Philip Brewer's blog

Simplify budgeting with personal money

Many couples keep their finances partially (or even completely) separate. One big reason is that spending joint money on individual expenses can lead to disputes, and keeping sepa

Borrowers, lenders, and others--beware trusting the government

Having a prosperous country (as opposed to having merely a prosperous elite) depends fundamentally on the rule of law. The system can work adequately well with various sets of rule

Guest post: Live a rich life on a budget

I have a guest post up at Get Rich Slowly that suggests that you be a bon vivant: "A bon vivant is a person who lives well — someone who enjoys the best things in life, especially

On Choosing and Defending Your Luxuries

How do you defend your luxuries? Easy: You defend them to yourself, not to some other guy.

Turn smugness into a positive virtue

Various times here in my posts I've admitted to an unfortunate tendency toward smugness. It's really a negative character trait, and one that I struggle against. There are ways,

Another path to recovery: higher incomes

Preventing a collapse of the financial system is part of preventing a depression. However, the shorthand term for this--getting the banks able and willing to lend--is misleading.

Reverse engineer the best time of your life

Everybody has a "best time" of their life. Maybe it was the summer you spent hiking the Appalachian trail, or a semester abroad during college, or the second half of the first yea

Getting by without money in Spain

The money economy is one of the givens of modern life. For the ordinary person with bills to pay, getting by without money is almost inconceivable. Even someone who tries hard to

Economic effects of pandemic flu in a recession

While health authorities worry about the human cost of pandemics, other policy-makers have tended to focus on the economic costs. Economic impact takes many forms--drops in produc

Book review: The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It

In the days when self-sufficiency was simply the normal way of things, you'd learn the necessary knowledge and skills from your parents. (And from your grandparents, aunts and

Modern companies as specialized venture capital firms

In the old days, companies actually produced stuff. They invented it, designed it, made it, marketed it, and sold it. Although there are still some companies like that, they'r

Tactics of the rich

There are things the rich do that working class and middle class folks don't. Some of them--living off the return on capital rather than wages or salary--are only available to the

Retirement accounts and money to spend

Everybody knows that retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs offer great tax advantages (and once upon a time--and maybe again someday--a corporate match). But people who have p

It takes a frugal spouse to make a frugal home

Something of an exaggeration, of course—a one-person household can be very frugal. But there's an underlying truth: A household is only as frugal as its least-frugal member.

Don't worry about missing the bottom in houses

I've recently heard from several people who want to buy a house and are thinking that now may be the time. In particular, they're worried that waiting might cause them to "miss th


Stagflation, the bane of the 1970s, is pretty much the worst situation for ordinary folks. With the economy depressed, jobs are scarce for workers and profits are scarce for busin

Borrowing, renting, substituting, and doing without

Finding deals is a key topic on Wise Bread, and for good reason--finding a great price may make something you want affordable and make it easier to stretch your resources to cover

The end of a recession versus recovery

There's an organization that picks the "official" dates for the beginning and ending of recessions. It considers the recession as running from the top of the peak to the bottom of

How to bake sourdough bread (and save a buck on every loaf)

I doubt if the cost of yeast is really breaking your household budget. If you bake a lot you probably already buy yeast in bulk, so you're not paying the per-packet price anyway.

On choosing temporary freedom

On one side there's your typical job. It's clearer than ever that it doesn't offer the security it once did, but it still offers some, and it offers other things--predictable inco