The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Announcements Edition

born to buyAnnouncement #1 I’ve decided to give the “book club” another whirl with a book that I think could provoke a ton of discussion: Born to Buy. If you’re unfamiliar with it, read my review of it from a while back. The book is basically a deep look at the effects of marketing and consumerism on the developing consumer instincts of children – how they spend money and why.

I want to do this detailed reading of Born to Buy because I’m currently witnessing some early consumer behavior in my two and a half year old son. For example, he’s obsessed with the movie Cars and thus is highly partial to any product with a Cars tie-in. Is that a healthy thing? Should we let him pick these items (so he can enjoy his ‘Mater-themed training pants), or should we steer him away? Will either direction encourage him to be a rampant consumer later on in life? I really want to dig into this stuff, and that’s what Born to Buy is about.

Having learned lessons from both the very successful book club of Your Money or Your Life and the utterly disastrous attempt at a book club for What Color is Your Parachute?, I’ve figured out several things. First, the book needs to have a lot of meat for discussion. If it’s introspective, like What Color is Your Parachute?, it doesn’t go anywhere. Second, an entry every day is too much – and an entry once a week is too little. So the best amount is somewhere in the middle. Third, my entries should be a mix of a summary of the section and my thoughts on it – particularly the provocative ones.

So here’s the plan. I’m going to do three entries a week on Born to Buy, each entry covering about ten pages of the book. Each entry will have a summary of that part, some of my thoughts on it and the questions it made me think about, and notes on what will be covered next. These entries will appear on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday for about six weeks. The first entry, covering the ten page “Introduction” chapter, will show up on Tuesday, April 1.

If you’re interested in reading along, pick up Born to Buy at your local library or from Amazon. If you don’t have it right when we start, don’t worry – you can catch up on old entries. If you don’t want to read along, that’s fine, too – each entry will have something of a summary of the section.

Note about the “regular” book reviews: They’re going on hiatus for the length of the book club – if I retained those, too, it would reach a point of “book overload” pretty quickly. I’m doing this switch to try something different and insightful – to get more intimate with a single book than to just briefly summarize several of them. The normal reviews will still appear this weekend, but will go on hiatus for several weeks during the book club. After that, they will return.

Announcement #2 For the next several weeks, I’m going to do a series of post exchanges with a small handful of very carefully selected great blogs on similar topics to The Simple Dollar – they’ll do an entry here and I’ll do an entry on their site. This allows me to seek out new readers while also exposing you to some great writers from other sites.

This won’t overflow the site with entries from random people. I’m going to have one guest entry a week for several weeks, and these will appear on Friday afternoon. Once these are done, I’ll go back to the normal schedule, replacing that guest writer slot with my own stuff. I’ll also include any entries of mine that appear on other sites in my weekly roundup.

The first entry, appearing this Friday, comes from Erin at Unclutterer.

Announcement #3 My long-asked-about cooking blog is set to launch on May 1. I’ll tell you all about it shortly after that (when there are some articles up for you to read). Expect to hear about it near Cinco de Mayo.

Whew! Let’s read some articles!

How not to get super-rich: the passive income scam Some harsh words for the idea of passive income. I think part of the challenge is how to define passive income. One of the commenters offered a pretty good insight, too: “I think passive income, like most financial information on the internet, is aimed at keeping middle class people more comfortably middle class.” I could write a whole post on that idea alone… in fact… be patient! (@ jonathan fields / awake at the wheel)

An Interesting Piece on Target Target versus Wal-Mart is perception versus reality. For example, in one of the cities near where I live, the Wal-Mart is FAR nicer than the Target – both stores are pretty new, but the Wal-Mart there is one of the nicest large department stores I’ve ever set foot in, with a ton of aisle space, a very open layout, and amazing cleanliness. (@ all financial matters)

Funds to Form a Family: Adoption process begins. And so does the check writing. The adoption process bothers me on a deep level. It basically discourages families from trying to adopt because the costs are prohibitive. My wife and I considered adopting a child in the past from a disadvantaged nation, but the costs were outrageous (and that doesn’t even include the bribing). Why is this? So that only rich families can adopt? Why doesn’t an international agency set up an adoption clearinghouse so that families can easily adopt and that outlay of money can go to building a great life for the child instead of lining some bureaucrat’s wallet? (@ queercents)

Should I Buy Flood Insurance? My hometown was washed away in the Mississippi River flooding in 1993. Some people had flood insurance – others did not. Amazingly, you can still tell which group was which based on the situation they’re in now. If you’re in a flood plain, get flood insurance, period. (@ my money blog)

When the Going Gets Tough, Get Back to the Basics Repeat it with me: spend less than you earn. Spend less than you earn. Do that over and over again and you’ll be okay. (@ get rich slowly)

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