This past weekend, I spent some time re-reading a large portion of Daniel Defoe’s classic novel Robinson Crusoe, which you can read in its entirety here. Most of us are familiar with the basic outline of the story. Crusoe is shipwrecked on an island and, after overcoming his initial grief, he manages to build a home for himself using only what he has on hand. Most of the story revolves around Crusoe’s solitary life on this island, as he starts …

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A few days ago, CNN Money posted an article listing ten giant money wasters. Here they are, in summary form: 1. ATM fees 2. Lottery tickets 3. Gourmet coffee 4. Cigarettes 5. Infomercial impulse buys 6. Brand-name groceries 7. Eating out 8. Unused gym memberships 9. Daily internet deals 10. Bundled cable or phone services Undoubtedly, each of these can be a huge money waster. They can each add significant and unnecessary expense to your purchases. At the same time, …

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Have you ever noticed that, when you’re trying a new diet or a new exercise routine or new spending habits or some other significant restrictive change in your life, it often only takes one mis-step for the entire program to fall apart? Once you’ve skipped an exercise session or eaten an entire Sara Lee poundcake in one sitting, it’s really hard to convince yourself to go back to your earlier restrictive choices. You just give up and walk away. The …

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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. Car trade-in question 2. Preparing for marriage 3. Used car buyer’s remorse 4. Credit score questions 5. Child cost question 6. College savings question 7. Handling house sale profit 8. Preserving digital records 9. Switching insurance companies 10. Baby sleep tricks Because of the influx of family members visiting this past …

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Review: Do the Work

May 23 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. A while back, I reviewed Steven Pressfield’s wonderful book The War of Art. In it, Pressfield discussed not only the challenge of creating something new, but the challenge inherent in earning money from it. The core of Pressfield’s argument is that earning money isn’t …

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Yesterday, my oldest son (who is about to start kindergarten in the fall) and I were looking at his portfolio from his two years of preschool work. His teachers collected quite a few of his art projects, photographs of his activities, and other materials and presented it to our family after his graduation from preschool. We had a lot of fun looking through the book together, cuddled up on the couch. He told me about many of the things they …

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When I graduated from college, I was lucky enough to have a job that I more or less walked straight into. I had about two weeks off between graduation day and the start of my new job. That new job paid far more per hour than any job I’d ever had – and it was full-time, too. Up until that point, all of my jobs had been part time jobs. The result? I was suddenly bringing in many times more …

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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. Flying a kite Our family spent a long afternoon at the park this past week just flying kites. We’d toss them up in the air, let the wind catch them, and let the string roll off of our spools. So often, the simplest things can just be incredibly fun. 2. Online filter bubbles One …

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Dinner With My Family will return next week. Right now, I am in (arguably) the best financial shape of my life. I’ve paid off all of my debts except for my mortgage and I’ve got a healthy amount in savings as well. Each month, I’m bringing in more than I’m spending. Many families in this situation might find themselves eyeing more expensive things. Why not go to the nicer restaurant? Why not buy that thing you’ve had an eye on? …

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It’s the middle of spring. We’ve seen our first 90 degree day in central Iowa. That means, of course, that it’s time to take stock of our clothing. The winter stuff largely heads to storage, as we don’t need thick long-sleeved shirts at this point and our pants are mostly skirts and shorts without many pairs of jeans or other pants necessary. With growing children, though, that means new summer clothes are needed. Here’s exactly how I shop for them, …

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