Month: May 2014

Mental Math and Good Spending Choices

Earlier today, I linked to an article at Free Money Finance that included a quote from Mary Hunt: Get into the habit of quickly calculating the annualized cost of things and you’ll achieve an effective way to get mindless spending under control. After reading this, a reader wrote in to me and said: I can …

Categories: Getting Started

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Baby Prep Edition

Preparations for the baby are seemingly endless. I have a giant list of things to do before the arrival and it feels often like I add two for every one I manage to cross off. One item I’m ready to add to the top of the list: a great night of sleep. 13 small things …

Categories: Books and Reading

Personal Finance and the Path of Least Resistance

One of my mentors once told me, quite insightfully, that most people make almost all of their decisions based on whatever is easiest in their life. At the time, he was referring to college life – he argued that people who filled their dorm room with distractions and entertainment were more likely to do poorly …

Categories: Getting Started

Low Calorie Food and Long Term Costs

Over the past few weeks, I’ve read dozens of articles that repeat the same refrain: healthy, low calorie meals cost more than high calorie meals. Fresh, healthy foods with a low caloric density are more strongly affected by inflation and carry a higher cost per ounce than processed foods with a high caloric density. A …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

You’ll Never Get Ahead With Resentment, Jealousy, and Hate Inside You

When I was younger, I used to have a great deal of resentment towards rich people. I often felt like they were greedy. I believed that they had somehow “cheated” to get where they were at. Yet, at the same time, I desperately wanted what they had, too. Today, I no longer feel that way. …

Categories: Getting Started

Reader Mailbag: Planning Ahead

Right now, as my wife approaches the end of a challenging pregnancy, I’m doing a lot of planning for the next six weeks so that you’ll continue to have fresh posts to read while the baby arrives. This means a lot of extra writing right now to ensure this happens. However, I still might miss …

Categories: Books and Reading

Review: Switch

Every Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance or other book of interest. Change is hard. Once a person has established a certain way of going about things, altering that path is very difficult. That’s why people who want to get financially ahead often find themselves sinking deeply into debt. That’s why people who …

Categories: Books and Reading

Twelve Ways a Money Buddy Can Really Help

I’ve long been an advocate of a “money buddy” – someone close to you who is going through a similar financial experience as you who can support you through the (sometimes) difficult challenges ahead while you also support them. Usually, a good money buddy can already be found in your social network – a sibling, …

Categories: Getting Started

Balancing Money and Time

Two years ago, I made the choice to walk away from a career that I, in many ways, loved. The one thing that I did not love about that career is how it seemed to always be a black hole of time. I worked a bit over forty hours a week on average, spent more …

Categories: Getting Started

The Simple Dollar Time Machine: March 27, 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

Don’t Buy Stuff to Try to Create a New Habit

Jennifer writes in: I’m getting very frustrated with my husband. Every few months he will come up with some new personal project he wants to work on. He tried woodworking a few years ago. A few months ago he tried cooking. Now it’s exercise. As soon as he gets into that mindset, he goes and …

Personal Finance 101: An Online Banking Primer

Understanding Online Banking and Finding the Right One for You Katie writes in: I was wondering if you could do an article on how to set up an online savings account? I remember you mentioned using them and getting a high return on interest, and I think I’d like to switch my savings account over …

Some Thoughts on Predicting the Future

So many personal finance choices are based on what might happen in the future. Will the stock market be strong? Or will it fall again? Will the dollar retain its value? Will we have high inflation? Or perhaps even deflation? Will Social Security remain intact? Or will I receive little or no benefits from it …

Categories: Getting Started

Reader Mailbag: Cycles

I find that my passions are cyclic. I have about three or four things I’m deeply passionate about, but the time I have in my average day doesn’t afford me the space to follow up on each of those things to the level I’d like. So I cycle a bit. I’ll go on a reading …

Categories: Books and Reading

What Exactly Is “Wasted Time”?

A few days ago, I overheard an interesting scene between a father and a son. As I walked down the block, I saw the boy (about fourteen years old or so) in front of the house, doing some finishing work on a skateboard. He was sandpapering it vigorously as I approached and kept touching the …

Categories: Getting Started

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Routine Edition

For the first time in several months, I’m finally settling into a productive routine like I had early last year, when I was far ahead on my writing and able to work on other projects. My second book interrupted this routine and several other things in the interim have prevented things from falling back in …

Categories: Books and Reading

Ten Tactics for Saving Money on Pets

My wife and I are considering getting a puppy for our son, who really seems to love small dogs and often asks us whether we’ll ever have one. While we haven’t made up our minds yet on this decision, I did take a few moments to ask a few of my pet-owning friends if they …

Categories: Getting Started

Wealth Isn’t How Much You Earn

At age 25, Jim makes $100,000 a year. He’s constantly traveling for business. He has a large home in which he often doesn’t visit some rooms for months at a time. He eats out every single night. He drives a leased Lexus, which he updates every few years at the end of the lease. He …

Categories: Getting Started

Financial Mistakes I’ve Made in the Past Year

I make financial mistakes. I make a lot of them, actually. What I usually try to do when I screw up is not dwell on them. Instead, I try to identify why I made the mistake and then try to figure out how I can fix that issue. I don’t beat myself up over them …