Author: Trent Hamm

Sometimes

Most of the time, I have my financial house in pretty good shape. I follow my well-planned grocery list at the grocery store. I don’t spend much money on stuff I don’t need. I keep us on track with our family’s budget. I don’t spoil my children with expensive stuff or experiences. I save plenty …

Categories: Getting Started

Three Questions

Ask yourself these three questions, right now. If you died right now, in your final moments, what would upset you that you hadn’t taken care of? If you knew you had only one more day to live, what would you do with that day? Why aren’t you taking care of those things right now? I …

How to Save Money: 100 Great Tips to Get You Started

No matter where you are on your financial journey, you need to know that it’s possible for anyone to turn their financial life around. Sometimes all it takes is that first step in the right direction to get things moving in your favor. But, as with most things, sometimes that very first step is the …

Is Time Economy a Good Justification for Wasting Money?

The other day, I had a great conversation with a reader who wrote in to discuss why I advocate the value of maintaining your stuff, cooking at home, and other such things that require some effort but save significant money in the long run. His argument primarily revolved around the idea of time economy or …

The Value Line: Building More Skills for a Better Life

My father was always a “jack of all trades” kind of guy. He was an absolute stellar gardener. He was a very good small-scale commercial fisherman, able to catch hundreds of pounds of fish in a single day. He held down a fairly technical job at a factory that involved computer operation and diagnosing problems …

Questions About YouTube, Negative Families, Moving Out, 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. Family negative about financial goals 2. Free MBA 3. Feeling pressure regarding inheritance 4. Old financial magazines 5. Box wine tip 6. Buy it for life: …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

40 Ways to Save Money on Monthly Expenses

One of the biggest challenges in personal finance is figuring out ways to spend less money — and one of the best ways to accomplish that is to cut down on your monthly expenses. Even though some of our regular bills might seem small and insignificant on their own, their cumulative effect can be enormous …

The ‘Buy It for Life’ Compendium

Over the last several months, I’ve answered a big handful of “buy it for life” questions in the reader mailbag. Because the answers to those questions have been so spread out, a few people recently have asked me if there is a single place where they can go to find all of the “buy it …

Categories: Shopping

Finding Your Financial Blind Spots – and Eliminating Them

About a year ago, I spent a rainy afternoon going through my credit card and bank statements and categorizing the expenses. Most of the time, I have a pretty good mental picture of what I’ll discover when I do this – it’s when my mental picture doesn’t match the expenses that I start to worry. …

Categories: Getting Started

Financial Responsibility, Joy, and Pleasure

Kelly wrote in with an interesting message via Facebook: I’ve been reading your articles and trying to follow your advice. My problem is that I just don’t find being “frugal” very pleasurable. Whenever I try to think of something to do, I always end up thinking “nope, not that” over and over again because the …

Categories: Getting Started

Millionaires as Middle Class?

Recently, I came across a great article at CNBC entitled “Most millionaires say they’re middle class.” The article describes a recent survey that paints an interesting picture of people who have accumulated a lot of wealth: A majority of millionaires polled describe themselves as middle class or upper middle class despite being among the wealthiest …

Categories: Getting Started

Choosing Your Personal Financial Focus

When I first started my professional life, my main financial focus was on my career. I tried really hard to establish a great professional foundation and took on a number of hard projects, presentations, certifications, public speaking opportunities, and other challenges in order to cement a positive reputation and resume. During that time, I didn’t …

How Big Should My Down Payment on a Car Be?

Reader Jimmie wrote in with a good question about the ideal down payment on a car: I’m going to buy a new car in several months and I’m trying to figure out how much down payment I should have. I’ve heard tons of different answers from different people. What’s your take? My initial take was …

Questions About Cheap Wine, Book Swapping, Smartphones, 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. The smartphone carousel 2. Freezer thawing frustration 3. Planning out a move 4. Disheartened by 401(k) mistakes 5. Finding cheap bulk wine 6. Getting started with …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Financial Independence and Permaculture

As Sarah and I have continued to work toward financial independence, one of the principles we’ve really come to value is that long-lasting reliable stuff is preferable to less reliable stuff. Reliability is a pretty big virtue for us. If we’re going to buy something, we’d rather buy it for life. It’s not hard to …

Why You Shouldn’t Lease a Car (and Other Similar Money Moves)

More than once on this site, I’ve argued on behalf of renting instead of buying a home. Renting comes with a number of financial advantages, not the least of which is that it’s far cheaper per month than owning your own home. You’re not responsible for homeowners insurance, property taxes, property maintenance, or any of …

Throwing Away the ‘Retail Therapy’ Crutch

Mary wrote in with a brilliant question that I feel deserves a much longer answer than what fits into the weekly mailbag. Here’s Mary’s problem: First, the facts: I am 26 years old. I graduated two years ago with a masters in accounting (so I’m not writing to you about crunching the numbers as I …

Be Careful When Reading Financial Advice! Three Strategies to Keep You Safe

A few days ago, I came across this article from Betterment entitled Safety Net Funds: Why Traditional Advice Is Wrong. The article argues that the idea of having a cash emergency fund is a bad idea because a cash emergency fund earns a relatively poor annual rate of return. Here’s the crux of that argument …

Categories: Getting Started

How to Write a Thank-You Note

With graduation and wedding season upon us, you may be faced with the arduous task of finding the proper way to thank others for their generosity. In some ways, it can be difficult to be on the receiving end: Not only do you have to accept your gift graciously, you also have to make sure your loved …

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