As featured in The Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, and more!

February 2007

A few months ago, television watchers like myself were bombarded by commercials featuring a young man attempting to “live” out of his car for a few days. However, this guy has been doing it since July 2005. Andy Bussell lives out of his pickup truck, sleeping in the back. He wakes up, showers at the university gym, attends classes, then goes to work at the Apple Store. To keep himself from going insane, he is a yoga-practicing, guitar-playing rock climber. Always pushing him towards insanity are the voluntary living conditions:

What he misses most are a kitchen and a bathroom. To deal with the former, he buys food such as yogurt and fruit in small quantities; for as regards the latter, he takes advantage of public facilities. On occasion, he has resorted to employing an empty Gatorade bottle.


Andy decided to lean towards the simpler life when his credit card debt kept piling up. Now that he has been able to save some money, his debt is almost all paid off.

This adventure takes place in California; living in the Northeast, you would need to leave the heat on in order to survive in your car. The frequent gasoline fill-ups would negate any savings you’d manage to keep.

Read the hundreds of comments below for more interesting experiences had by those living out of their vehicles. If this describes you, please feel free to share your experiences below, as well.

Source: Seattle Times


Here is Kiplinger’s predictable 12-step program for becoming a millionaire, which inevitable contains “… and wait” somewhere. This guide is geared towards corporate workers who live and die by the paycheck.

1. Keep your eyes peeled for better ways to do your job. While Milton Wadams was slowly finding himself out of a job, thinking of something creative will help you stand out and make executives want to keep you around.

2. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Here are 8 tips for negotiating a salary. I’m not quite up to expert negotiator status, and I’ve had this book on my wish list for a while.

ducks-row.jpg3. Get your ducks in a row and your numbers on paper. There’s another vote for checking your market range on, but I still believe their surveys are inaccurate.

4. Plot your strategy when it’s time to move on. The article suggests creating a professional-looking MySpace page. Do recruiters and hiring managers look at MySpace when making their decisions? I find that very hard to believe, even when we’re living in the future like we are. I do think it’s important to have a professional internet presence, but I think most corporate workers are better off ignoring MySpace.

5. Contribute as much as you can to your 401(k) and other tax-deferred retirement plans… and wait.

6. Flex your tax-saving muscle. Use a flexible spending account to pay for medical expenses to reduce your tax liability.

7. Review your tax withholding. The article points to this tax withholding calculator so W2 workers can ensure they’re not giving the government an interest-free loan. That money can go to work throughout the year, if you’re disciplined.

8. Stash savings in a Roth IRA if you’re eligible. The law says you’ll be able to withdraw your earnings after retirement without any taxes due. Let’s hope they don’t decide to change that law in the next thirty years or so.

9. Don’t delay. The best time to start thinking about increasing your net worth all ready passed. Since no one has yet perfected time travel, the next best time to start is now, and you’ll regret it if you don’t.

10. Invest automatically. When your money automatically disappears before you can touch it, maybe you won’t even notice it’s not there. When I first started my corporate job, I signed up for Direct Deposit because it was a pain to get to the bank. Then I set up automatic transfers from that checking account to a savings account slightly out of reach for everyday expenses.

11. Watch for fund fees. Even index funds can have high fees, so don’t make any assumptions. Check your prospectus before you make any investment decisions, and learn how to understand it so you know what you’re reading.

12. Keep it simple. The article says it: “Be wary of get-rich-quick schemes or sales pitches for complex investments, such as oil-and-gas partnerships, that trade on the millionaire cachet to lure investors into buying high-fee products they don’t understand. Most millionaire households accumulate their wealth over the long term by sticking to a regular investing plan in a balanced portfolio.”

Each of these 12 steps makes a small difference in the immediate term, but if you hang on and build these thoughts into your personal philosophy, eventually the rewards will be in your bank account. [Kiplinger’s Personal Finance/MSN Money: 12 steps to become a millionaire]


Why listen to what celebrities — non-experts in finance — have to say about money? Well, some of them have been around for a while and have experienced the fickleness of the entertainment industry. Here are some lessons learned.

Dave Barry: “Don’t emphasize money if you don’t have much; be happy.”

Eric Bogosian: “Live within your means.”

Alice Cooper: “Put yourself on an allowance.”

Judge Alex Ferrer: “Save more than you spend.”

Al Franken: “Live frugally, pass on to the next generation.”

Jeff Greenfield: “Don’t be extravagant but enjoy life.”

Carl Hiaasen: “If you can’t predict what your income will be, it’s important to budget.”

Meg Tilly: “Eating in will help you save money, and saving money will give you choices in life.”

Each of the celebrities interviewed shares a personal story related to the way they handle their finances, whether directly or through a financial planner.


Along with my monthly checking and savings account statement, I received the following notice in the mail:

Important Message for Personal Account Holders Who Use Quicken, QuickBooks, or Microsoft Money

Beginning April 1, 2007, a monthly fee of $5.95 will be assessed if you access Wachovia Online Banking directly from within your personal financial management software such as Quicken, QuickBooks, or Microsoft Money.

This monthly fee does not apply if you download your personal account information from into personal financial management software or if you have a Crown Select, Crown Classic, Crown Banking, Crown Access, Crown Regular, Crown Interest, Custom Banking, Performance Banking or Command Asset Program account.

The notice also says that by upgrading to one of the listed account types, I can avoid the $5.95 fee. When I originally upgraded to Quicken 2007, I was no longer able to connect directly to Wachovia using the software. While I’ve fixed the problem, now I always download my activity by logging into my account on As long as I continue to do so, I won’t be charged the $5.95 monthly fee.

This is an example of Quicken’s high cost to the banks being passed onto the consumer — banks have to pay Intuit to support Quicken’s file format.


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