Getting Started

Looking at Utilities as a Mortgage

A casual acquaintance of mine completed an interesting project several years ago: he covered his roof in solar panels with the goal of generating adequate energy for his home. At the time, the solar panels were more expensive than they are right now and they were also somewhat less efficient. At the time he invested …

“Free” Upgrades Aren’t Always Free

A few years ago, I was stuck in a situation where I needed to rent a car. I had a bit of time before I had to rent the vehicle, so I shopped around. I only needed the vehicle to drive myself around, so I honestly wasn’t really concerned about having a giant vehicle. So, …

The Purge, The Splurge, and Back Again

I love attending yard sales. Our town has a yearly community yard sale and it’s fun to spend the day strolling around town looking at the items. Nearby towns have community sales on other days and we often try to make it to those, too. Having done this for several years, I can’t help but …

Categories: Getting Started

Making My Wants Few

“I make myself rich by making my wants few.” – Henry David Thoreau Wants. When we wonder where our money went, it went to wants. When our money trickles away due to stuff we don’t need, it’s all about the wants. When we see a credit card bill start to build up, it’s usually wants …

Categories: Getting Started

Setting Up a Weekly Money Routine

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a weekly routine where I set aside roughly two hours on the weekend to evaluate my to-do lists, take care of some weekly tasks that I’ve overlooked, and do some thinking about my long-term goals and what I’m doing right now to reach them (or not). Naturally, personal finance …

Categories: Getting Started

Discovery and Temptation

Anyone who has followed my “Pieces of Inspiration” weekly series knows that I have a big soft spot in my heart for folk and Americana/alt-country/bluegrass/whatever-you-want-to-label-it music. I find new music in those genres all the time that really excite me and when I do buy music these days for offline listening, it’s almost entirely from …

Categories: Getting Started

Friends as Financial Role Models

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn Excluding my children, the four people I spend the most time with are all in their mid-thirties, they all have professional careers in science and/or engineering, they’re all debt-free, and they all have a serious cheap streak. I’m …

Categories: Getting Started

The Cost of Decompression

If you work for a living, you know the feeling. You finish a day of earning money. You’re tired – mentally and/or physically and/or spiritually and/or socially exhausted. You go home, drop your stuff by the door, and just head to the couch for a while. You sit there in a daze, watching a television …

The Little Perks You Pay Big For (That New Car Smell, For Example)

Several years ago, Car and Driver had an excellent article about how car companies put in a lot of extra effort to engineer the right “new car smell.” The goal? They want that smell to feel both exciting and comforting, encouraging the car buyer to both desire the smell when they’re shopping and to enjoy …

Making Big Financial Tasks Small

My biggest dreaded personal finance task is filing papers. I absolutely loathe it. For starters, it’s a never-ending task. There are seemingly always more papers that need to be saved somewhere. If I happen to get behind a little bit, the pile of papers that need to be filed becomes a small mountain. I just …

Categories: Getting Started

The Allure of “Secret” Advice

I am almost immediately suspicious of anyone who offers “insider” or “secret” advice or information. First of all, if the “secret” or “insider” information were so strong, that person would be utilizing it instead of selling it. If someone is able to use their “secret” technique to turn $10 into $10,000 quickly, why are they …

Categories: Getting Started

Personal Finance 101: Comparing Saving and Investing

Just the other day, I was sitting at my favorite local library (if you happen to go there at the right time, you’ll probably find me sitting at a table with a notebook open in front of me with several personal finance, career, time management, and self-improvement books piled around me). I was browsing through …

The Money Trade

If I had to point to one idea that really shook my financial thinking and showed me the value of turning my finances around, it was the concept of exchanging my life’s energy for money, as explained in the wonderful book Your Money or Your Life. The idea is actually pretty simple on the surface. …

Projection and the Spotlight Effect

All of us want to be socially accepted. We want to have people respect and like us in the community and we also want to avoid easy criticism. For many of us, the solution to that challenge is to “project.” We spend time thinking about how we appear to others and then look for ways …

The Internal Feeling of Success

I don’t think there’s a better feeling in the world than having succeeded at some large goal. That moment when you send in your last mortgage payment? It’s magic. That day when you sign the papers to get your first novel published? Unparalleled. That day you managed that ten minute or eight minute or six …

Categories: Getting Started

20 Reasons Why You Need an Emergency Fund

At some point in your life, one or more of the following is going to happen to you. There will likely be moments where several of these happen at once. You lose your job and can’t quickly find another one at the same level of pay. The property tax bill you forgot about is due. …

Categories: Getting Started

The Idea Behind Habits

Whenever I want to make a positive change appear in my life, I usually approach it in one of two ways. I either try to get rid of a bad habit or I try to establish a good habit. Habits are at the center of both of those ideas. It’s around that hinge of habits …

Little Earthquakes

As much as I enjoy parenting, there are moments when it’s quite stressful and it just leaves me feeling miserable. As I’m writing this, a moment like this just passed. I was trying to get my three children ready for bed, but instead they chose to run in opposite directions. While focusing on my youngest …

Categories: Getting Started

Reflections on a Tiny House

Over the past week, I’ve been fascinated by a number of articles describing tiny homes – those measuring 100 square feet or smaller. Here’s an example: This type of house is outside the realm of possibility of most families. It would work for many single people and some couples, but I can’t imagine the five …