The Latest

Handling Small Cash Gifts

Recently, the subject of cash gifts came up between my wife and I. Her grandparents both give us moderately sized cash gifts each year (between $50 and $1000, to give a range) as a Christmas gift. In years past, we have almost immediately spent these gifts on some sort of material item, often contributing some …

Categories: Family, Gifts, Marriage

Setting and Meeting Daily Personal Financial Goals

Ever since I was young, I have had a number of daily goals for myself. Most of them seem rather mundane: commit a random act of kindness, read for at least half an hour, brush my teeth and use Listerine twice, and so on. Most of them have a clear metric for success. However, since …

How to Build Credit in College

While I was reading a thread at The Consumerist on ways to get started with credit, I found myself repeatedly shaking my head at the number of extremely questionable ideas that people were coming up with.  Buying CDs and using them as loan collateral simply to improve your credit seems like financial suicide to me. …

Return to Thunderdome: Calculating the Value of the ING “Signing Bonus” Versus HSBC’s Higher Interest Rate

When I compared ING and HSBC, I discussed how HSBC’s annual percentage yield of 5.05% is significantly better than ING’s annual percentage yield of 4.4%, but I felt that ING’s service was significantly better. One of the comments, from Boston Gal, made the astute observation that ING’s current “signing bonus” of $25 did a good …

Dreams and Wishes – and Reality

As an exercise, I made a list of every single material thing I would like to have if money was no object at all. My list was pretty basic: a nice five bedroom home (because I would like to have three children and a guest bedroom), a very reliable automobile, a computer that wasn’t literally …

Categories: Family, Psychology

Review: The Millionaire Next Door

The general premise of The Millionaire Next Door is that the pop culture concept of a millionaire is quite false and that most actual millionaires live a very simple lifestyle. The authors, Stanley and Danko, did extensive profiling of people whose net worth defined them as millionaires along with those whose salaries and age defined …

Categories: What We're Reading

Defining My Long-Term Financial Goals … What Are Yours?

As a young man still more than a year away from the big 3-0, I have most of my adult productive years ahead of me. What are my goals during these years? Here, I intend to break them down by age. For the record, I will turn 30 in one year and eight months. At …

Categories: Planning

Applying the Peak-End Rule to Personal Finance

The peak-end rule is a psychological phenomenon that indicates which parts of a past experience we recall and use to define that experience. From Wikipedia: According to the peak-end rule, we judge our past experiences almost entirely on how they were at their peak (pleasant or unpleasant) and how they ended. Virtually all other information …

Building a Financial (and Personal) Idea Diary

Although I (really) like to bloviate about all sorts of personal finance topics, I keep many more thoughts on my own finances to myself. I’ve found that keeping a handwritten diary of my non-numerical financial thoughts has been invaluable (for the numbers, I use a computerized ledger). I personally use a Moleskine daily planner for …

The Road to Financial Armageddon #10: What I Learned

Yesterday, I indicated some of the specific mechanics that I adopted to turn my financial situation around, and I’m happy to say that my finances have never been better. The solution to the problem, though, is much greater than mere financial tools. Even though I was able to discover and apply tools to solve my …

The Millionaire Next Door: Buy or Don’t Buy?

This week, The Simple Dollar is conducting a detailed review of the often-lauded personal finance book The Millionaire Next Door. First published in 1996, the book has held a consistently high level of popularity for more than a decade. What valuable insights does this book contain? Let’s find out. Yesterday, we learned that the typical …

Categories: What We're Reading

The Simple Dollar Morning Roundup: Veteran’s Day Edition

Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day, a day in which Americans are to remember those who fought in wars. Regardless of your feelings on the current military activities of the United States, the troops on the ground lay their lives on the line every day representing this nation, and we should remember them. That said, let’s peek …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Saving Money on Road Trips

My wife and I live more than four hours away from our hometowns, so when we visit our parents and extended family, we spend a lot of time in the car. Over the years, we have developed several techniques for optimizing the cost of the trip. Here’s what we do: Perform some basic car maintenance …

Categories: Frugality, Travel

Investing A Young Child’s Allowance

When I was young, my best friend’s family used to give him and his siblings an allowance based on their age (I didn’t have an allowance, mostly because there simply wasn’t the money for it). When you were ten, for example, you would multiply your age by a certain factor (in their case, $1) and …

Categories: Investing, Parenting

The Road to Financial Armageddon #9: The Road to Recovery

Yesterday, I described my financial meltdown, when I reached a point where there was more money going out each month than coming in with no real hope for redemption without a change from within. Then, thanks to some inspiration, I made that change. The first thing I did was I laid out every single expense …

The Inspiration For The Simple Dollar

Today, I thought I would introduce you to the inspiration for The Simple Dollar. It’s not my own money, or someone else’s money; it’s a person. Joe is a little boy who just turned one year old. Just one year ago, I was sitting in a hospital holding him for the first time. As I’ve …

Categories: Meta, Parenting

The Millionaire Next Door: On Living

This week, The Simple Dollar is conducting a detailed review of the often-lauded personal finance book The Millionaire Next Door. First published in 1996, the book has held a consistently high level of popularity for more than a decade. What valuable insights does this book contain? By the end of the week, perhaps we’ll discover …

Categories: What We're Reading

The Simple Dollar Morning Roundup: Lost Season Finale Edition

The Lost season finale (or midseason finale… or whatever) was underwhelming to say the least. The show seemed to culminate with the second season finale and has just been spinning its wheels this entire season so far. Bleh. Let’s talk about personal finance. Old Credit Cards Never Die, They Just Fade Away Even if you’ve …

Categories: Morning Roundup

Jim Cramer’s Cult of Personality

You almost can’t avoid that face, can you? He’s on three times a day on CNBC hosting Mad Money, plus his book Jim Cramer’s Real Money, featuring his smiling face on the cover, is almost ubiquitous if you go anywhere near the personal finance section of a bookstore. If you’re concerned about your money and …

Categories: Jim Cramer, Television