small change toward a rich life

Topic: Miscellaneous

  1. Eschewing Black Friday, embracing Small Business Saturday

    29 November 2011

    I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend (well, those in the States, anyway — I hope everyone else had a great ordinary weekend). We had an awesome dinner, if I do say so myself. I am almost done with the cost calculations I promised; I just need to get a few prices from Costco […]

  2. On shrimp, or how to balance ethics and thrift

    19 November 2011

    Pocketmint now spans three and a half years, and while there are certain posts I would write the same today, other things in my life have changed over that time. I think this personal evolution is often meaningful, so periodically I’ll be highlighting something I said in the past and updating it with my current […]

  3. Retrospective rubbernecking at the subprime mortgage disaster

    17 November 2011

    As I mentioned once before, I have a block on ‘formal’ book reviews, so consider this just a friendly little chat, okay? I trust Stacy’s opinions implicitly, particularly on matters of journalism, so when in passing she praised Michael Lewis’ The Big Short, the very next thing I did was hit the library web site […]

  4. Frugal feasting

    8 November 2011

    Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday. I hear that some people have odd Thanksgiving customs like ‘watching football’ or ‘shopping’, but for us it’s pretty much an entire holiday about cooking and eating. These are two of my favorite things, so I’m happy. This week I’ve started poking around recipe sites looking for menu-planning inspiration. […]

  5. Move your money and bump your interest rate too

    1 November 2011

    A lot of people are moving their money this week, either because of outrage at the imposition of yet another fee, or due to a general realization that customers tend to get better treatment from small not-for-profit credit unions than from gigantic banking corporations. In tangentially related news, interest rates seem to be exploring Zeno’s […]

  6. Pocketmint reboot

    22 October 2011

    Three years ago, in October 2008, the stock market crashed and — not coincidentally, as I was then employed by the brokerage arm of an international bank — I promptly lost my job. The following month my partner Jak took a 10% pay cut, as the market continued dropping and layoffs and hiring freezes broke […]

  7. Supper club: an alternative to potlucks and dinner parties

    15 January 2010

    This entry started out as a comment to Kris’ potluck post on Get Rich Slowly, but it soon became too long for a mere comment, so I moved it over here. In addition to being frugal-minded, I’m also an unabashed foodie. When I was lucky enough to have three friends nearby who also liked to […]

  8. Save those crusts: a yummy use for your extra bread bits

    11 December 2009

    For the past few months, my newfound love for easy homemade bread got sidelined by my difficulties with excema. Even easy bread sort of requires being able to use both hands. So it was back to the Costco multigrain loaves for sandwiches and toast. It’s always pained my frugal soul that a certain amount of […]

  9. Spending money to save money

    5 November 2009

    We’ve done a pretty good job of cutting back on unnecessary expenses during this period of reduced income. ‘Magazine subscriptions’ seems like an obvious category to eliminate, right? Yet I kept mine. Here’s why: they save me way more money than they cost. Consumer Reports My first-ever magazine subscription, when I was 19 years old, […]

  10. Seeking alpha (testers)

    25 September 2009

    Alert readers may have noticed that lately the frequency of posts here at Pocketmint has been somewhat reduced. One reason is that some of my recently personal-finance writing has gone to Get Rich Slowly instead. In addition to the aforementioned discount grocery store adventure, I did a post on Discovering — and challenging — your […]

  11. An unflinching look at America’s dangerous fascination with ‘cheap’

    5 September 2009

    Even before I’d finished Ellen Ruppel Shell’s new book Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture, I decided I should review it on Pocketmint. I then spent two weeks artfully procrastinating on doing so. Apparently I have a block on writing formal ‘book reviews’. I have no trouble discussing books, verbally and informally, but the […]

  12. Credit cards (part three): use ’em … and lose ’em anyway

    7 August 2009

    It was a brief segment on NPR’s Marketplace last month that alerted me to the newest scary thing about credit cards: banks have begun to curtail or withdraw credit based on where you shop and what you buy. Here’s one example: consumer Kevin Johnson had his credit line slashed by two-thirds despite a stellar credit […]

  13. A visit to the Island of Misfit Foods

    4 August 2009

    The first of my two guest posts is up at Get Rich Slowly. GRS has long been my favorite personal finance blog, and was one of the main inspirations for Pocketmint. (Which is sort of a neat karmic circle, since JD credits my online personal journal of twelve years ago as the inspiration for his […]

  14. Credit cards (part two): use ’em or lose ’em

    17 July 2009

    As I mentioned in part one, for the last two years Jak and I have been using a single credit-card account, a Costco Amex card with cash-back rewards, for all our credit-card needs. (When a merchant doesn’t take American Express, we use the debit MasterCard for our joint checking account.) This makes record-keeping easy. At […]

  15. Credit cards (part one): the game is changing

    12 July 2009

    I’ve just about had it with credit cards. Like most people of my generation, I got my first card in college. Then, and for the next twenty years, getting credit was deceptively easy. I used it in all the typical foolish ways: to pay bills during periods of unemployment, to finance an unsustainable small business, […]

  16. Travel ‘protection’: a predatory scam

    3 July 2009

    Considering travel insurance? Make certain that you get terms in writing before you pay — terms that prominently include the word ‘refund’. That’s the takeaway message from the latest ‘Haggler’ column in the New York Times, where journalist David Segal goes to bat on behalf of beleaguered consumers. I was particularly appalled by the story […]

  17. One more for the ‘no-knead’ bread revolution

    1 July 2009

    I love fresh homemade bread. Once, in my early twenties, I made a loaf by hand. I had picked up the classic Tassajara Bread Book from a remainder table, and one afternoon I went at it for several hours, kneading and punching away. It made a glorious loaf which we happily devoured straight out of […]

  18. Movie helps kids relate to economic woes

    24 June 2009

    If tough economic times are causing you stress, you can bet your kids are picking up on the tension as well. Knowing how much to tell them about financial matters can be tricky; you don’t want to overburden and worry them, but neither do you want to leave them surprised and unprepared. I thought the […]

  19. Downsizing appliances to save money

    20 June 2009

    When we bought our house in December 2006, there was a surprise in the garage: the former owners had left us a huge old chest freezer. Now, Jak and I had a chest freezer already, a smaller model we’d bought at Costco about five years earlier. So this one was a bit superfluous, more than […]

  20. Risk-free high-yield savings option

    17 June 2009

    When is a CD not a CD? When it’s a savings account in disguise. Traditionally, certificates of deposit have offered a trade-off: in return for the bank’s guarantee of a fixed interest rate, you promise to leave your money with the bank for a specific term. If you renege and withdraw your funds early, you […]

  21. Put that money where it belongs, dammit

    8 June 2009

    Here’s yet another reason why checking online account information regularly is a good idea: My regular monthly electronic payment on our second mortgage went out to Bank of America on June 3. On June 4 I manually sent an extra $2000 against the principal. On June 7 I checked our mortgage accounts online. Turns out […]

  22. Back in the saddle

    5 June 2009

    Well, here we are, seven months after I lost my job, more than six months since my last update. My profession and field — and perhaps also, temperament — is such that employment cycles are inevitable. Full-time job to unemployment to freelance to full-time job and around again. Dot-com boom, dot-com bust, economy surge or […]

  23. Which President would economists pick?

    19 October 2008

    The presidential candidates have finally figured out that the top concern of most Americans right now is our floundering economy, and predictably they’ve both claimed to have the best economic solution. As I wrote before, I’m skeptical about how much influence the President has over the economy, especially in the short term. But I’m just […]

  24. Shopping for happiness

    25 September 2008

    With the entire country in dire financial turmoil this week, I’ve been fighting my own great depression with the quintessential American pastime: shopping! Well, sort of. I didn’t go on any kind of wild spree, nor was I shopping just for shopping’s sake; we’ve had a few months to grow our home-improvement fund since our […]

  25. Economics and the Presidency: can one person make a difference?

    18 September 2008

    Okay, so we’re all worried about the economy right now, for obvious reasons. And because it’s a Presidential election year, we’re hearing the usual promises from both candidates about how their administrations will improve it. There’s a lot of discussion about whether Obama or McCain will be better — for the national economy as a […]

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