Getting Started

The Six Pillars of a Strong Personal Finance Foundation

Just last week, I shared my list of fifteen essential books to build a strong personal finance foundation and career (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 …

Categories: Getting Started

Financial Management: 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 Finanacial Goals Using Short-Term Challenges

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 Immediate Gratification

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 I Dropped My Excuses, I Found My Results

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

Building a Better Day

On Tuesday, I woke up, got the kids ready for school, spread organic fertilizer over our back yard, got in contact with a local Congressional campaign about volunteering for them, spent two hours at the library doing research, wrote three articles, read a few chapters of a challenging book, played with my children for a …

How Does “Pay Yourself First” or “Bank on Yourself” Really Work?

I often see and hear ads for programs that involve the ideas of “banking on yourself” or “paying yourself first.” They’re pretty prevalent on talk radio and you’ll sometimes see ads for programs like these in the newspaper or in the back of financial magazines. The claims made in the ads seem extraordinary. Many of …

Does Consumption Smoothing Really Work?

Several weeks ago, a reader suggested that I listen to the latest episode of the wonderful Freakonomics podcast. If you have a chance, I highly suggest listening to it – while I don’t always agree with the conclusions, I find most of the topics discussed to be really entertaining and often thought-provoking. Since then, I’ve …

Categories: Getting Started

The Single Most Important Financial Skill

Investing? Frugality? Entrepreneurship? The most valuable personal finance skill, in my opinion, lies under all of these things. It seems incredibly simple, but it’s also incredibly difficult to master. It’s simply control over your emotions and desires. Control over your emotions and desires keeps you from buying things just because you want them in the …