• Taco Bell’s Beef Problem: Convenience and the Value of Knowing What You’re Consuming

    Over the past week, the fast food restaurant chain Taco Bell was sued for claiming that the taco mixture used in their products was actually beef. According to USDA standards, a beef mixture served by businesses must contain at least 40% beef in ordered to be labeled as such, and the lawsuit alleges (with some …

  • Reader Mailbag: Discarded Post Ideas

    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. Bank ignores me! 2. Gold digging or thinking ahead? 3. Encouraging others to think frugally 4. Why saving, not investing? 5. Budgeting software 6. Finding my …

  • Review: Bait and Switch

    Every Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance or other book of interest. Also available is a complete list of the hundreds of book reviews that have appeared on The Simple Dollar over the years. One of my first book reviews on The Simple Dollar was of Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed. In that …

  • Some Deeper Thoughts on Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Lending

    A few weeks ago, I gave a somewhat negative opinion of P2P lending sites such as Lending Club and Prosper. Here’s what I said about them: Quite honestly, if I were going to invest my nickels and dimes into peer-to-peer lending, I’d probably do it with Kiva and not worry that much about a return. …

  • Managing Money, Time, Energy, and Information: Five Powerful Tactics from My Own Recent Experience

    Earlier this month, Sarah returned to her work after an eight month unpaid maternity leave. Her return changed the flow of things around our house. Suddenly, I was back in the position of spending a lot of one-on-three time with the children, particularly during the workweek. This obviously has altered how and when I’m able …

  • Ten Pieces of Inspiration #4

    Each week, I highlight ten things each week that inspired me to greater financial, personal, and professional success. Hopefully, they will inspire you as well. 1. George Bernard Shaw on playing “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” –George Bernard Shaw I try very hard to live …

  • Dinner With My Family #4: Bean Burritos

    Each week, I’ll present a low-cost meal (or a meal that demonstrates a lot of options for cutting costs) that my family eats for dinner and enjoys. Many of the recipes will be vegan or vegetarian, with options to add other ingredients for non-vegetarians. Here’s what I’ve had for a lunch and for a supper …

  • Competitive Maxims Applied to Personal Finance

    As some of you know, I spent a year or two in my past playing competitive Magic: the Gathering (a card game with organized tournaments), earning enough winnings for the hobby to pay for itself. I was never able to compete at the highest levels, mostly due to time constraints from my career and my …

  • Planning Summer Travel

    This seems rather strange, perhaps, but Sarah and I have our summer plans more or less penciled in through 2015. That’s right, 2015 This summer, we’re going to Seattle. The following summer is a trip to New Orleans with my family. The summer after that will feature a trip to Boston, with the summer after …

  • Reader Mailbag: Sources of Information

    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. Buying the next house 2. Starting over from scratch 3. Loan disqualification 4. Starting a business 5. Taking care of Mom 6. Building credit with business …

  • The Switch to Hand-Bottled Water

    One of the more costly (and unhealthy) routines I once had was grabbing sodas out of the refrigerator, taking them into my office, and gulping them down. Not only was it costing my health, but it was also an expensive routine. Even if you buy in bulk, a can of soda is still going to …

  • The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Condolences Edition

    A few days ago, one of my favorite podcasters (Tom Vasel, from The Dice Tower) lost his infant son to an E. coli infection. Having an infant son myself, I can’t imagine the pain of that type of experience. My condolences go out to him and his family. There’s already a wonderful video tribute out …

  • Career Moves and Decisions

    This week, someone from my past reached into the present and dropped a job offer on my lap. If this job offer had appeared three years ago, I would have taken it in a heartbeat. It allows me to work from home. It allows me to take complete control of an interesting software development project …

  • Some Thoughts on Jigsaw Puzzles

    One feature you’ll find in our home, particularly during the winter months, is a card table in the family room which features an ongoing jigsaw puzzle. My wife and I both work on it here and there and our oldest child will occasionally do a bit of sorting pieces by color. Last night, I started …

  • Seven Monthly Bills Most People Have, and Seven Ways to Reduce Each Bill

    The other day, I opened my mailbox and what I found inside was painful. I found an energy bill and a mortgage statement and a phone bill and a water bill and an insurance statement and an internet bill. As I looked through them, I could just see the money leaving my accounts, floating through …

  • Reader Mailbag: Winter Blues

    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. Helping a rock bottom friend 2. Moving around the world 3. Easing a tax burden 4. Financial wedding propriety 5. Small claims court question 6. Deeply …

  • Review: The 10 Commandments of Money

    Each Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book or other book of interest. I’ve been a big fan of Liz Weston’s writing, particularly her columns over at MSN Money. I’ve also communicated with her many times in the past. So, when I saw that she had a new book out, it was an …

  • Some Thoughts on Product Placement

    Please take a moment and watch this YouTube video before we get started. I’d embed it here, but the person who uploaded it has disallowed embedding of the video. If you’re unable to watch, the video is a series of clips from the movie Transformers, showing the absurd amount of product placement within the film …

  • I’m Fresh Out of College, Have Lots of Student Loan Debt, and No Job. What Now?

    I get some variation on the above email all the time. In fact, I could probably include some variation on this question in every single reader mailbag (yes, I filter the questions a bit as to not get too repetitive). The story is usually the same. A person went to college, often majoring in a …