Planning

The Net Worth Mentality

After posting my budgeting 101 article yesterday, I almost immediately got a response from a reader who had a very good follow-up question: You talk all the time about setting goals and measuring progress. Without a budget, how do you set personal finance goals for yourself and measure progress? My wife and I use only …

Preparing For and Surviving an Economic Downturn

Lots of people have written me in the recent past asking me how I am preparing for an economic downturn. Take, for example, this email from Arnold: A lot of major publications (The Economist being the biggest) have been predicting that the US will have a recession this coming year. My question has to do …

The Tug of War Between Frugality, Hobbies, and an Emergency Fund

Quite often, I admire my cousin and his wife for some of the frugal things they choose to do in their lives. They buy late model used cars and drive them until they need replaced, eat out only on extremely rare occasions, and know cold which generic products are basically the same as the name …

How to Create A Nifty Visual Savings Goal Reminder

As I slowly save for a new vehicle (we’re planning on a Honda Odyssey or a Toyota Sienna), I’ve come to realize that saving for a specific goal like this often seems slow and a bit unrewarding. Sure, the bank account goes up over time, but it still seems as though the goal is a …

Categories: Goals, Planning, Psychology

My Five Greatest Financial Fears – And How They’ve Changed Over The Last Year

Almost a year ago, I wrote five entries on my five biggest financial fears at the time. Here they are, one more time: #1. Buying a home We lived in an apartment at the time, and the idea of purchasing a home scared me to death. I didn’t know the first thing about purchasing a …

Selling My Future, One Dollar At A Time

Even though I have myself on a very healthy financial track, I’m still prone to the weakness of buying material goods. I think of things that I want and over time, I tend to talk myself into buying them, spending money that I really shouldn’t be spending. Many readers ask why I shouldn’t be spending …

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 Financial “Bad Luck”

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 …

Should I Be Saving Money Or Paying Down Debt?

On Thursday, I wrote about using a savings account to save up money, then using that amount to pay off a debt. This triggered the following comment: I’d be interested in hearing the benefits of doing the “savings” account method of paying off the student loan vs paying extra towards principal every month. Here’s the …

Categories: Debt, Planning

Helping An Old Friend Manage His Estate In An Interesting Way

The grandfather of an old friend of mine called me a while back, saying that he had a few questions that he thought I could answer for him. He’d heard about The Simple Dollar through the grapevine and wanted to start out talking to someone he knew, but someone without anything financially at stake in …

Categories: Planning

A Personal Finance Lesson From The Gap

About a week ago, I had a fairly interesting experience at The Gap. I stopped there on a spur of the moment as I was looking for gift ideas, and I was about to leave when I realized that there was only one noticeable employee in the store. That employee was running the only checkout, …

Forty Ways To Cut Your Monthly Expenses

One of the biggest challenges in personal finance is figuring out ways to reduce the regular bills that eat up your monthly budget. These continuous regular expenses simply fill up our budget, leaving us less money to invest for the future – and also less money to spend on things that we enjoy. 40 Ways …

How Much Emergency Fund Is Too Much Emergency Fund?

Yesterday, I mentioned my desire to have a twelve month emergency fund, which resulted in some very interesting discussion. Some of the readers thought it was a good idea – others felt that it was simply too much and that I should invest some of it. Back in April, one of my favorite bloggers covered …

Categories: Planning

Figuring Out A Debt Strategy After The Home Purchase

My wife and I have spent extensive time thinking about a plan for repaying all of our debts after we move into the home. Our goal is to be debt free (including the mortgage) in fifteen years – a goal that my wife heavily believes in. For me, although I don’t believe it maximizes our …

Categories: Debt, Planning

Big Dreams, Small Income: Financial Planning Without A Large Salary

Recently, Fred wrote in outlining his situation: I’m 35. I make $30K a year. I lose about $4K of that every year to child support. A divorce (and student loans) has placed me about $20K in debt. The region of the US I live in considers $30K a year a very good income. I have …

Categories: Advice, Planning

Financial Planning For A Life Of Volunteerism And Social Work

One of the most amazing people I’ve ever met has chosen a path of volunteerism and social work for her life. She’s taken the gifts and talents God has given her and chosen to forsake several much more lucrative opportunities to participate in a social work program fraught with challenges that I wouldn’t face for …

Budgeting In The Era Of Online Bill Pay

Recently, I sat down with my parents and had a lengthy discussion about a lot of financial issues (a separate ball of wax that I’ll deal with in another posting). During one part of this, my parents showed me the way they manage their monthly budget, mostly utilizing a steno pad, a calculator, and their …

Categories: Planning

Helping A Teenager Take The First Steps Towards Financial Freedom

Yesterday, I had a very long IM conversation with a young cousin of mine who is in high school and has a pretty lucrative lawn care business going on right now. Most of my younger cadre of cousins and nieces and nephews look to me for advice on a lot of things that they would …

Categories: Advice, Planning

How To Become Self-Employed: A Detailed Guide

For many, the demanding grind of a day-to-day job is manageable, but it becomes a psychological grind over time. You find yourself dreaming of something else and wondering how it can be done. Don’t worry, you’re not alone – anyone who even glances at mass media for long sees an incredible assortment of advertisements touting …