Getting Started

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

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

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

Some Thoughts on Procrastination

During the year or so before I reached my ultimate financial bottom, I had this faint sense in the back of my head that I needed to make some financial changes in my life. I knew that I needed to start doing things differently or else I would never build the life that I wanted. …

Categories: Getting Started

Handling Jealousy of Other People’s Affluence

Amanda wrote in with a great question for the reader mailbag via my Facebook page and, as is sometimes the case, my answer grew to such a great length that I decided it deserved a post on its own. Here’s her question: I work at a place with a lot of affluent families. We are …

Categories: Getting Started

‘Freedom’ Money

I recently saw the film The Gambler, and one scene stood out at me, where John Goodman’s character describes his financial philosophy to the main character, played by Mark Wahlberg. Here’s that scene, but beware, the language here is very rough and very not safe for work. Here’s the idea Goodman’s character presented, reworded into …

The Single Most Important Thing You Can Master for Financial, Personal, and Professional Success

Yesterday, I addressed a great reader mailbag question from a parent who was worried about their 11th grade child being ready for college. I’m going to share the question (in bold) and the first part of my answer (in italics) below, because it forms a starting point for this discussion. Our son is a high …

50 Small Businesses You Can Start on Your Own

In the past, I’ve discussed how it’s a good idea to spend your spare time dabbling in entrepreneurship: It fills your time with something that you choose (and thus you enjoy) and sets up a potential long-term revenue stream. I also discussed how I got a side business going myself. But that was 2007, and …

Where Do Investment Returns Come From?

The whole point of investing is to give yourself the possibility of earning better returns than you can get from a savings account. If you can find a way to make your money work just a little bit harder for you, maybe you can reach those long-term goals a little bit sooner. But where do …

Handling Unhappiness Without Breaking the Bank

Most of the time, I’m pretty happy with my life. I have a great wife and wonderful children. I have a burgeoning social network and plenty of hobbies that fulfill me. I like the area where I live. I’m pretty happy in most regards. Still, there are times where some aspect of my life will …

Categories: Getting Started

Know What to Ignore

Before we even get started, I wanted to note that this article is about your money, but we need to take a little journey into the realm of productivity first. So, just bear with me a little bit. Recently, I had the pleasure of reading Ed Batista’s excellent article on productivity in Harvard Business Review. …

Categories: Getting Started

Some Thoughts on Water Consumption

One thing all of us consume all of the time is water, whether it comes from the tap, flows out of the shower head, gets flushed straight down the toilet, or is cycled through our washing machine or dishwasher. That water has a real cost. In my town, for example, there is a charge of …

The Giant Free Project List

Spring cleaning is one of my favorite tasks of the year. It gives us a chance to freshen up our home after a long Midwestern winter. However, the part that I enjoy the most is simply going through all of the stuff we own. The boxes in the garage rafters. The items stowed away in …

Categories: Getting Started

Eight Strategies for Reducing Financial Dependence

One of the biggest themes that I write about here on The Simple Dollar is the concept of financial independence. I define financial independence as being the state in which you can live off of your passive income, usually in the form of investments that pay out over time such as dividend-generating stocks. As with …

Categories: Getting Started

Life Lessons From a Funeral Home

As a child, it was hard for me to envision what my future would look like. I’m sure I considered being a teacher once, and pondered possibilities of a future as a dancer, veterinarian, chef, and astronaut through the years. So I’m sure you can imagine how surprised I was to find myself working in …

10 More Daily Habits of Frugal People

The other day, I came across a really good article at Eat Local Grown entitled “Ten Daily Habits of Frugal People.” Here’s that list: 1. Frugal people use everything right to the last drop. 2. Frugal people like to stay home. 3. Frugal people don’t spoil their children. 4. Frugal people have productive hobbies. 5. …

Frugality and Trust

It may be surprising, but I’ve found over and over again during the last several years that one of the most important elements of frugality in my life is trust. The simple act of building up trusting relationships with people in my life, then relying on those trusting relationships, has made a tremendous difference. Yes, …

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