The Latest

When You Repeatedly Fail at Financial Change

During 2004, 2005, and early 2006, I made a lot of feeble attempts at turning our finances around. I’d make these little commitments to myself to stop spending so much money or to start paying off credit cards. It never took very long before those commitments fell apart and, before long, I didn’t even really …

Categories: Getting Started

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #181

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. Seneca on life’s burdens “I ask not for a lighter burden, but broader shoulders.” – Seneca Everyone has pain. Everyone has challenges. Life is about your ability to deal …

Reducing the Cost of a Summer Road Trip

This summer, my family is going on a very long road trip to multiple national parks, a stop at Disneyworld, visits with relatives, and many little side trips and journeys along the way. We are going to see large parts of the United States and do it all in an automobile. No matter how we …

The Small Windfall

Every once in a while, I’ll get a big windfall. For example, not too long ago, one of my books was reprinted in Korean and I received a surprisingly nice advance from that, almost completely out of the blue. When I get a nice windfall like that, I usually do smart things with it. I …

Categories: Getting Started

Where Will You Be If Nothing Changes?

Quite often, I encourage people to visualize their future in five years or ten years. I usually suggest that people try to visualize their perfect future so that they have a goal to work towards. However, some people don’t thrive on looking forward at a goal. Instead of running toward something, they make more progress …

Categories: Getting Started

Reader Mailbag: Personal Finance Isn’t an Exact Science

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. Buy it for life spatula? 2. Savings question 3. Fun without spending 4. Buying and selling laptops 5. Financial independence and children 6. Teenage entrepreneurial guidance …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

The Unhappy Call

A few days ago, I called my internet service provider. I had an issue I wanted to discuss with their customer service people. Don’t get me wrong – I actually really like my internet service provider. They have fast service when there’s a problem and there’s rarely a problem. The speeds are consistent and don’t …

Categories: Frugality

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: The Circle Edition

Recently, I read Dave Eggers’ wonderful novel The Circle, which, like every great novel, manages to simultaneously work as a page-turner and as a thought-provoker. The big ideas behind The Circle focus on privacy in the era of the internet and big data and branch out into the meaning of social networks like Twitter and …

Categories: Morning Roundup

6 Ways to Save Money at Summer Concerts and Music Festivals

This article first appeared at U.S. News and World Report Money. Bonnaroo. CMA. Firefly. Lollapalooza. The summer calendar is filled with amazing festivals for music fans, where attendees have the opportunity to hear live performances from dozens of great musical acts in just a few days. Unfortunately, attending concerts and festivals can really add up. …

Categories: Frugality

Buffett’s Prediction Versus the Past: Why Can’t We Expect 10% Returns?

A few days ago, I was running some errands and listening to a real estate guy on talk radio. He was arguing about investments with a caller and along the way, he made a statement that stuck with me. He said that if you go back and look at the history of the stock market, …

Categories: Investing

Using an Inexpensive Streaming Video Box to Replace Cable Television

There is an astounding amount of quality movies and television series available on Netflix. There’s a shocking number of great channels available on Youtube. Add on top of that the many, many other streaming services out there, both free and paid, and you begin to realize that there is far more than enough television content …

Reader Mailbag: Book Club

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. $82 a day for retirement? 2. Wedding photography 3. Passive income 4. Trick for fuel saver programs 5. Value of nice restaurant 6. Frugality and context …

Categories: Reader Mailbag

Planning a Great “Stay-cation”

This summer, my family is going on a fairly expensive and lengthy road trip throughout the southeastern United States. It’s definitely going to be one of our pricier vacations, all told, so we’re already thinking about ways to make a much less expensive summer vacation next year. Our plan? A “stay-cation.” We actually did this …

Categories: Travel

The Pictures

Yesterday morning, I played a fun little game with my two oldest children. I think one of them picked it up at school. It’s a simple game, really. You start off by writing a very simple sentence of the form [adjective] [noun] [verb] [noun]. So, for example, you might write “The big dog chews on …

Categories: Getting Started

Retirement Age and Changing Lifespans

Not too long ago, I was at the library researching an article on Social Security and the value people could expect to get from it using historical numbers. (I decided not to do the post because it requires some prediction of the politics in the future.) As I was looking for information, I came across …

Categories: Retirement

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #180

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. Maya Angelou on people “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we …

There Is No “Magic Bullet”

Whenever I face a problem in my life, I want to solve it. Now. The sooner the better. When Sarah and I first started to face up to our financial troubles in 2006, I wanted a solution. Now. The sooner the better. I went to the library and checked out a mountain of books. I …

Categories: Getting Started

Credit Card Interest Typically Compounds Daily – Here’s How to Take Advantage of That

A few weeks ago, I posted an article on the idea of interest that accrues daily. Here’s a brief explanation; check out the full post for more details: Some banks will accrue interest daily. Some even accrue it continuously. Rest assured, the more often a bank accrues interest on your debt, the worse it is …

Categories: Credit Cards, Debt

Building a Better Day

On Tuesday, I woke up, got the kids ready for school, spread organic fertilizer over our back yard, got in contact with a local Congressional campaign about volunteering for them, spent two hours at the library doing research, wrote three articles, read a few chapters of a challenging book, played with my children for a …