Month: May 2014

Review: Snap Judgment

Every other Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a book of interest. Over the last few years, I’ve come to believe that the biggest key to personal finance success is controlling your own psychology and impulses. Our entire lives are filled with quick decisions we must constantly make – and, for the most part, we’re good …

Getting Good

Samuel writes in: Much like you with your piano resolution, I decided to finally bite the bullet and begin a career path towards becoming a professional chef this year. I have a substantial amount of money saved up, so the costs of this choice aren’t a problem. My problem is this: it’s a lot more …

Categories: Getting Started

The Simple Dollar Time Machine: January 30, 2010

Many newer readers of The Simple Dollar haven’t been exposed to the hundreds of great articles in the archives of the site, so this is a weekly series that highlights the five best posts from one year ago this week, two years ago this week, and three years ago this week. I call it … …

Categories: Books and Reading

The Side Business Question: What Is Your Time Worth?

Bob writes in: I’m in my mid twenties, worked doing tech support all through college, and worked out of college as the IT director for a political campaign of 120 staffers. I now have left to a job that fits my interests a little bit better, but clearly still have a lot of IT skills. …

Categories: Entrepreneurship

A Real Story about Priorities

Jill writes in: I don’t earn much and am consequently unable to save much and what little I save is often wiped out by breakdowns (e.g. household stuff), minor illnesses and other emergencies. I am actually quite a frugal person, it’s just that my income is not much and tends to be irregular. I am …

Categories: Getting Started

Frugality and Being Social

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about some of the things I write about here on The Simple Dollar. Even though she’s struggling with some serious debt issues, she told me flatly that she didn’t want to take most of the advice given on The Simple Dollar. When I asked her …

Categories: Frugality

Emergencies Versus Opportunities

Tim writes in: We are working on our emergency fund. We put almost all of our extra income into the fund. The problem that I am wrestling with is that it is hard to watch opportunities go by while we work on this fund. It will take a year or two to fully fund our …

Categories: Getting Started

Camping Tips for People Who Don’t Like Camping

Whenever people ask me how to save money on vacations, I always encourage them to consider camping instead of staying in a hotel. We do it often – in fact, I have some very fond memories of camping in Olympia National Forest and on Mount Rainier during our Seattle vacation in ’04 and camping near …

Categories: Travel

Big Winners, Little Winners

“Little things make the difference. Everyone is well prepared in the big things, but only the winners perfect the little things.” – Bear Bryant One big idea often put out there by personal finance writers is the concept that we have to take care of the big things first. If we just take care of …

Categories: Getting Started

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Comment Bug Edition

Earlier this week, I found an issue with the software I was using to manage comments for The Simple Dollar. I deleted a single character in a single line of code, breathed in deep, refreshed the page… … and 7,000 (!) comments appeared in the moderation queue. The bug was a simple one. Ordinarily, comments …

Categories: Books and Reading

How You Spend Your Time, How You Spend Your Money

Try this experiment. For the next month, keep a time diary for yourself. Keep a pocket notebook and, throughout the day, take notes on how you’ve been spending your time. Don’t try to be “perfect” about how you spend your time – just be normal about it. You’re recording this information for your own purposes. …

Categories: Getting Started

Census Worker: A Brilliant Part-Time Opportunity

One issue that I hear about from readers on an almost daily basis is the issue of how to find work opportunities for all sorts of specific needs. A stay-at-home mom wants to pick up a few hours here and there. A retiree is getting stir crazy and wants to find some work for idle …

Categories: Careers

Trimming the Average Budget: Reading

Reading – $118/year The final, smallest category centers on reading materials – books, magazines, and newspapers, in other words. This category has a special place in my heart because reading is not only my primary hobby, but it’s also (in my view) one of the best ways a person can improve themselves. Reading teaches you …

Categories: Getting Started

Reader Mailbag #99

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. Do you get involved when someone you …

Categories: Books and Reading

Review: One Year to an Organized Financial Life

Every other Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book. The title of this book pretty much sums it up. One Year to an Organized Financial Life by Regina Leeds basically lays out a week-by-week plan for getting your financial house in order. The book is divided into twelve chapters (months), each containing four …

Trimming the Average Budget: Life Insurance

Life, other personal insurance – $309/year “Other personal insurance” includes long term disability insurance, long term care insurance, and umbrella liability insurance, making this a pretty sensible category overall. Of course, for most of us, life insurance is the eight hundred pound gorilla in the room. It draws most of the money from this category, …

Trimming the Average Budget: Personal Care and Hygiene

Personal Care – $588/year Personal care is an area where you don’t “win” by cutting things out. Keep yourself clean. Brush your teeth. Basic hygiene keeps you clean and keeps you presentable, too. Yet, even here, there are ways to trim a little bit of spending without affecting your cleanliness or appearance. Here are a …

Categories: Frugality

The Simple Dollar Time Machine: January 23, 2010

Many newer readers of The Simple Dollar haven’t been exposed to the hundreds of great articles in the archives of the site, so this is a weekly series that highlights the five best posts from one year ago this week, two years ago this week, and three years ago this week. I call it … …

Categories: Books and Reading

Trimming the Average Budget: Alcoholic Beverages

Alcoholic Beverages – $457/year The solution to cutting this element of your budget is easy. Don’t drink. For many of us, though, that’s not really a solution. I often enjoy a glass of red wine with my dinner and I like a mixed drink once in a while, particularly on social occasions. I know I’m …

Categories: Frugality, Meals