One of the most painful realizations I had when I started getting my financial life in order was that my job didn’t really earn me as much money as it seemed. My salary at the time of this realization was about $40,000 a year, so let’s use that as a baseline. Now, on the surface, that’s really good money. If I worked 40 hours a week for 50 weeks a year, I would be earning $20 an hour, right? Well, …

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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. Mess of debt and taxes 2. Renting out a room 3. Settling on retirement philosophy 4. Long games 5. Hotel disappointment 6. Future state retirement benefits 7. Lacking the “spark” for change 8. Taxes and online work 9. Renting for long road trip 10. Caucus thoughts When I’m writing, sometimes I …

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If there is a single mantra of The Simple Dollar, it’s this one. Spend less than you earn. There’s a reason that it’s my first rule of personal finance. If you can spend less than you earn consistently over various time frames (less this week, less this month, less this year all at the same time), you’re going to be in great financial shape. Spend less… It all starts with spending. Do you have your spending under control? Spending less …

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A few days ago, a technical problem with The Simple Dollar cropped up involving the front page not refreshing for some users of the site. A reader emailed me about it. A few months ago, I would have then spent several hours reading documentation and trying to figure out what was wrong. There would have been a decent chance that I would have broken the site in the process. I would have been stressed out, lost the chance to write …

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When I first reached my financial bottom, I felt desperately alone. I wrote about the pain of that financial bottom a while ago: In short, even though my mind kept searching for a way out, another saving grace, part of me began to realize that there was no way out this time. I began to feel completely sick to my stomach and disgusted with myself, so I walked back home. My wife was there on the couch, flipping through a …

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I can still remember how it felt to get my first real paycheck at my first real job after college. It came in the mail, and I stood by the mailbox at my old apartment building ripping open the envelope as soon as I realized what it was and holding that check in my hand. It was more money than I had ever seen at once in my life. I splurged with it – and with the next check, too. …

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The little boy you see in the picture above is my youngest son. He just learned to walk a few months ago, and all of his steps are little steps. It takes him a lot of time to accomplish many things you or I would consider simple. He often takes a whole minute to crawl up a single flight of stairs. Holding his hand and walking somewhere means I’m going to be taking three or four times longer, just because …

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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. Investing in light of default 2. Debt eradication 3. Loans or emergency fund? 4. Repetitive questions 5. What’s next on my path? 6. Time for a financial advisor? 7. Polite hygiene advice 8. Wedding and financial planning 9. What are readers like? 10. 2012 predictions How long does it take for …

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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. Unless you’re intentionally sticking with purely entry-level jobs or greatly restricting your career choices, you’re going to eventually find yourself in a position where you have to publicly present your ideas. It might just be to a room of peers, it might be to …

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In 2008, I published a book entitled 365 Ways to Live Cheap. The book itself is pretty straightforward. It’s a collection of 365 specific tactics for saving money. The experience writing the book was an interesting process, however. I had the genesis of the idea not too long after I started The Simple Dollar. I had originally been thinking of using the “365 Ways to Live Cheap” idea as a yearlong series of posts in 2008 and so I started …

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