Month: May 2014

Financial Freedom Is Making Me Rethink My Life

It was last April, a year ago now, that I really suffered the worst of my financial meltdown, and I finally woke up to the realization that I needed to make some drastic changes in the way I spent my money. I cut a ton of fat out of my spending, paid off all of …

Categories: Money, Spending Money

How to Eat Healthy on the Cheap

This Sunday, I read a very interesting article in the New York Times about the reason that processed “energy dense” foods are less expensive than fresh foods: the farm bill. Government subsidies to corn farmers encourage them to grow as much corn as possible instead of supporting prices and limiting production, and with that much …

Categories: Meals

Is Paying Off Debt With a Windfall a Good Idea?

In response to an earlier post on uses for a tax return, Dustin wrote: I noticed that you didn’t have “Pay off debt” as one of the 10 things to do with your refund. Is there any particular reason you chose not to suggest that? The reason that I didn’t suggest using such a windfall …

Categories: Debt Management

The Economics of Speeding, or How I Got A Ticket This Morning

This morning, on my way to drop my son off at daycare, I was pulled over for speeding (61 in a 55) on an empty road. The police officer must have been waiting somewhere, because he came almost out of nowhere to tag me and produce a ticket. The ticket will set me back $75 …

Categories: Automobile

Cloth Diapering: Does It Save Enough Money To Be Worth The Extra Effort?

My wife’s best friend is a very strong environmentalist – in fact, she’s often the inspiration for the more green-tinged posts on The Simple Dollar. When she discovered she was with child several months ago, she decided that she was going to use cloth diapers instead of disposable ones. We asked her to let us …

Categories: Family, Frugality

Tax Refund: 10 Things To Do & 5 Things Not To Do

Tax season is finally over, and millions of Americans will receive checks in the mail in the coming weeks from the IRS. Although I do some consulting and other independent work (which means that I don’t typically receive a tax return at all), my parents often received a very nice return (having a low income …

Categories: Investing, Taxes

The Simple Dollar Giveaway #4: Five Free Books!

This week, in celebration of The Simple Dollar’s impending six month anniversary (on April 30), I am giving away five top personal finance books to my readers: A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel (the newest edition, still only available in hardback) Yes, You Can Get A Financial Life! by Ben Stein and …

Categories: Books and Reading

A Frugal Project For A Warm Saturday Afternoon: Starting Your Own Tomato Plant

I used to live in a very small apartment in the city, and I was very poor. One way I saved money was by growing some of my fruits and vegetables inside the apartment in large tubs, and the easiest and most enjoyable of all was the humble tomato. I just filled up a large …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

The Cost and Benefits of Installing a Windmill

Are you thinking of going seriously green? Are you willing to invest some serious money up front in order to reap the benefits in the long run? If so, a wind turbine might be the thing for you. I’ve installed CFLs and programmable thermostats, but what I’d really love to do is to be almost …

Categories: Frugality, Saving Money

Detailing My Computer Consulting Business From A To Z: Getting Started, Advertising, Networking, And So On

A small cavalcade of readers wanted to know more about my side computer consulting business, including how I got started, how I advertised for and promoted it, and how I built up the business from scratch. While I don’t advocate this as a recipe for how to build up your own local computer consulting side …

Categories: Careers

All Things In Moderation, Or Why You Shouldn’t Take All Of The Advice At The Simple Dollar

Recently, a reader contacted me via instant messenger and expressed some deep sadness as a result of reading and trying to do the things she had read on The Simple Dollar. For two months, she scrimped and saved and managed to pay off almost her entire credit card debt, but at the end of it …

Review: Making the Most of Your Money

Let’s face it: Making the Most of Your Money is a monster. It clocks in at over 1,060 pages and the text on those pages isn’t the huge typeface that Dave Ramsey likes to use – it’s dense and meaty. It took me almost three weeks to read the whole thing simply because of the …

Categories: Books and Reading

Here’s My Experience With A Side Business. What’s Yours?

Recently, a reader wrote to me asking the following: I would love to know how many of your readers supplement their incomes with side work, especially things like computer support, tutoring or even substitute teaching: intermittent work, where the “product” is their time, and where they have to go out and find customers. Of course, …

Remember This Earlier Post? Finishing Up A Wall Street Lesson From Ben Stein

A little over a month ago, in late February and early March, the stock market in the United States took an 8% hit in a little over a week, a very painful drop for anyone with a stock investment. For me, this was a rather nerve-wracking time, as it was the first time I had …

Money Magazine – May 2007

The May 2007 issue of Money Magazine arrived in my mailbox yesterday, and as I was at home dealing with my sore throat, I had the time to read it immediately. Here are the ten points from the issue that really jumped out at me. “Two cycle billing” is insidious. Do you have a Discover …

Categories: Money

Frugal Ways Of Dealing With A Sore Throat And Cold

For the last few days, I’ve been combating the worst sore throat I’ve ever had in my life. It’s been so bad that it’s also felt like an ear infection and it’s sapped a lot of my energy, leaving me barely feeling like writing, let alone dealing with a home purchase, work, house chores, and …

Categories: Frugality

Finding Your Dream House – And Trying To Convince Yourself You Can’t Quite Afford It

My wife and I have been doing some house hunting in our area lately. We have been watching the real estate fliers carefully and have been driving through nearby towns looking at homes with “For Sale” signs in front. Last night, we drove by a house that somehow just called out to both of us. …

Categories: Housing, Money

How Iowa’s 529 Plan Can Help You Save for College

I’m very happy to be living in Iowa, where things are quiet, we have very strong public education, and we’re also home to one of the best investment opportunities in the country for parents of future college students. That doesn’t apply to me, you might be thinking. Wrong! Iowa’s stellar 529 plan is open to …

Categories: Education, Family

How NOT To Write A Personal Finance Book

Having read piles of personal finance books in the last year and a half, I’ve begun to understand some of the things that set good books apart from the bad ones. At first, I tried to make a list of ways to write a good personal finance book, but then I read an article about …

Categories: Books and Reading