brandon's box truck

Late last year, a blog called Thoughts From Inside the Box started to attract a lot of attention. The media had picked up on the fact that a young employee at Google was living out of a 16-foot box truck. Fanning the flames of interest was the fact that he parked his truck in Google’s parking lot and basically lived at his job rent-free.  Also, this is not just any old truck. The young man living inside, Brandon, retrofitted the back of …

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Most people who share personal finance advice tend to agree on a lot of the core principles. Spend less than you earn. Save for the future. Shop around. Learn before you invest. Those things are just good ideas, and if everyone did them, there would be a lot less personal finance struggle in the world. Even with all of the agreement on the big principles, though, you’re bound to find a lot of disagreement when you start digging down into …

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It should come as no surprise that the way you pay your bills — particularly, the consistency with which you pay them — has a huge impact on your credit scores. And while there are certainly other factors that influence your credit scores, your payment history is the most influential factor of all. The bottom line is that if you want to earn and maintain solid FICO and VantageScore credit scores, you’ve got to pay your bills on time, all …

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One of the best strategies to save for retirement is to use a tax-advantaged account such as a 401(k) or 403(b) offered through your employer. However, those work-sponsored accounts aren’t available to everyone — and they aren’t the only tax-advantaged way to build up your nest egg, either. Whether you’re self-employed or simply don’t have access to a 401(k), almost anyone can open up an individual retirement arrangement, or IRA account, and invest for retirement while taking advantage of some useful tax …

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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. Setting goals and reflecting 2. Financial advisor for young professional? 3. Right time for IRA? 4. A job without challenge 5. Short term credit improvement 6. Basic personal finance materials 7. Downsides of saving heavily 8. Cutting up credit cards 9. Cost of shaving versus beard 10. Migrating …

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Sometimes it’s the thrill of a sale that lures us into buying something we don’t really need and can’t afford. Other times, it’s the urging of others to “keep up,” be like them, or fit in with the group. Then there are those crazy, inexplicable moments where we wake up to realize we spent good money on a hulking pile of crap, an overpriced membership, or an unplanned splurge. Whether it’s a shirt you never wear or a car you absolutely hate …

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It is impossible to look back at the state of my life when I was at my financial low point and not feel some degree of regret. At that moment in time, Sarah and I were approaching six figures in debt between our student loans, our car loans, and our credit cards. While our student loans were largely unavoidable, we had been out of college for four years and hadn’t done anything more than make minimum payments on those debts. …

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I often receive emails from readers concerning whether or not the sender can afford a particular house – or how much house they can afford. The stories vary a lot in detail – some people have a down payment, while others do not, and some people have other debts, while others are debt free. Regardless of the situation, though, I give these people the same advice. Your total debt payment for a given month should not exceed 30% of your …

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Sarah and I are adventurous amateur chefs. We love trying all kinds of things in the kitchen with fresh ingredients and interesting flavor combinations. Like everyone else, of course, we do have our own preferences. I tend to like spicy foods, ones that almost burn on the tongue as you eat them, for example. Which, I suppose, brings us to ginger. I love using fresh mashed ginger root as an ingredient in pretty much everything where it makes sense (and …

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What’s more fun than a root canal? Needing one but having no idea how much it will cost. Not only do you have the stress of a procedure whose very name is synonymous with unpleasantness — you also have the added stress of wondering how much it will cost and where you’ll come up with the money. And depending on whether you have dental insurance and who your insurer is, you might be footing the entire bill yourself. How Much a …

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