Month: May 2014

Resist the Temptations of Soda and Fast Food (81/365)

Soda and fast food are both convenient pick-me-ups that many people utilize for a sweetness fix or for getting rid of a case of the munchies. From a personal finance perspective, though, there are much better choices for each of those options. Let’s look at soda for starters. You have the sticker cost of the …

Reader Mailbag: Seedlings

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. Renting or selling land 2. My religion 3. College cash and investing 4. Transportation dilemma 5. Drawbacks of ebooks 6. Retirement and student loans 7. Walking …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Share the Thought Process Behind Your Purchases (80/365)

One of the best experiences I’ve had lately has been shopping with my oldest child. He’s six going on seven, so he’s starting to take a significant interest in what adults do – and, perhaps more importantly, why adults do the things they do. He watches what Sarah and I both do all the time …

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: March Madness Edition

I’m not talking about basketball. I’m talking about the weather. We’ve had six days in a row where the temperature peaked above 80 F in central Iowa in March. The grass is rapidly turning green and everything is blooming. All of this is happening a month or so earlier than normal. I am so tempted …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Segment Their Allowance (79/365)

Each week, my children receive a small allowance. It’s not tied to any chores; instead, it’s mostly a tool to teach them about money management. We pay them in quarters, with each child receiving twice the number of quarters as their age. So, a five year old would receive ten quarters, a three year old …

The Moral Instinct and Your Money

I recently came across a fascinating article from the New York Times by Steven Pinker called The Moral Instinct. The basic idea behind the paper is that people tend to operate with a “moral instinct” – an inherent sense that some things are “right” and some things are “wrong” – and use that instinct to …

Categories: Getting Started

Utilize Community Resources (78/365)

This past weekend, Sarah and I went on a long walk in the woods at a state park, checked out the restored birthplace of President Herbert Hoover, ate a picnic meal in a beautiful grove, found a bunch of Devonian-era fossils, and played with our children on a playground. Our total cost for all of …

Reader Mailbag: Trail Walking

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. Frugal meal tip 2. Picnic planning 3. Roof repairs and homeowners insurance 4. Maternity leave challenges 5. Tax blues 6. Saving on phone service 7. Retirement …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Go Outside (77/365)

Over the last week, I’ve mostly discussed indoor activities when discussing inexpensive ways to spend time with your family. Art projects? Usually inside. Reading? Usually inside. Making things in your kitchen? Usually inside. We’ve just been through an Iowa winter. Much of the last few months was spent on indoor activities. Today, though, the weather …

Why Do It Yourself? Digging into the Value of DIY

A few days ago, I spent more than two hours dismantling and reassembling the guts of a toilet tank. There were some issues with flushing, and I wanted to see if I could diagnose it myself (I did, actually; there was a small broken part that was simple to replace). A plumber could have done …

Categories: Getting Started

Minimize Television Time (76/365)

Whenever I tell people about the family activities I’ve talked about over the last week – art projects, lots of reading, making your own crayons, and so on – they usually end up asking “where do you find the time for all of this stuff?” Our secret is a simple one: we drastically minimize television …

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #64

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. Minutes.io Over the years, I’ve served as secretary for several different groups. I’ve mostly used Microsoft Word and Microsoft OneNote for taking notes during meetings to prepare meeting minutes …

Read Together as a Family (75/365)

If there’s one thing our family has an abundance of, it’s books. Nearly every room in our home has a bookshelf in it, and most of them are full. Reading is not a “sometimes” activity in our home. It’s an every day activity. Part of the reason for that is that Sarah and I are …

Making Money from a Passion

If you’re passionate about something, you can make money from it, because people will pay for passion. Sometimes, it’s enough to earn a living, and on occasion, you can make really good money from your passion. Whenever I tell people this, they usually scoff. Usually, they don’t believe it’s really possible for anyone to do …

Categories: Getting Started

Turn Supplies You Have on Hand into Toys (74/365)

Whenever I watch my one year old at play, I can’t help but notice that there really are only a few requirements for entertaining him in a safe way. The item needs to be fairly sturdy, as he can get mad and throw it. He’s one, so emotional control isn’t really part of the equation, …

Reader Mailbag: Spring Break

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. Handling leg injury 2. Selling video games 3. Vegan eating challenges 4. Challenged by controlling spending 5. Corporal punishment 6. Choosing a debt to repay 7. …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Make Your Own Playdough (73/365)

Our children have several small tubs of playdough, both the name brand Play-Doh and other brands of similar material, that they’ve received as gifts over the years. The contents of those tubs have been played with, sculpted, mashed, combined, and used in countless different ways. It’s actually a toy that Sarah and I quite like …

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Daylight Savings Time Edition

I consider the switches to and from Daylight Savings Time to be largely useless in the modern era. It disrupts sleep patterns, causes people who forget to adjust clocks to miss appointments, and adds something else to worry about to our hectic lives. I understood the need for it in the past, but as the …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Extend the Life and Value of Crayons (72/365)

For Christmas, my children received an interesting gift: a Crayola Crayon Maker. It’s a cute little device. All you do is break up some crayons (they come with the crayon maker) and put them on a little tray in there, flip on the switch, and wait for a bit. The crayons melt, then you tip …