Six Ways to Make The Simple Dollar More Useful for You

The Simple Dollar receives a lot of visitors each day. Many of you pop onto the home page, see what articles are fresh and new, read through them, and bop onto another site. What you might not realize is that there are several very simple additional ways through which you can enjoy and get useful information from this site. Here are six of them.

1. Utilize the search box.
In the upper right corner of each page, there’s a little search box that allows you to search through any article ever posted at The Simple Dollar. If you have a specific topic in mind that you’re interested in at the moment, type in that topic into the search form – you’ll likely find that I’ve written something about it or that someone’s posted a comment relating to your area of interest.

One particularly useful way to use the search field is to check for old book reviews. Almost every day, I get a request from someone to review a book that I’ve already written about – I’ve posted literally hundreds of book reviews here. If you’ve spied a personal finance or personal development book somewhere and you’d like to know more, use that search field and find out if I’ve written about it already – there’s a good chance that I have, particularly if it’s not a book that’s new in hardback.

2. Subscribe by email or RSS.
Roughly 15,000 readers are subscribed to The Simple Dollar by email. Each day, they receive the contents of the last day’s worth of posts in their email inbox – and on rare occasions, they receive something extra. If you’d like to receive The Simple Dollar in this way, fill out this form:

Another option is to receive the site’s contents via RSS feed. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and it refers to a very simple method that allows for people to read the latest articles at the blogs that they read all at once. The easiest way to get started with RSS feeds is by using Google Reader. I use Google Reader several times a day to keep tabs on about fifty different blogs that I follow closely.

3. If you have an article idea, tell me.
Readers seem to always have great ideas for articles for The Simple Dollar, but quite a lot of the time I simply don’t see them. To put it simply, I’m often overloaded with material coming in from readers and commenters and I simply miss some things in the hundreds and hundreds of daily comments on posts and daily emails that I receive. I do my best to keep up, but sometimes it’s just overwhelming.

If you have an idea for a post you’d like to see, the easiest way to let me know about it is to contact me with an email with the subject line “Article idea” or “Post idea.” If I see something like that, I always read it and jot down the idea – and fairly regularly those ideas become the articles you read here.

4. Use an article here to start a discussion with others.
An article on The Simple Dollar might spur you on to some positive internal thinking, but you can also use the articles to spur discussions with friends and family.

For example, if you read something that really resonates with the state of your marriage, you might print out an article and give it to your spouse to read, then bring it up at the dinner table the next night. It can open the door to the kind of meaty, valuable discussion that is the bedrock of a good marriage.

Another example: if you see a great list of tips on the site, you might print off a few copies and give them to your friends so they can utilize the advice as well.

5. Use the chronology.
The chronology is a single page that lists every article ever posted at The Simple Dollar in the order that they were posted. You can use that page to browse for articles that might interest you (just read through the article titles and click on ones that interest you) or to find a place to jump in and start reading consecutive articles.

Many readers have dug into The Simple Dollar and read from the beginning, often sending me messages to let me know that my opinions and thoughts on some matters have clearly grown and evolved over time (like coupons, for instance). It’s also a great way to get a grasp on the changes in my own life: since I’ve started The Simple Dollar, I’ve paid off several big debts, bought a house, had a second child, quit a very secure and steady job to write, and many other events. In a way, it’s something of an autobiography, too.

6. Distribute an article from The Simple Dollar to your friends, acquaintances, or clients.
This last one is a very useful tip if you’re responsible for creating newsletters and the like. I hereby give you blanket permission to redistribute the text of any article at The Simple Dollar as you see fit. I would request that you include a link back to The Simple Dollar along with it – a good snippet would be to say that “This article was written by Trent Hamm, author of The Simple Dollar <http://www.thesimpledollar.com>.” If you do something particularly interesting with the articles, please let me know – I know of at least one small-town weekly newspaper that is reprinting a column a week from The Simple Dollar in their paper, for example.

You can also feel completely free to copy and paste excerpts into emails to your friends if you’d like, or any similar activity. Again, a link back would be appreciated, but you’re not only welcome to copy in this fashion, but I encourage it. If you find something useful here, it’s likely useful to others, and I’d love for you to share it with them.

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  1. Elisabeth says:

    Ha – I don’t know if you have any sort of way of seeing what people search for on your site, but if you see multiple searches for “chicken,” it’s probably me ;)

    I liked your article about all the stuff you can do with a whole chicken.

  2. leslie says:

    i’m probably the only one who does this, but instead of using rss; i just “follow” a few sites on twitter, including this one. That gives me one less thing to check, one less thing to distract me.

    So i would include, “Follow this site on twitter” to your list.

  3. sometimes nothin is a real cool hand says:

    Hey Trent – reading this post, just reminded me. I think your blog is absolutely one of the GREAT things on the internet. This is one of probably 8 sites that I visit more than once a day. You have a great editorial voice, and your incredible hard work shows through on the quality of the product. Thank you so much for giving so deeply. Now, more than ever, we all need to focus on this kind of information to make it through to a better day. And by the way folks, YES WE CAN! And btw, YES WE WILL…

  4. Kevin says:

    What’s the advantage of Google Reader over just using the RSS feed within Firefox?

    I tried Reader for about 5 minutes once but the interface just looked too busy and hard to follow.

  5. WhirlMind says:

    Thanks for mentioning that Article Ideas can be mentioned so in the header and you will take notice. Have sometimes thought of presenting an idea or two like that.

    BTW, do you suggest any other subject prefixes for other types of emails which one may want to write to you ? Like a question for your reader mailbag, a recommended reading suggestion for you, a resource link (online tool or a business) which one might think will be useful for The Simple Dollar ?

    Also, do you still read all comments personally ? Or the volumes, both your writings and our comments, have gone past that stage of feasibility ?

  6. Nate says:

    I use 1 2 and 6.

    Whenever I need advice on some issue, I come to TSD and punch it in the search box.

    I also use Google RSS. All my blogs in one spot is very nice.

    Last I tll my friends all the time. Especially if a certain topic comes up in conversation. If I can’t remember the specific article I will use the search to find it.

    -Nate

  7. Gena says:

    I sort of use an RSS feed; I have The Simple Dollar ‘friended’ on LiveJournal.
    I constantly bring your tips up in conversation, and frequently email posts to my husband, and other family and friends. You’re awesome!

  8. A frugal tip to save letters:

    Use “use” instead of utilize. It does the same thing with more economy and less posturing. :-)

  9. Trent says:

    With Google Reader, you can read your feeds from any computer. With Firefox, you’re dependent on the computer where you have the feeds “bookmarked.”

  10. Sections in the right panel are helpful;however, I find your category is over-cluttered. There are simply too many categories and hard to follow.
    Cheers,
    A Dawn Journal
    http://www.adawnjournal.com

  11. Shevy says:

    From #5:
    Many readers have dug into The Simple Dollar and read from the beginning…

    When I first started reading TSD I went back and read through all your archived posts. Aside from the whole “compulsive reader” thing, it really helped me understand where you were coming from.

  12. Kevin says:

    Thanks Trent – that’s not really a problem for me since I take my laptop home every night.

  13. annonymous says:

    As weird as it may seem, just about every other day I print off an article or two from TSD and bring them in the bathroom with me at work to read. Then I just leave them folded over the bar in the stall. I’m sure someone else has to be reading them too… maybe even visiting the site for themselves.

  14. I often repost articles (with a link back) on the Money Matters forum on thenest.com :)

  15. Shellie says:

    I love that you are open to “sharing” your articles with others. I will start linking to you whenever you write about something that effects me and my readers. Thanks!

  16. Rob Madrid says:

    I often forward aticles via google reader to family and friends, it’s a great way to influence without preaching.

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