Author: Trent

Keeping Lifestyle Inflation at Bay

One of the biggest challenges that people face when it comes to personal finance success is lifestyle inflation. It’s a subtle thing that people often just take on without even really noticing or thinking about it, but then it turns out to be a vicious enemy of their financial goals. What Is Lifestyle Inflation? Lifestyle …

Categories: Spending Money

Questions about Baby Exhaustion, Data Plans, Goodwill, Costco, 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. Money discipline with baby exhaustion 2. Never enough 3. Piles of old paperbacks 4. Books for high earners 5. Investing small amounts 6. The $2,000 iPad …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Nine Strategies for Cultivating a Mindset of Financial Independence

As I’ve stated many times, Sarah and I have a central goal of financial independence at the earliest possible age. Financial independence, to us, means that the requirement of money in exchange for our work becomes entirely optional, leaving us to choose options for our work based entirely on our own skills and personal joy. …

The Panic Button

On September 18, the S&P 500 closed the day at 2,011.36. As of my writing, the S&P 500 sits at 1,864.84. In other words, the S&P 500 has lost 7.3% of its value in less than a month. Let’s put that in dollars and cents. Let’s say that on September 18, I had $100,000 in …

The Missing Ingredient for Change

I’ve had a lot of successes in changing my life for the better. Over the course of approximately five and a half years, Sarah and I managed to pay off three student loans, three car loans, four nearly-maxed-out credit cards, and a full home mortgage, moving ourselves from financial disaster to complete debt freedom. I …

Some Thoughts on Extreme Cheapskates

Extreme Cheapskates is a “reality” television series that airs on TLC that just entered its third season. Over the last two years, the show has launched a new season in October and, as with the previous two Octobers, I’ve been asked a few questions about my take on the show. First of all, I’m not …

Nine Financial Questions to Discuss When Your First Child Is on the Way

In February 2005, Sarah and I were handed a completely unexpected piece of information. Sarah was pregnant and our first child was going to arrive late in the year. It was a life-changing moment. Sarah and I had several months to prepare, of course. Unfortunately, since we weren’t in the best financial shape at the …

Categories: Family

Questions on Golf, Price Books, Magazines, Cast Iron, 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. Tracking grocery expenses 2. Price book advice 3. Letting go of old business 4. Credit cards and international travel 5. Compromise and financial goals 6. Enameled …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Hacking Six Normal Life Routines to Save Time and Money

In my experience, many of the truly useful frugal tactics come about from little tweaks to one’s daily routine. If you can look at something that you do almost every day and find some little way to shave a minute off of it, you’ve saved more than six hours over the course of a year. …

How Do The Rich Pay Lower Taxes? And How Can You Do It?

Erin wrote in with a wonderful question that I started to address in Monday’s reader mailbag, but the answer quickly escalated into many, many paragraphs. Here’s her question: I don’t understand how billionaires who bring in millions a year can pay less in taxes than someone working hard at a job and making $50K a …

Categories: Taxes

Books With Impact: Voluntary Simplicity

The “Books with Impact” series takes a deeper look at specific books that have had a profound impact on my financial, professional, and personal growth by extracting specific points of advice from those books and looking at how I’ve applied them in my life with successful results. The previous entry in this series covered Early …

Categories: Books and Reading

Emergency Funds on the Path to Financial Independence

One of the first things that’s recommended for people as they start on their journey toward financial recovery is to build an emergency fund. The reason is simple. An emergency fund is simply cash held in a savings account that you can tap when a life emergency happens – like an unexpected death in the …

Hobbies on the Path to Financial Independence

Let me start off by describing several hobbies I’ve enjoyed over the years. It’s not a secret that I’m an avid reader. Once upon a time, I had a large collection of books that I’d purchased in various places. Some of them were cheap as they were bought at secondhand stores or acquired via Paperbackswap. …

Questions About Watches, LEDs, Bad Tenants, Chapter Books, Freelancing, 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. LED versus LCD televisions 2. Handling surge of freelance income 3. Why retire early? 4. Handling a disastrous tenant 5. Buy it for life: watch 6. …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Inspiration from Gillian Welch, John Steinbeck, Kurt Vonnegut, 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. Colin Grant on being the son of a difficult father From the description: Colin Grant has spent a lifetime navigating the …

When Should a Person Start Social Security Benefits?

Whether I like it or not (and I most certainly don’t like it), my parents are growing older. My mother is getting close to the age where she will begin to be eligible for Social Security benefits and my father is already there with his benefits already unlocked. Naturally, one of their biggest questions is …

Categories: Retirement

Fifteen Things I Skimp On

A couple of days ago, I posted a list of fifteen items I don’t skimp on. That list mostly consisted of extremely heavy use items and maintenance of my health and my most expensive purchases (homes and automobiles). So, what do I skimp on? In truth, I skimp on a lot of things… but they’re …

Categories: Frugality

Distinguishing Between Luck and Hard Work

You know those moments that happen in life where you wish you had the right words at that moment, but instead they come to you days later? I’m about to tell you about one of those times. An old friend of mine – we’ll call him Jeffrey – has struggled throughout his adulthood with, well, …

Categories: Getting Started

Fifteen Items I Don’t Skimp On

Frugality is a major part of our financial independence strategy. Since we live on only one income and save the other one, we have to be quite careful with our spending. As I’ve mentioned many times, my perspective on frugality is to spend as little as possible on things that aren’t as important to us …

Categories: Frugality