjectiveGeek wrote: I want the best…

  • 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…

  • Reader Story: Surviving and Thriving (36 comments)

    This guest post from Donna Freedman is part of the “reader stories” feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general “how I did X” advice, and others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity, and with all sorts of incomes. A few years ago I had about $130 to my name and was struggling to balance…

  • Casting Stones: When Is It Okay to Judge? (239 comments)

    I’ve been stewing over something for the past few days, and I’m finally ready to write about it. I’m not a fan of judging others and their actions. Like Atticus Finch, I believe you never really know a person until you stand in their shoes and walk around in them. But I’m human. Like everyone, there are times I can’t help passing judgment. And although I know that judging others isn’t productive, sometimes I’m at…

  • 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…

  • Don’t Wait for a Discount — Ask for One (67 comments)

    This post is short and sweet and to the point. Folks, I cannot stress how important it is to check all of your accounts for possible savings at least once a year. This includes your bank accounts, your credit accounts, your utility accounts, and more. Basically, you should review every account that involves a financial relationship at least yearly. It’s easy to do this. Just call the customer service number and ask if there are…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Reader Story: How I Got Married on the Cheap — And Loved It! (122 comments)

    This guest post from Lars is part of a new feature here at Get Rich Slowly. Every Sunday will include a reader story (in the new “reader stories” category). Some will be general “how I did X” stories, and others will be examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success. I got married last month. It was a bit of a whirlwind romance — at the beginning of 2009, we’d been talking about an…

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

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

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

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

  • 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…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Face a Family Financial Crisis? (91 comments)

    With the arrival of the GRS staff writers, the semi-regular “ask the readers” column has a new home. Look for this feature most weekends. “Ask the readers” is your chance to get (and give) advice about real-life financial dilemmas. An anonymous GRS reader submitted a question last week that hits close to home: I have a family member that this past year has been in serious financial trouble. He is one of the most ambitious…

  • A Call from Capital One (79 comments)

    I don’t often post follow-ups to previous articles, especially after just a few days. But following Tuesday’s post on two-cycle billing, a couple of things happened that deserve mention. Understanding Grace Periods Several readers suggested that what I experienced was not two-cycle billing but the lack of a grace period. Special thanks especially to Kitty, who linked to the American Express document on understanding grace periods. Kitty wrote: If you didn’t pay your previous month’s…

  • A Small Mistake (129 comments)

    Important note: Despite what the credit card company told me, and despite my own mis-information, this story below apparently does NOT relate to two-cycle billing. Instead, my frustration stems from the way some credit card companies handle their grace periods. Thanks for all of the commenters who pointed out the error. Here’s a follow-up to this situation. For almost a decade, I refused to use a personal credit card. I knew that I couldn’t control…

  • Frugality in Practice: Alternate Modes of Transportation (118 comments)

    I’ve always been a car guy. It’s not that I’m mechanically inclined or that I get into the latest makes and models — neither of these is anywhere close to the truth — but that a car has always been my primary mode of transportation. When I was a boy, my family lived in rural Oregon, six miles from the nearest town. Automobiles were our only real option for getting around. Even when I went…

  • 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,…

  • Reader Success Story: Debt Free on $2,000 a Month (77 comments)

    We interrupt this series of Staff Writer auditions to bring you a brief success story from a Get Rich Slowly reader. I receive several of these a month (often several a week), and sometimes wish that I had a place to share them all. Instead, I just make the time to share a handful every year. This morning, Jay wrote to share his own tale of dedication: Hey JD! I am very excited to tell…

  • The Problem With Market Timing (76 comments)

    I’m in the process of consolidating all of my investment accounts at Fidelity. This isn’t because I think Fidelity is “the best”, but because I think they’re good and they’re certainly convenient. There’s a Fidelity “investor center” not far from my home. (In other words: I’m not endorsing Fidelity; I’m merely following my own advice to pick a good option instead of spending forever looking for the best.) As I gather my various accounts under…

  • Turning Garage Sale Junk Into eBay Gold (50 comments)

    On Saturday night, I attended a party with some of my former high-school classmates. Many of the other guests were artists. I don’t know many artists, so it was fascinating to listen to their stories, especially about the economics of selling art during a recession. I learned a lot. Later in the evening, I spent some time chatting with my friend Jonathan. He asked me about the blog. “What are you going to write about…

  • Office Space: Why I Rented a Place to Write (75 comments)

    I recently leased office space for Get Rich Slowly. For about a year, I’d been working out of an office I’d created in one of our spare bedrooms. This seemed like an ideal solution: I was able to work from home (with my cat companions!) while utilizing empty space. In reality, this arrangement proved a blessing and a curse. Yes, it was convenient to have a home office. But I also found that the boundaries…

  • 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…

  • Should Repaying Debt Be an Obsession? (75 comments)

    Some people never take control of their finances because they’re afraid that doing so would require them to give up everything they enjoy. I don’t believe that’s true. Getting out of debt requires hard work and sacrifice, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun along the way. Aaron recently sent the following e-mail: You paid off $35,000 in debt in just over three years. Does that mean you were balls-to-the-wall dedicated and had no…

  • The Secrets of Financial Freedom: An Interview with the Millionaire Next Door (141 comments)

    Today is the last day of Financial Literacy Month. To tie everything together, I thought it would be fun to share an interview my real millionaire next door, a man we’ll call John. He used the basic tenets of money management to build wealth and to retire early. Here’s how I described John when I first wrote about him last year: John is a 71-year-old retired shop teacher who lives in a modest ranch house…

  • A Very Small Adventure: Riding the Bus (119 comments)

    I had a big day today, though I’m sure many of you will laugh: I rode the bus for the first time. Actually, I’ve been on buses many times before. I rode a school bus as a child, and I’ve used public transportation in other towns. I’ve even used the light-rail trains here in Portland. But I had never used the city’s bus system until this afternoon. Brave new world I took my new-used Mini…

  • My Used Mini Cooper and the Power of Saving (225 comments)

    For the past two years, one of my top financial goals has been to save for a Mini Cooper. Just like a child with a toy catalog, I’ve spent hours on the Mini website playing with colors and options packages, building my own dream vehicle. Whenever I’m tempted to buy small indulgences, I ask myself, “Would I rather have this or a Mini?” Until the beginning of last week, however, I thought I still had…

  • Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression (31 comments)

    We’ve heard a lot of rhetoric lately about how this is the worst economy since the Great Depression. Maybe that’s true and maybe it isn’t, but even if it were, what would it mean? I have no frame of reference for these sorts of claims. They smack of hyperbole, but I can’t be sure. In my lifetime, the closest I’ve come to experiencing anything like the Depression was during the recession of the early 1980s,…

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

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

  • 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…

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Refinancing Made Easy: Our Story (93 comments)

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

  • The Razor’s Edge: Lessons in True Wealth (161 comments)

    Our friends have a profound effect on our personal finance habits. Some friends can lead us to spending and to debt. Others offer insight into the virtues of thrift. For me, my friend Sparky has been the latter. Through his example, I learned that frugality can help me achieve my goals. “Develop a plan that is so amazing, so glowing, that you are willing to walk blurry-eyed to work every day to make the money…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • In Praise of the Adult Allowance (194 comments)

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

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

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

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

  • 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…

  • Frugality in Practice: Home Canning (59 comments)

    “What do you do with all that produce?” one reader asked recently about our garden. “Do you really eat it all, or does it go to waste?” We eat it, but not at once. Though we enjoy a lot of the food fresh from the garden, we preserve most of it for later. I’m fortunate that Kris loves to can, and so we enjoy the fruits of our labor year-round. Canning was once a vital…

  • 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…

  • Reader Success Story: How I Gave Myself a Raise (19 comments)

    Jon wrote yesterday to share a success story of personal finance principles in action. Here’s a slightly modified version of his e-mail. I’ve been a reading personal finance blogs for some time now, and one thing I’ve seen repeated over and over is: if you are looking for a raise, the easiest thing to do is to ask for one. I was skeptical of this advice until this last week when I made it work…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Financial Advice from My Father (When I Was Nineteen) (44 comments)

    Today is Father’s Day in many countries, including the United States. While sorting some old letters and photos recently, I stumbled across a letter my dad wrote to me during my sophomore year of college. This is my father’s financial advice to me when I was nineteen years old. I haven’t attempted to edit — any misspellings are his. J.D.’s Points to Ponder Warning — Make sure you read them all. There may be some…

  • Saving with Albert: Teaching a Four-Year-Old the Value of Money (33 comments)

    My friend Albert — age four — loves electricity. Ever since he was young (ha!) he’s been fascinated by the stuff. His parents have carefully nurtured his hobby. Now that Albert’s older, they’ve decided this might be a good way to teach him about money. In this guest post from my friend Lisa, she describes how they’re helping Albert take the financial plunge. My son Albert loves his collection of colored light bulbs with all…

  • Ask the Readers: Buy a Car or Pay Off Debt? (124 comments)

    Earlier this week, April wrote with a personal finance predicament. She and her husband need to buy a car, but it’s not something they’d budgeted to do any time soon. Fate intervened: My husband and I are trying to pay down our debt and to save money. This morning he called to tell me that he had been rear-ended in traffic. He’s fine, thankfully, but he thinks they’ll total his car, which was paid for….

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

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

  • 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…

  • A Real Millionaire Next Door (136 comments)

    Kris and I love our neighborhood. People are friendly and helpful, yet mostly mind their own business. It’s a perfect combination. One of our favorite neighbors is the old guy next door. Let’s call him John. John is a 71-year-old retired shop teacher who lives in a modest ranch house on half an acre, the same house he’s had for over forty years. He has an old barn filled with salvaged lumber, outdated appliances, and…

  • Reader Story: Beware of Scams and Pyramid Schemes (108 comments)

    In the past, I’ve shared the story of the worst job I ever had. In a lot of ways, it felt like I was part of a pyramid scheme or multi-level marketing operation. I’ve been approached to participate in similar operations since then: once by my veterinarian (?!?) and once by a stranger in a book store. Sometimes you cannot tell a scam is a scam until you see it up close, and then the…

  • Frugality in Practice: The DIY Footrest (41 comments)

    I’ve been working at home for a month now. I like it. The first week was a little scary, but the past few weeks have been immensely productive. I’ve caught up on e-mail. I’ve conducted and given some interviews. And I’ve planned some posts for the future. Most of my day is spent at my desk writing. The first few days were awful. My wrists hurt. I couldn’t find the right chair height to match…

  • The Key to Wealth is Being Satisfied with What You Already Have (77 comments)

    For the past few weeks, I’ve been making sales calls with David, my replacement at the box factory. We’re visiting existing customers to explain the transition. Most of my clients know that I’m part-owner in the family business. “Why are you leaving?” they want to know. “What are you going to do now?” “I’m going to write,” I say. “About what?” some of them ask. “Personal finance,” I say, and that’s usually the end of…

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

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

  • An Angel on One Shoulder and a Devil on the Other (44 comments)

    We received a Costco coupon book in the mail today. Costco — a membership warehouse store — has very low prices and generally does not take coupons. A few times a year, though, they send out flyers with special discounts. Kris flipped through the book first, clipping coupons for kleenex, cat litter, and ziploc bags. When she was finished, I picked it up to look for things she’d missed. On the first page, I nearly…

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

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

  • A Life Well-Lived is Not About the Bling (82 comments)

    I love real-life stories of people who get rich slowly. Paul Navone, a 78-year-old resident of Millville, New Jersey, is one of those. On December 21st, Navone donated $1 million to Cumberland County College. He still has millions left. How did he earn his money? The old-fashioned way: lots of hard work. Navone never attended high school. He began working in local glass factories at the age of 16. In 50 years, he never made…

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

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

  • 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…

  • How I Became a Millionaire While Working in My Pajamas (106 comments)

    This is a guest post from the Millionaire Mommy Next Door. At her blog, MMND shares her recipe for success, happiness, and financial freedom. This piece originally appeared on her site in a slightly different format. When my husband and I married (at age 23), I was working as an office assistant at a veterinary hospital earning $7.50 per hour. Unsatisfied with my low wages, I brainstormed ways to generate extra income. Going to the…

  • 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…

  • Frugality in Practice: Keeping Warm in Winter (96 comments)

    Cold cold cold — I am cold. Remember George Bailey’s “drafty old barn” in It’s a Wonderful Life? Our place is like that. This 100-year-old farmhouse is cold all winter long. There are drafts at the doors, there’s inadequate insulation, and we have 30 windows in 1800 square feet. (Our old house had eight windows in 1400 square feet.) Every year, we do a little more to make this place energy efficient, but it’s a…

  • 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…

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

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

  • Recurring Monthly Costs: Which Are Worth It? Which Are Not? (120 comments)

    I met some friends at a local restaurant Monday night. While chatting, we found ourselves bopping to the music playing on the radio. For more than hour, great song followed great song: U2, Eurythmics, The Police, Elvis Costello, The Clash, New Order. But the ambient noise made it impossible to know what station we were hearing. “I have to know what this is,” I said at last. “This could be my new favorite radio station.”…

  • Frugality in Practice: Do-it-Yourself Home Maintenance (26 comments)

    I hate plumbing. Whenever a faucet begins to leak or a drain clogs, my stomach sinks. I know it means hours of frustrating work. It’s not that plumbing is difficult — it’s just that I’m not well-versed in the ways of home-improvement. Somehow I missed that part of Manhood Training. Despite my apprehension, over thirteen years of homeownership, I’ve made it a point to do as much repair work as I’m able. It has saved…

  • Grocery Store vs. Farmers Market: Which Has the Cheapest Produce? (48 comments)

    Last year I asked, “How much do you spend on food?” Answers varied widely. Some commenters couldn’t comprehend that others could spend so much — or so little. I’ve always believed that buying produce at the farmers market is a good way to cut food costs. But is it really? This weekend I decided to find out. Over the past two days, I’ve surveyed produce prices at five different locations: the farmers market, a produce…

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

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

  • Ask the Readers: How Can You Help a Family Member in Financial Trouble WITHOUT Loaning Them Money? (73 comments)

    “The Tim” is in a bind. He’d like to help his brother-in-law out of a tight spot, but he’s not interested in loaning him money. What are his options? Here’s his story: My brother-in-law is currently in his third year of college at a private university. He is paying for his schooling without any financial assistance from his parents, as they had somewhat of a falling-out a few years ago. Recently, his job came to…

  • Ask the Readers: What if You’re Frugal But Your Roommates Aren’t? (62 comments)

    Eleanor wrote with a question that could test even the mightiest personal finance expert. “What,” she asks, “can you do when you want to save money and your roommates don’t care?” I share a house with four roommates.  This saves me at least $200 a month from what I would be paying if I lived in an apartment.  But roommates raise expenses in other, unexpected ways.  I have been trying to cut down on monthly…

  • Why I Applied for a Credit Card (and Why It’s Not the End of the World) (38 comments)

    Credit cards ruined my life. Between 1989 and 1998, I accumulated nearly $25,000 in credit card debt. During that time, I added about $2,500 of new debt every year (over $200 each month). I was a compulsive spender. Eventually, the debt load became so great that I was forced to face the problem. I cancelled my credit cards, rolled the debt into a home equity loan, and haven’t carried a personal credit card for the…

  • 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…

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

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

  • 101 Things in 1001 Days (31 comments)

    After writing that the road to wealth is paved with goals, I realized that my own list of goals looks a little ragged. Some of the goals are outdated. Many have been met. And I’ve developed new priorities for which new goals should be set. I recently discovered an old internet meme that involves setting goals: the “101 things in 1001 days” list. Participants make a list of 101 things they’d like to accomplish over…

  • What’s It Like to BORROW Money with Prosper? (34 comments)

    I recently posted two entries (1, 2) with experiences from people who loaned money through Prosper, the person-to-person lending service. “But where are the reviews from borrowers?” some of you asked. Tricia at Blogging Away Debt has borrowed money from Prosper. Here’s her story. When I first heard about people-to-people lending through Prosper.com last year, a light bulb went off in my head. Would everyday people be willing to lend me money so I could…

  • I Do Not Use Credit Cards (73 comments)

    I don’t like credit cards. Many smart people — including my wife — use them wisely and never have problems. I’m not one of those people. Most of my money woes stem from credit card debt acquired when I was first out of college. Eventually I wised up — I have not carried a personal credit card in more than five years. NCN at No Credit Needed has posted a detailed list of the reasons…

  • How a Wellness Coach Whipped Me Into Shape (41 comments)

    Three months ago I wrote about the high cost of being fat. I had spent $4500 over four years because of my weight. The problem wasn’t just costing me money — it had caused sleep apnea, a torn ACL, and mild depression, three conditions which eroded my quality of life. Then a reader issued a challenge. Lauren Muney wrote to provide her services as a wellness coach free for one month: “I’m offering this to…

  • 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…

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

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

  • 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…

  • Basic tips on tipping: How much and to whom? (487 comments)
    This article is by staff writer J.D. Roth.

    [Editorial note: There is a lot of confusion over how much to tip and to whom. What should be a simple decision is often clouded by cultural mores and traditions. The desire to acknowledge the service you’ve been given is a personal choice, largely a measure of the value you attribute to the service — perhaps even a reflection of your own values. The concern around…

  • How Not to Be Frugal: Too Many Magazine Subscriptions (26 comments)

    Sometimes a great deal isn’t. Because I have a small computer consulting business, I’ve been placed on a mailing list for “corporate rate” magazine subscriptions. Corporate rate subscriptions are unbelievably cheap, on the order of $10 or $12 a year for many magazines. Being the frugal fellow that I am, when I received my first offer for a corporate-rate subscription, I signed up. Sure, it was a subscription for Business 2.0, a magazine I’d never…

  • Survey: What Does Money Mean to You? (44 comments)

    Get Rich Slowly is the final entrant in JLP’s Question-of-the-Day Marathon. There have been many thought-provoking questions over the past month; I hope you’ve had a chance to contribute at some of the participating sites. My question is: What does money mean to you? When I was a boy, my family was poor. Money then meant necessities to me. It was the key to obtaining essentials, especially food and clothing. Sometimes it opened other doors,…

  • Tricks for Tracking Your Money? (13 comments)

    We all know that we should track our spending, but not everyone actually does. How does one develop this discipline? One AskMetafilter user pleads: Do you have any tricks to ensure that you track your money? I would like to track what I spend and what I spend it on. I have software to do this, but I hardly ever use it. I’m looking for more of a software-independent way of thinking about my cash…

  • The True Cost of Car Ownership (43 comments)

    The American Automobile Association (AAA) says that, on average, it costs 52.2 cents to drive one mile. To drive a Ford Focus like mine 20,000 miles per year, the average cost is 37.6 cents per mile. How close are the AAA estimates? I ran some numbers. Based on the purchase price of my vehicle ($16,500), the interest paid ($1,300), and the number of miles on the odometer (81,762 in 66 months), I calculated that for…