Month: May 2014

The Best Personal Finance Book for You!

Over the last two years, I’ve reviewed almost 100 personal finance books on The Simple Dollar and read many more (most of which were so redundant, factually incorrect, or poorly written as to not be worth my time to review). After all of those books, I still find that Your Money or Your Life is …

Categories: Books and Reading

Work-Life Balance: 14 Techniques for Improving It

The current issue of BusinessWeek features a big collection of articles on personal challenges in the workplace. I eagerly read their article about work-life balance as this is something I struggle with, but I was disappointed to find that the article mostly consisted of stories about people who were already well off who simply just …

Categories: Careers

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Garden Update Edition

Several people have asked for an update on the status of our garden, so I thought I’d write a bit about it for all the gardening fans out there. Since we live in northern Iowa, our stuff is running a bit later than what you might find south of here. Right now, we have a …

Categories: Books and Reading

What Features Are Most Important For Your Primary Bank? My Thoughts and Recommendations

As most longtime readers know, I’m a very happy customer of ING Direct for both my primary checking account and my primary savings account. Before I joined ING Direct, though, my primary bank was one of the largest banks in the United States, one that had a branch in the town where I attended college …

Categories: Banking

The Frugal Whole Chicken (or, Waste Not, Want Not)

A few days ago, I was inspecting the whole chickens that were on sale at the local grocery store. The price was quite nice – $0.88 a pound – and although it was a different brand of chicken than what I usually buy, I was considering making the purchase (we tend to buy free range …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

A Vacation Disaster and What to Do Next

Last week, I spent seven days in northern Wisconsin at a cabin on Shell Lake, owned by a friend of a friend. It was truly wonderful – so rural that we were out of cell phone range, but with plenty of outdoor stuff to do. My wife and I went on a long canoe trip …

Categories: Automobile

Reader Mailbag #24

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: Books and Reading

Review: Six Thinking Hats

Each Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal productivity, personal development, or business/entrepreneurship book of interest. One of the most interesting aspects of writing a great deal is that I’ve found that writing works much better if you break it down into littler pieces. First comes the brainstorming: what basic idea is behind this piece? …

Debt Freedom: A Personal Finance Startegy

I hear from a lot of readers who avidly follow Dave Ramsey. Many of them have taken his Financial Peace course, some got on board with his Total Money Makeover, and others avidly follow his radio show. Virtually all of them are strongly committed to complete debt freedom as a goal and they’re throwing everything …

Avoiding Low Quality Generics While Still Saving Money

As a rule of thumb, I think it’s a good idea to try generic versions of products you already use, or, at the very least, try out lower end versions. But there’s a problem with that philosophy, one that’s explained very well by Allie, who recently emailed me on this topic: The reason I don’t …

Categories: Meals

The Big Debate #5: Chasing the Dreams or Chasing the Money?

This week, The Simple Dollar is taking a deeper look at five common personal finance debates. A while back, I posted an article entitled How to Choose a Career – The Simple Dollar Way, where I advocated strongly for allowing your passions and talents to lead you to a career, not the money. This led …

Categories: Careers

Review: Young Bucks

Each Friday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book of interest. Writing about kids and money is a fairly sticky topic. I’ve read several books on the topic and only bothered to review a few on here. The best one I had read so far, David Owen’s First National Bank of Dad, was really …

The Big Debate #4: Pay Off Debt or Save for Retirement?

This week, The Simple Dollar is taking a deeper look at five common personal finance debates. Once a day or so, I’ll get a long email from someone pouring out the details of their personal finance situation. Quite often, they’ve reached an age where they’re starting to seriously worry about retirement and have realized that …

How I Deal With My Financial Fears

Even though I write a lot about personal finance on here and elsewhere, I still have a lot of my own hang-ups about personal finance. One of the big reasons I started The Simple Dollar was to learn how to deal with those fears, and once I dealt with that new batch, a fresh batch …

The Big Debate #3: Credit Cards or Debit Cards?

This week, The Simple Dollar is taking a deeper look at five common personal finance debates. Several people I know have made the active choice in their life to completely avoid the use of credit cards. In the modern era, this seems like an almost shocking choice. Credit cards seem like the foundation of basic …

Categories: Credit Cards

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Wesabe Discussions Edition

I usually don’t talk about groups that directly sponsor The Simple Dollar, usually because I feel indifference about their product or because it’s new to me and I haven’t made up my mind about them. After the experience of the last week or so, I feel compelled to make an exception. Those of you who …

Categories: Books and Reading

The Big Debate #2: Leasing, Buying New, or Buying Used?

This week, The Simple Dollar is taking a deeper look at five common personal finance debates. Going to the car dealership always feels like a game of roulette. You go in there, hoping to put your money down on a car that’s a winner, and walk out of the lot with something you actually want, …

Categories: Automobile

Personal Finance and the Bucket List

A while back, I watched part of the Jack Nicholson/Morgan Freeman movie The Bucket List. In it (if you didn’t already know), the two main characters, older gentlemen, come up with a list of things they want to do before they “kick the bucket” – and proceed to do most of them, even though many …

The Big Debate #1: 401(k) or Roth IRA?

This week, The Simple Dollar is taking a deeper look at five common personal finance debates. One of the most common questions I get asked about retirement plans is whether or not a person should be putting their money into a 401(k) or a Roth IRA for retirement. The answer isn’t as straightforward as it …

Categories: Retirement