Month: May 2014

Is The Value Menu Really A Value? Comparing The Homemade Double Cheeseburger To The McDonald’s $1 Version

About two weeks ago, I made a brief comparison between a McDonald’s Value Menu double cheeseburger and a homemade cheeseburger, concluding that the homemade one was price competitive. This brought out a ton of commentary from people standing up for the double cheeseburger (as well as fast food critics) questioning the conclusion. After reading through …

Review: The Read-Aloud Handbook

Each Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal productivity or personal development book. I can imagine the question already: why on earth would he include a book about reading aloud to children on a list of personal productivity and development books? I have two big reasons. First, and this is the big one, The Read-Aloud …

The One Hour Project: Do Some Preventative Maintenance

Preventative mainentance is a phrase that makes many homeowners’ eyes glaze over. For many busy people, there’s nothing more boring than going around your house doing various tasks that seem to not really be fixing anything. On the other hand, look at the tale of my hot water heater. It’s about ready to go bad …

The Do-It-Yourself Dilemma: When Things Go Wrong

For the most part, I prefer doing home maintenance tasks myself rather than hire someone to do the tasks for me. It saves on labor costs and I often learn a new thing or two during the process. But I also know that different projects require varying levels of home repair experience — when do …

Categories: Housing

The One Hour Project: Thoroughly Research A Stock

Regardless of whether or not you include individual stocks as part of your investment plan, having a general idea of how a stock works can be an incredibly valuable piece of knowledge to have. Even for those who only invest via a retirement plan, that retirement plan is usually just a collection of stocks, so …

Categories: Books and Reading

When A Frugal Life And Social Gift-Giving Come Into Conflict

A reader wrote in with the following thoughts, which got my juices flowing: It seems like I am constantly being invited to baby showers, weddings, birthday parties, graduations, and house warmings and that a gift is expected at every one of these occasions. While I enjoy giving gifts to my close friends and close relatives …

Categories: Frugality

The One Hour Project: Go Christmas Shopping At Sale Time

Not too long ago, the local Sears hardware store not too far from where I work went out of business. During their going out of business liquidation sale, I picked up a couple of items that were a stupendous deal merely because they seemed like perfect Christmas gifts for people on my list. Then, I …

Categories: Books and Reading

Starting The Thought Process Behind Buying A New Vehicle

As the months pass, it looks more and more likely that we’ll need to buy a new vehicle sometime between now and next summer. My wife’s Mercury Sable, that with almost 150,000 miles on it, is starting to show lots of little issues wrong with it – most notably, a recent severe issue with the …

Categories: Automobile

Review: The Courage To Be Rich

The Courage To Be Rich was one of the very first personal finance books I read after my financial meltdown. At the time, this book felt too … touchy-feely for what I needed. I wanted solutions immediately, solutions that I could apply to my life – I knew there was a problem and I felt …

Categories: Books and Reading

The One Hour Project: Switch Checking Accounts

For a long time, I kept my primary checking at the local branch of a large international bank. Over the years, though, they slowly bled me with lots of little fees here and there: a monthly maintenance fee, a $2 charge on pretty much every ATM use, and overdraft fees that were sometimes triggered by …

Categories: Books and Reading

The Simple Dollar Guide To Eating Out

Given that I’m such a foodie and also frugal at the same time, several readers have written to me recently asking for tips on dining out. I collected some of my thoughts together and thus present this guide to how I eat out in such a way that my frugal sensibilities are in balance with …

Categories: Meals

My Ongoing Battle With The Cash In My Pocket

One of the biggest psychological weaknesses I still carry with me, even after my financial turnaround, is the desire to spend the physical cash in my pocket. I have no problem keeping the credit cards in check, but if I have loose cash in my pocket that’s not perfectly accounted for, some little devil pops …

The One Hour Project: Kill The Electricity Phantom

A week ago, one of the One Hour Projects suggested making your home more energy efficient. Those steps reduce the energy that the devices you already have are using, but there’s another major step you can take to reduce your energy use: Eliminating Phantom Power Usage What is “Phantom Usage”? Whenever you leave a device …

Categories: Books and Reading

Multiple Income Streams: How They Can Work For You

Not too long ago, the only method I had for earning money was my job. I’d get up, go into work, come home, and collect my paycheck – and I believed that was good enough for me. When I had children, though, I began to realize that my life was not all that different than …

Seven Pieces Of Financial Advice For A High School Student

My niece is a wonderful young woman – a good head on her shoulders, decision making as strong as you could hope for in a high school sophomore, and an entrepreneurial spirit. My only concern about her is a sense that she hasn’t quite figured out the value of a dollar and that she’s prone …

The One Hour Project: Do Some Basic Diet Hacking

No, I’m not going to talk again about eating at home or about how you should skip fast food. Instead, I’m going to talk about a handful of basic dietary things you can do that really, really save money over time. Some have a bit of a startup cost, but they will all save you …

Patience

I often talk about the mental challenges of convincing yourself to turn your financial life around, things like looking at what’s really important to you and facing addictions to buying stuff. However, I’ve discovered that other mental challenges pop up when you get on the right track, and the challenge that I’m facing right now …

Teaching Yourself To Cook At Home

Regular readers of The Simple Dollar know I have a deep passion for preparing my own food. Not only is it less expensive than eating out, I have far more control over what goes in it and I am able to prepare the things I want, not just some choice from a menu. The biggest …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

The One Hour Project: Enjoy What You Have

About six months ago, my wife and I were going through our DVD collection looking for items to clean out. As we did this, we rediscovered a pretty nice little pile of about twenty five DVDs or so that we deeply enjoyed but had found their way to the recesses of our collection. Rather than …

Categories: Books and Reading