Recently, I read a wonderful article in The Atlantic entitled How the Other Half Saves: Financial Planning on $2 a Day. The article focused on the financial planning practices of individuals in other nations who earn very little – in some cases, as little as $2 a day. One might think that the life stories of these individuals would be so different than ours that there is little we can learn from them. In truth, there are a lot of …

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One of the biggest mental tricks that credit cards (and debit cards, for that matter) plays on our minds is that they make the use of money very abstract. It is incredibly easy to forget that the plastic you’re using when making a purchase actually represents money that you’ve had to work very hard to earn. Even if you manage to get past the disconnect between plastic and money, credit cards still offer a crutch that enables you to spend …

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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. What’s really needed for baby? 2. Where is Fringe headed? 3. Retirement savings or house purchase? 4. Cleaning house 5. Frugality and awareness 6. Budgeting for future purchases 7. Ashamed of passions 8. Retirement planning abroad 9. Helping newly widowed friend 10. Setting financial goals I am never quite sure what …

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For a lot of people, debt is a cycle. They’ll spend themselves to the breaking point, watching their credit card balances surge. Then, once they reach a point where they are having difficulty paying their bills, they cut back and start living frugally for a while until the credit cards are under control. After that, they splurge, and the cycle continues. I’ve witnessed this with friends and family. I’ve read stories like this from lots of readers. The cycle of …

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Have you ever felt burnt out at a job? If so, you’re not alone. Stress – the root cause of burnout – costs the US economy up to $300 billion in lost productivity each year. It has also been linked to serious health implications over the short- and long-term, from losing sleep and feeling irritable to more serious conditions like heart disease. Burnout occurs when your stress levels start to negatively impact your overall quality of life and quality of work. …

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One of the big challenges of outdoor youth sports is dodging the inevitable spring rainfalls. We’ll have a practice or two and I’ll see some real improvement with the children I’m coaching. Then, we’ll have some rain and be forced to miss a practice and a game and then the next time I see them, they’ve reverted back to what I’d call organized chaos. I’m not pushing them to be competitive, but I do know that they enjoy it when …

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For most people, the debt that really tips things from a manageable situation into a very challenging one is credit card debt. Credit cards are incredibly easy to acquire and incredibly easy to use without a second thought. Often, people can rack up hundreds of dollars in debt before ever seeing a single bill. The abstraction between the plastic card and the money and debt it represents often leads people to make poor choices, which leads people to debt. Eventually, …

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When a person signs up for their 401(k), they’re often hit with an onslaught of options. What percentage do they want deducted? Which of these fifty different funds do you want to put your money into? Or do you want to split your money among different funds? The documentation that many people get for their retirement plan at work is often so overwhelming with options that people simply put it aside and don’t deal with it. When a person walks …

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What if you’re wanting to consolidate or reduce debts, but you don’t really have any sort of collateral? You don’t own a home or a car, but you do have some debts you’d like to manage and potentially reduce. What do you do? I found myself in this situation several years ago, even before my financial turnaround. At that time, I took the advice of a friend and visited my local credit union. It’s perhaps easiest to think of a …

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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. Roth and Traditional IRA 2. Investing for very early retirement 3. Clutter caused by family 4. Next steps for expectant parents 5. Finding direction in retirement 6. Pay off house or invest? 7. Right age for financial lessons? 8. Time to buy a house? 9. Is Netflix streaming cost effective? 10. …

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