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One of my favorite things about college was the public lectures and presentations by interesting people. During my years, I heard fascinating talks from scientists and politicians and entrepreneurs. The university would hold these on a central building on campus and just throw open the doors for everyone. You didn’t have to be a student or faculty member to attend these lectures. You just had to show up at the door. One of my wife’s favorite things about college were …

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Last week, I traveled with my wife, my children, and my parents to South Dakota and Wyoming for several days. (I’m planning an article later this week outlining some ways to save money on a vacation to South Dakota.) One of my big ideas for planning the trip was to look for ways to take advantage of the size of the group in order to reduce the per-person cost of the vacation without reducing the fun of the vacation for …

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I used to truly relish the weekends in my life. I would get off work at 4:30 or so on a Friday afternoon and just be gleeful that I had all of those hours between then and 7:30 on Monday to do whatever I wanted. My job was often stressful, so those hours became a real respite from the stress. I’d try very hard to fill it with things unrelated to my work. Usually, that would mean a big buying …

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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. Heading toward self-sustaining finances 2. Overwhelmed by home buying 3. Board games with story 4. Keeping cash on hand 5. Personal GPS? 6. Infinite Summer 7. CFL dangers? 8. Bank envelope with cash 9. Using TSP for down payment 10. How to say thank you A few days ago, I found …

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The public library is my single favorite “free” resource in my community. In fact, I value it so much that I actually posted a visual tour of the local library I use the most on this site a few years ago. (It’s worth noting that libraries aren’t truly free. While you don’t have to pay any money immediately to use the resources, libraries are usually funded by a mix of taxpayer dollars, grants, and donations. However, the value that most …

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If your employer came to you and said, “In exchange for a 20% pay cut, you can work from home,” would you do it? If your employer suggested that, for an 18% cut in pay, you only had to be in the office one day a week and could work your other 32 hours a week at your convenience, would you do it? If your employer said that you could have six weeks of vacation a year, no questions asked, …

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A few summers ago, my family and I were on a driving vacation when our vehicle broke down in a pretty small town in Minnesota. I was able to find a repairman who could fix it, but we were going to be there most of the day. The town didn’t look too promising from what I had seen of it to that point, so I had resigned myself to a pretty boring day just watching the kids playing at a …

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Each week, I highlight ten things each week that inspired me to greater financial, personal, and professional success. Hopefully, they will inspire you as well. 1. Friendship during a disaster I can’t tell you how much I enjoy going through The Commons, which is a warehouse of public domain pictures on Flickr. I’ll often go to that page, hit reload a few times, and just deeply enjoy the glimpses into the past that it provides. This picture depicts flooding in …

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One of my routines when I visit the grocery store is to stop by the entrance where there are a bunch of free newspapers available for anyone who wants to take them. I usually wind up taking one of each. These newspapers cover the Des Moines area as well a a lot of the rural communities around Des Moines. They are perhaps the most useful resource available to me for finding interesting inexpensive and free things to do in my …

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“It’s kind of funny…the moments on which life hinges. I think growing up you always imagine your life–your success–depends on your family and how much money they have, where you go to college, what sort of job you can pin down, starting salary…But it doesn’t, you know. You wouldn’t believe this, but life hinges on a couple of seconds you never see coming. And what you decide in those few seconds determines everything from then on… And you have no …

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