• Should I Buy Life Insurance for My Children?

    This is a question I hear all the time from readers who are parents – and it’s a question that comes up in our own household as well. Should our children have life insurance policies? I’ve done a lot of research and soul-searching on this topic. What follows are the conclusions I’ve come to on …

  • Why Not Walk Away from My Mortgage?

    Kelli writes in: My husband and I are sitting on a thirty year mortgage (with twenty six years left to go). We still owe $330,000 on our home. A week ago, a very similar home to ours two blocks away sold for $220,000, so we’re under water by at least $100,000. We are thinking of …

  • Raising Deductibles to Save Money on Insurance: Does It Work?

    One common, painful bill that we all face is the insurance bill. Whether you’re talking renters insurance, home insurance, or car insurance, the bill feels painful because it’s not something we can often directly see the benefit from. It just comes in handy when something goes wrong. One of the most common tactics that you’ll …

  • Trimming the Average Budget: Life Insurance

    This is part of an ongoing series about how to trim the budget of the average American. As this series focuses on such broad-based tips, some will work for you and some will not. You’re invited to mention in the comments the tips that you found to be the most useful for inclusion in a …

  • How Much Life Insurance Do You Really Need?

    I can’t tell you how often I’m contacted by readers who tell me the story of their lives, then ask the big question: how much life insurance do I need? I’ll hear from twenty four year old single women and forty year old men with a wife and three children. I’ll hear from people with …

  • Where Can You Turn If You Lose It All?

    I received a long email recently from an utterly despondent woman (that I’ll call Ellen) who was caught in a devastating situation. A year ago, she was a stay-at-home mother with three preschool-aged children. Her husband worked at a high-paying job that seemed to have great long-term potential and it seemed as though their life …

  • Are You Insuring the Irreplaceable?

    A few weeks ago, I decided to spend a few hours looking carefully at all of our insurance policies. I knew in general how most of them worked, but in many cases I was a little fuzzy (or more than a little fuzzy) on the specifics. As I studied our homeowner’s insurance policy, I was …

  • When Should You Downgrade Your Car Insurance?

    One of the common nuggets of financial “wisdom” tossed out there by personal finance writers is the idea of downgrading one’s car insurance to save money. “Cut your collision or comprehensive coverage or raise your deductibles and save a mint!” they’ll say, but such comments don’t take into account the current status of the car …

  • Update on the Flooding in Iowa … And Some Tips on Protecting Yourself

    Hundreds of people have emailed me asking questions about the current flooding situation in Iowa. Has my home been affected? How bad is it really? Well, I’ll let the front page of the Des Moines Register speak for itself. Where I’m at (luckily), there’s been only minor ill effect. We’ve had some minor flash flooding …

  • Do I Need Long Term Disability Insurance?

    Over the last few weeks, I’ve been carefully considering the above question. I’m twenty nine years old, in good health, with a wife and two young children at home. I don’t commute for work, either, vastly reducing my chance of a disabling accident. In other words, my chance for long-term disability is pretty small. How …

  • The Why and How of a Household Inventory

    One personal finance project that a lot of people overlook is the household inventory. It’s one of those “once in a great while” tasks that’s easy to overlook and forget about, but it’s not very hard and it can pay huge dividends if you’re carrying homeowners’ or renters’ insurance and something goes wrong with your …

  • Should I Go Without Health Insurance For A Better Career Situation?

    This week, The Simple Dollar attempts to address challenging questions in personal finance by looking at both sides of the story and figuring out some of the factors you need to look at to make a decision. Over the last few months, I’ve received many, many emails from people thinking about a career change, usually …

  • How To Handle It When Life Kicks You In The Teeth

    Eventually, it happens to everyone. Something unexpected and disastrous happens, leaving us with a giant medical bill or some other enormous expense. Maybe you wake up one morning with more than a pint of blood having poured from your ear (it happened to me in college) or you have a heart attack on Thanksgiving morning …

  • Thirteen Ways To Reduce The Effect Of “Bad Luck” In Your Financial Life

    I have a close relative who is always complaining about how he’s broke because of various elements of bad luck. His car’s broken down, his water heater leaks, he got a speeding ticket – there’s always some reason why he can’t get ahead financially. The problem is that when times are good, he often spends …

  • Auto Insurance Bill Got You Down? Here Are Seven Things To Consider

    My wife and I switched our auto insurance coverage recently and paid our full annual premium up front. It was a painful little payment, even though we had shopped around and such. This led us to both researching various methods with which one could save money on auto insurance. Here are seven useful and applicable …

  • Interesting Insights Into Life Insurance From An Actuary – How He Would Buy Life Insurance

    One of my closest friends in the world completed a Ph.D. in mathematics recently and became an actuary for a very large life insurance company. I had lunch with him recently just to catch up on things and we spent about ten minutes talking about life insurance itself. He basically told me that if I …

  • Remembering The Flood of 1993 And What It Taught Me

    I grew up on the muddy banks of the Mississippi River; it was literally within eyeshot of my parents’ land. My father was a small-scale commercial fisherman, so I spent a lot of time on the river in my youth – and I really understood its amazing grace and power. We lived on a hill …

  • A Quick Look At An Auto Insurance Question

    Yesterday, I posted a nice story about an individual who saved a great deal of money by reading his auto insurance policy. I posted the story as an example of why you should read your policy in more detail, nothing more. However, my readers (as they often do) took the post into a completely different …

  • How The Simple Dollar Just Saved Someone $2,850 (And A Personal Finance Tip To Boot)

    Last night, I was contacted on instant messenger by an individual who had an interesting question about his automobile: My entire engine is going to have to be replaced and the cost of it is more than the remaining monthly payments on my car. Should I try to sell off the car now or should …