girl roasting a marshmallow

A few months ago, I posted an article on how we plan frugal family vacations in national parks. During the first half of June, we put that knowledge to the test with a long road trip family vacation that took us to Badlands National Park, Shoshone National Forest, Yellowstone National Park, and Grand Teton National Park. We drove the entire trip and we camped every single night but one (we were actually unable to return to our campsite due to …

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The well-done documentary film is a singular, wonderful piece of art. A great documentary can inspire, expose, educate, elucidate – and sometimes, do all of those things of that at once. I think they work best when they tackle a complicated issue, make us question our preconceived notions, and teach us things along the way. For many of us, nothing is more complicated than money. Should I dollar-cost average? How quickly should I pay down my debt, and which balances should …

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“Travel hacking” is when you work within the rules of airlines, hotels, and travel credit cards to earn rewards such as points and miles to put toward free travel. Despite its name, travel hacking is simple (and legal), and lots of people do it every day to save money and see the world. If you have ever wanted to take the family on a trip and just couldn’t afford the airfare, learning to travel hack can solve your dilemma. Meet …

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This is part of a short summer series covering smart strategies for using leftover staple foods – things like rice, beans, pasta, and so on. Here’s what you do when you cook a bit too much and don’t know what to do with the rest! Sweet potatoes are one of my family’s “hidden” staple foods. It’s not one of the obvious ones that people often point out, like rice and beans, but sweet potatoes are always available at a really …

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Does the idea of taking 20 or more years to pay off $10,000 worth of credit card debt sound appealing? Does the thought of paying more than $15,500 in interest fees on that $10,000 debt seem like a wise financial move? These are silly questions, of course — the answer is clearly no to both of them. Yet if you choose to make only the minimum monthly payments on your credit card accounts, this math is a very real example …

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“The year 1776, celebrated as the birth year of the nation and for the signing of the Declaration of Independence, was for those who carried the fight for independence forward a year of all-too-few victories, of sustained suffering, disease, hunger, desertion, cowardice, disillusionment, defeat, terrible discouragement, and fear, as they would never forget, but also of phenomenal courage and bedrock devotion to country, and that, too they would never forget.” ― David McCullough, 1776 We hold these truths to be …

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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. Parents in difficult financial shape 2. Vanguard Personal Advisor Services thoughts 3. A major decision on siding 4. Looking for health insurance 5. Canceling a credit card unexpectedly 6. Safety of online banks 7. Roth IRA or 457? 8. Old VHS “home movies” 9. Pay down mortgage before …

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The best investment strategies are fairly easy to maintain. Once you’ve figured out how much to save, which accounts to use, and what your asset allocation should be, it’s primarily a matter of choosing a few low-cost index funds to implement your plan and letting it ride. For the most part, you should be ignoring the ups and downs of the market and focusing all your energy on putting more money into your accounts. But even the best investment plans …

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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. Kurt Vonnegut on building and maintaining “Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.” — Kurt Vonnegut This is one flaw (among many) that I see in myself. I find writing the first draft of an …

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Credit cards can be powerful tools for college students. By using the right credit card responsibly, students can graduate with zero debt and a great credit score that will help them score a better interest rate when buying a home, qualify for credit cards with better rewards, or get a small business loan. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. It’s easy for students with minimal financial experience to swipe their way to a high credit card balance. In 2016, over …

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