Month: May 2014

Financial Balance and the 80/20 Rule

One of the most fascinating things I’ve discovered since starting The Simple Dollar is the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle. Simply put, it means that 80% of the effects comes from 20% of the causes. It’s perhaps easiest to explain this principle by giving you several examples of how I see it …

Categories: Getting Started

Frugality and the Idea of Work

This note from Phil left me thinking. You often talk about “frugality by the hour” and mention the hourly rate for doing something frugal. Like you’ll say that you can earn $12 an hour if you make your own laundry soap. I think that’s a really poor analogy. When I’m not at work, I don’t …

Categories: Getting Started

Saving Pennies or Dollars? Grinding Your Own Coffee

Saving Pennies or Dollars is a new semi-regular series on The Simple Dollar, inspired by a great discussion on The Simple Dollar’s Facebook page concerning frugal tactics that might not really save that much money. I’m going to take some of the scenarios described by the readers there and try to break down the numbers …

Categories: Frugality, Saving Money

Reader Mailbag: School Mornings

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. Self employment and taxes 2. Macs, PCs, and frugality 3. Can’t stand frugal apartment 4. Buying a “forever” home 5. Prenatal college savings 6. A major …

Categories: Books and Reading

Review: The Real Cost of Living

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. Most of us, at some point or another in our lives, end up having to make a fundamental choice …

Categories: Books and Reading

What Are Your Priorities?

A few weeks ago, I was reading a yet-to-be-released personal finance book. At one point in the book, the author suggested that I make an actual list of my priorities. What is the most important thing in my life? What are the key things that follow it, and in what order? An aside: sometimes I …

Categories: Getting Started

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #37

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. Ninite I spent some significant time setting up a computer for someone this week. This tool made that task drastically easier by giving me a single installation package to …

The Meal Library

Sarah and I love to experiment when it comes to food. We’re constantly trying new things in the kitchen using new and different ingredients. However, the reality of our lives dictates that we often don’t have time to look for ideas and experiment creatively with food. Take our current Tuesday evenings. Our daughter has a …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

Dinner With My Family #32: Butternut Squash Casserole

Butternut Squash Casserole Recipe Right now, our garden is providing us with a small mountain of butternut squash. We have more of it than we know what to do with. As a result, we’ve been eating a lot of it lately and experimenting with it in different ways. Of the things we’ve tried, this was …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

Saving Pennies or Dollars? Extra Costs of Lunch

Saving Pennies or Dollars is a new semi-regular series on The Simple Dollar, inspired by a great discussion on The Simple Dollar’s Facebook page concerning frugal tactics that might not really save that much money. I’m going to take some of the scenarios described by the readers there and try to break down the numbers …

Categories: Frugality, Saving Money

Reader Mailbag: Adequate Sleep

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. Second computer needs 2. Getting unstuck 3. Career choice 4. Setting up a trust 5. Moving on 6. Print and play games? 7. Buy or not …

Categories: Books and Reading

Saving Pennies or Dollars? Failed Batches

Saving Pennies or Dollars is a new semi-regular series on The Simple Dollar, inspired by a great discussion on The Simple Dollar’s Facebook page concerning frugal tactics that might not really save that much money. I’m going to take some of the scenarios described by the readers there and try to break down the numbers …

Categories: Saving Money

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Old Friends Edition

In everyone’s life, friendships blossom and then other friendships fade into the background. You move. Your interests change. Your time availability changes. Things change. I have a lot of old friends in my life that I miss seeing regularly, but I find that when I do see them, we’ve both changed enough that whatever it …

Categories: Books and Reading

Determining the Size of Your Emergency Fund

One common question I get from readers relates to the size of their emergency fund. Simply put, how big should it be? How much cash should they have saved in their savings account for those unexpected events life deals you? Before we even get started, it’s important to note that there are a lot of …

Categories: Getting Started

Frugality Won’t Make You Rich

Instead, it makes it possible for you to get rich. Lately, I’ve read statements in personal finance books where people claim that “frugality won’t make you rich.” They make the valid point that if you cut out some small thing – say, a $5 daily expense – you wind up with less than $20,000 after …

Categories: Frugality

Saving Pennies or Dollars? Making Your Own Soda

Saving Pennies or Dollars is a new semi-regular series on The Simple Dollar, inspired by a great discussion on The Simple Dollar’s Facebook page concerning frugal tactics that might not really save that much money. I’m going to take some of the scenarios described by the readers there and try to break down the numbers …

Categories: Saving Money

Reader Mailbag: Child Independence

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. When to start retirement fund? 2. First house decision 3. Shopping for health insurance 4. Driving school 5. I’m overextended – what now? 6. Making money …

Categories: Books and Reading

Review: The Complete TurtleTrader

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. This is an interesting mix of a book. On one hand, it’s something of a book on how to …

Categories: Books and Reading

A Few Brief Thoughts on 9/11

Ten years ago today, I arrived at work without knowing anything of what was going on in New York and Washington. One of my coworkers told me about it (there was still some genuine confusion as to what was going on, so he thought there were planes also headed to crash into the White House) …