• Using the Reality of the Moment

    Yesterday, I read a wonderful article by Leo Babauta at Zen Habits entitled The Reality of This Moment. The article encourages people to think about how we’re okay in the moment: As we go through our day, we’re often stressed because of all the things we have to do, the things we’re not doing. We …

  • The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Child Medical Issues Edition

    At almost the exact same time, our youngest child got a large facial rash and our daughter got an extremely sore baby tooth. This led to medications. Doctor’s appointments. Worry. Being a parent would be far easier if you could simply rely on perfect health from your children. Human lives are fragile, though. I am …

  • 7 Excuses People Use to Avoid Financial Responsibility – And Why They’re Useless

    This article first appeared in U.S. News and World Report Money. The recipe for finding financial success is an easy one. Spend less than you earn and do something sensible with the difference. If you do that over and over, you will see financial success. The challenge is actually making that happen. It’s not easy …

  • Discover the Forest

    One of the coolest online tools I’ve seen in a long time came to my attention this past weekend as I was thinking about our family’s weekend plans between now and Memorial Day. With the arrival of spring, I was looking for outdoor activities, when I came across DiscoverTheForest.org. DiscoverTheForest is a website that allows …

  • Underpromise. Overdeliver.

    One common tactic that people use to wow their clients or bosses is to promise a little less than what can be achieved, then deliver more than what was promised. If you promise everything you think you can achieve, you create a very tight and difficult schedule for yourself, one that’s prone to disaster if …

  • Reader Mailbag: Mushrooms

    What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. Balancing savings and risk 2. Cheap automobile situation 3. Finding auction deals 4. Property and income tax 5. Children and careers 6. Archiving old magazines 7. …

  • What Does It Mean When “Interest Accrues Daily” or “Interest Accrues Continuously”?

    Some version of the above question pops up in reader emails perhaps once a month. I thought it might make sense to explain exactly how it works. Along the way, we’re going to get into the ideas of APR and APY and how they affect you. Interest Accrued Annually Most of the time, we deal …

  • Considering Self-Employment? Six Things You Need to Know from Someone Who Has Done It for Years

    I’ve been fully self-employed since 2008, starting from a side business that was around in some form since 2004. Over that decade, I’ve learned quite a lot about the financial and practical realities of self-employment. When I first made the leap to full-time self employment, it was scary. It felt like the number of things …

  • The Challenge of Rebooting Your Routines

    No matter what change you want to introduce into your life, it involves removing, modifying, and replacing routines. For example, if you’re trying to spend less money, you’re probably trying to replace or eliminate routines that involve spending money each day. You’re trimming out visits to the coffee shop or cutting out your visits to …

  • Ten Pieces of Inspiration #174

    Each week, I highlight ten things each week that inspired me to greater financial, personal, and professional success. Hopefully, they will inspire you as well. 1. Gabriel Garcia Marquez on personal change “Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but … life obliges them …

  • The Costs of Potty Training

    I’m proud to say that our youngest child is potty trained. He occasionally has an accident in the night time, but he hasn’t had a daytime accident in a long time. We’ve taken three children through this process and I felt it was worthwhile to share some thoughts on what products were actually necessary for …

  • The Mistake-Free Choice

    I make mistakes. A lot of them. I spent too much money. I said something I shouldn’t have said. I wasted a bunch of time doing something foolish and unnecessary. I made a statement without properly knowing the facts behind it. Each time I make a mistake, I’m left with two things. I’m left with …

  • Can “Churning” Credit Cards Really Work?

    There are a lot of credit card offers out there that reward you for signing up by giving you a bunch of frequent flyer miles, hotel discounts, or big gift certificates. If you weren’t particularly worried about your credit in the short term, wouldn’t it make sense to sign up for a bunch of these, …

  • Reader Mailbag: Helicoptering

    What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. New company 401(k) question 2. Freezing in plastic 3. Eating cheap on road trip 4. Leasing an electric vehicle 5. Too much money into retirement? 6. …

  • The Pasta Sauce Conundrum

    Two or three times a month, my family enjoys an evening meal that features pasta of some kind. We might enjoy spaghetti or lasagna or something else, depending on the mood. However, when I go to the store to buy pasta sauce, I absolutely cringe at the prices. The “cheap” sauces are loaded with high …

  • The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Take Action Edition

    A friend recently pointed me to the research work of Jennifer Aaker, a researcher at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. From the article: “The results show that acts designed to improve the well-being of others will lead to greater happiness for givers when these acts are associated with concretely framed, prosocial goals as opposed …

  • Five Simple Things to Prepare Right Now for Your Estate

    This article first appeared at U.S. News and World Report Money. Everyone knows about the big things that people should prepare for their loved ones in the event of their untimely passing. A will. Life insurance. A living trust. Those are the big things. After that, there are a number of little things you can …

  • Seven Principles of Yard Sale Season

    I enjoy going to yard sales. On our free spring and summer weekends, our family will burn part of the day going to these sales, looking for Have a plan. Rather than simply trusting that we’ll find sales by serendipity, we take some time to locate sales beforehand. Sites we use include Craigslist, YardHopper, and …

  • Drawing the Line

    I define “frugality” as meaning “cutting back on the things that aren’t as important to you so that you don’t have to compromise on the things that are important to you.” For example, I don’t particularly value anything about laundry soap except for whether or not it gets my clothes clean, so homemade laundry soap …