Organizing Money

What Being A Cubs Fan Taught Me About Personal Finance

Today is Opening Day for Major League Baseball. I’ve been a follower of baseball since I was a little kid, and few things put a smile on my face than a giant cup of Old Style and a bleacher seat at Wrigley Field. Yes, I’m a Cubs fan, even though the team hasn’t won the …

Categories: Organizing 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 …

The Dollar Coin Is Coming! Is It Good Or Bad For The Average American?

Recently, the federal government announced yet another revision of the dollar coin. This time, in order to entice collectors (and thus inflate circulation numbers), the coins will be issued depicting all of the presidents, starting with George Washington and followed every three months by another president. This would mean that my most desired coin, that …

Categories: Organizing Money

My System For Managing Financial Documents

Several people recently have written to me asking how I manage my financial documents. I have a very simple system for managing them that works well for me, but you may find David Bach’s FinishRich filing system quite useful for you. My system starts off with one enormous binder, an accordion folder with eight smaller …

Categories: Organizing Money

Emergency Funds: How and Why You Should Get Started Right Now

Over and over again, I’ve referred to the value of an emergency fund without really explaining what it is and how you can get one. To put it simply, an emergency fund is the most valuable thing you can have because it protects you from the unforeseen things that can demolish all of your financial …

GTD, Personal Finance Style

I’ve been a long-time fan of GTD, an action management method that relies on the idea that a person succeeds when they get tasks out of their mind and get them recorded somewhere, freeing their mind for actually doing stuff instead of merely storing lists. When I saw this brilliant hacking of a Moleskine notebook …

Lauren’s Problem: Overdrafts Mixed With Solid Planning

Yesterday, I received an email from a reader named Lauren. Here’s what she had to say: My husband and I have excellent credit scores (his 820, mine 814) but he does something that I am uncomfortable with. We are both very good savers, (age 56 and 55) he has his own business, I work and …

Weighing the Positives and Negatives of ING Electric Orange Checking

I’ve been weighing the positives and negatives of ING’s new Electric Orange checking account, which is now available to some existing ING Direct customers and will be available to everyone in a few months. Rather than repeating what’s already been said, I encourage you to read this fine summary of Electric Orange at The Sun’s …

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 …

What I Learned From Daisuke Matsuzaka

For those of you who don’t follow baseball, Daisuke Matsuzaka is a Japanese-born pitcher who is so talented that the Boston Red Sox paid his Japanese team $51.1 million just for the rights to simply begin negotiating a contract with Mr. Matsuzaka. A few of you might be slack-jawed by this, but it is generally …

Personal Finance in a Plastic Economy

As we move more and more towards a cashless economy, many of the traditional techniques for saving money don’t work as well as they used to. Many of us no longer have as much pocket change or as many loose dollar bills because we make most of our purchases with a credit card or a …

Evaluating and Minimizing Hobby Expenses

I have a multitude of hobbies that I enjoy, but lately I’ve been evaluating them more carefully in terms of the time spent and their cost. I spent two weeks recording the time I spent on my various hobbies and then estimated the cost of that time spent to get a “cost per hour” estimate …

Building a Financial (and Personal) Idea Diary

Although I (really) like to bloviate about all sorts of personal finance topics, I keep many more thoughts on my own finances to myself. I’ve found that keeping a handwritten diary of my non-numerical financial thoughts has been invaluable (for the numbers, I use a computerized ledger). I personally use a Moleskine daily planner for …

The Road to Financial Armageddon #10: What I Learned

Yesterday, I indicated some of the specific mechanics that I adopted to turn my financial situation around, and I’m happy to say that my finances have never been better. The solution to the problem, though, is much greater than mere financial tools. Even though I was able to discover and apply tools to solve my …

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 …

Introductory Credit Card Offers As Profit: Risks and Rewards

One advantage of building a strong credit rating is that you begin to receive many credit card offers with introductory 0% APR for six months or a year. These cards are great if you’re carrying a balance on another card; request a balance transfer when you sign up and the interest goes away. Of course, …

Preparing Your Financial Information For The Inevitable

As my net worth sneaks above the break-even point, I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have accumulated a small number of steadily growing assets and my primary debt at this point is student loans. As I look forward to the future, I see a house purchase and another …

Saving For Large Purchases Without Killing Your Budget

My current computer is nearing the end of its natural life cycle. I have had it for several years and done a few minor upgrades to it, but the monitor (one of the first reasonably priced 15″ flat panels) has had several vertical lines appear in it in the last few months and the motherboard …

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 …