• John’s “Campground” – Some Thoughts on Investing with Added Personal Value

    A while back, I wrote about my best friend (besides my wife), John. John doesn’t spend money on frivolous things at all – he spends way less than he earns and is really careful with his money, saving up for the future. He lives in a very small apartment in a poor neighborhood, bicycles to …

  • Nine Ways I Use Google Calendar to Keep My Money Straight

    Over the last year, I’ve been gradually moving away from a paper calendar (I used a Moleskine desk diary for it) to using Google Calendar for keeping track of all of my appointments, important dates, and other such information. It’s been a slow process – I’ve been using paper calendars for more than a decade, …

  • The Best Money Advice, in Ten Words or Less

    About a week ago, I challenged my followers on Twitter to give me their best single piece of money advice in ten words or less. I was flooded with responses. After spending quite a bit of time sifting through them, here are the fifty best pieces of advice that came my way (out of well …

  • The Time Cost of Investing: Does Obliviousness Pay Off?

    One aspect of buy-and-hold investing in low-cost index funds that has always attracted me is that there is an extremely low time cost. Once you have the initial investments in place, there is virtually no time cost at all. All you have to do is invest maybe half an hour a year rebalancing the investments …

  • 15 Ways to Get Started on Snowflaking

    One of the best personal finance articles I’ve ever read is Snowflaking: A Primer, at I Paid For This Twice Already. Here’s an excerpt so that you get the idea: Snowflaking is a spinoff of the Snowball approach to debt reduction popularized by Dave Ramsey. With the Debt Snowball method, you figure out what amount …

  • Personal Finance and The Black Swan

    Recently, I’ve been reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book The Black Swan. Most of the book has to do with economics and mathematics and is not very relevant to personal finance at all, so I won’t bother doing a detailed review here. However, there are two pieces of the book that I think are worth talking …

  • Review: Oblivious Investing

    Every other Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book. The second I picked up Oblivious Investing by Mike Piper, I was immediately reminded of Michael Mihalik’s excellent Debt Is Slavery. The two books have much in common. They’re written by people who aren’t personal finance gurus – instead, they just bring a lot …

  • What’s Next After Retirement Savings?

    Quite often, financially intelligent young professionals get out of school, start in the professional world, and actually stick quite strongly to the “spend less than you earn” mantra. They fund their Roth IRAs and their 401(k)s, but they still find themselves spending much less than they’re bringing in. And they wonder what’s next. “Fred” writes …

  • Some Thoughts on Haggling

    A very kind reader recently sent me a link to a fascinating article at Salon.com entitled How I Learned to Haggle. The article outlines a woman’s experience with haggling, culminating with the author actually requesting a discount at a dollar store: So before I can think too hard about it, I drive to my kids’ …

  • Personal Finance 101: What Is a Bond?

    Amy writes in: You often talk about investing in bonds. I don’t even understand what bonds are, let alone how to invest in them! Well, let’s start at the beginning. What Is a Bond? To put it simply, a bond is a way for an investor to buy a piece of someone’s debt, usually a …

  • Some Thoughts on Investing on Behalf of My Children

    As I mentioned before, I started saving for my children’s college education as early as I possibly could – in mid-2005 for my son and in mid-2007 for my daughter. In each case, I opened up a 529 plan with myself as a beneficiary as soon as we knew the child was coming, then I …

  • Riding the Market Up

    Ada writes in: Like you, I think the stock market is near the bottom right now and will go up greatly in the next three to five years. I have some extra cash (about $10K) but I don’t know exactly what to do with it to get on board. How would you do it? In …

  • Understanding CD Rates

    Dennis writes in with the following question about CD rates: My credit union has CDs. The rate for a three-month CD is 1.88% while the rate for a one-year is 2.37%. Is my math reading correctly when I come out with $2.37 (on a $100 deposit) for 1 year but if I chose to deposit …

  • Investing With Minimal Risk

    Jamie writes in: I’m twenty eight years old and am now debt free. I’d like to start investing, but I have almost no tolerance for risk. I don’t mind not earning a great return because of this, but the thought of losing any of my investment makes me feel very uncomfortable. Any suggestions? Before I …

  • Personal Finance 101: How Much Money Is That Investment Really Earning Each Year?

    Quite often, when you see an advertisement trumpeting the amazing annual rate of return of an investment, you’re not seeing the full picture of how good that investment really is. The annual rate of return, while an interesting metric, doesn’t really tell you how much money you can expect to earn in an investment over …

  • The Selling of Gold

    Over the last several months, I’ve seen a continuous increase in the number of advertisements out there for gold. For me, this reached a fever pitch yesterday, when a local radio station I often listen to apparently sold a one hour infomercial in which two pitchmen were incessantly talking about how great an investment gold …

  • Personal Finance 101: On Ponzi Schemes and Other Things

    One of the biggest financial stories of the last month or so was the revelation that Bernie Madoff, a legendary stock trader if there ever was one, had perpetrated a giant Ponzi scheme on investors, bilking them out of fifty billion dollars. Personally, I found the story fascinating, and apparently many of you have as …

  • Seven Huge Financial Mistakes I Made During My College Career

    Over the last few weeks, I have been reflecting on how many members of my rather close extended family are either near high school graduation or are in college right now. They have so many great opportunities ahead of them in the next few years – and so many chances to botch things, too. Stephen, …

  • Hand-Me-Down Clothes in the Post Hand-Me-Down Era: Consumer Protectionism Gone Too Far?

    After writing this, I’m pretty sure that this article will stir up some potentially intense comments. I encourage disagreement with my take on this situation – just keep it polite towards me and especially other commenters. For those of you who haven’t heard the news yet, on February 10, 2009, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement …