Month: May 2014

Should I Be Saving Money Or Paying Down Debt?

On Thursday, I wrote about using a savings account to save up money, then using that amount to pay off a debt. This triggered the following comment: I’d be interested in hearing the benefits of doing the “savings” account method of paying off the student loan vs paying extra towards principal every month. Here’s the …

Categories: Debt Management, Money

Is Not Spending Money Bad For The Economy?

Fairly regularly, a commenter on this site will chastise me and most of my visitors for being frugal, saying that hoarding all of your money is bad for the economy because we’re not spending it and keeping the money flowing. On the surface, this makes some sense – I’m holding onto money that I’m not …

Categories: Frugality, Investing

Building Credit Discussion: Cancel Cards Or Not?

In response to my two recent posts on building credit (getting credit without a credit card and building up credit), Konstantin writes in and says: I am following your blog daily and I found two conflicting ideas you suggest that I have a hard time reconciling them: “Another tip is that by canceling credit cards, …

Six Habits I’ve Given Up In Order To Save Money – And How Much It’s Saved Me This Year

When most people think of giving up a habit, they think of quitting smoking or something to that effect. However, there are a lot of little habits that people pick up in their daily routines that they rarely even think about. At the start of the year, I made a concerted effort to give up …

Categories: Spending Money

Review: The Wall Street Journal Complete Personal Finance Guidebook

There’s a large number of roughly equivalent “personal finance guidebooks” out there that provide foundational explanations of personal finance use, from explaining how a bank works to the very foundations of investing to how a 401(k) works and so on. I chose to review this one out of the set because, well, it was given …

Categories: Books and Reading

The Lowdown On Private Mortgage Insurance

Note: I was informed by several readers that PMI traditionally stands for private mortgage insurance, so I updated the article to reflect that. Many first time homebuyers are daunted with the prospect of saving up six figures to afford that 20% down payment, so they often take out home mortgages for less than a 20% …

Seven Ways To Save Money Preparing For Houseguests

For most of this week, a small invasion of my extended family is staying at our new house. This, of course, means that there’s a lot more mouths to feed at meal time and a lot more distractions. The end result is often a lot of unnecessary spending, simply because we didn’t think ahead a …

Categories: Automobile, Frugality

My Wife And I Debate Over Investing Or Paying Off Debt

About a week ago, I mentioned my investment plans now that we have a house. This post happened to be at the top of the site when my wife visited it, and it spurred a week long discussion between the two of us on whether we should be focused on building up that investment or …

Using Mozilla Sunbird To Schedule Infrequent Home Maintenance Tasks – And Other Irregular Tasks

A while back, I posted an extensive checklist of monthly home maintenance tasks. There were some items on the list that didn’t need to be done every single month, but most of them are really quite useful to do each month if you want to keep your house in tip-top shape. There’s one big problem, …

Ten Ways That I Save Money Golfing

I admit to deeply enjoying a good round of golf, even though I rarely find time to play as much as I would like. The biggest drawback with the hobby, though, is expense – something that’s troubled me often. Here’s how I minimize the expense of playing golf. I only bought an inexpensive starter set …

Categories: Frugality

Personal Finance 101: Getting Credit Without A Credit Card

Tips and Alternative Solutions to Building Credit Mark writes in and asks: I’m 18, and recently applied for a credit card at Citibank. They rejected me on the basis that I have no credit history. I’ve had a savings account at a local bank for nearly my whole life with all of my money in …

Rebooting My Net Worth Calculator: Food For Thought On Starting – Or Restarting – Your Own

As I mentioned before, I kept my own net worth calculator in a spreadsheet; I even wrote up how exactly to make your own. I also used to post monthly status reports in order to help keep myself (and the readers) motivated to stay on a good course. However, with the recent purchase of a …

Comparing Dining Options

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked revolves around comparing eating out to prepackaged meals and to making your own food. Quite often, people are looking for me to give a “thumbs up” to their decision to eat out because it saves time and effort, or they’re looking at prepackaged meals as an inexpensive …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

The $50 Million Dollar Trust: From Despair To Motivation

A few days ago, I posted an article about an individual trying to figure out how to manage a $50 million trust. For a number of reasons, that article has stuck in my mind, and my feelings on the situation have grown and changed. After reflecting on all of it for a while, I realized …

Personal Finance 101: Building Up Credit

Understanding Your Credit Score and Building Credit James wrote in and asked the following question: I just read your article: WHAT’S IN MY WALLET regarding credit cards. You mentioned that you pay your entire balance weekly. Would this work if you were trying to build credit also? How does building up credit work? Good question. …

Categories: Credit Reports

Frugal Garage Shelving: How To Build Sturdy Shelves In The Garage For Mere Pennies

My wife purchased a set of Gorilla z-beam shelving for $60 recently. We assembled this shelving unit and found it to be quite sturdy and able to hold a lot of stuff, but I couldn’t help but think that I could do a very similar job for much cheaper. So I set out to do …

Categories: Frugality

A Great Example Of Why “Better Returns” Are Often Not All They’re Cracked Up To Be

In a recent post about starting a savings account for a newborn, Jeremy Joslin left the following comment: I’m doing this for a best friend’s newborn. Problem is that I’m putting the money into a custodial account at my brokerage. I do $20/month but they take $4 per trade. Perhaps the commission isn’t worth the …

Categories: Investing

Review: How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

Each Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal productivity or personal development book. I’ve written before concerning the positive effect that Dale Carnegie’s more famous book How to Win Friends and Influence People had on me, and also wrote a detailed overview of the book. It took years, however, before I bothered to pick up …

The Scoop On Volumetrics

A significant number of readers have requested that I post a detailed discussion of my experiences using the Volumetric weight control plan, so here goes. About a month and a half ago, I mentioned that I was trying out the Volumetric weight control plan as described in the book with the same title. So far, …