• Personal Finance 101: Percentages

    Markie writes in: My biggest struggle with personal finance is the numbers. I am terrible at math. When I look at percentages and stuff, I just want to lock down and tune out. This is actually a pretty common thing. One of the brightest people I know – an amazing writer who is a creator …

  • Ten Useful Things To Do With Your Tax Return Money

    We try really hard to not get a tax return each year. For the last several years, we’ve usually had to pay some money on April 15, which is fine with us – that means more money for us throughout the year. For many people, March and April means that a sizable check will arrive …

  • Reader Mailbag: Reusing Things

    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. Cash out of pension? 2. Store credit card as coupon? 3. Stomaching stock market fluctuation 4. Emergency supply question 5. Food while unemployed 6. 4% for …

  • Measuring Frugality

    Most of the time, when I’m evaluating the usefulness of a frugal tactic, I convert that tactic into dollars per hour. I’ll figure out how much I save, how long it takes me to complete that tactic, and then use a bit of basic math to convert it to that standard unit. For example, let’s …

  • The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: OneNote Edition

    Evernote is a software package I use several times each day. I use it for quick note keeping and some simple project organization. However, before I switched to using Evernote, I was a big user of Microsoft OneNote. I actually used that package for casual notes as well as organizing tons of different projects. Why …

  • Best Prepaid Debit Cards of 2014

    Finding the best prepaid debit card was once a task traditionally reserved for people who had trouble opening a bank account. Today, prepaid debit cards are becoming much more versatile. Many families and college students are regularly using them to manage their finances. If you have poor credit and can’t get a credit card, for …

  • 4 Steps to Take If You Loan Money to Friends or Family

    This article first appeared at US News and World Report Money. A friend or a family member is struggling with a financial problem. That person comes to you and asks you to lend money to help them through their crisis. What do you do? This situation comes up quite often in tightly-knit families where there …

  • How I Made a Pocket Recording System Work for Me

    As I’ve mentioned many times before, I rely heavily on a pocket notebook for recording ideas and jotting down expenses or things I want to investigate further. At least once a day, I run through these notes and deal with them in whatever way is appropriate for each note. I have found this system invaluable …

  • A Few Thoughts on Couples and Spending

    This past weekend, Sarah and I enjoyed a “getaway weekend” in the Amana Colonies with another couple that we’ve been friends with for many years. Whenever Sarah and I have a “getaway weekend,” we plan ahead for a budget for that trip, setting a soft limit on how much we’re going to spend on food …

  • Reader Mailbag: NCAA Tournament

    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. Elevation Group question 2. Income and home ownership 3. Prime price change 4. Struggling with expensive housing 5. LED bulbs break even point? 6. Buying gift …

  • Six Principles of a Marriage Without Money Fights

    During the first three or four years of our marriage, Sarah and I regularly argued about money issues. It never seemed as though there was enough money to pay for everything and, of course, it must be the other person’s fault, so we’d argue. Now? I honestly can’t remember our last argument about money. We …

  • Parenting, Permissiveness, and Money

    Sarah and I have a laid-back policy when it comes to how our children spend their money. We regulate their allowance to a certain extent by requiring that they give a certain amount to charity and save some for the future (as discussed here). We also require that they put aside a little for a …

  • On Splurging and Regret

    About a month ago, I spent about $150 on a giant pile of used books for a tabletop role playing game. A friend of mine was moving out of the country so I “borrowed ahead” on my personal spending money and dove in headfirst. I deeply enjoy tabletop role playing games and I will likely …

  • Ten Pieces of Inspiration #169

    Each week, I highlight ten things each week that inspired me to greater financial, personal, and professional success. Hopefully, they will inspire you as well. 1. George Carlin on work “Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.” – George Carlin The people that …

  • Five Quick Questions About Stocks and Taxes

    The idea of investing in stocks (outside of retirement accounts) can be rather stressful if you’ve never done it. Just figuring out what to invest in can be really confusing. Am I doing the right thing? Is this worth the risk? When you add taxes to the equation, it can get really, really confusing – …

  • The Gap Is More Important Than Anything (At First)

    Quite a few of the letters in the reader mailbag boil down to figuring out which of two or three options is the highest priority. People will want to compare investing options to paying down their mortgage or whether they should have an emergency fund or pay off a credit card. The reality is that …

  • Feeling Defeated? Here’s How to Rebound

    Sometimes, no matter what you do, life will hand you some lemons. It’s really easy to respond to that with a trite “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade,” but sometimes that just doesn’t work. Things you’ve been preparing for and working on for years have blown up in your face. The big dreams you …

  • Reader Mailbag: Teaching Emotion Management

    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. Renters insurance 2. Mint and security 3. A question about blenders 4. Network marketing question 5. Yard sales waste of time? 6. Career shift misery 7. …

  • Four Frugal Technology Recommendations

    Readers often contact me asking for recommendations for technology items at a low cost. They have a use in mind and they just want the item that will fulfill that use at the lowest price without any serious negative drawbacks. Four of these requests tend to repeat themselves quite often, so I thought I’d just …