Updated on 11.28.07

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: New Thing Edition

Trent Hamm

It was interesting constructing this first weekly roundup. I basically kept reading my favorite blogs and saving the articles I liked the most from all of them, then I boiled the thirty or so I had bookmarked down to the handful that you see here. Before, with morning roundups, I would sometimes only find one or two in a day that I liked and stretch to put one in, or I would find six I liked and not want to post that many at once. With this, I just saved all the good ones and then tried to pare those down to great ones. So, here we go…

The Adventures of Single Parenting Personal Finance Right now, if my wife suddenly were not around and we became a single parent household, I actually think I could do it, but it wouldn’t be easy. (@ money smart life)

3 Things You Need to Know Before Giving to Charity These reasons are a big part of why I like giving to local charities. (@ consumerism commentary)

Why Do I Always Find A Good Deal After I Buy It? This seems to happen to me on a frighteningly regular basis. (@ gather little by little)

The Sandwiched Generation The title refers to people with young children and aging parents who are facing financial responsibilities to both … my wife and I are nearly in that group. (@ money, matter, and more musings)

10 Creative Recipes for Leftover Mashed Potatoes The most popular one at home is potato pancakes, but several of these sound quite good. (@ not made of money)

The Sinking Dollar, As Viewed From Overseas It raises prices in America, but lowers them elsewhere. Interesting stuff. (@ wise bread)

Save Money With Unusual Devices This is a really fascinating look at piggy bank variations and alternatives. I’ve looked at several of these and been impressed, but I haven’t made the leap to any one of them. (@ the digerati life)

The Simple Dollar Retro: You Don’t Need Six Figures: The Financial Realities of Living in Iowa Living rural can be very, very inexpensive, and part of the reason for that is stereotypes – urban areas market themselves to make rural areas look boring.

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  1. Mark says:

    Only two articles are showing up on my screen. Does anyone else have this?

  2. Same here, only two are available. You are not going blind.

  3. Flexo says:

    Thanks for including Consumerism Commentary in your weekly roundup. (Mark & The Saving Freak: I see 8 links including 1 retro link, so the problem seems to be fixed.)

  4. tamara says:

    like this version better than the old daily one. It is more useful and delight!

  5. Matt says:

    I see 7 of the promised 12, but the retro link.

  6. Keri says:

    I know I’m going to be completely killed by this comment, but here goes:

    I’m a single parent. Not something I was actively seeking, but it happened nonetheless. And I really have to say that it scares the heck out of me to meet married women who are SAHM’s with 3 or 4 kids. Because while I don’t necessarily believe it’s all that much harder to go it alone (afterall I don’t have the stresses of a relationship to deal with) I only have one child and a college degree. I’ve also been in the workforce for 12 years and have a good employment background. I could fairly easily take care of my son and myself even WITHOUT the $400/month child support I receive.

    But I know so many women who, if their husbands left or died, wouldn’t be able to cope. They don’t have work histories to fall back on and therefore no way to earn a good income. They also have 3 or 4 kids to take care of IN ADDITION to themselves.

    Now I’m not advocating against staying at home, I’d love to be able to do that too, but I think it’s VERY important to somehow keep yourself in the job market. Work part time. Or expand your hobbies so that you might be able to potentially earn an income from them. Freelance. Do SOMETHING because you CANNOT rely on anyone but yourself. You might have the best spouse in the entire world but that doesn’t protect him from dying!

    I also think people need to consider how they would raise 3 or 4 (or more!) children alone? Ask yourself, could you feasibly do this? Physically and financially? I don’t know too many people who could and keep their lives close to the same as before. They say that a woman’s lifestyle is DRASTICALLY reduced after divorce, while a man’s improves. Why set yourself up for that?

    I like children as much as the next person but I would never have another child (even if I remarried, which I hope to do someday) because I know that I could not raise 2 alone. I realize that I’m probably in the minority, but the facts are that, no matter how much you’d like to believe the opposite, you TRULY cannot rely on anyone but yourself. People get divorced every day who said “MY relationship will last forever”. It’s hard for me to see other single mom’s struggle, or feel like they have to rush out and find another husband ASAP, because it didn’t have to be that way.

    So let the slaughter begin……..

  7. Keri,

    I see your point..sort of cynical but I suppose realistic in this day and age when divorces happen to more than 50% of all marriages.

    Well, that’s why marriages usually offer both spouses half of the marital assets. It’s a leap of faith backed up by some legal and financial protections. This marital legal system primarily benefits those stay at home mothers mostly who give up their own employment prospects to take care of children. I just don’t see how 2 parents can work full time while trying to raise 3-4 kids. Call me old fashioned, but it’s not healthy to have them stuck in day care or with nannies their entire lives. They need their mothers…

  8. Chef says:

    Marriage is a joke in this country. I wish the Church would stop performing unBiblical marriages. I understand that for tax reasons (and other) the government would have to have some control, but what if the Church actually only held marriages for people who met the Biblical standards? Shocking thought I know.

    Let the government perform the rest of the ceremonies for people who need to be linked to someone else’s assets come divorce time.

  9. Joe Rickert says:

    Ummm Chef there are more religions in the USA than just Christianity, you realize that righ? Or do you advocate people of different religions also getting married in the Church?

  10. Keri says:

    I don’t know, I know several women who have 3-4 kids who were barely making it after their divorces, while their husbands didn’t seem adversely affected at all and, in fact, were probably thriving. No matter WHAT courts TRY to do, you can’t replace $50,000+ dollars of income into a household.

    And like I said, I think staying at home IS a good thing to do, I just think (like I said) that women should do their absolute best to try and stay in the job market SOMEHOW. Work part time after the kids are in school if nothing else. I just think it’s important.

    Also, yes, it’s very cynical, but I also think it’s reality for about half the people out there. You said 50% of marriages end in divorce, then add to that the ones that involve death/disability. Over half of us will have this happen. I just couldn’t imagine leaving my fate entirely in the hands of someone else.

    My own mother, who worked full-time when I was a child, had to ask her parents for help on MANY occasions when my brother and I were younger. And she also remarried 3 more times – mainly because she did not feel like she could emotionally and financially deal with two children on her own, while my father was out going to Mexico and on ski trips with his new wife. He paid child support, but it wasn’t enough to replace his income. And 30 years later she’s STILL bitter. I just don’t want that to be me. I’ve worked too hard to finish my degree (after my son was born) and make a good life for myself to financially rely solely on someone else.

  11. Keri says:


    What do you mean “bibilical standards”? Would these be marriages that were not easily dissolvable? Just curious……

  12. Heidi says:

    I agree entirely! As a banker, I regularly see first hand what losing a spouse can do to a SAHM/D. The same goes for retirees who let their spouce handle all of the money matters and end up widowed.

    I am a HUGE advocate of having your own and taking care of yourself, even in marriage. I have been working on an article for my blog to that effect (and I also expect a comment lashing).

    Everyone needs their own bank account and a credit card in their own name. Period. You never know what kind of turn your life is going to take.

  13. Chef says:


    Right – divorce would only be an option for reasons of marital unfaithfulness. I’m certainly not of the mindset that Christians are perfect as I understand the divorce rate to be just as high in the Church as it is out of the Church.

    However, more than making marriages difficult to get out of, they would be more difficult to enter into. The logistics of it get sticky since all sins can be forgiven, so what requirements are set forth would lead to some great disagreement.

    I guess my underlying point is that marriage should be taken more seriously from the outset.

  14. Amanda B. says:

    There would not be such a great difference in the effect on women and men after divorce if the custody system was actually fair. The courts often suffer from “Golden Uterus” syndrome and it is virtually impossible for a father to bear real (equal) responsibility for his children. So yeah, if a judge told me equal custody means I can see my son every other weekend and alternating holidays and there was nothing I could do about it, I would find a new nice hot body to ease my pain and vacation in the Hamptons.
    I get so sick of women (yes I am a divorced woman myself) thinking they are entitled to most of the children’s time and most of the marital assests (because they “have” to take care of the kids) AND most of their Ex’s money (because there standard of living should stay the same). You say the man can even come out ahead after a divorce. Financially maybe, because he has the job. I would expect someone with a job to have more money than someone without one. But you imagine seeing your kids less than 30% of the time. How much would you pay to get that time with them back? You could say he doesn’t care as most do but I’m willing to bet you are wrong. If you did manage to pick the one guy in 100,000 who doesn’t love and miss his kids, then you really need to adjust your standards the next time around.

  15. !wanda says:

    @Chef: You also have to consider that if you make marriage more difficult, more people will just have children out of wedlock. Generally, that isn’t good for either the SAHP or the child. (I know some couples who are “married” in every way except legally, and they are completed committed to their partners and their children, but most children born out of wedlock are not born to couples like this.)

    @Amanda B.: Children need stability. It can’t be good for a child to constantly be thrown back and forth between two busy households, especially if those households are distant. If one parent has primary custody, the child is living with that parent, and any change to that is a disruption.

  16. ess says:

    You’re right – the quality of these links is better. Although I have to admit, I miss the morning roundup (I found a lot of cool blogs through following the links), I can see how this format would make things easier for you.

  17. Keri says:

    I hope I didn’t seem as if I was attacking men. That wasn’t my intention. I agree with you that men should get equal custody. I have a friend who has so-called “joint” custody but he still only has visitation about 1/3 the time of the mother. Not really “joint” if you ask me. I think both parents should, if they bring a child into the world, be responsible for half their care and half the cost of raising them. It takes two to make them – so should take two to raise them!!!

    But for whatever reason guys seem to do better financially as single parents than women. I know a few full-custody single dads and it’s pretty much as if the wife just walked out the door one day. Nothing’s changed for them except for not having the mother around. But then these were not SAHD’s either. They were the primary breadwinners to begin with.

    Yes, I agree that marriage shouldn’t be entered into so lightly.

    But the truth is that women lose big when they are SAHM’s and they divorce. It shouldn’t happen, but it does. And that’s sad.

  18. Amanda B. says:

    To !wanda
    I hope this doesn’t come across as harsh, because I know your comments to past posts and I consider them well thought out and generally fair. I agree that children need stability, but they need their parents more (both parents). A consistent schedule between alternating parents with consistent treatment and rules at both houses produces happy healthy children. It just bothers me that women and courts first take away most of a man’s power to be a full time dad and then demand child support and alimony. Essentially you are stealing his children (or at least his portion of time with them) and telling him he has to pay for you to do it.
    I think divorced parents need to experience a paradigm shift. Just because a marriage is over doesn’t mean you are not required to work at a successful co-parenting relationship. Obviously I am invested in this topic. My DH has three wonderful kids from his first marriage. The divorce was ugly, no doubt. But if my ex-wife-in-law and I can suck it up and maintain a relationship despite our differences, anyone can.

  19. Shevy says:

    @ Keri

    I’ve done it. I didn’t remarry until the youngest was finishing high school.

    It wasn’t easy but I came out of it much stronger, both personally & financially than if the marriage had remained intact (although I would never have believed you if you’d told me that at the time!).

    I had help along the way of course; nobody succeeds at *anything* in a vacuum. But I did it without significant help from my ex (a maximum of $100/mo during the early years and nothing after the youngest was in school).

  20. !wanda says:

    @Amanda B.: Children do need their parents. If their parents were equal co-parents before the divorce and can work out a consistent threshold and rules between households, an equal time situation would be ideal. I’ve never been through a divorce, so I don’t know how the courts deal with custody situations like those. Certainly, if your ex demonstrated his ability and commitment to being a full-time parent and the court forced him to work instead, that’s not fair.
    (To be fair to the court, though, they deal with a lot of liars and flaky people. I know a woman who might not win full custody of her children, even though her ex has anger problems and has been to jail several times, because her ex claims to want equal time with the kid and to be trying to improve.)
    It also seems to me, though, that even when both parents work and spend “equal time” with the children, one parent is usually more “equal” than the other. One parent, usually the mom, ends up spending more time with the child, shifting her schedule more, and doing a greater proportion of the grunge work. Giving that parent more custody after the divorce seems an appropriate reflection of how things were in the family before the divorce.
    I’m glad that you and your ex’s family were able to provide consistent treatment for his children. I wonder how often that happens, though. People divorce because they’re incompatible with each other- wouldn’t that extend to how they would want to raise children? If the two households have different rules, perhaps it’s better to just pick one, instead of confusing the kid (and eventually teaching him to manipulate and play one parent off the other) and frustrating both parents.

  21. 3bean says:

    If you want a great perspective on re-entering workforce after divorce, read Terry Hekker’s pieces from the NY Times. It’s re-published on her web site at: http://www.terrymartinhekker.com/newyorktimes06.html

  22. Thanks for including my post in this newly formatted roundup! Those mashed potato recipes are making me hungry, thanks for these links!

  23. Ben says:

    Hey Trent, thanks for including “Adventures of Single Parenting Personal Finance”. It’s hard enough raising a kid with two parents, I really admire single parents that can earn a living and run a household.

  24. Ann says:

    My father passed away when I was in college, leaving my stay-at-home mom with three kids. I was the oldest and out of the house, but there were still two younger brothers at home…and anyone who’s had to feed teenage boys knows they aren’t cheap! Mom had never worked and had no idea how to enter the workforce. Thankfully, with some thoughtful planning and investing, we’ve worked out a way to manage the life insurance money and Dad’s retirement savings so that she doesn’t have to work. One brother and I paid for college ourselves. The youngest, well, he’s getting some help from Mom. :) The biggest help we got was from an excellent financial planner who helped Mom figure out what to do with the insurance money, etc. so that it would last a long time. So yes, it’s invaluable to have work skills to fall back on, but sometimes it’s just as useful to have someone to turn to for solid financial advice to help make the limited income stretch further.

  25. Keri says:


    Wow! Thanks for posting that link! EXACTLY what I was trying to say. And much better said! lol

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