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Should you Trade in or Sell Your Old Car?

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Your brain plays many tricks on you when you’re shopping. One that I almost fell victim to when I was buying our newest (used) car was this one: As the amount of money you’re spending increases, you are less likely to save money in little ways. In my case, I bought a $19,900 minivan. I had negotiated the price down from somewhere around $23,000. It was worth an hour of my time to do the bartering that resulted in paying $3,000 less. Heck, most of that hour was consumed by getting the price from Read more […]

Laid Off

I was laid off last week. Again. I wish I had some insight or tips to share, but I don't. I'm just hustling. I have had my nose to the grindstone, trying to get all my ducks in a row. Today is the first day that I don't have an appointment or urgent business to take care of. Here's how I spent my first week after being laid off: Monday: I volunteered at a local nonprofit where I would like to work. I met another attorney for coffee (networking!). Tuesday: I registered for unemployment and Read more [...]
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I Bought a Dented Car {aka Why Buddhists are Frugal}

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“Everything is suffering.” I promise I’m not going to get morbid on you, but this is a Buddhist concept (completely oversimplified, for my purposes, here). In the Buddhist tradition, samsara refers to the endless cycle of death and rebirth, which is laden with suffering. Until you escape the cycle and reach Nirvana. I’m not a pessimistic person, but I wholeheartedly believe that almost everything is suffering. Think about the happiest thing that you can, and you will find that there it Read more […]

I Paid Full Price for Underwear

This is my confession for the day: I paid full price for underwear, for my kindergartner, last week. Planning is the foundation of frugality. I have been writing a Frugal Manifesto in my mind, and planning is always #1 on the list. Spontaneity is the enemy of the frugal. So, when fate found me at the mall, and my son wearing his last pair of clean undies, and I popped in to a children's clothing store to see what undies they had on sale or on clearance, and found that there were none ... and Read more [...]
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How Much We Spent The First Year

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I have heard that “renting is like throwing away your money.” I have heard it a lot. In fact, I even used to say it! Until 2008, when house prices fell for the first time in my lifetime. The truth is, that line is more marketing ploy than truth when you actually crunch the numbers. We are closing the books on our twelfth month in our new-to-us home, and trust me: There is plenty of money we have thrown away. Don’t get me wrong: We are even more in love with our house now than we Read more […]

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Positive Net Worth! {2016 First Quarter Update}

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A lot has happened since my last net worth check-in. Un-Anticipated Expenses: A $1,300 snowblower that costs more than one of our cars. $70 of food spoiled after losing power for 36 hours. $700 generator to prevent pipes from freezing, but was returned when the power came on 10 minutes after we got it home. $625 for six months of pre-paid piano lessons for Little Stapler. $135 keyboard for Little Stapler to practice piano. (We will buy a piano if he sticks with his lessons and practicing) That’s Read more […]

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All Aboard the Tax Rollercoaster!

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I am a glutton for punishment. That is, I do my taxes each year as soon as I can. The truth of the matter is that I do our taxes ASAP so I know whether we will owe money and to have more time to get the IRS payment together. This year was no different. Unlike years past, I did not divert any of my freelance income to a savings account for taxes. Although I only made a few thousand dollars as “self employment” income, I was still concerned. I was also unsure of how the whole mortgage interest Read more […]

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The Envelope System Experiment: Lessons Learned

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I have learned a few things after using the cash envelope system for a month. Not the least of which is how difficult it is to stay squarely within a budget!  Although I tried The Envelope System last summer, the lessons I learned have stayed with me. Now that we are flush with some cash in our bank accounts, I wonder whether I should try using cash again, but reconsidered. Here’s why … Cash is Not King Despite my idealistic efforts to have no exceptions to our “cash only” policy, there Read more […]

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I Got Rid of Half of My Jewelry {And it feels great!}

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I don’t have expensive tastes, but I do enjoy high quality, beautiful jewelry. Over the years, I have acquired several gemstone, pearl, and amber pendants and earrings. But you wouldn’t know it if you looked at me recently. I have been in a jewelry rut. Most days, I don’t wear any jewelry because I don’t think of putting any on, don’t think I have any to match my clothes, or don’t have time. Well, wouldn’t you know … Mr. Stapler got me a beautiful gemstone necklace for my birthday. It Read more […]

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Take a Moment to Review your Investment Portfolio

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I am usually very hands-off with our investments. So when I happen to open up Mr. Stapler’s Vanguard account (to facilitate a rollover from an old 403(b)), I was shocked to see that thousands of dollars were invested in a money market fund. Shocked and disappointed. You see, I’m not the most daredevil investor, but I do like to invest our retirement funds for the long haul. I like to put our money into low-cost index funds and intend to keep them there for decades. But when I opened up Vanguard, Read more […]