Month: May 2014

The Story Others Tell About You

Recently, I read a fascinating interview of the film director Steven Soderberg on why he’s giving up on directing as a career path (thanks to kottke for the link). One particular piece stood out at me, though (my emphasis in bold): On the few occasions where I’ve talked to film students, one of the things …

Reader Mailbag: Reader Emails

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. When bills exceed income 2. Super Bowl party planning 3. Lessons from piano 4. Thoughts on 2012 5. Handling a pay raise 6. Shipping a package …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Putting a Value on Reliability: When Is It Time to Trade In Your Car?

A friend of mine has been driving the same car for more than a decade. For most of that time, it’s been reliable as a rock. It’s started like a charm on some frightfully cold mornings and it’s only rarely needed any repairs. Over the last year, though, lots of little problems have started cropping …

Categories: Automobile

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Art Supply Edition

Our children engage in so many art projects that we keep a small corner in our dining room set aside for their miscellaneous art supplies and in-progress art projects. Pretty much every single day, our children clear off some of the dining room table and cut/paint/draw/build something. The only tricky part with this is that …

Categories: Morning Roundup

How to Replace Your Computer Inexpensively

For most of us, the desire to replace our computer comes about due to one of two things. Either there’s a hardware failure or there’s a need to run some application that doesn’t run well on our older computer. In either case, I’ve found myself in a position to replace my computer twice since I’ve …

Five Steps to Escaping the Nightmare

Mel writes in: For the past six months, I’ve been getting letters from creditors in the mail. I don’t want to read them because the thought of facing them makes me sick to my stomach with worry and I don’t sleep well for days, so I just throw them in the trash as soon as …

Categories: Getting Started

My Five Tenets of Financial Independence

“Financial independence” is a term that I often use on The Simple Dollar to describe my primary long-term goal when it comes to my finances. The catch with a phrase like “financial independence” is that it can have such drastically different meanings to different people. For example, some people consider themselves financially independent if they’re …

Categories: Getting Started

Reader Mailbag: Ice Storm

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. Finding my 401(k) 2. Giving to church or charity? 3. Mortgage schedule 4. Leftover standby 5. To mortgage or not? 6. Frugal solitaire activities 7. Monthly …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

The Beauty of the Open-Ended Creative Project

My children spent Friday afternoon and Saturday morning designing their own boardgame. The supplies they used for the game design were simple – several pieces of paper, a bit of glue, and a box of crayons. With each iteration, the game became more compelling. It started off as a Candyland variant, except using dice for …

Categories: Getting Started

Retirement Investment Obsession

Vitaly writes in: My problem is that I can’t stop looking at my retirement accounts. Whenever I see an investment option that’s doing a little bit better than whatever I’m doing, I start to feel sick to my stomach and I panic and I have to switch my investments over. Then a week later I …

Categories: Investing, Retirement

Career Risk Without Risking Family Finances

A few days ago, I had a long conversation with an old friend about a difficult career decision he was facing. He needed to decide whether or not to take a sizeable career risk, but he also had a family at home. I essentially advocated for him not to take the risk, mostly because I …

Categories: Getting Started

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #110

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. Henry Stimson on trust “The only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him.” – Henry Stimson It can be very difficult to extend trust to someone …

Online Buying, Impulse Control, and Amazon.com

Recently, I listened to a story on NPR (for the life of me, I can’t find a link to it on their website) where developers at Amazon.com were discussing their goal in shaving seconds off of the time it takes for a person to come to their site with a desire in their head and …

Adding Flex to a Budget

When Sarah and I first started our financial recovery, we tried out several different budgeting tactics. We made up a very detailed budget in a spreadsheet. We split up our expenses into several different specific categories and then, whenever there was an expense, we noted which category it came from. We tried an “envelope” system. …

Categories: Getting Started

Training Your Intuition

Most of the time, when I have to make a decision, I rely on my instincts to make a good choice. I don’t spend time agonizing over every little choice in my life and, even though I’m careful about every significant decision, when I end up making it, I usually rely in large part on …

Categories: Getting Started

Reader Mailbag: Coffee Can Savings

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. Combining finances with risky partner 2. Brother exploiting sister 3. Using digital images from phones 4. Containing political rage 5. Extra money in the budget 6. …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Buying Another Before You Can Enjoy What You Have

As I’ve mentioned before, several years ago, I was an avid collector of DVDs and vintage sports trading cards. At one point, our DVD collection reached over 1,000 discs. At the same time, I came reasonably close to putting together a 1965 Topps baseball card set (I was mostly missing commons) and I was actually …

Categories: Getting Started

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: No Series Edition

With the end of the television series Fringe, I just realized that I am not actively watching any television series right now. There is truly nothing airing right now on any channel anywhere that is holding my interest. Over the last several years, the number of series we’ve watched has dwindled. Most of the television …

Categories: Morning Roundup

The First Steps Toward Passive Income

Before we even get started on this topic, let’s back up and look at what passive income is. I’ve seen a lot of different definitions out there, but I define passive income as being any income derived from an initial investment of time, effort, money, or ideas without additional input of time, effort, money, or …

Categories: Passive Income