Getting Started

What’s Your Money Personality?

How sharp are your financial instincts? Do you boast a banker’s savvy sense for cents, or is your freewheeling financial style more care-free than careful? Take our quiz to discover your money personality: Powered by Interact How to Make Saving a Habit Developing good money habits can help make successful finance choices become second-nature. And ditching bad habits …

Some Thoughts on the ‘American Dream’

One of the ideals that was taught to me as a child is best expressed today as the “American dream,” that every American should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative. It’s a great, flowery idea, but what does it actually mean? Let’s start with prosperity. It’s …

Categories: Getting Started

Running on the Hedonic Treadmill

One of the weirdest phenomena I have ever experienced is when I realized that I get more pleasure out of going to, say, a bookstore once a month than I get out of going to that same bookstore every day. It sounds really weird and counterintuitive, but it’s true. Whenever I go into a bookstore, …

Categories: Getting Started

40 Free (or Extremely Low-Cost) Things I Genuinely Enjoy Doing – and You Might, Too

A reader recently “called me out” via Facebook: I don’t really buy your claim that there are more “free” things to do than you have time to do for the rest of your life. It’s a claim that I make pretty regularly, and I’ll say it again here. There are more free (or extremely inexpensive) …

How to Save Money on College Textbooks

Over the last few days, I’ve heard from a handful of college students that are facing the start of their fall semester in college and are looking for smart strategies for trimming their expenses when it comes to textbooks. Here’s an example message from Jen: I just priced out my books for fall semester and …

Back to Basics

I am often asked what kind of personal finance lessons I’m teaching my children. I think many people hope that because I’m a personal finance writer who churns out tens of thousands of words a week on personal finance topics, I’ll magically have some special insight that will teach their children how to be financially …

Categories: Getting Started

Anchor Prices and You

Lately, I’ve been thinking about sales and sale prices because of an epiphany I had in a store recently. Sarah and I were shopping for birthday gifts for our daughter. One item that she wanted was colorful earbuds, which seemed like a reasonable gift idea. While we were looking at the display, we noticed that …

The Receipt Cycle: How to Keep Tabs on Your Spending and Tax Deductions All at Once

Back in March, I sat down to file my family’s income taxes, both federal and state. Part of that process is taking a serious look at my expenditures throughout the year and figuring out which ones are actually tax deductible. Now, I have a lot of expenses that are tax deductible. I have computer equipment …

Categories: Getting Started, Taxes

15 Financial Mistakes I’ve Made and the Better Solutions I’ve Figured Out Since Then

I’ve made a lot of financial mistakes over the years – some obvious, some not so much. If I’ve learned anything, though, it’s that the mistakes you make yesterday do not define you today. Every single day is a new day, a day in which you can fix your bad habits and work to right …

Categories: Getting Started

Build Things That People Want

One of the best parts of building The Simple Dollar came during the periods when I actually took a break from managing the site. I wrote a bunch of material in advance, locked everything down, and essentially took a break from managing the site for a while. During those down periods, the income from the …

If You Want Different Results, You Have to Try Different Approaches

Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” While I don’t view that choice as insane, I do see it as a common trap that most of us fall into during our lives. Why? We’re humans. Human beings are …

10 Money Lessons Learned the Hard Way

The Internet offers a treasure trove of practical advice for managing your finances. With the click of a mouse, you can find information any personal finance topic that piques your interest – from budgeting and investing to the big decisions in life, like what to consider when you buy your first car or home. Beyond the …

Categories: Getting Started

Eight Personal Finance Truths for Your Annoying Facebook Friends

Like a lot of people, I use Facebook primarily as a tool to keep up with the comings and goings of distant friends all in one convenient place. I also use it to participate in a few closed special interest groups and community-oriented groups. One of the biggest frustrations that I find when using Facebook …

Categories: Getting Started

‘You Shouldn’t Go Through Life Worrying About Money. It’s Not Healthy.’

Not too long ago, I was having a conversation with an old friend about life, the universe, and everything. We talked about career choices, our recent and upcoming travels, our families, and many other topics. At one point, when the conversation briefly touched on money issues, I made an offhand comment about how my hope …

How a Proactive Bucket List Can Change Your Life

A few years ago, I wrote an article about “bucket lists” and shared my own. Rather than just reiterating my explanation of what a bucket list is and what my idea of a bucket list was at the time, I’ll just quote from the first part of that article: A while back, I watched part …

The Rich Man, the Average Budget, and You

One of the biggest struggles I had during my teen and early adult years was feeling jealous of people who had extreme amounts of wealth. One particular memory that’s seared into my mind comes from when I was about 17 years old. I was visiting the factory where my father worked on an open house day …

Categories: Getting Started

Eight Things to Think About Before You Get Married

One of the most upsetting and painful arguments that my wife and I ever had came a few months before we got married. We had been dating for six years at that point and had been planning our marriage for more than a year. I was fairly apprehensive about getting married. I had been thinking …

Why Choose to Be a Prisoner to an Expensive Home?

When Elle Décor ran the essay, “I Made a Huge Sacrifice to Buy My Dream Home” by Sarah Scott a few weeks ago, they couldn’t have anticipated the firestorm that followed. Where many people sacrifice financially to buy a home, and especially their dream home, Scott’s apparent sacrifice ran much deeper – so deep, in …

The Money Onion: Peeling Back the Layers of Personal Finance Success

One of the most interesting things I’ve found over the years of working on The Simple Dollar, charting my own financial progress and changes, and talking with countless readers is that personal finance is a lot like an onion. An onion? Yep. It’s like an onion in that it’s made up of a bunch of …

Become a subscriber of The Simple Dollar and get a free copy of Trent's e-book today plus exclusive updates.