• The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: One Percent Edition

    One interesting part of writing a blog on personal finance is that I’m constantly on the periphery of ideas like “the 1%” – the idea that the people in the world who are in the top 1% in terms of wealth have different motivations than the remaining 99%. The advice I give is all about …

  • Five Steps You Need to Take If Bill Collectors Are Contacting You

    This article first appeared at U.S. News and World Report Money. You failed to pay a bill when you were out of work or you forgot about an old debt. Suddenly, debt collectors are contacting you through the mail and on the phone. It can be frightening, particularly if you’ve never been in such a …

  • The Crossover Point and Frugality

    A long time ago, I wrote about a concept called the “crossover point”. The “crossover point” describes the point at which the returns from your investments exceed your living expenses, which means you can begin to fully live on your investment income and not have to work. To give you an idea of what the …

  • Letting Up

    When people find themselves first recovering from financial disaster, they often bear down very hard on every dime. They scrutinize every expense and every receipt, looking for a way to squeeze a few more dollars out of their life so that they can push down those debts a little bit. At that point, fear is …

  • Reader Mailbag: Dreams and Ideas

    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. Comparing passive investments 2. Handling mistakes 3. Turning down guardianship 4. Am I being paranoid? 5. Disposable homes 6. How much for retirement? 7. To move …

  • Seven Tactics to Avoid Wasting Food

    I was stunned by this article in the Washington Examiner that states that Americans waste 133 billion pounds of food each year. That adds up to about 400 pounds of food wasted per American man, woman, and child each year. If our family met that American average, the five of us would waste a ton …

  • Failing at Frugality … or at Life?

    It’s easy to look back on my history of frugal experiments and see a lot of failures. Not too long ago, I attempted to fix the toilet on our main floor. After three hours of grumbling and several broken pieces, I wound up calling the plumber, which would have been cheaper to begin with. Once, …

  • The Fleeting Luxury

    I’m not a big fan of sweet stuff. I’ve always been the type of person that prefers savory flavors, and my favorite thing in that regard is cheese. I love trying new kinds of cheeses. Every once in a while, I’ll splurge and buy a chunk of cheese that I’ve never tried before. Extra mature …

  • Ten Pieces of Inspiration #167

    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. March is Women’s History Month. Over the last week, I’ve been researching information about various women who have taken strong roles in the world to share with my daughter throughout …

  • One Hour a Day Keeps the Pink Slip Away

    Prior to 2008 (when I made the decision to write for a living so that I could have a much more flexible schedule for my family), I held a job in a research lab where I was involved with the processing and sharing of large quantities of scientific data. This required both computer programming skills …

  • Dealing with the Time Management Problems That a System Won’t Fix

    As I discussed recently, I view time management as a key element of personal finance success. A good time management system frees you up to engage in the things in life that you deeply value without the need to “throw money” at the situation. I use a system that’s largely based on Getting Things Done …

  • Reader Mailbag: Reorganizing Documents

    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. Projecting stock market returns 2. Thoughts on MtGox and Bitcoin? 3. Frugal furniture 4. Paid debts and credit reports 5. Kicking out child 6. Shopping for …

  • Handling Social Reactions to Changes in Your Spending

    When I first started cutting back on my spending, a significant portion of my social group took notice. They saw that I was less interested in expensive excursions like golfing and that I was sometimes skipping after-work meetups (and drinking only water at most of the ones I attended). Quite a few of the people …

  • The Art and Psychology of Self-Control

    One of the most difficult aspects of personal finance – for me, at least – is the art of self-control. I have always found it difficult to just say “no” to my spending temptations. For many years, I’ve found success in putting up barriers. This works, to a large extent. By making it more difficult …

  • The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: How to Be a Friend Edition

    Over the last week or so, I’ve watched my children each struggling with friendships. What does it mean to be a friend? How should a friend treat you? How should you treat a friend? When should you end a friendship? In one case, a new friendship is being built in a (somewhat) unexpected place. In …

  • Four Essential Personal Finance Books That Will Change Your Thinking

    This article first appeared at U.S. News and World Report Money. Most of the personal finance information that we hear and see is delivered in bite-sized nuggets, often in the form of investment recommendations and short cautionary tales. Because it’s all delivered in such little pieces, it’s hard to step back and get the big …

  • Chasing Money

    “Don’t think money does everything, or you are going to end up doing everything for money.” – Voltaire It’s not too uncommon for a frugal person to hear the criticism that they are “cheap.” At the same time, it’s also not too uncommon for a wealthy person to hear the criticism that they are somehow …

  • Is Time on Your Side?

    This stunning article from Yahoo! Finance describes in detail the difficult situation that many people in their fifties and sixties find themselves in. From the article: Thirty-four percent of workers have nothing set aside for retirement, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration. A study by the National Institute on Retirement Security found 40 percent …

  • Reader Mailbag: Marriage and Freedom

    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. Last-minute retirement savings 2. Personal finance suggestions are unrealistic 3. Assessing state of a car 4. Emergency fund for debt? 5. Never want to retire 6. …