Getting Started

Underpromise. Overdeliver.

One common tactic that people use to wow their clients or bosses is to promise a little less than what can be achieved, then deliver more than what was promised. If you promise everything you think you can achieve, you create a very tight and difficult schedule for yourself, one that’s prone to disaster if …

Categories: Getting Started

What Does It Mean When “Interest Accrues Daily” or “Interest Accrues Continuously”?

Some version of the above question pops up in reader emails perhaps once a month. I thought it might make sense to explain exactly how it works. Along the way, we’re going to get into the ideas of APR and APY and how they affect you. Interest Accrued Annually Most of the time, we deal …

Categories: Getting Started

Considering Self-Employment? Six Things You Need to Know from Someone Who Has Done It for Years

I’ve been fully self-employed since 2008, starting from a side business that was around in some form since 2004. Over that decade, I’ve learned quite a lot about the financial and practical realities of self-employment. When I first made the leap to full-time self employment, it was scary. It felt like the number of things …

Categories: Getting Started

The Mistake-Free Choice

I make mistakes. A lot of them. I spent too much money. I said something I shouldn’t have said. I wasted a bunch of time doing something foolish and unnecessary. I made a statement without properly knowing the facts behind it. Each time I make a mistake, I’m left with two things. I’m left with …

Categories: Getting Started

Five Simple Things to Prepare Right Now for Your Estate

This article first appeared at U.S. News and World Report Money. Everyone knows about the big things that people should prepare for their loved ones in the event of their untimely passing. A will. Life insurance. A living trust. Those are the big things. After that, there are a number of little things you can …

Categories: Getting Started

Seven Principles of Yard Sale Season

I enjoy going to yard sales. On our free spring and summer weekends, our family will burn part of the day going to these sales, looking for Have a plan. Rather than simply trusting that we’ll find sales by serendipity, we take some time to locate sales beforehand. Sites we use include Craigslist, YardHopper, and …

Categories: Getting Started

Celebrating Your Achievement Without Undoing Your Progress

At one point, Sarah and I had almost $200,000 in total debt. Several years later, after a ton of hard work, we sent in the last check to pay off our final debt. We had achieved debt freedom. It was really tempting to celebrate that achievement. We had worked so hard for so many years …

Categories: Getting Started

Should Your Partner’s Debt Keep You Out of a Relationship?

Recently, a reader wrote to me with what would have been a stellar reader mailbag question except for the fact that it was full of personal details. I attempted to edit the email down to something that could be shared without identity concerns (as I never want material readers send me to ever come back …

Categories: Debt, Getting Started

When Your Spouse Passes Away

A few days ago, I received an utterly heartbreaking email from a reader whose husband had passed away a week ago. She is in her fifties and has two grown children who are fully independent. One of them lives nearby and is helping her get her life back in order, but it’s going to be …

Categories: Getting Started

Is the Middle Class Collapsing?

A few days ago, I put an hour aside to watch this amazing presentation from Elizabeth Warren. Entitled “The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class,” Warren’s presentation makes the case that many, many factors are working against the ability of the middle class to maintain their standard of living. She delivered this presentation at the …

Categories: Getting Started

Alternatives to Payday Loans If You Need Cash Immediately

Payday loans are an incredibly poor deal for the customer. It’s a loan with an absurdly high interest rate. If you take out a payday loan, you’re going to come out the financial loser almost every time. They almost always cause more problems than they solve. Almost everyone knows that payday loans aren’t worthwhile, so …

Categories: Debt, Getting Started

The Danger of Results-Oriented Thinking

For a month, you scrimp and save. You deny yourself a lot of little treats. You sell a few things on eBay. You make some meals in advance and eat at home a lot more. You make careful grocery lists. At the end of the month, you sit down and reassess your financial situation… and …

Categories: Getting Started

4 Ways to Minimize Your Home Energy Bill This Spring

This post first appeared at U.S. News and World Report Money. Winter is over! Spring is here! Spring offers many opportunities to save money. Spring makes it much easier to go outside and get some exercise. You can start a vegetable garden. Plus, when you’re outside, you can turn off all of the lights and …

Personal Finance 101: What Is Rebalancing?

One topic I see referenced quite often in personal finance books – especially books focused on retirement – is the idea of rebalancing. It’s often discussed as though the writer assumes that the reader knows what rebalancing is, but given the confusion I sometimes see in reader emails, I don’t think the idea of rebalancing …

An Unhealthy Dose of Optimism

It isn’t very hard to come across stories of people who thought they had everything planned out, only to see everything come apart at the seams. They lost their job. Their car fell apart. Their apartment building burned to the ground. They got sick. Their child or spouse got sick. Someone stole their identity. They …

Wasting Your Life

Every few months, I get wrapped up in a deep melancholy – one might even describe it as something like a mild depression. I become convinced that I have somehow wasted my life, that the thirty five years I have spent on this Earth amount to very little in terms of making the world a …

Categories: Getting Started

The Jar of Life

A new month is about to start. Let’s try something different. This month, get a giant jar along with a notepad and pen. Put it somewhere where you’ll see it all the time. Whenever something good happens in your life, write it down on a piece of paper. Fold it up and put it in …

Categories: Getting Started

Separating Happiness from Material Things

When I graduated from college and got my first “real” job, I realized I needed a vehicle of some kind to get back and forth to work. Prior to that, I had been a poor college student – I didn’t own a car and used the bus system to get to my classes and to …

Categories: Getting Started

Nine Free Resources for Inexpensive Home Exercise

My recent article, Five Inexpensive Gym Alternatives for Exercise, resulted in a small flood of feedback from readers offering up their tips for home exercise. I reviewed the many links and ideas that readers provided and found nine really great free resources if you’re trying to get in shape (or stay in shape) at home. …