Month: May 2014

What, Why, and How I Read

This post isn’t strictly about personal finance; instead, it serves to answer a question that a lot of readers have asked me over the past few months. What do I read? How do I read? Why do I read? Instead of having a “Simple Dollar reading week,” I tried to compress all of this information …

The Longest Night

Over at I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Ramit is collecting stories about debt, and as the first anniversary of my financial armageddon approaches, it feels like the right time to write about it. I wrote about the meltdown before in passing: So, what finally happened? One night, I came home from work and …

Categories: Getting Started, Meta

The Simple Dollar Morning Roundup: Giveaway Update Edition

The big giveaway announced on Sunday is going well (I’m giving away A Random Walk Down Wall Street, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, The 9 Steps To Financial Freedom, Yes, You Can Get A Financial Life, and America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right On The Money and you could easily win one) and I’ve received a …

Categories: Morning Roundup

The Real Reason So Many Personal Finance Gurus Encourage A Written Budget

If you’ve ever read many personal finance advice books, you’ll find that the vast majority of them encourage the reader to make up a formal budget and write it down (in fact, I even wrote a guide along those lines myself). Without a doubt, making up a formal budget is a very good exercise for …

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 …

How The Farm Bill Affects Your Wallet And Your Health – And Ten Ways To Eat Healthy and Cheap Anyway

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: Food

The Simple Dollar Morning Roundup: Is V8 Good For My Child Edition

For my son’s afternoon snack, we usually give him some vegetable crackers, a banana, and a cup of low-sodium V8. To us, this seemed like a really healthy snack, as it gets a serving of fruit and a serving of vegetables (via the V8) into his system. Yet I was almost yelled at yesterday for …

Categories: Morning Roundup

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

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: Frugality, Parenting

The Simple Dollar Morning Roundup: Home Depot Madness Edition

We went to a nearby Home Depot yesterday to get our free compact fluorescent light bulb – and came home with five free ones as their distribution was haphazard and they seemed to have far more to give away than people were taking. Good for us, I guess. On to some personal finance posts. Ten …

Categories: Morning Roundup

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 …

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: Food, Frugality

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: What We're Reading

The Simple Dollar Morning Roundup: MSN Mania Edition

As some of you may know, I had an article published by MSN recently, and yesterday it reached the front page of MSN.com. Since this is the start page for a lot of web browsers out there, I was able to reach more readers yesterday than any day since I started this project. Here’s the …

Categories: Morning Roundup