Month: May 2014

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Snow Overload Edition

I’ll say this much: this has been the craziest winter of my adult life. Right now, as I look out my window, there’s easily two feet of snow on the ground in the back yard. The temperature hasn’t been above freezing (for more than an afternoon hour or two) for weeks, so there’s been no …

Categories: Books and Reading

Frugality, Freedom, and Hard Work

I spend a lot of time brainstorming articles for The Simple Dollar. Quite often, I don’t even have an article in mind when I’m trying to come up with an idea. Instead, I just try to look for patterns in my own life – or in things I read. If I see a pattern, I …

Thoughts on Inauguration Day

As many of you out there know, I’m pretty politically active in my spare time and I truly enjoy following and studying politics, both national and otherwise. Today, of course, is a momentous day in that arena, as George W. Bush peacefully hands over the presidency to Barack Obama. Regardless of how you feel about …

Categories: Getting Started

Never Left a Comment Before? There’s a First Time for Everything!

Recently, a reader (CreoleIvy08) suggested that I hold a “de-lurking day” in which I encouraged readers who did not regularly comment on The Simple Dollar to leave a brief comment, in order to get a broader picture of the readership of The Simple Dollar. Why? It would give a much broader picture of the diversity …

Reader Mailbag #46

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: The War of Art

Every other Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal productivity, personal development, or entrepreneurship book. Remember the movie The Legend of Bagger Vance? It came out several years ago and starred Matt Damon as a drunken golfer who was wasting his skills and Will Smith as his mystical caddy/mentor. The movie was middling, but a …

Personal Finance 101: How Much Money Is That Investment Really Earning Each Year?

Understanding the Annual Rate of Return and What it Means for You Quite often, when you see an advertisement trumpeting the amazing annual rate of return of an investment, you’re not seeing the full picture of how good that investment really is. The annual rate of return, while an interesting metric, doesn’t really tell you …

The Boomers Go Bust: What Can We Learn?

This started off as an email to a reader, but I thought that many other readers might find this of some value. Recently, I received a long email from a very distraught woman (that I’ll call Mary) who has finally come to the realization that she will not be able to retire in seven years …

Categories: Retirement

The Frugal Traveler and the Varying Definitions of Frugal

Recently, I’ve begun following the Frugal Traveler blog, hosted by the New York Times and written by Matt Gross. The title of the blog is reasonably accurate – it focuses on how to cut costs while traveling. For me, though, the most interesting aspect of the blog is that it clearly shows the wide diversity …

Categories: Frugality

The Intelligent Investor: Stock Selection for the Defensive Investor

This is the fifteenth in a weekly series of articles providing a chapter-by-chapter in-depth “book club” reading of Benjamin Graham’s investing classic The Intelligent Investor. Warren Buffett describes this book: “I read the first edition of this book early in 1950, when I was nineteen. I thought then that it was by far the best …

Categories: Books and Reading

An Impulsive Mood

A few days ago, I was in a pretty down mood. I mostly just wanted to curl up somewhere and hide from the whole world. I felt like a failure, mostly in a professional sense, but in a bit of a personal sense as well. I was really doubting my ability to write anything that …

Some Thoughts on Home Decor and Furnishing

When my wife and I purchased our home, we moved from an apartment with roughly 800 square feet of floor space into a house with about 2,000 square feet – and along the way, our biggest piece of furniture (an old, shoddy couch) was unable to make the move. This left us with a blank …

Categories: Home Improvement

Advantages

Recently, I wrote a review of Adam Shepard’s book Scratch Beginnings. In the book, Adam describes his attempt to “start from scratch” – employing nothing more than $25, a bag, and the clothes on his back (and not using any personal contacts or resume builders) to see how far he could go in a year. …

Categories: Getting Started

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Sleepy Days Edition

I’m currently in the midst of my first Iowa winter as a stay-at-home writer – and it’s fairly tough. Many days, after taking the kids to daycare, I’m trapped at home for most of the day completely by myself. It’s too cold to go outside very much, although I do sometimes go outside anyway (and …

Categories: Books and Reading

The Selling of Gold

Over the last several months, I’ve seen a continuous increase in the number of advertisements out there for gold. For me, this reached a fever pitch yesterday, when a local radio station I often listen to apparently sold a one hour infomercial in which two pitchmen were incessantly talking about how great an investment gold …

Categories: Investing

Teaching Frugality: The Power of Why

My three year old son has officially graduated to the “Why?” stage. Most parents – actually, anyone who has spent much time around a three year old – know exactly what I’m talking about. He’s basically asking “Why?” about everything that happens, from the simplest mundane household things to complicated issues like the nature of …

Update on Reselling Used Children’s Clothing

After my recent article about new restrictions on used children’s clothes from the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), I received a flood of correspondence from angry and confused readers who were quite upset with the proposed changes. I compiled a number of these emails and forwarded them on to a few email addresses at …

Categories: Family, Frugality

Reader Mailbag #45

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: Scratch Beginnings

Every other Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book. One of the most common complaints I hear about on The Simple Dollar is that I’m writing financial suggestions for people who have already “made it.” To a certain extent, it’s true – many of the situations I write about assume you already have …

Categories: Books and Reading