Each year, my wife and I give a certain portion of our income to charity. We usually select a few charities to help out at the start of the year and donate a significant amount to that small handful of charities. This helps us budget our charitable giving throughout the year. But it’s not always that easy. Our first attempt at dealing with charity was simply to give away our entire annual charity budget pretty quickly at the start of …

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One Change at a Time

April 20 2010

For quite a while on Facebook, I’ve been following a friend’s attempts at getting into better shape. He’ll post several updates about going to the gym regularly, how great his diet is right now (“I just ate two grapefruits for lunch.”), and so on. Then I’ll see an update along the lines of “Too tired to go to the gym this morning.” This will often be followed in a day or two by something like “That new KFC sandwich is …

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I have more great ideas for projects than I ever possibly have time to complete. I have a 2004 Santa Fe which is getting to be too small for my family. We have three kids now and plan to make it 4 and 5 in the coming years. (Though not within a year or so for the next one.) It has some minor body damage (scrapes, small dents, etc.) but still runs well. And it’s paid off. We are thinking …

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Review: How to Get Rich

April 19 2010

Every Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book or other book of interest. The title of this book alone encouraged me to not bother reading it for the longest time. As I’ve expressed before, I have no interest in being rich. I want financial independence, that’s all, and for me that’s not really a mountain of money. In truth, I just want time to do the things that I want to do. Over the last year, though, six …

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Whenever I go shopping, I find myself with an interesting mix of items in my cart. There’s quite a few generics, quite a few “low cost” name brands, and still some more rather upscale items (like organic fresh foods). Organic baking soda gets tossed in right next to the free range eggs, for example. Why exactly do I skimp so hard on some items but spend so much more on the others? How is that frugal in any way? Here’s …

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Given all of the things I write about on The Simple Dollar, some people tend to assume that all of this just comes easy for me and my family. To put it simply, it doesn’t. Just like everyone else, we struggle with decisions at times and find ourselves flailing at things that seem easy on paper. The Five Financial Problems My Family Deals With Clutter / Keeping Too Much Stuff I’m a collector of things that are important to me …

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Many newer readers of The Simple Dollar haven’t been exposed to the hundreds of great articles in the archives of the site, so this is a weekly series that highlights the five best posts from one year ago this week, two years ago this week, and three years ago this week. I call it … the Time Machine. One Year Ago (April 11 – April 17, 2009) Personal Finance 101: Charge Cards Versus Debit Cards Versus Credit Cards – Pros …

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Mal writes in: I loved your post about how little you save by not flushing. You should do the same thing about your favorite bugaboo, rewashing Ziploc bags! Rewashing Ziploc sandwich bags is something that I’ve joked about being a frugality “step too far” since the first days of The Simple Dollar. In March 2009, I completely prepared a post on this very topic, intending to present it in a very tongue-in-cheek fashion on April 1, 2009, but I never …

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My Five Year Goals

April 16 2010

One suggestion I frequently give to readers who write in unsure what to do with their money is to plot out some long term goals. The big question I usually ask them to think about is where would you like to be in five years? Over the last few months, my wife and I have done some soul-searching with regards to that very question in our own lives. We’ve come up with a small handful of five year goals for …

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Jennifer writes in: My husband grew up in an area that often had summer droughts and water rationing. Because of that, he was trained as a child to stick to the “if it’s yellow let it mellow if it’s brown flush it down” mantra. We’re married and live in an area that doesn’t have any water issues at all. In fact, we live near an immense reservoir. My husband still sticks to that same mantra, but now he claims it’s …

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