Planning

Why Does “Fee-Only” Matter When Choosing a Financial Planner?

It’s easy to find lots of personal finance information online. Most of the time, it’s easy to see how it applies to your life. Frugality tips, for example, are very easy to incorporate into day-to-day living and see exactly how they’re saving you money. When you start moving beyond that and start looking at things …

Categories: Planning

Monthly Budgeting for Non-Monthly Wage Earners

Every so often, I’ll get a question like this one, from Gina: I am a federal employee and I get my paycheck every two weeks but all of my bills are monthly. What’s an easy budgeting system? This is a pretty consistent problem, actually. Many employees receive their pay on a weekly or biweekly schedule. …

Categories: Planning

Revising Your Writing, Revising Your Plan

For most of my adult life – and particularly over the past few years – I’ve written several novels and some partial novels. I’m well aware that they’re not good ones, even as I’m writing them. Instead, I work on them in order to improve my skills at characterization and plot development. As I’ve improved, …

Categories: Planning

Three Life Lessons About Life Insurance

Life insurance is a topic that has danced in and out of my life over the years. The Simple Dollar has even written a guide on life insurance. But here are three little tales about the times when life insurance has impacted my life and what valuable lessons I’ve taken away from those experiences. A …

Categories: Insurance, Life, Planning

A Simple Rule for Risk Assessment

So much of life boils down to the simple idea of risk. Every choice we make has some chance of a negative result, and being able to assess the chances of that negative result helps us figure out which choice to make. In day to day life, we make tons of quick risk assessments all …

Categories: Planning

Handling the “Estate Meeting”

Sometime during this week, I’m planning on sitting down with my siblings and my parents and hashing out the specific details of their estate – who will be the executor, how it will be split up, and so on. My parents don’t have a large estate, but they do have a number of personal items …

Categories: Planning

“The Thought of Starting This Project Overwhelms Me”

Right now, my office is a mess. There’s a huge pile of things waiting to be filed. There are a few stacks of books that need to be sent out for PaperBackSwap. I have several pieces of correspondence that need addressing. The closet is overstuffed with all sorts of different things. The floor has a …

Categories: Planning

Revising and Reworking a Failed Financial Plan

In 2003, shortly after getting married, I had an ambitious goal of saving for a 20% down payment on a house by the end of 2007. Over the next year, I did make some savings progress, but I kept falling behind my milestones. Eventually, fed up with myself, I gave up and more or less …

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, …

Preparing Your Information for Disaster

My grandmother passed away a month ago and, frankly, I’m still reeling from it in some ways. She was a daily part of my life for my entire childhood, a regular phone companion, and a person I visited (at least) monthly, even though she lived four hours away. My mother took the loss even worse, …

What’s Next?

One of the biggest themes running through The Simple Dollar is the drive to get one’s financial house in order – eliminate that high-interest debt, learn how to live cheaper, build an emergency fund, and focus on spending less than you earn. Once that becomes a standard of your life, though, it is inevitable that …

Categories: Planning

Making a Holographic Will

File this one under “interesting, but hopefully I’ll never have to use it.” For a long time, my wife and I discussed making out a will. Who would we leave our children to should something unexpected happen to us? Where would our assets go? After a lot of soul searching and discussion, we figured out …

Categories: Planning

Dollars and Sense When Life Hits You Hard

Not too long ago, a friend of mine lost one of his parents very suddenly. It just came out of nowhere and it felt like a punch in the gut to him. He spent a few weeks almost in a daze, lamenting the loss of his father, who he was very close to, and when …

Categories: Planning

The Guardianship Question

This is an extremely challenging article for me to write because it hits very close to home. Guardianship. Who will take care of my children were my wife and I to both pass away suddenly? It’s a question that’s so painful to think about that many parents simply don’t think about it – and that …

Categories: Parenting, Planning

How to Budget Using ING Direct (Or Another Full-Service Online Bank)

As regular readers know, I’m a very happy user of ING Direct. They provide my checking services, my savings services, and all of my online bill pay services. They even allow me to set up sub-accounts so that I can save for specific goals. In my opinion, ING Direct is the best of the full-service …

Do You Need to Leave an Estate?

One of the most common topics in personal finance writing is estate planning. Life insurance? A will? A living trust? These are always bandied about and readers are always encouraged to get on board with all of these things. What’s often not asked is whether or not estate planning really even applies to you at …

Categories: Planning, Retirement

Planning for the Long Haul: My Family’s Lifetime Financial Plan

Recently, I mentioned that my wife and I have developed a financial plan to cover our entire life until retirement, and several readers wrote to me asking for more details about this plan. So, let’s take a look and see what I was talking about – and perhaps it will inspire you to do the …

Categories: Planning

Personal Finance 101: The Basics of Estate Planning

A few days ago, I made an offhand mention of my will, which drew a lot of questions from readers about their own wills and other things they need to be taking care of in terms of being sure that their estate planning is in order. After reading those questions, I thought it would be …

Categories: Planning

Making and Maintaining a Master Information Document

About a year ago, I wrote a lengthy article about how to start a filing system, including information on what kind of filing cabinet to buy and what sorts of things you should file. Near the end, though, I wrote one little paragraph that deserves to be looked at again in more detail: A master …