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You’ve finally done it. You’ve committed to making some big financial changes in your life. You’re going to plow through your worst debts, build up an emergency fund, and start saving for retirement. At first, everything’s going wonderfully. You sell off a bunch of stuff on Craigslist and wipe out a few really bad debts. You put some money in your savings account for emergencies. You’re taking big whacks out of your highest interest rate debt. You’re spending less than …

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A few days ago, I was in the midst of a back-and-forth email conversation about organizing a to-do list. I was making an argument on behalf of the importance of knowing the relative priority of your tasks when getting things done. I’m just going to share the key part of the email – it’s long, but I think you’ll find it worthwhile – and then discuss the ideas within it in a money context: Let’s say, this evening, you have …

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Back when I was a Division I collegiate athlete, one of my favorite perks was getting free massages. Any time I felt tight, I could head over to the training room and an experienced physical therapist would work out all my knots, free of charge. In fact, we were encouraged to go as much as possible. Those were the days. Now, I live in Brooklyn, N.Y., and a massage will run me about $100 an hour. I’m not willing to spend …

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Over the past few years, my wife has been working hard to earn her masters degree in education in order to become a better educator. She’s a passionate educator and comes home almost every day bubbling with ideas for reaching students, even after years of teaching the same subjects to a revolving door of America’s youth, and I admire that passion and focus that she brings to the table. However, in the process of chasing that masters degree, there have …

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While there are plenty of different budgeting strategies to try, my personal favorite is the zero-sum budget. This type of budget isn’t hard to implement, nor does it require fancy software or third-party support. With a zero-sum budget, you can transform your personal finances with nothing more than pen and paper. Most importantly, zero-sum budgeting teaches you to use your most powerful wealth-building tool – your paycheck – to pay down debt and start saving. If you’re unsure how zero-sum …

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During the first few years of marriage, my wife and I were largely directionless. We both had jobs that paid fairly well that we enjoyed and we had a vague sense that we wanted to have children someday and wanted to have a nice house someday… and that was about it. I had really vague dreams of being a writer at some point, but I envisioned myself being a lot older when I thought about it. We drifted. We went …

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The average American upgrades their cell phone every 29 months, but I have a friend who goes through phones much more quickly than that. He likes to get the latest model every year. During a recent hangout, he startled me by opening a desk drawer to reveal what can only be described as an electronics graveyard. It contained six iPhones, an old flip phone, chargers, cables, cases, and every dongle imaginable. There were arguably enough in there for him to …

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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. Phone coupons and security 2. Life crossroads question 3. Car safety GPS devices? 4. Telling significant other about wealth 5. Escaping poverty 6. Retirement savings when loving career 7. Reusing water bottles? 8. Pyrex question 9. Uses for cheap cabbage? 10. Airbnb and spare bedroom 11. Stop measuring …

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A 529 plan is a great way to save for your child’s college education, but it can be challenging to figure out which plan you should use. 529 plans are a little strange in that they’re run by individual states, but there’s no requirement that you use your home state’s plan. And given that almost every state offers at least one 529 plan, and some offer multiple plans, there’s a lot of information to sort through. So, how can you …

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While the U.S. economy has been adding jobs every month since late 2010 and several key indicators  point to strong economic growth, plenty of Americans still struggle. A Federal Reserve study from last year showed that nearly half of Americans couldn’t come up with $400 to cover an emergency expense. And even though wages in some professions are growing, the rising cost of everything from healthcare to food to childcare makes it harder for the average family to get ahead. Of course, not …

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