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 houses – 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 …

Living Life

One of the biggest arguments against being “frugal” is that it restricts you from “living life.” Whenever I hear that argument, I usually think that the person involved isn’t actually being frugal at all. In fact, I would go so far as to argue that making frugal choices actually does the opposite – it enables …

The Value of Unavailability

Let’s roll the clock back to a particular weekend in the middle of 2006. Sarah and I had just begun our financial turnaround, but that’s not really what I want to talk about here. That weekend, Sarah’s parents had come to visit – I think her youngest sister may have been there, too. We were …

Categories: Getting Started

Using the Reality of the Moment

Yesterday, I read a wonderful article by Leo Babauta at Zen Habits entitled The Reality of This Moment. The article encourages people to think about how we’re okay in the moment: As we go through our day, we’re often stressed because of all the things we have to do, the things we’re not doing. We …

Categories: Getting Started

7 Excuses People Use to Avoid Financial Responsibility

This article first appeared in U.S. News and World Report Money. The recipe for finding financial success is an easy one. Spend less than you earn and do something sensible with the difference. If you do that over and over, you will see financial success. The challenge is actually making that happen. It’s not easy …

Categories: Getting Started

Discover the Forest

One of the coolest online tools I’ve seen in a long time came to my attention this past weekend as I was thinking about our family’s weekend plans between now and Memorial Day. With the arrival of spring, I was looking for outdoor activities, when I came across DiscoverTheForest.org. DiscoverTheForest is a website that allows …

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 Yard Sale Tips To Make The Most Of Your Trip

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 anything we need – and hopefully getting a good deal! If you’re not careful, spending a day yard sale hopping can be a very inefficient way to find …

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 …

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 …