• An Emergency Fund Is More Than Just Money

    I often talk about emergency funds and how useful they are here on The Simple Dollar. Here’s a quick summary of them, for people new to the site. An emergency fund is a pool of money you can easily access to take care of short-term problems in your life, such as a car repair or …

  • Ten Pieces of Inspiration #17

    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. Initiative Our youngest son isn’t quite a year old yet. He recently mastered crawling. On Easter Sunday, when his older siblings were happily hunting eggs, we assumed that our …

  • Dinner With My Family #15: Egg (or Tofu) Scramble and 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. One of the most popular posts I’ve ever done on The …

  • When Is It Better to Be Frugal? When Is It Better to Earn More?

    One thing I love to do is to browse through random personal finance blogs. I’ll jump on links from one blog to another, just to see what a new voice will have to say. Doing this helps me get a pretty good idea of the various perspectives and ideas that are out there. It also …

  • Personal Finance and Self-Worth

    Kelly wrote in with a very interesting story. Even though she gave me permission to publish the full thing, I edited it quite a bit for some privacy reasons that will be obvious when you read the story. While I was married, I was really depressed. I had more money, but I spent most of …

  • Reader Mailbag: Rainy Season

    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. Climbing the car ladder 2. Apolitical 3. Upside down car loan 4. Military debt 5. Basic will question 6. Mortgage or not? 7. Health care costs …

  • Accelerated Learning

    When I was in college, I took a semester course in organic chemistry. It was only a three credit course and I needed to take a lot of courses to move toward the two separate college degrees I was working toward, so I loaded my schedule down with twenty credits that semester (where twelve is …

  • The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Tangled Edition

    Early this week, my daughter caught a case of the flu. She was feverish and spent most of Monday dozing on the couch. Her only requests for most of the day was that I sit near her, keep her water bottle filled, and that we watch Tangled. I watched it with her three times that …

  • The Great Things Never Come Easily

    I spent half a decade of my life living as lean as I could, hoping that I would eventually reach a point where I felt secure in my finances again. Five years. Sixty months. 1,826 days. So much time has passed since April 2006, since that day when I realized how truly precarious the financial …

  • 20 Ways to Start a Conversation and Build Into a Connection

    I’m an introvert. Let there be no doubt about it. I often feel innerly awkward around people I don’t know, and I tend to clam up and not speak. At times, I even do this around people I do know. Yet, I also know how incredibly valuable human relationships can be. Close friends and close …

  • Why I Prefer Living Rural

    This past weekend, my family travelled to visit several members of our extended families. The are we travelled to was decidedly rural. Statistically, it’s a below-average income county in a below-average income state. I know a lot of people near where we live who couldn’t imagine living in such an area. They complain about the …

  • Reader Mailbag: Easter Eggs

    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. Same ideas, different life 2. Credit card switch worries 3. Extreme Couponing 4. Take-home pay concerns 5. Hunting for mushrooms? 6. A big mess 7. Blogging …

  • Review: The Smartest 401(k) Book You’ll Ever Read

    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. About a year ago, I reviewed Daniel Solin’s The Smartest Retirement Book You’ll Ever Read and concluded that it …

  • Revisiting the Prosperity Gospel

    About a year and a half ago, I posted an article entitled Some Thoughts on the Prosperity Gospel. In it, I addressed the so-called “prosperity gospel,” which is a Christian philosophy in which God provides material prosperity for those he favors. A quote from the earlier post summarizes my stance on this philosophy. First of …

  • Infinite Games

    When I was going through the items in our garage loft as part of a spring cleaning of the garage, I came across a small shoebox that’s been a part of our camping gear for years. When I opened the top of it and peered inside, I got excited. There’s more fun in that small …

  • Ten Pieces of Inspiration #16

    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. Picasso’s skills I read this little story in Michael Masterson’s The Pledge and it stuck with me all week. A French woman, upon seeing Picasso in a Parisian restaurant, …

  • Dinner With My Family #14: Kung Pao Shrimp Skillet Meal

    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. When I was a college student, one of the meals I …

  • Do Extreme Savers Even Need to Worry About Retirement?

    I got a wonderful email from Alison about extreme saving practices and how they impact retirement. I originally intended to include it in yesterday’s mailbag, but my response grew so long that I felt it needed a post of its own. Take it away, Alison: I’ve recently read Your Money or Your Life and wanted …

  • The First Word Is Always the Hardest

    One of the most valuable personal finance tools in our repertoire is communication. Communication with your boss. Communication with your partner. Communication with your children. Communication with the IRS. Communication with your friends. Communication with a retailer. Communicating well with these people is incredibly valuable. It opens the door to understanding each other better and, …