spending money before you have it

While the U.S. economy has been adding jobs every month since late 2010 and several key indicators  point to strong economic growth, plenty of Americans still struggle. A Federal Reserve study from last year showed that nearly half of Americans couldn’t come up with $400 to cover an emergency expense. And even though wages in some professions are growing, the rising cost of everything from healthcare to food to childcare makes it harder for the average family to get ahead. Of course, not …

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A little under a year ago, I wrote an article entitled Using the ‘$1 Per Meal’ Strategy to Save Big Time on Food Costs. In it, I discussed an eight-prong strategy for keeping a family’s meal costs under $1 per meal: Strategy #1 – Plan Ahead Strategy #2 – Base More Meals Around Sale-Priced Produce (and Meats) Strategy #3 – Base Meals Around Low-Cost Staples and Store Brands Strategy #4 – Take Advantage of Less Busy Times Strategy #5 – …

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One big criticism that people have made about personal finance writers is that somehow their comments are invalid because they made much of their income writing about personal finance instead of “doing something.” I thought I’d address that today, starting with my own background on the topic. First of all, I spent many years of my life working at a “typical job” that I would assume would qualify as “doing something.” I worked in a research environment for about a …

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Boredom. Sadness. Jealousy. Frustration. Anger. Loneliness. Hopelessness. Those are emotional responses that I hear about all the time from readers who are struggling with adapting to spending less money. At first, they find it to be a fun adventure, but over time, that “honeymoon” wears off and negative feelings begin to set in. I’ll be the first to say that those negative feelings can be hard to deal with. I’ve dealt with them myself many times. It’s easy to get …

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Let’s start this off with a disclaimer: I’m not the world’s most religious woman. I believe in God – the idea that we have a divine creator. I believe in destiny. I believe there’s a plan for every single one of us, even if we can’t see it yet. I believe in the goodness of people; I believe in hope. I believe that when you treat others well, those good deeds come back tenfold. But that’s where the order of the …

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Jason writes in: “I have been working at the same job for the past seven years. It pays well and I am able to save about a third of my income between 401(k) and Roth and house down payment savings. The problem is that my salary is barely moving. I get great reviews but then I get only a “cost of living” raise that’s actually less than the increase in cost of living. I’m basically getting paid less in real …

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A couple of years ago, I wrote an article about nine techniques I was using to teach myself patience, because patience was (and still is) one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced on the road to financial independence. The techniques that worked for me boiled down to three things. First, try to see situations in your life from different perspectives. Step back and evaluate things from the perspective of your future self a year from now or five years from …

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No one enjoys being judged, especially by credit reports. Of course, that’s exactly why your credit reports and credit scores exist — to give others information that may ultimately be used to judge you and your credit worthiness. Your credit reports are full of information about your past and present credit management habits. That credit information is then used by many companies to judge whether or not they wish to do business with you, and under what terms. You may not …

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Extreme couponing may work for some people, but for most, it’s just not worth the time and energy. Fortunately, there are many easy ways to use coupons that don’t require a lot of work. From mobile coupon apps to online coupon clipping, technology is changing how we use coupons — making it easier to save (no coupon binders required). In this guide, we’ve highlighted ten of the best, easy-to-use coupon apps for everyday purchases. Plus, you’ll get a clear and simple …

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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. Need a wake up call 2. Cheap cross country move 3. Starter homes for children 4. Online shopping is shopping us? 5. Work to live! 6. Inexpensive footwear for summer hiking 7. Government retroactively attack 401(k)s? 8. Thoughts on “bug out bag”? 9. Tax return question 10. Is …

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