Month: May 2014

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Dickens Edition

After my article last week on free online books, I wound up downloading all of the novels by Charles Dickens to my Kindle with the intent of re-reading all of them in the near future. I read them all so long ago that I only remember bits and pieces of the plots and some of …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Buy on the Low End of What You Think You Need (233/365)

As I discussed a few days ago, when Sarah and I first started shopping for houses, we looked at some very nice homes. We looked at places with five bedroom homes with three bathrooms and a finished basement and a nice big yard. We looked at houses with granite countertops and enormous decks. When we …

Building Self-Reliance in Your Children

When my children graduate from college, I do not want them relying on me in any way. Sure, they can call me up for advice and visit sometimes, but I want them to have their own independent lives. This is both a selfish and an unselfish goal. It’s unselfish in that I want them to …

Know Exactly What You Can Afford Before You Look (232/365)

When Sarah and I first had a sense that we might be interested in buying a home, we simply opened up the real estate listings and started looking. We didn’t discriminate too much, but we did find ourselves mostly looking at more expensive homes. We would wander through some higher-end house and imagine rooms done …

Reader Mailbag: Writing in the Car

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. Wedding spending concerns 2. Unusual name 3. Planning for the next step 4. Discussing inheritance 5. Budgeting board games 6. Expensive shampoo 7. Thick and thin …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Get a Shorter-Term Mortgage with a Lower Interest Rate (231/365)

Whenever a person is ready to apply for a mortgage, they’re faced with an emormous array of options. Different lenders are advertising different rates. There are lots of different mortgage terms out there floating around, from a 5/1 ARM to a twenty year fixed rate. The options can seem almost overwhelming. Fortunately, there are a …

Facing Your Little Worries

All of us have something that we worry about. It might slip into our minds when we’re trying to go to sleep, or it might pop up when we’re going through a lull at work or even during the commute. Maybe it’s our financial state. Maybe it’s our own mortality. Maybe it’s a nagging little …

Categories: Getting Started

Get a HUD-1 Form and Know What You’re Looking At (230/365)

If there is a single piece of advice that I would give to the cost-conscious mortgage shopper, it would be to obtain a copy of your HUD-1 settlement statement and study it thoroughly before signing any papers. So, what is a HUD-1 Settlement Statement? It’s a standard form that is used to itemize all of …

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #87

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. Seth Godin on life and vacations Vacation, to me, isn’t an escape. It’s an opportunity to see parts of the world that I don’t get to see in my …

Consider a Cheaper Part of the Country (229/365)

Sarah and I have relatives and friends spread all across the country: Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle, Boston, New York. We have friends that live in cities, friends that live in the suburbs, and friends that live out in the country. One thing we’re often amazed by is how drastically different the prices are for homes in …

Pride

We all want to have a life that we can be proud of. We want a life that we’re happy to show to others. We want relationships where we feel like equals with the other person. We want a life full of memories and activities that accurately reflect the values we hold dear. Quite often, …

Categories: Getting Started

Consider a Cheaper Neighborhood (228/365)

When Sarah and I were shopping around for our home, we looked at the options available in several different communities. During our first rounds of looking at housing, we looked in more affluent neighborhoods. The homes were beautiful and the neighborhood seemed very friendly and well-kept, but the prices were often astronomical. We kept looking. …

Reader Mailbag: Sleep Interrupted

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 kids with credit 2. Trailing large vehicles on interstates 3. Gifts for children 4. Cost of cheap looking decor 5. Moving and car trading 6. …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

If You Don’t Have a Down Payment Yet, Rent (227/365)

When a person arrives at the point in their life where they desire home ownership, that person often doesn’t have 20% of the cost of the house they’re eyeing. In our area, for example, a nice, recently-built family home with several bedrooms will set you back at least $150,000. 20% of that is $30,000. For …

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Back to School Edition

My two oldest children are starting school in a week or so. My oldest child is returning to school, but it’s a new thing for my daughter. In any case, school supplies and such are starting to become a noticeable expense. Both children have a nice long school supply list and their fall clothes (which …

Categories: Morning Roundup

If You’re Planning on Moving in the Next Five Years, Rent (226/365)

If you’re thinking about buying a home, one of the first things you should consider is how long you’re going to stay in the area. If you’re pretty sure that you’re going to be moving elsewhere within five years, you’re better off renting. Why is that? There are several reasons. First, the first five years …

More Valuable than Money or Possessions

There was a time about eight years ago when I woke up thinking about the possessions I had and the money I was earning. I was a collector of stuff and I was immensely proud of the money I was earning. Not only did I want lots of stuff for my own enjoyment, I also …

Categories: Getting Started

Ask Your Doctor about Generics (225/365)

As I’ve mentioned before on The Simple Dollar, I take Synthroid every morning, as I’ve done since I was three days old. Synthroid is a medication used to treat hypothyroidism, which I’ve had since birth. A few years ago, my doctor decided to switch my medication to a generic version of Synthroid for a trial …

Reader Mailbag: Watches

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. Life insurance question 2. Too many activities for kids? 3. Student loans and garnishment 4. Financial strain with friends 5. Parenting thoughts 6. Fulfillment in the …

Categories: Reader Mailbag