• Living on Last Month’s Income

    Will writes in: “During the winter Steam sale I picked up You Need a Budget because I remembered you recommending it a few times. I’ve started using it and it’s pretty good, but I wanted to ask you about their four rules of cash flow especially the one about living on last month’s income. One, …

  • Another Look at Personal Finance and Class Warfare

    A long while back, I wrote an article discussing class warfare and personal finance advice. In short, my conclusion was that you’re making a mistake by mistrusting financial advice from someone just because of an income gap. Financial advice given to someone making $100,000 a year isn’t useless to someone making $25,000 a year because …

  • Do the Hard Things First

    It’s a pretty common principle of time management. When you have a list of tasks to do, choose the one that’s hardest and do that first. That way, you tackle it with the most energy and the freshest mind. What’s interesting is that many well-organized people use this principle quite well in the short term, …

  • Building an Emergency Supply Kit

    Several years ago, I wrote an article on emergency supplies everyone should have in their home. At that time, my list was quite simple – I was new to home ownership and I was focused on the basics. Over the years, my emergency supply kit has grown and grown. It now exists in a few …

  • A Lifetime of Choices

    Once in a Lifetime Stephen writes in: “I am struggling with continuing to save because of the fragility of my life. Both of my parents and my older sister died in their 50s. I turned 50 last year and there are so many things I still want to do in life. Lately, I have been …

  • Some Advice for Investing in Collectibles

    Right now, I have a collection of sports cards and other trading cards that is easily valued at $10,000 – and, depending on how sales went, it could add up to as much as $20,000. In fact, if I had not sold off a large number of my cards when we were first in financial …

  • Building an Electronic Price Book

    When Sarah and I were reassessing our finances, we looked around for as many tips as possible on how to save money. One of the best resources we discovered was The Complete Tightwad Gazette. One of the best suggestions that we found in the book was to use a logical system to determine where the …

  • Shopping and Tunnel Vision

    One feature that Sarah and I have decided to add to our dream home is a “den” of sorts. This den would serve as a game room and a party room of sorts, plus it would be a place to house our board game collection, our book collection, and our remaining movie collection. As I’ve …

  • Parents, Children, and Loans

    I have very few fundamental rules of personal finance that I follow. Spend less than you earn is a big one, but once you get past that, there tend to be exceptions to most rules in life. However, there is one principle that I’ve followed for a long time that has never guided me wrong. …

  • Does the “$4 Per Gallon Savings Plan” Really Work?

    Dana writes in: “I loved your recent article on the 52 week savings plan. I shared it with my friends on Facebook. Lately several of my friends have been sharing a “$4 a gallon savings plan” lately and I was wondering if you could look at this plan too! Thanks!“ Dana’s talking about a savings …

  • Seeing What You Have Achieved

    In many ways, my life today is almost identical to how it was a year ago. I’m still married with three children. We live in the same house. We have virtually the same possessions. Sarah and I have the same careers and our children go to the same schools. What have we really achieved in …

  • How to Trim Expenses without Losing Things You Enjoy

    As I’ve mentioned before on The Simple Dollar, I spent a lot of 2006 and 2007 cutting major expenses from my life. During that period, my family’s finances were in peril, so I felt a strong need to come up with every single dollar that I could. The solution was to cut my spending, then …

  • The “Cheap Neighborhood” Problem

    Connie writes in: “Right now, we pay $1,000 a month in rent. About ten minutes away, there are houses available that are as low as $300 a month in rent and they’re perfectly fine houses. The problem is the neighborhood. The area is loaded with people on welfare and most of the yards are really …

  • Convenience and Expenses: Why Time Management Really Matters

    When I buy a loaf of bread at the grocery store, I’m buying convenience. It would cost less to buy the ingredients for a loaf that I could make at home myself, but that would require a time investment. That same phenomenon is true of many of the things we spend our money on. Everything …

  • Replacing Regular Purchases With One-Time Purchases

    Going to the grocery store is an exercise in frustration. Why? Almost everything you buy there is consumable. You buy it. You eat it or use it. Next week, you have to go back to the store and buy more. It’s an endless funnel of money straight out of your pocket. My solution to this …

  • Automating Small Decisions

    We have a programmable thermostat in our home. Twice per year, we change the programming on that thermostat – we have a set of “winter” temperatures and a set of “summer” temperatures that we put into the thermostat. The house’s temperature varies depending on our typical daily schedules which minimizes our energy usage. The temperature …

  • High Income, But Living Paycheck to Paycheck

    I receive emails quite regularly from people who are making well over $100,000 per year and yet are struggling to make ends meet. It doesn’t take much poking around on other personal finance websites to see that same story repeated many times over. For a long time, I struggled to understand why this was happening. …

  • Your Measuring Stick for Financial Success

    When I look around at the people in my life, I see some that are in very good financial shape and I see others that are in poor shape. I see some that live an affluent lifestyle, with annual international trips and new cars. I see others that live a much more stoic lifestyle as …

  • Working for Freedom

    When I left college in 2002 and stepped into my first professional job, I often felt as though I was working for the freedom to do what I wanted after work each day and on the weekends. I put in my eight to ten (or sometimes more) hours, so I should be able to live …