When I was growing up, my family lived on the edge of poverty – and sometimes perhaps over that edge. My father worked in a factory most of the time, when the factory wasn’t struggling and laying people off for months at a time. Five people were supported on that factory wage – him, my mother, myself, and my two older brothers. In addition, we also provided housing for other people for long periods during my childhood – various uncles …

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When it comes to money and personal finance, there are so many behaviors that seriously grind my gears. For example, it bothers me when people in serious debt don’t try to help themselves – as in, they’re complaining about credit card debt one minute and shopping for shoes the next. And I hate it when someone invites me out to dinner then tries to split the bill in half, even when I only had a salad. Bank fees annoy me, and ATM …

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I like to talk about financial independence on The Simple Dollar quite regularly. It is the big financial goal on my horizon, a state in which the money I’ve saved up and the investments I made are returning enough money so that I don’t have to actively work for income any more. Whenever I talk about it a bit too much, though, I usually hear from a few readers who tell me in no uncertain terms that financial independence is …

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It’s been a big year for me. I got a promotion at work, I turned 30, and I’ve almost made it through a New York City summer without buying an air conditioning unit. I probably spent just as much washing shirts that were soaked with sweat as I would have on an AC, but I still feel accomplished. Oh, and I’m about to get married. In preparation for that, my future wife, Ashley, and I have been getting our financial …

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Jill writes in with a really great question: How exactly do you use journaling to solve your financial problems? Don’t get how writing in a daily diary can help other than maybe documenting when things happened. As always with questions like these, my answer started off as a shorter response in the reader mailbag, but the answer kept growing and growing and growing until it was clear that it deserved a post of its own. So, let’s start right at …

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Improving your credit generally takes hard work and a whole lot of patience. That being said, there are a few credit improvement strategies that can yield some results in a relatively short period of time. These methods will not turn bad credit into great credit overnight, of course, but they can potentially lead to a noticeable improvement. Method #1: Lowering Utilization Credit scoring models are designed to carefully consider a factor known as your revolving utilization ratio. This is the …

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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. Navigating career difficulties 2. Handling an untrustworthy manager 3. Planning out retirement spending 4. Preparing for personal sabbatical 5. Climbing out of debt 6. Leaving entire estate to child 7. Investment house closing? 8. Easiest way to read classics? 9. Cousin won’t stop selling Scentsy 10. Taking freebies …

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Stocks get most of the play when it comes to investment news, books, and articles, with bonds typically playing the role of the sidekick. But bonds are an important part of your portfolio, and the bond market is both larger than the stock market and arguably more complex (as anyone who has read or watched The Big Short knows). And while you don’t need to be an expert on the entire bond market, having a basic understanding of what bonds …

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One of the most effective ways for students to reduce the costs of higher education is to take the community college route to earning a four-year degree. Previous generations viewed community colleges as places for students who were academically challenged or didn’t plan to earn degrees from four-year institutions. The harsh realities of the Great Recession of 2008 have changed that mindset, however, explains Dr. Marnelle Alexis Stephens, chancellor of MacCormac College, a private, not-for-profit, two-year school in Chicago. “Following …

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Most of the ways in which people talk about retirement these days follows along a few narrow lines. Put away 10% of your salary into a Target Retirement Fund starting at age 25 and you’ll be fine at age 65. Scoop up every bit of matching money from your employer, as that’ll help you reach your target. Your “number” – the amount you actually need to retire and maintain your current lifestyle – is enormous. The vast majority of financial …

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