Month: May 2014

Pack Food and Beverages (344/365)

Whenever I leave my house and expect that the travel to my destination is going to take more than an hour or so, I pack snacks and beverages. It’s just part of my routine. Usually, I fill up a water bottle and add a bit of lemon juice to it, and I’ll look in the …

Categories: Frugality

Reader Mailbag: Popcorn, Old Movies, and a Warm Blanket

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. Using Roth to buy house 2. Children and educational tools 3. Is a charity legit? 4. Preparing for higher taxes 5. Shaving expenses 6. Inexpensive board …

Categories: Books and Reading

Stay Away from Tourist Traps (343/365)

In 2004, I had the professional opportunity to travel to Mexico multiple times in a short span. On those trips, I had a few chances to visit some of the sights of rural Mexico. One of the stops that really sticks in my mind is the opportunity to climb up a small Aztec pyramid at …

Categories: Frugality

What Seems Simple Rarely Is Simple

I enjoy watching cooking shows – you know, the ones where they actually focus on presenting a recipe and show off some of the techniques used in preparing that recipe. My favorite cooking show host is Julia Child, by a fair margin. There’s something I’ve always found really comforting about her – I don’t quite …

Categories: Getting Started

Consider All Forms of Transportation, Including Train and Bus (342/365)

A few months ago, I took a trip to Indianapolis. The first leg of the trip – a flight from Des Moines to Chicago – was uneventful, but it was the second leg that got interesting. I was scheduled to fly from Chicago to Indianapolis, but my flight was cancelled, as was the subsequent flight. …

Categories: Frugality

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #103

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. Quentin Crisp on career direction It’s really tempting to switch careers, but sometimes it’s worth asking whether or not our skill set wouldn’t best be served staying put or …

Consider Camping (341/365)

When Sarah and I visited the Pacific Northwest for our first anniversary, we didn’t stay in a hotel for most of the vacation. We camped, using borrowed camping equipment, first on Mount Rainier and then in Olympia National Forest. When we went on our first vacation after having our first child, we didn’t stay in …

Categories: Frugality

Confirmation Bias and You

Let’s say you’re worried that your finances aren’t being organized effectively. You’re not really sure what’s wrong, but you have a gut feeling about it. You decide to go to a financial advisor, who tells you that, indeed, your finances are in a bad place. He points out several perceived flaws and pledges that he …

Categories: Getting Started

Be Flexible When You Plan Vacations (340/365)

During the last few years of my previous job, whenever Sarah and I began to plan a vacation, I would request time off in a block that was significantly larger than the length of the vacation we were planning. Sometimes, I’d wind up with several days off before the vacation. Other times, I’d wind up …

Categories: Frugality

Reader Mailbag: Questions and Answers

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. Refinancing and personal challenges 2. Winning the lottery? 3. Investing with little money 4. Showing kids what they have 5. Family business and money 6. Energy …

Categories: Books and Reading

Do Your Own Travel Planning (339/365)

When Sarah and I were talking about our honeymoon in 2003, we were a little intimidated by setting up our travel plans. It was the first major trip either one of us had taken where we would be responsible for all of the planning, and it seemed like a ton of confusing work. So, we …

Categories: Frugality

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Basketball Edition

A long time ago, I used to play basketball every single day. I’d stand in my parents’ driveway shooting baskets for hours. In high school, I gradually moved from completely terrible to reasonably good. In college, I dominated an intramural season (though my back would start hurting so badly that I’d have to quit in …

Categories: Books and Reading

Plan Far in Advance (338/365)

After a few weeks of discussing bill paying strategies in this series, we’re going to shift gears and look at vacations during much of the month of December. Vacations? The kind of things that most people take in the summer? Why would we talk about them in December? Frankly, right now is about the latest …

Categories: Frugality

Designing a Lucky Life

“Luck is the residue of design.” – Branch Rickey I don’t believe that luck is a supernatural thing that we have no control over. It’s not represented by four leaf clovers and gold pots at the end of the rainbow. Luck is simply the result of some of the many random events in life bouncing …

Categories: Getting Started

Schedule Regular Bills To Be Paid Automatically (337/365)

As I mentioned yesterday, one of the big advantages of online bill pay is that you can schedule payments on many of your bills in advance so that you don’t have to worry about paying them on time. Online bill pay just fires them off for you at the correct time. Of course, that really …

Categories: Frugality

Reader Mailbag: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

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. Help getting out of debt 2. Supporting newly frugal friend 3. Frugal movie night 4. Prioritizing debt repayment 5. Outdoor exercise in winter 6. Managing recipes …

Categories: Books and Reading

Learn How to Use Online Bill Pay (336/365)

Online banking and online bill pay is one of the greatest technological innovations for personal finance in the last few decades. Online bill pay makes it much easier than before to pay one’s bills and, in many cases, makes the whole process automatic. Before online bill pay came along, paying bills meant addressing and stamping …

Categories: Frugality

Turning Passion Into Income Via Youtube

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I had an chance to spend some time with my oldest nephew, who has really impressed me lately with the mature young man he’s becoming. He works hard, has a good attitude, values his family greatly, and has an obviously strong relationship with a young woman who seems quite nice (though I …

Categories: Getting Started

If You Know You’re Going to Be Late on a Bill, Call Them (335/365)

It seems so simple, yet it works so well. Sometimes a bill just falls through the cracks. We forget about paying it. We’re on a trip and don’t check our mail in time. A big unexpected insurance bill hits at the same time and we choose to pay the insurance bill first. A bill slides …

Categories: Frugality