• Little Excuses

    I’m not going to set up my Roth IRA today. It’s complicated and I feel kind of tired. I’ll do it tomorrow. I’m not going to exercise today. My leg is a little sore and I have this project I’m working on… I’ll exercise tomorrow. I’m not going to shop around for insurance today. I …

  • Personal Finance 101: What Is a Dividend?

    A few days ago, I was working on an article where I referred to dividends. Since I didn’t really provide any sort of explanation of what dividends were, I went looking for an article where I explained in detail what a dividend actually is and, to my amazement, I never found a good, thorough explanation …

  • Swinging for the Fences or Settling for a Single

    Several different books I’ve read in the last few years – Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers being one – have argued that the best way (without an inherent genetic advantage) to become an “outlier” in a particular skill is to practice a tremendous amount. The number often used is 10,000 hours of practice. If you divide that …

  • A Day of Consumption

    One of my favorite achievements during my early financial recovery was discovering the power of “money free weekends” and, later, “money free weeks.” Money free weekends are a really powerful way to keep your spending in check – and it’s also a great way to discover free things that you enjoy doing. Here are 100 …

  • Personal Finance 101: Percentages

    Markie writes in: My biggest struggle with personal finance is the numbers. I am terrible at math. When I look at percentages and stuff, I just want to lock down and tune out. This is actually a pretty common thing. One of the brightest people I know – an amazing writer who is a creator …

  • Ten Useful Things To Do With Your Tax Return Money

    We try really hard to not get a tax return each year. For the last several years, we’ve usually had to pay some money on April 15, which is fine with us – that means more money for us throughout the year. For many people, March and April means that a sizable check will arrive …

  • How I Made a Pocket Recording System Work for Me

    As I’ve mentioned many times before, I rely heavily on a pocket notebook for recording ideas and jotting down expenses or things I want to investigate further. At least once a day, I run through these notes and deal with them in whatever way is appropriate for each note. I have found this system invaluable …

  • On Splurging and Regret

    About a month ago, I spent about $150 on a giant pile of used books for a tabletop role playing game. A friend of mine was moving out of the country so I “borrowed ahead” on my personal spending money and dove in headfirst. I deeply enjoy tabletop role playing games and I will likely …

  • The Gap Is More Important Than Anything (At First)

    Quite a few of the letters in the reader mailbag boil down to figuring out which of two or three options is the highest priority. People will want to compare investing options to paying down their mortgage or whether they should have an emergency fund or pay off a credit card. The reality is that …

  • Feeling Defeated? Here’s How to Rebound

    Sometimes, no matter what you do, life will hand you some lemons. It’s really easy to respond to that with a trite “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade,” but sometimes that just doesn’t work. Things you’ve been preparing for and working on for years have blown up in your face. The big dreams you …

  • Walking the Tightrope

    I was really affected by this story about Travonn Barnett, a young man working for $10 an hour as a security guard and struggling deeply with his money. When you figure up the numbers, he’s walking a financial tightrope every day. Here’s his reality: His weekly checks range from $189 to $308, after taxes and …

  • A Deeper Look at Dave Ramsey’s Seven Baby Steps

    I would estimate that as many as 10% of the emails I receive from readers reference the books, classes, or radio shows of Dave Ramsey. For those unfamiliar, Dave Ramsey hosts a weekly radio show on personal finance topics and focuses on straightforward but tough plans for handling personal finance challenges. The centerpiece of Dave’s …

  • A Great Weekend

    My three year old son loves to cuddle with me first thing in the morning. He’ll climb into bed, find a warm spot next to me, and then lay there for a while. He’ll whisper things in my ear and squirm around, but he mostly lays still and sometimes dozes a little bit. I’ll see …

  • Establishing a Difficult but Rewarding Habit

    The process of moving from spending all that you earn (or more) to spending significantly less than you earn is an absolutely essential part of gaining control over your finances – and it’s not easy. It involves upsetting a lot of the habits that you’ve established in your life. At the same time, you also …

  • Letting Up

    When people find themselves first recovering from financial disaster, they often bear down very hard on every dime. They scrutinize every expense and every receipt, looking for a way to squeeze a few more dollars out of their life so that they can push down those debts a little bit. At that point, fear is …

  • Handling Social Reactions to Changes in Your Spending

    When I first started cutting back on my spending, a significant portion of my social group took notice. They saw that I was less interested in expensive excursions like golfing and that I was sometimes skipping after-work meetups (and drinking only water at most of the ones I attended). Quite a few of the people …

  • The Art and Psychology of Self-Control

    One of the most difficult aspects of personal finance – for me, at least – is the art of self-control. I have always found it difficult to just say “no” to my spending temptations. For many years, I’ve found success in putting up barriers. This works, to a large extent. By making it more difficult …

  • Chasing Money

    “Don’t think money does everything, or you are going to end up doing everything for money.” – Voltaire It’s not too uncommon for a frugal person to hear the criticism that they are “cheap.” At the same time, it’s also not too uncommon for a wealthy person to hear the criticism that they are somehow …

  • The Challenge of the “Best” Choice

    As I write this article, my three year old son is perched on my lap with my arms around him. He’s playing with one of his favorite toys, a Transformer that’s easy to transition from a fire truck to a robot, and he’s telling me stories about them. He’s happy and safe and secure sitting …