Month: May 2014

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Theoretical Technology Edition

Yesterday, I was talking to a close friend about what sort of technological device would actually make our lives easier. I took a look at the things I actually use all the time already – my pocket calendar, my pocket notebook, Wikipedia, my RSS feed reader, and my book collection – and I basically described …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Please, Recommend a Personal Finance Product to Me!

All the time, I get requests from readers asking me for recommendations of financial products. What bank should I use? Where should I put my investments? Where should I open up my retirement account? What credit card should I get? Where should I get my insurance from? What kind of software should I be using …

Categories: Getting Started

Finding an Auto Mechanic That You Trust

Over the last few months, I’ve been documenting in depth the various mechanical problems that my truck has been facing and how it’s affecting our decisions with future car purchases. In short, my truck has had four significant breakdowns in the past three months, adding up to a bill totaling about $3,000. When you’re spending …

Categories: Automobile

Financial Success Isn’t About Stuff

Yesterday, I was reading a largely spot-on article over at Steve Pavlina’s blog with the rather New Age-y title How to Raise Your Financial Vibration. Once the spiritual aspects of the article are stripped away, the basic idea is pretty clear and sensible: if you want to be successful in an area, set clear stepping …

Categories: Getting Started

Reader Mailbag #27

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: The Complete Cheapskate

Every other Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book. I picked this one up at the library because of the title – The Complete Cheapskate sounded right up my alley. I flipped through it, quickly found a long list of frugality tips, and took it home, expecting it to be a compendium of …

Categories: What We're Reading

Our Path to (Finally) Merging Our Finances

After six years of dating followed by five years of marriage, my wife and I finally decided to merge our finances together into the same accounts. We’re going to use a local bank for teller purposes and paper checks, and stay with ING Direct for much of our checking and savings purposes. Why did this …

Charting a Course to Go Back to School

Amanda writes: After taking a serious re-evaluation of my life over the last year, I finally realized what I should be doing with it. I want to be a nurse. I attended college several years ago, but I majored in English Lit and didn’t finish my degree. How can I plan for this financially? Going …

Creation versus Consumption

On page 52 of his book Debt Is Slavery, Michael Mihalik makes a point that has been running through my head for several days. Be a creator, not a consumer. Anyone can buy a $2,000 vintage Fender Stratocaster guitar, but can they play it? Which is better, owning the most expensive tennis racket money can …

Categories: Getting Started

Why One-Budget-Fits-All Doesn’t Work – And Why It’s Difficult to Compare Spending Between People and Families

Whenever I leaf through a personal finance “workbook,” I usually wind up getting frustrated. Such workbooks provide “example budgets” and “recommended percentages” that completely miss the boat on the financial realities of most families. Why? Because almost every family has a different allocation of money within their personal budget. Take food, for example. Recently, I …

Opportunity

Let me tell you a pair of stories about opportunity. When I was fifteen years old, I had a long heart-to-heart discussion with my parents. All throughout my childhood, my parents had told me that the door to college was open for me and that if my grades were good enough, they would help me …

Categories: Getting Started

Twelve Tactics to Minimize Winter Heating Bills

Liz writes in with an interesting question: wonder if you have weighed the pros and cons of switching to pellet/wood stoves for heat this winter? I live in Montana and our heating bills are slated to rise 50%, yes 50% this winter, partially due to the sale of Montana Power to Northwest Energy. Our heating …

Categories: Housing

Some Thoughts on Plasma Donation

One of the most frequent “quick money” tips I see bandied about is plasma donation. Go to a plasma donation center, complete a questionnaire, get your pulse and blood pressure taken, and have some blood taken, and you receive a payment for $25 or so. My wife actually did this while we were in college …

Categories: Getting Started

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: More Truck Troubles Edition

A few days ago, my truck acted up yet again, with the truck chugging badly before shifting gears (with the chugs vanishing quickly after the shift). Before long, the ol’ “Check Engine” light came on. Since I don’t need it for much of anything for a while, my wife and I are currently leaving it …

Categories: Morning Roundup

It’s Never As Hard As It Seems

Yesterday, I had a long IM conversation with a reader (that I’ll call Joel) who was asking for advice on how to invest some extra money for retirement. I suggested that they open a Roth IRA with Vanguard, pointed to some of my articles on Roth IRAs and Vanguard, and then helped them walk through …

Categories: Getting Started

The Inspiration and the Motivation

Virtually every time I accomplish something significant in my life, it’s been guided by two separate forces, one pushing from behind and one pulling me ahead. The inspiration and the motivation. The inspiration is the big vision you see in front of you. What is it that fills your heart with passion? What is that …

Categories: Psychology

What’s An Appropriate Home Food Budget for a Family of Four?

In my recent article about having a weekly cheap supper night, I made the following fairly innocuous statement: I looked into this question for my own family recently when calculating our estimated food costs for a month. Over the period of a month – and this includes the prorated costs of bulk food purchased earlier …

Categories: Food

Reader Mailbag #26

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