Updated on 03.21.11

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Summer Planning Edition

Trent Hamm

During this coming summer, I’m departing on a ten day trip to the West Coast, as well as a few other long weekends at various locations around the Midwest.

This happens during most summers for me, so spring is usually filled with writing posts in advance to cover the periods when I am traveling. Travel with three young children makes things particularly challenging, so I often don’t even look at the site or my email for days during these periods.

Anyway, this does also include reader mailbags. So, I am in the process of selecting some of the questions I get for reader mailbags over the next week or two and putting some of the more timeless (or less urgent) questions in mailbags that will appear at various points during the summer.

Just thought I’d let you know. I do receive roughly 250 reader mailbag questions per week, so I have to trim them down as best I can (removing similar questions, removing excessively long ones, removing ones that are heavily negative, etc.).

Surround Yourself with Passionate People You reflect your friends. If your friends are passionate people who are excited about life and are always wanting to get out there and achieve something, you’ll quickly feel the same way. (@ zen habits)

Do Programmable Thermostats Really Save Money? They absolutely do if you don’t fuss with them. The problem is, people seem to fuss with them a lot. If a programmable thermostat doesn’t save you money, it’s not the thermostat’s fault. (@ get rich slowly)

Does Education Matter for Freelancers? I think it matters a bit, but the person involved matters more. (@ freelance switch)

The Gift of Zero Just a fantastic story, from start to finish. (@ minting nickels)

15 Things People Forget to Budget For Many of the items on this list boil down to irregular bills. I know that, among many people I know, irregular bills (like insurance) can be really painful if they don’t have their ducks in a row. (@ accumulating money)

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  1. valleycat1 says:

    The Gift of Zero – I have mixed feelings about that. She didn’t have much of a relationship with grandad but then ended up with cash. I hope our grandkids will have many fond memories of us even if it means we spend their inheritance to create them.

    15 Things/Budgeting – This used to trip us up too. The commenter that added Christmas to the list is right on target too. If your withholding isn’t correct & you ‘always’ owe more at tax time, then you should be budgeting for that, or adjust your withholding.

    We also add in a category for travel plans – our family is spread across the country & we know we’ll be making at least a minimum number of trips to visit various people during the year (in addition to, or instead of, a vacation, which is also something people should plan into their budget).

  2. Tracy says:


    I can see where you are coming from, but I read it as less of a ‘even though there was no relationship, she cashed out’ as more of understanding now that she and her grandfather still had a connection, even if and that by realizing that they share some ideals (even if she came later to it) that she’s able to honor and keep his memory alive.

    From her post, she still wishes she could have had the connection that could have been … she still wishes she could have had the penguin-clock moment – but that wasn’t who her grandfather *was*, but that didn’t mean he didn’t think about her.

  3. Steve in W MA says:

    @Q6, Marge:

    ignore the collectors and don’t send them a cent.

    Keep in mind that the original company you owed the money to no longer will get the money if you pay these “bill collectors”. the orignal debt was sold off to the “bill collectors” for pennies on the dollar.

    They are currently trying to trick you to acknowledge the debt by sending in a payment. Once you do that you are on the hook to them for the whole amount.

    the really funny thing is that if you try to pay the original company the money instead (to ethically even up the score) they probably won’t accept it because their accounting system won’t be set up for it.

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