Getting Started

What Is Personal Finance? The Answer Might Be More Than You Think…

This is an interesting question that has been popping up again and again as I continue this blog. It’s becoming clear to me that my definition of personal finance is quite a bit wider than the definition others have of that term, so I decided to explore what exactly personal finance means in my book …

Five Things That Seem Expensive – But Don’t Have To Be

While reading through the plethora of comments on my recent post on giving television the boot, I realized that there are many things that I view as inexpensive that others view as being very expensive. Here’s a list of five of these items, along with ways to make this “expensive” thing not expensive at all …

Overcoming The Social Obligation To Keep Up With The Joneses

I received a very heartfelt email from a reader that I’m going to reprint below (with some grammatical fixes). It was written to me in response to my earlier post concerning when frugality finally pays off. I’ve been debt free for five years, I own my own home, and I have almost 200K in investments …

Personal Finance 101: Grocery Store Math

Simple Math to Help You Save Recently, I received a lengthy email from a reader who had a ton of basic personal finance questions contained within. I thought it might be interesting to start an irregular “personal finance 101″ series to answer and explain some of her questions. This question isn’t from the long email, …

Five Simple Questions, Five Simple Answers

As the author of The Simple Dollar, I get a lot of questions on a lot of topics. Here’s a selection of five recent ones on various topics that might have occurred to you – along with my answer. If you’d like to ask a question and want to make sure I read it, please …

Categories: Getting Started

Orson Welles, A Zither, and Personal Finance

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a movie buff. I’ve forgotten more films than most people have ever watched. Yet, of all of the thousands upon thousands of movies I’ve ever watched, one scene stands out above all of them as the very best. Here it is – if you have five minutes, …

Categories: Getting Started

The Proper Care and Feeding of a Pocket Expense Notebook

For almost a year, I have carried around a small pocket expense notebook. Well, actually, I’m on my third one – the first two fell apart after about three months of living in my hip pocket, which is where I liked to store mine. Hold on… what’s a pocket expense notebook? Basically, it’s a place …

Categories: Getting Started

Graduating In May? Seven Money Things To Do During Your Last Semester

Recently, I’ve received a small deluge of emails from upcoming college (and high school) graduates that all have the same theme: The real world is coming! Help! For one thing, if they’re bothering to read a site like The Simple Dollar, they’re already way ahead of the game, but there are still a few things …

Categories: Getting Started

Why You Should Calculate Your Net Worth

In today’s review of the first eight chapters of The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing, I mention the importance of calculating your own net worth, and in the past I’ve mentioned how to calculate it. But why is knowing your net worth important? What value does it have? Here are five reasons why you should calculate …

Categories: Getting Started

Personal Finance 101: Is Debt Bad?

Recently, I received a lengthy email from a reader who had a ton of basic personal finance questions contained within. I thought it might be interesting to start an irregular “personal finance 101″ series to answer and explain some of her questions. Many people out there make broad statements like debt is bad in order …

Love, Marriage, and Money: Should a Couple Combine Their Finances?

My wife and I have been married for nearly four years, and we dated for six years before that, so it came as a surprise to some other couples this weekend that we do not combine our finances together. Instead, we each maintain responsibility for a specific set of our shared bills and our savings …

Categories: Family, Getting Started

The Art of the Slow Cooker

For busy professionals who want the frugality and quality of home-cooked food, the slow cooker can be a true lifesaver. However, most of the cookbooks out there have all sorts of weird requirements and usually end up seeming unusable or being as complicated as preparing a meal in the evening, somewhat defeating the purpose of …

Not Quite Money: Five Nutshell Reviews Of Interesting Books That Can Be Applied To Personal Finance

Lately, I’ve been listening to a number of business books on my morning and evening commutes and also on some weekend trips. These books aren’t directly connected to personal finance, but I’ve found that time and time again the basic principles that the good business books describe valuable ideas that are quite applicable to personal …

There Is No “Secret”: Why “Feel Good” Thinking Isn’t Enough To Get Ahead Financially

Over and over again, I keep bumping into pop culture references to The Secret, a new age book/film that’s making the rounds at the moment. The central premise of The Secret is that you only have to visualize what you want in order to get it. For example, if you visualize yourself with money and …

Exploring The Latte Factor: What A Latte Really Costs You

A reader wrote to me recently and expressed some serious doubt about the “latte factor.” I understand that I could be putting the money from a $4 latte into retirement but I don’t get why it’s important. I would rather have a latte than have $4 when I’m old. Let’s break this down into pieces …

Categories: Getting Started

An Average Day: Ten Tweaks I Made To My Daily Routine To Start Saving Money

I was reading through some of my older journals and notes on various things when I came across a little thing I assembled when I was first digging myself out of debt. It was basically a list of little things I was changing in my life – what I did before, and what I did …

Personal Finance 101: How Does A Bank Work?

The Basics of Banking Recently, I received a lengthy email from a reader who had a ton of basic personal finance questions contained within. I thought it might be interesting to start an irregular “personal finance 101″ series to answer and explain some of her questions. Many people see banks as being a place where …

Categories: Getting Started

Building Your Own Monthly Net Worth Calculator Using A Spreadsheet

Upon request from a reader, and building upon my February net worth calculations and my recent postings on building your own mortgage calculator, I thought I would discuss how I built a simple net worth calculator that lets me quickly calculate my net worth each month. You can build this for yourself at home – …

Categories: Getting Started, Money

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

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