Month: May 2014

Escaping the Mundane

Charlie writes in (this is an excerpt, because the full story is quite long): What I finally realized is that I usually buy stuff because it makes me feel like this is all worth it for a while, that all the work I’m doing isn’t just going to feed Uncle Sam and to keep a …

Categories: Frugality

The Simple Dollar Time Machine: July 31, 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

Summer Meal Series #9: Tuna Melts!?

What’s on the table this summer? Tuna Melts After returning home from two weeks of vacation, my wife and I planned out a very nice summery meal that would have made a great post for the Summer Meal Series. It required one key portion of the meal – either a pork shoulder or a few …

Categories: Food, Frugality

Ten Big Mistakes #10: Poor Goal Setting

A good goal, no matter how big it is, gives you an exact target to shoot for, a way of measuring your progress towards that goal, and the possibility of activity today to move you towards that goal. At the start of my financial journey, I had no specific goals, either in the short term …

Categories: Ten Big Mistakes

Ten Big Mistakes #9: Bad Influences

I surrounded myself with friends who constantly encouraged poor financial choices. Most of my social circle during my early professional years consisted of people who placed a great deal of social worth on consumption. Respect and friendship were doled out based on the elecronics you owned, the clothes you wore, the golf clubs you had, …

Categories: Ten Big Mistakes

Reader Mailbag: Travel Thoughts

What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. A pile of problems 2. Financially helping a boyfriend 3. Vinegar and water for cleaning 4. What debt comes first? 5. Subsistence farming 6. How much …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Ten Big Mistakes #8: Credit Card as Emergency Fund

I treated my credit card as my emergency fund. In late 2004, the brakes failed (in a nearly catastrophic fashion) on my 1997 Ford F150. For whatever reason, the brake cylinders chose to collapse as I was attempting to stop at a stoplight. I nearly caused a very large accident, but I managed to get …

Categories: Ten Big Mistakes

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Memorizing Poetry Edition

All through my life, I’ve spent time memorizing various poems. The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. anyone lived in a pretty how town by e. e. cummings. Pioneers! O Pioneers! by Walt Whitman (probably my favorite). I like the way the sounds roll off the tongue and paint pictures. I like reciting them (or …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Gifts and Choices

Recently, I came across (via jason kottke) a brilliant commencement speech given at Princeton by Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon. The main focus of Bezos’ speech was the difference between gifts and choices. Here’s an excerpt: What I want to talk to you about today is the difference between gifts and choices. Cleverness …

Categories: Getting Started, Goals

Ten Big Mistakes #7: Stuff Without the Time to Enjoy It

I bought many expensive (and inexpensive) items without adequate time to enjoy them. One of the most cathartic things I did in the immediate aftermath of the choice to turn my financial life around was to simply go through our apartment in order to collect stuff to sell in order to give a big initial …

Categories: Ten Big Mistakes

Ten Big Mistakes #6: Children Have Huge Financial Ramifications

I had a child without understanding the financial consequences of it. When I was in college, one of my closest friends was a young woman whose parents had conceived her at pretty much the last possible moment from a biological standpoint. While she had a great relationship with her parents, I couldn’t help but see …

Categories: Ten Big Mistakes

Reader Mailbag: Local Flavor

What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. Investing for five year goals 2. Music career crossroads 3. The price of fame 4. First steps with no credit 5. Buying a foreclosed home 6. …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Review: Stop Getting Ripped Off

Every Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book or other book of interest. A long while back, I reviewed Bob Sullivan’s excellent book on consumer issues, Gotcha Capitalism. In that book, Bob focused mainly on how companies try to “sneak” surprise fees and costs into their products. I took away a lot of …

Categories: What We're Reading

The Simple Dollar Reading Guide: Prison Made of Plastic

Every Sunday morning for the next few months, I’m going to “riff” on a chapter from my book, The Simple Dollar: How One Man Wiped Out His Debts and Achieved the Life of His Dreams by reflecting on particular pieces of it that I’ve had further reflections on or particularly excite me, including some elements …

Getting Things Done: Where To Go Next

After reading through my recent series on Getting Things Done, Calvin took action and then had a few questions: I picked up the book, read it twice, and set aside a weekend to get started. It really works! I feel like I’m getting so much done now that it’s crazy. I guess my question now …

The Simple Dollar Time Machine: July 24, 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

Summer Meal Series #8: Chicken, Broccoli, and Mozzarella Calzones

What’s on the table this summer? Homemade Calzones Homemade pizza is a big hit at our house (here’s a picture-filled post about our homemade pizzas). We all love our every-other-week-or-so homemade pizzas where we often experiment with ingredients and enjoy from-scratch crusts. The problem with pizza, though, is that it’s not very portable. It doesn’t …

Categories: Food, Frugality

Ten Big Mistakes #5: Worrying About What Others Think

Avoiding Spending to Appease Others I used to focus entirely too much on what other people thought of me. Throughout my teen years and adult life, I bought many, many things with an eye almost exclusively on what others thought of me. My clothes. My education and career choices. My gadgets. My housing. My automobile. …

Categories: Ten Big Mistakes

Ten Big Mistakes #4: Blaming Others for Challenges

If you want to find scapegoats in your life, almost everyone can find a lot of them. At the start of my financial journey, I blamed others for the challenges in my life. Avoiding Blaming Others for Your Decisions You are the Key to Solving Your Problems I was born with legal blindness in my …

Categories: Ten Big Mistakes