Month: May 2014

10 Personal Productivity & Personal Finance Techniques

In the past two weeks, several people have written me asking how I manage to get my finances in order, work full time, maintain this blog, be a good father and husband, read two books and a few magazines a week, and not go completely crazy. While this isn’t strictly a personal finance topic, I …

Categories: Getting Started

When Should Other Values Trump Sound Personal Finance Decisions?

After the recent discussion of stay at home parenting and the stellar response that it received, it became clear that the question about whether to be a stay at home parent wasn’t so much about money as it was about values. In most situations, sound personal finance choices are in line with typical goals, such …

Five Minute Finances #5: Get Started on Setting Up Your 401(k)

Five Minute Finances is a series of tips on how you can save significant money or reorganize your financial life in just five minutes. These tips appear Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on The Simple Dollar. If you haven’t started up a 401(k) plan (if you’re an employee) yet, what are you waiting for? Let’s say …

Categories: Money, Retirement

The $100 Question – And What It Means

If you found a $100 bill floating around, what would you do with it? It’s a question I’ve been asking a lot of people lately, and the answers seem to fall into two general groups. According to my notes, I asked thirty one people that very question, and here’s how they fell out. Spend it. …

Categories: Getting Started

America’s Cheapest Family: Chapters 6 – 10

I have a soft spot for books on frugality, so when I spotted America’s Cheapest Family on the new releases shelf at my local bookstore, I had to read it. Are there a lot of good ideas inside for how to reduce your financial footprint, or is it a bunch of self-promotion and hot air? …

“I’m Too Tired To Cook” – At-Home Dining Solutions For The Overworked Family

Many of my readers have reported to me that they enjoy my postings on cooking and they see how it can save some serious cash, but that most nights after a long day of work, they’re just too beat to cook a stellar meal. I can sympathize. After a long day at work and with …

Categories: Meals

Renting Versus Buying: Are There Situations Where Renting Clearly Wins?

Recently, several readers have contacted me arguing quite forcefully that renting gets a bad reputation and that in many cases renting is actually a better deal than buying a home. In order to break down this argument, I defined three distinct cases: rent exceeds total monthly mortgage payments, rent exceeds the interest portion of total …

Categories: Housing

USPS Announces The “Forever” Stamp: Is It Worth Your $0.39?

Yesterday, the United States Postal Service announced the introduction of a “forever” postage stamp. Here’s how it works: whenever you buy a first class postage stamp, it will no longer be marked with a cash denomination on it like current stamps are. Instead, it will merely say “First Class” on it. Once you buy it, …

America’s Cheapest Family: Chapters 1 – 5

I have a soft spot for books on frugality, so when I spotted America’s Cheapest Family on the new releases shelf at my local bookstore, I had to read it. Are there a lot of good ideas inside for how to reduce your financial footprint, or is it a bunch of self-promotion and hot air? …

How To Invest In Stocks For Beginners

After digging myself out of a financial meltdown, I realized I needed to start investing for the long term in order to secure a good life for myself in the future. I read a few books on stock investing, but they really didn’t click for me at first; I needed something tangible to wrap my …

A Beginner’s Guide To Kitchen Equipment

Several of my readers are diving headfirst into learning how to cook at home because of the huge financial savings, but getting started in the kitchen means more than just buying some food and following some recipes: you need a bit of equipment, too. A reader of mine wrote to me recently about this: I …

Categories: Meals

Five Minute Finances #4: Get A New High-Yield Savings Account

Five Minute Finances is a series of tips on how you can save significant money or reorganize your financial life in just five minutes. These tips appear Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on The Simple Dollar. The average American has a savings account at their local bank, which offers on average an interest rate of 0.07%. …

Categories: Money

Inflation: What Is It And Why Should I Care?

Inflation is one of those topics that crops up time and time again on the news, and it’s one of those topics that makes my wife’s eyes immediately glaze over. It’s not long before the channel has been turned or the newspaper page has been flipped. Yet inflation (and avoiding it) is one of those …

America’s Cheapest Family: Overview

I have a soft spot for books on frugality, so when I spotted America’s Cheapest Family on the new releases shelf at my local bookstore, I had to read it. Are there a lot of good ideas inside for how to reduce your financial footprint, or is it a bunch of self-promotion and hot air? …

Ten Books That Changed My Life #5: Invisible Man

Invisible Man Ralph Ellison Changed my life in January 2000 Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you? When I was a little boy, laying flat on my back on the hallway outside of my bedroom as a child, reading obsessively, I dreamed of being a writer. I dreamed of writing …

Categories: Books and Reading

Frugal Living: 10 Ways To Save Money This Week

I’ve written a ton about frugality on this site and how much money it can really save you, but many of these suggestions seem like major lifestyle changes. “I don’t want to do that!” is a common reaction that people give as they imagine a life of pinching every penny. The truth is that it’s …

Categories: Frugality

The Biggest Risk Of All: You

Whenever I make calculations on this site, I usually involve some calculation in which a person contributes some dollars a month each month to savings in order to make an even comparison of which option is a better deal. Quite often, to the chagrin of my readers who are looking for a “deal,” I recommend …

Categories: Debt Management

Why I Keep Cash Under My Mattress

It’s true. After all the financial advice I give out on this site, I keep a decent amount of cash “under my mattress” (actually, it’s in another secure place in my home, but it’s effectively the same thing). At first, this seems to fly right in the face of everything I preach on this site. …

Categories: Insurance

An Introduction To Compound Interest With Spreadsheets, Part 3: A Simple Mortgage Calculator

Regular compound interest is (basically) the way most loans and savings accounts work, including home mortgages. Here, we’re going to use a spreadsheet to calculate a home mortgage payment estimator (and even a full payment schedule) using the principles of compound interest. Fire up your spreadsheet and enter the following information into cells: In A1, …