Recession-Proofing Your Life Insurance

This article was written by Joe Taylor Jr. Taylor is an internal business consultant for a Fortune 500 company, who also writes about finance, culture, and design. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Ithaca College.

I remember an evening a few years ago, when the company I helped start had to close its doors. I'd sunk my entire savings into building a business that had thrived. As soon as bombs started falling on Baghdad in 2003, however, my largest client cancelled its contract and two other big customers totally shut down. Of course, my creditors didn't care about the reasons I hadn't been receiving payments on invoices we'd sent. They just wanted to get paid themselves.

My wife and I ran down the list of changes we'd have to make: downsize to a smaller home, cut the cord on cable television, maybe even cancel my life insurance policy. While we had to cut plenty of budget items to the bone, I kept scraping together a few bucks every week to keep paying that term life policy. After all, I joked at the time, it meant that I was at least worth more dead than alive.

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More about...Insurance

Learning to budget with a money jar system

money jar system

This article was written by Steve Martile, a life coach and the author of the personal-growth blog Freedom Education. Here he describes a money jar system for budgeting that actually reminds me of Elizabeth Warren's balanced money formula, but with a little more detail.

Managing money doesn't restrict freedom — it creates freedom. Continue reading...

More about...Budgeting

Why do you want to be rich?

I'm not the only one who has been thinking about the relationship between money and meaning lately. This article was written by CJ at, who is trying to live a rich life even as he works to pay down debt.

“Wealth and riches are not synonymous. Wealth will get you riches, but riches will never make you wealthy.” — Dr. Edwin Louis Cole

I love this quote from Dr. Edwin Louis Cole because it gives me a heart check. It helps me understand my motives for doing what I'm doing.

You see, my goals are to become completely debt-free. I'm getting closer and closer to that goal. Within the last few months, I downsized my house, doubled my income, and was able to pay off all of my debts except for the mortgage. So now all I have left is about $100,000 to pay off before I am completely debt-free.

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More about...Giving

An introduction to life insurance

Many of you have asked for life insurance information, so Ray from Financial Highway offered to provide this article on the subject. This is new info for me, too.

Protecting your family from financial disasters is one of the fundamental components of financial planning. Life insurance should be a core part of that planning process. This article is a basic primer on life insurance, which should introduce you to the concept and give you an idea of how life insurance works.

What is Life Insurance?

Most people have a basic understanding of insurance. You receive financial compensation when an insured event occurs. Consider auto insurance, for example. If your car is in an accident or stolen, your insurance company provides compensation according to the terms outlined in your insurance policy.

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Saving money and the environment: Where green and frugal meet

This is an article for Earth Day from Beth H., who writes about saving time, money, and the environment at Smart Family Tips.

Going "green" has a bit of a bad rap. As soon as marketers realized it was profitable to be green, suddenly all sorts of products flooded the marketplace with eco-friendly claims. It can be overwhelming. Is it really necessary to buy all this "stuff" to be green? Are these products really as green as they say they are? We're in a recession — I can't go into debt to save the planet!

The good news: At its most fundamental, being "green" is nothing new. It's actually built around a very old philosophy of consuming less, buying only what you need, using things until they're worn out, and wasting not. Unsurprisingly, frugality and green-living are closely tied. You don't have to buy expensive "green" products in order to be environmentally friendly. The real goal is to mind your consumption, and that's good for your wallet and the planet. Continue reading...

More about...Frugality

The per-diem system: An easy way to budget your spending money

This article was written by Spencer, a GRS reader in New York.

As a guy who just finished paying off $14,000 in credit card debt, I wanted to share one tip that helped me get over the bad debt hump. I allocate my spending money on a per diem system. At the beginning of each cycle of my monthly budget, I set aside funds for:

  • Every fixed expense that I have (rent, cable/internet, groceries, power)
  • Any unique expenses (a plane ticket, for example)
  • And, of course, my savings (about 8 percent of my after-tax, after-401k income)

After allocating this money, I go to the bank, withdraw the remaining funds in cash, and divide it among envelopes for each day of the month. Each day, I open an envelope and add the day's cash to my wallet. For me, the physical parceling of the cash is an important psychological step.

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Investing 101: An introduction to asset allocation

This article was written by ABCs of Investing, a new site for novice investors. ABCs of Investing offers one short and simple investing post each week. Understanding asset allocation is a key piece of financial literacy.

In my last post at Get Rich Slowly, I explained the basics of passive investing and why it's a good strategy. I explored the differences between index funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and showed how they're great tools for passive investors. My article ended with a breezy "just pick some basic index funds and away you go". But in reality there are a few more steps before you actually make any investments.

One of the keys to investing is deciding your asset allocation. "But what is asset allocation?" you ask. Asset allocation is the relative amount of each asset class in your portfolio, and it determines how much risk your portfolio has. Still confused? Let's take a closer look.

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Why you shouldn’t keep a mortgage just for the tax deduction

This article was written by CJ at This post represents CJ's viewpoints, which are not necessarily my viewpoints. (Although I, too, hope to pay off my mortgage early.)

Note: This is embarrassing. I don't think I've ever had a post with an error like this slip by me before. I apologize. I've removed the offending section, not out of any attempt at revisionism, but out of interest in accuracy. Please let me know if the piece is still mathematically unsound. (And a sincere "thank you" to those who caught the error!)

The other day, I was telling my wife's grandmother that we had sold our house. We are downsizing in order to eliminate our mortgage more quickly. It looks like we will have our mortgage completely paid off in three to five years, depending on when kids enter the scene. She gave me a speech about how our house is one of the only tax deductions we have, and how most accountants recommend you keep a mortgage payment for that reason.

I think this logic is misguided. Let me show you why.

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More about...Taxes, Home & Garden

Why I drive a 13-year-old car

This article was written by Joel Berry.

I recently had a talk with a friend about why I haven't purchased a new car. He can't understand why I still drive a 1995 Geo Prizm. I can afford to buy a new car, but I choose not to. The fact is, driving an older car saves me money!

To prove my point, I ran some numbers. I was surprised by how much money I've saved by driving this car for so long.

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More about...Frugality, Transportation

What’s your why? The importance of finding meaning in your life

J.D. is on vacation. This article was written by Jeremy Martin.

You've heard the phrase, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” I've often wondered about that — should we really settle for half the return just to have a sure thing right now? It could be argued, and convincingly, that our love of immediate gratification is why so many people have so much debt now.

Of course, what are those “two birds”, so elusive off in the bush compared to something concrete in your hand now? How do you know you'll get them? In other words, as you're looking at that new LCD HDTV, what is competing for your money in your head? Without a solid goal, a vision of the future, there is no reason not to buy that latest toy with your credit card. What else are you going to use the money for?

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More about...Planning, Psychology