Getting Started

10 Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

In the summer of 2007, my wife and I purchased our first home. As a first-time home buyer, I knew we needed to spend a considerable amount of time researching our purchase. So that’s exactly what we did – we read as much as we could, educated ourselves on the local real estate market, and …

What to Bring to College: The Smart (and Frugal) College Checklist

Angela writes in: In nine days, our oldest son is graduating from high school. He will be the first one in our family to go to college as he is going to [a major state school]. While we have spent a lot of time figuring out scholarships and financial aid and other things, we are really …

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 …

Financial Advice That Needs to Die

Recently, one of my friends was curtain shopping when she received some pretty crazy advice from a friendly store employee. “You should expect to spend around 5% of your home’s value on curtains and draperies,” the saleswoman explained as she sauntered around the sales floor. Of course, my friend balked at the idea. Not only …

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

What Is a Good Credit Score?

What is a good credit score, and why is this three-digit number so important? Can it really affect your everyday life, and what kind of control do you have over it? In this guide, I’ll tackle all of these questions. We’ll take a look at what your credit score means, how many people have good …

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 …

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 …

A Random Walk on Life’s Street

“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.” ― Abraham Maslow This quote sums up in two brief sentences what I view to be the chief challenge of personal finance: choosing positive personal finance progress when we …

Categories: Getting Started

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