Month: May 2014

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Experiments in Podcasting Edition

So, I’ve recorded six test episodes of my podcast over the last few weeks as I try to figure out my “voice” and how exactly I want the podcast to go. I recorded one, sent it to a small handful of readers, got some feedback, and moved on. The first four or so were awful …

Categories: Books and Reading

Active, Passive, and Portfolio Frugality: Where Should One Start?

One of the most common ideas expressed in personal finance books is distinguishing between three different kinds of income: Active income is earned through your active effort – in other words, the money you make from your job. Your paycheck is active income. Income from any side businesses you have is active income. Incidental earnings, …

My Weekly Personal Finance Routine

Almost as soon as my review of Susan Feitelberg’s The Net Worth Workout was posted, several readers wrote to me with great interest about my own weekly personal finance routine. One came from Alex: How exactly do you fill an hour and a half each week working on your personal finances? I only need to …

Categories: Getting Started

How To Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rates

When I was near my financial low point, I was literally paying hundreds a month in finance charges on my credit cards and needed to lower the interest rates. That money was an enormous burden at the time, since I didn’t have any savings built up and I was also dealing with the “startup” expenses …

Reader Mailbag #53

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 Net Worth Workout

Every other Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book. I’m a big believer in the idea that personal finance and personal health have a lot in common. They both involve simple principles that are often harder to follow than they seem. They both require some changes in your regular behavior to maximize success. …

The Frugal Laptop

Lately, my lust for gadgets has been going utterly crazy. I want one of those nifty netbooks. For those unaware, a netbook is a very small laptop (think a nine inch screen or so) that focuses on efficient energy use rather than power. For the most part, these devices are mostly just designed to run …

Categories: Frugality, Technology

What Do You See?

One of the most cherished children’s books at our house for years has been Eric Carle’s classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Both my son and my daughter fell in love with the book around eighteen months of age – now, my son (who is a bit over three) is actually able …

Categories: Getting Started

9 Tactics for Making Healthy, Easy, and Cheap Meals

I enjoy preparing complex dishes, but many evenings, the focus around our house is getting a tasty and healthy (and inexpensive) meal on the table quickly. We have a three year old and a one year old at our house, so our goal is to established a fixed meal time, put something on the table …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

Saving for College or Saving for Retirement: What’s Best for Us?

This past weekend, my wife and I were watching Clark Howard’s show on Headline News. During the program, Clark stated a canard that I’ve heard several times from personal finance “gurus” over the past couple years: instead of saving for a child’s college education, parents are better off saving for their own retirement. Clark’s main …

Categories: Education, Retirement

Thoughts on Starting a Side Business in a Down Economy

Spend less than you earn doesn’t just mean cut back on your spending. It also means striving to earn more income when you can, because the real goal is to maximize the gap between your income and your spending and then use that for a greater purpose (saving for your goals). When the economy is …

Categories: Entrepreneurship

What Are You Saving For?

Carl writes in: I am 21 years old and am still in college earning my degree. As of lately I have begun thinking about my future and what I will do with my money. I understand saving is a crucial part of living a successful financial life, but I am confused on how to attack …

Depression Cooking

Meet Clara. She’s a 93 year old great grandmother. She’s also the host of one of the most compelling things I’ve ever seen on the internet. Clara was a young woman during the years of the Great Depression. During those years, she learned a lot of survival skills – among them was the ability to …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Ticket Edition

This past week, I received my first automobile ticket in years. No, it wasn’t for a traffic violation. It was for a complete mental lapse on my own part. I had failed to renew the tag for my truck, so it was sporting an outdated sticker. Boom – immediate fine that was substantially higher than …

Categories: Books and Reading

Personal Finance and 1,000 True Fans

Over the last year or two, I’ve had to do a lot of thinking about where I wanted The Simple Dollar to go in the future. The site had become quite popular, but I didn’t know what that meant. I had started The Simple Dollar mostly as an outlet for my desire to write a …

Do You Want to Be Rich?

A few days ago, I was being interviewed by a local newspaper when the interviewer, after asking a ton of questions about frugality and my ideas on personal finance, simply asked me the titular question. Do you want to be rich? I thought about it for a moment and realized the question – and the …

Categories: Getting Started

A Step-By-Step Guide to Building a Big, Healthy Emergency Fund

Lauren writes to me, lamenting her difficulties with an emergency fund: I want to have an emergency fund, but every time I think about the amount of money I would have to save, I talk myself out of starting. Instead, I find something else to spend the money on and then something happens and I …

Categories: Getting Started

Reader Mailbag #52

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: Results Without Authority

Every other Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal development, personal productivity, or career/entrepreneurship book. One of the biggest struggles I had at my previous job was finding ways to get the project results I needed with very little authority to do many of the things I needed to do. I had a lot of …