Talking to a Reader

May 28 2010

A few days ago, I was sitting in a coffee shop (my once-every-two-months-or-so visit) reading some of the comments on The Simple Dollar with my laptop. Out of the corner of my eye, I could tell that someone was looking over my shoulder at the screen, so I glanced over at this fortysomething lady. She smiled at me and said, “I love that website.” I couldn’t resist. I said, “Well, watch this,” clicked on the “about me” link at the …

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Five minutes of maintenance can save hundreds of dollars, lots of time, and tons of heartache. For me, maintenance of the things I rely on in life has become a complete no-brainer. Spending a bit of time here and a bit of time there on the valuable things and the important things in my life extends their lifespan. It helps them to keep running great. It makes sure those important things are there when I need them. It extends the …

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I revel in used stuff. I use PaperBackSwap almost religiously. I love shopping at thrift stores and consignment shops. I look forward to yard sales and make a day out of “community yard sale day.” Undeniably, though, there are drawbacks. Sure, you get a nice financial bargain, but no purchase is a perfect one. Whenever I talk about my love of buying things used, I hear from people about the problems of buying used – and some of the same …

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If you like a particular film and want to see more like it, see that movie in the theatre or buy the DVD or at least check it out from the library or watch it on a streaming service like Netflix. If you like a particular type of music, pick up a legal mp3 of it from Amazon or at least listen to it streaming on Pandora. To put it simply, if you just complain about what’s available and buy …

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Pulling the Trigger

May 27 2010

One of the biggest challenges of saving money for a big goal is when exactly to go forward with that purchase. Three examples: For almost three years, I saved money for a replacement for my truck. For almost a full year, we shopped for a replacement while continuing to save and, during that year, we passed over several potential replacements before finally settling on a 2004 Honda Pilot. We wound up spending significantly less than we had saved, but we …

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Over the last eleven days, my wife and three kids and I have been on one long road trip, hitting multiple graduations on different weekends and visiting grandparents and siblings and various other people along the way. I am bone dead tired at this point. Tip: an eleven day road trip with a four year old and a two year old and an infant is not fun. A five day vacation? Sure. Eleven days with more than a thousand miles …

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Late last week, the New York Times published an article of reader-collected techniques for prevailing in customer service disputes. Here’s a sampling of a few of my favorites from the article: USE YOUR CAMERA Suzanne Barchers of Stanford, Calif., always photographs any unpleasant surprises in hotel rooms, using her handy digital camera. Of a recent trip to Las Vegas hotel she writes, “When asked upon checkout how my stay was, I simply said, ‘Let me show you.’ ” The images …

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Kelli writes in: My husband and I are sitting on a thirty year mortgage (with twenty six years left to go). We still owe $330,000 on our home. A week ago, a very similar home to ours two blocks away sold for $220,000, so we’re under water by at least $100,000. We are thinking of just walking away from this mortgage and renting an apartment for a while until our credit clears up. What do you think? First of all, …

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Several years ago, at my first post-college job, I worked in a small office with three other people. One of them (who I’ll call Campbell) was probably the best co-worker I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. The other (who I’ll call Kathy) made the office environment so poisonous through her constant negativity that I considered quitting after six months. Every day, Campbell and I were faced with criticisms without suggestions for improvement. We also were tasked on a …

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In the last week, four of the best young people I know (I’ll refer to them by first name: Brittany, Cody, Vicky, and Amanda) have donned caps and gowns and strolled across a stage in celebration of the ending of one stage of their life and the beginning of another. If they live up to even a fraction of their potential, the world will be a much better place. I have a ton of optimism and hope for these guys …

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