Getting Started

Emergency Funds: How and Why You Should Get Started Right Now

Over and over again, I’ve referred to the value of an emergency fund without really explaining what it is and how you can get one. To put it simply, an emergency fund is the most valuable thing you can have because it protects you from the unforeseen things that can demolish all of your financial …

Is Stock Investing Really The Best Way To Go?

Over the last several months, I’ve read a ton of personal finance material, and it all keeps coming back to the same idea that basically says if you want to make big money, you have to participate in stock investing, but as you approach your goals, you should move gradually to safer investments like bonds …

GTD, Personal Finance Style

I’ve been a long-time fan of GTD, an action management method that relies on the idea that a person succeeds when they get tasks out of their mind and get them recorded somewhere, freeing their mind for actually doing stuff instead of merely storing lists. When I saw this brilliant hacking of a Moleskine notebook …

How To Feel Happier About Not Spending Money

There is a connection between our emotions and our money, a link that is preyed upon countless times each day by advertisers promising to trade us happiness for our hard-earned cash. Most of us have money, and all of us seek happiness; pushing the link between the two is a sure-fire way for a marketer …

I Got My First Dividend – How Do They Work?

As I’ve mentioned, I recently began investing in the Vanguard 500 as an individual investor outside of the “walls” of a retirement plan. Prior to this, my experience with such plans was with retirement accounts: put in the money before it was even taxed, let it sit there and earn, and not really think about …

How To Calculate Your Net Worth

I receive lots of emails like this one from Edward, asking about how to calculate your net worth: I love your site. I have a question. I have read a lot of posts about people’s net worth. How do you calculate your net worth? There are a lot of net worth calculators and software that …

Categories: Getting Started

35 Outrageous Fees – And How To Avoid Them

Recently, CNNMoney.com posted an article containing 35 outrageous fees, along with tips on avoiding them. Unfortunately, due to the terrible layout of the article (you’re forced to jump from page to page in a very awkward fashion), it’s almost impossible to see all of the fees and also jump to the one you want to …

Money and Depression

I have a confession to make. The last few months have been the happiest for me in several years. I am convinced that the biggest reason for the turnaround is that I finally have some grasp on my money which I never really had before. For years, I wondered seriously whether or not I was …

What Can I Do Today To Make Me Rich In The Future?

In an ever-changing fast-paced world, most of us are accustomed to doing things now, and long-term financial planning is often difficult for us to wrap our arms around. We don’t want to think about being a millionaire in twenty years; we want to start down that road now with quick actions that we can use …

Lying About Money – And Telling The Truth

In some ways, most of us lie about money. We create an appearance to others of having more than we do in order to build up a level of respect. We drive more expensive cars than we can afford, buy more expensive clothes than we can afford, and more expensive accessories than we can afford …

When Should I Begin Investing?

Lots of people who begin putting their financial house in proper order quickly begin to wonder when they should start investing in high-return items with risk, particularly the stock market. They see the 10%-12% average annual return, have cash that they want to sock away for a while, and talk themselves into investing before they’re …

Why You Have To Keep Up With The Joneses

Recently, I came across this article from an older issue of Scientific American entitled Opinions and Social Pressure. I didn’t find the article too interesting until halfway into the second paragraph when the following sentence appeared: The same epoch that has witnessed the unprecedented technical extension of communication has also brought into existence the deliberate …

Readers Reveal Painful Truths About Credit Card Debt

Recently, several readers of The Simple Dollar have emailed me and asked questions about managing and reorganizing their debt. These individuals are trying to find their way through the debt nightmare of the modern world, one that so many of us find ourselves in at some point in our lives. I hear questions about whether …

Categories: Debt, Getting Started

Time, Money, and Values

I used to feel really guilty about the ways in which I spent my money. My solution to this guilt was to spend even more money, buying things which would provide a short term balm for my heart, but would in the end leave me feeling even more guilty than before. I felt like everything …

Cash That Just Gathers Dust: A Technique For Paring Down Your Media Collection

When I was spending money like it was water, I was buying about ten CDs and DVDs a week. I was a media addict, buying all kinds of music and movies without knowing much about them at all – following off-the-cuff recommendations and “trendy” sites like Pitchfork Media. While I did discover a lot of …

Categories: eBay, Getting Started

How Do You Balance Your Checkbook?

Growing up, I watched my parents maintain their checkbook ledger quite carefully, though it was easy for them: they only wrote checks or (on a rare occasion) made a counter withdrawal from their checking account, and they also would manually go to the bank and make deposits of any paychecks they received. Today, I still …

Explaining Simple Interest, Compound Interest, APR, and APY

Recently, my niece was trying to calculate how much money would be in her savings account in six months. She was using the APY as a simple interest rate and thus was coming up with a number larger than what would actually be in her account. It was a small difference, but she seemed to …

Categories: Getting Started

How To Save Money: 5 Ways To Put Money In Your Pocket

Many people think about saving money, but decide that it’s too much work or it interferes too much with their lives. I’m usually this way, too; I’d rather not think about it when I’m hanging out with friends or spending time with family. I’m also not a big investor, so I don’t exactly plan on …

Making A Simple Budget – A First Timer’s Guide

There are a lot of people in Generation Y that have never actually attempted to make a budget and have never experienced the usefulness of seeing all of your income and expenditures on a single page. Here’s a step-by-step guide to preparing a budget using only free tools. First thing, learn how to use a …