Author: Trent

Seven Clever Food Strategies for Stretching a Small Food Budget (and Nine Foods That Are Filling, Healthy, and Cheap!)

There are a lot of strategies out there for stretching a food budget, from couponing to meal planning. I’ve laid out our six-step plan for organizing cheap meals many times on The Simple Dollar, and it’s a routine we stick to almost every week. Still, that’s not the end of the road when it comes …

Categories: Food, Frugality

Questions about Leftovers, Hobby Hype, Dollar Stores, Convenience, and More!

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. Planning for disabled child’s future 2. Investing while in debt 3. Ethics of possibly stolen items 4. Overseas money transfer 5. Dollar store purchases 6. How …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

20 Great Games to Play with Stuff You Already Have

Playing games at the kitchen table is a regular part of life at our house. I play games after school three or four days a week with my children, as well as a family game night most weeks. Sarah and I play games together one or two nights a week, and I have a regular …

Categories: Frugality, Games

The Four Stages of Financial Independence

Financial independence is a tricky phrase because it can mean different things to different people. Right now, I view financial independence as being a state where I no longer have to work for money. Yet, seven or eight years ago, I might have viewed it as simply being free from worrying about my next paycheck. …

Self-Reliance, Part Two

Three weeks ago, I shared with you the first third of my favorite essay of all time, Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Self-Reliance has profoundly affected my life in countless ways, and I find myself re-reading it every month or two. Each time I read it, it reveals something new to me, giving me something …

The Spending That Makes You Happy

I love buying a new book. To me, a book represents many hours of getting lost in a story or learning about something new. It’s a portal to another place and having a number of books just waiting to be read when I have time for them makes me happy. I also love opening, learning, …

Categories: Getting Started

Thirteen Strategies for Financial Independence Through Self-Sufficiency

My primary financial goal is what I call financial independence. Though financial independence can have a number of meanings, I define it as being a state in which I no longer have to actively work for money and my savings and investments cover all of my needs and reasonable wants for the long-term future. In …

Categories: Getting Started

Questions about Silver Certificates, Microwaves, Outlet Stores, TVs, and More!

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 financial goals 2. Credit card sign up bonus 3. Child not worth cost? 4. Saving in a Roth IRA 5. Water is cheap but… …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Choosing a Budgeting System That’s Right for You

Over the last several years, I’ve had the opportunity to try out a number of different budgeting systems, both for personal use and because readers have asked me to try them out. All of these options have the same goal: get control over your money. Where they vary is in their execution. Some allow you …

Categories: Budgeting

Buying It for Life Versus Buying Ultra-Cheap

I’m a big believer in a “buy it for life” philosophy. If you can buy a single item and it will last you for a very, very long time, then you have no need to buy replacements. I’d like to think that many of the household items I own – cast iron pots, well-made knives, …

Categories: Shopping

The Money Fog

I’m not thinking about my retirement savings. I’m not thinking about my debts. They’re lost in the fog right now. All I can think about is that I want a meal at that fancy restaurant or that I really want an iPhone. That’s what I see around me, with everything else greyed out and not …

Frugality and Hoarding

Jerome sent me a great question for the reader mailbag, but I found that my answer was getting too long so I chose to spin my response off into its own post. Jerome asked this: One of the big ideas of frugality is to not waste anything. That just seems to lead to hoarding, though. …

Categories: Frugality

Nine Strategies for Fixing Common Budget Problems

Budgets are an amazing tool for getting a clear picture of your financial situation and for planning for the future. They make it possible to see, in one overall place, the exact state of your monthly spending. You know where every dime is going. You know why every dime is going there. You can also …

Categories: Budgeting

Questions on Expensive Cars, Airbnb, Cheap Meals, Dollar Stores, and More!

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. Handling old collection 2. Interesting experience with generic aspirin 3. Good books about financial independence 4. Dealing with a pay cut 5. Too tired to enjoy …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Books with Impact: How to Win Friends and Influence People

The “Books with Impact” series takes a deeper look at specific books that have had a profound impact on my financial, professional, and personal growth by extracting specific points of advice from those books and looking at how I’ve applied them in my life with successful results. In the past on The Simple Dollar, I …

Categories: Books with Impact

Wasted Time and Your Real Hourly Wage

One of my favorite personal finance concepts is that of the “real hourly wage.” It was an idea I picked up from Your Money or Your Life and it’s well worth understanding, so let’s walk through it again before we move on. Your Real Hourly Wage Most of us can easily calculate our hourly wage. …

Categories: Getting Started

Eleven Things I Wish I Understood About Personal Finance Before Starting Out

Not too many years ago, I was a fresh college graduate who was lucky enough to get a job straight out of college during the 2001-2002 economic downturn. I was also primed to make a whole bunch of financial mistakes that, frankly, still negatively affect my life a decade later and will likely have ramifications …

Categories: Getting Started

The Problem with “Hot” Investments

About once a week, I take a trip to my local library to read up on the latest information about personal finance. I’ll grab current issues of all of the personal finance publications like Money and Kiplingers along with a newspaper or two and whatever personal finance books are on the “new release” shelf. I’ll …

Categories: Investing

30 Great Gifts for $5 (or Less!)

Gift-giving can be an expensive proposition. Most of the ideas that tend to pop into people’s minds when it comes to exchanging gifts are expensive ones – or, at least ones that add up to a lot if you have to buy many of them. That doesn’t have to be the case. There are a …

Categories: Frugality, Gifts