simple office
One of the things I noticed as I went through two cross-country moves in the space of a year was that downsizing ended up being a big help to my finances. When you have less stuff, there’s less to worry about, and less to take care of. Plus, you don’t need a bigger place to keep all your things.

Here are some of the ways downsizing can help your finances in big and small ways:

Downsize Your Home

Moving into a smaller place can reduce your overall expenses. Not only is your base cost lower, but you probably also pay less in utility costs. If you sell a bigger house and buy a smaller place, you end up saving on property taxes too. And, depending on your market, you could actually come out ahead if you sell a bigger house and then rent a smaller place.

That way, you don’t even have to worry about property taxes, maintenance, repairs, and some of the other expenses that come with buying a home. Owning is a major goal for many people so I understand the desire to own but figure out what lifestyle works for you and decide what might make the most sense.
[ continue reading… ]

getting married
If you’re a romantic at heart, if you believe that choosing a life partner isn’t something you think about and plan for but something that just happens, if you believe in “love at first sight” and in “happily ever after,” then I suspect you will strongly object to this article.

I am going to argue here that when choosing a life partner, you should make sure their financial behavior is acceptable and that their financial belief system is compatible with yours. If you identify issues, you should address them prior to committing. And if you realize that the gap between your belief systems cannot be bridged, you should consider letting go of the relationship.
[ continue reading… ]

I fell in love with a foreclosure in my area last summer. The house seemed like the perfect investment property; it was in a good area, had good bones, and just needed some basic cosmetic work – like replacing the carpet, stripping the wallpaper, and painting.

After stumbling upon the house, I drove past it several times. The place wasn’t even on the market yet but I already had my heart set on making an offer. I had no idea how much it was going to go for other than a rough estimate based on other properties in my area. I also didn’t have enough money for the down payment. Sure I could’ve (in theory) used my emergency fund for the down payment, but that would’ve been a pretty risky move.

Still, I had this childlike mentality come across me; the house looked like a diamond in the rough, and I wanted it!

I made a goal to save enough money to cover the down payment, closing costs, and a small renovation budget – a total of $25k. (Keep in mind real estate is fairly cheap where I live in the Midwest.) I also set myself a now seemingly unrealistic deadline: less than one year.

I started putting money away in June, averaging about $500 per month. While I’m glad this house motivated me to create an investment property fund, I’ve also come to the realization that I set a pretty unrealistic goal.

After all, saving money takes time. A long time.
[ continue reading… ]

A very common issue with couple finances is that both spouses are not on the same page. Money stresses are all around us, and it’s all too easy for these to seep into our marriages and ruin relationships.

Is your financial committment on the rocks with your spouse? Here are three money-related problems that burden a marriage and how to overcome them.

[ continue reading… ]

Growing up, I knew kids who were paid for their grades. An A was worth $X, and a B was worth a little less, and so on. My parents briefly flirted with the idea of paying my siblings and me for our grades but realized it didn’t really motivate us all that much.

It was unnecessary in my case since I’m internally motivated to do well. My siblings on the other hand just didn’t care about the money. They used it as an excuse to do poorly. After all, what was the point if they didn’t care about the money? In fact, only one out of the five of us was effectively motivated by money to get good grades.

Now that I have a child of my own, I’m trying to figure out how to motivate him to do well in school without turning to money.
[ continue reading… ]

suits and ties
We’re all told that appearances shouldn’t matter — we shouldn’t judge other people by their appearances or make a priority of keeping up with the Joneses. But you’d think that we wouldn’t have to keep reinforcing these beliefs on appearance if they are such universal truths. We’d have no problem avoiding spending money on things that really just amount to keeping up our appearances.

The Value of Appearances

A lot of personal finance gurus draw a hard line against spending money on appearances. I can think of a few who only buy clothes from second-hand stores, drive cars that are more than ten years old and go to great lengths not to spend money on making them look good.
[ continue reading… ]