Updated on 07.30.14

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Slight Redesigns Edition

Trent Hamm

Over the last week, I’ve been rolling out little changes to The Simple Dollar, mostly in an effort to make the site useable, and more are to come over the next few weeks. I don’t want to make a radical change to the site, but there are a lot of little things I’d like to add to the site – and some elements I want to remove.

If you notice anything broken, please let me know. I don’t think I’ll actually be breaking anything significant, but you never know, I suppose.

Working from Home: 10 Unconscious Clues to Create a Work-Life Balance I find that I’ve unconsciously begun to use most of these cues with my own work, though this would have been very useful early on in my home office. (@ awake at the wheel)

My Financial Implosion: A Surprising Blast from the Past Many people begin their financial recovery after hitting some sort of bottom. I often find those stories quite fascinating – perhaps because I can identify with them so well. (@ queercents)

Make Your Refrigerator Far More Efficient Excellent advice all around. I’m always loading empty milk jugs mostly filled with water into the freezer – it improves energy efficiency and provides tons of ice when I need it. It links to an even better New York Times article on the subject, but that one’s hidden behind a sign-up screen. (@ lifehacker)

15 Wonderful Uses for Witch Hazel Witch hazel is dirt-cheap and has lots of worthwhile uses. For one, it’s been key for us in fighting diaper rash – and much cheaper than most diaper creams. (@ wise bread)

Is Personal Responsibility Dead? Personal responsibility dies when the general culture no longer expects it. If others don’t expect you to be responsible, many people will take the shortcut. (@ five cent nickel)

Debt Tsunami: The Ultimate Method for Paying Off Debt There’s actually a lot of sense in this method, since it hinges so strongly on emotion. (@ man vs. debt)

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  1. I have an enormous chest freezer that someone gave to us, and I fill the empty space with milk jugs full of water just like you do. My fridge is not usually empty enough for that, though!

  2. Diane says:

    Hi Trent,
    Since you’re tweaking your site, would you consider a format which places the commenter’s name at the top instead of the bottom? That way it would be easier to skip the people who consistently rip your posts in favor of their own personal agendas.

  3. Michael says:

    I imagine Diane wants to skip all criticism for some personal reason. AGENDA ALERT!

    Also, eyes habitually check bylines and signatures just before or while they read posts, so there is little need to place the name first. If anything it might confuse some of TSD’s readers.

  4. MJ says:


    Have you ever thought about formatting your site to accomodate different resolutions? I have a wide screen laptop and I have about 2-3 inches on the left side of your content as well as 2-3 on the right side. This could be valuable advirtising space. Just a thought. Other than that…if it aint broke…

  5. I have three suggestions that would make the site more useful for me:

    1. Allow readers to register and login, and then have an individual “saved articles” list. There are some posts like cooking instructions or your recent post on preparing for disaster that I’d like to be able to save for future reference and find again easily.

    2. In the “Categories” section, make it so when you click on a category you get a list of clickable titles rather than going directly to a page full of articles. For the categories with many entries, it’s unwieldy to have to scroll through many pages to look for something new or something specific.

    3. In the comments area, it seems that comments sometimes show up out of order – perhaps this has to do with an approval process, and comments are numbered according to when they were first made rather than when they become visible. It would be better if newly visible comments were always at the end instead of appearing in the middle, for two reasons. First, if you’re following an interesting discussion, then when you come back you can just read the last part of the thread to see what’s been added. Second, if the comment numbers were stable, then people could write, for example, “I agree with #19 because….” and other readers could easily check back to see what they mean. When the numbers aren’t stable and you have to refer to the previous commenter by name, then the new reader has to skim the whole thread looking for that name in order to follow the discussion.

  6. jc says:

    I’d hardly noticed this before, but it now occurs to me hat you have a lot! of exclamation points! in the top right corner! Such breathlessness doesn’t really fit with your usual tone, Trent, too hucksterish.

  7. Angie says:

    I’ll have to check out the witch hazel article. I’m due in August, and trying to refrain from buying more expensive/unnecessary things for the baby. Trying, mostly succeeding! :)

  8. k2000k says:

    Nice collection of articles.

  9. Trent, thanks for the link to FreelanceSwitch! Lots of great articles to check out here.

  10. joan says:

    I love your blog just the way it is. It is the only blog that I regularly read. Partly because it is so readable. No weird colors, right size font, etc. Most of all great information. I have tried several of the blogs that write in your comments and one trip is usually more than enough. Plain, easy to read good writing goes a long way.

  11. Brian says:

    I have a little beef with the putting of milk jugs full of water into the fridge/freezer. I am not sure this would really help that much because water has a very high specific heat (the amount of energy it takes to adjust the temperature of one gram by one degree Celsius). It is much higher than air. It takes much less energy to cool the gas than water.

    I suppose maybe if the volume of gas was big enough to cool you might gain some efficiency by freezing the water. But as a block of ice might help keep the freezer cooler when you open it, you have to have in initial energy to get the water to freeze. Plus, while it might make it cooler when you open the freezer, any ice that melts, even a little, has to re-frozen (again taking lots of energy). I would be interested to see if you have any hard numbers on this.

  12. Rachel says:

    On the article about your fridge being full to run more effeciently, it reminds me of a comment my sister in law once made when visiting us. She looked in the fridge and freezer for something and said that both were very empty. When we visit them, they have two fridges(one just for soft drinks!), and a freezer and they are always full, however they are always eating out. How does this save money. My brother in law said that they like to go to the gocery store and spend about $400 at a time. Why spend money that could be in the bank for food that sits in the fridge and pantry. I like my $50 a week plan.

  13. Diane says:

    Re: Michael #3,
    Do you really think SD readers are that easily confused?
    Many fans of SD are Get Rich Slowly readers as well. On that site, for example, names and links are posted first, comments second. Makes it easier to spot your favorites. In my world, this includes people who consistently add something positive to the dialog. If that constitutes an “AGENDA” in your mind, I can live very comfortably with that, thank you.

  14. Helix says:

    I just have one suggestion. When you post links can you make it so they automatically open a new window? I have no idea how complicated that would be… just a suggestion. Sometimes when I follow one of the links in the weekly round up I end up surfing around their site quite a bit so the back button wouldn’t work so well. I usually try to remember to right click and “open in new window” but for some who don’t do that it might cut short the time they would otherwise spend on your site if they get lost in another link.

    Like I said, just a suggestion. As I’m sure you’re already aware I think the site is great.

  15. Another Joan says:

    I agree with Joan (no 10) that your blog is one of the few that I read consistently. Plain, good, honest writing with helpful links and suggestions. I appreciate the fact that it is easy on the eyes too. For those of us who work so much online, that is important.

  16. I liked that witch hazel post at wisebread as well . . . nice recap.

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