When you first make the decision to take control of your debts and your financial situation, the change can be really exciting. You’re personally motivated to turn things around, and each new tactic you discover for cutting your spending seems like a great idea. After a few months, though, the honeymoon ends and you begin to realize that it is a pretty long march to financial freedom. It is easy to give up at that point. I know I certainly …

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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. Gym or home exercise equipment? 2. Mother’s Day the frugal way? 3. Beginning personal finance books 4. Apprehensive about moving for career 5. Tossing a suboptimal item 6. Making or buying bread? 7. Minimal food costs? 8. Dying friend with financial problems 9. Struggling with savings and planning 10. Learning how …

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A few weeks ago, I had to buy a new belt. My old one was simply on the verge of falling apart and belts are fairly rare items to come across in used clothing shops. I sometimes will buy a belt from a local department store, but I usually find that something goes wrong with a cheap belt before very long. It will start wearing very quickly, the buckle will bend or break (and bending it back just causes it …

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In the last few days, I’ve attended and coached multiple youth soccer games, taken a group of children to the zoo, entertained a much-loved houseguest, assisted in constructing a building, and organized a complicated trip. I’m sunburnt and tired and my feet hurt. Yet, somehow, I feel pretty good, too. Broken Open to Greatness: Transforming Tragedy into Triumph I don’t think people are really interested in the “perfect” person. They either want to see someone who failed overcoming that failure, …

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It’s very easy to get into a routine with a credit card. Perhaps you signed up for one in college or took the first offer that comes along when you need a card and that’s the one you stick with for your primary use. In my own case, I stuck with a card that earned rewards that went to a charity for a very long time. It made me feel good in the sense that my spending was actually contributing …

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When I was in high school, my parents wound up with a bunch of cases of Dial soap that they got for free. They filled part of a room with all of the soap and we used it for years. I actually took one of the last multi-packs of it to college with me three years later. A couple years ago, a neighbor bought an entire cow (that had been packaged at a local meat locker) for an insanely low …

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Credit cards are like sharp knives. They’re wonderful tools, but they can damage you badly if you use them incorrectly. Whenever I hear from someone who is having trouble paying their credit card bills and is struggling to keep their head above water, I encourage them to lock down their credit cards. Cut them up. Freeze them in a block of ice. But what about people who don’t have any credit card debt and want to use one to maintain …

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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. Junk mail and postal employees 2. Defaulting on national debt? 3. Tax liens 4. Coffee frugality tip 5. Charity calling list removal 6. Worried about retirement 7. Car shop ramps up quote! 8. Smarter Bank? 9. Graduate without job; what’s next? 10. Telemarketing tips Over the next month, we are having …

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First and foremost, ignore those ads from freecreditreport.com and freecreditscore.com and the like. Ignore them. All they do is require you to sign up for a service you don’t want in order to get something that you can already get for free through the federal government. The federal government’s real site for getting your credit report is annualcreditreport.com. It doesn’t require signing up for any program or paying any fees. Instead, it just lets you get a free copy of …

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Three Things

May 6 2012

When I was about fourteen, I watched a cancer-stricken Jim Valvano give an amazing speech at the 1993 ESPY Awards. That speech has stuck with me ever since. Here’s the speech in its entirety: The part that always got to me was near the start of the speech: When people say to me how do you get through life or each day, it’s the same thing. To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should …

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