slipping off balance beam

Frugality is a spectacular tool for immediately seeing positive financial results in your life. Whenever you find ways to get most of the same value in your life for a lower price, or you find a different avenue completely to fulfill your needs and wants without the same sticker impact, you’re managing to still enjoy life while spending less than you have before. There’s a catch, though. At some point, you’re going to cross a line where the frugal strategy …

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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. Roth IRA for down payment? 2. Employer matching funds question 3. Buying short term 4. Free light bulbs cost-effective? 5. Finding quality clothes 6. Goal rewards and financial success 7. “52 week money challenge” question 8. Library book sale strategy 9. Why Roth IRA? 10. Old photo albums …

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If you want better investment returns, one of the smartest things you can do is find lower-cost investments. Not only are smaller fees a good predictor of future returns (the smaller the better), but cost is one of the few investment variables that’s directly within your control. You can’t control the markets, but you can control how much you pay for the privilege of investing in them. And while there are a number of potential fees to watch out for, …

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Imagine having every imaginable ingredient for a delectable dinner delivered directly to your doorstep, perfectly pre-portioned. Once your box arrives in the mail, every component of the perfect dish is there – meat for your main course, spices that make the meal flavorful, and even the fresh vegetables required to bring your dish to life. But you’re not on your own here, either. On top of the best and freshest ingredients possible, you receive a recipe with step-by-step instructions — pictures and everything. …

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Once a month (or so), I share a dozen things that have inspired me to greater personal, professional, and financial success in my life. I hope they bring similar success to your life. 1. Abraham Lincoln on believing in friends “I’m a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.” – Abraham Lincoln If you’re trying to take on a major life change or work on a …

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Most people, when they think of a personal budget, think of what I would describe as a “microbudget.” It’s the traditional kind, where you divide your spending up into a whole bunch of different categories – $500 for food, $700 for rent, $125 for electricity, and so on. You then make it your goal to achieve that target in each category by being frugal. You make sure the lights are turned off and keep the heat running low in order …

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Even though I’m happy with my six-year-old computer, I can’t help but take interest when new laptops come onto the market. It’s like how you don’t stop noticing other people you’re attracted to just because you’re in a relationship. (Note to my fiancee: I only have eyes for you!) Because the variety of laptops is staggering, it can be hard to figure out what computer you actually need, the best place to buy a laptop, and how to get the best deal. …

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“31 Days to Financial Independence” is an ongoing series that appears every Thursday on The Simple Dollar. You might want to start this series from the beginning! Last time, we examined strategies you might want to use if you’re looking to move on to a better job. Today, we’re going to to take a different approach to income generation and look at some strategies for starting a side gig. So, what’s a “side gig”? A side gig simply refers to …

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If you’re heading into a job interview soon, you’ve probably read a lot of advice on how to make a good impression on the hiring manager. Almost all of it will focus on preparation: practicing interview questions, researching the company and the role, even making sure your interview outfit is top-notch. Read enough of this advice, and you’ll start to get the impression that if you’re prepared, nothing could possibly go wrong. If only that were true. Of course, if …

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Last summer, Sarah and I took our family to Cuyahoga Valley National Park for a couple of days as part of our summer vacation looping around most of the Great Lakes. This summer, Sarah and I are taking our family to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Tetons National Park as the centerpiece of our family vacation. Why did we choose those places? A big part of the reason was that our two oldest children are in upper elementary school and …

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