• The Danger of Assumption

    A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a guy who had a large scar on his neck that looked like a swastika. The man had it partially covered with a turtleneck on a hot day. I could have easily assumed that he was a “scary” member of a fringe group, but I was …

  • The Simple Dollar Time Machine: September 11, 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 … …

  • Summer Meal Series #15: Butternut Squash and Carrots with Coconut Milk and Curry

    This summer, I’m going to be posting a series of fifteen low-cost, tasty, and easy-to-prepare meals that are literally straight from my own kitchen. We’ve reached the end of this series, my friend, and so I decided to finish it off with a dish that bridges right into fall meals quite well. It also takes …

  • Now’s the Time to Stop (or Alter) a Christmas Gift Exchange

    Each Christmas, a lot of people find themselves in gift exchanges that they don’t really want to participate in. They end up buying gifts for people that they don’t have a close relationship with. They’re obligated to spend more money than they’d like on certain gifts. Sometimes, they’re guilted into it by the expectations of …

  • Sometimes a Little Boost Is All You Need

    Every day, I receive dozens of emails from readers describing their financial situation and asking, very simply, what I think about it. A lot of those letters come from people in very difficult situations where it’s clear that some major life changes are in order. Without making some sort of a significant change – moving, …

  • Reader Mailbag: What Gets Mentioned

    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. Bankruptcy and student loans 2. Refinancing question 3. Revocable living trust questions 4. Using Vanguard for retirement 5. Retirement savings or debt? 6. Flaw in retirement …

  • What You’re Buying When You Go to a Store

    Why do you shop at your preferred grocery store? Think about it for a minute. What reasons do you have for shopping at one store over another? Is it purely the prices? What about the location – is it because it’s close to your home? Cleanliness (like my Aldi story a while back)? Store organization? …

  • The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Kids of Carcassonne Edition

    My four year old son and three year old daughter have been playing the board game Kids of Carcassonne almost constantly the last several days. They’ve roped grandparents into playing it, parents into playing it (I’ve played it countless times), and are even playing it just against each other. I couldn’t be prouder. This week, …

  • The Big Problem with Money Courses

    Many financial “gurus” are in the seminar, coaching, and classwork business. They come up with course materials and attempt to sell them at a very high price to individuals who are scared for their financial future. Some of these coaching programs are reputable ones. Many of them are not. Almost every week, I receive an …

  • Finding New Challenges (and Saving)

    Reading For a long time (about two years), I got in a rut of reading very generic horror and fantasy novels. I would go to the bookstore, pick out two or three, and blow through them in a week, enjoying the rush but completely forgetting about them within three days after finishing. This routine was …

  • A Frugal Weekend with Lots of Houseguests

    Over the past few days, we’ve had a few houseguests. Wait, scratch that – a lot of houseguests. We had so many people visiting that people ate meals in shifts. Every bed was full, as was much of the available floor space. Amazingly, though, we managed to get through all meals here at our house …

  • Reader Mailbag: Family Weekend

    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. Married couple getting started 2. Investing for 11 year olds 3. A debt and family mess 4. Dealing with discouragement 5. 457 or Roth IRA? 6. …

  • Review: Debt-Free U

    Every Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book or other book of interest. When I went to college back in the late 1990s, my school was pretty much selected for me due to the scholarships I received. I didn’t have any financial resources of my own to help me get into college, nor …

  • An Ode to My Son’s Piggy Bank

    About three months ago, my four year old son saw a toy at a store. He mentioned that he had played with it at a friend’s house and that he wanted one. But rather than demanding it this minute, he asked how much it would cost. Then, he asked how many allowances he’d have to …

  • Some Thoughts on a “Daily Action Pack”

    Last weekend, I wrote a review of 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More. In that book, the author, Stever Robbins, suggested something he called a “daily action pack.” Here’s my mention of it from the review: For every short-term and medium-term project you have going on (everything less than a few months down …

  • The Simple Dollar Time Machine: September 4, 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 … …

  • Summer Meal Series #14: Chicken Pie

    This summer, I’m going to be posting a series of fifteen low-cost, tasty, and easy-to-prepare meals that are literally straight from my own kitchen. One of the fun things about the end of summer and the start of fall is that, if you have a garden, lots of vegetables are starting to come in. Depending …

  • Frugality and Accumulation

    The other night, I watched a couple episodes of the A&E documentary series Hoarders. For those of you who haven’t seen it, Hoarders is a documentary series that focuses on the struggles of people who suffer from compulsive hoarding. One thing that struck me over and over again was that people were saying things along …

  • Musical Bills b/w Treading Water

    Katie writes in: The article on budgets was *great.* I’ve long felt guilty for not doing the whole formal budget thing, especially since I always liked and did well at math. (Like you, however, spreadsheets cause my eyes to roll back in my head.) But here’s a question/comment on one bit. You said: “First, this …