Updated on 08.01.14

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: The Alchemist Edition

Trent Hamm

Over the last few years, about twenty different people have recommended that I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, but I’ve been avoiding it largely because of so many other things to read. Well, now you can get it for free as an unabridged audiobook, perfect for listening to on a long road trip. Just fire up iTunes, visit the music store, search for “Paulo Coelho The Alchemist” and download it for free (until July 14). I downloaded it and am saving it for an upcoming road trip, where it’ll provide a worthwhile listen.

Anyway, on with some interesting personal finance links.

Becoming Debt Free: Identifying the Why I’m a strong believer that you have to have some sort of a compelling reason to make a significant change in your life, and that includes changes in spending habits. What’s your why? (@ frugal dad)

Maybe Sometimes It’s Not Possible To Save Money I get lots of long emails from readers decrying their situation and informing me that in fact there’s no way they can be saving money. I usually respond with a list of ten or fifteen tactics they can try, and either get a “I never thought of that” message or no response at all. There’s always something you can be doing to trim the fat or earn more money. (@ all financial matters)

Biking: A Cheaper and Healthier Commute Bikes are a cheap way to commute and also keep yourself in shape. Around here, we often use bikes to go to the park or to the post office (both nice, fairly short rides from our home). (@ 60 in 3)

22 Money Maximizing Moves You Can Do Today Great ideas in here! Personally, I was happy for the reminder of tax deductions for bloggers. (@ moolanomy)

A Tour of Consumer Reports I was invited to go to this, but my book deadline completely shot my hopes of attending in the foot. Instead, I have to rely on Erin’s wonderful report. (@ unclutterer)

The Debt Avalanche The debt snowball… to the extreme! Actually, the concept is pretty accurate – this is what you should do if you want your debt gone. (@ consumerism commentary)

Would You Invite Your Boss To Your Wedding? Not only did I invite my current boss to my wedding, I invited the person I knew would eventually become my boss. Why? I genuinely like them as people. In fact, my previous boss was one of the big reasons I hated to quit – she was one of the best people to work with I’ve ever been around. (@ free money finance)

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  1. Pinyo says:

    I look forward to the review, but I wouldn’t subject my family to an audio book during a road trip. I think they’ll be bored to death by the kind of stuff I am interested in. :-)

    Lastly, thank you for the mention!

  2. Frugal Dad says:

    Thanks for including my post, Trent. I enjoyed the roundup this week, especially the Tour of Consumer Reports from Erin. That looks like a fun place to work (although I’d have to avoid the “cookie bottoms” test lab)!

  3. Eden says:

    Thanks for the free book tip- looks like that one is worth a listen.

  4. I would invite my boss to my wedding if she:

    A) Could remember my name instead of coming up to my cubicle every day and saying “Hey…” and then snapping her fingers a few times until I remind her that it is Andy, and then she says “Yes, Andy…well, could you print off a report for me?”

    B) Actually cared that I was getting married let alone cared that I am alive.

  5. ericabiz says:

    Hi Trent,

    I’d like to alert you to a 30-day challenge I think you might be interested in.

    A couple posts back, you said, “A cooking blog, while fun, would probably be even more of a time sink than The Simple Dollar. Right now, I just don’t have the time to give it the love and care and nurturing I would need to give it to be a success.”

    You had also mentioned previously that you felt like personal finance blogs didn’t focus enough on entrepreneurship. Here’s your challenge — it’s in my post “You Are Worth More Than You Think: Overcoming the Key Reason Entrepreneurs Fail”


    Challenge: For 30 days, set a “baseline” hourly rate for yourself, and outsource all work that falls below that hourly rate — either in your personal life or in business.

    Having done this personally after NOT doing it cost me somewhere around $1 million (more on that in a future blog post), I can attest to how much time this frees up. It is a challenge because it requires thinking differently than the typical 9-5 mindset. I also think it will be the way you find time to start a cooking blog or your second book.

    If you decide to participate, blog it, and I will link back so you get some traffic. I’d really like to see you take this challenge head-on — I think it may vastly improve the amount of time you have available in your life to enjoy the things you are most passionate about!

    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly.

    Thank you,

  6. Flexo says:

    Thanks for the mention, Trent!

  7. Chris says:

    I’ve read ‘The Alchemist’…. So as not to spoil it, I’ll not tell you why, but I almost hurled this book out a window when I finished it. Coelho crafts a great story up until the very end, and basically ruins the book and it’s message in the last couple of pages.

  8. Kevin says:

    I like the Debt Avalanche idea, but I think the big benefit of the Debt Snowball is that psychological benefit of paying off the debt quickly. We’re talking about people who aren’t very disciplined here, and in my experience, they usually need to see progress quickly or tend to get frustrated.

  9. Lisa says:

    Alas, a search for The Alchemist in Itunes Canada comes up empty.


  10. It’s a great read, but other than that you’ll probably want to stay away from anything else he writes. That’s as good as it gets.

  11. JLP says:

    Appreciate the mention, Trent.

  12. Laura says:

    Thank you for the tip on the free book. I actually loved the book and the message is very good. I won’t ruin it for you. His other books are wonderful as well, especially The Witch of Portobello or 11 minutes. But you have to have an open mind when reading because his books really do make you re-evaluate what is important in your life.

  13. Otis says:

    I have to agree with Chris.

    The Alchemist starts as a wonderful inspirational book and ends…well, can’t tell you that. But I can tell you that the book won’t make your Top 10 list unless you’re a bit dreamy, which most PF people are not.

  14. J. says:

    i saved a lot of money & time by bike commuting this past year, but i’m still concerned about safety (not concerned enough to wear a helmet most of the time — whoops.)

    I really wonder about the lethality per mile bike (or danger of serious injury), with and without wearing a helmet. Bikes are rare enough even in major US cities that most drivers aren’t on the lookout for them. And plenty of people ride them illegally on sidewalks, which is even more dangerous.

  15. As a former chemist and now a journalist who specializes in chemistry, I could hardly not read a book entitled The Alchemist. As allegory it’s rather intriguing and certainly an enjoyable read, but there just wasn’t enough chemistry :-(


  16. Alexia says:

    I can’t believe no one else asked you for the tips you send to people who think they can’t save anything! I was one of those… my problem was that since I had zero ‘extra’ dollars a month for ‘fun’ stuff.. well, honestly when I had a few bucks I would spend it! But now I’m finding ways to have fun without spending lots of cash… & I opened my first ‘just savings’ account! It only has $10 in it! But I’m saving! =) Anywho… I’d really like those tips!

  17. Debbie says:

    Thanks for the heads up on the free ITunes book.

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