• “Getting Rich” Is a Code Word

    Whenever I go into a bookstore, I usually make a point of stopping by the personal finance section. I browse through the titles and usually take a moment or two to look through any books that I’m not familiar with that might be relevant to The Simple Dollar. One thing I can’t help but notice …

  • The Inner Child

    My three year old son is picky about what he eats, like most three year olds are. He doesn’t like most of the things that we serve for supper and isn’t afraid to be vocal about it. My six year old loves art projects. She draws and paints and cuts paper and glues things together. …

  • The Decision Stack

    Let’s say I’m sitting at a coffee shop waiting on a friend to arrive. I have a warm cup of something delicious on the table in front of me and I’m reading a website on my phone. It’s a simple story, right? However, it’s one built upon a stack of decisions with financial implications. Why …

  • The Idea of Cash Flow

    One idea I’ve mentioned regularly on The Simple Dollar is that of “cash flow.” It’s an accounting term that refers to the movement of money into or out of a business or project over a specified period of time. I really like to use the idea of “cash flow” to look at the state of …

  • Thoughts on the “52 Week Money Challenge”

    Several of my friends recently sent me copies of a “52 week money challenge” that several of them are doing to save up about $1,400 this year. The challenge is best described by this table: Note that I don’t have an actual source for this table. It was merely sent to me by multiple friends. …

  • Marketing, Frugality, and Fulfillment

    One of my favorite ideas I’ve ever come across in personal finance is the “fulfillment curve,” an idea I picked up from the wonderful book Your Money or Your Life. Here’s a simple conception of what it looks like (I’ll explain the numbers below): The idea is that once you reach a certain point, spending …

  • If the Reason You Earn Money Is Just to Spend It, You Will Always Financially Struggle

    The reason that people have jobs is so that they can earn money to pay the bills. You’ve got to earn money so that you can keep a roof over your head and food in your belly, right? Of course. We all have basic needs that we have to cover in our lives. Here’s the …

  • Are You Better Off Now Than You Were a Year Ago?

    For the last several years, I’ve done a personal “year in review” within a few days of the turning of the calendar. I sit down and try to assess, as clearly as I can, where I was a year ago, where I am now, and what I’ve improved. In short, I always try to answer …

  • It Doesn’t Matter How Much or How Little You Make

    I spent the last few hours preparing tomorrow morning’s Reader Mailbag column. The Mailbags require a ton of work, as I have to read through a small mountain of reader questions, eliminate some of them, give one or two of them a personal reply (because they genuinely need some help but they have far too …

  • Don’t Let Your Family Members Control Your Financial Decisions

    This article first appeared at US News and World Report Money It’s a pretty familiar refrain. “My parents think we should buy a house, but I don’t think our finances are ready for that.” “My grandfather says that only fools invest in the stock market.” “Uncle Lewis invests a lot of his money in gold …

  • How Phishing and Email Scams Work – and How You Can Avoid Them

    In yesterday’s reader mailbag, I answered a question from a reader who asked for simple ways to avoid identity theft online. I told the reader that the best thing that a person can do is to simply avoid clicking on links within emails. By the end of the day yesterday, I had several follow-up emails …

  • Finding a Middle Path

    The path that Sarah and I followed to find financial sanity seems extreme to a lot of readers. We gave up a lot of the “wants” in our life very quickly in order to turn our financial ship around. For us, this shift was possible because we discovered along the way that many of the …

  • Today and Tomorrow

    Today, I’m going to go on a walk. Although I’d rather curl up with a good book, it’s not a huge sacrifice to spend an hour walking instead. In fact, if I use a treadmill, I can prop a book up on it and read (although a bit slowly) while walking. If I make that …

  • Comparing Retailers Beyond Mere Dollars and Cents

    One local grocer offers employee ownership, great health benefits, and an enjoyable work environment. Whenever I go there, I see people with badges talking about how they’ve worked there for thirty years. Whenever you have a question, there’s virtually someone in every aisle who will walk you to whatever item it is that you’re looking …

  • When Your Debt Load Is Incomprehensibly Large

    There are few things quite as painful as looking ahead at your future and seeing nothing but debt. So many people today graduate from college with extensive student loans and consumer debt on top of that. They struggle to find a job and, sometimes, they never find the job that they want. Sometimes, people get …

  • Four Little Habits That Have Helped Me Immensely in My Personal Finance Journey

    In 2006, my life was a financial mess. I had credit card debt, student loan debt, and a car loan, and Sarah was in the same exact boat. We lived in a tiny apartment with no real hope of moving elsewhere. By the end of 2011, we owned our own home and were completely debt …

  • Tactics for Effective Use of Christmas Gift Cards

    Quite a few of my friends and family opened up gift cards for various retailers during their Christmas celebrations (I didn’t receive any, thankfully). While such cards were almost always received with a polite smile and a “thank you,” I know from personal experience that a gift card is sometimes a challenge. Sometimes, the card …

  • Some Thoughts on Living on One Income

    In 2012, we invested more than 50% of our net household income. In 2013, according to the numbers I just ran, we’re going to repeat that success. What that means, in essence, is that Sarah and I (and our children) are living off of one income and banking the other income streams. Our financial efforts …

  • Simple Estate Planning Steps Everyone Should Take Care Of

    This article originally appeared at U.S. News and World Report Money. Estate planning is a pretty difficult topic to think about because it requires you to think about a world without you in it. No one likes to reflect on their own demise, which is why many people simply put estate planning off for another …