• Reader Mailbag: Debate Night

    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. Washing plastic bags 2. Blowing off steam inexpensively 3. Toothpaste use? 4. Starting over? 5. Why use Twitter? 6. Early Christmas planning 7. Rollover IRA question …

  • Build Friendships with Parents of Your Children’s Friends (294/365)

    When we first moved into our new house, we had very few friends that lived near us. We had moved away from many of our old friends and, since we had one young child and another one just about to arrive, the prospect of building new friendships at that moment seemed pretty daunting alongside all …

  • What’s the Reason?

    As I mentioned several days ago, my uncle passed away. On Friday, I attended his funeral, where one of my uncle’s old friends spoke very eloquently. After the service, I spoke to that friend of my uncle for a few moments. I thanked him for the words he had spoken and we reflected together for …

  • Host a Block Party (293/365)

    When Sarah and I first moved into our home in 2007, several neighbors stopped by to greet us and drop off small housewarming gifts. One of them also brought a flyer inviting us to a block party to take place in a week or so. I attended the party (along with our only child at …

  • Ten Pieces of Inspiration #96

    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. Simon Bailey on a miserable life People do this far too often. They go to a job that makes them miserable, then come home and use what little energy …

  • Host a Sporting Event Party (292/365)

    Sporting events provide a wonderful and extremely low cost opportunity for social interaction. Whether you’re talking about viewing professional sports on television, viewing local sports live, or even participating in sports, sporting events can be the backbone of a great day with friends and family. For example, we host a potluck Super Bowl party each …

  • 401(k) From Scratch

    Debbie writes in: I’m a 28 year old single mom. I just got a great job as an administrative assistant, one that I was extremely lucky to get. During orientation we were asked to sign up for the 401(k) plan. I don’t know anything at all about 401(k) plans, but I have enjoyed your site …

  • Host a Game Evening (291/365)

    Aside from the potluck dinners – and sometimes in conjunction with them – we also host regular game nights at our house. We invite some people over, pull out a few board or card games, and sit around socializing and playing games for several hours. We usually serve food and beverages at our game nights, …

  • Reader Mailbag: Late Night Writing

    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. Figuring out fuel efficient route 2. Leaving poisonous family situation 3. Road trip with kids 4. Maximizing retirement without 401(k) 5. Inexpensive board games? 6. Thinking …

  • Host a Potluck Dinner (290/365)

    Once every other weekend or so, Sarah and I will invite over some friends for dinner. We usually suggest that they bring something along with them – a beverage, a side dish, a dessert. We provide the main course, whatever that might be. The end result of that effort is that we usually wind up …

  • The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Funeral Edition

    Early this week, I learned that my uncle had passed away suddenly. His only living relatives were his son, who he was estranged from and hadn’t seen for a long time, and my mother. Whenever someone who’s been in your life since you were born passes away, particularly in such a sudden fashion, you’re left …

  • Take on Leadership Positions (289/365)

    When I was in college, I was heavily involved with a community computer group that had some college students as members and often used the college’s facilities for meetings and other events. When I first joined the group, it was mostly related to my professional interests at the time. I knew several people already in …

  • The Fall Clothes Rotation

    Late last winter and early last spring, many local places put their fall and winter clothes on deep discount. Long sleeved shirts and long pants had to go to make room for the short sleeved shirts and shorter pants, after all. I actually went to one of these sales and picked up a couple of …

  • Join a Book Club (288/365)

    On the first or second Tuesday of each month, Sarah gets together with several women for a book club meeting. Each month, they select a book together, read it, then come together the following month to share their thoughts on it. Over time, the book club has really turned into much more than that. It’s …

  • Reader Mailbag: Waking Up 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. Sticking with an insurance agent 2. Fighting a spousal compulsion 3. Visiting mother concerns 4. Buying appliances on Craigslist 5. Political signs and property values 6. …

  • Join a Volunteer Organization (287/365)

    I spend quite a bit of my time volunteering. I serve on the board of a charitable organization. As I mentioned yesterday, I coach youth soccer. I collect aluminum cans and bottles for our local area’s annual civic festival. All of these things have a few factors in common. First, they’re all free. I don’t …

  • The Weekend Restock

    In 2003 or 2004, I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done for the first time. For those of you unfamiliar with the book, it presents a very novel system along with countless specific solutions for dealing with the ongoing problem of managing one’s time and energy in a modern information-heavy world. I highly encourage you …

  • Get Involved In Youth Activities (286/365)

    A few years ago, when my oldest child was three years old, we enrolled him in our community’s youth soccer league, which actually has a “four and under” bracket. What I couldn’t help but notice when he was playing is that there weren’t enough playing slots available. On a typical team, there would be four …

  • Ten Pieces of Inspiration #95

    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 helped my children collect pictures of rain for a school art project related to the ongoing drought here in Iowa. Several of the pictures were so beautiful, …