Preparing for College (and Life)

Photo illustration of a graduation

About one month after I graduated from high school, I moved out of my parents' home for the first time. Freedom! No curfew! No rules! I had been waiting for this day for years. "When I graduate from high school, I am so outta here!"

Shortly after moving out, though, I realized I wasn't quite as well-prepared as I thought I was. One of my similarly immature friends was telling me about a minor car mishap with another driver. She hadn't known how to handle it, like the exchange of car insurance information and whether or not the police should be called. Her boss gave her advice, but it made me realize that I didn't have a clue what to do either.

Continue reading...
More about...Education

How to Open a SEP-IRA

A graphic illustration about self-employed IRAs

Learning how to open a SEP-IRA, a self-employed individual retirement account, doesn't have to be complicated.

Here's the experience of Lisa Aberle, a Get Rich Slowly contributor who had been working as an independent contractor since 2010, along with working a full-time job, and in 2014 left that full-time job. That meant she no longer had access to a company-sponsored retirement plan and had to figure out the remaining path to retirement as a sole proprietor.

Continue reading...
More about...Investing, Retirement

How to save money each month

how to save money each month

Is this the year to focus on saving more? If you've been disappointed when you've checked out your savings account balance, let's change that this year by figuring out how to save money each month.

How Much Should I be Saving?

Actually, advice on the topic of how much you should be saving differs based on who's giving the advice. At a minimum, most people recommend saving 10 percent of your income. Dave Ramsey recommends saving 15 percent of your income as a good goal. Still others recommend 20 percent. However, no one will complain if you save as much as you possibly can.

Continue reading...
More about...Budgeting

How to handle financial disappointments

Are you glad to see the sun set on 2015?

In the final days of the year, my kids are home on break. It's fun to spend extra time with them, but many minutes of the day are filled with our older two children fighting with each other. And squished into the half-time show of their fighting games is some whining from a teething 17-month-old.

With the new year coming around again, I'm longing for our routine. And when 2016 actually begins, I'll be ready for that fresh start.

Continue reading...
More about...Psychology, Planning

How (and where) to donate unwanted Christmas presents

If you give (or receive) a gift that misses the mark, returning the item is the natural thing to do. After all, return policies are pretty awesome these days.

However, if you decide to make a bigger impact with your gift -- an item that you've probably survived without just fine for the last year anyway -- why not donate it?

Why You Should Think About Donating an Unwanted Christmas Gift

  • If you donate your unwanted gifts, you'll decrease clutter. Cutting clutter has emotional benefits that I don't understand, but I feel better when my life and environment are clear.
  • Your item might be useful to someone else. Many times, I have kept items I didn't really need because I might need them sometime. But I find it easier to donate or sell items if I imagine those items making someone else's life easier or better ... you know, instead of taking up space in my spare closet.
  • Improve your community. Along with being useful to someone else or an organization, your donation may improve your community. How? By giving your fellow community members something they really need or letting a community organization raise money with your gift that could help them operate other community-boosting programs.
  • You may be able to deduct donations on your taxes. According to the IRS, you may deduct certain donations if you've given to qualified organizations. You must maintain documentation of this donation, however.
  • You're giving something. If you weren't able to donate as much as you wanted to in 2015, this is an opportunity to give a little something without, shall I say, much of an investment from you. If the gift had been given to you, you didn't invest anything at all. But, I still think it counts as giving because you could have returned the item for cash or returned it for another item.

Woman gathering toys to donate after Christmas

Continue reading...
More about...Giving, Planning

Keeping the spirit of Christmas alive

Mother and child opening sparkly Christmas present

By the time you read this, most likely all that's left of your neatly wrapped presents are scraps of wrapping paper, crumpled bows, and empty boxes. Hopefully, the kids are playing with their new toys and you've been reading an ebook on your new Kindle Paperwhite.

I've described a warm and cheery scene, and I hope it feels that way to you -- but what if it doesn't?

Continue reading...
More about...Giving, Home & Garden

How to create a frugal holiday dinner for four or more

From late November until early January, we fill our stomachs and empty our wallets.

As I sat down to plan my own little family's Christmas dinner, I didn't mind the stomach-filling so much, but I would like to keep our wallets as full as possible too … without the necessity of tapping into our online savings account.

So, I decided to calculate some holiday feasts … on a budget - all kinds of budgets. You know, full of flavor and festivity, but light on cramping your budget style.

Continue reading...
More about...Food, Frugality

Talking turkey about Black Friday savings

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 all that frenzy and sit at home in peace and quiet while your fingers do some serious shopping on Cyber Monday.

Continue reading...
More about...Frugality

7 surprising results when you pay your kids for chores

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 to keep our system flexible as the kids mature and develop more skills. So we decided that our system will probably always be subject to change so we can accommodate their growth, but here's how our family's allowance system currently works:

Continue reading...
More about...Budgeting

Layoff to start-up: 8 tips from a successful entrepreneur

Ted Leonhardt's plunge into entrepreneurship was just that -- a plunge. After working for a small graphic design agency for eight years, he lost his job and was facing an uncertain future.

"I was in survival mode," he recalls. With a mortgage and a baby, he had to do something quickly.

Image of Ted Leonhardt

He caught a break when one of his former employer's clients encouraged one of their own clients to hire Ted -- if he started his own business.

Continue reading...
More about...Career, Side Hustles