Month: May 2014

Consumer Reports – August 2007

Consumer Reports has asked me to eliminate the content of my summaries and any other references to the content of Consumer Reports. I have complied.

Categories: Uncategorized

SmartMoney Magazine’s “7 Money Mistakes” – And The Simple Dollar’s “7 More Money Mistakes”

I was leafing through the July issue of SmartMoney (the Wall Street Journal’s sister magazine) mostly because of the cover article, 7 Money Mistakes … And How To Avoid Them. Here are the seven mistakes in a nutshell: #1. Saving with the right hand and spending with the left #2. Playing it too safe #3. …

Rural Ideas For An Expensive Housing Market

I’ve touted the benefits of living in Iowa before, but one of the biggest benefits of all is the wonderful housing market. I was able to get a 2000+ square foot home, built less than ten years ago, for less than $200,000. This success makes me never even want to consider living in an expensive …

Categories: Housing

An Inexpensive, Fun Family Vacation Idea From My Childhood

When I was young, my family did not have a whole lot of money for trips. Most of our “vacations” were trips to Grandma’s house – she lived a few hours away and had a big house that even had a hidden tunnel in it that let you sneak from one bedroom to another through …

Categories: Family, Frugality, Travel

Review: Two For The Money

Colored in bright orange and subtitled The Sensible Plan For Making It All Work, this book is really effective at getting your attention on the bookshelf, but when I picked it up and leafed through it, my initial reaction was that it was just another personal finance book, no different than a truckload of others. …

Categories: What We're Reading

The Simple Dollar Morning Roundup: Family Evening Edition

Before my son was born, we used to do a lot of things out and about in the evening – we’d go to museums, to movies, to art galleries, and so on, almost every evening. When he was born, a lot of that changed – now we stay home a lot, play with our son, …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Three Fears I Have About Moving

There are a lot of small financial fears I have about the whole moving process – future costs, lifestyle changes, and such. This is my first go-round as a homeowner, so lots of questions float through my head. Here are three of the most prevalent ones – and my attempt to answer them. Increased energy …

Categories: Housing

Musings On Spending $3 On A Candy Bar

I spent $3 on a raspberry chocolate bar the other day. The three of us sat in the parking lot in the rain, breaking off little pieces, giggling, singing along to Gnarls Barkley on the radio, and watching the rain drops bounce on the hood. Was that $3 an effective use of money? Of course …

Debt Snowballing Versus The High Interest Approach: A Real-World Comparison

I’ve been looking for a good real-world example to compare the traditional “debt snowball” approach to the approach of paying off the high-interest loan first above all. Today, I received a note from a reader named Bryan: I just graduated college this year, and am starting job where I’ll make $47,000. I’ve got significant student …

Categories: Debt

The Simple Dollar Morning Roundup: Cookies Edition

My wife and I made a batch of homemade cookies last night, completely from scratch. Oatmeal chocolate chip. The temptation was intense, but I only ate one, as per the ongoing Volumetrics diet. I used to eat four or five of them alongside a glass of milk, so it’s definitely a step in the right …

Categories: Morning Roundup

All The Opportunity In The World

I received an email from a college student today, who I will call Erica. She told me the following: I’m a 19 year-old university student. I have no debts and all my university fees are covered by scholarships. I live at home, so I have no rent or household related expenses. Since I have had …

Guilty Money: How Much Do You Have To Spend Frivolously Before You Feel Guilty About It?

Over the weekend, I had an IM conversation with an old friend of mine in which he stated that he felt guilty about spending $50 on a video game. This led us into a lengthy discussion about frivolous spending and guilt, and we found that his guilt threshold is substantially higher than my own. I …

Categories: Debt, Psychology

Money Magazine – July 2007

The July 2007 issue of Money Magazine has a nice big cover story on entrepreneurship, a topic that interests me more and more as I grow older and start to create more revenue streams. As usual, though, the issue had a lot of interesting points inside – here are ten that really stuck out at …

Categories: Money Magazine

The Simple Dollar Morning Roundup: Atari 2600 Case Modification Edition

I received all of the back issues for Make Magazine for Father’s Day and one of the projects details how to modify the case of an Atari 2600 to function as a DVD player. Even though we’re in the process of moving, I’ve been collecting the parts – it’s the first thing I plan to …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Six Steps To Eliminate Non-Credit Card Consumer Debt

Quite often, I focus in on credit card debt as one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle for escaping a bad debt situation, and it is. One area, though, that I often overlook are other forms of consumer debt, particularly those where you purchase an item on a payment plan, then realize when you …

Categories: Debt

Looking For A Way Out: “Can’t Quit” Syndrome, The Value of Job Happiness, And How To Escape

I received a very long email from “Tony,” a long time reader, who had this to say (among many other things): I absolutely hate my job but it pays so well that I can’t quit. So I go into work each day dreading it and when I get home at night I am just drained …

Categories: Careers, Debt, Investing

Dollar Cost Averaging: Does It Work In The Real World? How Can I Use It Easily For My Own Investments?

For quite a while, I’ve been interested in how dollar cost averaging works for a regular, steady investment, so I spent some time and used the S&P 500 as a model to see how it worked in the real world. Wait! What’s dollar cost averaging? Dollar cost averaging is an investment philosophy in which you …

Categories: Investing

The Simple Dollar Morning Roundup: Hunt For Boxes Edition

As we grow closer to the move, we’re continually hunting for boxes in which to pack our belongings. One interesting side effect of the packing, though, is that it forces us to consider every item we own – and it’s convinced us to get rid of a few. Motivation For Frugality – It’s Not Always …

Categories: Morning Roundup

A Personal Finance Lesson From The Gap

About a week ago, I had a fairly interesting experience at The Gap. I stopped there on a spur of the moment as I was looking for gift ideas, and I was about to leave when I realized that there was only one noticeable employee in the store. That employee was running the only checkout, …