Updated on 03.20.09

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Book Review Index Edition

Trent Hamm

I put together an index of all my book reviews for people who like to follow them (and want to easily find older reviews in one place):


Bookmark that URL for future reference. Whenever you need to look up one of my book reviews – or if you want to check and see if I’ve reviewed it – you’ll be able to find all of the reviews on that single page. I hope you find it useful.

Snake-Oil Salesmen? Debating the Role of the Financial Media The financial media is just there for entertainment, nothing more, nothing less. So is The Simple Dollar. (@ get rich slowly)

$70 Emergency Menu for 4 to 6 If you’re trying to eat frugally and have nothing in the cupboards, here’s a good place to start. This plan will feed a family of 4 to 6 for just $70 over a week – all meals included. (Her prices are a bit low – I did my own calculations to come up with the $70 estimate.) (@ hillbilly housewife)

20 Free Online Finance Courses – Take Money Classes From the Comfort of Your Home This is an excellent collection of resources for self-learning. (@ generation x finance)

Rethinking Investing: Spotting Mistakes in Jon Stewart vs. Jim Cramer This is perhaps the best critical summary I’ve read of the tiff between Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer on the media’s role in the meltdown. (@ tim ferriss)

Seven Ways to Fund College Without a Savings Fund This is the type of information I wish I had when I was seventeen – it would have made the college search much easier. (@ frugal dad)

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  1. those were some really good links worth checking out! thanks for sharing!

  2. Michelle says:

    Got to be honest, I’m still amazed that you aren’t pursueing Tribal membership to see if you’re eligible. They have massive amounts of scholarships available that could really help your children when it came time to go to college. My tribe financed close to half of my total education. With this link about financing college and your post a couple weeks ago about saving for college vs. saving for retirement, I’m just amazed that you aren’t pursuing this avenue!

  3. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    “hey have massive amounts of scholarships available that could really help your children when it came time to go to college.”

    My children would be ineligible. I meet the minimum requirements for membership – they do not because they are a further generation away.

  4. cv says:

    I think it’s really disingenuous to say that the financial media, including The Simple Dollar, are for entertainment purposes only. I know that you aren’t a financial advisor, and you make it clear to readers that you’re not a trained professional, but you’ve talked over and over about wanting to reach people because of the way the information you present here helps them turn their financial lives around. I think that gives you a moral responsibility to present information that is as accurate as possible, and to do the best you can to make sure you present tips and other things that are not going to lead people into further financial trouble.

  5. Thanks so much for the book review index! It’s extremely helpful.

  6. Mahoji says:

    I’m still amazed at how people seem to be able to have time to read so many books, because I myself tend to find it hard. Some tips maybe?

  7. Anna says:

    The hillbilly housewife gives $14.28 as the 2009 price of a 20-quart box of dry milk powder. That’s the equivalent of 5 gallons, costing a little over $2.85 a gallon. In my area, a gallon of 1% milk costs $2.49. I used to get dry milk all the time to save money, but I’ve noticed for several years that it no longer represents a saving. It’s always worth while to recalculate one’s thrifty choices from time to time to see whether they are still thrifty.

  8. Art says:

    Regarding the hillbilly housewife menu –

    Being frugal does not mean one has to eat crappy or unhealthy food. Beans or rice for every meal? Creamed tuna? Hot dogs? Mac and chesse? Ramen noodles? I spend $70 per week and eat REAL food.

    Shop right and make strategic purchases. Cooking your own HEALTHY meals at home shouldn’t be expensive.

    You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to stay healthy.

  9. Johanna says:

    @Art: Beans and rice are not real food? That’s news to me – and to a couple billion other people in the world. A meal can be perfectly real, and perfectly healthy, even if it is not centered around a giant slab of meat.

  10. SMG says:

    Just a suggestion, regarding the book review index, you could further sub-group the book review links into relevant categories (like finance, productivity, self-help, etc). This way the readers will be able to pick and choose easily.

  11. Sarah says:

    Beans and rice are real food (though I wouldn’t want to eat it five times a week, I must say), but the almost total lack of fruit and highly limited selection and quantity of vegetables (dumping some peas into tuna casserole does not do much for its nutritional value) has got to make that diet an unhealthy one even if it meets minimum caloric requirements and isn’t too high on fat.

    It’s basically a refined-carb-filler-heavy meal plan, which is something you eat in preference to starving but not in preference to anything else.

  12. diane says:


    Beans and rice are an *extremely* healthy meal, as well as being very economical. And together, they are a complete protein (so you don’t need meat)

    That’s why it is the basis of vegetarian cuisine in India, as well as being a staple in poor regions the world over.

  13. diane says:

    Also, keep in mind that hillbillyhousewife created this as an *emergency* menu – it is not meant to be long term, but something that can feed a family when times are *very* tight.

    She made another menu for those who have a bit more money to give to food that includes more meat and more vegetables: http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/70dollarmenu.htm (although she notes 2009 prices mean it’s more of a $90 menu now)

  14. CBus says:

    I think what most people don’t understand about Cramer is that he’s not an investor, he’s a sector trader. He doesn’t recommend “buy and hold,” he recommends “buy and homework.” He researches sectors for the ones that are growing and recommends the best of breed stock in that sector. Once the sector starts slowing down, or after a big rally (eg, Tuesday), you snip off some of your profits and go to the next sector (just like the most other investment banks).

    If you watch his show, he doesn’t recommend anyone trade with less than $10,000; commissions will eat up too much of your gains. He recommends throwing it all into an index fund until that amount. But his show is about trading, not investing. Holding a Cramer stock recommendation for 5 years and analyzing the return against a benchmark is superfluous. Trading is about buying a large equity position (say, $10,000+) and catching a percentage point or two before switching to the next hyped sector.

    Cramer tends to focus on fundamentals, like value investors, but don’t be confused. His show is for traders, not investors. If you are investing for the long term, ride the market with an index fund. I’ll admit that’s what _I’m_ doing now. If you are looking to take more risks for potential profit, listening to pundits can help identify the next sector in which to trade. Then get on some conference calls and SEC filings, avoid taking CEO comments as truth. An example of this is GE. Their CEO said “We absolutely have the capital to retain our dividend,” and then cut the dividend. GE DID have the capital!! But the CEO ‘forgot’ to mention that he plans to use the capital for potential mergers and acquisitions. He did mention that in the conference call. Homework is more than just watching the TV!

  15. Art says:

    @Johanna –

    I know beans and rice are real foods. I even have an authentic Cheese & Macaroni Club membership certificate hanging in my office to remind me of the old days when that was all I ate while starting my business.

    But for $70 per week, I eat fresh grilled salmon, organic turkey, lean beef, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. I just spend wisely and choose not to eat a poverty diet. Same amount spent, but on quality home-cooked meals.

  16. Amanda B. says:

    but you are just feeding you! This is food for 6. And it is an emergency menu, not meant for everyday.

  17. Art says:

    @Johanna –

    That’s for me and my daughter. I will agree that it does cost more to feed a family of 4.


    Breakfast: Cereal & milk (one gallon of milk @ $3.50 plus one box of CocoPuffs @ $1.88 lasts a week = $0.76 per person per day.) We also eat oatmeal (even cheaper) or eggs (even cheaper still).

    Lunch (homemade): Chicken salad pita sandwhich with shredded carrots, fruit, cookies, juice, less than $2.00 per person. (Costco canned chicken 2 @ $1.50ea, mayo/mustard/relish less than $1, pita bread $2.79, carrots $1, 14 apples $3.50, cookies $2.50/box, juice $4.50) Good for one week: $18.29 / 14 = $1.30 per lunch.

    Dinner: grilled salmon, rice, fresh vegetables $3.00 per person per day. We also buy chicken breasts, pork, lean beef. Substitute pasta or potatoes. Lots of variety.

    It’s possible to eat well if you plan it right.

  18. Amy H. says:

    It’s fascinating to see what prices the Hillbilly Housewife is able to get for groceries (at, she says, Wal-Mart and Dollar General. I’m going to take the shopping list page from her post and find out the prices for the same products and amounts at Cala Foods or Safeway here in San Francisco. I have a suspicion they will be a bit different . . . I’m just interested to see how much!

    I really need to rein in my grocery spending, and this is likely going to be a good kick in the pants to get started.

  19. Johanna says:

    @Art: That last post was Amanda, not me, but I totally agree with her – there is just no comparison between feeding 2 people on $70/week versus feeding 4 or 6. Try buying food for yourself and your daughter on $35/week, and then get back to us.

    And why do ramen and canned tuna qualify as “crappy food,” but CocoPuffs and canned chicken don’t?

  20. Art says:

    Creamed tuna sure sounds crappy to me! :-)

    And don’t talk smack about my CocoPuffs! I’d eat cocopuffs over ramen any day.

    The bottom line is that you should eat as healthy as your budget will allow. I know it’s tough out there. My daughter and I don’t eat huge portions and we try to avoid processed foods and empty calories.

    It’s like paying a $10 for a gallon of diluted cleaner vs. paying $10 for a quart of concentrated cleaner. I’d rather by the quart than the gallon. It’s quality instead of quantity.

    If money was spent on better quality food than merely carb-heavy empty calories, the money will go further and people will be healthier. Even if they eat CocoPuffs.

  21. Brittany says:

    Thank you for the index. It’s very helpful for someone who is always looking for interesting books to read. Normally I find books by suggestion only so this is perfect for me.

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