Month: May 2014

Reader Mailbag: Television

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. Employee Stock Purchase Program help 2. Divorce mess (and follow up) 3. Unsure about next steps 4. Understanding tax brackets 5. A big mess of debt …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Instead of Thinking About What You Don’t Have, Think About What You Do Have

About a week ago, I answered a question from Ashley that’s really stuck in my head since then. Here’s the question and answer: Growing up, I was not pretty spoiled, materially speaking, and was never taught to manage money. This led to bad spending habits in adulthood, and a divorce caused me to have to …

Categories: Getting Started

A Postmortem: Some Thoughts on Improving the Process of Filing Taxes

I considered posting this article during the actual tax season, but I decided to wait until the rush of actually filing taxes was over. Almost all of you who live in the US have filed your income taxes by now. Some of you – the self-employed or functionally self-employed, like I am – have filed …

Categories: Taxes

Financial Stress and How to Plan Against It

I receive many emails each day from people who have had some kind of financial crisis. Most of these stories have a great many factors in common with each other, although the specifics can vary wildly. Here are some of the specific elements many of the stories share. Something unexpected happened. Life was going along …

Categories: Getting Started

Spending Without Worries

As I’ve mentioned on The Simple Dollar before, one component of our monthly budget is what we call “fun” money. Each of us gets a relatively small amount of pocket money to spend on what we wish. We can hold onto it for a few months to buy something big or use it on frivolous …

Categories: Getting Started

Reader Mailbag: 3 AM

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. Locking in student loan rates 2. Future of Roth IRAs 3. Handling a mini-windfall 4. Planning for the unpredictable 5. Time for fun hobbies? 6. Stay …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Review: The Pledge

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. Michael Masterson is one of my favorite personal finance and career writers. In the past, I’ve reviewed four of …

Categories: What We're Reading

Finances and Churches

Over the last few years, I couldn’t help but notice that several churches in my local area have run personal finance programs of various kinds, such as Financial Peace University and so on. Having sat in on a few of them, I can certainly say that they’re often well-attended, with enthusiastic people taking notes and …

Categories: Getting Started

Great Pieces of Advice – and Why We Fail at Them

“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” – Thomas Jefferson The world is loaded with great little pieces of advice from people who have accomplished great things in their lives. Usually, these quotes point to some specific virtue that a person can have, and often to the same virtues: proactivity, frugality, temperance, …

Categories: Getting Started

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #15

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. Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir This is an awesome application of the internet. Composer Eric Whitacre collected a large number (in the thousands, at last count) of individual performances of …

The Kitchen Dry Erase Board

The usual Friday “dinner with my family” post is taking a one week hiatus. I recently had what I consider to be a great idea that I thought I’d share with you while I’m still in the process of implementing it. A few days ago, I was at a food co-op distribution point (I’m not …

Sunshine

Here’s a question for you. It’s more of a thought experiment – I’m not actually suggesting that you go out and do this. Would you be comfortable showing your best friend your entire financial picture? Or, what about your spouse? What about your parents? Some of you will honestly answer this question with a resounding …

Categories: Getting Started

Who’s to Blame for My Failures?

This morning, I sat at the keyboard in our basement, practicing a certain part of a song on the piano that I’d been working on for a while. I had attempted to play it during my last piano lesson, but my attempt at it had completely fallen flat and I was disappointed in myself. So, …

Categories: Getting Started

Reader Mailbag: Amazon’s Deal of the Day

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 errors and credit cards 2. DirecTV contract 3. Pay taxes or shore up? 4. Next steps 5. Rental income as retirement strategy? 6. Iowa weather …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Frugality Tips and “Red Flags”

A few days ago, a friend of mine told me that she runs a dehumidifier in her laundry room because it gets fairly steamy in there at times when the washer and dryer are both running. She takes the tray from the dehumidifier and adds it to the washing machine in order to save money …

Categories: Frugality

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Outside Writing Edition

Sometimes, companies and media organizations will hire me to write articles for them. I had a long stint writing at OPEN Forum, for example, and I’ve had shorter stints writing for HP and so on. When I’m hired to do such things, they’re hiring me to write about what I usually write about: simplifying personal …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Some Thoughts on Investing in Dividend-Bearing Stocks

As I’ve mentioned several times recently on The Simple Dollar, one of my biggest areas of thinking in terms of personal finance right now is how to create a secure future for myself and my family. Right now, except for our mortgage (which has a pretty low interest rate), we’re debt free. We own both …

Categories: Investing

Separating the Urgent and the Important

Someone calling you on the phone is urgent, but is it important? Giving your mom a long phone call is important, but is it urgent? Finding that “perfect” pair of pants in your closet is urgent, but is it important? Spending quality time with your daughter is important, but is it urgent? If you really …

Categories: Getting Started

“Live Like No One Else So You Can Live Like No One Else”

The title of this article is my favorite single thing that Dave Ramsey has ever written. The idea here is pretty simple: if you live in a challenging way right now, you’ll be able to enjoy incredible opportunities and advantages later. Almost every person who has accomplished something great in their life went through some …

Categories: Getting Started