Author: Trent

Living Lean Without Being an Outcast

It’s not exactly a secret that the “spend less than you earn” strategy is a little different than how the average American lives their lives. As I’ve quoted many times on The Simple Dollar, 76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Simply by adopting a “spend less than you earn” mindset and sticking with it …

Categories: Getting Started

Self-Reliance, Part Three

Six weeks ago, I shared with you the first third of my favorite essay of all time, Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and three weeks ago, I walked through the middle third of that essay. Self-Reliance has profoundly affected my life in countless ways, and I find myself re-reading it every month or two. Each …

Categories: Self-Reliance

Eight Strategies for Buying Clothes Without Destroying Your Budget

At our house, I’m the lucky one. I work from home so it doesn’t really matter too much what I wear most days, so I dress for comfort. Almost every day, you’ll find me in blue jeans and a t-shirt. I have some nicer clothes for social occasions and presentations, but those mostly just stay …

How to Become Your Own Life Coach with Fourteen Simple Strategies

Over the last few weeks, several readers have written to me asking about the value of hiring a life coach. Usually, these people are struggling with a major life decision or finding it hard to break free of a steady grind that they wish to escape. Life coaches can be incredibly useful if you find …

Categories: Getting Started

Questions About Goodwill, Emergency Funds, Library Openings, Cheese, 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. Roth IRA withdrawal question 2. Buy it for life: Goodwill 3. Year away from down payment 4. Retirement and disability 5. Having “a life”? 6. Making …

Categories: Uncategorized

Our Path to Living Off Our Own Investments

The big financial goal that Sarah and I have in front of us is to reach a point where we can live off of the proceeds of our investments, allowing us to walk away from work. In essence, that’s what retirement is. Between Social Security (which one can see as an investment built up over …

Stuff Won’t Fill the Hole in Your Life

It’s a weird connection on the surface. The more time I spend reading, the fewer books I buy or even think about buying. The more time I spend actually playing games, the fewer games I buy or even think about buying. This phenomenon repeats itself over and over again. When I pay more attention to …

Categories: Getting Started

How to Stop Making Excuses for Bad Financial Choices

Each year, I go to Gencon, a tabletop gaming convention in Indianapolis held every August. Among the major events are two that make it very tempting to open my wallet: a “dealer hall” where various game manufacturers show off their latest wares and an auction house where unusual items are auctioned off to the highest …

Using Opportunity Cost to Your Advantage

I’m tempted by a lot of purchases. Books. Food. Board games. Gadgets. For me, the best single tool for controlling those kinds of temptations is to give myself a monthly allotment from which I can spend freely. For example, I might cap my personal hobby and entertainment spending at $100 a month and we might …

Categories: Psychology

Ten Strategies for Staying Motivated Toward Your Financial (and Other) Goals

Goal-setting plays a pretty major role in my life. Over the last several years, setting and sticking with goals eliminated all of our debts, bought a home, and enabled a career switch – and those are just the financial goals. At the same time, I’ve failed at more goals than I’ve ever achieved. I’ve tried …

Categories: Getting Started, Goals

Questions About Multitools, Insomnia, Certifications, Jason Mraz, 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. Inheritance advice 2. Professional certification questions 3. Cheapest healthy foods? 4. Swapping “circles” with friends 5. Time to ditch a car? 6. Too cheap? 7. Frugal …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Inspiration from Isabel Allende, Robin Williams, Emily Dickinson, and More

Once a month (or so), I share a dozen things that have inspired me to greater personal, professional, and financial success in my life. I hope they bring similar success to your life. 1. Isabel Allende on living passionately, no matter your age From the description: “Author Isabel Allende is 71. Yes, she has a …

Using Paprika for Meal Planning and Grocery Shopping

Most of the time, I prefer to talk about free computer programs and smartphone apps that are useful for me financially, but today I’m going to make an exception and talk about a paid program – Paprika. (It costs $4.99 for smartphones and tablets and has a $19.99 desktop version for Mac (with a Windows …

Categories: Computers, Food, Frugality

Ten Steps To Turn Financial Disaster Into Financial Independence

Last year, I was invited to contribute to a collaborative book on personal improvement. Each contributor – there were ten or so of us – was charged with writing a section on one aspect of self-improvement. Mine, naturally, was personal finance, so I started to write a ten step guide to turning one’s financial situation …

Categories: Getting Started

Figuring Out What’s Essential

One of my core principles of personal finance is that you should cut back in the areas that you don’t find very important so that you can preserve spending in areas that are important. That’s a great philosophy to have when you’re on the road to financial recovery or when things are going well, but …

Categories: Getting Started

Seven Clever Food Strategies for Stretching a Small Budget

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. …