Getting Started

Why Your Budget Needs a Buffer

When my husband and I discovered zero-sum budgeting several years ago, we knew we were onto something. Because of the way zero-sum budgeting works, it required us to account for every dollar we made on paper – to give each dollar a job. For us, that meant scrutinizing every cent of our spending and figuring …

How to Invest Small Amounts of Money

My advice to anyone investing a significant amount of money – say, more than $50,000 – is twofold. If you want to be hands-on, buy a rental property. If you want to be hands-off, put it into index funds directly through Vanguard. Unfortunately, that “tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to invest” scenario is …

The Big Impact of Your Little Financial Choices

When a person starts looking at their personal finances and seeking to make changes to improve things, most personal finance books and websites encourage people to look at making big changes right off the bat. Sell off all the stuff in your closet to earn a big pile of money in a weekend. Sell your …

The Inspiration for Success in Everyday Life

In 2005, David Foster Wallace (the author of countless articles and several books, including the wonderful Infinite Jest) gave a commencement speech at Kenyon College. You can read the full speech here, and I encourage you to do so; I read it every few months myself. His speech is about the value and inspiration in …

Categories: Getting Started

The Three Elements of Changing Your Life

When I was a little, my mother made the choice to be a stay-at-home mom. It was not an easy financial decision for my parents and if it were not for my father’s relatively steady job and handful of side businesses to pick up the slack, she would have never been able to do it. …

Categories: Family, Getting Started

Some Thoughts on Currency

Recently, I came across this great article about Nicola Piccola, a person who went to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to help out with rebuilding and wound up moving there. Today, he lives in New Orleans and works for the New Orleans Food and Farm Network for a very low wage, meaning that he has …

Categories: Getting Started

How to Take Advantage of $2 Gas

During most of the time I’ve been writing for The Simple Dollar, gas prices have stayed somewhere well north of $3 per gallon, jumping regularly to levels as high as $4 per gallon locally and approaching $5 per gallon at various places in the United States. That’s an expense that really adds up. Let’s start …

Categories: Getting Started, Travel

The Most Important Number

The most important number when it comes to personal finance isn’t how much you’re going to need to retire or the current rate of inflation or how well the Dow Jones Industrial Average or the S&P 500 did last year. Those numbers are important in various ways, don’t get me wrong, but they don’t completely …

Categories: Getting Started

How to Build Accountability for Your Financial Goals

It’s really easy to set a big goal for ourselves that expresses a major change we’d like to make in our lives. My goals are often related to finances, fitness, and learning. Yours could be anything. At the same time, it’s really hard to follow through on those goals for a number of reasons. First …

Categories: Getting Started

Investment from the Inside Out

When we talk about investments on a personal finance site, we’re usually discussing things that you can buy for a certain amount of money that will, in theory, provide a return on that money. Stocks, bonds, real estate, porkbelly futures – you get the idea. Such investments are a valuable thing to know about, of …

The Tools for Declaring Independence

At first, our big financial goal was simply a matter of escaping a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle. After that, it was getting rid of all of our credit card debt. After that, it was buying a home and then becoming completely free of all debt. Now, our goal is financial independence. In our eyes, financial independence simply …

Your Game Plan for Escaping the Paycheck-to-Paycheck Cycle

Right off the bat, I want to say that I understand that this article won’t appeal to all of my readers. Many of you have escaped this cycle and are rolling along toward financial independence. However, I’m willing to bet that many of you have friends or family that are stuck in this cycle and …

Five Money Mistakes We’ve All Made

It can be hard to admit you’ve made some financial mistakes, especially when those mistakes had embarrassing and expensive consequences. Using myself as an example: Exhibit A: When I was 21, I financed a $25,000 Mitsubishi Galant with no money down. Even worse, I only made around $8 an hour at the time. Exhibit B: …

Inspiration from Serial, George Bernard Shaw, Barns, and More

Once a month (or so), I share a dozen things that have inspired me to greater personal, professional, and financial success in my life. I hope they bring similar success to your life. 1. Carol Dweck on the power of believing you can improve From the description: Carol Dweck researches “growth mindset” — the idea …

Categories: Getting Started

Books With Impact: The Millionaire Next Door

The “Books with Impact” series takes a deeper look at specific books that have had a profound impact on my financial, professional, and personal growth by extracting specific points of advice from those books and looking at how I’ve applied them in my life with successful results. The previous entry in this series covered Voluntary …

Categories: Getting Started

A Look at My 2015 Resolutions

At the end of a year, I like to look back on the year that’s gone by, both in terms of my achievements and failures. What good things have I done? What things have I left undone? How can I make the coming year better than the previous one? Often, these end up taking the …

The Secrets Behind Successful Budgeting

Budgeting is one of the trickier issues of personal finance. It can be very tricky to make a budget work for you. For starters, you don’t need a budget to be financially successful. I like to compare a budget to a power screwdriver. You can definitely get that screw into the wall without that power …

The Truth About Your Future Self

In the moment where you simply want something, it’s really tempting to find justifications for it, and one of the easiest justifications is to simply say that your “future self” will pay for it. You can use a credit card, after all, or some kind of payment plan. The actual payment won’t happen today or …

Categories: Getting Started

Why We Strive to Be Financially Responsible

When this article appears on The Simple Dollar for the first time, many readers will be celebrating Christmas morning, hopefully surrounded by family and friends. I hope to be doing the same exact thing with my own family. For me, the Christmas season is also a time for reflection. It’s such a unique opportunity during …

Categories: Getting Started

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