Month: May 2014

The Simple Dollar Convinces Someone To Quit Their Job

This is a really interesting story that I thought I would share with all of you. I do have a few comments below, but I thought I would let Kelly tell her story (I edited this email a bit to eliminate some privacy concerns and polish a few tiny grammar issues): I wanted to write …

The Results of an Ultra-Frugal May

At the start of the month, I announced that my wife and I were attempting an ultra-frugal month where we would try out a number of highly frugal activities to see how it would go. Let’s go through each pledge to see how it went. We will only drink water and milk at home. We …

Categories: Frugality

Defining The Middle Class Through Statistics: Upward And Downward Mobility

Today, I stumbled across a very interesting tool at the New York Times website that attempts to place you in one of five socioeconomic groups (upper fifth, upper middle class, middle class, lower middle class, bottom fifth) based on a number of factors (occupation, education, income, and wealth). I’m quite happy to share my results …

I Just Doubled My Salary – What Do I Do With The Money?

A reader (let’s call him Ralph) wrote in with the following interesting situation (that has some parallels to my own): About a year ago my wife and I bought a new house with no money down and a 30 year fixed rate mortgage locked in at 5.5%. This meant of course that we would be …

My Kitchen Bookshelf

I am a huge proponent of cooking at home using as many basic ingredients as you can. Not only is it less expensive, it’s also potentially much more healthy than eating prepared foods, and with practice, it doesn’t really require all that much effort, either. Since writing several posts about my passion for cooking and …

The “White Sheep” Syndrome: What To Do If You’re The Only Financially Sound Person In Your Family

About three weeks ago, I had a long conversation with an old family friend who finds herself in a situation something like my own. In both of our cases, we are earning more than any of our siblings, and in both cases, we are the youngest sibling in a set of them. Since she’s substantially …

Categories: Family

A Reader Has Interesting Reasons For Upgrading A Home

A reader (let’s call him Martin) wrote to me with an interesting scenario about his decision to upgrade his home: I am in my late 40’s and bought a home 8 years ago in a modest neighborhood and will have it completely paid off in about 10 years. My mortgage payments are around $470/month. I …

Categories: Housing

The Choices You Make, The Dollars You Make

After a weekend completely off of the internet and off of writing, I had some serious catch-up to do yesterday afternoon here at The Simple Dollar. I take this site pretty seriously as a hobby / side business, particularly as we move into a new house, and I want to consistently write high quality entries, …

Considering Lending Money to Friends? Take This Advise

About three weeks ago, I made the mistake of lending a small amount of money to a friend against my better judgement. This friend promised to pay me back in small installments each week over a period of time and we even wrote it down on paper and both signed it. He missed the first …

Overcoming A Strong, Sudden Bad Spending Impulse

Yesterday morning, I went to a Target just as it opened looking for some baby wipes for my son. As I strolled through the store, I noticed a small, excited crowd in the home electronics section, so I walked over to see what was going on. The store had received a new shipment of Nintendo …

Categories: Spending Money

They Live On In Our Memories And How We Live Our Lives: Six Lessons Learned

On Memorial Day, I always find myself reflecting on relatives and friends who have passed away. I try to think of the things they’ve taught me about my own life, my choices, and my values. Here are a few that are particularly relevant here. My paternal grandfather taught me that being frugal doesn’t mean being …

Review: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Each Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal productivity or personal development book. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was perhaps the personal development book of the 1990s and is still the book many people think of when they hear the phrase “personal development book.” I first picked up the book myself in high …

Helping A Soldier Plan An Inexpensive Vacation

I received a very interesting note from a reader who really deserves a vacation: I’m in the Army National Guard, currently serving in Iraq. I am scheduled to get home around mid-July, and my wife and I want to take a nice vacation. We’re planning on going to Ireland next year, so we’re not looking …

How To Get Past The “Keeping Up With The Joneses” Mentality

This weekend, we’re staying at an exquisite estate owned by relatives of my wife. It’s a gorgeous house, gorgeous land, and well-kept, too. In other words, it’s enough to bring out those little bits of jealousy within me – it would be truly amazing to live here. Not too long ago, I would have consoled …

Cheap Food, Expensive Consequences: How To Keep Your Family Healthy And Safe Without Spending A Mint

Reading the news lately is like reading a litany of horror stories. Take this brief excerpt from the Washington Post: Dried apples preserved with a cancer-causing chemical. Frozen catfish laden with banned antibiotics. Scallops and sardines coated with putrefying bacteria. Mushrooms laced with illegal pesticides. These were among the 107 food imports from China that …

Categories: Meals

Why I Can’t Stand Most Personal Finance Magazines

Every once in a while at the newsstand, I’ll pick up an issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance or SmartMoney, just to give myself something to leaf through while I’m waiting at the airport or something. Every time I do it, I wind up regretting it for three big reasons: The absolutely overwhelming amount of advertisements. …

Categories: Books and Reading

Planning Ahead For The Big Move – And Hoping To Save Money

Our house closes in a little more than a month, so we’re already thinking about moving, and being the frugal types we are, we’re trying to move with minimal expense. Thankfully, we have one big advantage: we are moving locally, which basically means loading up a truck at one point, driving for an hour or …

Categories: Housing

Review: The Random Walk Guide to Investing

Almost two months ago, I wrote a detailed review of Burton Malkiel’s investment classic A Random Walk Down Wall Street, which I quite liked. In terms of actual investment advice, however, it was somewhat lacking – it mostly just said that the stock market is very random and efficient, so you’re better off riding the …

Categories: Books and Reading

Getting Started With A Home, Garage, and Garden

From the day I left home shortly after my eighteenth birthday, I have never lived in any place that had a garage, had any reasonable storage space, or that didn’t have a landlord to fix problems. Thus, I never had much need for tools. I used to thoroughly enjoy doing small household tasks and working …

Categories: Housing