Month: May 2014

How Much Emergency Fund Is Too Much Emergency Fund?

Yesterday, I mentioned my desire to have a twelve month emergency fund, which resulted in some very interesting discussion. Some of the readers thought it was a good idea – others felt that it was simply too much and that I should invest some of it. Back in April, one of my favorite bloggers covered …

Categories: Money

How To Calculate APR And APY In A Spreadsheet – And Why You Would Want To

In the past, I gave a brief discussion about the difference between APR and APY when talking about simple and compound interest. What I didn’t explain, however, is why the difference is important and how you can use Microsoft Excel to calculate one from the other. First, let’s define the two: APR (annual percentage rate) …

Figuring Out A Debt Strategy After The Home Purchase

My wife and I have spent extensive time thinking about a plan for repaying all of our debts after we move into the home. Our goal is to be debt free (including the mortgage) in fifteen years – a goal that my wife heavily believes in. For me, although I don’t believe it maximizes our …

Categories: Debt Management, Money

Finding The Best Credit Card Offers For Your Situation

I often get emails from readers asking me what the “best” credit card offer is. I write back and say there isn’t one, which I’m sure doesn’t win me any friends, but it’s the truth. There is no best credit card for everyone, but I’ll certainly say that the best offer for you probably wasn’t …

Categories: Credit Cards

Review: Pay It Down

As a lot of you know, I’m a fan of Money Magazine – in fact, I review each issue because there’s a lot of good stuff between the covers. One of the editors and regular columnists is Jean Chatzky – I find her columns quite interesting because I either think they’re a complete home run …

Categories: Books and Reading

You Don’t Need Six Figures: The Financial Realities of Living in Iowa

At various points, readers have seemed quite surprised to find out that I live in Iowa and that I can see cornfields in two directions from the back porch of the house I’m about to buy. By sheer numbers, many more people live in urban environments than live in an environment like this, and many …

Money, Spirituality, and Charity

While writing about personal finance and personal development books, several people have written in to ask me to write about Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life and especially Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last several years, Warren and Osteen are charismatic Christian evangelists with …

The Future: Where Will Tax Brackets Go In 30 Years?

I try very hard to avoid political discussions on The Simple Dollar because it often winds up in partisan bickering, but I feel that a discussion about the future of taxes and their impact on your personal finance decisions today is vital. First of all, why is it important to think about future tax rates? …

Categories: Retirement, Taxes

Ten Things To Do When You Move Into A New Home

Since my wife and I are less than three weeks away from moving into our first home, we’ve been researching the things that we need to do as soon as we move. It wouldn’t be The Simple Dollar if I didn’t compile a list of the things we’ve found and posted it here! Here are …

Categories: Housing

The New Roth 401(k) Versus The Traditional 401(k): Which Is The Better Route?

Recently, a number of readers have asked me about the new Roth 401(k). Is it really a good deal, they ask? In a nutshell, it’s a very good deal for almost anyone eligible for it, but let’s walk through the scenario carefully. What Is A Roth 401(k)? A Roth 401(k) is not all that different …

Categories: Investing, Retirement

The Bulk Buying Debate

As long-time readers of the site know, I’m a big advocate of buying in bulk for many reasons (which I’ll get into below). Yesterday, however, a reader named Terry M. left the following comment on my post about saving money in the bathroom: Not sure how much I like the idea of stockpiling anything. What …

Categories: Frugality, Shopping

The Simple Dollar Giveaway #5 – Great Career Advice

To celebrate my ongoing series of personal productivity and personal development book reviews, I’m giving away my copy of Brazen Careerist. I reviewed the book in detail a few days ago and found it to be a collection of very good advice for twenty- or thirtysomethings. I’m giving it away – and I’m offering two …

Categories: Books and Reading

Prepaying On Your Home Loan Is Just A Conservative Investment

One of the regular debates here on The Simple Dollar is the eternal question of whether someone should prepay on their home loan or not. Any time you discuss a particular home mortgage situation with real numbers, someone will always say that it makes more sense to invest it somewhere else, while another person will …

Ten Ways To Save Money In Your Bathroom

When I walk into a room at someone’s house, my eyes often spy a number of ways that they could be saving money just based on the items in the bathroom. Here are ten money-saving tips to reduce spending on regular bathroom usage. Toilet paper Buy it in bulk from your local warehouse store, then …

Categories: Frugality

Big Dreams, Small Income: Financial Planning Without A Large Salary

Recently, Fred wrote in outlining his situation: I’m 35. I make $30K a year. I lose about $4K of that every year to child support. A divorce (and student loans) has placed me about $20K in debt. The region of the US I live in considers $30K a year a very good income. I have …

Financial Planning For A Life Of Volunteerism And Social Work

One of the most amazing people I’ve ever met has chosen a path of volunteerism and social work for her life. She’s taken the gifts and talents God has given her and chosen to forsake several much more lucrative opportunities to participate in a social work program fraught with challenges that I wouldn’t face for …

Categories: Frugality, Money, Retirement

Review: Brazen Careerist

Each Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal productivity or personal development book. I picked up a copy of Brazen Careerist after stumbling upon Penelope’s blog of the same name, reading through the archives, and thinking to myself that this is something like a What Color Is Your Parachute? (read my review) focusing on twenty- …

Past Performance Is Not A Guarantee Of Future Returns

Quite often on The Simple Dollar, I’ll put up a description of a financial situation that one of my readers finds themselves in, or I’ll create a straw man to illustrate the point. I’ll give an age and a situation, and then apply an investment choice to that person to see what happens when I …

Cashing Out 401(k) To Pay Off Credit Card Debt?

A reader writes in with an interesting scenario: I’m 28 years old and I have two 401(k) accounts, both with about $30,000 in them. At the same time, I have about $25,000 in credit card debt because I made some very stupid moves a few years ago. I’m paying this debt down, but it’s at …