The Latest

Wasted Time and Your Real Hourly Wage

One of my favorite personal finance concepts is that of the “real hourly wage.” It was an idea I picked up from Your Money or Your Life and it’s well worth understanding, so let’s walk through it again before we move on. Your Real Hourly Wage Most of us can easily calculate our hourly wage. …

Categories: Getting Started

Eleven Things I Wish I Understood About Personal Finance Before Starting Out

Not too many years ago, I was a fresh college graduate who was lucky enough to get a job straight out of college during the 2001-2002 economic downturn. I was also primed to make a whole bunch of financial mistakes that, frankly, still negatively affect my life a decade later and will likely have ramifications …

Categories: Getting Started

The Problem with “Hot” Investments

About once a week, I take a trip to my local library to read up on the latest information about personal finance. I’ll grab current issues of all of the personal finance publications like Money and Kiplingers along with a newspaper or two and whatever personal finance books are on the “new release” shelf. I’ll …

Categories: Investing

30 Great Gifts for $5 (or Less!)

Gift-giving can be an expensive proposition. Most of the ideas that tend to pop into people’s minds when it comes to exchanging gifts are expensive ones – or, at least ones that add up to a lot if you have to buy many of them. That doesn’t have to be the case. There are a …

Categories: Frugality, Gifts

Questions About Excel, L.L. Bean, Food Processors, Wallets, 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. Excel for tracking spending 2. Looking at old receipts 3. Setting up life without cable 4. Is a food processor necessary? 5. Divorce and life sabbatical …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

20 Smart Things to Do with $20

I tend to have a surprising amount of luck simply finding money on the ground. I’ve found quarters, dollar bills, fives, and even twenties on a surprisingly regular basis, just sticking out of gutters or half-buried under leaves. Part of the reason is that, thanks to a lot of time spent hunting for morel mushrooms …

Categories: Getting Started

From the Scarcity Mindset to the Abundance Mindset

Four years ago, I wrote a very brief article on the idea of scarcity and abundance mindsets. At the time, it was an idea that was pretty fresh in my head, and so I didn’t yet have the opportunity to really cover it with any depth. Instead, it became an idea that I regularly referred …

Self-Reliance, Part One

Of all of the essays and short articles I have ever read, the one that has had the greatest impact on me is Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson. If you’ve read my “Pieces of Inspiration” column before, you’ve probably seen me quote from it several times – and for good reason. Every time I read …

Why Fees Matter

The absolute first thing I look at when comparing investments is the fees that are charged on that investment. I look at it before I look at the history of that investment or anything else. Why am I so interested in the fees? There are two reasons. First, the fees charged on your investments are …

Categories: Investing

Moments of Change

One of my favorite posts I’ve ever written for The Simple Dollar was called “The Longest Night.” In it, I discussed the day that I hit financial bottom. It was an afternoon in April 2006. As I sat down to pay some bills, I looked at the balance of our checking account and realized that …

Categories: Getting Started

Questions about Fruits, Generic Buys, Belts, Emergency Funds, 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. Time for a credit card? 2. Saving fresh fruits 3. Chefs and doctors buy generics? 4. Home value and insurance needs 5. Frequency of eating out …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Inspiration from Walt Whitman, Cardinal Sessions, Rule of Three, and More…

Once a month (or so), I’ll share a dozen things that have inspired me to greater personal, professional, and financial success in my life. I hope they bring similar success to your life. Quite a few people have written to me requesting that I bring back the old “Ten Pieces of Inspiration” series. I’ve decided …

The Dangers of Heroic Budgeting

There have been at least two periods in my life where I lived in an extremely cheap fashion. The first was during a period in college in which I lived in off-campus apartments with roommates. I lived off of ramen noodles and whatever was on sale at the grocery store (I lived on lots of …

Categories: Budgeting

Fourteen Strategies for Increasing Your Compensation at Work

Several weeks ago, I wrote an article outlining twelve tactics for shoring up your career during work downtime. Those suggestions are perfect if you’re looking to “shore up” your career – in other words, your focus is on improving your job security and maximizing your chance to find another job should this one go away. …

Categories: Careers

It’s Not About the Money

There was a time when I was absolutely obsessed with keeping track of my money. I checked all of my account balances daily. I recalculated my net worth on a weekly basis. I meticulously tracked every single expense. I didn’t want to miss out on a dime. Over time, I mellowed out on this type …

Categories: Getting Started

A Deeper Look at Proportional Budgeting

To people who don’t actively budget, budgeting can seem like a complicated mess involving spreadsheet programs, notebooks, and other materials. To others, it can seem like a restrictive nightmare, keeping your different types of spending in a tight box and holding back your freedom of choice to an unpleasant degree. (I actually don’t find either …

Questions about Home Buying, Windfalls, Icebreakers, and Diapers

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. Mechanical Turk to blog migration 2. Music for focused work 3. Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJ’s? 4. Investing advice for teens 5. Cheap lunches at work …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Choosing Income-Positive Hobbies and Projects – And Fifteen Examples to Get You Started

Like almost everyone in America, I fill my spare time with a number of projects and a handful of hobbies. I have a number of things I’ve consistently enjoyed over the years – reading books comes to mind, as does computer programming – as well as hobbies that I’ve jumped into passionately for a while …

Christmas in July

The average American family spends $749.51 on Christmas gifts. That’s a painful amount – it’s approximately 2% of the annual take-home income of an American family. As I’m writing this, Christmas is five months away. For me, that means it’s time to start planning. After all, if you know an event is coming in the …

Categories: Christmas, Gifts