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. Bank ignores me! 2. Gold digging or thinking ahead? 3. Encouraging others to think frugally 4. Why saving, not investing? 5. Budgeting software 6. Finding my loans 7. Reordering checks 8. Interest-only loan problems 9. How early for retirement savings? 10. Gaming site A great deal of the work that goes …

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Review: Bait and Switch

January 31 2011

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. One of my first book reviews on The Simple Dollar was of Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed. In that book, Ehrenreich took a number of minimum-wage jobs and reflected on the challenges of the work and the difficulty of surviving on such a low …

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A few weeks ago, I gave a somewhat negative opinion of P2P lending sites such as Lending Club and Prosper. Here’s what I said about them: Quite honestly, if I were going to invest my nickels and dimes into peer-to-peer lending, I’d probably do it with Kiva and not worry that much about a return. From what I’ve seen, on such peer-to-peer sites, the returns on the few good loans they offer are really low, while the failure rate on …

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Earlier this month, Sarah returned to her work after an eight month unpaid maternity leave. Her return changed the flow of things around our house. Suddenly, I was back in the position of spending a lot of one-on-three time with the children, particularly during the workweek. This obviously has altered how and when I’m able to get work done and it’s made me crack down on being efficient with my work. (An aside: every time I mention that Sarah returned …

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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 Bernard Shaw on playing “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” –George Bernard Shaw I try very hard to live by this idea and include some play in my life every day. I play with my children. I play games with my friends and, sometimes, …

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Bean Burrito Recipe Here’s what I’ve had for a lunch and for a supper over the past few days: Bean burritos. Very simple. Very inexpensive. Very tasty. Freshly sliced apples on the side are a nice sweet accompaniment. What You Need You’ll need cooked beans, roughly two heaping tablespoons worth for each small burrito. You’ll need small tortilla shells. You’ll also need whatever toppings you’re going to want on it – salsa, onions, tomatoes, cheese, lettuce, guacamole, whatever it is …

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As some of you know, I spent a year or two in my past playing competitive Magic: the Gathering (a card game with organized tournaments), earning enough winnings for the hobby to pay for itself. I was never able to compete at the highest levels, mostly due to time constraints from my career and my marriage (which seriously limited how much time I could devote to gaming). Near the end of that period in my life, I picked up a …

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Planning Summer Travel

January 28 2011

This seems rather strange, perhaps, but Sarah and I have our summer plans more or less penciled in through 2015. That’s right, 2015 This summer, we’re going to Seattle. The following summer is a trip to New Orleans with my family. The summer after that will feature a trip to Boston, with the summer after that featuring some extensive national park camping. The summer after that? Disneyworld. We’ve even started talking about subsequent vacations, including trips to Norway, Japan, and …

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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. Buying the next house 2. Starting over from scratch 3. Loan disqualification 4. Starting a business 5. Taking care of Mom 6. Building credit with business cards 7. Stocking my HSA 8. New side business and taxes 9. Diverting retirement to mortgage 10. Interest calculations One thing that deeply frustrates me …

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One of the more costly (and unhealthy) routines I once had was grabbing sodas out of the refrigerator, taking them into my office, and gulping them down. Not only was it costing my health, but it was also an expensive routine. Even if you buy in bulk, a can of soda is still going to cost you a good quarter. Obviously, this was a routine that needed to change, both for my body and for my wallet. My first approach …

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