• The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Learning Yard Care Edition

    Last fall, I attempted to fertilize the yard with fine dried compost – that seemed to work very well for making things grow. The only problem is it made a ton of broadleaf grow as well all over the yard this spring. I talked to a friend of mine who takes care of yards and …

  • The Essential Bookshelf: The Only Eight Books I’ve Kept (After Hundreds of Reviews)

    Over the last two years, I’ve reviewed in detail more than a hundred (actually approaching two hundred) personal finance and personal productivity books on The Simple Dollar – for more than a year, I reviewed two a week. Over that time, many readers have asked me what I’m doing with all of those books. Some …

  • Some Notes on Our Experience with Skype – And Why It Will Work for Some and Not for Others

    A few days ago, I made an offhand reference to using Skype to nearly eliminate the cost of a land line phone at home. A surprisingly large number of readers were curious about this and wrote in with interesting questions of all kinds, so I thought I’d walk through what Skype is, how we use …

  • PearBudget: An Effective Way to Dip Your Toes into Budgeting

    As I mentioned before, when I first began my financial turnaround, I constructed a tight budget and stuck to it like glue for the first few months. That tight budget was invaluable – it taught me how to ride the proverbial bicycle that is personal finance management. One of the biggest tools I used during …

  • Reader Mailbag #11

    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 …

  • Review: The Procrastinator’s Handbook

    Each Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal productivity or personal development book. One of the first productivity books I reviewed on The Simple Dollar was Dr. Neil Fiore’s excellent The Now Habit. It did a wonderful job of attacking the problem of procrastination from a psychological perspective, looking at the core reasons why people …

  • Making the Hard Choice

    When I think back over my life, I’ve found that time and time again, the hard choices I’ve made were the ones that provided lasting positive change in my life. When I took the easy road, it didn’t have any impact – it was only the hard choices that really brought about change. When I …

  • Frugality and the Impression of Poverty

    Recently, my wife and I have kicked around the idea of installing clotheslines in our backyard. We both grew up in the country and we both had clotheslines in our backyards which our family used for drying clothes in the spring, summer, and fall. A quick cost analysis An average dryer load costs about 30 …

  • The Monthly Grind: Sixteen Hardcore Tactics for Minimizing Your Monthly Bills

    I usually look for the little things that we can do to reduce our spending – things like installing more energy-efficient light bulbs or preparing a meal at home. Those are nice because they are simple and generally only require one little change to create a benefit for your bottom line. However, in the excellent …

  • Review: The Big Payoff

    The Simple Dollar book reviews are back again! Each Friday for the foreseeable future, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book. After a long stretch of focusing in on Born to Buy, I’m looking forward to writing a whole lot of book reviews over the next several months. And I’ll start off with a …

  • Holding a Monthly Family Financial Meeting … And How It Can Benefit Your Marriage and Educate Your Children

    Prior to our financial meltdown, my wife and I simply never sat down and talked about our finances. Right after our meltdown, we talked about things almost every day, but through our recovery, our discussions have slowly reduced themselves to the point where we’re effectively already having monthly family financial meetings. And these meetings have …

  • How to Get Personal and Professional Value from Idle Web Surfing

    Given how the usage of The Simple Dollar spikes during the normal workday in the United States (this phenomenon occurs on many other blogs, too), it’s easy to conclude that many visitors visit the site during downtimes during their workday, seeking information to improve their financial lives and their career. While this is an effective …

  • An Interview With Amy Dacyczyn, The Author of The Tightwad Gazette

    When I was first going through my financial turnaround, I was heavily inspired by Amy Dacyczyn’s The Complete Tightwad Gazette, not only as a person discovering frugality, but as a writer. As I said in my review of the book, “Highly recommended, and the single best book on frugality I’ve read, bar none.” The Tightwad …

  • The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Greatest Hits Vol. 1 Edition

    After receiving several dozen “This series was great” emails alongside several hundred “Please make it stop!” emails when it came to the Born to Buy series, along with several requests to “Review some other book … please,” I’ve elected to go back to the old-style book reviews that many readers seemed to quite like – …

  • Born to Buy: Final Thoughts

    This is the final discussion in a “book club” series on Born to Buy by Juliet Schor, which focuses on consumerism issues and young children. During this series, a lot of people wrote to me and asked why I was covering this book in such detail. One reader’s comment: “i get the point don’t expose …

  • What I’m Doing With My Economic Stimulus Check (Hint: It Doesn’t Involve the Word ‘Plasma’)

    Over the last few weeks, several readers have written in asking me what I’m going to do with my economic stimulus check, perhaps in hopes that it would give them some idea as to what to do with it. I thought that walking through my plans for the money might give some people insight into …

  • The Battle Between the Stuff I Want and the Guilt I’m Left With

    Last month, I was sorely tempted to pick up Mario Kart Wii. Mario Kart has been my favorite video game series of all – I played it for hours and hours with my friends in high school on the Super Nintendo, then burnt countless hours in the college dorms playing it on an N64. Even …

  • Reader Mailbag #10

    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 …

  • Born to Buy: The Invention of Modern Childhood

    This is the eighteenth and penultimate 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 latter half of the final chapter, “Decommercializing Childhood”, starting on page 200 at …