Month: May 2014

Will My Money Be Safe?

I’ve heard from many, many readers over the last week worried about the country’s current financial situation and worrying whether their money is safe. My response is that unless you’re doing something highly risky with your money, it’s probably safe. Let’s walk through some of the information you need to know. Cash accounts (savings, CDs, …

Categories: Getting Started

The Psychological and Emotional Attachment to What We Have and What We Want

Recently, I’ve been reading the excellent book The Price of Privilege by Dr. Madeline Levine, which discussed the prevalence of depression and social problems among affluent teens. For the most part, the book lays the blame for this problem squarely on the parents: in their race to affluence, they failed to give adequate time, attention, …

Categories: Psychology

My Weekend Projects: 5 Ways I Spend My Weekends Saving Money and Living Frugally

Most weekends, I tackle one significant project around the house, usually with the goal of saving money or learning how to make or do something myself. Usually, I think to myself “This would make a good post for The Simple Dollar” (and sometimes I go ahead and do it) but most of the time I …

Categories: Food, Frugality

Using TreasuryDirect for Conservative Investing

Over the last few days, with all the tumult on Wall Street (AIG and Merrill and Lehman, oh my!), several people have written to me expressing deep personal concern about investing in the stock market. They see a 25% dip in the value of the market this year and hear a lot of apocalyptic talk …

Friends and Goals

Roll back the clock to 2002, when I graduated from college. Virtually all of my friends graduated within a year of my graduation date and they spread themselves throughout the country, meaning that my former social circle existed only online and through occasional meetups. Frankly, I had a rather difficult time building a new one. …

Categories: Getting Started

The Least Important Bill

Recently, I happened to be leafing through Elizabeth Warren’s worthwhile personal finance book, All Your Worth, when I stumbled across an interesting statement on page 244: “If things get really tight and you don’t have enough to cover all your expenses, pay the most important bills first.” Obviously, Warren intended this advice to be given …

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Merging Checking Accounts Edition

So, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, my wife and I finally merged our checking accounts. And, almost immediately, I figured out a big reason why I was uncomfortable with it from the start. Here’s the scenario: my wife tosses the checkbook in her purse and leaves for the day, as was her normal …

Categories: Morning Roundup

The Real Reason They Aren’t Homeowners: Different Goals

Categories: Goals, Housing

What a Frugality Expert Is – And Why I’m Not One

About a month ago, Lola stunned me with this comment, and it’s taken me a while to figure out how to respond to it: Anyway, Trent can spend as much as he wants on food. My point is that a frugality expert should spend much less than average – especially when he recommends coupons, gardening, …

Categories: Frugality, Meta

If You’re Not Using It, Get Rid of It: Ten Ways to Declutter and Put Cash in Your Pocket

People have a tendency to accumulate stuff. They load up their closets with it, their shelves with it, and much of their living space with it. Take a peek inside your closets or your pantry for proof of this phenomenon. Our own experience is another great example. My wife has a much stronger tendency than …

Categories: Getting Started

Reader Mailbag #28

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: Love Is the Killer App

Each Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal productivity, personal development, or business/entrepreneurship book of interest. One profound thing I’ve always noticed is that if you give something of value away freely, with no strings attached, and don’t expect anything in return, and do it routinely and often enough, you’ll get far more in return …

Eight Tactics for Handling Greeting Card Occasions

A while back, I wrote about making your own greeting cards as a solution to the over-the-top expense of greeting cards, but merely using a blank card from a stationery store is only one narrow solution to a broader problem. And that problem is? There is a very wide variety of situations and customs for …

The Cheapest Fully Functional PC Money Can Buy

I get five or so requests a week from people who want a PC at home that they can surf the web and check email from. Most of them don’t want to do anything much more complicated than watching YouTube videos. I usually give them all the same recipe for doing this on the cheap, …

Categories: Computers

Why Allocations Make A Big Difference

Bill writes in: I keep reading tons of stuff about asset allocation and how you need to diversify your investments. Is it really that big of a deal? In short, just starting a Roth IRA or a 401(k) or an investment account isn’t enough. If you merely open that account, pick a few default investments, …

Categories: Investing

Rethinking Retirement

Yesterday, I had a long conversation with a friend of mine, mostly about what we plan to do for the rest of our lives. I told him about my plans and dreams – writing, volunteer work, local politics, and so on – and I also mentioned how I was saving carefully for retirement. Right then, …

Categories: Retirement

Fifteen Ways to Have Cheap Fun With Your Kids Using a $1 End Roll of Paper

One of the absolute best frugal ways to have fun with your kids is to pick up an “end roll” of paper from the offices of your local newspaper. When a newspaper is printed, the paper that it’s printed on comes in a large spool – imagine your toilet paper roll, except the size of …

Categories: Frugality, Parenting

The Courage to Ask

When you ask for a bargain, the worst thing that can happen is that they say “no,” which is effectively what happens if you don’t ask at all. One thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that it’s almost always worth your while to ask for a bargain, almost everywhere you’re at. Here …

Categories: Getting Started

The Aldi Question: Does One Bad Experience Spoil the Soup?

Whenever I mention the grocery stores where I tend to shop, someone always asks me about Aldi. I tend to usually avoid that question because the answer makes me uncomfortable, but after several emails following my post yesterday about personal finance recommendations, I realized that it was actually a subject worth digging into. I don’t …

Categories: Psychology, Shopping