Archive | 2016


Frugality’s Secret Gateway Drug

I’m a pusher. With this blog, I stand on a virtual street corner to sell a beguiling stimulant known as “frugality.” Frugality isn’t something you inject or inhale. Instead, frugality is something that works best when you swallow it whole—like a big pill. And unlike the pill named “ecstasy,” frugality delivers the genuine article: a […]

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The Best Christmas Gift Ever

To help get you in the Christmas spirit, I’m republishing this 2014 article about a totally digital present my eight-year old sister gave me. Happy Holidays! The best Christmas gift I ever received was homemade. It came from an eight year old—my youngest sister. She gave it to me on December 25, 1982 and it’s […]

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Compare Your Adjusted Gross Income to Others by Age and Filing Status [Using 2014 IRS Data]

Note: this post revises an October 14, 2015 article that reported 2013 data from the IRS Statistics of Income (SOI) program. Since then, the IRS has released its 2014 statistics so the time is ripe for an update. Everyone compares themselves to others—it’s basic human nature. But sizing up paychecks isn’t polite conversation. In fact, it’s taboo. […]

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Candy Graph

How to Compare Your Income to Others (Without Being Rude) [Using 2015 Census Data]

Note: This post discusses 2015 Census data. The Census Bureau has since released its numbers for 2016. To see where you rank under this latest release, click here. Everyone likes to compare themselves to others—it’s basic human nature. But comparing your income to others is not a topic of polite conversation. This cultural bar makes […]

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Ten Amazing Tax Breaks that Await Your Early Retirement [2016 Edition]

If you’re on a path to retire early, it makes sense to acquaint yourself with some wondrous tax savings. When you’re approaching retirement, these savings deliver motivation to stay the course (there’s a pot of gold at the rainbow’s end). When you’re already retired, these savings point to lucrative tax strategies (there’s a pot of gold sitting on the doorstep). Because […]

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A Solid Case for DIY Covers

Whenever you buy anything that’s worth much, inevitably someone tries to sell you a cover. “Your expensive new purchase,” they say, “needs solid protection.” I concede the point, but cases can be costly. Recently, I went online and dropped $100 on a new table tennis paddle. Like many case-worthy products, it’s a fragile thing that must […]

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2017 Obamacare Premium Tax Credit Calculator

Note: I’ve updated this calculator so that it runs directly on your browser (instead of on an embedded spreadsheet). To use this new and improved version, click here. In 2017 the federal government will once again offer a Premium Tax Credit (PTC) to qualifying taxpayers who buy health coverage from an approved health insurance exchange. To […]

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Compare Your Home’s Square Footage to Nationwide Surveys of Owners and Renters

Why should you care about your home’s square footage? Because inevitably, bigger living spaces trigger bigger spending. We all know that buyers of big homes suffer through higher down payments, broker commissions, and closing costs. But that’s just the start of their pain. After the deed to a mega-home is signed, the high costs continue as […]

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