The Simple Dollar Time Machine: January 9, 2010

Many newer readers of The Simple Dollar haven’t been exposed to the hundreds of great articles in the archives of the site, so this is a weekly series that highlights the five best posts from one year ago this week, two years ago this week, and three years ago this week. I call it … the Time Machine.

One Year Ago (January 3 – January 9, 2009)
Seven Huge Financial Mistakes I Made During My College Career This was basically a letter to several members of my family who were about to enter college.

Frugality and Binge Buying The real key is honesty with yourself. Admitting that you made a mistake and striving to figure out why you made it – and how to fix it – is how to turn a failure into a success.

A Mother’s Gifts Here are some reflections on the lessons that my mother taught me as I was growing up (and as an adult, too).

Debt Reduction and Debt Elimination Programs: What’s the Catch? Often, they’re just selling you information that you can already get for free on sites like The Simple Dollar.

When Your Financial State Improves, Do Your Frugal Standards Change? All of life’s choices aren’t based on maximizing the bottom dollar. There are a lot of factors in our lives that help us to make the choices we do.

Two Years Ago (January 3 – January 9, 2008)
When Is Frugality Stealing? This was one of my favorite discussions ever on The Simple Dollar.

How Much Frugality Is Too Much Frugality? When does being frugal cross the line into being cheap? For me, it’s in interactions with other people. I don’t mind drinking tap water as my primary beverage, but I would consider it rude (and cheapskate-ish) to offer nothing but tap water to guests in my home.

The Value of Cultural Literacy Being culturally literate has a lot of cash value. It makes conversation substantially easier, and conversation leads to the building of relationships which can in turn help you out substantially when it comes to doing home repairs, finding a job, and countless other things.

Practicing What You Preach: Should A Personal Financial Writer Be Expected To Follow Their Own Message? I think that’s a tricky question, and it was echoed for me later on when I discussed my purchase of a Prius for many of the reasons mentioned in this article.

What Color Is Your Parachute? The Flower Diagram I consider this to be an invaluable job evaluation tool. In fact, I wound up using it myself as part of my decision-making process to leave my former career and jump into writing.

Three Years Ago (January 3 – January 9, 2007)
Should You Overpay On Your Home Loan? The Simple Dollar Cracks The Numbers The best way to look at a home mortgage overpayment is to view it as a very stable investment that returns a little bit less than your mortgage interest annually (due to tax benefits for having a mortgage), is pretty illiquid, and matures when your mortgage is paid off. If that looks like a strong investment to you, then by all means, pay ahead on your home mortgage.

Making Sense of Treasury Securities: Treasury Bills, Notes, and Bonds This is an early example of a “personal finance 101” type of article, in which I dig into the truth behind these various types of investments offered by the United States Treasury. Is Ripping You Off I’m amazed that these guys are still in business. It’s shocking what a few catchy jingles can get you these days.

Your Friend Or Family Member Asks You For A Loan: What Do You Do? If you value the relationship at all, don’t loan them money. Find some other way to help them that doesn’t require repayment, because no one likes their lender.

Review: Smart Couples Finish Rich This is one of David Bach’s best books and an excellent book for any couple to read, especially ones nearing marriage or recently married. The advice really centers around one key thing that couples need to nail for money success: talking about money openly and rationally.

If you’d like to browse through more of the archives, visit the chronology, where all posts are listed in chronological order.

Nine Ways to Get More out of The Simple Dollar

This is kind of a FAQ for new readers and is posted each week along with the Time Machine. Here are nine great ways for new readers to dig deeper into The Simple Dollar.

1. Subscribe by email or RSS. Visiting The Simple Dollar’s website is great, but for many people, it’s more convenient to receive the articles in another form. It’s easy to join 60,000 other subscribers and get The Simple Dollar’s content by email or in your RSS feeder (if you’re unfamiliar with RSS, check out Google Reader.

2. Comment. Each article on The Simple Dollar has lively discussion. Just click on the green square in the upper right of each article on the website and join in!

3. Read my story of financial meltdown and recovery. The Simple Dollar isn’t based on what I’ve read in books or learned in school. I’ve made a lifetime of financial mistakes – The Simple Dollar is a record of what works for me during the process of getting my life on a better track.

4. Download my free 49 page e-book. Everything You Ever Really Needed to Know About Personal Finance On Just One Page is completely free. It summarizes all of the key lessons I’ve learned along the way about personal finance in one tidy package – in fact, all of the main principles can be found right on the cover.

5. Follow me on Twitter – or other social networks. I post tons of interesting articles, quotes, follow-up material, commentary, and other material on Twitter. Follow me! If you’re unfamiliar with Twitter, it’s essentially an open discussion forum for people to share ideas and thoughts with other like-minded folks – you just choose the people you want to listen to and their ideas and thoughts are all delivered to you on a single page.

I also participate on several other social networks. Feel free to check me out on (it’s where I collect links, from which I select the ones that appear in my weekly roundups), wakoopa (what software I use), GoodReads (what books I’m reading), Facebook, and FriendFeed (which aggregates everything). I also have an irregularly-updated personal site,

6. Dig through “31 Days to Fix Your Finances.” 31 Days to Fix Your Finances is an article series that outlines how you can get a grip on your finances over the course of a month.

7. Send me your questions and suggestions. Send me an email and let me know what you’re thinking, what you’d like to see, and any questions you might have. I try to respond to as many emails as possible and I read them all. I may even use your question in a future article!

8. Email a great article you find to a friend. Find an article that you think your friend would love? At the bottom of each article, you’ll find a link that says “Email this” – just click on that, type in your friend’s address, and send it right along to them!

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