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The Curious Case of the Broken Coffee Maker: What’s the Real Cost (and Value) of Convenience?

Hand holding French press and pouring coffee ; What's the real cost of convenience?

It’s my favorite time of day. The house is quiet after a morning rush to get the rest of my family out the door. Ahead of me is a fresh new day to be seized. But first, coffee.

I push the “brew now” button on my coffeemaker, anticipating the delightful “beep! Beep! Beep!” that means it’s done.

But when I remove the carafe, it feels suspiciously light. When tipped over, it pours out a measly ounce.

Oh, hell no.

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There’s No “Right Choice”: Choose What You Want, and Then Make It Right

I’m with a friend on a cold day in late November or early December. We’ve inexplicably agreed to meet at the local zoo, despite it being about 40 degrees, cloudy, and snowy. We sit bundled up, rub our arms for warmth and share a bag of gourmet popcorn while our kids run around the zoo’s playset.

“How did you decide to strike out on your own?” I ask. My friend is a talented designer and artist. She owns her own company, and is the creative director for another local business.

She talks about her decision: her desire for more ownership over her work, the freedom to do things the way she believes is best, the ability to devote her time where her passions are. It’s exactly what I’m hoping for.

But what about the financial side, I wonder aloud, worrying about how the loss of my steady income could affect my own family and our money management. Has that panned out?

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The Shutdown Shows Why Civic Engagement Must Be Part of Your Financial Plan

Civic engagement - money

If you’re like me, the past 35 days have been an exercise in futile fury. Or furious futility. Something like that — all I know is that each passing day of the government shutdown had me grinding my teeth in rage.

It’s infuriating that people who are hard workers serving their country were shamed over the state of their finances in a crisis that was most definitely not of their own making.

Instead of sympathy for suddenly having to work without a paycheck, these government workers were questioned for not having enough savings or told to just get a loan. They were held up as proof that even the “stability” of a government job isn’t unfailing. That everyone still needs an emergency fund and a plan for when their pay hits the fan.

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How Financial “Tough Love” Kept Me Stuck in Toxic Shame

So much of the money advice out there is couched in a “tough love” approach. Finance experts justify this so-called tough love by saying it comes from good intentions of trying to help you improve your money management and build a better life.

But let me tell you a little bit about how this has often worked for me.

I’m stressed about money and looking for answers. But instead of solutions, I’m called “stupid” for making an incredibly common money choice. Like running up a credit card balance, borrowing for college, eating out “too often.”

In all of this personal finance advice, I’d just hear judgments: immature, ignorant, lazy, poor self-control, or simply “not wanting it” enough.

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Blow Your Monthly Budget? Yep, Me Too — Here’s How I’m Salvaging It

monthly budget - building with woman hanging her torso and head over the edge

I’ve been writing about personal finance for more than six years now. In that time I’ve amassed a lot of know-how on good (and bad) ways to manage money. But those years have made me even better at a more crucial skill: writing about money with authority. I’m literally paid to sound like I (and the sites I write for) have the answers to every money problem.

My professional writing is on point, and I make sure it is. Because I have editors and fact checkers who will kick me in the ovaries if it isn’t, and also my job depends on it.

In the realm of my own money, however, things get a bit…murkier. Messier. Uglier. Because hey, I’m human, and living proof that knowing better isn’t always the same as doing better.

Case in point: going way over budget just halfway through January. Here’s how I blew my monthly budget in just 15 days, and what I plan to do to fix it.

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KonMari Your Money: 12 Marie Kondo-Inspired Tips to Tidy Your Finances

Konmari method for your money — a woman holds a stack of folded sweaters

A couple of years ago, my husband Chris went on a big decluttering kick. He’d already been a long-time minimalism enthusiast, so when he came across “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo, it kicked his desire to “tidy up” into high gear.

Unfortunately for him, he was stuck with a partner (me) who recently had a second baby and was not in the mood to anything else “life changing,” thank you very much. But he went ahead tidying up on his own, giving me a pretty thorough overview of the book’s philosophy in the process.

Now the popularity of Netflix’s “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” has re-highlighted the appeal of the KonMari method. This program provides a structure to tidying up that addresses both the practical side of cleaning up and the emotions that keep us holding onto things we no longer need.

That also makes this tidying philosophy a smart method for cleaning up and organizing your finances, too.

You can use the principles of the KonMari method to guide a cleanup of your finances. Doing so can get rid of financial clutter, and create a money management system that’s easier to use and gets you closer to your goals. Get started with these 12 Marie Kondo-inspired tips to tidying your money.

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How to Manage Money in the New Year to Get Your Sanity Back

Woman sitting calming with coffee, staring at the ocean

Minimizing and managing stress can have a big impact on how you feel and what you’re capable of. Lowering stress levels will naturally help you feel happier, calmer, and more at peace.

But don’t overlook the secondary benefits you’ll reap when you actively manage your stress. When you’re not running on empty, you’ll also boost your ability to make positive money changes in the new year.