Author: Trent Hamm

19 Things a New Homeowner Should Do Immediately to Save Money

So you’ve just moved into your nice new home. You’ve unloaded the boxes and started to unpack your life. Right now is the perfect time to walk through a checklist of ways to save money on your home for years to come. Starting on these things as early as possible will allow you to start …

When Living for the Moment Gets in the Way of Living

A few weeks ago, I was absolutely struck by this article from The Atlantic, which talks about Sarah Manguso’s recent book “Ongoingness: The End of a Diary.” Manguso’s book focuses on her personal history of keeping a diary/journal, something I’m very familiar with personally. Her perspective on keeping a diary full of events was, at …

Beating Your Pace

I love spending time outdoors in the spring. In fact, it’s a constant push and pull this time of year as I balance the need to write and the desire to get out there and walk and jog. One of my favorite things to do is go on a three mile walk/jog out of my …

Categories: Getting Started

A Basic Guide to an Inexpensive and Incredibly Fun Family Camping Vacation

This summer, my family and I are going to be camping in northern Wisconsin for several days. We plan on camping at two different locations during the trip so that we get a chance to see and enjoy two completely different areas. Small camping trips are a staple of our summer – we usually camp …

102 Things to Do on a Money-Free Weekend

Some time ago, I offered up the idea of the money-free weekend: For the last few months, my wife and I have been doing something every other weekend or so that we call a “money-free” weekend, in an effort to live more frugally. It’s actually quite fun – here’s how we do it. We’re not allowed to …

Setting Attainable and Exciting Financial Goals

When I look back at my personal finance progress, I’m most proud of the long-term success. The changes that have happened in my life over the last several years have been absolutely incredible, and I feel a strong sense of personal pride when I think about it. Here’s the kicker, though: if I flip the …

Starting Over Again at Age Eighteen

As I write this, I’m thirty six years old. My eighteen year old self existed literally half a lifetime ago. That’s scary to think about, that the person I was during my final year in high school, looking forward to a future education and eventually a great job and all of the dreams that I …

Categories: Getting Started

Questions About Guitar Lessons, 211, Convenience Foods, 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. 211 2. Strategies for fast mortgage payoff 3. Breaking convenience food routines 4. Justin Guitar 5. Perspective 6. Storing food staples 7. Haggling in big box …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

10 Apps I Use Every Day to Help My Productivity

For me, every day is filled with personal and professional tasks that require the use of a computer and/or a smartphone. I have articles to write. I have emails to send. I have research to do. I have a book draft to work on. I have images to edit. I have videos to edit. I …

ALDI, Fareway, and the Value of Discount Grocery Stores

Recently, I came across a great article about ALDI in Forbes Magazine. For those unfamiliar, ALDI is a discount retailer in the eastern half of the United States (and in Germany) that focuses almost entirely on having the lowest prices on its merchandise. One method ALDI uses is relying entirely on store-brand products – you’re hard-pressed …

Categories: Shopping

The $64,000 Question

A few weeks ago, I was at a fundraiser for my children’s school when I struck up a conversation with a friend, who then introduced me to a third person that I didn’t know before. We chatted a bit and then he learned that I wrote The Simple Dollar, so the conversation turned to the …

Categories: Getting Started

A Look at the Average American Budget – and How the Average American Can Start Saving More

Recently, I saw this infographic about the average American budget in 2013 and it left me thinking about the stories people tell about their money. It’s no secret that many people live paycheck to paycheck. 76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, which definitely includes a lot of people earning both more and less than …

Categories: Getting Started

Some Thoughts About Living on $29 a Week for Food

Recently, I heard a news story about the Food Bank NYC Challenge, which challenges people to live on $1.38 per person per meal, or $29 per person per week, for food. Although the politics of this challenge are interesting (it’s always compelling when people have a chance to understand, at least a little bit, how …

Categories: Frugality, Meals

Questions About The Career Game, Virtual Assistants, Rust, Life Insurance, 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. Very low interest debt 2. Family white board 3. Loaning money to a friend 4. Virtual assistant 5. Dividend stocks or not? 6. A little rust …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Money and Time Are One and the Same (and Seven Other Unusual Personal Finance Ideas I Use in My Life)

Over the years, I’ve tried many, many different approaches to my own finances. I’ve read countless books, done countless calculations, and tried countless frugal tactics. Again and again, I’ve found myself coming back to a set of core ideas that always work for me. Some of them are pretty commonplace, like spending less than you …

Categories: Getting Started

The Cost of Feeling Secure vs. Feeling Stressed

Sarah and I have a large emergency fund by almost any standards. If everything collapsed, we could live for more than a year simply on our cash reserves without touching any of our other investments. That’s a huge emergency fund. So, why do we have such a big fund? Why not invest some of that …

Categories: Getting Started

How to Get Started with Eight Great Frugal Hobbies

Let’s be honest: I don’t have a whole lot of spare time. Between my writing and other professional responsibilities, being a good father, being a good husband, being a homeowner, and living up to my various community responsibilities, there are times where it feels like I have very little time left over for hobbies and …

Categories: Home and Life

How to Live on Last Month’s Income

For a long while, I’ve been an advocate of You Need a Budget, which is a software package and philosophy that I use for budgeting. I’ve used it for years. The core idea behind You Need a Budget is represented in these four rules: Rule One: Give Every Dollar a Job Rule Two: Save for …

Categories: Saving Money

Rising from the Absolute Bottom

Daniel writes in: I have been a reader of The Simple Dollar for several years. I am writing to you for the first time today because I really need your help and I do not know what to do next. In the last eighteen months, I have lost my job and I have not been …

Categories: Getting Started

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