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Over the last month, I’ve had the great opportunity to spend a lot of time with many relatives and friends older than myself. Some are retired already. Others are close to retirement. Still others are at all sorts of various points on their financial journey, from a person facing an unexpected unemployment and career change to another person trying to continue to do a physical job with a damaged body. Throughout all of these stories and throughout all of these …

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My family has had the wonderful opportunity to visit a lot of remote relatives and friends over the past month or so. We’ve visited their homes, stayed in guest bedrooms, camped in yards, taken meals in their kitchens, and had wonderful conversations that lasted well into the night. Whenever you visit the home of a friend or loved one, it’s hard not to compare that home to your own on some level. Perhaps the home you’re visiting is bigger, or …

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As an ’80s baby born to an insurance salesman father and a stay-at-home mother, I grew up watching my parents scrimp and save. My mother stayed home with the kids while my father worked, which meant we were constantly looking for ways to stretch a dollar. We always had life’s necessities (food, clothing, and a roof over our heads), but I rarely had the best toys or new clothes. Until I became a teenager, I hardly noticed the disparity between …

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Over the last few years, several people have asked me questions about the financial advice being given out by the well-known motivational speaker and entrepreneur Tony Robbins. In the past, Robbins was mostly known for his motivational books and seminars and infomercials; I myself have read his earlier books Awaken the Giant Within and Unlimited Power, with some mixed feelings (which I’ll touch on again in a bit). In the last few years, however, Tony has published two different books …

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Most people are familiar with the common staple foods of the frugal community. Rice, beans, pasta, corn, and lentils are rightfully touted for their versatility and affordability. Or maybe you’re in college, and your cupboard is stocked with Top Ramen. (Don’t worry, it gets better.) As great as those foods are, I like to mix things up by eating three other, lesser-known staple foods: plantains, cassava (yuca), and sorghum. These foods are widely eaten across the world, but relatively underappreciated in …

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve found myself in several different secondhand stores, wandering about and admiring the goods on display. I often go to secondhand stores to seek out specific things that I’m looking for, but it had really been a while since I simply walked the aisles and looked around at what was on sale there. Along the way, I found quite a few items that were incredibly worthwhile and surprisingly inexpensive. Many people, when they consider going …

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Do severe financial issues have you fantasizing about a silver bullet that can make all your debts vanish? While it’s not exactly that easy, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be able to offer you some relief, and may also potentially protect you from your creditors if you’re facing serious debt problems. There’s no question that bankruptcy can be a powerful tool to help you wipe out certain types of debt, but it’s important to understand that even bankruptcy has its …

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What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to summaries of five or fewer words. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. College loan fatigue 2. Passive income from cultural stories 3. Choosing different target retirement funds 4. Children’s savings account question 5. Starting over financially in America 6. Backpack for college in fall 7. Safe to buy secondhand electrics 8. Realities of trade school 9. Roth IRA for children? …

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I recently read a great book called “Algorithms to Live By” by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths. It’s a fascinating look into how computer scientists have been devising solutions for life’s thorniest conundrums. Some of the most interesting – and most difficult – problems ever solved dealt with what’s called “optimal stopping.” The answers help us figure out when to stop a search, be it for a romantic partner, an apartment, or even an investing strategy. How Optimal Stopping Problems Work …

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You’ve spent months planning the perfect vacation, and it’s finally here. Your bags are picked, the kids are bouncing off the walls, and you’ve finished up loose ends at work. Once you make a final trip through the house, you can pretty much lock up and go. Unfortunately, bad news is on the way in the form of inclement weather. Upon checking the forecast, you find out there’s a good chance of rain for much of your trip. I’ve been there – …

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