Last night, we had a small birthday party for just a couple of our daughter’s friends to celebrate her birthday. We held the party at a park and had a simple treasure hunt and a couple of party games – a very simple and pleasant birthday party. At the party, she only received two presents. In comparison to that, we had given her five (or so) presents at home earlier in the week, along with a gift from her grandparents. …

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Is the United States headed in the right direction? Is it headed in as poor of a direction as many prognosticators like to say that it is? You’re going to get as many answers to that question as there are grains of sand on a typical beach. Some people will agree completely with a certain prognosticator. Others will shout “DOOM!” from the rooftops. Still others will say, “Bah, it’s not so bad” (I tend to be in this latter group, …

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Reader Mailbag: Rereading

September 8 2011

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. IRA contributions and taxes 2. Buying on credit 3. Biggest weakness 4. Using IRA for other purposes 5. Kids and memorable experiences 6. Approaching a pastor 7. Vacation rules of thumb 8. Retirement money for housing help 9. House repairs and debt 10. Insomnia Over the last few weeks, I’ve been …

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Saving Pennies or Dollars is a new semi-regular series on The Simple Dollar, inspired by a great discussion on The Simple Dollar’s Facebook page concerning frugal tactics that might not really save that much money. I’m going to take some of the scenarios described by the readers there and try to break down the numbers to see if the savings is really worth the time invested. Naomi said, Garage Sales – it takes a day to set up; we usually …

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Over the past week, I’ve had the worst case of insomnia I’ve had since my college years. I simply cannot get to sleep before one or two in the morning, and during the last few hours of being awake, I’m basically useless. I can’t write anything coherent and if I read, I barely remember what I’ve read. Mostly, I’ve been filling those hours with mindless household tasks and some simple gameplaying (leveling up characters in RPGs, mostly). I’ve also left …

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They

September 7 2011

You would have much greater personal wealth if only they would get things in order in Washington. You would have received raises and promotions if only they would see your value at work. You would have a job if only they would actually read your incredible resume. You would be able to save money if only they didn’t manipulate you into buying stuff. No matter what is going on in your life, you can probably find a reason why someone …

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Time for a confession here. The single biggest challenge I have when it comes to avoiding unnecessary purchases is avoiding them online. I think there are a few reasons for this. First, I don’t have a chance to talk myself out of a purchase. In a store, I typically have several minutes between when I pick up the item and when I’m actually at the checkout purchasing the item. I often use that time to try to talk myself out …

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Reader Mailbag: Art Museum

September 6 2011

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. Refinancing decision 2. Maintaining good credit 3. Toning down our wedding 4. Handling a windfall 5. Handling a changing 401(k) 6. Handling unpayable medical bills 7. Repossession and marriage 8. Muffins instead of bread 9. Recovering from early identity theft 10. Caucus plans This past Saturday, I (finally) got to go …

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Review: From Bud to Boss

September 5 2011

Every Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance or other book of interest. Also available is a complete list of the hundreds of book reviews that have appeared on The Simple Dollar over the years. One of the best discussions I’ve ever had with a reader was with Emily. Emily worked in an office environment where the supervisor position was going to become available soon. She felt as though she had the skills to take on that position and …

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Let’s face it: if you live in a small town, your gym options are limited (at best). Even if you live in a city, going to a gym can be expensive if you’re trying to get into shape. The question I always ask is why go to a gym? What does going to a gym offer than home exercise does not? Here are some of the issues I worked through before deciding to give up my gym membership and exercise …

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