Month: May 2014

Politicians That Promise Lower Taxes

Recently, I’ve heard from a lot of readers who have asked me whether they should give priority to voting for a candidate that promises to cut their taxes. My answer to them is a nice and decisive “It depends.” If you’re primarily looking to vote for a candidate that will help your bottom line, there …

Categories: Getting Started

Five Money Lessons For Preschoolers – And Applying Them To My Own Child

Liz Pulliam Weston over at MSN Money wrote a brilliant article entitled 5 Money Lessons For Preschoolers. In it, she elucidated five simple lessons about money that you can introduce to your preschool children: Money can be spent, saved, and shared Saving should be a habit Once money is spent, it’s gone People have to …

Categories: Family

Your Investment Strategies Making You Nervous? Abort!

Yesterday’s post about the down market stirred up a lot of angry comments because I encouraged the person to get out of stocks if they are scared. There was perhaps some justification to it because I interpreted the person who sent in the question to be very nervous when she may have in fact not …

Categories: Investing

Review: Smart Women Finish Rich

In the past, I reviewed two David Bach books – Smart Couples Finish Rich, which I liked, and The Automatic Millionaire, which I basically felt was a weak rehash of Smart Couples. I kept hearing, however, that his best book was Smart Women Finish Rich, that it provided the best cohesive view of Bach’s philosophy. …

Categories: Books and Reading

30 Year vs. 15 Year Mortgage Income Tax Deduction

Earlier this week, I compared the real cost of 15 and 30 year mortgages of $200,000 at the current market rates, assuming 4% inflation on average over those years. It turned into an interesting discussion that’s well worth reading. The high point: The fifteen year mortgage is still cheaper, but by much less than before. …

Basic Investing In A Down Market

While watching the stock market in free fall, a reader (Lily) writes in and asks about what to do with her 401(k): My 401k is heavily invested in growth stock mutual funds (several different ones but all are growth stock oriented). I’m wondering if it would be a good strategy to move a portion (25-50%) …

Categories: Investing

The “Dollar Off” Dilemma: Maximizing The Value Of A Coupon

A reader wrote in with this quite interesting situation: Last week I had a good shopping experience when buying cat food, but I’m still a little uncertain as to whether or not I maximized the possibilities. I got a coupon in the mail for $5 off a bag of a particular high-end brand of cat …

Categories: Frugality

A Frugal Man And His Wii: Q&A

One of the most frequent issues that readers write to me about is my thoughts on purchasing a Wii. I mentioned briefly before the five financial lessons that a Wii purchase taught me, but this didn’t seem to sate the questions from readers. So I’m going to take a brief sojourn here and answer all …

Categories: Entertainment

Losing A Friend Over Money

Until recently, I had a very close friend that I’ll call Dave. We spent a ton of time together doing all sorts of things – golfing, playing games, going out for drinks, and so on. Dave was one of the first people invited to my wedding and was one of the first people to see …

Categories: Getting Started

Summer Camp In The Neighborhood: How To Get A Collective Of Parents Together To Save A Ton Of Money On Daycare During The Summer

A while back, I made an offhand reference to a neighborhood summer camp: All of the children three and over are attending a rotating day camp at the different houses of their parents. Each week, one set of parents uses a week of vacation, hosts the camp at their house, and watches all of the …

Categories: Family, Frugality

The Simple Dollar Gets A New Cell Phone – And Saves Significant Money In The Process

Over the last week, my cell phone has slowly been dying. The screen goes black randomly and it ceases to accept button input until I remove the battery and re-insert it. This phenomenon has happened with more and more frequency as of late, reaching the point where it’s killed phone calls in the middle of …

Categories: Saving Money, Shopping

A Down Payment Dilemma: Buy A Car Or Keep Saving For A House?

Jerry wrote in recently with the following problem: I and my wife are both graduate students; we recently paid off all our debts and started on a savings plan for the next few years that I am hoping will be our big downpayment on our first home. With our current salaries, we have been saving …

Fixed Rate Mortgage: 15 year or 30 year Mortgage?

I recently read an article at Finance is Personal entitled Why You Shouldn’t Get A 30 Year Mortgage. It presents a great argument for why one should get a 15 year mortgage and not a 30 year mortgage – you pay fewer dollars in the long run because of the lower interest rate and fewer …

How To Balance Your Checkbook In The Era Of The Debit Card

This weekend, my mother, who is still firmly in the era of the handwritten check, marveled several times at my methods for paying for many things. I showed her how I had online bill payments set up, used my credit card for a number of purchases that she would have used a check for, and …

Categories: Getting Started, Money

Entrepreneurship In Your Spare Time: The Rocks And Sand Philosophy

A few times in the past, I’ve mentioned that I have a computer consulting business on the side and that I also work full time at my “real” job. The question most people ask is “How do you find time for these things?” It’s great to earn money from several sources, but it’s often hard …

Parents And Finances: An Uneasy Mix

A reader wrote to me recently with the following concerns about the financial health of her parents: I’m still repairing my own finances (I’m out of debt but still working on retirement, I don’t yet own a home though I am 34)… but my parents have NO health insurance and NO retirement funds whatsoever. How …

Review: Thinkertoys

Each Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal productivity or personal development book. Several times a week, I get an email from a beginning blogger who asks a number of questions about how to get started with their own blog or their own fledgling writing career. Usually, I point them towards my series on building …

Visiting Williams-Sonoma: How To Avoid Overspending On Something That Stirs Your Passions

As regular readers of The Simple Dollar know, I’m a food junkie. I enjoy preparing food from scratch, presenting it well on the plate, and using sturdy, quality kitchen implements to prepare the food. I have a library of cookbooks (even though I really stick with just a few of them for everyday use) and …

Categories: Shopping

Six Ways Planning Ahead Saved Money This Weekend

Over the past few days, we had several family members visit our new home and spend a few days with us. Time and time again, though, I kept observing little things that we had done over the past year or so that paid off during the visit. Here are six frugal tips that paid big …

Categories: Frugality