Month: May 2014

The Laundry Detergent Battle: Costco Versus My Homebrew Formula – What’s Really Frugal?

In response to my post about making your own liquid laundry detergent at home, several people commented that they buy it in huge quantities at Costco, so they couldn’t see the benefit in making their own. Hearing that, I decided to look at more options to find the least expensive option for getting my clothes …

Categories: Frugality

The Present Versus The Future

Not long ago, I was thinking about the financial lessons that some of my friends learned during their formative years from their parents. One close friend of mine, who I’ll call Hannah, had parents that were regularly in disturbing amounts of debt. In the mid-1990s, they managed to convince some lender to build them a …

Categories: Debt Management

How To Read Personal Finance Books Without Getting Bored

As my regular readers know, I review in great detail two books a week, one personal finance book and one personal development book. In those reviews, I try to extract most of the key ideas and put them in a form such that a person can get many of the key ideas of the book …

Categories: Books and Reading

Student Loan Debt: The Philosophy Of Debt

A reader wrote to me recently stating that she had about $40,000 in student loan debt at 4% (she locked in in late 2002 when the rates were in the basement) and she couldn’t decide if she should be making extra payments on the debt. My advice to her was to figure out how much …

Categories: Debt Management

Review: Die Broke

Die Broke caused a pretty big splash when it was first printed several years ago, mostly because it turned conventional wisdom on its ear so deftly, and books that do that and do it well usually end up meriting quite a bit of discussion. Die Broke made a name for itself by painting a very …

Categories: Books and Reading

Insights Into Life Insurance From An Actuary

One of my closest friends in the world completed a Ph.D. in mathematics recently and became an actuary for a very large life insurance company. I had lunch with him recently just to catch up on things and we spent about ten minutes talking about life insurance itself. He basically told me that if I …

Inheritance Feuds: A Cautionary Tale

I received a very sad story from a friend of mine, who I’ll call Roger, that I felt was worth sharing as a cautionary tale: About three months ago, my paternal grandfather was diagnosed with lung and intestinal cancer. He had worked for forty years at a factory that, for most of the time he …

Categories: Money

The Morning Money Routine

About once every three months since I was eight, I would spend a day keeping a detailed chronology of all of the stuff I did on that day. I kept a little notebook with me, noted things throughout the day, and would write it all out in great detail that evening in a notebook that …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

Eight Frugal Father’s Day Gift Ideas

For me, Father’s Day has always been much easier to understand than Mother’s Day, perhaps because I saw my father as a role model growing up and now I have become a father myself. I also find that most fathers I know like “open-ended” gifts – ones that they can continually get enjoyment out of …

Categories: Family, Shopping

Financial Preparations For A Second Child

Shortly after our big move (which is coming in a little over a month), we are expecting our second child, meaning our two children will be about two years apart in age. Although it’s already clear that this second baby won’t be nearly as big of a financial hit as the first one (we can …

Categories: Family

Questions to Discuss With Your Spouse-to-Be

I adore my wife – she’s a wonderful woman and a wonderful mother. We go together like two peas in a pod on most things, except for money (and cats, but that’s entirely off topic). We’re both frugal, but she’s never been into any sort of financial planning at all, and this has led to …

Categories: Family

Taking Advantage of Your Generation

I subscribe to an email list of high school and college acquaintances. It’s mostly a discussion list of about fifty people my own age, and I know almost everyone on the list – it’s a great way to keep in touch with a circle of friends. It gets about thirty messages a day – we …

Categories: Family

Save Time, Effort, And Money With A Monthly Home and Auto Maintenance Checklist

Can You Devote Fifteen Minutes A Day To Frugality?

Over the last few months, I noticed that on an average day, I spend somewhere around forty minutes engaged in some sort of activity intended to cut costs. I hang clothes out on the line to dry, clip coupons, and so forth, and at the end of the month I see the results of that …

Categories: Frugality

Sorry, Virginia, There Will Be No Book

After reading the frank discussion yesterday about publishing a book based on this site, I have decided not to invest the effort in writing a book. That’s not to say the response yesterday was entirely negative – it wasn’t, and it’s clear to me that even those who were negative support this site a lot. …

How To Budget Smart For Personal Finance Success

One of my closest friends (let’s call him Kevin) is obsessed with individual stock picking. He bragged to me quite loudly recently that his portfolio was up 15% for the year so far, which is pretty good – and I told him so. I asked him how much his net worth increased, though, and I …

Categories: Frugality

Using A Moving Average In Budgeting

My wife and I use a simple mathematical construct called a moving average in order to help us budget and estimate upcoming bills. What’s a moving average? Let’s say our telephone bills over the last twelve months were as follows: May 2006 – $55 June 2006 – $55 July 2006 – $58 August 2006 – …

Categories: Money

Review: Ready For Anything

Each Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal productivity or personal development book. Getting Things Done was a true watershed in personal productivity books – in fact, it was the first personal productivity book I reviewed in detail here. Getting Things Done was the first truly great personal productivity book of the information age because …

Gauging Interest In A “Simple Dollar” Book: What Do You Want To See?

As many of you know, I created a book proposal about two months ago and have been trying to shop it around to book publishers. The proposal describes a book that is basically a distillation of much of the advice on personal finance given on this site and it comes in at an estimated 600-650 …