Getting Started

Twelve Inexpensive Strategies for Saving on Medical Costs and Improving Your Family’s Health

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the average American incurs $9,807.50 in medical expenses each year. Let me repeat that: according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the average American incurs $9,807.50 in medical expenses each year. That is an extremely heavy financial burden for anyone. While it’s obviously not …

Categories: Getting Started, Health

Spend Less? Earn More? Which Is the Best Path?

Pretty much everyone who writes anything about personal finance will agree that the best way to get ahead financially is to increase the difference between what you earn and what you spend. There are, of course, two major ways to make that happen. You can either earn more or you can spend less. No matter …

The Emotional Cycle of Change

As many of you know, I had a bit of a financial epiphany in April 2006. I came home from work one day, picked up the mail, and sat down to pay our bills, only to realize that we didn’t have enough in our checking account to pay all of those bills. Because neither of …

Personal Finance Data and Meaningful Decisions

A few months ago, I read a great article by Bill Barnwell of Grantland.com entitled Bridging the Analytics Gap. First, some background. Over the past fifteen years or so, there’s been a huge shift in how sports are analyzed. The amount of data collected on sporting events has grown exponentially and professional sports teams have …

Categories: Getting Started

The Six Pillars of a Strong Personal Finance Foundation

Just last week, I shared my list of fifteen essential personal finance and career books (if you haven’t checked out that list, I highly recommend it). Each of those books has proven to be an inspiration to me in one way or another, but one book stands out because of how the ideas were presented. …

Categories: Getting Started

Tactics, Strategy, and Money

I love playing tabletop games – board games, card games, role playing games, pretty much anything like that. Ever since I was a little kid playing Acquire at my aunt’s house, I’ve loved sitting down at the table with other people and playing a game together. You’ll find me playing games with friends many weeknights …

Categories: Getting Started

Setting Powerful Short-Term Personal Finance Challenges … And 25 Examples to Get You Started

Much of our day-to-day lives has personal finance implications. We’re constantly making choices that either directly spend money or use up resources that are going to have to be replaced. When we eat, we shop, we go to work – all of those things, and many many more, have financial impact. At the same time, …

Categories: Getting Started

Reached Your Financial Limit? Fourteen Key Steps To Turn Your Finances Around

One of the interesting parts of running a popular website like The Simple Dollar is that you get to see the terms that people type into Google when they’re searching for your site. So, if someone types “money management” into Google and then eventually click on my site somewhere in the results for that term, …

Categories: Getting Started

Building a Meaningful Life from the Bottom Up

One of the biggest struggles of modern life is the search for meaning and purpose. Most of the time, we go through our day-to-day lives just accomplishing the things we need to get done and relishing the spare time that’s left over. It can feel a lot like jogging on a treadmill, where life is …

Are “Rural Opportunity Zones” a Good Deal?

Shelley writes in: My husband and I have been considering moving to the Great Plains in order to enjoy smaller town life and much lower cost of living. I have been reading about Rural Opportunity Zones in Kansas and I am wondering what you think of them. Rural Opportunity Zones are just that – rural …

The Free and the Priceless

What is the financial value of a hug from one of your children? You might scoff at this question or think that it’s somehow foolish, but I’m serious. What is a hug from one of your children worth? Five dollars? Ten dollars? Thousands? Nothing? It probably has a lot to do with your own internal …

The Addiction of Momentary Pleasure and Seeking the Peak

I really enjoy a big gulp of orange juice. That mix of tartness and sweetness across my tongue is just sublime. I relish the feeling I get from pulling the plastic off of a new board game and popping out all of the pieces. The smell, the sound, and the tactile feeling all bring me …

When You Blame Them, You’re Just Making Excuses

Them. It’s easy to blame them. If it wasn’t for them, I would have a good job. I would have a publishing contract. I would have more money. I would have that promotion. If it wasn’t for them, I would have the life I dream of. Here’s the truth: whenever you waste a second of …

Categories: Getting Started

How Much Time Do You Invest in Your Job?

When I first started The Simple Dollar, I was employed full time in a research environment. My job mostly involved handling and sharing significant quantities of data – I did a bit of data mining and a lot of software development, among other things. One of the first big realizations I made during the process …

When You Repeatedly Fail at Financial Change

During 2004, 2005, and early 2006, I made a lot of feeble attempts at turning our finances around. I’d make these little commitments to myself to stop spending so much money or to start paying off credit cards. It never took very long before those commitments fell apart and, before long, I didn’t even really …

Categories: Getting Started

The Small Windfall

Every once in a while, I’ll get a big windfall. For example, not too long ago, one of my books was reprinted in Korean and I received a surprisingly nice advance from that, almost completely out of the blue. When I get a nice windfall like that, I usually do smart things with it. I …

Categories: Getting Started

Where Will You Be If Nothing Changes?

Quite often, I encourage people to visualize their future in five years or ten years. I usually suggest that people try to visualize their perfect future so that they have a goal to work towards. However, some people don’t thrive on looking forward at a goal. Instead of running toward something, they make more progress …

Categories: Getting Started

The Pictures

Yesterday morning, I played a fun little game with my two oldest children. I think one of them picked it up at school. It’s a simple game, really. You start off by writing a very simple sentence of the form [adjective] [noun] [verb] [noun]. So, for example, you might write “The big dog chews on …

Categories: Getting Started

There Is No “Magic Bullet”

Whenever I face a problem in my life, I want to solve it. Now. The sooner the better. When Sarah and I first started to face up to our financial troubles in 2006, I wanted a solution. Now. The sooner the better. I went to the library and checked out a mountain of books. I …

Categories: Getting Started