Getting Started

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 …

Emails From My Readers Reveal Painful Truths About 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

Money For Nothing: Five Ways To Put Money In Your Pocket With Zero Effort

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 …

Know Someone In Financial Armageddon? Seven Pieces of Advice

When I found myself deep in financial meltdown, I threw myself into learning as much as I possibly could about personal finance. I was quite scared of losing everything that I had because I had dug myself in such a deep hole, yet it was my personal nature that I didn’t talk to anyone about …

Categories: Getting Started

If I Could Do It All Over Again: Advising Myself At Age Eighteen

Ten years ago, I was in the midst of my freshman year in college. I had very little concept of money or what to do with it, but at that point I still had an overall positive net worth. If only I knew then what I know now, I sometimes think to myself, particularly when …

Setting and Meeting Daily Personal Financial Goals

Ever since I was young, I have had a number of daily goals for myself. Most of them seem rather mundane: commit a random act of kindness, read for at least half an hour, brush my teeth and use Listerine twice, and so on. Most of them have a clear metric for success. However, since …

Getting Started With Credit By Buying Textbooks

While I was reading a thread at The Consumerist on ways to get started with credit, I found myself repeatedly shaking my head at the number of extremely questionable ideas that people were coming up with.  Buying CDs and using them as loan collateral simply to improve your credit seems like financial suicide to me. …

Return to Thunderdome: Calculating the Value of the ING “Signing Bonus” Versus HSBC’s Higher Interest Rate

When I compared ING and HSBC, I discussed how HSBC’s annual percentage yield of 5.05% is significantly better than ING’s annual percentage yield of 4.4%, but I felt that ING’s service was significantly better. One of the comments, from Boston Gal, made the astute observation that ING’s current “signing bonus” of $25 did a good …

The Road to Financial Armageddon #9: The Road to Recovery

Yesterday, I described my financial meltdown, when I reached a point where there was more money going out each month than coming in with no real hope for redemption without a change from within. Then, thanks to some inspiration, I made that change. The first thing I did was I laid out every single expense …

Two Banks Enter, One Bank Leaves: ING vs. HSBC in … Direct Thunderdome

Over the past few months, I signed up with both ING Direct and HSBC Direct in order to try out their online savings offerings. I had heard many positive reviews of the service at ING, but I was also stunned at the 5.05% APY interest rate being offered at HSBC. To make up my mind, …

52 Personal Finance Books in 52 Weeks

I’m constantly astounded by the huge number of personal finance books that are out there, and it seems like every week I discover a new one or two. How on earth does a person dig through this huge pile of books, many of which offer variations on the same old advice, to find the real …

The One Month Challenge

I used to waste tons of money on silly little things. I did it so often and so regularly that I didn’t even realize that it was adding up to a huge dent in my finances. A pack of Tic-Tacs here, a CD there, a DVD here, a new book there… it wasn’t long before …

14 Ways Your Computer Can Put Money In Your Pocket

If you’re reading this, you likely have ready access to a computer with an internet connection. Most people are aware of a few ways that a personal computer can save them money, but there really are a plethora of simple, ethical ways that anyone can use a computer to make a few dollars. Here is …