small change toward a rich life

Topic: Miscellaneous

  1. The future of Pocketmint

    11 January 2014

    If you’re reading this, six months after my last post, I imagine it’s because either you know me personally, or you’re a tenaciously devoted follower of Pocketmint. I know there are a few of the latter out there, and I appreciate it, so I want to offer an explanation and (re)set expectations. First, the bad […]

  2. Women and money: four destructive myths

    8 March 2013

    Among financial bloggers, this has been designated Women’s Money Week. I don’t usually think about finances and economics in a gender-specific ways, but coincidentally, last week I happened to be reading a book called Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry. The author, Helaine Olen, devotes a chapter to the way […]

  3. Learning to talk to strangers

    31 December 2012

    In college, I was once recruited to write a feature article for a magazine. I fled more-or-less screaming from the prospect. Writing was not the problem. Fiction, non-fiction, whatever — I was confident I could figure it out. Research has always been one of my better skills, even back in the day when you had […]

  4. Intermission

    11 November 2012

    Sorry for the extended break between posts. I’m still here, just having a rough go the past couple of weeks. I’ve tried to keep writing, but every time I start composing an article it turns into either a rant or a whinge. Which is not useful to anyone. I’ll be back — hopefully quite soon […]

  5. How American culture is causing widespread misery

    19 September 2012

    One of the fun things about reading extensively in different disciplines — psychology, history, sociology, economics — is that I sometimes encounter essentially identical motifs in unrelated sources. For example, I recently ran across a striking quote from President Jimmy Carter’s 1979 “Crisis of Confidence” speech, in which he acknowledged the declining trust in government, […]

  6. FinCon12: a little too much of a good thing

    10 September 2012

    This will be just a mini-con report rather than a full-fledged article, because I am trying to catch up on both a) sleep and b) a to-do list of daunting length. I’m really glad that I went to FinCon, and I’m just as glad to be home again. I consider myself an introvert — not […]

  7. Obamacare and affordable health insurance

    4 September 2012

    A couple of months ago, I bemoaned the 14% year-over-year increase in our individual health insurance premiums and expressed my fear for 2015, when both Jak and I will have moved into higher age brackets. I calculated that at the current rate of increase, our premiums would double in just four years. Since the cost […]

  8. Not a Social Media Expert: a confession and cry for help

    21 August 2012

    Two weeks from tomorrow, I’m heading off to Denver for the second annual Financial Blogger Conference, also known as FinCon12. I am dragging with me (from across the country) my best friend Stacy, who has been known to write a personal finance post herself from time to time, when her relentless day job as editor […]

  9. Obama vs. Romney tax calculator cherry-picks data and distorts results

    16 August 2012

    There was not supposed to be a Pocketmint post today. The plan, in fact, was for the next post to be on Monday, and about something altogether different. But I followed a link, and made a discovery, and suddenly it was two in the morning and I had so many pages open in my browser […]

  10. Sidestepping my souvenir angst with one cheap, offbeat idea

    11 August 2012

    What with one thing and another, I’ve spent very little of my life to date traveling outside my home country, which meant that our surprise trip to Costa Rica in June provoked a rare dilemma. I hadn’t expected to get to Costa Rica for years yet, and now — given financial realities and the number […]

  11. Make Money Online Fast (Not): an ethical dilemma

    25 July 2012

    I don’t usually talk about the money-making aspect of blogging, but I’m going to make an exception, by way of explaining a few changes taking place around here. Late last year I decided that I want two things from Pocketmint. One, I want to help people and make a positive difference in their lives. I’m […]

  12. Urban homestead failure still a frugal success

    20 July 2012

    If, as I do, one reads many books and blogs espousing a culture of frugality and anti-consumerism, one will quickly and repeatedly cross paths with the cousin community of urban homesteaders and do-it-yourselfers. I am seduced by the whole idea of urban homesteading, for reasons of both ethics and aesthetics. But I fear I am […]

  13. The Tale of One Bad Cat

    3 July 2012

    This may seem like a post to the wrong blog, at first. I assure you, a personal finance lesson will eventually come out of this. But before we can go there, you must let me introduce you to our (with apologies to Beatrix Potter) One Bad Cat. This is Sammy. We brought him home five […]

  14. Unpackrat

    23 June 2012

    Here’s some of what I’ve been doing since getting back from our various trips: Cleaned out the refrigerator, including the usually-ignored door shelves. Discarded a crazy amount of half-used condiments, some dating all the way back to 2008. Reorganized the freezer and deep freezer. Pulled up the oldest items and forced myself to incorporate them […]

  15. Home again

    14 June 2012

    … and we’re back. Somewhat the worse for wear after a grueling and problem-filled travel day that lasted twenty-two hours and ended after three o’clock this morning, but not a bit sorry to have gone. I’m responding now to backlogged comments and hope to have a new post written in a couple of days. In […]

  16. Accidental tourists

    1 June 2012

    Our month in Mexico was all the travel we planned for this year. But then we were invited to attend a wedding in Jak’s family. In Texas and … Costa Rica. With round-trip airfare generously paid. Well, gosh. Touring a Costa Rican rainforest has been high on my bucket list for nearly two decades, ever […]

  17. Reader case study: short sales and debt

    9 April 2012

    After I posted What to do — and not do — with your former mortgage dollars, I received a request for advice on a strategic default from a woman I’ll call Tricia. I agreed to give her some (friendly, I-am-not-a-lawyer) suggestions based on my own research, and she gave me permission to share our exchange […]

  18. Quick, save now! Easy Roth IRA options

    1 April 2012

    If you live in the United States, you have just seventeen more days to do something very important. No, I’m not talking about filing taxes, although you certainly don’t want to forget that. April 17th is also the deadline for maxing out your tax-advantaged retirement contributions for 2011. The government actually gives you three and […]

  19. What to do — and not do — with your former mortgage dollars

    21 March 2012

    With the decision to stop paying our mortgage, our immediate expenses dropped by nearly $3000 per month. That saved us over $32k in 2011 alone. So what did we do with all that ‘extra’ money? Well, first of all, about $6000 went to pay additional income tax, now that we no longer qualified for the […]

  20. How I fell out of love with the stock market

    25 February 2012

    For a whole variety of reasons, all of them bad, I didn’t put so much as a dollar into a retirement account until I was 36 years old. When I did start saving, I followed these four standard pieces of personal finance advice: For long-term growth, put most of your money into stocks, balanced by […]

  21. Radio Pocketmint

    20 February 2012

    I am both excited and terrified to report that Tess Vigeland from Marketplace Money will be paying a visit to House Pocketmint tomorrow, to interview the whole family for an upcoming feature. Michaela is even taking the train up from Portland to participate. Producer Devin has asked us to have a noisy activity going on; […]

  22. Unshopping

    18 February 2012

    Here at House Pocketmint we are not just buying fewer things, we are also busy jettisoning much of what we already own. Why not just keep all the stuff we’ve already paid for? Because we’ve finally figured out that there’s an ongoing cost to owning something that goes far beyond the money spent to buy […]

  23. Dueling deadlines: taxes and FAFSA

    13 February 2012

    On January 31, I sat down at my computer with determination. This year, I would not wait until April. This year, I would calculate our taxes early. No 1040EZs here — we have complicated taxes that take hours and hours. Nevertheless, I was resolved to be done before the stroke of February. Are you laughing […]

  24. Handmade holidays: experiment in wreath-making

    27 December 2011

    On even-numbered years, Jak’s kids are with us for Christmas, and we often end up spending the holiday with his extended family as well. On odd-numbered years — like this one — the kids spend Christmas with their mother, and Jak and I are usually alone. I wasn’t too keen on buying a whole tree […]

  25. Feed a crowd for forty bucks

    9 December 2011

    The calculations are complete. Total cost per person for our Thanksgiving meal (one generous serving each of six dishes and two desserts): $3.50. Note that I didn’t skimp on quality of ingredients — I used such expensive items as pine nuts, heavy cream, whole vanilla beans, and real maple syrup. I also did nothing different […]

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