Month: May 2014

An Interview With Vicki Robin, Author of “Your Money or Your Life”

Vicki Robin is one of the authors of Your Money or Your Life, the personal finance book that, more than any other, influenced how I think about personal finance and how it relates to how people live their lives. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Vicki and ask her a few questions about …

A Walkthrough and Cost Breakdown of Brewing Your Own Beer

I’ve mentioned many times on The Simple Dollar that I enjoy brewing my own beer at home, and just as many times, readers have requested a walkthrough of this process along with some cost analyses. Recently, I made a batch of porter and took some photographs along the way to illustrate the process. Let’s dig …

Categories: Photo Diary

The Intelligent Investor: “Margin of Safety” as the Central Concept of Investment

This is the twenty-first (and last) 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 “Challenge”

A few days ago, I Will Teach You to Be Rich posted an article entitled Trent says The Scrooge Strategy is “short-sighted” — I respond with a challenge. The basic point of the post was that an average person is better off spending an hour eliminating their big bills instead of focusing on little frugal …

Some Thoughts on Building a Successful Marriage

From my perspective, once you enter into the realm of marriage, building and maintaining a successful marriage is actually a big part of personal and financial success. A solid marriage not only results in people sharing resources together, but a marriage also provides a lot of emotional support, cheerleading, and encouragement to succeed. In the …

Categories: Marriage

Understanding CD Rates

Dennis writes in with the following question about CD rates: My credit union has CDs. The rate for a three-month CD is 1.88% while the rate for a one-year is 2.37%. Is my math reading correctly when I come out with $2.37 (on a $100 deposit) for 1 year but if I chose to deposit …

Categories: Investing

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Podcast Edition

First, an update on my own podcast: I’ve done some test recordings of episodes and am currently showing them to some potential sponsors. I hope to launch the podcast in April or May. I always like to have several episodes done in advance in case of emergencies, much like I do with Simple Dollar posts, …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Should You Use a Credit Card As Your Emergency Fund?

Over the years, tons of readers have written into me with some variation on the same question: is it appropriate to use my credit card as an emergency fund? Here’s a sample of that question, from Eddie: I guess what I’m asking is, if I have such a large credit limit that’s not being used, …

Categories: Getting Started

When You Go Too Cheap

Several days ago, my mother related to me a horror story about a particular dinner she’d prepared for herself and my father. She had purchased some extremely cheap frozen chicken breasts from a local discount grocery store at a price she just couldn’t pass up, but when she brought them home and actually prepared them, …

Categories: Frugality

Where Can You Turn If You Lose It All?

I received a long email recently from an utterly despondent woman (that I’ll call Ellen) who was caught in a devastating situation. A year ago, she was a stay-at-home mother with three preschool-aged children. Her husband worked at a high-paying job that seemed to have great long-term potential and it seemed as though their life …

Reader Mailbag #51

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: Work Less, Live More – The Way to Semi-Retirement

Every other Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book. Even before I began my financial turnaround, I dreamed of being able to settle into some form of “semi-retirement” around age fifty or so (when the children are out on their own). I dreamed of spending mornings working on my writing, spending my afternoons …

Categories: Books, Retirement

The Happy Minimum

Yesterday morning, my son and I were in the bathroom cleaning. I noticed that we were almost out of toilet paper. My son went to retrieve some (he may only be three years old, but he knows how to change the toilet paper roll! I’m so proud.) and while he was getting the paper, I …

Categories: Frugality

When You’re Overcharged or Undercharged

While doing my weekly shopping trip (incidentally, this was also when I prepared for the breakfast burrito post), I headed to the checkout with a bunch of produce in my cart. I knew how much the produce was marked for in the aisle, but I often find that produce pricing results in a lot of …

Categories: Getting Started

Bulk Breakfast Burritos: Convenient, Cheap, Healthy, and Easier Than You Think

I’m a big believer in eating a good breakfast to start your day. A healthy, high-protein, low-fat breakfast provides the fuel you need to get going in the morning. The problem is that most mornings are really busy. When your alarm goes off, you have to take a shower, get dressed, find your stuff, complete …

Categories: Food, Frugality

The Intelligent Investor: Shareholders and Managements: Dividend Policy

This is the twentieth 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 …

The Giving Pocket

When I was about twenty years old, I was walking near the edge of a rough part of Des Moines, Iowa and I saw something that’s stuck with me ever since. There was a young boy there, about six years old, and he was climbing out of a dumpster behind an apartment building. He was …

Categories: Charity

Ten Vital Tactics for Making the “Money Talk” Work

Let’s face it: talking about money can be very, very difficult. I’m speaking from experience here: when my wife and I first started addressing our financial situation, it was extremely challenging to talk about money. We’d look at our financial state, see that we weren’t where we wanted to be, and would seek someone or …

Categories: Marriage

The Lessons I Learned From My Family Tree

When I was in high school, I went through a period where I was obsessed with building a thorough family tree. I tried to thoroughly document my ancestors as many generations back as possible, adding as much detail to them as I could. On my mother’s side, I was able to dig back several generations, …

Categories: Getting Started