• Reader Mailbag: Spring Rain

    What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. Car loan versus mortgage 2. Childhood identity theft 3. Shopping in Wal-Mart community 4. Tax refund questions 5. Change fonts to save money? 6. Phantom energy? …

  • Rethinking Allowance: Taking Off the Training Wheels

    As I mentioned recently, Sarah and I have noticed how our children’s relationship with their allowance has changed over the years. When we first started giving them an allowance, we used a simple strategy where they split their money up among several items – investing, charity, saving for a goal, and free spending. We only …

  • Celebrating Your Achievement Without Undoing Your Progress

    At one point, Sarah and I had almost $200,000 in total debt. Several years later, after a ton of hard work, we sent in the last check to pay off our final debt. We had achieved debt freedom. It was really tempting to celebrate that achievement. We had worked so hard for so many years …

  • Heating, Cooling, and Saving

    I really enjoyed this talk from Paul Wheaton on the reality of energy savings at home: Essentially, Wheaton breaks down the various ways to heat and cool your home into three groups. He mostly focuses on heat, but these ideas apply almost the same as cooling. The first group includes things that you touch for …

  • Ten Pieces of Inspiration #173

    Each week, I highlight ten things each week that inspired me to greater financial, personal, and professional success. Hopefully, they will inspire you as well. 1. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry on relationships and risk “Of course I’ll hurt you. Of course you’ll hurt me. Of course we will hurt each other. But this is the very …

  • Should Your Partner’s Debt Keep You Out of a Relationship?

    Recently, a reader wrote to me with what would have been a stellar reader mailbag question except for the fact that it was full of personal details. I attempted to edit the email down to something that could be shared without identity concerns (as I never want material readers send me to ever come back …

  • Price Per Unit Isn’t Always Useful

    The idea of “price per unit” is a pretty useful one to have when you’re shopping for goods. It’s a simple idea that many of us know about, but it never hurts to break it down again for new readers. When you’re at the grocery store and you’re considering items, you’ll compare a lot of …

  • When Your Spouse Passes Away

    A few days ago, I received an utterly heartbreaking email from a reader whose husband had passed away a week ago. She is in her fifties and has two grown children who are fully independent. One of them lives nearby and is helping her get her life back in order, but it’s going to be …

  • Reader Mailbag: Little Steps

    What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. Help disputing bill 2. Requesting credit increase 3. Most valuable thing you’ve learned 4. Finances and dating 5. Buying electronics for life? 6. Frugal social circle …

  • Experiments with Homemade Dishwashing Detergent: What Works Best?

    A few weeks ago, I was greatly inspired by this HouseLogic article where several different homemade dishwasher soap recipes are compared. I have struggled in the past with finding a homemade dishwashing detergent recipe that worked well, so I had high hopes for these recipes. Note: I took several pictures for this post, but most …

  • The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Focus on Happiness Edition

    Try this little experiment. For the rest of the day (or tomorrow, if you’re reading this late in the day), whenever you interact with someone, take just a second and ask yourself what you could do during that interaction to make that other person walk away happier. Then, try to do just that. Offer a …

  • 4 Ways to Tell That Your Personal Finance Advisor is Scamming You

    This article first appeared at U.S. News and World Report Money. Most personal finance advisors provide solid money advice that will help you achieve your goals. They sincerely want you to succeed, make genuine efforts to understand the specifics of your situation, and do their best to translate those specifics into a powerful plan for …

  • The Future of Taxes

    A few years ago, I wrote an article looking at the differences between a Roth IRA and a 401(k) with regards to how taxes will change in the future. If taxes go up, then a Roth IRA (or Roth 401(k)) is better. If taxes go down, then a 401(k) is better. When I’m offering financial …

  • “Buying It for Life” in the Kitchen

    Sarah and I are subscribers to the “buy it for life” philosophy. In short, it means that we’re willing to pay more for a product that does its job well but, just as importantly, will last a very long time, preferably for the rest of our lives. Here are six principles of “buying it for …

  • Reader Mailbag: The Weakness of Electronic Communication

    What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. College savings as gift? 2. Bullet journal 3. Company stocks 4. Unemployed; what’s next? 5. “Sell by” date on food 6. Will I need it later? …

  • The Problem with “Driving It Into the Ground”

    I subscribe to the philosophy of driving a car into the ground before you replace it. I’m thirty five years old and over the course of my entire life (since I was sixteen), I’ve been the primary driver of only three automobiles – and the third one is going to last several more years. With …

  • Digging Into the Buy Versus Rent Question

    Is it better to rent a place to live or to buy one? It’s a question that I get asked multiple times per week in some form or another. Usually, it comes from young couples who are being pressured by older people in their life to get out of renting and buy a home or …

  • Is the Middle Class Collapsing?

    A few days ago, I put an hour aside to watch this amazing presentation from Elizabeth Warren. Entitled “The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class,” Warren’s presentation makes the case that many, many factors are working against the ability of the middle class to maintain their standard of living. She delivered this presentation at the …

  • Ten Pieces of Inspiration #172

    Each week, I highlight ten things each week that inspired me to greater financial, personal, and professional success. Hopefully, they will inspire you as well. 1. Aristotle on parenting “Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.” – Aristotle Thus, a good parent works to establish good habits in their children. 2. George Saunders’ …