Month: May 2014

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Black Friday Edition

I know several people who often use Black Friday sales as a method for reducing the cost of their Christmas shopping. They do it the sensible way, though. They already have a list of a few items that they would consider buying for the people they need to purchase gifts for, and they simply cross-check …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Clean Up Your Remaining Bills (324/365)

Once you’ve followed all of the suggestions of the last several days, you should have pared down your bills at least a little. Still, you’ll be left with a few bills that you consider untouchable. Your electricity bill. Your water bill. Your phone bill. You’re not going to eliminate those. In fact, you probably didn’t …

Christmas Worries

In a recent reader mailbag, Dave wrote: Up until January, I had a wonderful job where I handled all of the IT needs for a small company in our area. At the end of last year, the company was sold and the jobs were folded together with another company with the “redundant” jobs being eliminated, …

Take a Hard Look at Entertainment-Oriented Monthly Bills (323/365)

I’ve talked over the last few days about the value of reviewing monthly bills and subscription services. Today, I’m going to look at two bills that people often think of as “untouchable,” but which essentially just boil down to expensive entertainment. I’m looking at you, cable/satellite bill. I’m looking at you, too, internet bill. Let’s …

Reader Mailbag: Pets and Allergies

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. Pension distributions options 2. Distributing leftovers 3. Degrees over the internet 4. Dangers of hiding cash 5. Political fliers as kindling 6. Shipping clothes? 7. Bookshelf …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Take a Hard Look at Club Membership Fees and Gym Fees (322/365)

As I mentioned yesterday, one of the first things Sarah and I did when we began our financial recovery was to start going through all of our regular bills – monthly bills, annual bills, and everything in between. If it needed to be paid regularly, it was examined. This included quite a few club membership …

Setting Clear Long-Term Financial Goals

When Sarah and I first began our financial turnaround, we discovered that it was very easy to set and complete very short term personal finance goals and microgoals. We’d agree to spend a weekend without spending any money. We’d agree to spend a day or two going through our DVD collection and eliminating 60% of …

Categories: Goals

Eliminate Any Monthly Services You Don’t Use (321/365)

When we first ran into our financial wall, the first action I took was to head to the library and check out a pile of books on personal finance. I brought home at least a dozen books and I started reading them rapidly and taking notes. One theme that popped up over and over again …

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #100

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. Since this is the 100th “pieces of inspiration” article, I decided to do something a bit different. As many of you know, I’m a voracious reader. I read several books …

If Prices Are Equal, Buy It Local (320/365)

I compare online and offline prices all the time. It’s simply part of how I naturally shop. Sometimes, though, I’ll find that I can get essentially the same exact deal both online and off. The best online price I can find matches the price I see in the store. In that situation, I always buy …

Dreaming of a Windfall

I love reading random Twitter feeds. I’ll wonder what random people are thinking about a particular topic, so I’ll go to Twitter and search for that topic. Often, I’ll see an interesting remark from someone and wind up on their personal Twitter feed, reading about their lives and stories. More than anything, this has taught …

Categories: Getting Started

Don’t Buy “Just One More Thing” to Get Free Shipping (319/365)

It happens to almost everyone who shops online. You go to a site to order a specific item that you’ve already decided on. You add that item to the cart and head to the checkout. But wait! The site informs you that if you add just $12 more in items, you can get free shipping …

Reader Mailbag: Family-in-Law

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. W4 deduction concerns 2. Christmas worries 3. Retail hate 4. Degree or debt repayment? 5. Logistics of moving 6. Improving professionally without college 7. Estimated tax …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Don’t Store Your Credit Card with an Online Shopping Site (318/365)

My single biggest temptation with online purchasing is to buy books for my Kindle. I absolutely love the ability to have a lot of books in my hand at any given time, and the idea of adding to my library without acquiring something that takes up physical space is very nice, too. (I do still …

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Thanksgiving Prep Edition

Yes, I know that Thanksgiving is still eight days away. However, most of our Thanksgiving prep extends over several days. Our extended family will certainly be starting with some things this weekend. The reality is that if you spread out the prep time, not only can you make more things yourself (lowering the cost), you …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Shop Online for Better Price Comparisons (317/365)

It seems pretty common to use online sources to comparison shop for the big items. The internet is a powerful tool for finding the best bang for the buck on automobiles, homes, televisions, cameras, and so on. Yet that’s just a starting point. I use the internet to comparison shop for anything non-perishable that will …

Six Simple Gifts to Make Between Now and Christmas

Two years ago, I ran a fall article series on homemade gifts, which I then gave out to relatives that Christmas. Naturally, some of the gifts were bigger hits than others. After the series was over, I gave some thought as to the amount of effort I put into the gifts in exchange for how …

Categories: Gifts

Shop on Your State’s Tax-Free Holidays (316/365)

On the first Friday and Saturday of August each year, Iowa has a sales tax holiday on “select clothing and footwear,” which actually translates into “virtually all clothing and footwear.” It’s at a great time of the year. A lot of parents are ready to start shopping for back-to-school clothes for their growing children and …

Reader Mailbag: New Phone

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. Old houses 2. Student loan interest deduction 3. Interest rates and debt freedom 4. Mortgage or car payment? 5. Parents misused my SSN 6. Partial payoffs …

Categories: Reader Mailbag