Month: May 2014

Seven Ways To Overcome Social Awkwardness That You Can Practice Anytime

I’ve spent most of my adult life working hard to overcome many levels of social awkwardness, from the very basics of having enough courage to talk and knowing what to say to start a conversation to understanding how to read people. From the vantage point of today, I now see how this social awkwardness has …

What Does It Mean To Put Away 10% Of Your Salary For Retirement?

A reader wrote in with the following question: I have read in many places that you should maximize your 401(k) contributions. To me it seems there are MANY definitions of maximizing this and I was wondering what you mean when you say you should be saving at least 10% of your income for retirement. Right …

Categories: Retirement

Budgeting In The Era Of Online Bill Pay

Recently, I sat down with my parents and had a lengthy discussion about a lot of financial issues (a separate ball of wax that I’ll deal with in another posting). During one part of this, my parents showed me the way they manage their monthly budget, mostly utilizing a steno pad, a calculator, and their …

Categories: Money

Helping A Teenager Take The First Steps Towards Financial Freedom

Yesterday, I had a very long IM conversation with a young cousin of mine who is in high school and has a pretty lucrative lawn care business going on right now. Most of my younger cadre of cousins and nieces and nephews look to me for advice on a lot of things that they would …

Review: Automatic Wealth for Grads

Automatic Wealth for Grads was recommended to me by a reader of The Simple Dollar, a college student that I had exchanged several emails with. He described the book as inspirational and enlightening, but more difficult to follow than it seemed at first – I told him that most personal finance books were like that. …

Categories: Books and Reading

I’ve Loaned Money to My Friend and It Is Eating Me Up

I received two emails and comments in the last two days telling basically the same exact story: person lends friend money, friend doesn’t bother ever paying any of it back, person is bothered by this event. Here’s one of the stories: About three months ago, I loaned one of my best friends a month worth …

Categories: Debt Management

What Is A Lot Of Money To You?

A reader recently posed this question to me, and went on to say: I’ve heard “I’m making good money at my new job.” Without numbers attached, what does that mean? Well, to someone who just started in fast food it might mean $8.50 and hour, but to an ER physician it could mean $130K/year. This …

The Cost Of An Item Is More Than Just The Sticker Price

I’m a big believer in the idea that buying a quality product (by quality, I don’t necessarily mean the most expensive – keep reading) is worth the extra money you put in versus finding the absolute cheapest deal. A couple months ago, I discussed looking at the total cost of ownership when buying an appliance. …

Categories: Frugality, Saving Money

Comparison Shopping: Comparing The Internet To What’s On Your Store Shelf

For about the last year, my wife and I have purchased several household items in bulk from Amazon. Not only is the shipping free, but we don’t pay sales tax and we rack up lots of bonus points on our Amazon card by doing this. Our philosophy is that if Amazon has the same or …

Categories: Meals, Shopping

To Clean Or Not To Clean?

Typically, I’m a “do it myself and save money” type of person, but I think I may have just run into a situation where I may actually hire someone to complete a task that I could do myself instead. Here’s the deal: when we move out of our apartment, we’ll have about a week during …

Categories: Housing, Saving Money

How To Become Self-Employed: A Detailed Guide

For many, the demanding grind of a day-to-day job is manageable, but it becomes a psychological grind over time. You find yourself dreaming of something else and wondering how it can be done. Don’t worry, you’re not alone – anyone who even glances at mass media for long sees an incredible assortment of advertisements touting …

Eight Free Things That My Family Uses In The Community

Whenever I hear people in my community complain that there’s nothing to do or that everything is so expensive, I wonder whether they even realize how much amazing stuff there is to see and do in this town without spending a dime. Here are eight wonderful free things in our community that we use for …

Making All The Right Moves, Yet Still Unhappy

After my recent article about personal finance and happiness, I received the following email from a reader named “Constance”: I’ve always been pretty responsible with my money and lived a frugal life, especially over the last few years with my husband in school full-time. But what would you say to someone like me who doesn’t …

The Art Of Filling An Empty House Without Losing Financial Balance

Early next month, my family and I will be moving into a house with more than three times the square footage of our current tiny apartment. This, of course, means that after we move, our home will be very spartan. For some, this might be an excuse to bust out the plastic and go on …

Categories: Housing

What Aspects Of Personal Finance Bring You Happiness?

Over the weekend, I had a chance to read a truly excellent article entitled Finding the Joy in Frugality at David on Finance. David’s story is rather similar to mine – he went through a financial low point and is now digging his way out. What he found that surprised him, though, is how enjoyable …

Some Thoughts On The 60% Solution

A couple years ago, an extremely influential article entitled A Simpler Way To Save: The 60% Solution popped up on MSN Money. It proposed a very simple way to budget: After analyzing our spending patterns over the past couple of years using our Microsoft Money data file, I determined that we needed to keep our …

Categories: Money, Saving Money

How To Budget Money While Making Debt Disappear

Many of us that have moved to online banking have our regular payments plotted out to be paid automatically, so we don’t have to worry about filling out the form each month to cover our student loan payment or our mortgage payment. I did this myself a few years ago, setting up four regular payments …

Categories: Debt Management

Review: How to Win Friends and Influence People

Each Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal productivity or personal development book. How to Win Friends and Influence People had a tremendous positive impact on my life when I was younger. I was filled with a lot of social anxiety and was extremely uncomfortable interacting with people outside of my immediate social circle – …

The Only Personal Finance Sites I Visit Every Day

I hear quite often from readers that they check The Simple Dollar faithfully each day, and recently one of them asked whether I read any personal finance blogs and, if so, which ones do I read every day. The truth is that I subscribe to about ninety blogs of various types using Google Reader. It …