Budgeting Dilemma: How Do You Decide What You Can Afford?

This is a guest post from No Debt MBA, who is trying to pay for an MBA from a top-five business school without student loans. This is a post that asks questions but offers no answers.

My significant other and I had an interesting discussion the other night. We were trying to make plans for a week of vacation this summer and were deciding between two different options:

    • A cross-country trip with plane tickets where we'd spend some nights staying with friends and spend days touristing and eating out.


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The psychology of consumerism

This is a guest post from David M. Carter, a graduate of the master of applied positive psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania, and the first graduate of the program to emphasize the inherent link between increased well-being and sustainable consumption.

A recent story in my local newspaper dealt with a sad-case family. The son was in jail for drugs, and his mother was trying desperately to find a way to give her son hope. The story described her stark home, which she shared with her son before he went to jail, containing four cats, a 50-inch plasma Panasonic and little else. The mom was particularly motivated to get back her son's 2000 BMW and 2001 Audi Quattro, both of which were recently stolen by his “friends”. She felt that by getting his cars back for him, it would give him some hope for the future.

The newspaper story addressed how this family is dealing with a lot of deep-seated issues. Yet, the plasma TV and European cars stand out as symbols of an illness that exists in our society that few want to think about, and many don't even know about.

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When does minimalism go too far?

This is a guest post from Katy Wolk-Stanley of The Non-Consumer Advocate, a blog about frugality, food waste, environmentalism, simple living and finding thrift-store bargains. She describes herself as a "mother, utility bill scholar, laundry hanger-upper, library patron, frequent napper, and Buffy enthusiast." When not blogging (or napping) Katy works as a high-risk labor and delivery nurse. Katy's blog has been featured in many major media outlets, including The National Enquirer, which featured Whitney Houston suffering from "Cocaine and Booze Binges" on the cover. She couldn't be happier.

The subject of minimalism (and blogging about minimalism) is currently hotter than Megan Fox before her last round of plastic surgery. And if the plethora of minimalism blogs is any indication, it's just a matter of weeks until we all live in spartan homes surrounded by our 100 lovingly-chosen personal items. And as much as I joke, there's nothing wrong with being deliberate and thoughtful about the things we surround ourselves with, but I have to wonder: When is too little, too much?

I mull over the "is less more?" quandary on a regular basis, but I began over-thinking the subject when Naomi Seldin of Simpler Living posted a piece about the wit and wisdom of Nate Berkus. (Berkus is Oprah's protégé and personal decorating guru.) It included this quote: Continue reading...

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Gaming without breaking the bank

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.

Nintendo WiiI've been an avid gamer ever since I bought my first Nintendo Entertainment System when I was ten. Today I have a Wii, an Xbox 360, and a PS3. My library of games includes major titles including the big Mario and Halo games, LittleBigPlanet, Batman: Arkham Asylum... you get the picture.

Even with a serious untreated gaming addiction, I manage to spend just a few hundred dollars a year on my gaming habit. (I'm not rich, after all.) I bought all three of the consoles mentioned above for a combined total of about $400 (today's retail price: $800), and I rarely spend more than $20 on a game, despite the fact that most titles retail for $50 to $60. Here are a few of the tricks I use to indulge in my gaming habit without laying waste to my carefully-constructed budget.

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How to cheat on your taxes legally

tax tips on how to cheat on your taxes legally

This is a Guest Post by Richard Close. As a former IRS Revenue Officer, Richard "stole" $10 Million for the IRS. Now he works to help American taxpayers and has had a partnership with Tax Defense Network and has offered advice on how to cheat on your taxes legally to GRS readers below.

Ah, tax season. That time of year where people grouse about the greedy government. Some folks are so in need that they start looking for ways to cheat on their taxes. Here's a hint: Never cheat on your taxes. The risks far outweigh the rewards. How do I know? Because I used to work for the IRS, and I saw first-hand what happened to tax cheats.

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Moving? Rent first, ask questions later

This is a guest-post from Tim Ellis, author of Seattle Bubble, a blog and forum dedicated to discussing real estate market conditions in the Seattle area. Tim is a long-time GRS reader. During my last trip to Europe, he shared a controversial article on renting vs. buying.

Given the fact that each year around sixteen million Americans move to a new county, it's likely that at some point in your life you'll find yourself moving to an unfamiliar area.

Starting a new chapter of your life in a fresh locale can be an exciting and memorable time, but it can also be rough on your personal finances. Many of the expenses associated with a major move are unavoidable, but there's one major mistake that is easy to avoid: buying a home immediately upon arriving.

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How to use a commitment contract to change your habits

This is a guest post from Pop at Pop Economics, a great new blog about investing, personal finance, economics, and more.

It's now 9pm on August 30th. I'll finish this guest post by 11:59pm on August 31. I know this, because if I don't, I'll lose $1,000.

Call it an incentive. I've written about behavioral economics over at Pop Economics for three-quarters of a year now. There are an infinite number of subjects to cover, but they all boil down to the same idea: People respond to carrots and sticks.

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Six Steps to Strengthen Your Family on the Journey to Financial Freedom

J.D. is on vacation in Alaska. This is a guest post from Dustin Riechmann. Dustin created Engaged Marriage to help others achieve the extraordinary in marriage and in life. Together, his family paid off $54,500 in debt to simplify their lives and achieve financial freedom in their household.

Financial freedom is clearly a desirable goal, and we read about the associated benefits every day here at Get Rich Slowly. It seems like everyone should be paying off their debts, growing their savings accounts and investing to build wealth. So, what's the problem?

Surely, there are many reasons why folks fail to create a plan and (especially) follow it: laziness, lack of knowledge, apathy and disorganization to name a few. However, there's one major reason that may not immediately come to mind.

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How much life insurance do you REALLY need?

On Friday, I shared a guest response to a reader question about life insurance. Many GRS readers rightly complained that it didn't do a good job of answering the question. One reader — Mike from Four Pillars and ABCs of Investing — took it upon himself to write this response.

One of the most common issues that people with any kind of dependents face is, "How much life insurance do I need?".

This is a tough question to answer in a simple equation; there are quite a few variables which affect the amount of insurance needed. First off, I'm only going to discuss term insurance. For most people, that's the only type of insurance to consider.

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What Marriage Has Taught Me About Money

This is a guest post from WC, a guy in Chicago that writes about money at The Writer's Coin.

In May, I will celebrate my two-year anniversary with M, my favorite person in the world. I thought I knew a lot about everything before we got married, but now I'm wiser. So for all the newlyweds out there, or the ones thinking of walking the plank getting married, here are some things you should know.

There is no I

Marriage is all about the "we". It's not "your" money or "my" money, it's "our" money. It isn't your retirement, it's our retirement. It's not an easy concept to grasp, but you'd better adjust because when you get married you really don't have a choice. The sooner you accept it, the easier it will be. Don't fight it...As you'll see, this will become a recurring theme throughout your married life.

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