Month: May 2014

The Center

When I first got started with personal finance, I began by cutting away at my spending. First, I trimmed away the obvious things – buying too many books and video games, for one. I moved on from there to more difficult things, like moving to cooking more foods at home, cutting a few subscription services, …

Categories: Getting Started

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #23

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. Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson I re-read Emerson’s wonderful classic essay Self-Reliance again this week, and again I found it digging deep into my soul. The Simple Dollar is …

Dinner With My Family #19: Slow Cooker Pot Pie

My favorite meals are ones that are flexible enough to incorporate whatever we have on hand as well as incorporating whatever might be on sale at the grocery store or at the farmers market. This way, we minimize the food we waste while also taking advantage of sales, minimizing our food costs. At the same …

Starting the Journey Right

Me, at approximately age two, in the kitchen of the house I grew up in This past weekend, I was cleaning out a drawer in my office when I came across a stack of photos from my early childhood. My parents, my brothers, and my cousins were constants in these pictures, all looking stunningly young, …

The Truth About Retiring at 65

In 1935, when the Social Security Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Roosevelt, the new law established a national retirement age of 65. At that age, people could begin receiving Social Security benefits and, in the minds of generations of Americans since, effectively set the psychological “retirement” age. There’s an important fact …

Categories: Retirement

Reader Mailbag: Friends

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. Tossed into the “real world” 2. Dealing with flooding 3. HSA contribution question 4. Spouses and kids 5. Index fund or savings account 6. Snowballing versus …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Some Thoughts on Comparative Advantage

This morning, a boy from our neighborhood knocked on our door. He was looking for yards to mow and he offered to mow ours for $15 a pop. Our yard takes roughly an hour to mow with our push mower. I tend to enjoy the process, actually, as it gives me a good excuse to …

Categories: Getting Started

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Three Children Edition

We have three children. My parents had three children. My wife’s parents had three children. One of my wife’s closest friends is about to have her third child. My oldest brother has three children. My wife’s aunt has three children. My wife’s first cousin will shortly have three children. Why do so many people in …

Categories: Morning Roundup

How Long Is Your Long Run?

When I think about the long run, I’m usually thinking about what I would call “retirement.” It’s a state I hope to reach in my fifties or sixties or so where I can spend my time working on projects that may or may not result in any sort of financial gain, but simply projects that …

Which Retirement Plan Is Right for Me? Traditional IRAs Versus Roth IRAs Versus 401(k)s and 403(b)s

Kelly writes in: I’m reading about retirement and I see terms like Traditional IRA and Roth IRA and 401(k) thrown around without really explaining what they are or what the differences between them are. Do you have a summary of these plans and how they work? There’s no better time than the present to offer …

Categories: Investing, Retirement

Five Elements of a Successful Goal (From My Experience)

A little over five years ago, I set a tremendous goal for myself. I wanted to completely overhaul my financial life. I was in a pile of debt. I was working at a job that I enjoyed, but it often felt like it was pulling me both from my family and from my dream career. …

Categories: Getting Started

Reader Mailbag: On Workbooks

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. Car buying question 2. Food business 3. Student loan question 4. Difficult car choice 5. Moving from Mint to spreadsheet 6. Savings or down payment? 7. …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Review: The Total Money Makeover Workbook

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. Ronald writes in: I really loved your series of posts on The Total Money Makeover. I decided to pick …

Plastic Flowers

My sister-in-law is a florist. She can take a few hands full of ditch weeds and dandelions and make them look amazing in about five seconds. On the flip side of that coin, many department stores sell centerpieces stuffed with plastic flowers consisting of perfectly-arranged imitations of beautiful blossoms. Sit them side by side and …

Categories: Getting Started

Good Hours, Not More Hours

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned about life over the past several years is that your good hours are the only valuable ones. You know exactly what I’m talking about. There are a few hours during the day where you’re revved up. Your mind is clicking. You’re efficient at solving problems. You’re able …

Categories: Getting Started

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #22

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. Des Moines Family Music Festival This past weekend, the five of us went to Every Family Rocks in Des Moines, Iowa. It was a concert of various children’s music …

Dinner With My Family #18: Baked Salmon with Asparagus

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 my favorite things to do in the kitchen is …

Your Job Is Not Your Life

A few days ago, I had a chat with a friend of mine who is struggling mightily with his job right now. He took a high-paying job with a rather prestigious title at a well-known company. The biggest drawback of this job is that he carries around a company phone and receives calls on it …

Taking the Long Road

When I woke up this morning, the biggest thing I wanted to do was to just curl up in a comfortable chair somewhere and finish the novel that I’ve been reading for the past several days (A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin, for those of you who enjoy knowing what other people …

Categories: Getting Started