Reader Mailbag: Renewal

September 1 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. Foreign country move 2. Is car replacement necessary? 3. Cell phone discount question 4. Collection sell-off 5. Car buying question with debt 6. Challenging home buying question 7. Hobbies and marriage 8. Helping mother-in-law 9. Books for economics 10. How children alter free time Who are the ten closest friends you’ve …

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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. Darrin said, Driving around town looking for the cheapest gas prices for the day. …

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One very interesting part of living in Iowa (a facet that I imagine is really only shared with residents of New Hampshire) is the huge amount of political gamesmanship that goes on in this state for the six months or so before a presidential caucus. Because Iowa is the first state in the nation to have a presidential caucus, presidential candidates descend on Iowa like locusts. There are events all over the state every single day where you can meet …

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Underemployment

August 31 2011

About twelve years ago, I had a job as a computer lab monitor at the college I attended. The job was easy. All I had to do was go to that room during designated hours, sit at a particular desk, and answer user questions, along with a few other minor tasks such as reloading printer paper and changing print cartridges. The vast majority of the questions were very basic. This left me with quite a bit of time where I …

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If you take out a $200,000 loan for 30 years at 4.5% interest, how much in debt are you? Some might argue that you’re only $200,000 in debt. However, when you look at the payments you’ve committed yourself to making over the years, you’re actually promising to make payments totaling $364,813.20. Thus, I’d argue that your actual debt is $364,813.20, even though you actually only received $200,000 in cash out of it. It’s kind of a scary way to think …

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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. Cheryl said, Making my own powdered dishwasher detergent actually seems more expensive than just …

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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. Move in together 2. The crossover point for cars 3. Freelancer feeling desperate 4. Retirement and wedding 5. Basics of prepaid credit cards 6. Debt repayment planning 7. Teenage kids and cars 8. Zucchini bread 9. Self-conscious about hobbies 10. Child discipline Six homecooked meals. A dance recital from not just …

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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. I’ve often talked about how having a social network that challenges you to improve yourself and encourages you towards good behavior can deeply shape how you think and the choices you make. Although I largely observed this idea on my own, a reader recently …

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Sharon writes in: How do you manage the balance between saving for the future and for your own personal goals with a desire to give to those less fortunate than you? It feels like they’re going in opposite directions. To an extent, this is a struggle for virtually everyone in the first world. Everyone reading this lives well into the upper half of the world in terms of standard of living. We constantly spend money on aspects of a standard …

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Rethinking Your Rules

August 28 2011

Right now, as you’re reading this, you’re completely in control of this moment, limited only by your absolute physical limitations. You can choose to keep reading this article. Or, you can choose to go outside and take a walk. You can choose to get in your vehicle and drive to the next state. You can choose to close your web browser and start playing a game. Most of the limits we put on our actions are completely self-imposed. We decide …

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