Giveaway — J.D. Roth’s “Your Money: The Missing Manual”

by Katy on May 18, 2012 · 76 comments

Although I consider myself to be extremely responsible and savvy with the money in my wallet, that doesn’t mean I know diddly-squat about stocks, bonds, mutual funds or Roth IRA’s. But that’s okay. You don’t have to be an expert before dipping your toe into the icy cold water of money management. (Don’t worry, I have a 4013B through my employer, and I’ve been adding to it for years. Although somewhat passively.)

Luckily, there are saviors, like J.D. Roth who have taken the time to educate themselves about personal finance and high end money management. For those who may not know, Roth is a local boy done good who writes the highly successful blog Get Rich Slowly, which addresses just about any monetary issue you can think of. And like many boys done good, he wrote and published a fantastic book, titled Your Money: The Missing Manual. This deceptively small book deftly boils complicated financial concepts into clear and understandable writing. Not an easy task.

This really is the book I wish I’d read, (and kept for reference) when I was twenty years old and in my first adult job. (Administrative Assistant at a marketing firm in New York City.) Luckily, it’s still a valuable resource when a gal is working her way through her early forties.

This copy is a well-thumbed through used library book. Dog eared, but still readable.

To enter to win this copy of  J.D. Roth’s Your Money: The Missing Manual, just write your best financial tip in the comments section below. I will randomly choose a winner on Wednesday, May 23rd at midnight. One entry per person, U.S. residents only.

Good luck!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

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{ 76 comments… read them below or add one }

SKM May 18, 2012 at 5:40 am

The best financial tip that I’ve been using lately is to keep a budget document in Google docs with my husband. We have our budget broken down into categories with amounts allotted for each category (grocery, personal, gas, etc.) and as we spend that money, we subtract it and it lets us know where we are at in relation to our goals. It helps to keep track of where our money goes!


Jennifer May 18, 2012 at 5:49 am

My best financial tip is that I itemize every expense in an excel spreadsheet. I document how much comes in and goes out each month and have a goal to save at least 20% of my income while I’m still kid-free. I also contribute 3% of my income to my IRA, and my employer matches the 3%. At 25 years old I’m probably ahead of the curve but I wish I knew a lot more about investing and would really love a copy of this book!!


Suk Yee Ng May 18, 2012 at 5:53 am

Spend only 1/2 of your net income.


Reese May 18, 2012 at 6:01 am

Ah, I think J.D.’s knowledge is invaluable. I just tend to think his blog ethics are not. Oh well. I haven’t read any of his books, and think this would be an interesting read.

My advice: Wants and needs are very different things. Budget for both!


Christina May 18, 2012 at 6:25 am

Automate your savings … once you set it up, it’s a foolproof way to pay yourself first.


Sarah May 18, 2012 at 6:26 am

Best financial tip ever: don’t go shopping 🙂


Alex May 18, 2012 at 6:30 am

Financial tip: Identify someone whose financial position you admire, and ask them to separate your “wants” from your “needs.”


Mary Kate May 18, 2012 at 6:30 am

Spend less than you earn.


Carolyn May 18, 2012 at 6:39 am

Save early, save often.


Kathy M May 18, 2012 at 6:51 am

Live within your means.


Kate May 18, 2012 at 7:05 am

Ooh sweet, I like JD’s blog and really want to read this book. My best tip is if you’re in a relationship where you combine your finances, you should both have a set amount of money you’re allowed to spend without comment from the other person (we call ours “Allowance” even though that makes us sound like little kids). This helped us stop having arguments about things one of us wanted but the other thought was a waste of money.

I like Alex’s tip too, that’s a really good idea.


Jennifer B. May 18, 2012 at 7:22 am

Decide what your budget is for food for a week, then go pull it out of the ATM. This is what you have to work with for that week, and that’s all. I find that I tend to go (way) over budget on food if I try to keep a running total of my grocery expenditures in my head while using my debit card. Too tempting to make “small” overages.


Sara May 18, 2012 at 7:33 am

My best financial tip is to just be engaged in your money. I feel like I keep pretending that I can “set it and forget it” but I am more successful at sticking to my budget if I check in frequently.


fiwa May 18, 2012 at 7:55 am

My best financial tip is, when you are tempted to buy something, think “Do I really need this, or am I just buying it because I’m bored, or on a whim, or because someone else has it?” Make sure you have a clear reason, and if you don’t, sit on it for a week or two and see if you still really want or need whatever this thing is. Then see if you can buy it used!


kristin May 18, 2012 at 8:06 am

spend less than you make. it seems obvious, but I can’t believe how many people struggle with this simple concept.


Maureen May 18, 2012 at 9:01 am

Pay your bills on time to prevent having to pay late fees.


Diedra B May 18, 2012 at 9:46 am

my best financial tip is to write out a budget whether on paper, or on a computer. There are many resources online, in books, on television, and so on that talk about budgeting. But you will never reap the benefits until you actually make one. It looks scary until you actually sit down and do it. I found that I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. I had more money available than I thought.

A budget can show you:
a. how much you truly earn
b. how much you truly spend
c. how little/much you are saving
d. areas where you can tighten/loosen up.

Making a budget helped me do the following:
1. save with my fiance so we could pay for most of our wedding in cold hard cash
2. get rid of credit card debt systematically
3. save up an emergency fund and cut down extraneous spending
4. figure out that I could quit my stressful, unhealthy job!


amy May 18, 2012 at 9:58 am

tip that I love and loathe and stick to and forget about…. spend less than what you make. write down everything that you spend and then BUDGET. seriously.

thanks for the giveaway!


Queen Lucia May 18, 2012 at 10:24 am

Stop shopping. It’s amazing how much money you spend when you put yourself in a place where you are encouraged to consume: a store, on line, browsing a magazine or catalog, or watching TV – all can ramp up your dissatisfaction. I run errands only to places I need to go and try to never shop for entertainment or out of boredom. If I feel the urge coming on, I remind myself of all the de-cluttering I’ve done and how I’d rather have the money than the thing. Then I find something else to do: read, clean, bake, plant something, or de-clutter some more!


Rebekah May 18, 2012 at 10:37 am

If you think you need to buy something, wait a month. Often I’ll find a cheaper or free way to meet the need, or I’ll realize it wasn’t really a need in the first place.


Theresa May 18, 2012 at 10:37 am

The spending that we have the most control over is our grocery budget. When I cook, I’ll cook two dinners at once at freeze one. This works especially well for casseroles. Salads don’t freeze but I make two big bowls of salad at once and enjoy salad for a few days. Since I’m already washing vegies and chopping away for one salad, I might as well toss vegies into a second bowl. Just omit those few items that will not stay well for the next day, such as avocados or cheese. This can be done with fruit salad as well. This is a great way to use vegies and fruits that are on sale in the summer.


Stephanie May 18, 2012 at 10:46 am

The “kitchen-table” meeting has worked well for my spouse and me. I get anxious about money issues and hate to have to discuss them every day. I just need a break. My partner gets anxious when she doesn’t know when (if?) we’ll ever discuss a particular issue. By having a set time, I get to avoid talking about difficult topics every day, she gets to avoid feeling like we may never talk about something, and we do in fact talk about our finances regularly.


Sarah May 18, 2012 at 11:35 am

The one tried and true technique that works for my family is to know where every dollar is going before the paycheck even comes. We always know what bills need to get paid and how much they are, we have a grocery budget, gas budget, etc… But it takes more planning than that. For instance, I know my son needs a pair of slip-on shoes for the summer therefore, I will allocate a set amount I am willing to pay for said shoes. After all the planning is done, I know what will then be placed in savings. This has worked well for us. If we feel like a movie, we just plan one in the next pay period and adjust accordingly. No spur of the moment expenditures here.


Marla May 18, 2012 at 11:51 am

Before I buy anything, beyond the food and gas necessities, I ask myself how many hours I will have to work to pay for the item (after taxes). It is almost never worth the trade-off for me.


A. Marie May 18, 2012 at 11:57 am

When selecting a partner for life, (a) try to pick one whose financial mindset matches your own. If (a) doesn’t work (which is all too often the case), (b) at least pick one whose intellect and sense of humor match your own, so that you both don’t get too bent out of shape over the inevitable conflicts. I confess that (b) has been my life pattern; we’ve had our disagreements, but the fun has far outweighed them. At any rate, we’re still together after 34 years–and Partner is gradually coming around to my point of view!


kathleen May 18, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Contribute to your retirement TODAY! The younger you are the better. Make it a habit, something you don’t even think about.


Lea May 18, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Set up an automatic savings plan. Also, don’t just spend windfall income/gifts/inheritance, have a plan for where the money should go.


Linda in Indiana May 18, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Know where every penny goes for one month and you will be surprised how much you fritter away if you have never tracked it before. Have an emergency fund and a budget and always pay your savings account first. Don’t make it easy to touch that money. Then you have to think before withdrawing it. Carry cash and use it to make your purchases–you will let go off it slower that way–you will connect the spending more than with plastic. Save your loose change for a special thing–Christmas, a get away, something special. It will add up.
Think about all purchases first and try to satisfy that need with a used item before you ever buy new.


Priscilla May 18, 2012 at 3:22 pm

If you use credit cards, pay them off completely every month.


annimaver May 18, 2012 at 4:04 pm

“Use it up, wear it out, make it due, or do without”!! this is my mantra whenever i spend money since reading your blog– it’s really made a difference in my spending habits!


annimaver May 18, 2012 at 4:05 pm

whoops– make it DO


Maddy May 18, 2012 at 5:09 pm

We just bought our first home, and a friend gave us some advice. She suggested that we make biweekly mortgage payments instead of monthly. If you can get each payment to go towards the principal, then you could pay off the mortgage a few years early. We’re newbies, obviously, and haven’t confirmed the success of this method yet.
Would love to educate ourselves a bit with that Roth book. Cheers! : )


Linda from Mass May 18, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Spend less than you earn.
Pay yourself first.
Wait before you purchase anything large. Waiting normally saves money.


Mama Minou May 18, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Have it taken out before you see it on a paycheck while working. Aim for 20% or more for retirement.


Indigo May 18, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Keep it simple.

Don’t overly complicate financial matters by not thinking or talking about them, or by creating a budgeting plan that is too complex for you to stick with. Don’t worry about having the latest and greatest, biggest and best, just what works for you. In all likelihood it is a want not a need so don’t treat it otherwise.


A Frugal Spinster May 18, 2012 at 8:00 pm

My tips have all been share by others already and I think it’s impossible to name just one but high on my list:
stay or get out of debt.
live on less than you make.
pay yourself first.
THINK about your purchases don’t make impulsive purchases.


Linda May 18, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Live beneath your means.


Tracy May 18, 2012 at 8:43 pm

My husband and I finally got on top of our bills when we opened another checking account. Our names are on both accounts. The first one is for bills only. We get paid every two weeks so 50% of the bill money goes in that account each paycheck. The other account is for groceries, gas, gifts, etc. The bill account does not have an atm or debit card. I pay all of the bills through online bill pay. There is never a reason to take money out of there unless it is a month in which we get paid 3 times. I just leave that in there in case one bill is higher that month (electric, gas, etc) The other account has a debit card associated with it. We have been dealing with our money this way for many years. We also have 401K, and a couple of savings accounts for short term and long term savings. I have never been happier about our finances.

Thanks for hosting the book giveaway. I would love to read this book.


Jenny May 19, 2012 at 1:32 am

Firstly, keep your credit cards at home and not in your wallet. Secondly, the thing that worked best for me is something that’s a bit of a variation on what Jennifer B. said. I found I felt much more in control of my budget when on the day my paycheck cleared my bank, I took out all the cash I would need for that pay period – cash for groceries, gas, and any incidentals I wanted to include (for example, a planned lunch with a friend) – and then I took my debit card out of my wallet and left it at home. When I was out of cash for that pay period, that was it until I got paid again. When I use debit cards to pay for things, it’s easy for me to feel disconnected from my budget and my money. I have the self-control of a 7 year old, so impulse shopping tends to be a bit of a problem, even if it’s only a few dollars here and there. 🙂 This helped me cut that out almost completely.


pmhaas May 19, 2012 at 4:06 am

My greatest priority is borrowed from the wisdom of the Frugal Zealot herself, Amy Dacyzyn: It’s not about how much you SAVE, it’s about how much you SPEND. Period.

Thanks for your blog…I really enjoy being connected to other like-minded people!


Rebecca B.A.R. May 19, 2012 at 4:38 am

Automatically save (electronically) and you’ll never miss it!


Rachel in Portland May 19, 2012 at 6:38 am

Automatic savings invested regularly and making sure to include some fun money in the overall budget. I find that I meet my long-term goals better when I acknowledge my desire to live well in the present. Of course, my idea of living well in the present is not very extravagant either, which helps.


emmer May 19, 2012 at 8:20 am

everytime i got a pay raise, half went to savings. everytime i got a tax refund, birthday money, or other windfall, half went to savings.


Lynn D. May 19, 2012 at 9:01 am

Right now I am trying to reduce the amount I spend on food and am trying to “eat down the pantry.” I really don’t have any great tips. I’m not very good at this and my young adult son is even worse. I’m sure we would both benefit from this book.


Colleen May 19, 2012 at 9:49 am

Except for a car or house, don’t buy anything you can’t pay for in cash.


mike crosby May 19, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Let’s say you’re an alcoholic and find yourself in Vegas. Instead of buying a beer every 10 minutes at $5 a piece, get and 18 pack on sale at $9.99 and keep em cold in your room. Just get a bunch of ice and fill up your sink.

You save money and get exercise too. A win-win.


Lili May 19, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Make an attitude adjustment concerning how you view spending vs. saving. Start thinking of saving as something you deeply want to do, because of the rich rewards, and financial security and independence it will buy you down the road. Saving is not deprivation, it’s liberating. Find the fun in saving — instead of the big, expensive vacation this summer, plan a fun but frugal adventure nearby. Instead of eating out this weekend, pack a picnic dinner to take to the park or beach and dine while watching the sunset. Instead of buying new clothes, take another look in your closet — you chose those items because you really liked them and they looked awesome on you. It’s attitude, all about attitude.


Deborah C. Williams May 19, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Teach your children the value of money and how to save at an early age and don’t worry about keeping up with the Jones because they are not paying you bills.


Candy J. May 19, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Listen to the financial advice I give my children, and apply it to myself!


Erin from Long Island May 19, 2012 at 9:29 pm

i try to buy locally as much as possible and think outside the box. It seems instinctive to just pick up what you need at the store, but there are often ways to use what you already have for whatever you need to do


Dana TM May 19, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Live within your means. Though we really don’t have to work at it, and I wonder about retirement, where it is down the road….


Bonnie May 20, 2012 at 7:46 am

I still screw up financially on a regular basis, but here is what has helped when I’ve gotten it right: slow down.

At 45, I’m still working out emotional money issues left from childhood and a failed marriage, and I tend to get panicky or to spend from my heart instead of my head. When I slow down and give my brain a chance to catch up, I make much better choices. The heart still gets its say, but it doesn’t always get its way!


Celeste Lamar May 20, 2012 at 9:19 am

I used to love to shop. I would check the weekly advertisements in order to avoid missing “bargains.” Now, however, I realize that you can almost always find what you need at a reduced price, particularly if you are willing to go used. My tip, then, is to stay away from the weekly ads and the stores (brick-and-mortar or online) unless there is something you already know you need. You’ll spend less, and you’ll feel less pressure to spend at all. What a relief!


JoeAnne May 22, 2012 at 7:23 am

oops, I just read through comments and realize that my own “tip” (written before I read through) mirrors yours, sorry! I guess great minds think alike 😉


Elizabeth May 20, 2012 at 9:52 am

Plan for every penny, then track every penny. Sure, surprises happen, and sometimes Plan A has to become Plan B or even C, but having a zero-sum budget and knowing where the money goes has set my household on the right path.


Jennifer G. May 20, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Wait before buying.
Think of your purchases in terms of time spent earning the money.


Marcia in FL May 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm

If you NEED to buy something, always shop second-hand 1st….unless it’s underwear or pharmaceuticals!


Lindy May 20, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Lots of great advice in the comments!

My bit of finacial advise is to live simply. By this I mean tune out consumerism and what the Jones’s have.


Amy Thoms May 20, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Take good care of what you have, whether acquired second-hand or purchased new. You can waste a lot of money by letting something go to waste before its time.


Alyssa May 20, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Targeted savings accounts. It helps me keep sight of my goals. I use ING, but there are several “high-yield” bank options online. I like having specific goals and specific places to save. That way, my vacation savings isn’t lumped together with my car maintenance account and my house amd wedding savings accounts.

I’d love to win this one because I’ve wanted to read that book for awhile. Plus it’s my birthday on the 24th 🙂


anniemade May 21, 2012 at 3:05 am

i am terrible at managing money and have virtually no idea of how to handle my retirement planning. i lost my job last fall and have a small 403b that i can now choose to manage myself. or not. and, i just don’t know what to do about anything. sigh. i am trying to rely upon cash these days and stop using my atm/debit cards so much. makes the spending more visible, especially now that i am piecing together work and not having stable income.


Donna May 21, 2012 at 4:52 am

Use your library — for everything. Books, audiobooks, e-books, movies, museum passes, free local events.
Cook your own food.
Pack your own lunch and the lunch for those you love.
Use containers, not baggies/ziplocs, etc. Invest in a good drink bottle.
Invest in a good travel mug.
Make your own coffee/tea for your commute.
Make your own jam.
Give home-cooked meals, home-baked bread, and hand-made/hand-knit presents as gifts. With handmade cards.
Use cloth napkins and dishtowels in place of paper and paper towels.
Put the highest amount allowed away in your 401K/403B. Don’t ever think about it again.
Get rid of cable if you can.

Those are all totally obvious, but so easy to do every single day.

Thanks for the giveaway. I’d love to better understand longer-term investing.

Happy Monday!


Kim May 21, 2012 at 4:54 am

Every time you receive a paycheck put some money in long term savings, even if the amount seems small. Don’t spend that money.


Teresa May 21, 2012 at 5:36 am

One of the best financial tips I have heard lately is, “Live on what you do not need to spend.” Focusing on not spending solves so many problems, but is very difficult to do.


CWebb May 21, 2012 at 11:02 am

I would LOVE to win this! I read JD’s blog daily.

If it is something over $50, I exercise the 30 day rule. If I still want it after 30 days – I can get it. Most times, I will decide that it’s a bad idea, or I’ll forget about it, or I’ll find something better and cheaper.


Robin May 21, 2012 at 11:54 am

We have our life insurance company take out an extra $35 each month and put into an interest-earning account — when I see the withdraw I rarely think about the savings, it’s just another bill being paid.

Cary, NC


Jennifer May 21, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Save money every time you make some. Live beneath your means. And develop hobbies that earn – instead of cost – money.


Lizzie May 21, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Two favorite tips:
(1) If you need to withdraw cash from an ATM for a specific purpose, immediately write on the ATM receipt what the cash is for. Then when you go to record it, all your cash withdrawals won’t fall under “Misc.”!
(2) Consider paying your bills the old-fashioned way: with paper checks! I was having a hard time tracking my software vs. my bank’s online system and it all seemed too imaginary to me. When we switched back to paper checks, I made a lot fewer mistakes and we are on top of our bills now much better than before. Might not work for everyone, but it works for me!


Sharron May 22, 2012 at 3:37 am

For me the best money tip is still “spend less than you bring in; save the rest.” That said, I’m often wondering why that is easier said than done.


mary b May 22, 2012 at 4:39 am

Use cash as much as possible, if you do not have the cash for something don’t buy it. (and of course plan ahead for what the cash is for!)


JoeAnne May 22, 2012 at 5:06 am

Don’t “just look/window shop” unless you are truly in the market for something, it creates an illusion of need. I worked in a convenience store and there was a guy who would buy the local paper each Sunday and immediately ditch the ads. I remember thinking that he was nuts–that was the “fun” part of the paper 🙂 But he was brilliant. Those ads and “just looking”, even if it’s browsing craigslist (as much as I LOVE craigslist) is inviting trouble. All of the sudden, you think you NEED that cute little “this or that” in the glossy Target ad and Boom. If you are in the market for a particular item, focus on that alone and try to get it free or second-hand.


Trish May 22, 2012 at 5:25 am

Learned to live on a cash basis “the hard way.” Continue to do that to this day. Best example of that is my weakness, the grocery store. I take my grocery list and my cash (and reusable bags) only into the store. It works!


Beth B May 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Save for your own future before your children’s college education because there are no scholarships or grants for retirement and tax breaks will be less when your older and you don’t have dependents/mortgage interest/college loan interest to deduct. I just learned that one can withdraw contributions from a Roth IRA before Age 59 without any tax penalties (or taxes). So really, one could save for their children’s college education while building up their own retirement fund. Not to mention the money is in a sort of tax shelter, which will not be factored into eligibility for finanacial assistance for college. At least this is what I’ve been told recently by a financial advisor.


Carrie May 23, 2012 at 2:55 am

My best financial tip? That’s a tall order!

Right now I would say put your savings on autopilot. I use ING to manage my money. I have several savings accounts – one for each kid, one for emergencies, one for a dream trip to Italy “someday”. Each month on the 1st, money comes out of checking and goes into those accounts. I never see it, never touch it, never login to transfer it, but the money piles up nicely in there. I love that!


Rhiannon Perry May 23, 2012 at 10:34 am

Although I save money well, there are times I like to put myself into what I call financial boot camp. For example, at the beginning of the selected month I’ll withdraw a certain amount of money and place the money into an envelope labeled “Groceries/Food”. During that month I use this money for all food purchases, even eating out at restaurants. Doing these financial exercise periodically has given me greater insight into exactly how fast I am spending my money and always me to think of ways I can improve my ability to save more.
I can’t wait to start reading the Get Rich Slowly Blog, thanks for for posting it!


Holly Kalton June 6, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Here’s my best tip: run your household on a zero-based budget. Before you bring that paycheck home, decide, on paper, where every single cent is going to go. Then follow it to the best of your ability. Don’t get paid, spend money, and then wonder about your bills. Oh, and make sure to read great blogs like the nonconsumeradvocate!


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