The Latest

Setting Powerful Short-Term Personal Finance Challenges … And 25 Examples to Get You Started

Much of our day-to-day lives has personal finance implications. We’re constantly making choices that either directly spend money or use up resources that are going to have to be replaced. When we eat, we shop, we go to work – all of those things, and many many more, have financial impact. At the same time, …

Categories: Getting Started

Questions About Insurance, BPA, 529s, National Parks, and More!

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. Insurance and breast pumps 2. Donations and religious groups 3. Cosigning on a mortgage 4. Cashing out whole life policy 5. Planning a “national parks” vacation …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

How to Start a Blog: A Side Business Primer

One of the most common requests I get from readers is for detailed information on how to start a side business of some kind. With minimal equipment and ample time, how can a person construct a side business in order to earn a little extra money? This is the first in a series of articles …

How to Switch to Collecting Experiences Instead of Things

In the old apartment Sarah and I used to live in, I had one whole wall filled with books. The bookshelf stretched from the floor to the ceiling and from wall to wall and, frankly, it was overstuffed. That bookshelf wasn’t too surprising, though. I’ve been a voracious reader since my early childhood, reading more …

Categories: Psychology, Shopping

15 Essential Personal Finance and Career Books

Over the years, I’ve read more personal finance and career books than I can possibly count. For the first several years of The Simple Dollar, I actually reviewed a book each week on the site. Yet, for all of those books, there were really only a few that had something inside the covers that stuck …

Categories: Books

How to Handle Being Ashamed of Being Frugal

The simple maxim of spending less than you earn stands at the heart of personal finance success. If you can consistently do that one thing, you’re going to succeed when it comes to personal finance. I repeat that idea all the time because it’s so true – it’s the core of everything. People get into …

Categories: Frugality

Twenty Powerful Tips for Discussing Money Topics with Your Partner

Throughout our engagement and the first few years of our marriage, Sarah and I never really sat down and had a real conversation about money. We each just more or less followed the pattern we learned from our parents. We dealt with any shared issues that were absolutely required in the briefest way possible. Needless …

Categories: Communication, Marriage

Summertime Reading

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. Moving in together 2. Paying no-interest bills ahead 3. Extra car keys? 4. Retirement basics 5. Do I need financial advice? 6. Home ownership questions 7. …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Twelve Simple Tactics to Shore Up Your Career During Work Downtime

When I used to work in an office environment, my days consisted of working on little projects and tasks that would fill half an hour or an hour or so, then I’d have a bit of downtime. I would either be doing some internal thinking about the next thing I needed to work on or …

Categories: Careers

The Value of Handwritten Notes

Whenever I happen to stop in a Hallmark store, I’m just astounded as to the wide variety of greeting cards on display in there. There are cards for birthdays, wedding anniversaries, bridal showers, engagements, weddings, new babies, job promotions, new jobs, good-byes, graduations, passing a big test, recovering from illness or surgery, sympathy, apology, christenings, …

Categories: Frugality

50 Fun Free Activities My Family Enjoys

One of the most popular articles I’ve ever written for The Simple Dollar is 100 Things to Do During a Money-Free Weekend. In it, I touch upon the idea of a “money-free weekend” – one in which you consciously avoid the active spending of money – and then drop a long list of activities you …

Categories: Family, Frugality

Are Ethanol-Blended Fuels a Bargain?

Ethanol Added and Premium Fuels Are a Questionable Bargain Over the last year, I’ve been keeping careful track of the fuel efficiency of my 2004 Honda Pilot. You know the vehicle – it’s the one I bought off of Craigslist a few years back. My driving in the vehicle is an almost equal mix of …

Categories: Automobile, Frugality

Reached Your Financial Limit? Fourteen Key Steps To Turn Your Finances Around

One of the interesting parts of running a popular website like The Simple Dollar is that you get to see the terms that people type into Google when they’re searching for your site. So, if someone types “money management” into Google and then eventually click on my site somewhere in the results for that term, …

Categories: Getting Started

Parents and Children and Other Things

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. Parents and gifts 2. Balance transfer question 3. Best free children’s educational programs 4. Non-monthly budget items 5. Acorns? 6. Product codes 7. Mortgage strategy 8. …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Building a Meaningful Life from the Bottom Up

One of the biggest struggles of modern life is the search for meaning and purpose. Most of the time, we go through our day-to-day lives just accomplishing the things we need to get done and relishing the spare time that’s left over. It can feel a lot like jogging on a treadmill, where life is …

The Razor Experiment: Smart Tactics for Razor Blades

I’ve been clean shaven for almost my entire adult life (aside from a disastrous beard experiment in college). Over those years, I’ve tried a number of different solutions for keeping a clean shave and, over the last several years, I’ve focused on ways to keep my face cleared without breaking the bank. These experiments have …

Categories: Frugality

Sixteen Tricks for Maximizing a Small Home or Apartment

When Sarah and I were first married in 2003, we moved into a pretty small apartment. According to what I could find online about it, it measured in at about 550 square feet. We viewed it as a temporary solution. It was okay for just the two of us, but we wanted a family and …

Categories: Housing

My Timeless Strategy for Buying Electronics

I write for a living, mostly for websites. It’s not surprising that I have a great deal of use for a number of electronic items. I have a smartphone, a reasonably modern computer, a laptop, and an iPad Mini. Almost since the day I graduated from college, using computers and other electronic devices has been …

Don’t Waste Food! A Ten Step Strategy to Avoid the Expense of Food Gone Bad

One of the biggest frustrations I have as a money-conscious person is when I toss something out that could have been used if I had just planned better. It’s painful whether I’m tossing out something that’s rusty, something that’s water damaged, or something that’s spoiled. This “tossing out ‘could have been used’ stuff” phenomenon happens …

Categories: Food, Frugality