Author: Trent Hamm

How to Find the Best Thrift Stores in Your Area

I have had a lot of success buying things at thrift stores, secondhand stores, and consignment shops. Here are just a few examples of things I’ve found. Several years ago at a secondhand clothes store in the Ames, Iowa area, I found a new – meaning it still had the tags on it – replica …

Categories: Frugality

Frugality Without Sacrifice

Not too long ago, I received a really good email from a reader, “Jan,” who asked some pointed questions about frugality. Here’s that email, in part: Your story of how you and your wife dug out of debt and started building toward a financially independent lifestyle is a great one. You guys deserve applause for …

Categories: Frugality

Questions About Amazon, Christmas Lights, Thermoses, Aldi and More!

What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. Student loan repayment strategy 2. Unemployment question 3. Home as investment 4. Buying long-term Christmas lights 5. Great goal advice 6. Amazon Rewards card tip 7. …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Making a “Daily Practice” Work for You

The single best idea I’ve learned this year came to me courtesy of James Altucher, who I heard as a guest on Episode 139 of the podcast Gweek. On that episode, Altucher talked about his book Choose Yourself, but also elaborated a bit on an idea he called the “daily practice.” Simply put, a daily …

Categories: Getting Started

The Single Biggest Money Mistake People Make

Let’s just cut right to the chase. The single biggest money mistake that people make is that they put too much emphasis on the short term and not enough on the long term. Whenever you splurge, you’re choosing the short term over the long term. Whenever you buy something you don’t really need, you’re choosing …

Categories: Getting Started

Ending the Cycle of Excuses

During my second and third years in college, I made some poor decisions regarding which classes to take. Those poor choices, during a period when I was no longer sure about my major, ended up tacking an extra year onto my college experience. My response should have been to talk to advisors and figure out …

Categories: Getting Started

When Cheapness Goes Too Far in a Marriage

Sarah and I are frugal people. We like to cook at home. We fill our free time with lots of low-cost activities. Our social calendar involves a lot of potluck-style dinner parties. We often do things like make our own laundry detergent. We like to calculate the cost of everything. Still, there are lines we …

Categories: Family

25 Gift Ideas Under $10 I’d Be Happy to Receive

Whenever I see a typical gift idea list, I have two immediate frustrations. One, the gifts on it are often expensive. If there’s someone out there I’m going to be spending $100 or more on for a gift, it’s very likely that I know that person well enough that I don’t have to be looking …

Categories: Frugality, Shopping

Questions About Japan, Notebooks, Credit Counseling, Roth IRAs, and More!

What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. Short term pay boost 2. Taking advantage of the dollar 3. The value of credit counseling 4. Thoughts on Todoist 5. When NOT to use Roth? …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Inspiration from Van Gogh, Future Jobs, Teddy Roosevelt, and More

Once a month (or so), I share a dozen things that have inspired me to greater personal, professional, and financial success in my life. I hope they bring similar success to your life. 1. Starry Night – Vincent van Gogh This has always been one of my favorite paintings. For years, I kept a poster …

Categories: Inspiration

The Gradual Savings Strategy

When the time arrives to sign up for a retirement plan at work or open a Roth IRA, people are pulled in two different directions. On the one hand, it’s very obvious that in the long term, saving for retirement is far superior to not saving for retirement. Retirement planning offers the ability to retire …

How to Maximize Your Meal Planning Dollars with Bulk Buying

Sammi writes in: I really loved your article about meal planning for busy families. My husband and I have adopted this strategy and have been using it for about two months and our food costs have gone down a lot! The only challenge we have is how to incorporate bulk buying into it. The closest …

Categories: Frugality, Meals, Shopping

An Introduction to Geocaching, My Family’s Favorite Frugal Activity

On a hot August afternoon, the five of us found ourselves in the shade of an old wooden bridge. There was a wonderful cool breeze blowing through the bridge’s underpinnings, so we sat down for a bit and took a few gulps out of our respective water bottles. When we checked our GPS, we found …

Categories: Family, Frugality

Does It Make Sense to Never Own a Home?

Recently, I had a long email discussion with an old friend of mine who writes a popular gaming blog (I’m not going to name him because his opinions expressed here may be a bit controversial and it has no reason to spill over into his other work). Basically, his core idea is this: you should …

Categories: Housing

Questions About Hair, Experiences, Wood Fireplaces, Knives, and More!

What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. Contact from the IRS 2. Buy it for life: pocketknife 3. Merging accounts long after marriage 4. Amazon gift cards 5. Splitting up land 6. “Experience” …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

How to Prevent Financial Relapse

It’s a pretty common story. You have some debt. Maybe some student loans or a big home mortgage. You have a good job, but you want more. So you put some stuff on a credit card. Then some more stuff. Then you get another credit card. You sign up for a fat data plan for …

Categories: Getting Started

Wants Don’t Last

In 2011, I sat down with my two oldest children and the three of us each made a list of things that we wanted for Christmas. I used it as a way to get some ideas to share with grandparents and aunts and uncles, but more than that, it was a way to get them …

Categories: Getting Started

12 Strategies for Holiday Leftovers

Thanksgiving (and Christmas, for that matter) are holidays where my family tends to gather with grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, and nephews and share food, drink, and good cheer. These gatherings often tend to be large ones and thus large meals are often prepared with lots of different side dishes. The end result? There are …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

Seven Strategies I Use on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

I’ll be honest: since about 2009, I haven’t left the house on Black Friday. Instead, I usually sleep in after a long evening spent eating a big meal and having a few glasses of wine with family members. I do get up and check a few online sales, but I haven’t found anything in a …

Categories: Shopping