Month: May 2014

Put Your Home Electronics on a Switch-Based Power Source (151/365)

One of the things I really liked about our house when we first moved in is how each room had multiple switches that controlled particular wall outlets. All you had to do was flip a switch in that room to cut electricity to the outlet. At first, this was just a convenient novelty. We hooked …

Reader Mailbag: The Injury Cycle

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. Family and money 2. Home mortgage, debts, and repairs 3. Convincing children to sleep 4. Free refills at restaurants 5. Mortgage paydown or down payment? 6. …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Use LED Bulbs in Certain Places (150/365)

For indoor use, there are three primary types of light bulbs available in the American market. Incandescent bulbs are the ones most of us have used all of our lives. They produce wonderful bright light, but they’re also incredibly energy inefficient and burn out all the time. Incandescent bulbs are also the least expensive problem. …

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Sunburn Edition

I spent a ton of time outside this past weekend. Although I put on a bunch of sunscreen, I didn’t apply enough to my shoulders and spent several hours swimming. My shoulders are burnt. In fact, it looks rather weird. I’m not burnt anywhere else except for the top of my shoulders, and they’re bright …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Install a Programmable Thermostat (149/365)

During the day at our house, I leave the air conditioning and furnace off, no matter the time of year. I’m pretty comfortable with a wide temperature range. However, my wife and kids prefer a somewhat more narrow range in temperatures, so it makes sense to turn on the air conditioning (in the hot months) …

Playing the Lottery

Julie writes in: I would love to see you run the numbers on playing the lottery. My mother spends $20 a week on Powerball. I keep telling her she’d be better off putting that $20 a month into a savings account, but I might as well be talking to the wall. Lotteries wouldn’t exist if …

Categories: Getting Started

Use Rechargeable Batteries (148/365)

Our house goes through quite a few batteries, particularly AA, C, and D cells. Between remote controls, flashlights, and children’s toys, we always have a few dozen batteries in use in our home at the same time. The cheapest solution in the short term is to just go to our local warehouse club and buy …

Reader Mailbag: Home Movies

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. Financially sensible graduation gift 2. Using lots of oregano? 3. Summer vacation reading 4. Basic expenses more than income 5. Retire now or later? 6. Unwanted …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Read the Manual, Especially for Rechargeable Items (147/365)

The actual use of electronic devices straight out of the box has become much easier than it used to be. Most of the time, items just come with one or two cables that are pretty clearly plugged into certain places, and then the actual operation of those items is pretty straightforward. The flashing 12:00 on …

Handling (and Avoiding) Souvenirs and Tourist Traps

One of the things I really don’t like about vacations is the prevalence of gift shops and souvenir stands near every remotely popular attraction. I particularly don’t like it when you go through a museum exhibit or a tour of some sort, only to find yourself dumped into a gift shop. The children are hungry …

Categories: Travel

Use a Surge Protector (146/365)

We’ve all experienced it. A bad thunderstorm occurs and the lights flicker repeatedly. Sometimes, the power goes out, often preceded by a big energy surge that makes our lights get really bright for a second or two. Such things are part of living on Earth and using electricity. Mother Nature is quite powerful, and as …

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #75

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. Emerson on moving on Today is just one day. When it’s finished, move on. Don’t dwell on the mistakes. Get up tomorrow and do better. “Finish every day and …

Keep It Clean and Minimize the Dust (145/365)

For about five years in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I worked in computer system support. One of my chief responsibilities during that time was to keep three different rooms full of computers running. Most of these computers were mid-1990s Macintoshes, so the rooms were full of lots of beige boxes. There were a …

Finding the Path Again

Every so often, I hit what I call a “valley” on my road to financial freedom. It’s usually during a period where I’m between two goals. I achieved something a while ago and the glow from that has worn off, but the next milestone is still pretty far off. It’s also usually when I’m going …

Categories: Getting Started

Keep Your Warranties and Receipts (144/365)

Whenever you buy a product from a company, you’re almost always dealing with a for-profit entity that exists to make as much money for their owners and/or shareholders as possible. For most companies, that means maximizing the amount of profit that they make on each item sold. So, let’s say you bought a product nine …

Reader Mailbag: Junk News

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. The downsides to cash 2. Math tools 3. Mortgage questions 4. Hobbies by the hour? 5. Bank consolidation worries 6. Politics and house sales 7. Online …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Transitioning Home: Supporting Service Men and Women Looking for Work

U.S. & the Problem of Veteran Unemployment For service men and women returning from active-duty, a period of unemployment is next to unavoidable. Most veterans make a non-negotiable trade in coming home: the sureties of military assignment in exchange for an uncertain spell of civilian unemployment. For many, landing a job signals full return home. …

Categories: Uncategorized

Send in the Registration Form Immediately – But Fill It Out Carefully (143/365)

Whenever you buy a sufficiently expensive product – usually anything over $100 or so – you’ll find a registration form in the box. For many products, you need to send in the card to validate your warranty. For some products, you need to send in the card to get additional features. However, registration cards are …

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Insightful Questions Edition

Over the last few weeks, my children have been absolutely loaded with insightful and challenging questions. Why do people look different than each other? Why is the sky blue, since you just read that it’s red on Mars? How do we know there is a God? How do we decide if something is right or …

Categories: Morning Roundup