Business Card Doodles

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Perhaps the most well-known post in the history of The Simple Dollar is Everything You Ever Really Needed to Know About Personal Finance on the Back of Five Business Cards. That article was borne out of my attempt to summarize my views on personal finance down to five small illustrations – and it was a big hit.

Whenever I go to meetings, I tend to wind up with lots of business cards. Most of those business cards come from people that are just trying to hand cards to everyone – and I have no interest in contacting those people, ever. Instead of chucking them, though, I usually save them in a pocket in my laptop bag, and I’ll often pull them out when there’s an opportunity to doodle or an idea comes into my head. The backs of business cards make nice little spots for doodles and short notes, so I take advantage of it.

Sometimes, those doodles are really pointless – swirls and the like. Those cards end up in the trash.

At other times, I’ll jot down a phrase or an idea or a picture that succinctly nails some idea that’s floating around in my head. Those are the cards I hold on to. I stick them back into another pocket in my bag and go through them every once in a while. After years of doing this, I have a big pile of them.

The other day, I was searching through my bag for a computer memory stick when about half of these cards popped out all over a table. A friend of mine was standing there, picked up a few, and leafed through them with a smile on his face. He laughed at the last one, then scooped up a bunch more and browsed through them. I didn’t really mind too much.

After going through all of them, he said, “Some of these are great. You ought to pick out some of the best ones and share them with your readers. Seriously.”

So I’m following up on his suggestion and presenting ten of the business card doodles I particularly like. You’ll notice that some of these relate quite directly to earlier articles on The Simple Dollar – and some are completely out there on their own.

Enjoy. If this is a big hit, I may post another batch someday. If not – well, it was a noble experiment. Big props to Gapingvoid and xkcd, both of which inspire me with their similarly spartan drawings.

Oh, and feel free to print off any of these and do whatever you want with them. If you want, remix them, redraw them – whatever. If they inspire you, that’s all that matters.



I Hate Work.


Don Draper on Nostalgia




More or Less


Microsoft Card Flipside




I’ve Got a Plan






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55 thoughts on “Business Card Doodles

  1. Yes, please do this again. Sometimes short is sweetest. // The lemon tree made me laugh, though I’m not exactly sure what it means in real life!

  2. These are great and made me chuckle. I am going to have to redraw a couple as post-its for my monitor. That’s saying something – I don’t have any post-its on my monitor as a rule but the one about wasting time and money could really help keep me in line at my desk. I work at home too and some days it’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole.

  3. Never throw away stuff you make notes on, is I think the moral of the story. It always comes in handy some time, if only to remind us of how we were thinking that day.

    John DeFlumeri Jr

  4. “When life hands you lemons, get a chainsaw.”

    That is going on the wall over my desk. It may also be my new Facebook quote.

    Excellent post! :-)

    I also like the “I hate work, I hate stupid stuff” one. The sad faces bring it home.

  5. The “I hate work…I hate Stupid Stuff” is by far my favorite. I once had a conversation with my mom about how she wished that she could have back all of the money for the stupid things she has bought over the years. I think she had already been diagnosed with a rare cancer at the time, and was beginning to face her own mortality. It was a lesson she taught me that I will never forget, and something I am trying to teach my two little kids.

    Please do this again!

  6. The one about souls has some interesting philosophical implications. If you’re rich, every individual dollar matters less. Does it affect your less? Does one small purchase really hurt the soul of a poor person?

    Just thoughts :) I LOVE the Jay Z reference!! And the stupid stuff one is perfect.

  7. Great fun Trent, thank you! Pleased to see a few more of these thoughts on cards in future columns. Please don’t throw the cards in the trash when they aren’t keepers, put them through the shredder and recycle or compost the shreds,

  8. When life hands you lemons, don’t plant the seeds.
    Sell the lemons on a blog. Or sell them on eBay.
    Write your blog or wiki on how to grow better crops of a more nutritious produce.
    Never chop down any tree until it’s worthless except for firewood.
    Finally, a thrown lemon leaves bruises and broken noses where a tomato just leaves rotten pulp. Find out who keeps fertilizing the tree and use those lemons for ammunition!
    The two cards on spending are superb.

  9. more/less and diversification were the greatest ones. Amazing post Trent, the visualization of these statements in doodles make for a lasting impression and probably will be instilled in more people rather than reading a long winded post like other blogs do.

  10. LOL–these are classic!

    I’m envisioning another card doodle in 2 frames–one where a smiling figure is buying some gadget/widget, and the next where the unhappy figure is chained to the gadget/widget. “I bought stuff to own stuff, but now the stuff owns me…”

  11. Love the one about having a plan. That is my watch word, both at home and at work. “Okay, what’s our plan?” Friends use that line when they do their Ann imitation. Deciding on a direct almost always moves you forward. Big or small, you have to have a plan.

  12. Love the one about having a plan. That is my watch word, both at home and at work. “Okay, what’s our plan?” Friends use that line when they do their Ann imitation. Deciding on a direction almost always moves you forward. Big or small, you have to have a plan.

  13. Some of these are cute, but the “Dearie” one just bothers me. Spending money is not the equivalent of selling your soul!

    The last one, though, is excellent, except… it looks like the stick figure is having fun there, all squashed by the stock market.

  14. I’m surprised there’s not one with a picture of a sleeping fox catching no poultry. :)

    Like paranoidasteroid, I’m bothered by the “Dearie” one. Money is a tool that you use to get things done. It’s not tied to your soul.

    As for the others: They’re cute, but even the cutest of pithy one-liners tend not to resonate with me, so if there’s a question of making these a regular feature, I’ll vote “no.” I prefer the standard blog posts.

  15. LOVED THIS!!

    The one about working more to pay off stupid stuff is definitely my problem. I love the faces on that one, it reminds me of how I feel after realizing I’ve made a judgement error.

    I second Johanna and request a picture of the sleeping fox catching no poultry :-)

  16. Don Draper…LOL. Did you see the SNL skit with Jon Hamm (who plays Don Draper) explaining how to be a success? Maybe it’s on YouTube. It went something like: “Look incredibly handsome in suits. Look great in casual wear too. Stay thoughtfully quiet most of the time then erupt with unexpectedly pithy insights. Attract women with utter nonchalance and discard them like moldy bread. Never let an opportunity pass or a hair fall out of place. Keep multiple, major secrets without cracking under pressure. When all else fails, be good looking, eerily confident and smolderingly sensual.”

    The Mad Men carousel scene made me teary-eyed from both emotion and admiration for the writers. This week’s episode was another triumph. Watch out for riding mowers! Wouldn’t you love to work in advertising if it weren’t for all the office politics and ethical dilemmas?

    I think the “back o’biz card” quotes are very cool and could morph into a line of greeting cards or gifts. I hear Hallmark steals ideas, so I wouldn’t recommend submitting to them.

    Right now I’m feeling great because I’ve completed a whole four pages of a vampire short story. Gnats have longer attention spans than me, so I’m thrilled and encouraged. Come to think of it, I should be working on that, not polluting your blog space. Ciao!

  17. I see I’m coming in late to the discussion again…but I like them and would like to see more in the future. Not necessarily routine…but maybe for “Sick Days” when you need something to fall back on.

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