Month: May 2014

Does Tiredness Make You More Susceptible To Unnecessary Spending?

Usually, I like to stick to personal finance topics I can quantify, but I felt this was an interesting issue worth discussing. Let me start with a story. Several nights ago, I went grocery shopping in the evening with my wife and son, intending to bring him straight back and put him in bed. Typically, …

The True Monthly Cost Of An Appliance

I felt compelled to write about this topic after reading a comment by Garvey on Is A Deep Freezer Worth It?: There is no way a freezer costs $10-15/month … to run. It’s more like $3-4. This was in response to my statement that the cost of owning and maintaining the deep freeze is about …

Maximizing Frugality vs. Maximizing Investing

With a title like that, I’m sure to grab some attention, but it’s true – unless you are already rolling in the cash, frugal choices and finding ways to save money is much, much more effective than maximizing your investments. That’s not to say maximizing your investments isn’t worthwhile, but that you can often find …

Categories: Frugality, Investing

How Much Does It Cost To Grill?

Yesterday, I spent much of the day assembling a propane grill given to us as a housewarming gift. It was a fun project, but along the way I began to wonder exactly how cost-effective propane grilling actually is. In this comparison, I’m going to exclude the cost of the appliances themselves, though over the long …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

Renting To Get Richer?

This MSN Money article argues quite vehemently that renting is cheaper than owning a home: I have something un-American to confess: I rent an apartment despite having enough money to buy a house. I plan to keep renting for as long as I can. I’m not just holding out for better prices. Renting will make …

Categories: Housing

What Nintendo Wii Taught Me About Personal Finance

As most readers know, after months of saving and planning, I finally splurged and bought a Nintendo Wii and a few accessories for it (Wii Play – mostly for the second controller – and some points to download old games). Aside from the joy of downloading and playing some fondly-remembered old games and getting routinely …

Categories: Getting Started

Review: First Things First

Each Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal productivity or personal development book. Several weeks ago, I reviewed in detail Stephen Covey’s classic personal development book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I found it to be an interesting read and was quite open to reading more books from Covey, and the blurb on …

Debt Repayment 101

Brad’s looking at his debt and wondering where to start: My wife and I are trying to decide what to do with our “extra” income each month: pay down our home equity ($18K at 9.13%), pay down our other debt (student loans of $6K at 7.14% and $13K at 3.75%; car loan of $8K at …

Seven Frugal Things I’d Love To Try

For every frugal idea that I have and am able to implement, I have at least two or three that simply aren’t reasonable at the moment. They seem incredibly fun and, in the long run, would save some significant money, but due to various factors (my living location, the time investment required, etc.), they aren’t …

Categories: Frugality

Parenting Teaches Lessons About Financial Security

Today, my son took a tumble down the stairs. He was attempting to go down the stairs in the same way that I do, but his twenty month old legs simply aren’t long enough to traverse the steps forward and he started to tumble. I was watching him come down from the bottom and was …

Categories: Family, Getting Started

Michael Wants A Ph.D.: A Deeper Look At Intermediate-Term Investing

Michael writes in and asks: I am planning to eventually get my PhD in 4-10 years. Should my savings be in a high-yield savings account or is there a significantly better place to put it with a little more risk but not as risky as an index fund? An index fund is about as low …

Categories: Investing

More Options for A Money-Free Weekend

A while back, I wrote about the joys of a money free weekend, and followed that up quickly with a list of fifteen free things to do during a money free weekend. Here’s the list of those fifteen to get you started (but I really recommend reading the whole original post): Play board games Have …

Categories: Frugality

A Perfect Case For Making Things Automatic

Angela writes in with the following situation: I didn’t see any archives where you unexpectedly come into money. My husband is re-enlisting for a big chunk of change (in the end we will get about 37k after taxes). Here is where we are now: Credit Card 1 – 10k @ 14.25% Credit Card 2 – …

Categories: Money

Review: The Little Book That Beats The Market

After thoroughly enjoying John Bogle’s The Little Book Of Common Sense Investing, I decided to go back and pick up the first book in the series, Joel Greenblatt’s The Little Book That Beats The Market. I was hoping for a similar tone as Bogle’s book, which was basically a gentle walkthrough of the investment philosophy …

Personal Finance 101: Capital Gains Tax

What Are Capital Gains and How Much Tax Do You Have to Pay? A reader wrote in wanting a simple explanation of a very hairy topic: capital gains and capital gains tax. I’m going to take a crack at explaining it in very simple terms, leaving out some of the specific vagaries of the United …

Categories: Investing, Taxes

Investment Risks: Going Into Debt To Invest Money?

Sam wrote in with the following question: I currently have no debt and am thinking of investing in the stock market. I can get loans with very low interest rates (4-5%) and can also do some credit card arbitrage to get money for a while at 0% rates. Should I take out these loans to …

Buying A Car: How Much Down Payment Is Useful?

A reader wrote to me recently asking the simple question “How much of a down payment should you put on a new vehicle?” The thumbnail answer is as much as you can, but let’s go down the rabbit hole a bit and see how deep it goes. Using a simple auto loan calculator, you can …

Categories: Automobile

On Losing Weight: Comparing Physical Fitness And Financial Fitness

Since starting with the Volumetrics weight loss plan about three weeks ago, I’ve lost twelve pounds. I should add here that there was some intense days of physical labor in there centered around moving, but still, twelve pounds is an impressive weight loss for such a short period of time. I’m not dehydrated – I’ve …

Categories: Getting Started

Dealing With Those Piles Of Old Baseball Cards In Your Closet

Like many people who were children in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was an avid baseball card collector. I had numerous complete sets and a pretty big book of various individual cards of my favorite players. My parents, fueled on stories of people selling their vintage baseball card collections from their childhood, told …

Categories: Investing