The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Agricola Edition

For my birthday a few weeks ago, my wife gave me the board game Agricola. I opened up the box, looked at the abundance of pieces, read through the instruction book, and was immediately worried that the game would be too complicated for us to enjoy.

The first game we tried was pretty miserable. Sarah felt lost and the game was slower than molasses. We weren’t even sure we were going to try it again.

So, a few days later, we did try it again. And something clicked. We started playing it all the time.

In fact, Sarah and I had a “weekend getaway” last weekend (while the grandparents watched our children) and what did we do? We took Agricola along and, one evening, we wound up in our hotel room, kicked back with a bottle of wine, moving sheep around, laughing together and telling jokes.

Romance? In its’ own way, it definitely was.

Nevertheless, Agricola is getting heavy play around these parts as of late. It’s pretty complicated – and you should expect the first game or two to be pretty dull – but after that, it gets better. Much better.

Here are some great personal finance articles of the last week.

I’m Losing 50 Bucks to Be Happy, and I’m not Crazy A person who used to spend a lot of time doing balance transfers and other such games to maximize every penny of interest realizes that it’s a losing game – you’re not making much for the time invested unless you have a HUGE bankroll – in which case, this isn’t the game you should be in. (@ money ning)

Outwardly Simple and Inwardly Rich How rich is your internal life? Many people focus on the wealth present in their external lives – their money, their career, their stuff, and so on – but it’s your internal wealth that you’re left with when you go to sleep at night. Why not focus on maximizing that internal wealth instead of always focusing on the bucks? (@ millionaire money next door)

12 Tricks for Optimizing Your Freelance Career Here’s the thing: we’re ALL freelancers today. This is great advice for ANYONE who is doing creative work, whether they’re employed or not. You’ve GOT to get yourself out there or else you’ll find it much more difficult to move on when your situation changes. (@ freelance switch)

How to Make a Decision Like Ben Franklin This is a VERY good way to make a difficult decision. Almost always, with a difficult decision, it pays to face it head-on with a clear decision-making process. This one, inspired heavily by Benjamin Franklin’s writing on the idea, is pretty close to the one I already use. (@ art of manliness)

Why the stock market is still unsafe for the small investor A great essay on the dangers of stock investing for the small investor by Eliot Spitzer. I still maintain that the only real solution for a small non-obsessed investor is a broadly based index fund with low costs. Anything else is a fool’s game, in my opinion. (@ slate)

My Grandmothers and the Cost of a Funeral The last thing I want to do is burden my descendants with the cost of a funeral. I don’t want to make them have to pay to put me in the ground. Is that an argument for life insurance? I think it is when you’re young, but if you’re older and have a healthy net worth, I don’t see the purpose. The whole thought process pushes me further down the road towards term life insurance. (@ consumerism commentary)

Timebanking: What Is It? Timebanking basically means giving an hour of your own time in exchange for someone else’s hour. Here’s how it works – you visit a local time bank and take on a task that someone has listed – let’s say it’s three hours of painting. You go do that, then you get three hours of credit to use on the site. You can then use that credit to post a job that you want done – three hours of, say, garden work. This seems like a good idea on one level, but you have to find people that are willing to say one hour of their specific type of work is worth an hour of another type of work. (@ christian pf)

Odds Are for Suckers Whenever you try to do something exceptional, the odds are against you. If you let yourself be controlled by those odds, you’ve already decided not to succeed. Instead, ignore the odds. I agree wholeheartedly with the idea here – as long as you have a safety net when you fall, the odds of success should be the furthest thing from your mind. Instead, chase the dream. (@ awake at the wheel)

Uncluttering your personal time Time attracts clutter just as much as space does. In each case, it’s really the same problem – you find yourself gradually filling your time and space with things that are unimportant to you. To declutter, start cutting out the things that are unimportant! It takes some time and reflection, but the rewards are tremendous. (@ unclutterer)

Harnessing Your Competitve Spirit to Spur Your Goals Many people thrive on competition and a desire of “beating” other people. Pick the Brain offers some great advice on how to channel the need for competition into achieving one’s personal goals. I know that in my own life, this works well – I use Nike+ to “keep score” on my goals for getting into shape, for example. (@ pick the brain)

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