Month: May 2014

The Gradual Shift

When I hit my financial bottom, I realized that a lot of things in my life needed to change. I went through my closets and sold off a lot of my entertainment collections. I started trying out every frugal tactic under the sun. I created a debt repayment plan and hammered some of my debts …

Categories: Getting Started

Seven Rational Things to Do When Financial Panic Hits

I originally included this email in the reader mailbag this morning, but my answer to Susan’s email (below) went on so long that I thought it warranted a post of its own. Yesterday my husband found out he has lost his job. We don’t know what to do. He was making $38,000 a year as …

Categories: Getting Started

Reader Mailbag: Work, Work, Work

Lots of questions this week dealing with the workplace. Let’s dig in. My work is now offering a Roth 401(k) option in addition to the normal 401(k). We’re down to one income right now so I reduced my contribution to 6% which still gets me the full company match. Raises come out next month so …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Optimizing the Value of Your Commute

Kelly writes in: For the first time in my life, I have a daily commute to work. I drive about 45 minutes each way to work each day of the week. According to my math, I’m going to be spending about $125 a month just on gas, let alone maintenance, upkeep, and so on. When …

Categories: Automobile

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Headset Edition

For the last year and a half, I’ve used Skype for my business phone – through book edits and interviews and so on, it was used daily (if not more often). During that time, I’d been making calls using my computer’s speakers (for the audio) and my webcam (for the microphone). Of course, this has …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Optimizing Your Grocery List

A few weeks ago, I went to the grocery store in the afternoon to take care of grocery shopping for the week. Sarah had written a list for me (in all fairness to her, it was actually closer to a set of notes for a meal plan rather than for grocery shopping; it wasn’t really …

Categories: Groceries

Why Work?

A few days ago, my four year old son came into my office when I was finishing up an article for The Simple Dollar. “What are you doing, Dad?” he asked. “I’m working,” I told him. “Why?” he asked. “Well, I have to work so that we can make money, and we use that money …

Categories: Careers

Dealing with Dissatisfaction

What do you do if you’re dissatisfied with your cell phone? You find that it endlessly frustrates you. It’s constantly interrupting you. It doesn’t have the features you want. Quite often, you just want to throw it in a desk drawer and forget about it. Quite often, in this situation, people will go shopping for …

Categories: Getting Started

Reader Mailbag: Big Challenges and Business Cards

Welcome to the week-opening Reader Mailbag! What, in your estimation, is a comfortable (or perhaps average) salary for a young family? Assuming both parents are college educated. I am in a relationship that is leading to marriage. My parents are concerned that we will not have enough money to live comfortably, and will always be …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Review: The Retirement Savings Time Bomb… And How to Defuse It

Every Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book or related book of interest. For a long time, I avoided reading this book. The title seemed unnecessarily fear-mongering and apocalyptic to me and that’s a subgenre of personal finance books that I really have no interest in. Personal finance has such a profound power …

Categories: Books, Investing, Retirement

When Living Cheap Catches Up With You

Julia writes in: What do you do when frugal living catches up with you? As a family we had a much lower income from 2002 to 2007 (layoffs in the IT industry led to trying to survive on short contract work). We did not move home as that would have cost a fortune in fees …

Categories: Frugality

Deflation? Hyperinflation? What Do I Do?

I absolutely love tuning into talk radio stations. It’s hucksterism at its most entertaining – the selling of fear is palpable and the line between content and commerical is so blurry I can’t tell if the host is on an economic rant or trying to sell me on a gold broker. Regardless of whether you …

The Simple Dollar Time Machine: February 13, 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: Time Machine

Our Towels Don’t Match Our Bathroom Curtains

My cell phone doesn’t let me watch streaming internet video. I don’t own a pair of pants that cost more than $40 – and most cost less than $10. We don’t have a flat panel television – we’re still using my old CRT one from my college years. The back bumper of my truck has …

Categories: Getting Started

The Minimal Tip

I don’t believe in the idea of a “minimum tip.” There, I said it. It’s a big change from my previous beliefs on tipping. A few weeks ago, my family and I ate at a restaurant where the service was extremely poor. We sat for twenty five minutes waiting for our server (my wife was …

Categories: Getting Started

Distractions

Right now, there’s a personal matter going on in my life that’s been bothering me – it’s been on my mind heavily all day today. (Don’t worry, there’s nothing directly affecting me, my wife, or children.) I had to go out and take care of a birthday gift for a friend and a Valentine’s Day …

Categories: Getting Started

Reader Mailbag: Lost, Laundry, and Long-Term Debts

You asked for it, you got it. Until further notice, there will be a second Reader Mailbag on Thursday mornings. I’m a 23 year old single male student planning to move out of my University’s dorms. Yeah, I’m a bit too old for the dorm scene, and it’s ludicrously expensive (the only reason I’m still …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Putting Out Fires

Recently, I had a long conversation with an old friend of mine whose opinions and ideas I value greatly. He asked me what personal finance mistake I see people asking me about the most often on The Simple Dollar and, after a bit of thought, I told him that the most frequent mistake I see …

Categories: Getting Started

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Endless Winter Edition

This has been the worst winter I have seen in my adult life. We have had several snowfalls of more than six inches over the last two months and the snow has always been at least several inches deep on the ground constantly since early December (starting with the amazing December 8 blizzard). This winter …

Categories: Morning Roundup