• When Your Mental Health Keeps You from Success

    Anxiety disorder. Depression. Panic attacks. Intense phobias. Our brains are incredibly complex pieces of meat. Just like other parts of their body, they can break down and not work quite right. Yet, society often treats ailments of the mind as something either not to be spoken of or something to be looked at as an …

  • Why Do You Buy?

    What’s the single most important piece of personal finance advice you would give a person? I’ve heard this question (or variations on it) many times. I have a very simple answer to it. Whenever you buy anything, ask yourself why five times. That seems really off the wall at first glance, but I firmly believe …

  • The Mythology of Spending and Mental Anchors

    I have a quick four question quiz for you to run through in your head. Just give your snap response to these – don’t think about each one too much. What is a wedding supposed to cost? What is an automobile supposed to cost? What is a home supposed to cost? What is a three …

  • The Cult of the New

    2010 has seen a ton of books released already that I’d love to read, from The Politician by Andrew Young to The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. (I happen to be passionate about books, of course – perhaps your passion is films or video games or gadgets or music or something else …

  • Some Thoughts on Post-Purchase Rationalization

    When I was a child, I went to the store with enough birthday money in my pocket to buy a new game for my Nintendo. After carefully thinking about the options before me, I whittled my choice down to two video game titles: Rampage and Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest. After hemming and hawing until my …

  • Review: Snap Judgment

    Every other Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a book of interest. Over the last few years, I’ve come to believe that the biggest key to personal finance success is controlling your own psychology and impulses. Our entire lives are filled with quick decisions we must constantly make – and, for the most part, we’re good …

  • Spending Choices and Deeper Psychology

    Christmas has always been a challenging time of the year for me. During various years, within a week or two on either side of Christmas, my grandfather (who I cherished) died of cancer, a great uncle that I was very close to also died of cancer, and one of my cousins who was exactly the …

  • What’s Your Motivation?

    As I sit in my office and look out the window, I can see a number of people and a few pieces of construction equipment busy at work about a quarter of a mile away. It just happens to perfectly line up that I can see the workers if I turn my head to the …

  • The 40/30/30 Rule

    Recently, I was reading a great article at The 99 Percent entitled The 40-30-30 Rule: Why Risk Is Worth It. I originally intended to include it in my weekly roundup, but as I thought about the 40-30-30 idea, I found that the connections to careers, personal finance, and life were profound. What is the 40-30-30 …

  • The Five Whys and the Power of Analyzing Your Life

    Over the last month, I’ve mentioned a technique I call “the five whys” two or three times. The technique itself is simple: when you see something in your life that’s not working like you want it to, you start asking “why” until you come to something where you can’t say “why” any more. When you …

  • The Hawthorne Effect and You

    We all do it. When we know we’re being watched, we’re on our best behavior. We often tend to perform better and we usually tend to make better choices, too. Then, when we think the focus is off of us, we relax and sometimes make different choices. This effect, in which we act “better” when …

  • How I Use My Net Worth as a Psychological Carrot

    I like keeping score. Keeping score is an easy way for me to know how well I’m doing. It lets me judge, in a very clear way, whether I’m improving and whether I’m making forward progress towards my goals. For a long time, I was obsessed with keeping score in various aspects of my life …

  • Stress and Overspending

    Lately, I’ve been under a lot of stress – perhaps the highest level of stress I’ve been under since switching to a full-time writing career. I’m in absolute crunch mode with my second book, with a manuscript due in a few days. I’ve also been slowly moving into public speaking – and I certainly get …

  • The Forgetful Mind

    I’ve written many, many times about how relevatory keeping a “thought notebook” in my pocket has been for me. Whenever I have a stray thought that might be useful at all to remember later, I jot it down in the notebook and then review it later, usually a couple of reviews a day. Figuring this …

  • Mirror Neurons: Why Watching Others Succeed Won’t Help You Succeed

    When I first started becoming interested in cooking, I went through a short period where I watched a lot of programming on Food Network. The idea behind it – in my own mind – is that I could learn about cooking through watching and then I could immediately apply it in the kitchen. What I …

  • Money Bullies

    When I was in seventh grade, a bunch of twelfth graders grabbed me one day. They tossed me in a trash can, popped a lid on it, then rolled the can (with me and some trash inside) out into the middle of the school’s parking lot. They then administered some kicks to the can and …

  • Some Thoughts on Moods and Spending

    For me, September is the unhappiest month of the year. Sarah, after being off all summer, returns to work at the end of August, leaving me alone at home many days with my thoughts and my work. This also means that the children’s daycare attendance increases as well. The house goes from noisy and happy …

  • The Path of Least Resistance Is the Path Without Opportunities

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein In response to my recent article, Are Poor People Lazy?, where I concluded that laziness doesn’t always equate to poverty and vice versa, Pamela left this comment: There are many factors that lead a person to the life they …

  • Seven Tempting Places – And Eight Ways to Minimize Their Impact

    I’m often tempted to spend money that I shouldn’t. I’m good at restraining my impulsive nature. I don’t simply go into stores and then emerge later with a hefty bag, a credit card bill, and a dazed look on my face. Still, in certain places, I am strongly tempted to spend. I look around and …