Month: May 2014

Eight Questions About the Current State of the Economy – And How It Affects You

Over the last few months as the subprime lending situation has grown increasingly worrisome, a lot of people have written to me asking some very fundamental questions about what’s going on. I’ve decided to collect all of these responses into a single post. Please note that this is not a be-all end-all explanation of how …

Categories: Getting Started

Making Your Own Laundry Detergent: A Detailed Visual Guide

About a year ago, I posted a general description of how to make your own laundry detergent that proved quite popular. That article basically described in a general sense how one could make laundry detergent at home very cheaply, but it left out a lot of key issues: does it work well? What does it …

Categories: Frugality

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Singing Out Loud Edition

When I sit here writing, I usually have music cranked up pretty loud (often it’s Aimee Mann, as I’ve mentioned before). I have a big pile of notes around me and I collect them into an article, usually rocking gently back in forth in time to the music. Every once in a while, I’ll just …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Born to Buy: From Tony the Tiger to Slime Time Live

This is the fourth discussion in a “book club” series on Born to Buy by Juliet Schor, which focuses on consumerism issues and young children. You can jump back to the first discussion if you’d like. This discussion covers the first portion of the third chapter ending at the subheading “Kids Rule: Nickelodeon and the …

Categories: Book Club, Born to Buy

How Big Should My Car Down Payment Be?

Jimmie wrote in with a good question over the weekend: I’m going to buy a new car in several months and I’m trying to figure out how much down payment I should have. I’ve heard tons of different answers from different people. What’s your take? My initial take was to give this an off-the-cuff response …

The Value of Personal Trust

A really good discussion about personal trust and honesty developed out of the most recent reader mailbag that I thought was worth discussing on its own. First of all, I made a pretty big mistake in my answer. I made a giant assumption that the readers called me on, and it’s worth discussing further. On …

Categories: Family, Getting Started

Reader Mailbag #5

Each Monday, The Simple Dollar opens up the reader mailbags and answers ten to twenty simple questions offered up by the readers on personal finance topics and many other things. Got a question? Ask it in the comments. You might also enjoy the archive of earlier reader mailbags. As usual, we’ll start things off with …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Born to Buy: Playing Less and Shopping More

This is the third discussion in a “book club” series on Born to Buy by Juliet Schor, which focuses on consumerism issues and young children. You can jump back to the first discussion if you’d like. This discussion covers the second half of the second chapter starting at the subheading ”Playing Less and Shopping More,” …

Categories: Book Club, Born to Buy

Ten Killer Tactics for Developing a New Skill

In our everyday lives, it’s very easy to become complacent and content with our current skills and abilities. We have busy lives and often have a skill set that matches our current job, so it’s much easier to just get the work done and move on with life than to take the time to build …

Categories: Getting Started

Inspired By Carrie, Our Experiments in Disposable Diapering

A few weeks ago, I posted an article written by Carrie, a close friend of my wife who has been using cloth diapers for her daughter, Elizabeth, since the baby was born. The analysis of cost that Carrie provided was a huge hit (67 comments as of my writing) and convincing enough that it got …

Categories: Frugality, Parenting

Personal Finance 101: Comparing Debts and Developing a Debt Repayment Plan

A reader wrote in recently: I have kind of a weird situation with our 2 credit cards, and wanted to see what you thought. We have one card (Citi) with a total balance of $4,800. $3,800 of this is a balance transfer that is at 2.99% until paid off. The remaining $1,000 is at 13.49%. …

Categories: Getting Started

Amazon Grocery: When Is It More Cost-Effective Than the Local Supermarket?

Recently, I made an offhand mention that I’m a user of Amazon Grocery and this intrigued several commenters, so I thought I’d walk through the shopping process that leads me to using Amazon Grocery for some items. What’s Amazon Grocery? For those unaware, Amazon Grocery is a section of Amazon.com where one can buy most …

Categories: Groceries, Shopping

Born to Buy: The Changing World of Children’s Consumption

This is the second discussion in a “book club” series on Born to Buy by Juliet Schor, which focuses on consumerism issues and young children. You can jump back to the first discussion if you’d like. This discussion covers the first part of the second chapter, “The Changing World of Children’s Consumption,” which appears on …

Categories: Book Club, Born to Buy

The First Money Talk: The When and How of a Conversation Every Couple Needs to Have

At some point, as a relationship grows and becomes more serious between two people, questions begin to arise about long-term plans, particularly as it begins to become clear that at least a significant portion of two lives are going to overlap and become one. For my wife and I, these discussions started about a year …

Daycare: Personal, Family, and Financial Responsibilities in Balance

One of the most controversial subjects that I often touch upon is that of daycare. Some people are adamantly opposed to even suggesting the topic, stating unequivocally that taking your child to a daycare is a detriment to them. Others speak very positively about it, looking at it as a way to balance a child’s …

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Seth Godin Edition

Usually, I focus in on personal finance and personal development bloggers in my roundups, but today I wanted to highlight a blog that has consistently been among my favorites for many years. It’s a blog primarily focusing on marketing written by Seth Godin. You’re probably wondering why I would want to bring up a marketing …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Born to Buy: Introduction

This is the first discussion in a “book club” series on Born to Buy by Juliet Schor, which focuses on consumerism issues and young children. This discussion covers the first chapter, “Introduction,” which appears on pages 9 through 18. When I look at the cover of Born to Buy, the first thing I see is …

Categories: Book Club, Born to Buy

Just Got Ripped Off By A Consumer Product? Five Things to Do Right Now – And Six Ways to Follow Up

Every once in a while, I’ll run into some kind of product that’s either defective or sold with completely misleading packaging. Depending on the severity of the problem (ranging from rancid potato chips to a broken external hard drive), I’ve shrugged it off or blown a complete gasket. In either extreme, though, the same philosophy …

Categories: Getting Started