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One interesting phenomenon I’ve noticed over the years is that many extended families, when they all congregate, have a card game that many members of the family play together. With my own extended family, for example, four point pitch is the card game of choice. With my wife’s extended family, the card game of choice is 500. At other gatherings I’ve attended, I’ve witnessed many impromptu games of contract bridge (which I love), euchre, canasta, and mao, among many others. …

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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. Cell phone life expectancy 2. MLM question 3. Discovering new music 4. Asking for money at wedding 5. Cold homemade laundry detergent 6. Prayer 7. Before or after taxes? 8. Pennies 9. Interest rate versus APR 10. Interest rate increase Everyone in my family has brown hair except for our youngest …

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I’ve been an electronic gamer most of my life. I was playing games on my older brother’s Atari when I was four. I mastered Super Mario Brothers when I was nine. I’ve owned at least one video game console from every console generation. Yet, today, I spend more time playing free games than anything else. The simple reason for that is that there are so many excellent free games out there that a person can play on their computer that …

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For years, I’ve been trading books online using PaperBackSwap. It’s such a wonderful service that’s fueled a lot of my reading over the past five years or so. When I first signed up for the service, I swapped a ton of books. I went through my shelves, packaged up several dozen books that I knew I wouldn’t read again, and shipped them out (it really didn’t cost much to ship them). In exchange, a trickle of books started arriving in …

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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. This week, I’m going to include some of my favorite photos and locations from my recent trip to South Dakota. 1. Buffalo in Custer State Park One of the highlights of the trip for me was seeing a herd of buffalo (about 1,000 head in total) wandering across Custer State Park. At one point, the …

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Everyone who has read The Simple Dollar for long knows that I’m an avid reader. I will read multiple books in a typical week. Because of that, I’m going to use books as an example in the description below, but the entire thing holds true for other types of media – CDs, DVDs, etc. – as well. In the nearest major city to where I live (Des Moines, Iowa), you’ll find a rather wide array of bookstores, both used bookstores …

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Recently, I took a weeklong vacation to South Dakota with my wife, my children, and my parents. As always on such trips, Sarah and I try to look for the value. What things did we discover on the trip that were really enjoyable that were also free or nearly so? Here are some of the best things we found on that trip. Storybook Island If you have children under about nine years old or so, this is an absolute must. …

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As we were getting ready for our last move, Sarah and I boxed up most of our DVD collection. It fit pretty nicely into a few moving boxes, so we loaded it on the truck and left. Because we were so busy with the move (and dealing with the arrival of a new baby a little over a month later), we didn’t pop open those boxes for quite a while. In fact, we didn’t even get to those boxes until …

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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. Student loan struggles 2. Highlights of South Dakota 3. Air conditioning debate 4. Is internet stuff “free”? 5. Loan options 6. Starting online businesses 7. Tithing question 8. Multiple credit cards 9. Improving memory 10. Saving options for retirement Whenever I’m sitting at my desk to write, I usually have a …

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When we were recently vacationing in South Dakota and Wyoming, Sarah and I spent a lot of time looking at rocks. We would walk along trails and stop along the roadside just to look for interesting rocks. We found a few with deep red hues and we also picked up a gorgeous piece of rose quartz. (Don’t worry, we didn’t pick up any rocks in state or national parks or other restricted areas. We found the few we collected on …

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