Month: May 2014

Swap Your Used DVDs, CDs, and Books Online (181/365)

For years, I’ve been trading books online using PaperBackSwap. It’s such a wonderful service that’s fueled a lot of my reading over the past five years or so. When I first signed up for the service, I swapped a ton of books. I went through my shelves, packaged up several dozen books that I knew …

Categories: Frugality

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #80

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. This week, I’m going to include some of my favorite photos and locations from my recent trip to South Dakota. 1. Buffalo in Custer State Park One of the highlights …

Shop for Used CDs, DVDs, and Books (180/365)

Everyone who has read The Simple Dollar for long knows that I’m an avid reader. I will read multiple books in a typical week. Because of that, I’m going to use books as an example in the description below, but the entire thing holds true for other types of media – CDs, DVDs, etc. – …

Categories: Frugality

Free and Inexpensive Things to Do in South Dakota

Recently, I took a weeklong vacation to South Dakota with my wife, my children, and my parents. As always on such trips, Sarah and I try to look for the value. What things did we discover on the trip that were really enjoyable that were also free or nearly so? Here are some of the …

Categories: Frugality, Travel

Dig Through Your Media Collection (179/365)

As we were getting ready for our last move, Sarah and I boxed up most of our DVD collection. It fit pretty nicely into a few moving boxes, so we loaded it on the truck and left. Because we were so busy with the move (and dealing with the arrival of a new baby a …

Categories: Frugality

Reader Mailbag: Audio and Distractions

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. Student loan struggles 2. Highlights of South Dakota 3. Air conditioning debate 4. Is internet stuff “free”? 5. Loan options 6. Starting online businesses 7. Tithing …

Categories: Books and Reading

Start a Natural Collection (178/365)

When we were recently vacationing in South Dakota and Wyoming, Sarah and I spent a lot of time looking at rocks. We would walk along trails and stop along the roadside just to look for interesting rocks. We found a few with deep red hues and we also picked up a gorgeous piece of rose …

Categories: Frugality

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Office Art Edition

My office is slowly being decorated with art from my children. It started simple. I had a Post-It note on my computer screen from my two oldest children in which they each wrote “DAD I LOVE YOU.” Then my oldest son spent a very long time drawing an elaborate scene in which various superheroes were …

Categories: Books and Reading

See What Your Local College or University Has to Offer (177/365)

One of my favorite things about college was the public lectures and presentations by interesting people. During my years, I heard fascinating talks from scientists and politicians and entrepreneurs. The university would hold these on a central building on campus and just throw open the doors for everyone. You didn’t have to be a student …

Categories: Frugality

Using Group Travel to Save Money

Last week, I traveled with my wife, my children, and my parents to South Dakota and Wyoming for several days. (I’m planning an article later this week outlining some ways to save money on a vacation to South Dakota.) One of my big ideas for planning the trip was to look for ways to take …

Categories: Frugality, Travel

Have a Money-Free Weekend (176/365)

I used to truly relish the weekends in my life. I would get off work at 4:30 or so on a Friday afternoon and just be gleeful that I had all of those hours between then and 7:30 on Monday to do whatever I wanted. My job was often stressful, so those hours became a …

Categories: Frugality

Reader Mailbag: Music You Once Loved

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. Heading toward self-sustaining finances 2. Overwhelmed by home buying 3. Board games with story 4. Keeping cash on hand 5. Personal GPS? 6. Infinite Summer 7. …

Categories: Books and Reading

Check Out the Library – Not Just for Books (175/365)

The public library is my single favorite “free” resource in my community. In fact, I value it so much that I actually posted a visual tour of the local library I use the most on this site a few years ago. (It’s worth noting that libraries aren’t truly free. While you don’t have to pay …

Categories: Frugality

How Much Are Family-Friendly Benefits Worth?

If your employer came to you and said, “In exchange for a 20% pay cut, you can work from home,” would you do it? If your employer suggested that, for an 18% cut in pay, you only had to be in the office one day a week and could work your other 32 hours a …

Stop By Your Town’s Visitor’s Center (174/365)

A few summers ago, my family and I were on a driving vacation when our vehicle broke down in a pretty small town in Minnesota. I was able to find a repairman who could fix it, but we were going to be there most of the day. The town didn’t look too promising from what …

Categories: Frugality

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #79

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. Friendship during a disaster I can’t tell you how much I enjoy going through The Commons, which is a warehouse of public domain pictures on Flickr. I’ll often go …

Read the Local Newspaper (173/365)

One of my routines when I visit the grocery store is to stop by the entrance where there are a bunch of free newspapers available for anyone who wants to take them. I usually wind up taking one of each. These newspapers cover the Des Moines area as well a a lot of the rural …

Categories: Frugality

Revisiting The Longest Night

“It’s kind of funny…the moments on which life hinges. I think growing up you always imagine your life–your success–depends on your family and how much money they have, where you go to college, what sort of job you can pin down, starting salary…But it doesn’t, you know. You wouldn’t believe this, but life hinges on …

Categories: Getting Started

Visit the Post Office (172/365)

About once a month or so, I find myself over at the local post office mailing packages. I’m selling something on eBay or shipping a gift to a relative or trading something by mail. Whatever it is, I usually finish my visit to the post office by taking a long look at the bulletin board. …

Categories: Frugality