Updated on 07.31.14

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Chain Factor Edition

Trent Hamm

I, along with several of my friends, have been playing the free web game Chain Factor almost obsessively for the last week or so. It’s apparently connected to the television series Numb3rs, but it’s an incredibly fun and addictive little puzzle game itself. Try it out for a nice free diversion.

Also, one quick note on the “downloadables.” Remember those three downloadable files I mentioned a while back? I repriced all three of them – 31 Days to Fix Your Finances, Building a Better Blog, and Twenty Big Ideas: A Collection of Book Reviews – down to $2. These files are collections of posts reformatted in a book-like style – they can be downloaded, read on your computer, or printed off and easily read offline.

And now… some personal finance posts. This week, I’m mostly focusing on posts about self-employment, something I’m really looking at seriously at the moment.

Your Prep Card: Don’t Leave Home Without It This is a brilliant little technique for staying on focus, particularly when you have a meeting. I use a very similar technique when I’m trying to stay on task while working on my laptop – I make a huge image in Photoshop with the three or four tasks I need to do and a thing or two NOT to do, then set that as my background image. Works quite well, actually. (@ lifeclever)

The Power of Positive Cash Flow What happens if you subscribe to the “spend less than you earn” philosophy over an extended period of time? Good things, that’s what. (@ get rich slowly)

How to Work Effectively for 24 Consecutive Hours At various times, I’ve done this working on The Simple Dollar. I’ve stayed up through the night to get a certain amount of writing done. Tactics like these have made all the difference. (@ cranking widgets)

Tips for Perimeter Perusing at Target Target is actually the most dangerous store for me. More than anywhere else, I tend to discover that the item I want is on the far side of the store, always taking me by things that tempt me. (@ wisebread)

The Simple Dollar Retro: Is The Value Menu Really A Value? Comparing The Homemade Double Cheeseburger To The McDonald’s $1 Version A nice photo journal documenting the purchase of a McDonald’s $1 double cheeseburger and my attempt to replicate it (or improve upon it) at home for a similar cost.

A Simple Guide to Being Present for the Overworked and Overwhelmed Whenever I find that I have just too much on my plate, I find that withdrawing for a bit, doing some stretching and yoga, and just meditating for a while does a whole lot to clear my mind. This post is loaded with other tips. (@ zen habits)

Is Your Work/Life Balance Killing Your Chances of Freelancing Success? I have so many projects I’d love to get started on that this type of situation really worries me. I can see myself easily overloading my day with all of the ideas floating in my head. (@ freelance switch)

Building Businesses and Blogs With Extreme Value This is some brilliant advice for anyone considering starting a side business. Chief among them: what are you going to offer that’s unique? If you can’t answer that, why would the world beat a path to your door? (@ jonathan fields / awake at the wheel)

The Simple Dollar Retro: The Backlash Against Frugality A lot of people seem to think that frugality is stupid or a waste of time. Here’s my response to those folks.

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  1. Susan says:

    I like your ideas for staying focused while working. I struggle with this as a self-employed person. Whenever you do choose to go that route, consider incorporating yourself to save on taxes and help grow your ‘business’. Once you’ve gotten together some cash for your business, you can name yourself as an employee and go on a payroll to help keep profit in your corporation as well as ensure you’re getting paid on a regular basis. I wish I had done all that when I started out self-employment instead of blinding fumbling through the financial and tax aspects.


  2. Stephanie says:

    My sister showed me chainfactor a month ago…it is so addictive!

    (love Num3ers too!)

    I was actually thinking about mentioning it in a blog post…but I think you’ve got that covered.

  3. rocketc says:

    I hear you on the freelance post. I might have the ability to go it alone without my employer. . . maybe. . .and if I don’t succeed. . . tough decision.

  4. Ron@TheWisdomJournal says:

    I love the prep card idea. That’s one tip I can put to good use right away.

  5. Carrie says:

    Why did you discount your books? Thats not good to do. Think about Apple. Pricing your product is about it’s inherint value and people pay the $5 for the convenience. It’s either worth it or not, but a savings of $3.00 is not likely to effect their buying decision and I’m sure you know the value of that $3.00 you could have earned. Besides, if they want it for free they could just read your blog posts. I know your site is about helping people become financially responsible but giving away your services for to little just means it’s a longer time before you can do it full time.

  6. Michael says:

    I, too, wish the downloadables cost more. I bought one for $5 and thought it a good deal. Convenience is worth more than $2.

  7. Kaye says:

    Okay, so I obviously need help with the whole “focus” thing. I am now caught up in the whole Chain Factor game and I didn’t really completely read the article!

  8. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Carrie: it’s because I sold almost ten times the number of the $2 book over the last month than the $5 ones. My conclusion? People liked the $2 price point, not the $5 one.

  9. ericabiz says:


    Assuming $2 is a better price point because more people bought it at that price could be a faulty assumption. I’d do some traffic analysis if I were you, or get a poll up on your site.

    Frankly, I think reducing the price for your content is not a good way to go if you want to make blogging your full-time job. I paid the $5 for the Blogging series and I think you should have charged $20+ for it. If people want to be cheap, they can read all of the articles on your site for free. I bought it because I wanted to read it on a plane.

    One of the first rules of business is charge based on value, not price. The price of the content is free — people can read it on your blog. The value is convenience and future readability. That value is worth more than $2. I know you want to get your message out there to as many people as possible, but it is already out there for FREE and anyone can read it for that price. The people who are buying are probably long-time readers who want to support you. Those same readers also want to see you turn this into a full-time career. This is a step in the wrong direction, IMHO.


  10. !wanda says:

    @Erica: If he’s making more money with a $2 price than with a $5 price, because more people are buying it, why shouldn’t he charge $2?

  11. Michael says:

    @!wanda — In the long run he may not make as much money. Often, fairly priced items do not sell quickly at first, but do well over the long run as word spreads. He might make these sales whether the downloadables are $2, $5, or $10. Also, if Trent may find it hard to sell something much more valuable and expensive if all his other downloadables are cheap. But you are right that he may charge what he likes.

  12. !wanda says:

    @Michael: In this case, I’m not sure if people might pay more for the items in the long run. The same material is available in the same place for free, and it’s probably as much work for me to pay for them (dig out my credit card, read off the numbers, etc.) as it is to search for the blog posts and read them. In this case, $2 sounds like “free,” while $5 evidently doesn’t. If Trent were to sell them on another site, for instance, he might be able to charge more.

  13. Michael says:

    @!wanda — I didn’t think of payment. I used Paypal, which was very easy. It was more convenient for me than you, so $5 didn’t seem as big a deal.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    Ok, Chain Factor is free and all, but I’ve spent hours playing since I read this post. How frugal is that??

  15. We hear you on DumbLittleMan.com that told us to visiting you to learn more about finance tips, and found this great great ideas and post’s. Thank to inspiring us.

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