Month: May 2014

Read the Manual (30/365)

When my wife and I first got our Prius, we had a very difficult time getting the car to turn on. Now, this seems like a completely simple issue. Put in the key, right? Well, our Prius has a button on the dash that says “Power” instead of a key. Unfortunately, if you push that …

Banks Are Not Your Friends

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. – Thomas Jefferson Thanks to William Grootonk for the image. Yesterday, I was stunned to read a news report about how Freddie Mac denied people the ability to refinance, then made investments that earn them more money if people are unable …

Categories: Banking

Focus on Reliability and Fuel Efficiency (29/365)

The last two weeks have focused on appliances. Now, we’re going to shift directions and take a deeper look at automobiles. Let’s take a look at two hypothetical cars. You’re looking at a class of cars that, according to the data you’ve researched, get to 150,000 miles pretty reliably before significant problems set in. You …

Reader Mailbag: Early 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. Paying off low interest debt 2. Refinancing question 3. Coaching youth sports 4. Building credit from scratch 5. Buying home without down payment 6. Breakfast question …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Start an Automatic Appliance Replacement Fund (28/365)

Just a few days ago, Connie wrote in: It’s been a real challenge turning our financial situation around. My husband seems supportive but he’s having a really hard time breaking his old spending habits and with our reduced income it is really a challenge every month. I finally was able to get about $300 together …

Review: The Money Saving Mom’s Budget

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. I’ve had the blog Money Saving Mom bookmarked for years. In fact, it’s been a permanent mainstay on the …

Categories: Books, Frugality

Invest in a Deep Freezer (27/365)

One of the most critical appliances in our home when I was growing up was our chest deep freezer. We kept it in the attached garage, just a few steps out of the garage door that opened onto the kitchen. That freezer would store bag after bag of frozen fish caught by my father, lots …

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #57

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. Rodin on what’s worth doing Everything is worth doing if you approach it right. “Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.” – Auguste Rodin …

Set Your Refrigerator to the Warmest Setting (26/365)

Let’s cut straight to the chase. The sweet spot for any refrigerator is between 39 and 40 F. This is the temperature at which bacterial growth is inhibited but the difference between your refrigerator and the ambient temperature outside of your refrigerator is minimized. In other words, keeping your refrigerator’s internal temperature at about 39 …

What’s Next After Debt Freedom?

Thanks to Forest Wander for the picture. Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end – Seneca As I write this, Sarah and I are completely debt free. We have no mortgage. We have no car loans. We have no student loans. We have no credit card balances. We have no consumer loans of …

Categories: Meta

Don’t Install Your Refrigerator Next to Your Dishwasher (25/365)

Your dishwasher gets hot. Your dishwasher also gets moist, meaning it’s harder to cool down the air around it. Your refrigerator gets cold. So does your freezer. Why would you put a device that gets hot next to a device that gets cold? No insulation is perfect, after all, so they would both be using …

Reader Mailbag: Unfinished Business

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. Strange credit card fee 2. Handling sudden income increase 3. Great job, next financial move? 4. Children’s movies 5. Keeping papers 6. Determining ownership percentages 7. …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Make Your Own Dishwashing Detergent (24/365)

The reason that my photography intern and I decided to use virtually the same exact picture for this entry as entry #18 in this series (outlining powdered laundry detergent) is because the two recipes are very similar. Just simply mix together one cup of borax and one cup of baking soda or washing soda in …

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Youth Activities Edition

Sometimes, I wonder what the line is between an appropriate amount of youth activities and too many activities is. My older children have tumbling/gymnastics one night a week, ice skating one night a week, soccer two nights a week when the weather is appropriate, and they both want to join tae kwon do which is …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Use the Short Cycle (23/365)

Our dishwasher has an abundance of cycles and options. With just a few buttons, we can choose a light cycle, a normal cycle, a heavy cycle, a steam cycle, and a few other options that, frankly, I’ve never even tried out. Our washing machine is much the same way. Honestly, though, I just use the …

Telling Your Story

I think that instinct, that storytelling instinct, rescued me most of my life. – Armistead Maupin Image courtesy of PhotoSteve. As many of you know, I’m spending a lot of my spare time lately working on a pair of novels. It’s been a challenging experience – but an enjoyable one. For me, one of the …

Categories: Getting Started

Only Wash Full Loads of Dishes or Clothes (22/365)

This seems like common sense at first glance. If you run your dishwasher, your washing machine, or your dryer with only half a load of clothes or dishes, you’re losing out in terms of efficiency. Even if you run the machine with small load settings, the machine is still using most of the water and …

Reader Mailbag: Sleeping Toddler

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. Investing advice 2. Good advice for college student 3. International mortgage question 4. Favors as gifts 5. Allowance strategies 6. Life insurance for children 7. Buying …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Turn on the Oven Light While Cooking (21/365)

Several months ago, I was curious about how much heat was lost when I opened up the oven to inspect a dish cooking in there. I put an oven thermometer in the oven, waited until the dish I was cooking was almost finished (a casserole cooking at 400 F), then opened the oven door for …