Month: May 2014

Traveling To Family Events: Ten Tips For Saving Money

This weekend, my wife and I are traveling to see her younger sister graduate from college and also attend a small family reunion. We’ll have to drive at least seven hours this weekend and also spend three nights away from home, which in the end implies a lot of extra expenses. Here are ten things …

Navigating Origination Fees And Points

When you go to purchase a home using a mortgage, one of the major expenses that you’ll have to pay at the close is the origination fee. Here’s a guide for navigating them and figuring out what the best deal is for you. What’s an origination fee? The origination fee is an amount that you …

Categories: Housing

Five Little Lessons Learned After The House-Buying Agreement Is Reached

The last few days have been filled with lots of little lessons about the home-buying process. Here are five little anecdotes about things we learned: Home inspections typically aren’t part of the closing costs. I had just assumed that they were part of typical closing costs, but in our situation, a home inspection is done …

Categories: Housing

Seven Reasons Why I Chose Sam’s Club Over Costco

In the recent past, I mentioned that our new home’s location has a Sam’s Club and a Costco almost the same distance apart, and now that we will finally have storage space, the opportunity to really take advantage of warehouse shopping became clear. To decide which one we would go with (a significant decision, because …

Categories: Meals, Shopping

Three Frugal Tips For Raising And Managing A Toddler

My wife and I have a son that’s nearing nineteen months of age. For those of you not intimately familiar with raising a child, this means he’s walking well, running a little bit, and has a vocabulary of about 75 to 100 real words with about that many more words he’s apparently made up himself. …

Categories: Family, Frugality

Ethanol Blends: Are They Worth It In Your Tank?

In Iowa, E10 gasoline (fuel composed of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline and safe to use in normal engines) is typically $0.10 per gallon cheaper than 100% gasoline. However, the E10 fuel is less efficient than pure gasoline, enough so that it is noticeable over a long sustained trip – we typically drive three hours …

Categories: Automobile

Calculating Net Worth: What Should One Do With Their Primary Residence?

Several readers have asked me how a person’s primary residence should be used when calculating net worth. As we’re on the verge of buying our first home, this becomes a very relevant question to us for the first time, so I spent some time looking at the options: Include the debt, but don’t include the …

Categories: Money

Did You Receive An Unexpected Windfall? Here’s Where To Put The Money

A recent article in Money lists 43 ways to deal with an unexpected windfall – in the article’s case, a $5,000 windfall. There are a lot of good suggestions in the article that make a lot of sense to me, like paying off your highest-interest credit card debt or investing for the long term with …

Categories: Investing

Why Talking About Myself Is Important When Writing About Personal Finance

I spent some time reading through the site recently and I realized how often I talk about myself and my own experiences on here, everything from my specific goals to my values and dreams, as well as a lot of the financial realities of my life. Now, given that this site focuses on personal finance …

Why Savings Accounts – And Why Not

Over the weekend in a post answering anonymous reader questions, I wrote the following: Savings accounts are wonderful places to keep money that is very liquid (meaning you can get it if you need it) and earns a small rate of return with very little risk. Because of these factors (liquid, low risk, some return), …

Categories: Investing, Saving Money

The Value of Networking and Friendship

Eight days ago, I wrote a lengthy review of Never Eat Alone, a book about how exactly to network and maintain a large circle of friends and acquaintances, a skill that I myself often feel that I’m not good at. After writing it, a few readers wrote to me and asked what the point of …

Review: The Now Habit

Each Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal productivity or personal development book. During my college years, procrastination was an incredibly large problem for me, and more than once my procrastinating nature really hurt me badly. Once, in fact, it lowered a course grade from an A to a C, which was a real wake-up …

Figuring Out Exactly How Much Your Time Is Worth

A couple of days ago, I made an offhand mention of the value of knowing what your time is worth so you can quickly determine whether or not it’s worth your time to do a task yourself, pay someone else to do it, or simply not do it at all. This resulted in several emails …

A Frugal Saturday: Twelve Ways We Saved Money Yesterday

Quite often, Saturday is my worst day of the week for spending money. My wife and my son and I almost always wind up doing something that costs money. Yet, I recognize that the parts of the weekend that I’ll remember on Monday are the parts where we merely spent time together, not the parts …

Categories: Frugality

Marriage and Mortgage: A Reader Wants To Know

A reader wrote in recently asking whether or not wedding bells should be in his future. What do you think? My fiance and I are considering marriage. However, it seems like financially, marriage is a mistake. We both work full time and it seems like a greater proportion of our incomes would now go into …

Categories: Family, Housing

Questions From Anonymous Readers

Like any person who runs a popular website, I keep statistics on how many people visit The Simple Dollar (I get about 75,000 visitors on an average week). These statistics me the sometimes interesting (and sometimes strange) things people search Google with that lead them to The Simple Dollar. On occasion, they inspire me to …

Money Magazine – June 2007

The June 2007 issue of Money Magazine arrived in my mailbox several days ago, but I didn’t have time to even glance at it as we were in the middle of house hunting. Last night, I had the opportunity to sit down with the latest issue – here were the top ten things I found …

Categories: Money

If You Take Home Anything At All… Seven Fundamental Tips

I write about a huge variety of topics on this blog and I’m quite sure that not all of them are interesting to every reader. Some of you love the frugality material, others like the investment advice, still others are big fans of personal development tips, and so on. As much as I write, though, …

Review: The Millionaire Mind

The Millionaire Mind is a sequel (basically) to Stanley and Danko’s earlier book The Millionaire Next Door (which I quite liked; see my review of The Millionaire Next Door). This book is basically a continuation of the same premise: an analysis of the results of extensive surveying of people with a net worth of $1 …

Categories: Books and Reading