Month: May 2014

How to Sell Off a Media Collection

Back in 2006, when I hit financial bottom and realized I had to do something, one of the first things I did was clean out my closets and shelves and sell off a large portion of my media collection. Piles of CDs and DVDs and video games went flying out the door in an effort …

Categories: Getting Started

Reader Mailbag: Decoration Day and Memorial Day

Memorial Day is pretty much just confusing to me. It’s theoretically a day to honor fallen soldiers, but most people just go on vacation or play in the yard. What happened to Decoration Day, which is May 30 of each year? That’s the original date created to honor those soldiers that have served our country …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Review: 48 Days to the Work You Love

Every Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book or other book of interest. 48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller keeps getting recommended to me over and over again by readers. Initially, I had filed it right next to Margin in my mind as a “great career advice book with …

Categories: Books, Careers

Is It Really Cheaper to Ride the Bus?

Aaron writes in: I love your cost breakdowns when you calculate the real truth behind some financial choice. I’ve got one for you. Is it really cheaper to ride public transportation to work? I have a bus stop about a block from my house. For about $2 each way, I can use public transportation to …

The Public Humiliation Diet: Five Things Worth Learning About Your Money and Improving Yourself

One of the best articles on self-improvement I’ve ever read popped up recently on the Deadspin blog. Titled The Public Humiliation Diet (note: some language NSFW), it describes how Drew Magary, the author of the post, lost sixty pounds in five months without doing anything too incredibly radical. He just implemented twelve simple rules in …

Categories: Getting Started

The Simple Dollar Time Machine: May 29, 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

Talking to a Reader

A few days ago, I was sitting in a coffee shop (my once-every-two-months-or-so visit) reading some of the comments on The Simple Dollar with my laptop. Out of the corner of my eye, I could tell that someone was looking over my shoulder at the screen, so I glanced over at this fortysomething lady. She …

Categories: Getting Started, Meta

The Real MSM: Maintenance Saves Money

Five minutes of maintenance can save hundreds of dollars, lots of time, and tons of heartache. For me, maintenance of the things I rely on in life has become a complete no-brainer. Spending a bit of time here and a bit of time there on the valuable things and the important things in my life …

Categories: Getting Started

The Challenges of Buying Used and How to Overcome Them

I revel in used stuff. I use PaperBackSwap almost religiously. I love shopping at thrift stores and consignment shops. I look forward to yard sales and make a day out of “community yard sale day.” Undeniably, though, there are drawbacks. Sure, you get a nice financial bargain, but no purchase is a perfect one. Whenever …

Categories: Shopping

Reader Mailbag: You Vote With Your Dollar

If you like a particular film and want to see more like it, see that movie in the theatre or buy the DVD or at least check it out from the library or watch it on a streaming service like Netflix. If you like a particular type of music, pick up a legal mp3 of …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Pulling the Trigger

One of the biggest challenges of saving money for a big goal is when exactly to go forward with that purchase. Three examples: For almost three years, I saved money for a replacement for my truck. For almost a full year, we shopped for a replacement while continuing to save and, during that year, we …

Categories: Shopping

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Long Road Trip Edition

Over the last eleven days, my wife and three kids and I have been on one long road trip, hitting multiple graduations on different weekends and visiting grandparents and siblings and various other people along the way. I am bone dead tired at this point. Tip: an eleven day road trip with a four year …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Getting the Best from Customer Service

Late last week, the New York Times published an article of reader-collected techniques for prevailing in customer service disputes. Here’s a sampling of a few of my favorites from the article: USE YOUR CAMERA Suzanne Barchers of Stanford, Calif., always photographs any unpleasant surprises in hotel rooms, using her handy digital camera. Of a recent …

Categories: Getting Started

Why Not Walk Away from My Mortgage?

Kelli writes in: My husband and I are sitting on a thirty year mortgage (with twenty six years left to go). We still owe $330,000 on our home. A week ago, a very similar home to ours two blocks away sold for $220,000, so we’re under water by at least $100,000. We are thinking of …

Categories: Debt, Housing, Insurance

The Cost of Negativity

Several years ago, at my first post-college job, I worked in a small office with three other people. One of them (who I’ll call Campbell) was probably the best co-worker I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. The other (who I’ll call Kathy) made the office environment so poisonous through her constant negativity that …

Reader Mailbag: Graduation

In the last week, four of the best young people I know (I’ll refer to them by first name: Brittany, Cody, Vicky, and Amanda) have donned caps and gowns and strolled across a stage in celebration of the ending of one stage of their life and the beginning of another. If they live up to …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Review: Procrastination

Every other Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book. Procrastination by Jane Burka and Lenora Yuen focuses on the challenging issue of procrastination. Why do we put off important, challenging work? For me, procrastination is a “sometimes” issue. I tend to not put off work so much as to choose among things to …

Five Simple Substitutions, One Big Change

It’s amazing how much money can be saved by making one simple change in your life. I ran the numbers on several changes (using the behavior of the average American) and was shocked at the financial savings of a single simple change. Drink water instead of soda. Average annual savings: $152 Facts: Tap water is …

Categories: Frugality

Pay What You Want

Let’s say you go to a restaurant somewhat regularly and each time you go, you spend about $10 on your meal. One day, rather than receiving a bill, you’re simply directed to a box on your table that said “pay what you want for this meal.” How much would you put in? Would you put …

Categories: Getting Started