• Some Notes on Filing for Bankruptcy

    A reader who asked for anonymity wrote in: I’m visiting a lawyer next week to get started on filing for bankruptcy. I have no way to pay my debts or even make the minimum payments each month. My problem is that I simply can’t find a place online that actually explains what the different kinds …

  • The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Recipe Research Edition

    One of the fun parts of the new “Dinner with My Family” series is that it’s made me start going through all of the piles of recipe notes I’ve accumulated over the last five years, focusing in on meals we liked, meals that can easily work with my dietary constraints, and meals that are inexpensive. …

  • Cost and Quality: Best and Worst Case Scenarios

    I’ll start this post out by showing you three chef’s knives from my kitchen. The top chef’s knife is a loose one that I picked up for $0.50 or so at a yard sale more than a decade ago – I’m unsure even what type it is. It’s serviceable, but it loses its edge fairly …

  • You Don’t Need a New Computer

    Every so often, I’ll hear from a friend or a reader who wants me to point them toward a great deal on a new computer. “My old computer is so slow!” is a frequent refrain from them, and if that’s what I hear, I usually suggest something besides replacing their hardware. Simply put, the only …

  • Setting and Achieving Monthly Goals and Projects

    This year, in addition to my three yearlong resolutions, I’ve decided to take on a series of month-long goals and projects spread throughout the year. Here’s my schedule of projects as they read right now, which covers the first five months of the year. January 2011: Rearrange my office with shelving February 2011: Reorganize the …

  • Reader Mailbag: Baby Steps to Music

    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. Retiring (very) early 2. Pessimism and thriftiness 3. Checking account cushion 4. Cash advance questions 5. Cutting term insurance 6. Handling a lemon 7. Why no …

  • Review: Lighten Up

    Every Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book or other book of interest. No, this isn’t a weight loss book. The subtitle, I think, explains it well: Love What You Have, Have What You Need, Be Happier With Less. In other words, Peter Walsh’s Lighten Up focuses on minimalization and living with less …

  • Who Is Your Real Boss? Some Perspectives on Career Success

    Let’s get this straight right out of the chute: your real boss is you. “Yeah, right,” you might be saying to yourself. “Easy for you to say. You’re self-employed. I’ve got a boss that’s constantly breathing down my neck and a pile of ridiculous demands on my desk.” Here’s the scoop: you’re making the choice …

  • You Can’t Make Someone Be Who You Want Them to Be

    Change in another person has to come from within them, not from within you. One of the most regular themes in emails I get from readers is a desire to somehow change the nature of the person they’re married to. “My husband is uninterested in our finances and just wants to buy more gadgets.” “My …

  • Ten Pieces of Inspiration #1

    I’ve decided to retire the Time Machine series (for now). Instead, I’ve decided to start a new series, highlighting ten things each week that inspired me to greater financial, personal, and professional success. Hopefully, they will inspire you as well. 1. Warren Buffett on long-term planning Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted …

  • Dinner with My Family #1: Vegetable Barley Soup

    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. In the past, I’ve created a lot of photo-heavy posts about …

  • The Post-Christmas Challenge

    This year for Christmas, most of the items my wife and I received were small and/or served some specific utility in our lives. I received some grape juice with which to make homemade wine (pinot noir), a replacement for our small saucepan, and some books (among other things). My wife received similar small items. Our …

  • Intimidated by the Mistakes of the Past

    On October 4, 2010, I made a choice to switch to a vegan diet due to health reasons and the recommendation of a dietician due to those reasons. It was a difficult choice, one that seemed almost impossible at the time. On the first evening after the decision, I sat down to a final non-vegan …

  • Reader Mailbag: Laura Nyro

    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. Saving for education 2. Downsides of balance transfers 3. Needs, wants, and emergency funds 4. Handling risk intolerance 5. Converting debt into student loans 6. Taxes …

  • Flipping the Mental Switch for Success

    If I have one single piece of career advice to give to anyone, it’s this: figure out how to get in the zone and do it as often as possible. If you can do that, everything else really is secondary. You will find success. What do I mean by “in the zone”? It’s something I’ve …

  • The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: No Money Resolution Edition

    Several people wrote to me expressing some surprise that I didn’t have a money-related resolution this year. To tell the truth, I don’t know where a single-year money resolution would come from in our budget or in our life. We have some ongoing three-to-five year goals that seem to be in a good place right …

  • Young Children, Allowances, and Financial Focus

    For us, 2010 was a year of learning for both the parents and the children in our household about what allowance means, how it works, and what kinds of money lessons our children are learning. Let’s roll back the clock to November 2009, when our children each received piggy banks and the allowance adventure got …

  • Fearing the Unknown… Perhaps a Bit Too Much

    Right now, our emergency fund would cover ten months’ worth of living expenses for our entire family. This is, of course, assuming that Sarah and I are both jobless (though able to care for our children) and that I’m earning absolutely no income from The Simple Dollar. We would be able to pay our bills …

  • When Investment Banks Fail, What Happens to the Little Guy?

    One of the most frightening things (to me) about the 2008 investment bank failures of Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns coupled with the fraud of Bernie Madoff is the impact it had on individual investors who had used these groups as a means to invest. It’s no different than what most of us do with …