golden duck and rubber ducks

America’s love affair with debt and consumption has left far too many of us financially hamstrung and struggling to get ahead. After all, the average U.S. household carried $15,672 in credit card debt and $130,922 in total debt in 2015. Add in the fact that the average indebted student left college with over $35,000 in student loans debt last year, and you’ll see what a grim picture we have painted. All too often these days, the American Dream means living …

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Let’s roll back the clock 20 years… Twenty years ago, I was enjoying the summer between high school and college. During that summer, I would go on my first date with my wife, though we would not become an official “couple” for another year or so. I was really apprehensive about going to college in the fall, as I was the first person in my family to do so. I spent some of the time during the summer helping my father …

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At some point in their lives, many people come to the conclusion that they need to have a life insurance policy. Perhaps you’re like me and that realization occurred when you first had children. Maybe some other life event occurred and caused you to consider it. Or perhaps you’re just following the advice from a personal finance book. Whatever the reason, you’ve made the decision to buy life insurance. I won’t get into whether or not that’s a good decision …

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Just yesterday, I posted a discussion about some of the challenges of old foods. I mostly lamented how, when you find foods that are too old to still use, you have to throw them out, which is effectively money down the drain. Yet, quite often, when you do discover old food, it’s still edible and perfectly safe to eat. It’s just that the texture has changed in an unfamiliar or unappealing way. Thus, the trick of using “old” food is …

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In a perfect world, we would all eat nine servings of fruits, veggies, and grains every single day. We would grow our own (organic) produce, roll noodles from scratch, drink only purified water from a local mountain spring, and practice our yoga poses while we watch TV. And of course, we would all exercise at least an hour each day – taking special care to rotate between cardio, core-strengthening exercises, and weight lifting to improve our bone strength. Sadly, most …

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Over the weekend, Sarah and I dug through our overstuffed food pantry in order to take stock of the items we had on hand as well as plan some meals for the upcoming week. What we found, more than anything else, was a lot of partially used bulk buys. We found large bags of rice and beans, partially used. We found some quinoa, again, partially used. We found several rather large containers of dried spices that were simply not as …

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When I moved to San Francisco, I sold my car. I knew I’d be living in a walkable city, and the high cost of ownership was no longer justified. I decided that I could use on-demand car services such as Uber to get around the city when I needed a ride in a pinch. I figured that since I’d be spending the majority of my time within the same five-mile radius, it would be cheaper to walk, bike, and Uber …

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Recently, I was at the library and I found myself flipping through the charming book The Cheapskate Next Door by Jeff Yeager. In that book, Yeager surveyed people who live significantly below their means and draws some general conclusions about the group. Most of the results were pretty much what I expected, but I found one result pretty interesting. It popped up on page 46 of the library’s edition of the book: “More than nine out of every ten cheapskates …

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This is the fourth in a series of posts called the “Two-Sided Coin,” where TSD’s Jon Gorey and Holly Johnson take opposing viewpoints on personal finance topics.  Holly: Save Now or Forever Hold Your Peace When it comes to why people don’t save for the future, excuses abound. Some say they don’t make enough money to save, which is understandable if true. Still, others say they would rather live for today and deal with the future…..well, sometime in the future. This lack of …

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What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to summaries of five or fewer words. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. Renting out house to students 2. Loan against life insurance 3. Home loan with middling credit 4. Rental property willed to tenant 5. Negotiate now or later? 6. Which debt first? 7. Pay off mortgage first? 8. Living off last month’s income 9. Paying myself first? 10. Opening …

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