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Editor’s note: A few times a month, Lance Cothern from Money Life and More will stop by to share some of the best articles from across a variety of publications, including other blogs and mainstream media.

The holiday season is now over which should be a relief for wallets and purses everywhere. I fell victim to the common occurrence of buying gifts for myself this holiday season, but it turns out there are ways to avoid this behavior. Even though the holidays are over, I feel these tips could be applied all year long to make sure you aren’t making unnecessary splurge purchases.

A new year is right around the corner or has just started depending on when you’re reading this. People are revved up and ready to begin making changes to improve their lives. Making blind changes won’t help anyone though. I personally believe you need to reflect on the past before you can make meaningful changes to your future. This works particuarly well when you’re trying to take control of your money!

Part of the end of a year and the beginning of a new year is looking back at big stories from the previous year. You’ll hear of the top 10 moments of 2013 as well as a list of the celebrities we’ve lost during the last year. One celebrity that passed away in 2013 was Paul Walker. I read a piece on why his death should mean something to us all, but the reason why it should mean something wasn’t because he was a celebrity.

When reflecting on your life, you might realize that time is worth more than money to you at some point. This really hit home when I came across a piece that asked a very strange question. Would you become self-employed for less money? The idea is that you could make a similar amount per hour, but you’d have more flexibility to work more or less depending on what was most important to you at the time.

Finally, I ran across a list of 11 questions you should ask yourself about your money to see how you’re doing financially. This is a nice check up for the end of any year.

I hope everyone had a happy holiday season and is looking forward to an amazing 2014. Do you have any goals you’ve set for yourself in the coming year you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them!

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Editor’s note: A few times a month, Lance from Money Life and More will stop by to share some of the best articles from across a variety of publications, including other blogs and mainstream media.

It may seem like I’ve fallen off the face of the earth here on Consumerism Commentary over the last two months and I apologize for that. I’ve been crazy busy doing things like getting married, going on our honeymoon cruise (cruise trip cost report here) and trying to keep everything else running at the same time. It’s been a lot of fun, but now it is time to get back to business and share some great articles with you all.

Sometimes I think I’m afraid to spend money, but then I remember we’re trying to destroy my wife’s student loan debt. However, once we’re done, I wonder if I’ll be able to loosen up the purse strings a bit and start spending more. MSN Money tackles this issue in their article Are You Afraid To Spend Your Money?

In case you hadn’t heard, JD Roth is back and writing again at Get Rich Slowly! I was super excited to hear this news and look forward to reading his articles every now and then when they pop up.

Mr. Money Mustache had a great couple posts that listed 50 jobs over $50,000 that don’t require a college degree. Some of the jobs are a bit of a stretch in my opinion, but overall I think it is a great resource if you don’t have a college degree.

Finally, if you have kids heading back to school you might want to see Len Penzo’s 5th annual sandwich index. Len measures the costs of 10 different brown bag sandwiches every year and the results may surprise you. Which sandwich should be in your kid’s lunch bag if you’re pinching pennies?

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Editor’s note: A few times a month, Lance from Money Life and More will stop by to share some of the best articles from across a variety of publications, including other blogs and mainstream media. I (Luke) am currently in Portland, Oregon, attending the World Domination Summit, a conference that is not as politically disruptive as the name implies.

Finally, after many months of work, I’m a landlord! We now have the townhouse rented out so hopefully I’ll have a lot more free time on the weekends to catch up on other fun activities like writing these pieces for you. Of course, I’m still going to be quite busy as I get married in the next couple of weeks. Then, next month, I have a fun honeymoon planned!

Enough about what’s going on in my life though… Here are just a few of my favorite recent reads I wanted to share.

J Money was inspired and shared a list of money mistakes he read on another website. He followed up by listing which money mistakes he has beaten and the other money mistakes that he still has problems with. No one is perfect with their money, and that includes many of the authors you read! I’ll be the first to admit I’m not perfect.

Unfortunately, many money mistakes involve budget mistakes or lack of a budget all together. David shares five ways he has found to relieve stress on your budget. Hopefully they’ll help if money is a bit tight for you.

Speaking of budgets, Len Penzo shares a story about Jen, a single mom from Virginia that lives on $40,000 per year. She does a great job showing how her finances work for her on her income.

Last, but not least, on my list of good reads is Wealth Lion’s retirement plan. I love reading about other people and their plans for retirement because it seems so far away from me.

I hope everyone is enjoying their extended holiday weekends, if you had one. To those who weren’t so lucky like myself, enjoy your regular weekend. Any day off is a good day!

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A few times a month, Lance from Money Life and More will stop by to share some of the best articles from across a variety of publications, including other blogs and mainstream media.

I’ve been spending a lot of time renovating our townhouse to prepare to become a landlord in the next month or so. It is a lot of work, but I think it’ll be worth it. I have a lot of research to do in regards to setting the price, screening tenants and the legal aspects. It’ll be an interesting transition, but I think we’ll be prepared for it.

Speaking of real estate, I came across an amazing tool that showed something I knew, but never really thought of. The New York Fed shows the national change in housing prices by year by county on this color coded map. It shows housing has been very volatile over the last few years. Will the volatility continue? I don’t know, but the large swings make me wonder.

Just like people knew that housing would “always track inflation”, it’d make sense to think you’d know your spouse extremely well after being married for 10 years. I probably would think I’d know my spouse pretty well too, but sometimes you still have a lot to learn after 10 years of marriage.

When I was browsing the web, I also found this article particularly funny. Jeff Reeves looked at President Obama’s recent financial disclosures and thought he’d share a few investing tips with the President, as well as share his opinion about what the President was doing well. I found it educational, funny and very interesting.

It seems like the President is set for retirement, but are you? You might want to know what would happen if you raised your 401(k) contribution rate by 1%. The results may shock you!

When you up those retirement contributions, it might make you a bit more frugal with work spending. Luckily, here are 13 tips to help you be more frugal at work without looking too cheap.

That’s it for this week! I still have a ton of work to do on the townhouse, as well as with everything else going on in my life! Maybe one of these days it will actually be finished!

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The Honesty of Companies, Middle Class Stagnation

by Lance
Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day! Take some time to thank your mother for any good personal finance lessons you learned while you were growing up, whether by positive or negative example. A few times a month, Lance from Money Life and More will stop by to share some of the best articles from across a variety of publications, including ... Continue reading this article…

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Buying a House, The Diderot Effect and Awesome Customer Service

by Lance

A few times a month, Lance from Money Life and More will stop by to share some of the best articles from across a variety of publications, including other blogs and mainstream media. Life has been extremely busy for us over the last few weeks! I recently bought a house and had to write a ... Continue reading this article…

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Pay Off a Mortgage Early, Affording a Smartphone, and JCPenney’s Gimmick

by Lance

A few times a month, Lance from Money Life and More will stop by to share some of the best articles from across a variety of publications, including other blogs and mainstream media. I am excited to be starting a new series here on Consumerism Commentary! The goal of my new series is to share ... Continue reading this article…

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Plutus Awards, Education Vs. Skills, Grown-Up Jobs, and More

by Luke Landes

This September, the Plutus Awards will be coming to the Financial Blogger Conference. Consumerism Commentary is part of a wide community of blogs focusing on personal finance, money management, personal investing, and retirement. Personal finance blogs provide an alternative to traditional financial media, and the audience for this alternative type of media has expanded greatly ... Continue reading this article…

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Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to Streamline Regulations

by Luke Landes

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is seeking suggestions from the public about how the government organization can streamline the variety of regulatory responsibilities they’ve inherited from other oversight groups. leave your comments with the CFPB here. The industry and much of the public are never fans of over-regulation, and the CFPB intends to reduce regulations ... Continue reading this article…

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Weekend Reading

by Luke Landes

Here are a few articles I’ve spotted recently. Are you superstitious? Superstitions can extend into your finances; the belief that the stock market’s performance on January 1 signals the performance for the entire year can be classified as a superstition. Frugal Zeitgeist offers a compilations of several superstitions and their origins. I’m a customer of ... Continue reading this article…

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Hurricane Irene Approaching

by Luke Landes
Hurricane Irene

I hope that my town is inland enough to escape the worst of Hurricane Irene, but living near a canal increases the likelihood of flooding. I live in a second-floor apartment, so I don’t need to worry about a flooded basement. I believe I am stocked for the possibility of power loss, though I ventured ... Continue reading this article…

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Call For Guest Articles, the Personal in Personal Finance, and the Lottery

by Luke Landes

Later this month, I will be traveling to southern California to visit my family. I usually travel to the west coast for vacation twice a year, once in the spring and once around Thanksgiving. During this time, I’ll still be working, but I often use this as an opportunity to feature a select number of ... Continue reading this article…

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Other Community Projects and Interests

by Luke Landes

When I’m not busy with Consumerism Commentary, I have a small window for working on other projects. Most of these have stemmed from Consumerism Commentary or focus on the personal finance community, but every so often I get a chance to focus on my other interests. Here are some of the other projects I work ... Continue reading this article…

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Blogger Dinner in New York, Nannies, and Museums

by Luke Landes

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of getting together with some of my colleagues in the world of personal finance blogs. Six of us, representing My Journey to Millions, Free From Broke, Investor Junkie, and Money Crashers, met for dinner in New York City. My trip to the city allowed me to get in ... Continue reading this article…

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Meet Bryan, Host of the Consumerism Commentary Podcast

by Luke Landes
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Those listening to the Consumerism Commentary Podcast may have noticed that our latest episode, featuring guest David Bach, was hosted by a new voice. Our long-time producer, Tom Dziubek, is currently taking a hiatus from the show to explore a great job opportunity, and we wish him the best of luck. We’re happy to have ... Continue reading this article…

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7 Independent Personal Finance Blogs You Can Trust

by Luke Landes

In just the past few years, there has been an explosion of personal finance blogs, a niche that was vacant eight years ago. Those eight years feel like a generation or two, considering the way the Internet has changed since then. Now some might argue that the blog form is on its way out as ... Continue reading this article…

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Weekend Reading: Buying Your First House, Poetry, and Warren Buffett

by Luke Landes

Here are a few articles to keep you entertained and informed this weekend. 4 Questions Before Buying Your First House. Here is my recent contribution to US News. “The decision to buy a house is about more than just mortgage interest rates, the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, and property taxes. Your home is more than ... Continue reading this article…

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Running in the Snow

by Luke Landes

One of my goals for 2011, like most people who make New Year’s resolutions, is to lose weight. Earlier this week, I started a training program that will lead me to be able to finish a 5K. To track my progress and to assist with training, I’m using an application for my phone, RunKeeper. RunKeeper ... Continue reading this article…

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Traffic Cameras, Salad Dressing and Capital Losses

by Luke Landes

The snow is falling hard in my corner of New Jersey. After Christmas in Queens, New York, I rushed home last night to stay ahead of the storm. The current weather reports are calling for 12 to 18 inches of the white stuff on the ground by the time the storm has passed. We’ve stocked ... Continue reading this article…

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First Credit Card, Getting Fired, and Presumptuous Gifts

by Luke Landes

Saying goodbye to my salary and employer-sponsored benefits should mean that I should be looking to cut back my expenses for a little while as I work on making up for that loss through increased income. This weekend I had my last hurrah, spending money for a new professional-grade digital camera. I had been saving ... Continue reading this article…

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