My background is somewhat “mixed” financially: my maternal grandmother Ruthie was an only child from a wealthy family when she married my grandfather, a prominent Baltimore lawyer, while my paternal grandmother Betta was raised by poor Kentucky farmers, and she and my grandfather made do throughout their lives on mostly blue collar jobs. Even though my widowed grandmothers had little in common when my parents married, they became friends and were both very involved in their granddaughters’ lives. And from each of them, I learned several important lessons about money, from both ends of the wealth spectrum:

1. Buy it right, buy it once. Ruthie always had enough money to buy whatever she needed, but she did not condone spending unnecessary money. For example, she would do a great deal of research before she bought a new car and made sure she got one that would last and work well until it died, at least a decade later, if not longer. She was lucky enough to be able to pay cash for her cars, but she never took that ability for granted and spent her money on quality automobiles that treated her well.

Seeing Grandma’s example, I now know that if I need to spend money, I should make sure I’m spending it on something that will last. Anything else is wasting my money.
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retire early
At the end of this semester, I will be taking early retirement from my job as a college professor. I will have just turned 54 years old. How am I able to quit my job at such a young age?

I actually started a retirement plan over 30 years ago. Despite some setbacks and detours, I was able to stick to that retirement plan. I am looking forward to reaping the rewards of my financial decisions soon.

I have listed here the most significant financial decisions I made throughout my adult life that most impacted my ability to take an early retirement.

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healthy lunches

If you have a growing waistline and shrinking bank account, one simple way to fix these two problems is by simply prepping your own workday lunch meals for the week.

When you work a traditional job, there isn’t always time to eat healthy or to even pack your lunch in the morning. You’re busy balancing life and a career. But these tips will help you stay healthy at the office for under $20 a week.

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birthday party on a budget

I recently had my milestone 40th birthday! My wife loves to throw a party, so she was asking me for weeks how I wanted to celebrate.

I’m not usually one for making a big deal out of birthdays, but this one felt like it deserved some recognition. I wanted to have a great time, but I didn’t want the costs to get out of hand. In my mind, the most important thing was to get my closest friends and family together to share in my milestone.

My wife and I worked up the following plan to maximize our fun — but minimize our costs. [ continue reading… ]

spending choices
One of the most difficult things in life, for a spender like me, is to stop making poor money decisions. I’ve made a great deal of progress in recent years, reducing my spending, and looking for ways to put my money to better use though.

In order to stop making poor spending decisions, it is vital that you evaluate your habits, and then make the effort to change.

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low-cost lifestyle

We live in a consumer-driven society.

Everywhere you turn, there are ads for products that claim to make you smarter, thinner, or happier.

To say it’s challenging to avoid going into debt for material items is a bit of an understatement.

However, if you can successfully avoid going into consumer debt or succumbing to hefty lifestyle inflation, you’ll find the benefits of having a low-cost lifestyle are huge. Here’s why: [ continue reading… ]