Month: May 2014

Open and Close the Blinds/Curtains in Tune with the Weather (162/365)

One of my closest friends is adamant about not using his air conditioning. From a cheapskate perspective, it makes sense. If he’s not paying a dime for air conditioning, his energy bills during the summer months are going to be very low. He’s going to save money and that’s going to help him achieve his …

Reader Mailbag: Online Classes

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. Struggles living with family 2. Ear candy 3. Need a plan 4. Ethical retirement savings? 5. Upromise question 6. Fun biographies 7. Stock option question 8. …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Use Heavy Drapes and Blinds (161/365)

We’ve all experienced the warmth of direct sunlight on our skin and enjoyed the coolness of the shade on a hot summer day. The same phenomenon is true inside of our house. If you have a window with no coverings on it and direct sunlight is shining through it, that room is going to heat …

The Value of Climbing the Mountain

The last six years of my life have been spent grinding as hard as possible towards one specific goal. I wanted to be free of debt while owning my own home. Nothing more, nothing less. Over that entire period, Sarah and I have been pretty careful with our money. We’ve given up expensive hobbies. What …

Categories: Getting Started, Goals

Adjust Your Home’s Temperature Seasonally (160/365)

The bigger the difference between the external temperature and the internal temperature of your home, the more work your air conditioning or furnace is going to have to do. It doesn’t matter how much insulation or how well air sealed your home is, it’s going to happen. Given enough time, your home is going to …

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #77

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. Ray Bradbury on exploration Ray Bradbury is one of my favorite writers. His book Fahrenheit 451 has had a tremendous impact on my life. “We must move into the …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Air-Seal Your Home (159/365)

Unless you live in a perfect climate, you’re going to be running your air conditioning and/or your furnace during some portion of the year. Here in the Midwest, both appliances see use as you’ll see a 120 F temperature swing over the course of a typical year (-15 F in the winter to 105 F …

Personal Finance Is Rarely Black and White

Let’s look at two people, Bob and Charlotte. Each of them has only one outstanding debt, a $100,000 mortgage with a 3.75% interest rate that has 28 years to go. Bob is single and doesn’t enjoy dating, so he plans on remaining single for the rest of his life. He wants to retire early so …

Categories: Getting Started

Take Shorter Showers (158/365)

After a long day, I enjoy a nice shower. It feels pretty good to stand in there and let the water pour over you. Every once in a while, I simply take a long shower. Most of the time, though, a shower is just a task to be performed as part of the normal day. …

Reader Mailbag: Handwritten Letters

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. 401(k) early withdrawal concerns 2. Soccer in America 3. Money, sanity, and in-laws 4. Keeping old magazines 5. Frugal vitamins 6. Tossing unhealthy foods 7. Divorce …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Install Low-Flow Showerheads (157/365)

Shower heads vary widely in the amount of water that they disperse, and the water flow isn’t directly connected to how strong the shower feels, either. The best shower I’ve ever had was when I was in college, where the dormitory had these enormous showerheads that dropped water on you from the ceiling. It felt …

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Old Quarters Edition

Recently, I learned that U.S. quarters minted before 1965 are actually almost pure silver, meaning that due to the high price of silver, the value of the metal in those quarters is far higher than $0.25. For fun, I’ve been going through a jar full of collected quarters, removing any old ones that I find …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Insulate Your Water Heater (156/365)

In most houses, you’ll find a large tank water heater like the one pictured below. If you were to open that tank up, you’d find some form of insulation surrounding an inner tank full of quite hot water. The insulation inside the tank is pretty good, but no insulation is perfect. Try this. Go down …

Food and Vacation

Over the next two months, our family is going to be doing some vacationing in various places in the Midwest and Great Plains. The longest trip in that period will be nine days spent in South Dakota and Wyoming with my wife, my children, and my parents. Vacations can be a lot of fun, but …

Categories: Food, Frugality, Travel

Turn Down Your Water Heater (155/365)

Try this simple hot water experiment. Right now, go turn on the hot water in your shower. Turn the hot water as high as it will go with no cold water at all. Give it some time so that the water reaches maximum heat. Now, stick your hand into the water flow. If you’re afraid …

Reader Mailbag: Yard Sale Searching

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 a large gift 2. Free toothbrushes 3. Internet banking and future loans 4. Pieces of inspiration 5. Medical billing problems 6. Getting value from panini …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Put All Device Chargers on One Power Strip (154/365)

Like most other electronic devices, the chargers for our wireless devices consume a bit of phantom power, too. Cell phone chargers. Camera battery pack chargers. Portable gaming device chargers. iPod outlet chargers. Laptop chargers. All of these items (and many others) consume a small trickle of energy when they’re left plugged into an outlet. This …

New York’s Soda Ban and Your Money

On Wednesday, the mayor of New York City announced a proposed ban on large sugared drinks, which essentially limits all drinks with added sugar content to be limited to one pint (16 ounces) or less. Naturally, there was a lot of outcry over this. Overzealous government! Restriction of freedom! Underneath it was a pretty sound …

Categories: Getting Started

Unplug Electrical Devices You’re Not Using (153/365)

Having electrical devices on a switch can make it very convenient to cut power to electrical devices, and cutting power to electrical devices when you’re not using them saves money. The problem is that most of our electrical devices are not hooked up to switches. Instead, they just sit there, plugged in, sucking down some …