I thought it might be interesting to take a moment and review the goals I set for myself in 2012 and how they’re coming along. A regular review of one’s goals is a key part in making progress on them. Get Fit the Right Way I’ve had decent success with this, though not overwhelming success. My goal for 2012 was to lose 52 pounds at a steady average of one pound per week. After twelve weeks, I’m down 8.4 pounds, …

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We all take a lot of cues from the people around us. We see other people doing things and, if it seems reasonable and useful, we often start to mimic it ourselves. It’s a meme, in other words; an idea spread from person to person within a culture. I see it often with my own family, where our children are so often imitating the little behaviors they see in their parents and in each other. If our daughter sings a …

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Each week, I highlight ten things each week that inspired me to greater financial, personal, and professional success. Hopefully, they will inspire you as well. 1. Girl’s first ski jump This is such a beautiful example of someone overcoming fear and trying something scary, new, and challenging. The victory isn’t the jump itself, but the fact that she was able to overcome her fears and nervousness. 2. WikiHow I’ve been spending a ton of time at WikiHow as of late, …

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Our family’s gardens consists of three raised terraces, a small patch along the side of our house, and a decorative patch in the front. We have a few trees that need tending as well. Sometimes, the work in the garden provides a solitary respite for either Sarah or myself. The garden can be a quiet place to go where you just focus on the planting or the weeds or the harvesting. At other times, though, it’s a family experience, and …

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A few days ago, Sarah and I were buying shoes for our daughter. She’s graduating to shoes with laces, as she’s developed the finger strength and dexterity to tie them for herself, plus her feet are just getting too big for her old ones. After checking prices in several different stores, we found the perfect pair in an outlet store. The little girl fell in love with the purple design and the sparkles, I respected the sturdy craftsmanship, and the …

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Soda and fast food are both convenient pick-me-ups that many people utilize for a sweetness fix or for getting rid of a case of the munchies. From a personal finance perspective, though, there are much better choices for each of those options. Let’s look at soda for starters. You have the sticker cost of the soda, of course, which can vary greatly but often seems to settle at somewhere around $0.05 per ounce. Of course, on top of that, there …

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What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. Renting or selling land 2. My religion 3. College cash and investing 4. Transportation dilemma 5. Drawbacks of ebooks 6. Retirement and student loans 7. Walking away? 8. Garden vegetable choices 9. Roth 401(k) and Roth IRA? 10. Alternate oil choices in playdough The main floor of our home has a …

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One of the best experiences I’ve had lately has been shopping with my oldest child. He’s six going on seven, so he’s starting to take a significant interest in what adults do – and, perhaps more importantly, why adults do the things they do. He watches what Sarah and I both do all the time and often asks questions when he doesn’t understand what’s going on or why we’re doing something. This carries over big time to the grocery store, …

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I’m not talking about basketball. I’m talking about the weather. We’ve had six days in a row where the temperature peaked above 80 F in central Iowa in March. The grass is rapidly turning green and everything is blooming. All of this is happening a month or so earlier than normal. I am so tempted to start planting our garden (in fact, Sarah’s been out there already, poking around and turning the soil), but I remember many, many Aprils that …

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Each week, my children receive a small allowance. It’s not tied to any chores; instead, it’s mostly a tool to teach them about money management. We pay them in quarters, with each child receiving twice the number of quarters as their age. So, a five year old would receive ten quarters, a three year old would receive six quarters, and so on. When each child has turned four, we’ve started having them segment their allowance into four different groupings. At …

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