• 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’ …

  • External and Internal Motivation

    If you’ve read The Simple Dollar for very long, you know that my children play a major role in motivating me to make good financial choices. I want them to have childhood security and to have every educational opportunity that I can provide for them, at least up until their college education. I use them …

  • Alternatives to Payday Loans If You Need Cash Immediately

    Payday loans are an incredibly poor deal for the customer. It’s a loan with an absurdly high interest rate. If you take out a payday loan, you’re going to come out the financial loser almost every time. They almost always cause more problems than they solve. Almost everyone knows that payday loans aren’t worthwhile, so …

  • The Danger of Results-Oriented Thinking

    For a month, you scrimp and save. You deny yourself a lot of little treats. You sell a few things on eBay. You make some meals in advance and eat at home a lot more. You make careful grocery lists. At the end of the month, you sit down and reassess your financial situation… and …

  • Reader Mailbag: The “Tool of the Month”

    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. Other investing options 2. Social media and career value 3. Dating expenses and budgeting 4. Struggling with lots of debt 5. Store credit card drawbacks 6. …

  • “Savings Per Hour” and the Power of Frugal Intuition

    Whenever I go beyond intuition and try to evaluate the exact savings found in a particular frugality method, the first thing I do is figure out exactly how much that method saves me regardless of how long it takes. Is this method providing a big savings or a little savings? For me, the tactics that …

  • The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Teaching Games Edition

    My oldest son is on a board gaming kick as of late. Most days, when he gets home from school, he requests that we play a board game. He’s able to pick up the rules of many of the games in our family’s collection, more than I would have guessed a few months ago. We’ve …

  • 4 Ways to Minimize Your Home Energy Bill This Spring

    This post first appeared at U.S. News and World Report Money. Winter is over! Spring is here! Spring offers many opportunities to save money. Spring makes it much easier to go outside and get some exercise. You can start a vegetable garden. Plus, when you’re outside, you can turn off all of the lights and …

  • Personal Finance 101: What Is Rebalancing?

    One topic I see referenced quite often in personal finance books – especially books focused on retirement – is the idea of rebalancing. It’s often discussed as though the writer assumes that the reader knows what rebalancing is, but given the confusion I sometimes see in reader emails, I don’t think the idea of rebalancing …