Month: May 2014

Do the Research (11/365)

A friend of mine told me that for every $100 he spends on buying an item, he devotes an hour of research to the purchase before making a move. That seems like a good rule of thumb. In fact, I’d go even further: for every $100 I spend on an item over the item’s lifetime, …

Reader Mailbag: Sickness and Timing

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. Helping partner build credit score 2. Rechargeable batteries 3. Job and heavy course load 4. Renting a mailbox 5. Reading time 6. Thrift clothes for tall …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Automate Your Savings (10/365)

Whenever I find myself with extra cash in my pocket, I’m often tempted to spend it. I usually look at that cash as having already been accounted for, so there’s really nothing bad about spending it on something fun, right? When those thoughts pop into my head, I know exactly what I need to do. …

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Election Returns Edition

Whenever there’s a significant vote or election, I find myself tuning into the results the evening after the vote. I’ll visit tons of websites, looking for the latest results and different perspectives on what they mean. The funny thing is that it’s usually impossible to really say what the impact of a vote really is …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Talk About Your Money, Especially with Your Partner (9/365)

For the first two years of our marriage, Sarah and I barely spoke to each other about money. We’d touch base with each other just enough to make sure the bills were paid, and that’s about all. “Honey, did you drop off the rent check?” “I took care of the bills for this month.” “Do …

The Financial Path of a Little Girl

“I think the girl who is able to earn her own living and pay her own way should be as happy as anybody on earth.” – Susan B. Anthony Today, I’m going to talk about my daughter. In many regards, she’s a pretty typical four year old girl – at least judging by her peers. …

Categories: Family, Parenting

Keep Track of Your Progress (8/365)

One of the best personal finance tasks I ever took on was building a personal net worth calculator. It was a simple little thing (in fact, I wrote a tutorial on how to build one in any spreadsheet program you have, very little knowledge required). All it did was add up all of my assets, …

Reader Mailbag: Winter Wonderland?

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. Trading cars before a move 2. Handling an old retirement account 3. State income tax after leaving 4. Student loan repayment plan 5. Unexpected job offer …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Master the Thirty Day Rule, Too (7/365)

Yesterday, we talked about the ten second rule, which you can use to protect yourself against impulse buys that are well within the limits of your pocket money. We’re talking about things like a pack of gum, an inexpensive board game, or something like that. As I know all too well, though, many of the …

Review: EntreLeadership

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 written about 250 book reviews on The Simple Dollar since I started the site in late 2006. Along …

Master the Ten Second Rule (6/365)

I’ve been going to the same barbershop most of the time for the last fifteen years or so. We grew up in the same area, so it’s rather fun to catch up with him on things that are happening in our hometown area. He’s a good barber, so he’s also pretty busy. He also operates …

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #54

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. Recently, I was working on a project that coupled frugality tips with black and white public domain photographs. In order to find ones for the project, I spent a lot …

Record Every Penny You Spend in a Month (5/365)

One of the most generic personal finance suggestions is to “create a budget.” The advice usually revolves around setting aside money from your paycheck for all of your known expenses, then making smarter choices with what’s left over. Here’s the problem with that suggestion: a lot of people who are in financial trouble have no …

Finding Good Information for Your Situation

One of the biggest challenges I have when writing articles for The Simple Dollar is finding a balance of usefulness and audience. What do I mean by that? Well, if I tried to write a personal finance article that would reach out to everyone who read it, it would be completely devoid of content. There’s …

Categories: Getting Started

Calculate How Much You Really Make (4/365)

One of the most painful realizations I had when I started getting my financial life in order was that my job didn’t really earn me as much money as it seemed. My salary at the time of this realization was about $40,000 a year, so let’s use that as a baseline. Now, on the surface, …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Reader Mailbag: Word Processing Middle Ground

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. Mess of debt and taxes 2. Renting out a room 3. Settling on retirement philosophy 4. Long games 5. Hotel disappointment 6. Future state retirement benefits …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Spend Less Than You Earn (3/365)

If there is a single mantra of The Simple Dollar, it’s this one. Spend less than you earn. There’s a reason that it’s my first rule of personal finance. If you can spend less than you earn consistently over various time frames (less this week, less this month, less this year all at the same …

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Freedom Edition

A few days ago, a technical problem with The Simple Dollar cropped up involving the front page not refreshing for some users of the site. A reader emailed me about it. A few months ago, I would have then spent several hours reading documentation and trying to figure out what was wrong. There would have …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Realize That You’re Not Alone on This Journey (2/365)

When I first reached my financial bottom, I felt desperately alone. I wrote about the pain of that financial bottom a while ago: In short, even though my mind kept searching for a way out, another saving grace, part of me began to realize that there was no way out this time. I began to …