Month: May 2014

Sunday Conversation #4

This week, I’m interviewing a close friend of our family named Carrie. It was Carrie’s earlier guest post on cloth diapering that inspired us to try it. Carrie is a stay-at-home mother with a husband whose career pays irregularly, meaning they tackle a very uneven rate of pay along with many opportunities for saving money. …

The Debtor’s Toolkit: Twelve Effective Tactics to Use When Tackling Debt

Almost every day, someone writes to me with intimate details about their debt situation. Some of them are pretty mild and can easily be taken care of with a little bit of elbow grease – others are horrifying and will take some very serious attention to manage. In either situation, the principles for getting rid …

Categories: Debt

Making Your Own Homemade Oatmeal Packets: A Visual Guide and Cost Analysis

I love oatmeal. I eat it for breakfast probably five days a week. It’s a very healthy fuel to get your motor running for the day, plus it can be very tasty if it’s made well. Whenever I find myself using something almost every day, I begin to wonder if I can’t reduce the cost …

Categories: Food, Frugality, Photo Diary

The Sucker Factor

Alan wrote in with an interesting situation: My problem is that I can’t say no to people. I am a sucker for girl scouts selling cookies. I am a sucker for salesman at stores. I am a sucker for my church when they need money for something. I am a sucker for friends and family …

Categories: Getting Started

Born to Buy: Decommercializing Childhood

This is the seventeenth 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 half of the final chapter, “Decommercializing Childhood”, starting on page 189 and continuing until …

Categories: Book Club, Born to Buy

Rinse and Repeat

One of the most frequent complaints I get from readers of The Simple Dollar is that I often repeat some of the basic tenets of personal finance. Let’s face it – in some respects, The Simple Dollar is repetitive. By now, I must have riffed the principle of “spend less than you earn” at least …

Categories: Meta

Who Do You Work For?

Yesterday, I made a feeble attempt to explain what I now do for a living to an eighty eight year old woman as we stood in line at Fareway. The line was pretty long and I had helped her earlier in the store to put some cat litter in her cart, so I said hello …

Categories: Careers

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Best Money Saving Tips Edition

Last week, I tried a little experiment on Twitter: I asked all of the people following me on there a simple question: What’s your best tip for saving money that can be expressed in a Twitter-length statement? I’ll use them in a TSD post & link back to you. A “Twitter-length statement” means in 140 …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Born to Buy: Empowered or Seduced?

This is the sixeenth 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 entire ninth chapter, “Empowered or Seduced?”, starting on page 177 at the subheading “Statistical Results: …

Categories: Book Club, Born to Buy

Personal Finance 101: The Basics of Estate Planning

A few days ago, I made an offhand mention of my will, which drew a lot of questions from readers about their own wills and other things they need to be taking care of in terms of being sure that their estate planning is in order. After reading those questions, I thought it would be …

Categories: Planning

Taking a Deeper Look at Wants Versus Needs

Let’s start off with an interesting statement. I believe that many of the personal finance problems that people face are due to a confusion between wants and needs. Not long ago, I used to think it was more a matter of a blurry area between wants and needs. I’d use that blurry area to justify …

Categories: Getting Started

Reader Mailbag #9

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: Consumer Involvement as an Undermining Force

This is the fifteenth 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 final portion of the eighth chapter, “How Consumer Culture Undermines Children’s Well Being,” starting at …

Categories: Book Club, Born to Buy

Sunday Conversation #3

Over the next few Sundays, I’m going to post a conversation I’ve had with a person I know who has made interesting financial choices in their lives. Hopefully, these discussions will be enlightening and entertaining. This week, I’m interviewing a close friend of mine named Rachel. Rachel is one of the most intelligent people I …

Making and Maintaining a Master Information Document

About a year ago, I wrote a lengthy article about how to start a filing system, including information on what kind of filing cabinet to buy and what sorts of things you should file. Near the end, though, I wrote one little paragraph that deserves to be looked at again in more detail: A master …

Children’s Education and Personal Finance

Almost every time I read an article about funding your child’s education, it turns into a discussion about saving for college. Coverdell plans, 529 plans, how to handle the FAFSA – all of this stuff is standard personal finance fare. But all of it overlooks the first eighteen years of your child’s life – the …

Categories: Education, Parenting

Left Brain and Right Brain Financial Needs

Not long ago, I was talking about retirement planning with a friend of mine who was trying to decide what exactly to do to prepare for retirement – he’s 25, but has gotten the memo that he needs to plan now. I ran through a few options, but almost immediately his eyes glazed over – …

Categories: Psychology

Born to Buy: Patterns of Media Use

This is the fourteenth 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 middle portion of the eighth chapter, “How Consumer Culture Undermines Children’s Well Being,” starting at …

Categories: Book Club, Born to Buy

Hyundai’s “Dollars and Sense” Ads

Recently, Hyundai has begun airing car ads for their “Dollars and Sense” campaign, in which they’re offering a “cash back” promotion on new purchased Hyundais. To get across the idea that buying a brand new Hyundai is a financially sound decision, the commercials feature various personal finance and investment writers offering suggestions on how to …