Month: May 2014

Is An “Entertainment” Coupon Book Worth It?

One of the more common fund raisers for youth groups around here is the “Entertainment” book. It’s essentially a rather thick book of coupons (the Des Moines area one we have has about 300 pages) with a lot of “buy one, get one free” offers – and some straight-up discounts – on items from local …

Categories: Coupons and Deals

Potential Pitfalls For Paying Off Someone Else’s Debt

I received a really interesting story from a reader named John. He has his financial head in the right place, but some other pieces of his overall life puzzle aren’t quite in alignment. Take it away, John: I am 29 years old and I have just recently started to jump into real estate investing part …

Categories: Debt Management, Family

Review: The Little Book Of Value Investing

In the past, I reviewed the other two books in the “Little Book” series: The Little Book Of Common Sense Investing covers in detail the investing philosophy of buying and holding low-cost index funds, and The Little Book That Beats The Market, which describes the investing philosophy of buying individual stocks based solely on return …

The Real Scoop On Debt Elimination Programs

I get a lot of email from readers (and from spammers) about so-called debt elimination programs – organizations that promise to “eliminate” large portions of your debt and leave you debt free in a certain number of years. Do they really work, or is it a scam? I looked into several of these via “free …

Categories: Debt Management

What Constitutes An “Emergency” Where One Should Use An Emergency Fund?

This is a question that my wife and I have wrestled with recently with our home purchase, our move, a severe illness, relatives visiting, and the impending birth of our second child, all in a two month period. Individually, these items are just part of life and can be dealt with, but in such succession, …

Categories: Getting Started

A Wedding Dilemma: I Can’t Afford To Reciprocate!

What do you do when you can’t afford to reciprocate the generosity of others? Jane writes: I’m 26 now, and it seems that everyone I know is getting married (including myself). The problem is that my friends and family are scattered throughout the country. If we were to attend each of their weddings, my fiancee …

I Want To Buy Shares In An Individual Company. What Do I Do?

I’ve been regularly contacted by readers who want to invest some of their money specifically in the stocks of an individual corporation for various reasons, mostly relating to people finding companies that match their personal values. For most individual investors, there are really two options to follow when buying stocks of a specific company: DRIPs …

Minimizing Interest Rates Or Minimizing Monthly Payments?

A reader named Tom writes in to ask: You’re always talking about minimizing interest rates when it comes to reducing debt. Shouldn’t you really focus on whatever methods you can use to minimize the total amount that you have to pay each month? If you look exclusively at your monthly budget and at nothing beyond, …

7 Credit Card Companies Nifty Tactics

I am constantly amazed at the creativity of companies that offer credit cards. They use a wide diversity of tactics to appeal to people and convince them to either start using a credit card or use a credit card more than they actually would. Why? The more you use a card, the more likely you …

Categories: Credit Cards

Investing In Precious Metals: Is It Worthwhile?

Several readers have written to me recently about investing in precious metals. Here’s one: While perusing the internet, I came across a political movement towards a new gold and silver-based currency called the Liberty dollar. They are selling 1-oz silver “Liberty” coins for $20 plus shipping. What do you think about this currency from an …

Categories: Investing

Should A Frugal Person Bother With The Coupon Section In The Sunday Paper?

Each Sunday, my wife and I receive the Des Moines Register on our doorstep. It provides us material to read over while we eat breakfast on Sunday, and we usually peruse the flyers inside the paper as well to see what’s on sale at various Iowa grocery stores in the next week (most of these …

How To Get Out Of Debt In A Few Easy Steps

Almost every day, I get a very sad tale of woe. It comes from someone who is carrying a debt load that seems to be beyond what they can handle. They list out their litany of debts to me and ask me how they can make it, believing that I can wave a magic wand …

What College Students Can Do To Prepare For Success

At the start of the last college semester, I provided ten tips for personal finance management for college students: Get some free money. Make it automatic. Look for cheaper entertainment. Don’t get any credit cards. Eat in the cafeteria. Look for free stuff. Empty out your pockets at the end of each day. When you …

Credit Cards, Retirement, Or Emergency Fund?

Today, I was reading an MSN Money article by Liz Pulliam Weston where she recommended setting priorities in the order of retirement, then credit cards, then emergency fund. Personally, I rank them small emergency fund, credit card debt, retirement, bigger emergency fund. One of my astute readers pointed out to me that Suze Orman takes …

Categories: Getting Started

The Lawn Care Dilemma

I had been considering writing a post about lawn care for a while now, but I had decided to wait until early spring to face the topic. That is, until a reader wrote to me with the following question: I am curious about your opinion concerning lawn care. The weather in Indiana was a killer …

Categories: Housing

Review: Words That Work

Each Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal productivity or personal development book. Some of you might be surprised that I would choose this book to discuss as a personal development book, but in my eyes, it’s a vital follow-up to other books on communication like How to Win Friends and Influence People and Never …

7 Tips on How To Save Money on Car Insurance

My wife and I switched our auto insurance coverage recently and paid our full annual premium up front. It was a painful little payment, even though we had shopped around and such. This led us to both researching various methods with which one could save money on auto insurance. Here are seven useful and applicable …

Categories: Automobile, Insurance

How Much Money Do You Need For Retirement? Here’s How I’m Figuring My Number

Many people have no idea how much they should be saving for retirement and thus quite often they do whatever their retirement counselor suggests without actually knowing if what they’re doing is right. I wanted to understand the full process better, so I spent some time figuring out what I would need for retirement and …

Categories: Retirement

A Glimpse At How A Frugal Family Spends Their Weekend

Last night, my wife and I sketched out a rough outline of the things we wanted to do this weekend. When we finished, we realized that most of the things on the list were, in some form or another, frugal. Here’s what I mean. On Saturday, it’s my moring to get up early with Joseph, …

Categories: Family, Frugality