• 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 …

  • 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 …

  • 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 Simple Dollar Morning Roundup: Big Prep Edition

    With the baby’s arrival this coming weekend, everything is in overdrive around here. Preparations of all kinds are in full swing – clothes being washed, stuff being rearranged, cleaning for the impending arrival of grandparents, and so on. Whew! A Good Example Why You Shouldn’t Put Too Much Stock Into Investing Newsletters I personally don’t …

  • 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 …

  • 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, …

  • 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 …

  • The Simple Dollar Morning Roundup: This Sunday Edition

    This Sunday, my wife is getting induced into labor, meaning sometime early next week I’ll have a bouncing baby girl to add to our household. Am I nervous? Yes. Am I excited? Yes. Take It To The Top: Getting What You Rightly Deserve From Customer Service If an issue with a product is severe enough …

  • 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, …

  • Seven Nifty Tactics Credit Card Companies Use To Get Into Your Pocket – And How To See Right Through Them

    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 …

  • The Simple Dollar Morning Roundup: Final Planning Edition

    The birth of our daughter is ever so close – it’s literally going to happen any day now. We’re pretty much constantly preparing for her arrival around here – cleaning, moving stuff around, and so on. Book Review: The 4 Hour Workweek Independently, J.D. came to the exact same conclusion about this book as I …

  • Is It Worthwhile To Invest In Rare Metals? How Do I Get Started?

    Several readers have written to me recently about investing in gold and silver coins. 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 …

  • 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 …

  • What To Do When Debt Seems Insurmountable

    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 …

  • The Simple Dollar Morning Roundup: Book Series Edition

    A few people have wondered what I’m going to do at the end of the “52 Personal Finance Books In 52 Weeks” series. First, I plan about three summary posts that tie up the whole series. After that, I’m still going to review personal finance books, probably weekly, but not in a “series” like before. …

  • Ten Things Any College Student Can Do To Prepare For Success In Life

    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 …

  • Setting Priorities: Which Is More Important? 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 …

  • The Lawn Care Dilemma: How Much Time And Effort Should You Spend?

    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 …