Month: May 2014

Review: Isn’t It Their Turn to Pick Up the Check?

Each Friday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book of interest. I’ve always found social issues revolving around money to be infinitely fascinating. Why don’t people talk openly about money? Why do people loan money to friends and family, knowing quite well that if that loan blows up, their friendship is done? Why do …

Categories: Books

Are the Things You Buy Investments?

After my recent post on looking at your automobile purchase as an investment, an interesting discussion broke out in the comments: should a car even be considered an investment? A few choice comments: Automobiles are nothing more than consumable goods. Tools in a toolbox. I say drive them till the wheels fall off and then …

Categories: Investing

Seven Ideas for Preparing Food at Home Cheaply with Minimal Space and Resources

My first living experience on my own was in a college dorm room, where I resided for two years. The cooking equipment there was minimal – I had a dorm fridge, a hot plate, a large pan, two plates, a few forks and spoons, and that was about it. I did whatever dishes I needed …

Categories: Food, Frugality

Downsizing Your Automobile Count: WalkScore.com and the Resources Around You

Over the last month or two, my wife and I have seriously discussed going from a two car to a one car household. She’s a seasonal worker, and during her work season she can take the car to work, which would leave me at home without an automobile. During the off season (which is ongoing), …

Categories: Automobile

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Flying Costs Come Home to Roost Edition

For quite a while, my wife and children and I have been planning a trip to Seattle this summer. We have family there and were planning on getting a hotel room, visiting lots of people, and taking our two year old up on Mount Rainier and out to the ocean. We’ve been trying to schedule …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Integrity and Advertisements

A reader (Tom) sent in an interesting mailbag question that I thought deserved its own post. Why should I ever trust the content of any site or magazine that runs advertisements? That publication is receiving money for displaying those ads, and if they’re selling their space to ads, who’s to say they’re not selling their …

Categories: Getting Started

Twelve Ways to Make Your Car a Better Investment

Automobiles are some of the worst investments you’ll make in your life. They immediately start losing value the second you drive them off the lot. They require constant additional cost to stay on the road (in the form of gas, oil, insurance, and repairs). They’re prone to breaking regularly. They’re a potential physical danger. Best …

Categories: Automobile

How To Write an Effective Thank You Note for Any Occasion

With graduation season recently passed and many early summer weddings ongoing, a lot of people are facing the task of writing a big pile of notes to friends and family, thanking them for their gift-giving generosity. I’ve faced down this big task several different times in my life – and interestingly enough, most of those …

Categories: Getting Started

Reader Mailbag #15

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

Review: Getting Organized

Each Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal productivity, personal development, or business book of interest. Being a person with a pretty packed schedule, I’m always looking for little tips and techniques for squeezing a little bit more out of my day. I’ve read Getting Things Done many, many times, and I’ve absorbed little tips …

Seven Things You Can Do Right Now To Help Flood Victims

As I write this, Iowa is suffering through incredibly disastrous flooding. Levees have been breached in Des Moines, and Cedar Rapids is nearly underwater. If you want to see how bad things are right now, the best place to watch is KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, which has had amazing coverage of the events around here. …

Categories: Charity

The Guardianship Question

This is an extremely challenging article for me to write because it hits very close to home. Guardianship. Who will take care of my children were my wife and I to both pass away suddenly? It’s a question that’s so painful to think about that many parents simply don’t think about it – and that …

Categories: Parenting, Planning

How We Organize Our Coupons and Execute Our Coupon Strategy

In the past, I’ve mentioned a lot of disparate facts about how we collect and use coupons, so I thought it might be worthwhile to show off our entire coupon organization system so it’s clear how we do it. Because of this system, the only time we really invest in coupons is a bit of …

Categories: Coupons, Frugality

Review: Please Send Money

Each Friday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book of interest. As I watch my nieces and nephews grow up and approach college age, I constantly see potential in them. Potential to live a great life where they’re in control of their own destiny. Potential to follow their dreams, no matter what those dreams …

Categories: Books

How to Budget Using ING Direct (Or Another Full-Service Online Bank)

As regular readers know, I’m a very happy user of ING Direct. They provide my checking services, my savings services, and all of my online bill pay services. They even allow me to set up sub-accounts so that I can save for specific goals. In my opinion, ING Direct is the best of the full-service …

Do You Need to Leave an Estate?

One of the most common topics in personal finance writing is estate planning. Life insurance? A will? A living trust? These are always bandied about and readers are always encouraged to get on board with all of these things. What’s often not asked is whether or not estate planning really even applies to you at …

Categories: Planning, Retirement

Sixteen Ways to Go Out on the Town on the Cheap

I love going out on the town with friends, but when I was a younger man, I found that going out every night with pals was a sure way to suck my wallet dry. I’d spend $30 before I blinked and doing that every night was a sure way to drain my wallet. Over time, …

Categories: Frugality

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: $3,000 Handbag Thoughts Edition

Continuing that discussion about the $3,000 handbag from earlier this week, I wanted to clarify something. If your finances are in order, you’re putting money away for your future, and you’ve been planning and saving for that $3,000 handbag because it’s a high-quality one and it’s something you’ve wanted for a long time, that’s great! …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Update on the Flooding in Iowa … And Some Tips on Protecting Yourself

Hundreds of people have emailed me asking questions about the current flooding situation in Iowa. Has my home been affected? How bad is it really? Well, I’ll let the front page of the Des Moines Register speak for itself. Where I’m at (luckily), there’s been only minor ill effect. We’ve had some minor flash flooding …

Categories: Housing, Insurance