Month: May 2014

The Why and How of a Household Inventory

One personal finance project that a lot of people overlook is the household inventory. It’s one of those “once in a great while” tasks that’s easy to overlook and forget about, but it’s not very hard and it can pay huge dividends if you’re carrying homeowners’ or renters’ insurance and something goes wrong with your …

Categories: Housing, Insurance

Chipping Away at the Paycheck to Paycheck Routine

Yesterday, a reader that I’ll call Susie contacted me with a long story about her family’s financial situation. Here’s an excerpt from near the end that really sums up the problems that she’s having. The real problem is that even if I buckle down and cut back on some stuff, we always find ways to …

Categories: Getting Started

Reader Mailbag #1

After the unprecedented success of my open question thread, I’ve decided to start a weekly “reader mailbag” to handle a lot of the simpler questions that I get that don’t necessarily warrant a full article by themselves. Each week, I’ll answer ten to twenty questions accumulated from that open question thread and any more questions …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Review: Cut to the Chase

Each Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal productivity or personal development book. Cut to the Chase was recommended to me by a friend of a friend, who swore up and down that it was the best book on time management he’d ever read. As a long-time believer in Getting Things Done (and having read …

The Financial Recovery Toolkit: Ten Tools I Used In My Financial Turnaround

A few days ago, I wrote about the details of my financial turnaround, going from a big mountain of credit card debt to enough financial freedom that I can actually chase my dreams of being a writer and spending much more time with my children. I would have never been able to do this without …

Categories: Getting Started

Loss Aversion and Motivation: Using Your Natural Instincts To Get Ahead

Yesterday on my way to work, I was tuned into NPR’s Morning Edition and I overheard a story about two researchers using our natural instinct to avoid losses as a motivation to lose weight. The concept is called loss aversion and is summarized by Wikipedia as such: [L]oss aversion refers to the tendency for people …

Categories: Psychology

How I Turned That Ship Around: Another Look At My Financial Meltdown … And The Aftermath

In April 2006, I came very close to a complete financial meltdown. I had five figures worth of credit card debt, a pile of bills, and no money in my accounts to pay anything. It got so bad that I wound up spending most of a night holding my son, hoping something would change. Roll …

Categories: Getting Started

Review: Start Late, Finish Rich

Each Friday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book. As I’ve written before about David Bach’s books, you really only need to read one of them. I’ve read and reviewed The Automatic Millionaire, Smart Women Finish Rich, and Smart Couples Finish Rich and I found that … well, for the most part, they were …

Categories: Books, David Bach

How Do I Spend My Time?

Perhaps the most frequent question I’m asked is how on earth do I find the time to do all of the stuff that I do in a given day? I thought the best way to illustrate this would be to give an outline of a typical day so you can see what I do during …

Categories: Meta, Time Investment

The Stock Market Is Way Down This Year… Here’s Another Way To Think About It

On December 31, 2007, the S&P 500 closed at 1,468.36. Just two months later, on February 29, 2008, the S&P 500 closed at 1,330.63. That’s a 9.4% drop in just two months, an incredibly painful loss for almost everyone invested in the stock market. Even people who were invested in a highly diversified index fund …

Categories: Investing

Ask Me Anything You Want!

I’m going to try a little experiment here, just to see how it goes. From now until Saturday, March 8, 2008, you can ask any question you’d like in this thread – a specific personal finance question, a philosophical question, a personal development question, a pop culture question (maybe you have a video game related …

Categories: Meta

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Crunch Edition

As I enter the final home stretch for my job, I’m incredibly busy preparing stuff for my replacement and getting all sorts of things finished up and tidy. The first half of March is going to be long … very long. Luckily, I still had time to dig up a few posts of interest for …

Categories: Morning Roundup

“Freegans,” Dumpster Diving, and the Limits of Frugality

Last week, while traveling for work, I had an opportunity during a schedule break to catch an episode of the Oprah Winfrey show, where she discussed “freegans.” Here’s Wikipedia’s description of freeganism: Freeganism is an anti-consumerism lifestyle whereby people employ alternative living strategies based on “limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of …

Planning a Kitchen Garden

For the first time in my adult life, I have adequate space for a real kitchen garden. We’ve got two boxed gardens in the back yard, a big batch of winterized compost, and big plans. What’s a “kitchen garden”? A kitchen garden merely refers to a garden that consists almost exclusively of plants intended to …

Categories: Food, Frugality

Financial Planning for Self-Employment: What’s Different?

As I move away from the standard paycheck-based income and into a self-employment status, I’ve begun to think seriously about how I need to plan things throughout the month to make sure all of the bills are covered. I’m not worried about paying them – we have plenty of income and a good emergency fund …

Learning the Right Lessons from Your Mistakes

All of us regularly make mistakes in our lives – choices that seem like the right ones at the time, but later turn out to have been poor choices. This is true for all avenues of life: our careers, our personal lives, our finance choices, and anything else where we make decisions and have to …

Review: Simple Prosperity

Each Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal development or personal productivity book. About two years ago, I went through a huge lengthy “green” streak, brought on by An Inconvenient Truth. I spent several months absorbing as much information as I could about global climate change, from the actual scientific literature to books on things …

February 2008 Review – Assets -0.5%, Debts -1.0%

Once again, it’s time for a monthly review of my finances. I generally break things down by evaluating my assets and my debts (which together make up my net worth), and then using these numbers, I attempt to set goals for the coming month. This is a useful exercise for everyone to do, simply so …

Investing Isn’t Just About Money

When I first sat down to write the Investing in Yourself series, I was mostly thinking about financial investments – how can you invest money in yourself in order to increase your earning potential? What the series actually pointed out to me, however, is that investments really take on a lot of forms and you …