Getting Started

Triggering the Spark of Financial Independence and Frugality

Kayla writes in: I’ve never really understood how you could suddenly make the switch from way overspending to actually living on just one of your two incomes and saving half of your income. How does that even happen? As I thought about Kayla’s question, I started writing a list of things that I felt played …

Living Lean Without Being an Outcast

It’s not exactly a secret that the “spend less than you earn” strategy is a little different than how the average American lives their lives. As I’ve quoted many times on The Simple Dollar, 76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Simply by adopting a “spend less than you earn” mindset and sticking with it …

Categories: Getting Started

Eight Strategies for Buying Clothes Without Destroying Your Budget

At our house, I’m the lucky one. I work from home so it doesn’t really matter too much what I wear most days, so I dress for comfort. Almost every day, you’ll find me in blue jeans and a t-shirt. I have some nicer clothes for social occasions and presentations, but those mostly just stay …

How to Become Your Own Life Coach with Fourteen Simple Strategies

Over the last few weeks, several readers have written to me asking about the value of hiring a life coach. Usually, these people are struggling with a major life decision or finding it hard to break free of a steady grind that they wish to escape. Life coaches can be incredibly useful if you find …

Categories: Getting Started

Our Path to Living Off Our Own Investments

The big financial goal that Sarah and I have in front of us is to reach a point where we can live off of the proceeds of our investments, allowing us to walk away from work. In essence, that’s what retirement is. Between Social Security (which one can see as an investment built up over …

Stuff Won’t Fill the Hole in Your Life

It’s a weird connection on the surface. The more time I spend reading, the fewer books I buy or even think about buying. The more time I spend actually playing games, the fewer games I buy or even think about buying. This phenomenon repeats itself over and over again. When I pay more attention to …

Categories: Getting Started

How to Stop Making Excuses for Bad Financial Choices

Each year, I go to Gencon, a tabletop gaming convention in Indianapolis held every August. Among the major events are two that make it very tempting to open my wallet: a “dealer hall” where various game manufacturers show off their latest wares and an auction house where unusual items are auctioned off to the highest …

Ten Strategies for Staying Motivated Toward Your Financial (and Other) Goals

Goal-setting plays a pretty major role in my life. Over the last several years, setting and sticking with goals eliminated all of our debts, bought a home, and enabled a career switch – and those are just the financial goals. At the same time, I’ve failed at more goals than I’ve ever achieved. I’ve tried …

Ten Steps To Turn Financial Disaster Into Financial Independence

Last year, I was invited to contribute to a collaborative book on personal improvement. Each contributor – there were ten or so of us – was charged with writing a section on one aspect of self-improvement. Mine, naturally, was personal finance, so I started to write a ten step guide to turning one’s financial situation …

Categories: Getting Started

Figuring Out What’s Essential

One of my core principles of personal finance is that you should cut back in the areas that you don’t find very important so that you can preserve spending in areas that are important. That’s a great philosophy to have when you’re on the road to financial recovery or when things are going well, but …

Categories: Getting Started

The Spending That Makes You Happy

I love buying a new book. To me, a book represents many hours of getting lost in a story or learning about something new. It’s a portal to another place and having a number of books just waiting to be read when I have time for them makes me happy. I also love opening, learning, …

Categories: Getting Started

Thirteen Strategies for Financial Independence Through Self-Sufficiency

My primary financial goal is what I call financial independence. Though financial independence can have a number of meanings, I define it as being a state in which I no longer have to actively work for money and my savings and investments cover all of my needs and reasonable wants for the long-term future. In …

Categories: Getting Started

The Money Fog

I’m not thinking about my retirement savings. I’m not thinking about my debts. They’re lost in the fog right now. All I can think about is that I want a meal at that fancy restaurant or that I really want an iPhone. That’s what I see around me, with everything else greyed out and not …

Wasted Time and Your Real Hourly Wage

One of my favorite personal finance concepts is that of the “real hourly wage.” It was an idea I picked up from Your Money or Your Life and it’s well worth understanding, so let’s walk through it again before we move on. Your Real Hourly Wage Most of us can easily calculate our hourly wage. …

Categories: Getting Started

Eleven Things I Wish I Understood About Personal Finance Before Starting Out

Not too many years ago, I was a fresh college graduate who was lucky enough to get a job straight out of college during the 2001-2002 economic downturn. I was also primed to make a whole bunch of financial mistakes that, frankly, still negatively affect my life a decade later and will likely have ramifications …

Categories: Getting Started

20 Smart Things to Do with $20

I tend to have a surprising amount of luck simply finding money on the ground. I’ve found quarters, dollar bills, fives, and even twenties on a surprisingly regular basis, just sticking out of gutters or half-buried under leaves. Part of the reason is that, thanks to a lot of time spent hunting for morel mushrooms …

Categories: Getting Started

From the Scarcity Mindset to the Abundance Mindset

Four years ago, I wrote a very brief article on the idea of scarcity and abundance mindsets. At the time, it was an idea that was pretty fresh in my head, and so I didn’t yet have the opportunity to really cover it with any depth. Instead, it became an idea that I regularly referred …

Moments of Change

One of my favorite posts I’ve ever written for The Simple Dollar was called “The Longest Night.” In it, I discussed the day that I hit financial bottom. It was an afternoon in April 2006. As I sat down to pay some bills, I looked at the balance of our checking account and realized that …

Categories: Getting Started

It’s Not About the Money

There was a time when I was absolutely obsessed with keeping track of my money. I checked all of my account balances daily. I recalculated my net worth on a weekly basis. I meticulously tracked every single expense. I didn’t want to miss out on a dime. Over time, I mellowed out on this type …

Categories: Getting Started