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Shopping


  • Dear Diary: I live at home and I’m still broke — Part I (25 comments)

    Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Living at home post undergrad has many rewards. If you were fortunate to have parents like mine, where rent-free is the name of their game, you might agree that it’s like winning the lotto! After a contract I was working on changed due to mutual agreement, I ended a job with the hope of tackling personal and business ventures. Technically, I wasn’t broke because I had no job. I was broke…

  • Talking turkey about Black Friday savings (12 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Were you imagining a thermos of hot coffee, maybe even a sleeping bag or tent to protect you from the elements as you camp out for hot Black Friday deals? Maybe you enjoy the mad rush of adrenaline you get when you spot and lunge for the last remaining iPad that’s on sale at an improbable price. Or maybe, just maybe, you actually prefer to avoid…

  • Budget smart now – enjoy great holidays later (16 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Richard Barrington.

    Let me say for the record that I hate rushing the holiday season – the appearance of Santa Claus in the stores as soon as the Halloween decorations are cleared out, hearing Christmas carols before the first snow has fallen, that kind of thing. So why am I writing about holiday shopping when temperatures are still pushing 80 degrees at  the end of September? Well, I’m…

  • Meal plans and delivery programs — costly or cost-effective? (29 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    The three biggest items in most people’s budgets are usually housing, transportation, and food. That’s because they are needs; but like most needs, costs can range from the inexpensive, no-frills version to the outrageously expensively extravagances seen on some reality TV shows. For example, you could live in a studio apartment or a mansion, take shanks’ mare or drive a luxury car, slap a PB &…

  • Why you should avoid sales tax holidays (14 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    It sounds good, doesn’t it? For one day per year, skip paying sales tax on — depending on the state — school supplies, clothing, computers, hurricane supplies, and other essential items. After all, depending on your state’s tax rate, you could save up to 7 percent off your purchases. The brief history of sales tax holidays Although the first sales tax holidays — no sales tax…

  • How to use coupons effectively (29 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    I like saving money — but it has to be easy. And spending hours clipping and organizing coupons, or planning epic shopping trips based on my coupon stash is not easy. Most of the time — if I clip coupons at all — they end up floating around the bottom of my purse, expired. Instead, I usually choose to save in other ways. Yet, there are coupons….

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

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

  • Advantages of online grocery shopping (41 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    As someone who doesn’t like to shop for groceries (or lug them all from my car to the house), the thought of finding a service that helps me avoid the check-out line altogether is very appealing. A service that would put my groceries away would be even more amazing, but I won’t get carried away. Even without that added bonus, though, the advantages start to stack…

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

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

  • 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…

  • Questions to ask before paying more for quality (21 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong.

    There’s something to be said for spending more on a quality item. If frugality is about getting the most value out of something, spending more on quality can actually be thrifty. In a recent post, I admitted that I once splurged on a $200 coat. A couple of readers rightfully pointed out that an expensive purchase isn’t always a waste of money. If it is a high-quality…

  • 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…

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

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

  • Act surprised: Your wedding ring is a terrible investment (101 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Divorce. It’s an unattractive yet common end to a relatively high percentage of marriages in the U.S. In fact, as many as 50 percent of American marriages end this way, often leaving catastrophic personal and financial consequences that linger for years. The division of assets. Alimony. Child Custody Issues. Who gets the Stuff? These are all things that must be dealt with during and after a divorce, whether…

  • Eating healthy on a slim budget (72 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. I spend almost as much on groceries as I do on my mortgage. Now, before you spit your coffee all over your keyboard, you should know that my mortgage is pretty low, lower than what some of my friends pay in rent. And for me, “groceries” includes all of the extras one buys at grocery stores, like paper towels and soap and the latest issue of the…

  • Ask the Readers: What’s your embarrassing money moment? (49 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. A few weeks ago, I had an embarrassing money moment. I was in a checkout lane. The cashier had just scanned several heavy boxes that held my to-be-assembled bookshelf, and my debit card was declined. Being declined while in the checkout line is one of those little anxieties that I can’t seem to shake, even though it’s only happened to me twice and both times were issues…

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

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

  • Cutting grocery bills: Aldi and bulk-food stores (68 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. No matter what I do, we’re still spending more on food each month than I want to be spending. Two of my weapons in the battle to lower my food bill that I haven’t talked about yet are Aldi and bulk-food stores. One thing I don’t like to do is stop at several different stores, so I don’t shop at all stores every week, or even every two weeks….

  • Food spending: When bad habits attack (94 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. In 2010, my husband and I were pregnant with our second child. And although we were making plenty of money, we were burning through all we made at lightning speed. Yep, we were wasting it. In fact, we were spending money we didn’t even have by financing cars, miscellaneous purchases, and trips. And, even though we had a baby on the way and two rental properties, we didn’t have…

  • How to avoid binge-shopping (62 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. It seems contradictory, but I love being frugal and I also love spending money. Over the last few years, however, my love of frugality has outweighed my love of spending — and it’s been good for my savings. Yes, it’s OK to spend money sometimes. If you have it, and you’re comfortable with your present and future finances, by all means, spend away. But a lot of…

  • Buy Nothing Year: Changing how we spend (16 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Julie Phillips was planning to move into a new apartment when a massive flood in Alberta damaged her would-be building. Suddenly, she found herself displaced. “The reason I wanted to move is I wanted to save on rent,” Julie says. “I wanted to save more, I wanted to live with another person. I wanted that camaraderie.” After searching extensively, Julie grew discouraged. “I was eating a chocolate…

  • The day my dishwasher died (78 comments)

    This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. After a year off, J.D. is once again writing here at GRS. His non-financial writing can still be found at More Than Money. When I bought my condo in February, one of the things that impressed me about the place was the built-in shiny silver kitchen appliances. They were all so fancy and fun! My parents always had cheap appliances. When Kris…

  • 6 ways to lower your home insurance (31 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. As a new homeowner, I recently had to buy a homeowners insurance policy. And as a personal finance writer, I tried to take my own advice and “shop around.” To be honest, it was a pain, and the rates I was getting on my own were way too high. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if I wasn’t also trying to close on a house. In the end, I…

  • Why I plan on driving my car into the ground (159 comments)

    This post is from contributor Kristin Wong. Over the weekend, a friend and I were enjoying a couple of beers in my neighborhood. As we sat outside people watching, he drooled over every fancy car that drove by. “That’s a whatever-whatever,” he would tell me. “It costs $100,000.” I live in Los Angeles, where these symbols of affluence are common. “I can’t help it,” I told him. “All I can think of when I see…

  • Insurance: An easier way to comparison shop (34 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. I had procrastinated until I could procrastinate no longer. I was in the middle of buying a house, and one of the many, many things on my ever-growing to-do list was to find a home insurance policy. My auto insurance policy also was up for renewal, and so I hoped to get a decent discount by buying both policies from one company. But the idea of having…

  • Spending in depth: The hair care budget (196 comments)

    When I started this journey on GRS, I included hair care in my category of irregular expenses. At that time, I estimated that I spent about $600 per year on service and $300 per year on product. However, I thought that since the year is over it was time to visit that category in depth and see what I am really spending so I can assess these costs, much like I did with the bagel…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Ask the Readers: Should you comment on a friend’s overspending? (114 comments)

    This post is from Ollie Geiger, a personal finance writer who contributes to MoneyRates.com. My wife has a friend who likes to talk about how broke she is. This friend – let’s call her “Amber,” since that’s her real name – is fond of complaining about the dire state of her finances each month, even though her income is higher than many of our mutual friends. But here’s the rub in Amber’s complaints: She is…

  • 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…

  • Which is Cheaper: In the Kitchen (87 comments)

    Until the end of this week, we’re 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 long-time GRS reader Sarah Greesonbach. Her first audition piece was about surviving student loans. Here at GRS, we’ve…

  • Sheet Dreams: How to Shop for Bed Sheets (98 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 Lisa Aberle, who promises she could contribute stories on DIY projects and rural living. After finding holes…

  • How to Buy Quality Furniture (64 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 Karawynn Long, who writes about personal finance at Pocketmint. It’s an article she originally shared at GRS…

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

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

  • How I Stopped Excessive Gifting (117 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Tim Sullivan. Most of us struggle with some psychological aspect of money that can impede our savings. Whether it be the lure of clothing stores, nights out with friends, or stocking a top-shelf liquor cabinet, there tends to be one thing or another that creeps from our wants category into our needs. I’ve never been a compulsive shopper and always preferred voluntary simplicity, both in the kitchen and in…

  • How Retailers Manipulate Consumers (90 comments)

    In the past, I’ve written several times about the insidious power of marketing. In 2007, I shared a guest post from Malcolm Gladwell on the same subject. My thesis is this: A lot of people like to believe they’re immune to advertising and marketing; a lot of people are wrong. In fact, I suspect (although I have no hard evidence) that those who are most adamant that marketing doesn’t affect them are probably the most…

  • Cashing in on Craigslist: How I’ve Saved Thousands of Dollars Buying Used (77 comments)

    In August, I wrote about Ryan Finlay, who makes a living through Craigslist arbitrage. Many readers wanted to hear more about how Ryan uses Craigslist to make and save money. In this guest post, Ryan explains how to use Craigslist to save money on high-ticket items like appliances and furniture. If there’s enough interest, he may share more Craigslist tips in the future. Meanwhile, be sure to check out his new site: ReCraigslist.com. “A penny…

  • Ask the Readers: How Much Do You Spend on Clothes? (340 comments)

    The “Ask the Readers” feature is well-loved here at Get Rich Slowly, but by far the most popular question I’ve ever asked came at the end of July. “How much do you spend on food?” I wondered, and GRS readers posted 367 comments sharing their buying habits and the costs in their cities (and countries). Several readers sent me e-mail after this question asking for more. “You should do a whole series of questions like…

  • Drugstore Price Comparison: Online vs. In-store (46 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman, who recently wrote about her desperate attempt to find authentic tacos al pastor in Austin, Texas. I used to buy most of my drugstore items online. One reason was convenience — I typically have to go to two or three stores to find everything I use, especially since I favor earth- and people-friendly personal care items. But health food stores don’t always carry other basics we use,…

  • Dissatisfied Customer? Make an Effective Complaint (42 comments)

      I’ve often heard that there are two kinds of customers, those who will complain and those who won’t. The ones who complain are better for a company because they’re more likely to stick around if the company can successfully resolve their issue. The customer who doesn’t complain, on the other hand, is more likely to quietly go elsewhere. But sometimes it’s uncomfortable to be the squeaky wheel. Even though I write about money and…

  • Frugal Back-to-School Shopping (115 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money. She also writes about frugality, intentional living, and life in general at her own blog, Surviving And Thriving. According to the National Retail Federation, we’ll spend $68.8 billion outfitting our students for school this year. Yes, I said $68.8 billion. Sounds like a lot of money, right? But the NRF actually considers this “flat.” More than 80%…

  • Discounted Gift Cards: The New Coupon (49 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money. She also writes about frugality, intentional living, and life in general at her own blog, Surviving And Thriving. I’m currently house-sitting in Anchorage, where one of my duties will be kid-wrangling while my niece does the Alaska Run for Women. The first order of the day: Breakfast at IHOP, my treat — and at 8% less because…

  • Gaming Without Breaking the Bank (59 comments)

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

  • 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…

  • Fight Rising Prices by Building Your Own Food Bank (102 comments)

    This post is from new GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Living With Less personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food prices are expected to rise as much as 5.5% in 2011. Those prices aren’t likely to go back down. So why not invest in food futures, i.e., your own pantry? Put it this way:…

  • Women and Money: Slaying Stereotypes and Facing Reality (76 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Do women need specialized personal-finance resources specific to our gender? That’s what some financial advice books seem to imply. Slate writer Hannah Seligson points out that bookseller Amazon.com has a “money management for women” category, but no category specifically for men. Some of the cheekier titles in the category include: Shoo, Jimmy Choo!: The Modern Girl’s Guide to Spending Less and Saving More Does This Make My…

  • A Non-Consumer Christmas: Simple Gifts for Kids and Grown-Ups (48 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. Not sure what to buy for your loved ones this year? Still singing the recession blues? Consider buying nothing at all. I didn’t buy anything on Black Friday, I didn’t buy anything today, and I won’t tomorrow. This holiday season, I won’t be going near a mall. Under our tree, there will…

  • Reader Story: My Year Without Clothes Shopping (69 comments)

    This guest post from Jill Chivers 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. Hi. My name is Jill, and I’m a recovering shopaholic. On 15 December 2009, I started a challenge to spend a year without…

  • Ask the Readers: Is It Okay to Buy a Christmas Gift from a Thrift Store? (170 comments)

    The holiday season can test a frugal person’s patience: There are so many temptations to spend. Sure, we all want to enjoy the festive nature this time of year, but where do you draw the line? And how fugal is too frugal? Michelle wrote with a terrific question. She has the sort of dilemma I can picture myself facing. Here’s her story: Like you, I am a big proponent of thrift store shopping. It saves…

  • Wine on a budget: How to get good deals on wine (72 comments)

    The holiday season is upon us, the time of year for family, friends, food — and wine. Yes, it’s true, I associate the holidays with alcohol. It never used to be this way (probably because I didn’t drink), but for the past five years, I’ve spent late November stocking our wine rack. There are several reasons for this: From mid-November to mid-January, the local supermarkets have huge wine sales. Every winter, Consumer Reports lists holiday…

  • Are Discounts Coming for Paying in Cash? (64 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. A couple of weeks ago, J.D. highlighted research that showed that rewards cards cost the poor (in higher prices overall) and benefit the rich (who are more likely to use the cards). But what if retailers offered you a discount if you paid in cash? It might not be so far-fetched. In Will Financial Reform Kill the Rewards Card?, Brett Arends writes that a provision in…

  • Why I Buy Local (172 comments)

    Kris and I live in a small, quiet neighborhood south of Portland. When the trolley line ran through here — between 1893 and 1959 — Oak Grove was actually thriving community, with shops and stores and more. (It’s true! I’ve seen pictures!) Now, though, downtown Oak Grove, such as it is, consists of a convenience store, a hair salon, a joint once named “the best dive bar in Portland” — and the home office of…

  • Stopping Shopping Momentum (35 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. Shopping momentum is the bane of many budgets. You may have a good grip on your money most of the time, but once you’ve opened up your wallet to make one purchase, it’s easy to just keep spending. People sometimes experience shopping momentum during times of stress or transition: when they’re traveling,…

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

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

  • What Should You Buy Used? What Should You Buy New? (143 comments)

    Though the Get Rich Slowly community has expanded in the past couple of years, there are still a few folks who have been around since the beginning. It’s always a pleasure when one of them drops me a line. Last week, Vintek — who contributed this introduction to mutual funds nearly four years ago — sent me an e-mail to let me know how he’s doing, and to share a recent article he liked. My…

  • Extreme Personal Finance: Eating Well on One Dollar a Day (74 comments)

    Last Thursday, Ron Lieber (who writes the “Your Money” column for The New York Times) posted an innocuous little tweet: This person will have book deal & Today show slot in 5 minutes. RT @marypilon Personal finance blogger eats on $1/day. http://www.grocerycouponguide.com/articles/eating-well-on-1-a-day/ To translate into plain English, Jeffrey from the Grocery Coupon Guide blog undertook a little experiment last month. In response to a challenge from his sister he “ate well” on just a buck…

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

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

  • Searching for the Cheapest Airfare: Is There a Silver Bullet? (56 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation in Alaska. This guest post by G.E. Miller gives a real-life example of trying to find the cheapest airfare online. For more from G.E., check out 20somethingfinance.com, where he covers personal-finance matters for young professionals. At one time or another, we’ve all been a day late and a few air miles short when purchasing a plane ticket. So we turn to the internet. But with all the bargain travel sites out…

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

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

  • The Savvy Shopper’s Guide to the Farmers’ Market (48 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. Shopping at a farmers’ market is a great way to eat healthier and support local agriculture, but if you’ve ever been to one, you know that the food isn’t cheap. When you’re used to fairly inexpensive tomatoes from the supermarket, the price of locally-grown, heirloom tomatoes can be a bit of a shock, leading some consumers to wonder what makes the market tomatoes so much pricier….

  • If You’re Going to Buy a Warranty, Shop Around (70 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. I’m writing this post on my brand new MacBook, which I just purchased yesterday. I can honestly say I’ve never been less excited to buy a computer. The reason for my ambivalence is that I already bought this laptop four months ago, replacing a seven-year-old “little iBook that could.” But two weeks ago a water bottle (that I thought was closed) toppled over, splashing water on…

  • The Best Time to Buy Almost Everything (76 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. My mom has a sixth sense when it comes to bargain hunting. Where I’m thrilled to get 25 percent off and free shipping, she’s finding deals of 70 percent off and getting inside scoop from the salespeople, who probably have her on speed dial should a ginormous everything-must-go-or-we-torch-it clearance sale come along. Okay, so I’m exaggerating, but not by much. The point, however, is that the…

  • 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…

  • Large Amounts Matter Too (46 comments)

    This article is the sixth of a fourteen-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly. Last winter, Kris and I re-financed our mortgage. In one fell swoop, we trimmed our monthly payments for principal and interest from $1386.60 to $1137.69, boosting our cash flow by $248.91 per month. If we had consumer debt, that’s $248.91 per month we have could used for our

  • The Pitfalls of Buying in Bulk (75 comments)

    This is a guest post from Sierra Black, a long-time GRS reader and the author of ChildWild, a blog where she writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale. Previously at Get Rich Slowly, Black told us about sweating the big stuff. Buying in bulk is great, right? You get the things you want and need, and pay less for them. As an added bonus, you don’t have to shop as…

  • 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…

  • How to Stop Buying Clothes You Never Wear (111 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. A couple of years ago, I had a Great Closet Clean-Out. My clothing racks and drawers were overflowing at the time, and some of it still had price tags. Hoping to accomplish that European knack for owning less and looking better, I donated, consigned, and gave away about 75 percent of my wardrobe. Today it’s 100 times more functional. These are the best tips I picked…

  • Furniture Shopping Secrets: How to Tell Superior from Shoddy (56 comments)

    This is a guest post from Karawynn Long, who writes about personal finance at Pocketmint. Karawynn is a semi-regular contributor for Get Rich Slowly. She has been blogging since before “blogging” was a word. Here at the Koke-Long house we’re in the market for some furniture. Our living room is currently semi-furnished with a comfortable but deteriorating Ikea couch and some leftover dining chairs; we’d like a nice armchair or two and some tables. I’ve…

  • Slash Your Grocery Bill With Store-Brand Products (136 comments)

    The October 2009 issue of Consumer Reports contains an article extolling the virtues of generic store-brand products. While shoppers used to sacrifice quality when choosing generic, that’s no longer the case. From the article: If concern about taste has kept you from trying store-brand foods, hesitate no more. In blind tests, our trained tasters compared a big national brand with a store brand in 29 food categories. Store and national brands tasted about equally good…

  • Should You Buy It? A Flowchart for Evaluating Potential Purchases (69 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. My husband and I are in the process of building a home on 4.5 acres in the Texas hill country. At the moment, we’re still in the planning phase — not quite ready for blueprints. Last month, our architect asked us to start thinking about the make and model of the kitchen appliances we want for our home. Visions of sleek, Thermador cooktops and double ovens danced…

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

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

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

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

  • 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…

  • A Visit to the Island of Misfit Foods (84 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. Karawynn has been blogging since before “blogging” was a word. About a mile from my house there’s a slightly shabby strip mall housing a Dollar Store, a Ross Dress for Less, and something called a ‘Grocery Outlet’. For two years I’ve driven past that sign — on my way to Costco,…

  • Buying Food: Grocery Shopping Tips from 1950 (51 comments)

    The American housewife! Who has a more important or more responsible occupation? Wife, mother, laundress, counselor, maid, chef, purchasing agent. All of these are her duties at one time or another. So begins Buying Food, a home economics film from 1950. Buying Food is fascinating not just for its shopping tips, but also for the inside look at a grocery store from 60 years ago. (Self-service grocery stores were introduced in 1916 and grew in…

  • How to Buy a Mattress (145 comments)

    After my post about mattress shopping the other day, Garrison contacted me. “My home just flooded and due to renters insurance I was thrown into the market for a new mattress,” he said. “I called up my long-time best friend whose entire family is in the mattress business. I used his advice in my purchase and I’ve been completely satisfied.” Here’s what Garrison’s friend, Justin, had to say. I’ve written a lot here to help…

  • Preparing to Shop for a New Mattress (113 comments)

    On Monday, I mentioned that Kris and I are ready to replace our 15-year-old mattress. I don’t sleep well on it, though I sleep fine on other mattresses. I only mentioned this to illustrate a point, but I was surprised at how many readers commented on my situation. Jason’s comment was typical: I’ve found that sleep is the absolute root of everything. With decent sleep, I’m a better man, father, athlete, spouse, employee and all…

  • How to save money on food: Great tips from three years of Get Rich Slowly (36 comments)

    While driving to our monthly book group discussion on Saturday, Kris and I had a conversation with our friend Courtney. Courtney’s family is beginning to feel a financial squeeze. Her husband’s employer is cutting jobs. To keep working, he’ll have to take a pay cut and move back to the position he left a couple of years ago. “I’ve started to read personal finance books,” Courtney told us. “We know we’re going to have to…

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

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

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

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

  • 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…

  • Confessions of a Butcher: Eating Steak on a Hamburger Budget (39 comments)

    Every week, I receive a couple of books in the mail from authors and publishers. (This week there were six!) They’re hoping that I’ll find time to review their work at Get Rich Slowly. I do my best, but it’s impossible to read everything. When John Smith offered to send me his book, Confessions of a Butcher, I wasn’t expecting much. I’ve read a few niche books like this, and they’re usually uninspiring. As a…

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

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

  • In Defense of Buying Books (108 comments)

    J.D. is on vacation. This is a guest post from Ann Zerkle, a Get Rich Slowly lurker, and the founder of Heroes of Capitalism. I know J.D. has posted many times about how going to the library saves money, but I personally love to buy books. Even after reading the arguments about saving money over the year, going to the library and everything else, I still think buying some books is good for me. This…

  • Finding Good Wines at Great Prices: Expert Advice for Frugal Wine Lovers (70 comments)

    I love wine but I’m not a wine snob. I don’t speak the lingo, and I don’t want to. All I know is that some wines taste better than others, and that some wines cost more than others. For me, the best bottle of wine is one that tastes great but doesn’t break the bank. With the dinner party season coming up, how can I find good wines at great prices? I turned to Gary…

  • The 3-Day Cooling-Off Period: Myth and Reality (48 comments)

    In 2001, I bought some magazine subscriptions from a couple of college students who were selling them door-to-door. I’d had my own miserable experiences trying to sell things to strangers, so I had a policy of buying from any kid who wanted to sell me something. I let the young man and young woman come into the house, and I listened to their pitch. I browsed through a glossy brochure that listed a bunch of…

  • A DIY budget Christmas: 99 great gifts to start right now (211 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Yes, it’s July. You’re probably enjoying backyard cookouts, vacations, and long, warm bike rides. An article on Christmas? Not yet, right? Unless you, like me, want to avoid my unimaginative gift-giving default — the ubiquitous gift card. Thoughtful gift-giving takes time, especially if you are going to make the gift yourself. So here is a list for you, in plenty of time, so you can get…

  • Gift Cards and Bankruptcy: What To Do When Stores Go Broke (16 comments)

    This is a guest post from Kwame Kuadey, CEO & Founder of GiftCardRescue.com, a site for selling and swapping gift cards. Kwame is also author of GiftCardBlogger.com, a blog about gift cards. What would you do if you purchased a gift card today and found out next week that the gift card issuer had gone bankrupt? The current economic meltdown has driven some well-known companies to file for bankruptcy: The Sharper Image Linens ‘n Things…

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

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

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

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

  • 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…

  • Hidden Price Increases at the Grocery Store (145 comments)

    “Look at this,” Kris said yesterday when she returned from grocery shopping. She held up two yogurt containers for me to see. “So what?” I said. “Black cherry yogurt.” “Look closer,” she said.   “That one’s smaller,” I said. “Did they change the container size?” “Yes,” she said. “But they didn’t change the price.” The incredible shrinking yogurt I’ve received several e-mails lately from readers noting the same thing. They go to buy a product…

  • Saving at the Supermarket: 15 Great Grocery Shopping Tips (73 comments)

    Kris and I went grocery shopping this weekend. We stopped at Bob’s Red Mill — a local health-food store — to use some “buy one, get one free” coupons. “You can get anything you want,” Kris told me, “except hot cereal.” “Why can’t I get hot cereal?” I asked. “I love hot cereal.” “I know,” Kris said. “But you buy it all the time. You buy it faster than you eat it. Just last week,…

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

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

  • The Story of Stuff (131 comments)

    Every time I write about Stuff, readers point me to The Story of Stuff, a 20-minute video about where Stuff comes from and where it goes. Until today, however, I’d never taken time to watch it. According to the web site: From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a…

  • Buying Cheap Spices: Unit Pricing in Action (67 comments)

    In yesterday’s discussion of how unit pricing can save you money, John made a passing comment that merits closer attention. He wrote: I use unit price all the time when shopping and it’s super convenient that the stores do it for you. I did an analysis of spices that come prepackaged versus a bulk food store here and the difference is ridiculous! John wanted to stock up on basic spices, but didn’t want to spend…

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

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

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

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

  • Five Tips for Effective Consumer Complaints (26 comments)

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

  • A Glimpse at the Spending of the Average American (41 comments)

    On Saturday, The New York Times published a brilliant chart illustrating the spending of the average American: “Each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics gathers 84,000 prices in about 200 categories,” the paper writes, “like gasoline, bananas, dresses and garbage collection.” These numbers form the Consumer Price Index, one common measure of inflation. And this graphic makes that information accessible. This chart is neat for several reasons: The circle itself represents 100% of the average…

  • Wedding Registries: A Love-Hate Relationship (150 comments)

    This is a guest post from Betsy Teutsch, who writes about socially responsible investing, savvy consuming, and sustainable living at Money Changes Things. The practical side of me loves wedding registries, and the values-driven side of me has grown to loathe them as brides and grooms seem ever bossier. Registries are nothing new, of course. We registered for gifts in 1973, and as a result received two lovely sets of china and ten place-settings of…

  • The Outrageous Cost of Storing Stuff (110 comments)

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

  • 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…

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

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

  • How to Inoculate Your Children Against Advertising (91 comments)

    This is a guest post from Lisa Tiffin, a freelance writer who covers food, lifestyle, business, and green living. I have a confession to make: I like commercials. Even though they can be boring, insulting, and just plain bothersome, on some level they intrigue me. I often wonder why certain ads fail miserably while others succeed in catapulting a brand to the forefront of store shelves. I like commercials because I enjoy guessing which will…

  • 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…

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

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

  • Gift Card Tips and Tricks (33 comments)

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

  • The Pros and Cons of Gift Cards (77 comments)

    There’s always a lot of fuss this time a year about gift cards. Some people love them, and some people hate them. I’m sort of in the middle. On the one hand, I continue to believe that anything a big company wants you to purchase is probably not in your best interest. That is, if a mega-corporation is all fired up to sell gift cards, you can bet they’re a profit center, which probably means…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Ask the Readers: Tips and Tricks to Save on Food? (119 comments)

    Food budgets vary widely, even for similar families living in the same city. As we’ve discussed in the past, one family of four might budget $800/month for food, while another budgets $300, and a third spends $520. Many people wonder how it’s possible to eat so inexpensively. Mallow’s recent post in the forums is typical: I have no idea how you guys are living off of $120-$150 a month for food. Either the groceries around…

  • The Grocery Game (70 comments)

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

  • 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…

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

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

  • Thrifty Tips from the Yardsale Queen (20 comments)

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

  • How to Eat Vegetarian on the Cheap (41 comments)

    I recently posted two articles for frugal carnivores: a guide to cheap cuts of beef and another on on how to buy a side of beef. GRS-reader Sally has produced an introduction to eating vegetarian for cheap. Though her tips are for herbivores, many are useful to omnivores, as well. About a year-and-a-half ago, for health reasons, my husband and I committed ourselves to a mostly vegetarian lifestyle. At home we eat entirely vegetarian; when…

  • 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….