Saving Money

Homemade Gift Series #6: Meals in a Jar

How to Make Complete Meals in a Jar A simple picture will probably explain things better than any introductory description could. The jar on the left, obviously, is a “Rainbow Brownie” mix, to which you add just a couple liquid ingredients, pour into a pan, and bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. The one …

Homemade Gift Series #5: Wine Jelly

How to Make Your Own Homemade Wine Jelly “Not everyone will like the caramel apple jam,” Sarah commented to me after we made it. As much as I liked it, I knew she was right: it was very sweet and lacked the tartness that I often crave in my jellies and jams. So we decided …

Homemade Gift Series #4: Homemade Beer

How to Make Your Own Craft Beer I often brew homemade beer. It’s an enjoyable hobby that allows me to sometimes use items from my garden and gets me deeply in touch with the natural process of making a homecrafted beer. I have complete control over the ingredients and can make whatever variation seems good …

Homemade Gift Series #3: Caramel Apple Jam

How to Make Inexpensive and Delicious Homemade Caramel Apple Jam A few weeks ago, my wife stopped by a roadside stand where an individual was selling apples. A lot of apples. My wife asked if there were any deals, and the seller told her that he would sell her 8 1/2 pounds of “seconds” (apples …

Homemade Gift Series #2: Homemade Soap

How to Safely Make High Quality Hand-Crafted Soaps Let’s just start this one off with two big, giant warnings! Warning #1 Making soap at home can be very fun and rewarding, and if done right, it can be an inexpensive way to make gifts. But it can also be very dangerous if proper precautions aren’t …

Homemade Gift Series #1: Vanilla Extract

How to Make Your Own Real Vanilla Extract For the last few years, one of the most prized possessions in our pantry has been a gigantic bottle of imported Mexican vanilla extract. It’s not that imitation stuff that you get on sale at the store, with weak vanilla flavor and added sweetener. This stuff is …

On Homemade Christmas Gifts

A few weeks ago, my wife and I were chatting about some of the best Christmas gifts we’ve ever received. Many great Christmas memories from childhood came up, as did some other great memories from various holidays since our marriage. Yet, when we both began to list some of our favorite gifts received over the …

The Two-Account System for Automatic Savings

Millie writes in, describing her interesting system of making herself save: I have my paycheck direct deposited into ING Direct. It comes in like clockwork on the first and third Friday of each month. Then, on the 10th and the 24th of each month, ING automatically transfers about 60% of that paycheck amount directly into …

Insights into Saving Psychology from The Economist

Recently, while digging through the magazines in our magazine rack, I came across the May 16, 2009 issue of The Economist. The Economist is my primary print source for news and it almost always gives me quite a bit of food for thought. Anyway, on page 82, I found a really interesting article entitled “Smooth …

Categories: Saving Money

The Paradox of Thrift

Two years ago (in those economic halcyon days before the so-called “Great Recession”), I wrote a short article entitled Is Not Spending Money Bad for the Economy? In it, I largely concluded (by my own logic) that not spending money – in other words, saving it – isn’t necessarily bad for the economy at at …

Creating a CD Ladder for Your Emergency Fund or Other Savings to Earn a Better, Safe Return

As I’ve mentioned before, my family has a pretty good sized cash emergency fund, somewhere around nine months’ worth of living expenses. Having that amount of cash available is a very nice security blanket for all of us, and in our savings account, it was earning roughly a 3% annual return. Safety, personal security, and …

Categories: Banking, Saving Money

Why Buying Things on Sale is an Awful Way to Save

For years, I’ve been on a closed email list with a group of like-minded people who enjoy sharing internet links with amusing comments (think of an email version of fark or reddit). Lately, though, the list has been completely overrun by a group of about two or three people who have become completely obsessed with …

Some Notes on SmartyPig

First of all, a disclaimer: while I’m not directly involved with SmartyPig, I did speak with the development team in detail during the development process and offered a number of suggestions and ideas, and I was kept abreast with their development along the way. This group sought my input during their process of growing from …

Categories: Banking, Saving Money

The Simple Dollar Gets A New Cell Phone – And Saves Significant Money In The Process

Over the last week, my cell phone has slowly been dying. The screen goes black randomly and it ceases to accept button input until I remove the battery and re-insert it. This phenomenon has happened with more and more frequency as of late, reaching the point where it’s killed phone calls in the middle of …

Categories: Saving Money, Shopping

Starting A Savings Account For Your Newborn

Last night, I was at a party for several homes in our neighborhood and I had a long conversation with a couple who were completely intrigued by The Simple Dollar. They asked me a lot of questions about it, and also asked a few personal finance questions. The one that really piqued my interest was …

Categories: Family, Saving Money

Building A Home Maintenance And Improvement Fund

Having lived in a house that needed constant upkeep when I was young, I know the value of having money on hand to take care of home maintenance. As a new homeowner, that means I’m going to christen a home maintenance and improvement fund so that when such issues appear, I can handle them. What’s …

Categories: Housing, Saving Money

Kicking My Candy Bar Addiction In The Foot – And Saving Big Money

As I’ve mentioned on here a few times before, I’ve been trying out the Volumetrics weight control plan in an attempt to lose a few pounds. So far, it’s been working quite well, but what I found to be quite interesting is that it really exposed one of my worst daily splurges – and now …

Calculating The Cost Of A Moving Service Versus The Cost Of Doing It Ourselves

Since my financial armageddon, I’ve become very good at calculating the cost of various services, the time it would take me to do it myself, and using that data to determine if it is an efficient use of time. As we’re about to move, one of the big decisions for us was whether it was …

Categories: Housing, Saving Money

Treat It As A Bill: How I Made A Commitment To Saving Work For Me

Not all that long ago, if I wanted to spend money, I’d look at what was left in my checking account and spend it. I knew in the back of my mind that I should be saving some money, but I never looked at it as a requirement at all. It took me a while …