Month: May 2014

What Color Is Your Parachute? Killing the Doubts

This is the fourth part of The Simple Dollar Book Club reading of What Color Is Your Parachute?, a seminal guide to your career. These entries appear weekly, each Monday afternoon, and you’re invited to read along. This entry covers chapters ten, eleven, and twelve in the 2008 edition (earlier editions are roughly similar). If …

Categories: Books and Reading

The Simple Dollar: Best of 2007

Over the first full year of The Simple Dollar’s existence, I’ve written a pile of articles, some good, some bad. I went through each month and tried to pick out the five best from that month to produce something of an anthology of 2007. Here they are, the best articles of the year. January + …

Review: Take Back Your Time

Each Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance or personal development book. Over and over again, I’ve come to realize that most of the stress and money management problems that people have come down to one thing: a lack of time. It’s because of that realization that I’ve come to write somewhat regularly about …

How to Define and Stick To a Successful New Year’s Resolution, Financial or Otherwise

Almost every year, I define a handful of New Year’s resolutions for myself, as do many people around the world. The new year provides a proverbial “clean slate” – the turning of the calendar year provides a very clear psychological place with which to work on life changes we’d like to make. The problem is …

Talking Myself Out Of Frivolous Purchases

I’ll start off this time by relating a few tales of recent shopping excursions where I talked myself out of making some seriously frivolous purchases. A week before Christmas, I was at an electronics store searching for a shower radio for my sister-in-law. While wandering around, I went through the flat panel television section. As …

Zen and the Art of Item Replacement

My family has only one television in the house, and it is primarily used for playing Wii games. It’s an enormous, extremely heavy old 32″ television, bought when I was in college and now approaching ten years old. In all four corners, the screen has begun to turn faintly blue, and it shows up particularly …

Categories: Shopping

Review: The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Road Map to True Riches

Each Friday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book. I love books on frugality, but they’re actually pretty rare – the personal finance section at your bookstore is pretty heavy on debt management and investing and extremely light on frugal living. Because of that, I’ve been eagerly anticipating this book by Jeff Yeager, a …

Life and Discipline: Using the Five Personal Finance Business Cards for Other Aspects of Life

A while back, I wrote a post outlining everything you needed to know about personal finance on the back of five business cards. In a succinct way, that post laid out the most important pieces of personal finance: spend less than you earn, and do that by living frugally and focusing on increasing your earnings …

Six Invaluable Online Resources For Personal Finance Education

Occasionally, I bump into web sites and information collections online that are truly impressive in the quality and usefulness of the content. Along with a handful of books, these web sites serve as the primary reference source for the material I write for The Simple Dollar. Here’s the cream of the crop of online resources …

Categories: Getting Started

The Day After: Six Ways to Deal With the Post-Christmas Money Blues – And Plan Ahead for Next Year

My father likes to joke that the happiest day of the year is December 25, and the saddest is December 26, because that’s when the bills start arriving. While I’d like to chuckle at that joke, a pile of credit card bills isn’t really very funny – in fact, just thinking of it brings back …

Categories: Home and Life

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Christmas Gift Edition

I thought it would be fun to list the gifts I received for Christmas this year (for the most part, the gifts were pretty spot-on) – as you’ll see, it had a definite food theme. I’ve been keeping this list electronically to help with thank-you notes, so the list is actually chronological in order. Feel …

Categories: Books and Reading

The Best Christmas Gift of All

As I sit here surrounded by torn wrapping paper, empty boxes, and a room full of children happily playing with Game Boys and puzzles and Matchbox cars, it occurs to me that this is the first Christmas since I was still in school where I didn’t have an underlying nervous sense of worry about how …

Categories: Home and Life

Merry Christmas from The Simple Dollar

Just a quick note to wish you all a merry Christmas! My Christmas has been quite merry so far: a Mexican-themed Christmas celebration (with lots of Corona), an excited wife receiving a Roomba and an Amazon Kindle, a son who can’t stop playing with his new tractor and his massively expanded Lego collection, and a …

Categories: Home and Life

Savings Bonds as Gifts for My Children: How Should I Handle Them?

Both of my children have received a pair of savings bonds as Christmas gifts this year. While the gift is wonderful and very much appreciated, I am considering cashing them in and putting that money straight into their college 529 account. Let’s look at the pros and cons of the choices. Why I Should Cash …

Categories: Family, Shopping

Eight Frugal Ways to Prepare for Winter Driving

Yesterday, I spent seven hours on the road in Iowa. When we left, the weather forecast looked rather clear and we figured the trip would be relatively easy (well, as easy as a four hour car trip with a toddler and an infant will ever be). About an hour into it, we ran into a …

Categories: Automobile

Review: The Wisdom of Crowds

Each Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal development or personal productivity book. About two weeks ago, I wrote in quick succession a number of articles on peer pressure, Christmas toy marketing, and parental responses to Christmas toy marketing. A few astute readers made the observation that I was talking about “groupthink” in each of …

A Letter to Myself in Ten Years

Many, many people write letters to their past selves, advising their earlier selves to avoid mistakes that they’ve made. I thought it might be interesting to take the opposite approach and write myself a letter today to read on my fortieth birthday. Dear Trent, Today is your fortieth birthday. Your son is twelve years old, …

The Financial Implications of a Third Child

Now that life has settled down with two children in our home, my wife and I are starting to look at the decision to have a third child. Our plan always has been to have our children close together in age so that they can be peers to each other (roughly) during their school years, …

Categories: Family

The Over-Gifting Relative

Each year, my grandmother gets me and my wife an exorbitantly expensive gift, usually something way out of her budget. One year, she managed to procure a small library of Kurt Vonnegut novels all signed and with individual notes inside in his handwriting. Another year, she managed to find me several pounds of fresh imported …

Categories: Family, Shopping