Month: May 2014

Get Comfortable with Cooking (193/365)

There was a time – circa 2000 – where I dreaded going into the kitchen. On the rare occasion when I would actually attempt to cook anything, I’d usually mutilate it. I’d turn scrambled eggs into a giant pile of burnt … stuff. I’d produce incredibly dry chicken breasts. My tuna noodle casserole … let’s …

Categories: Frugality

Reader Mailbag: Road Trips with Children

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. Savings and short-term deals 2. Cash-out refinance and student loans 3. Finding local clubs 4. “Maxing” a 401(k) 5. Cheapest GPS option? 6. Moving towards major …

Categories: Books and Reading

Make a Grocery List Before You Go (192/365)

Eight or nine years ago, I never ever made up a grocery list before hitting the grocery store. I’d stop in there a few times a week after work, pick up whatever I thought I could throw together for supper the next night or two, and probably pick up a few other goodies as well. …

Categories: Frugality

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Fiction Edition

I’ve been struggling for several months with a novel I’ve been working on. It’s been hard to make any progress, mostly because I was having a very hard time with the motivation of one of the primary characters. Suddenly, on Saturday, it all clicked. I had a giant breakthrough. Now, I almost can’t stop working …

Categories: Books and Reading

Plan Your Meals Using the Grocery Store Flyer (191/365)

Within twenty miles of my home, I can find at least three Hy-Vees, two Wal-Mart Supercenters, a Super Target, a Target with a grocery section, two Fareways, a Dahl’s, and several smaller independent grocers. All of these businesses are essentially in competition with one another, which is good for me because there’s some competition for …

Categories: Frugality

Children, Personal Finances, and Entitlement

An allowance is not a salary or an entitlement. It is a tool for teaching children how to manage money. – Joline Godfrey, Raising Financially Fit Kids Our three kids are really blessed. They have involved parents that are in a solid enough financial state to provide for them without worry. They have two sets …

Categories: Family, Getting Started

Eat Before You Go Grocery Shopping (190/365)

As I discussed yesterday, one of the biggest unnecessary costs when it comes to the grocery store is impulse buying. You wander through the grocery store and mostly just get items that you need for meals, but you see a thing here and a thing here that looks good and they wind up in your …

Categories: Frugality

Reader Mailbag: The Unexplained

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. Starting a small business anywhere 2. Challenges with life and education 3. Guilt about financial position 4. Handling major debt situation 5. Ads or not? 6. …

Categories: Books and Reading

Go Grocery Shopping Once a Week at Most (189/365)

Whenever I go grocery shopping, I always find myself eyeballing the gum in the checkout aisle. Chewing gum is one of those little things in my life that’s worked for me over the years. I like buying really minty gum, and I’ll often chew a piece for a little while before I meet someone. While …

Categories: Frugality

The Art of Saving Money on Food – or Anything Else

I can make a really good loaf of bread for about two dollars, all told. That includes the cost of water, of flour, of yeast, and of the electricity used to make that loaf. I’ll invest about twenty minutes of actual labor into this loaf, with a lot of stops and starts to allow for …

Don’t Eat Out as Often (188/365)

The average American eats an average of 4.2 commercially prepared meals per week. In other words, as a nation, we eat out between four and five times a week, on average. This number equates to 18.2 meals in an average month eaten outside the home. When I first heard that statistic, my initial reaction is …

Categories: Frugality

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #81

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. I spent some time this week working on a presentation designed to encourage people to volunteer their time to causes that they care about. For the slides, I simply used …

Watch Less Television (187/365)

Right off the bat, let me make it clear that I don’t think television watching is an inherently bad hobby. My primary concern with it is that it’s an expensive hobby. Let me explain what I mean in detail. For starters, the average American household has approximately three television sets. The average television set lasts …

Categories: Frugality

Microrewarding Yourself

In order to encourage everyone in our family to get outside and exercise as much as reasonably possible this summer, Sarah and I instituted a family program called “Mileage Club.” Here’s how it works. At the start of the summer, Sarah and I made a giant pile of punch cards, each numbered one through twenty. …

Read More (186/365)

Reading is an incredibly inexpensive hobby that provides so many benefits. Most of the time, it requires little or no electricity to engage in reading, so you’re not burning up watts and adding to your energy bill. If you read outside or in a well-lit house, there’s no cost at all during daytime hours. At …

Categories: Frugality

Reader Mailbag: The Tough Part

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. Investing during financial downturns 2. Great public domain novels 3. Small business startup questions 4. Job for teenagers 5. Military man buying or renting? 6. Health …

Categories: Books and Reading

Go Exploring (185/365)

During the first few summers of my marriage, Sarah and I would go camping roughly every other weekend. We loved going to a new park, picking out a spot, pitching a tent, and starting a campfire on Friday evening. When Saturday morning dawned, we’d emerge from the tent and eat a quick breakfast. When cleanup …

Categories: Frugality

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Big Groups Edition

My natural tendency when I’m in a big group is to clam up and avoid people. I often remember going to professional conventions in my previous career where I would just lock up and look for a way to avoid eye contact, often ending up back in my hotel room. Over the years, I’ve mastered …

Categories: Books and Reading

Teach Yourself a Skill You’ve Always Wanted to Learn (184/365)

About two years ago, I decided that I wanted to learn how to play the piano. I didn’t do this for any other reason than personal enrichment. Prior to that, I had never played a musical instrument in my life. I had no knowledge at all of musical theory. I couldn’t even read any sheet …

Categories: Frugality