Month: May 2014

The “Seed Money” Idea: A Different Way of Looking at Saving for Your Child’s Future

A few days ago, I had lunch with a person in the local community whose opinion I respect quite a bit. He has two adult children, only one of which attended college straight out of high school, and both of which run their own business. What I wanted to know from him was how exactly …

When All Hope Seems Lost…

No matter how careful you are, there may come a time where enough bad events happen that you simply cannot afford your bills any longer. While there are certain things you can do to protect yourself from ever being in that situation (building an emergency fund, practicing frugal living, etc.), they don’t really help when …

Kids, Christmas, and Frugality

If you check your calendar, you’ll note that Christmas is just five weeks away, which for many of us means that planning has already begun. This year happens to be the first year that my son is old enough to really begin to understand and participate in Christmas-related activities. He can open his own gifts …

Categories: Family, Frugality

A Two Checking Account System: Why It Works For Me

Over the past several months, I’ve started to really bank on a system of two checking accounts for my personal use, a system that has confounded a lot of people in my life. “Isn’t having two checking accounts rather confusing?” I’ve been asked more than once. “What’s the point?” It turns out that there really …

Categories: Money

Dealing With Shame About Your Personal Finances (And Anything Else)

When I first started sinking into a mire of debt, I began to really feel ashamed of my actual financial state. I would avoid the topic and when I couldn’t avoid it, I’d bluster my way around it while feeling really guilty and ashamed inside. Of course, I’d put a balm on this by going …

Information Organization 101: A Visual Guide

Over time, many, many readers have asked me how I keep myself organized and find the time to maintain The Simple Dollar, work a full time job, handle a family life that involves two kids in diapers, and have any free time at all for other pursuits including some degree of intellectual curiosity. It’s not …

Review: The Paradox of Choice

Each Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal productivity or personal development book. The Paradox of Choice focuses in on an increasingly vital aspect of modern life: the abundance of choice, and whether that choice is a good thing for our psychological state and our ability to make progress. Rather than taking the classic argument …

Turn Off the Lights to Save Money…But How Much?

When I was young, my parents were adamant about turning off lights and were often rather upset with me if we’d leave on a two or three day trip and my bedroom light remained on. Even now, my wife and I traditionally go through the house and turn off lights, even if we’re just leaving …

Categories: Frugality

How to Get Started Investing in Index Funds

For some of you, this topic will seem almost shockingly trivial, but I have received this question three times now and that, to me, means that a lot of readers are curious about the topic. From the most recent email: Could you please explain how to begin investing in index funds? I’ve read some of …

Categories: Investing

Finding Motivation and Meaning in the Drudgery of Personal Finance

As passionate as I am about managing my own finances, I’ll be the first to admit that some of the tasks are rather dull to me. For example, filing away documents is about the last thing on earth I want to do, and I often put it off so long that there is a mountain …

7 Things You Can Do Right Now To Chase Your Dreams

My last post, on figuring out where I should go next with my lfe, drew an outpouring of great comments and a lot of emails to me. Many of the emails asked me how exactly I put myself in such a position. How did I find the time to get started on such a lark …

Categories: Entrepreneurship

Piecing Through A Major Life Decision

Right now, I’m sitting at a crossroads as to the future direction of my career and, by extension, my life. The Decision Throughout my life, I’ve harbored a dream of being a professional writer. I’ve always felt a great deal of power and of emotional release in the written word, dating back literally to my …

The Personal Finance of Fear – And Why I Reject It

Quite often, I get suggestions from readers to review personal finance books that are promoted with a strong theme of fear. For example, just today a reader wrote to me with some eloquent questions from a book entitled The Coming Economic Collapse How You Can Thrive When Oil Costs $200 a Barrel. While I responded …

Review: Getting a Life

Each Friday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book. I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for a while. Getting a Life is a pseudo-sequel to Your Money or Your Life, which I absolutely loved and have referred to countless times on The Simple Dollar. Although it’s written by different people, it’s endorsed …

Seven Ways To Get Books For Free (Or Close To It)

After reading the summary lists of the 52 Personal Finance Books in 52 Weeks series, some of you out there are probably yearning to pick up a book or two from the list. Or, perhaps you’re just yearning to read something else. Either way, there are a lot of ways to get books for free …

52 Books, 52 Weeks: A Buyer’s Guide

After posting my final rankings of all of the books I’ve read in the past year, several readers wrote to me saying that several of the books looked interesting, but they weren’t sure which one was right for them. I offered a few ideas, but then I realized that one final concluding post that summarized …

Categories: Books and Reading

The Finances and Interactions of Alternative Living Arrangements

Recently, there has been some talk in our house of inviting my wife’s sister to live with us on a permanent basis (in fact, my wife and I have already extended the invitation and she is thinking about it, though it is far far far from a done deal). We have the room to allow …

How to Maintain Friendships With Non-Frugal People

In response to yesterday’s post about fun, Erin wrote the following (adding my own emphasis): Whenever I do things with friends, they seem to always want to include eating out with the activity. Or they want to go shopping. When I suggest that we go out, but not eat out or that shopping is not …

Categories: Getting Started

52 Books, 52 Weeks: 10 Fundamental Personal Finance Ideas

As I read personal finance book after personal finance book over the last year, I came to realize that a lot of concepts in various books were exactly the same. In fact, there were a handful that were mentioned in a majority of the books, which would indicate something close to a universal truth about …