Month: May 2014

The Tricky Tax Refund

Like many self-employed folks, for me April 15 means a day to write a check to the government. Even if I do manage to get a refund, I’m still writing a check on that day to pay my first batch of estimated taxes for 2011. It wasn’t all that long ago, though, when April 15 …

Categories: Getting Started

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #10

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. A brother learning, a brother teaching My two sons have been amazing this past week. Our ten month old (the baby) has been trying very hard to learn how …

Dinner With My Family #9: Spinach and Artichoke Calzone

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. This week, I’m going to take two previous food articles (chicken, …

Make the Goal the Process, Not the Results

Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking a great deal about the goals I’ve set for 2011. For a quick reminder, here they are: Goal #1: Get fit, which basically meant meeting a few fitness metrics Goal #2: Play music, which meant being able to successfully play four pieces on the piano Goal #3: …

Categories: Goals

$4 Gas and Fragile Finances

Right now, as I look at AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report, the nationwide average for a gallon of regular unleaded gas is $3.53. Just one month ago, it was $3.12 per gallon, a $0.41 jump. I’m lucky – I work at home. My wife is at least somewhat lucky – she commutes in a fully-paid-for …

Categories: Getting Started

Reader Mailbag: Wisconsin Emails

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. Regular or Roth IRA? 2. Setting long-term goals 3. “Free” texting and phone service 4. Saving for a laptop 5. Paying for taxes 6. Buy or …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Putting Food on the Table When You Can’t Make Ends Meet

Tony writes in: About two weeks ago, I lost my job. I was being paid cash to do some maintenance work but the guy hiring me couldn’t afford it. A few days after that I tried to use my credit card to buy groceries and I was over my credit limit. Right now I have …

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Stomach Flu Edition

Our family has been walloped by some sort of stomach bug the last few days. Our daughter got it, then I got it, then Sarah got it. The three of us spent most of yesterday in the family room, trying to determine who could move less. Thankfully, I feel a bit better now, though I’m …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Tying Up Loose Ends

It’s much easier to keep your spending and personal finances in control if you’ve done what you can to get your personal life under control. The fewer loose ends and anxieties given to you from your personal life, the less stress you find yourself under and the easier it is to both keep your eye …

Categories: Getting Started

Some Thoughts on “How to Make Money in Six Easy Steps”

A few days ago, I read Jason Fried’s wonderful article How to Make Money in Six Easy Steps. The article details Fried’s growth as an entrepreneur from a young child to running the successful software firm 37signals. Fried’s “six easy steps” are as follows: 1. Understanding the buyer is the key to being a strong …

Reader Mailbag: Presentation Video

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. Save or pay off debt? 2. Friends burdened by my frugality 3. Motorcycle questions 4. Basic tax questions 5. What’s next after debt payments? 6. Writer’s …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Review: Enchantment

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 the biggest perks (for me) of writing The Simple Dollar is that sometimes, when I’m interested in …

Categories: Books

Walk the Walk Before You Talk the Talk

The other day, I was chatting with someone and I told them that I was a personal finance writer. That person’s eyes got big and they said, “You mean like Dave Ramsey?” I told them that I supposed so. She then proceeded to tell me all about how a great plan for debt repayment had …

Categories: Getting Started

I Don’t Want to Be Your Client. I Don’t Want to Be Your Lender. I Want to Be Your Friend.

Let me make it simple. I do not like mixing financial relationships with friendships. I do not want to be friends with the person that is selling me a product. I do not want to be friends with my banker. At the same time, I don’t want my friends to be selling me products or …

Categories: Getting Started

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #9

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. Winston Churchill on environment “You shape your houses and then they shape you.” – Winston Churchill You choose your friends, but then their continued presence influences you and alters …

Dinner With My Family #8: Fried Rice with Artichoke Hearts

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. Artichoke hearts are one of my favorite foods on earth. Whenever …

Health Insurance and Downgrading Your Job

In April 2010, my wife made the choice to step away from her job for the rest of the year in order to be a stay-at-home mom. She chose that period because she knew that she loved her job and that she would be itching to return after nine months. Her employer made it possible …

Categories: Health, Insurance

Is This Moving You Towards Your Goals?

Whenever I consider whether or not I should be doing something, I ask myself a very simple question. Is this moving me towards my goals? The outcome of that question casts a strong light on the activity at hand. Sometimes, it’s a positive light and it encourages me to move forward. At other times, it’s …

Categories: Goals

Reader Mailbag: Communication

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. Converting to Roth IRA 2. Going part time 3. Short sell our home? 4. Going back to school 5. Pushy in-laws 6. Healthy but tasty lunches …

Categories: Reader Mailbag