focusing glasses

During the school year, I typically have a roughly seven and a half hour window in which the house is empty and quiet and I can focus on my writing and other work tasks. While I definitely do work outside of that block, the reality is that I want to get as much value out of my work time as possible, because if I’ve got time blocked out to work, it’s better for me professionally and personally if I make …

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The Five Year Question

September 8 2017

For the last few months, I’ve been taking a new approach to almost everything that I do. With every dollar that I spend, with every hour that I invest, I’m asking myself one simple question. Will I be glad I spent this time or this money in this way five years from now? I’m going to go at length into how I actually apply this question and some of the specific uses, but I want to start with what really …

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Most of us who read money blogs like the Simple Dollar do so because we have real-life financial goals. If you’re like me, your goals are fairly simple – you want to enjoy relative financial freedom, take care of your home and your family, and have a little fun along the way. My husband and I are also extremely interested in retiring early – real early. While we’re not dedicated enough to belong to the extreme frugality movement espoused by …

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Marriott International is considered the largest hotel chain in the world, and PCMagazine recently named Slack as one of its top online collaboration programs of 2017. It was only a matter of time before they started working together. You can now compare and book Marriott and Starwood rooms directly through Slack. Just add the Marriott Rewards app to Slack. Type the Slack command /Marriottrewards in any channel, along with your desired city and check in and check out dates. Whoever’s …

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A few days ago, I had a really interesting conversation with an old friend of mine from my childhood. I had gone back to my hometown to visit my parents and attend a community festival and I bumped into several people that I used to go to school with. I wound up having a fairly long conversation with one of them about life in general and what we’d each been doing since high school. Back then, he was an incredibly …

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As Hurricane Harvey pummeled Texas and Louisiana with deadly downpours, thousands of generous Americans responded with an outpouring of financial support. Unfortunately, times of crisis can bring out the worst in a few people even as it brings out the best in many. Government officials and consumer advocates have issued warnings about scams posing as legitimate relief efforts. Here’s some advice on how consumers can donate safely and help the victims of Hurricane Harvey without becoming victims themselves. Investigate before …

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By now, you’ve probably heard the term “fintech,” referring to the apps and companies — such as SoFi, Qapital, Acorns, Prosper, Betterment, Wealthfront, Robinhood, Personal Capital, Digit, and others — that are using technology to shake up the financial industry. These services are focused on attracting younger people who use their smartphones to get things done. What you might not know is that traditional insurance companies are feeling the heat as well. “Insurtech” (doesn’t quite roll off the tongue like fintech) companies have been popping …

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My 11-year-old son loves “life hacks.” It’s become something of a hobby for him as he’s found lists of preteen-appropriate “life hacks” and has been using them at school and at home. The other day, we had a conversation about life hacks in general and he asked me what kind of life hacks I use. So, first of all, what’s a life hack? I view a life hack as a simple task or very straightforward substitution you can do in …

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One of the most common credit-related questions I’m asked has to do with the “right” number of credit cards. And I’m clearly not alone. If you Google the question “What is the right number of credit cards?” you’ll find over 227 million results. You will also undoubtedly find that a certain segment of the population will always decry credit cards as a source of problems which should be completely avoided. For these people, the perfect number of credit cards is …

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What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to summaries of five or fewer words. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. Moving out of the US 2. When to combine finances? 3. Ultra-convenient foods for cheap 4. Tipping question 5. Cryptocurrency basics (like Bitcoin) 6. Not saddled by a mortgage 7. “Stressing” about saving money 8. Gifts for geocachers? 9. Tips for house shopping 10. All Roth? 11. Cutting …

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