Getting Started

20 Reasons Why You Need an Emergency Fund

If you don’t think you need an emergency fund, think again. No matter how financially prepared you are, life has a way of throwing curve balls that you never expect. Those “unexpected expenses” are the reason many financial professionals suggest keeping three to six months of expenses tucked away in a savings account or investment …

PANIC MODE! Why It’s Dangerous and How to Avoid It

In 2006, I realized that I couldn’t pay my bills any more. I did the math and I realized that we just didn’t have the cash to go around. Sure, I did the smart thing and started reading and planning, but I also panicked a bit. I dove into cleaning out my closet and selling …

Categories: Getting Started

Six Money Messes to Clean Up Before Your 30s

For both my husband and me, reaching our mid-20s seemed like a huge “adult milestone.” For the first time in our lives, we had “real jobs” – the kind with a 401(k) match, health insurance, and paid time off. Plus, we had purchased our first home, took out a loan for an upgraded car, and …

Categories: Getting Started

A Romantic Reality

Donald Liebenson wrote an interesting article at Business Insider entitled “Most people aging out of the workforce consider retirement ‘a romantic fantasy of the past.’” Retirement. “A romantic fantasy of the past.” The article focuses on an Allianz Life study of 1,000 Baby Boomers (people aged 49 to 67) and 1,000 Generation Xers (ages 35-48). …

Why We’ve Given Up on Coupons

About a week ago, my parents came to visit us for a few days. During the visit, my mother gave Sarah and I an envelope full of coupons she had clipped for products she thought that we bought but that she herself didn’t use. As Sarah leafed through the coupons, I began to realize something …

Deep Thinking: 14 Books That Will Change Your Perspective on Work, Life, and Money

It’s a story I’ve told quite often. When I first realized the extent of my personal finance troubles several years ago, my first reaction was to go to the library and grab a giant pile of personal finance books. Some of those books were utterly forgettable. Others offered really good practical advice. One of those …

The Broken Rules of Mass Media – and Better Ones to Live By

Almost every time I turn on my television or go to the website of a cable news network, I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated by the things that pass for “news” that are mostly just commercials, like breathless announcements of the latest product from Apple or the latest car models or the latest antics of some reality …

What Do I Need to Open a Bank Account?

If you’re wondering how to open a bank account, take heart: It’s a fairly painless process if you know what you need, what kind of account you want, and what kind of obstacles you could face along the way. And if you’re still on the fence about whether you need a bank account, we’ll tackle …

Six Simple Changes to Your Grocery Routine That Can Save You a Lot of Money

As I’ve alluded to a few times recently, a Fareway just opened in the small town in which my family lives (for those unfamiliar, Fareway is a discount grocer). The new store is close enough that I can easily walk or bicycle there, as the round trip is just a little over a mile. Prior …

Passions, Obsessions, Time, and Money

Recently, I listened to episode #161 of the Pen Addict podcast, which featured a long discussion on the topic of buying with intention. For those unfamiliar with the Pen Addict, it’s a podcast about pens and notebooks, a topic of which I have some degree of interest. The hosts and the guest on that episode …

Frugality and Self-Confidence

One thing I often do when I’m looking for inspiration or new angles for The Simple Dollar is simply go back and read my journals and other writing from before my financial turnaround. Honestly, that stuff is often fairly painful to read. I can just see the huge financial mistakes I’m making, whether I discuss …

How to Live a Rich Modern Life Without Debt

My single biggest regret in my adult life is that I used debt to finance my life choices after college. That’s about as simple as I can make it. Debt was a huge mistake. I used that debt to get a nice car… which I no longer own. I used that debt to buy a …

Categories: Getting Started

The Illusion of ‘Winners’ and ‘Losers’ When Buying Stuff

Back in my “big spending” days, one of the most powerful ideas that constantly ran through my head was the idea that if someone else had something that I coveted, they were somehow the “winner” and I was somehow the “loser,” and the only way I could also be a winner was to try to …

Turning Three Big Financial Projects from Plan into Action

A few days ago, I wrote an article on becoming a “doer” instead of a “planner.” Many of us are very good at making plans for changing our life, but we’re not as good at actually executing those changes. A big part of the strategy I offer in that article is clearly defining things to …

Great at Planning, Terrible at Executing: 10 Strategies for Becoming a Doer

Most people are pretty good at coming up with ideas for the future, and many of us are pretty good at developing plans to achieve those things. I know I certainly am. If you were to take a look at my pocket notebook, many of the things in there are ideas for things I want …

Half of Americans Can’t Handle a Small Emergency. Here’s What to Do If You’re in That Group.

I was stunned earlier this week to read in the Report of Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2014 that 47% of Americans would experience significant financial distress – taking out debt or selling something – in order to be able to handle a $400 emergency. The survey that the report was based on, taken …

Categories: Getting Started

Not All Voices Are the Same: 10 Common Personal Finance Disagreements

Spend less than you earn. Pay off your high-interest debts. Save for the future. Many of the tenets of personal finance are essentially common sense. They just work in practically every situation. Still, there are some areas where it’s not nearly as clear cut. Different people will make different arguments when it comes to some …

Categories: Getting Started

Plan Your Day the Smart Way to Minimize Spending

It’s a pretty simple routine. Almost every morning these days, I spend about 10 minutes planning out the specifics of my day. I pull out my calendar and see what I need to do that day, then start filling in the gaps with things I need to do. I’ll assign a few one-hour blocks to writing. …

Some Thoughts on Privileges and Advantages

The other day, I received a note from a reader who informed me that the only reason that my story of financial recovery was even possible was due to my own “privileges.” So, let’s talk about those. I am a white male. I was born to a family that didn’t have very much money at …

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