Author: Trent Hamm

My Five Worst Money Traps – and How I Handle Them

As proud as I am of our positive financial progress over the last several years, there are still big areas of my life where I don’t always make the smartest spending choices. Even with all of the mental preparation and good choices that I do make, there are still times when I will choose to …

The ‘Golden Handcuffs’

Your job pays you well. Quite well. You have good benefits and your paychecks are sweet. The problem is… you’re unhappy. Your job is stressful in a lot of ways. Your days are loaded with busy work and you’re not accomplishing anything that leaves you feeling fulfilled. You’re tempted to quit… but that sweet paycheck …

Categories: Careers

15 Strategies for Saving Money at a Restaurant

I am a huge advocate for preparing and eating meals at home. It’s almost always drastically cheaper than eating out. You have fine control over the quality and quantity of the ingredients. You can make whatever you want and you’re not┬árestricted by a menu. You don’t have to wait to get seated. Eating at home …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

Six Big Financial Differences Between a Normal Job and Self-Employment

In 2008, I took the leap from a traditional white collar job into self-employment, mostly on the back of a small side gig I had built for myself that was mostly based around The Simple Dollar. It was a scary change, as I walked away from the stable salary and relative security of my previous …

30 Ways We Saved Money When Having a Baby

In 2005, Sarah and I had our first child. In 2007, we added another. In 2010, we added a third. Today, all of them have gone through their infant years (and their toddler years, for that matter). The fun part about having kids in consecutive order like that is that you have the opportunity to …

Categories: Family

Questions About Ice Scrapers, 529 Changes, Freecycle, and More!

Questions About Ice Scrapers, 529 Changes, Freecycle, 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. Money slipping through the cracks 2. Car window ice removal advice 3. Freecycle question 4. Too much …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Overcoming the Whitewashing of Your Past to Improve Your Financial Decisions

It took me a long time – most of a year, in fact – to come to terms with the fact that I spent most of my early professional life making horrible financial decisions and pretty mediocre career decisions. I wasn’t exactly lacking in evidence in either department, to tell the truth. One only had …

How to Invest Small Amounts of Money

My advice to anyone investing a significant amount of money – say, more than $50,000 – is twofold. If you want to be hands-on, buy a rental property. If you want to be hands-off, put it into index funds directly through Vanguard. Unfortunately, that “tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to invest” scenario is …

The Big Impact of Your Little Financial Choices

When a person starts looking at their personal finances and seeking to make changes to improve things, most personal finance books and websites encourage people to look at making big changes right off the bat. Sell off all the stuff in your closet to earn a big pile of money in a weekend. Sell your …

The Inspiration for Success in Everyday Life

In 2005, David Foster Wallace (the author of countless articles and several books, including the wonderful Infinite Jest) gave a commencement speech at Kenyon College. You can read the full speech here, and I encourage you to do so; I read it every few months myself. His speech is about the value and inspiration in …

Categories: Getting Started

The Three Elements of Changing Your Life

When I was a little, my mother made the choice to be a stay-at-home mom. It was not an easy financial decision for my parents and if it were not for my father’s relatively steady job and handful of side businesses to pick up the slack, she would have never been able to do it. …

Categories: Family, Getting Started

Questions About Podcasts, Crossfit, Games, Pets, 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. How to save my raise 2. Cheap starter pantry supplies 3. Handling inherited pets 4. Problems with “free to play” 5. Happiness and frugality 6. Religion …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Our Family’s Seven Favorite Make-Ahead Meals

One of our favorite frugal routines around here is the “make ahead meal.” It often fills our Saturday afternoons. A make ahead meal is a simple concept, really – you just prepare most of a meal in advance, freeze it just prior to the point where you would put it in the oven, and then …

Categories: Frugality

Some Thoughts on Currency

Recently, I came across this great article about Nicola Piccola, a person who went to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to help out with rebuilding and wound up moving there. Today, he lives in New Orleans and works for the New Orleans Food and Farm Network for a very low wage, meaning that he has …

Categories: Getting Started

How to Handle Post-Holiday Debt

For most of us, the holiday season is a few weeks into the past. We have some happy memories, but the joy of the holidays is already long gone as we start a new year and move through the rest of the winter season. In many mailboxes, bills from the countless expenses of the holiday …

How to Take Advantage of $2 Gas

During most of the time I’ve been writing for The Simple Dollar, gas prices have stayed somewhere well north of $3 per gallon, jumping regularly to levels as high as $4 per gallon locally and approaching $5 per gallon at various places in the United States. That’s an expense that really adds up. Let’s start …

Categories: Getting Started, Travel

The Most Important Number

The most important number when it comes to personal finance isn’t how much you’re going to need to retire or the current rate of inflation or how well the Dow Jones Industrial Average or the S&P 500 did last year. Those numbers are important in various ways, don’t get me wrong, but they don’t completely …

Categories: Getting Started

Questions About CSAs, Homebrewing, Toxins, Sandwich Presses, 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. Roommates versus money 2. On buying a rental property 3. Does homebrewing save money? 4. Best single piece of advice? 5. Joining a CSA 6. Keeping …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

How to Build Accountability for Your Financial Goals

It’s really easy to set a big goal for ourselves that expresses a major change we’d like to make in our lives. My goals are often related to finances, fitness, and learning. Yours could be anything. At the same time, it’s really hard to follow through on those goals for a number of reasons. First …

Categories: Getting Started