Getting Started

What’s In Your Wallet? How I Organize The Finances In My Pocket

Every time I see a CapitalOne commercial chirping their promotional “What’s in your wallet?” line, I actually think of my own wallet and what’s inside of it. So, in the interest of openness (and because there are a few interesting things going on), here’s what I keep in my wallet. Minimal identification The only photo …

Categories: Getting Started, Money

Twenty Places To Hide Money At Home Besides Under Your Mattress

Recently, I posted a discussion about why I keep a small amount of cash at home under the figurative mattress for major emergencies. One of the controversies with that article (which was discussed on Lifehacker, among other places) was the idea of actually storing cash under your mattress. So, to alleviate those fears, I sent …

Categories: Getting Started

10 Personal Productivity & Personal Finance Techniques

In the past two weeks, several people have written me asking how I manage to get my finances in order, work full time, maintain this blog, be a good father and husband, read two books and a few magazines a week, and not go completely crazy. While this isn’t strictly a personal finance topic, I …

Categories: Getting Started

The $100 Question – And What It Means

If you found a $100 bill floating around, what would you do with it? It’s a question I’ve been asking a lot of people lately, and the answers seem to fall into two general groups. According to my notes, I asked thirty one people that very question, and here’s how they fell out. Spend it. …

Categories: Getting Started

USPS Announces The “Forever” Stamp: Is It Worth Your $0.39?

Yesterday, the United States Postal Service announced the introduction of a “forever” postage stamp. Here’s how it works: whenever you buy a first class postage stamp, it will no longer be marked with a cash denomination on it like current stamps are. Instead, it will merely say “First Class” on it. Once you buy it, …

Inflation: What Is It And Why Should I Care?

Inflation is one of those topics that crops up time and time again on the news, and it’s one of those topics that makes my wife’s eyes immediately glaze over. It’s not long before the channel has been turned or the newspaper page has been flipped. Yet inflation (and avoiding it) is one of those …

An Introduction To Compound Interest With Spreadsheets, Part 3: A Simple Mortgage Calculator

Regular compound interest is (basically) the way most loans and savings accounts work, including home mortgages. Here, we’re going to use a spreadsheet to calculate a home mortgage payment estimator (and even a full payment schedule) using the principles of compound interest. Fire up your spreadsheet and enter the following information into cells: In A1, …

An Introduction To Compound Interest With Spreadsheets, Part 2: Monthly Compound Interest, APRs, and APYs

Previously, we discussed how compound interest works on a year-by-year basis, but in the real world, interest is usually compounded more often than that. For many purposes, monthly compounding is used, so let’s look at monthly compounding. Fire up your spreadsheet and enter a few labels: In A1, enter Monthly Compound Interest Example In A3, …

An Introduction To Compound Interest With Spreadsheets, Part 1: Getting Started And Defining Compound Interest

Several readers have written me excitedly asking how exactly I do some of the calculations on this site and how compound interest works. Usually, I point them at various online calculators, but the truth of the matter is that a basic understanding of how a spreadsheet works and how compound interest works makes it possible …

Cutting Down On Splurges: How I Did It – And You Can Too

Back before my financial armageddon, I used to splurge on unnecessary stuff almost every evening after work. I’d enjoy things by the armload that I simply didn’t need. Once I realized that I really needed to do something to get my spending in check, I sat down and took a serious look at my daily …

The Land Of Opportunity

Recently, I’ve had some splendid conversations with a number of people from all over the world who are thinking about coming to the United States to live or – in one case – sending their nearly-adult children to live in the United States. I was surprised and interested in the questions they asked me, and …

Categories: Getting Started

10 Lessons The Simple Dollar (And Its Readers) Has Taught Me

When I started this blog, I made a deep commitment to myself that this was going to be the linchpin for building my understanding of personal finance issues in many directions. I’ve spent countless hours at the library researching about personal finance, talking to financial professionals, and talking to other people facing the difficulties of …

What Is “The Fed,” What Do They Have To Do With My Money, And Why Should I Care?

Whenever my wife hears mention of the Federal Reserve on television or the radio, her eyes glaze over and she quickly looks for another station to listen to or watch. Sadly, she’s not alone in not having any interest at all in what the Federal Reserve does or what power it has directly over their …

Categories: Getting Started

Buying Things Lets Me Forget Who I Am For A While

As I was driving around last night, I was listening to a story on National Public Radio in which an immigrant female who was ashamed of her past was recounting some details of her experience. Right in the middle of her monologue, she uttered that line: “Buying things lets me forget who I am for …

Three Money Lessons My Grandfather Taught Me

I was only seven when my grandfather passed away, but during the last year and a half of his life, he made a special effort to take me under his wing and express to me, as only he could, some of the lessons life had taught him. Some of them were hauntingly accurate; others, more …

Why Traditional Budgets Don’t Work: Wiser Actions You Can Take Instead Of Filling Out A Budget Form

Before I faced my financial armageddon, I tried several times to squeeze my life into a traditional budget. I’d fill out some spreadsheet that someone gave me, or fill out a page torn out of a personal finance workbook, and I’d start off with high hopes of organizing my finances. Everything would go well for …

Categories: Getting Started

23 Ways To Save Money This Weekend

With the big weekend coming up, many of us are sitting around plotting all sorts of activities, both fun and not-so-fun. If you’re looking for something to do, here’s a checklist of twenty three things you can work on this weekend that will improve your finances by saving you money. Each one you complete will …

Categories: Getting Started

Free Up Extra Money For Debt Payment & Investments

Every once in a while, I look through my collections of various media (more specifically, DVDs, books, video games, and CDs) and realize that it contains a lot of things that I’ll likely never look at or listen to again. I might have a sentimental attachment to some of the items, but for many of …

Reader Question: College Student Crushed By Credit Cards

Recently, I received an email from a reader of The Simple Dollar who laid out an interesting yet familiar story: My girlfriend is a junior in college and she’s managed to dig herself into about $2500 worth of high-interest debt by accumulating credit cards from retail stores (20-24% interest rates). She always makes her minimum …

Become a subscriber of The Simple Dollar and get a free copy of Trent's e-book today plus exclusive updates.