Updated on 02.17.09

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Two Reader Mailbags Per Week (?) Edition

Trent Hamm

In a few weeks, the book club reading of The Intelligent Investor, which I post each Friday morning, will be finished. Some of you will celebrate this, others will lament it (I’ve received a lot of comments on both sides of the coin).

Regardless, I am aware that the Reader Mailbag is perhaps the most popular feature on the site. I receive more correspondence about the mailbag than pretty much anything else I post.

So, what I’m considering is replacing the book club entry on Friday mornings with a second Reader Mailbag each week. What do you guys think?

How to Build Confidence and Destroy Fear Confidence is a key part of personal finance success. Without confidence, it becomes much, much harder to stand up and make real changes in your life and in your investments. After all, it’s much easier to just go along with the flow – and that often means spending more than you should. (@ get rich slowly)

7 Great Ways To Track Your Progress Towards Your Goals I’ve been fanatic about journaling since I was pretty young and that’s how I track things like this. In fact, I have considered posting the entire journal online before under a sheen of anonymity – I have daily entries (most of them over 1,000 words) dating back to 1991. (@ dumb little man)

The Paradox of “The Paradox of Thrift” My argument here is that different financial choices merely help different industries. If you spend it, you help retail businesses and consumer product manufacturers. If you save it, you help the banking industry. In the end, I don’t worry about the economy when I make financial choices. (@ consumerism commentary)

Frugal Camping: My Roots in Frugality Reading this, I was reminded of the week long camping trips we used to take when I was a kid. We’d settle in for the long haul and do all kinds of interesting things. (@ frugal dad)

Emotional Bank Accounts This is certainly an interesting way of thinking about relationships with other people. (@ gather little by little)

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  1. Matt says:

    I’d enjoy that. Just speaking for myself, the Intelligent Investor posts get a little mundane. Reader mailbags are my personal favorite.

  2. Adam @ Checkbook Diaries says:

    Camping is really one of the best ways to vacation in my opinion. When I was a kid my grandparents would take us camping for a week every summer. Not only was it affordable, but the memories are priceless. I even proposed to my wife while on a camping trip in Virginia. One of the best weekends of my life and all it cost was gas, some food, and national park entrance fees.

  3. Sue says:

    I think that’s a good idea. I for one never read the book club entry on Friday mornings. I would definitely read the Reader Mailbag if you were to replace the book club entry.

  4. Jeff says:

    Yes, an additional mailbag would be of more interest to me. Why not do the 2nd Reader Mailbag and footnote any worthy books with a short blurb at the end?

    That would accomplish both goals in one post.

  5. Laura In Atlanta says:

    Yes, yes, yes to the Reader Mailbag!

    The book club idea was fine, but it seemed FOREVER for you to plow through the book. Real book clubs discuss the book in ONE DAY, not spread out over weeks. I had read 20 other books and you were still talking about the same one. ;-)

    But yes, the book club idea is good, just . . .wasn’t ideal to me as a reader of your site (and the book) in it’s current form.

    I like the Mailbag. I have been crafting a letter to send to you. ;-)

  6. Michael says:

    Please don’t do another Reader Mailbag per week. They seem less interesting than they were at the beginning as it is. Don’t dilute. Add a new feature or something.

  7. ChrisB says:

    I, too, like the 2nd Mailbag option.

  8. Paige says:

    I’d love to see another Reader Mailbag. I’ve never had as much interest in the book club post, but I really enjoy the Reader Mailbag feature.

  9. Michael says:

    I love the mailbags, and would definitely be excited to read two a week. Maybe my email would get a response that way ;)

    Maybe you could have a ‘recipe of the week’. You must have a lot of different dishes to choose from since you don’t eat out a lot; ideas might be a fun suggestion on a Friday. I might be more likely to stay home & try a new recipe than go out for dinner!

  10. Jen says:

    I like the 2nd mailbag idea, but I would make one strictly financial and the other mixed bag. Maybe “financial friday edition” and something else. I think I would call them different things.

  11. Erika says:

    I would love another reader mailbag. It often addresses questions that I’m thinking about myself….

    Thanks for an enjoyable blog!

  12. Prasanth says:


    I love your book club – I dont like the 2nd mail bag idea. You will be diluting the concept

    – Prasanth

  13. CPA Kevin says:

    Either a cooking idea or a 2nd mailbag sound good to me.

  14. NMPatricia says:

    Some books I have liked and some I haven’t (like the last one). I do love the Q&As although some of the questions are a bit lame (sorry, I don’t share your enthusiasm for Lost). Either way, I love your blog.

  15. Frugal Dad says:

    I like the second mailbag idea, but was wondering if you could somehow differentiate them. Maybe the one on Monday morning could be all finance-related, and the one on Friday could be “fun stuff.” I notice people often ask what games you like, or your theory on Lost, or questions about recipes, etc. This would be an entertaining way to end the week on a lighter note, and you could always put a slight financial spin on the answers to stay with the overall Simple Dollar theme.

    By the way, thanks for including my camping story in this week’s roundup!

  16. Caleb says:

    I think that would be a great idea – that is one of the first things I do when I get in every Monday.

  17. John says:

    I love the idea of a 2nd Mailbag. I usually skip over the book club posts anyway.

  18. Laura says:

    I too could never get into the book club idea, I read too fast for the long drawn out review, I don’t mind book reviews, but usually I only read them if I am already interested in the book. I do look forward to Mailbag Mondays, but the cooking thing would be cool too!

  19. K.Rae says:

    I never read the book club posts. I just don’t have any interest in books about finance.

    However, I always read mailbag. I think a second one would be fun, as long as you’re getting enough quality questions to make it interesting.

  20. Brandon says:

    I read the mailbag but not the book club. As long as you are getting enough correspondence to support two mailbags, that is fine.

  21. Graytham says:

    Personally, I’m not a fan of the book-club feature and barely skim those posts. I’d love another reader mailbag, I always get a little excited on Mondays when I stop by and it’s up. I do like the recipe idea others have mentioned- that would be fine instead of another mailbag. But again, I’m cool with another mailbag!

  22. mo says:

    I vote for 2!

  23. Andy says:

    Do a podcast on Fridays!

  24. DivaJean says:

    I prefer mailbag- but a third option might be more interesting.

    How about an open ended question of the week?

    I am interested to see how others navigate in our financially jarring times and find lots of ideas in comments made here.

  25. a faithful reader says:

    I also have not enjoyed the drawn out book discussions very much, I do like the book review that you do all in one post though.

    I really like the idea of a frugal meal menu/recipe. That would be a big help to many of your readers.

    I also enjoy your mail bag posts.

    Whatever you decide to do, I will continue to read.

  26. LisaB says:

    Yes, Trent! The people have spoken.

    Give us more mailbags!

    I love the mailbags. The book posts I read depending on the subject of the book being reviewed. Naturally, if someone is not interested in that book’s topic, they’ll pass up all your Friday posts on it. The mailbags however, are “like a box of chocolates…”

  27. Mule Skinner says:

    Second mailbag: On the way to seven?

  28. Ryo Vie says:

    I like the idea of a 2nd mailbag, but feel that it would be “saturation of the marketplace” and take away from the 1st. I am a HUGE mailbag fan, it is definitely my favorite feature on your site and I look forward to it every Monday. However, over time, 2 a week may take away from the beauty of it.

  29. todo es bien says:

    As re mailbag, I like the above posters suggestion of one financial themed and one general. That would keep them different enough.

  30. Eric says:

    I like the mailbag and skip the book club feature.

    I really like the idea of a weekly frugal recipe, you could tie it into the theme of this site by breaking down a per serving cost and how you saved money. I love recipes for expensive restaurant dishes that can be made at home cheaply.

    If you do two mailbags you could make one finance related and one personal/misc.

  31. beth says:

    I like the mailbag, but I end up skimming over about half of the questions most week because they aren’t terribly interesting to me. I would second the idea of a recipe or cooking tip posting (in the vein of frugality of course) or the open-ended, discussion-generating question (particularly interesting on Fridays when so many of us are blatantly avoiding productivity at work).

  32. KMunoz says:

    Mailbag! Also, it’d be fun if maybe you kept one mailbag about finance-related questions and had the other be about fun stuff. I tend to skip over people’s personal questions, but I love it when you’re asked about LOST or your hobbies and other things. It feels like we get to know you better.

  33. Mary says:

    Personally I do not read the book reviews, but religiously read the reader mailbags. Just my two cents.

  34. Brittney says:

    I’m a fan of the 2nd mailbag day!

  35. Robin Wilson says:

    Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes! :-)

    I never ever read the Intelligent Investor reviews as they don’t really apply to me at the moment but my heart always jumps when I see the Reader’s Mailbag appear in my RSS reader!

    Go for it!

  36. candy says:

    Ditto Robin! Exactamente! Thanks!

  37. kz says:

    Mailbag, hands down. I absolutely loathe the book club/extended review thing. I don’t mind the occasional book review (although I only read them if they’re about books I actually have an interest in, which is rarely, but there’s no way for you to really guage my taste), but I honestly get ticked off every Friday when I open the page. I think, “He’s *seriously* still talking about this *one* book?”

    Sorry – I mean no offense. I genuinely enjoy your blog and your writing, but not that particular feature. At least with the mailbag, if there are questions that don’t interest or pertain to me, chances are there are still one or two that are interesting, so the whole post isn’t a ‘waste’ for me.

  38. Laura In Atlanta says:

    What I love about the mailbag is not only your response to the Question, but how everyone chips in with info and suggestions. That is what I like best.

    Someone mentioned keeping the Questions posted as Finance Related, and I agree – those are the most interesting. (Though I am a fan of LOST and enjoy your occasional thoughts on that show.)


    Thanks, Trent!

    Laura in Atlanta
    who also likes the recipe idea. ;-)

  39. GEoff says:

    I have never read the full book club entries. I would definitely read another mailbag.

  40. Susie says:

    Your blog is one of the few I frequent but I am with kz, the exteneded book review makes me crazy. I just skip reading it.

    I would rather you didn’t do another reader mailbag either, but adding another post that is as interesting as most of yours are might be tough. It is your blog though, so do what you think is best.

    Oh, and now I have a question for the reader mailbag after saying not to add another one :).

    Have you ever used potato water (the water left after you have boiled them) to make bread? I read about this in a comment on the msn smart spending blog as a comment on some of the tricks and tools used during the great depression. Anyway, apparently the bread tastes different and the potato water adds nutrients. If you have, how does it change the taste and texture?

  41. Beth says:

    I love your blog and I read it in the morning and the afternoon. That being said, I get mad every Friday morning lately when I see that you are still on The Intelligent Investor. My favorite features are the mailbag and the round-up. At this point, anything would be better than seeing yet another post devoted to The Intelligent Investor. I hate to sound so harsh as I like your book reviews (only one post) but the book club thing is a bit too much.

    On a side note, your post in honor of Valentine’s Day was super sweet and one of the main reasons I love your blog is that you are genuine. You let your personality and emotions come through and that is helpful.

  42. Stephanie says:

    I would love to see another Reader Mailbag post each week.

  43. DollarDream$ says:


    My vote is for the 2nd reader mailbag. One question – can/should we send you the questions again ( the ones you didn’t answer) ? Or it’s going to piss you off to see duplicate questions?

    Let us know.

  44. Jamie says:

    As long as you can maintain insightful, interesting and a variety of questions posting on the Mailbag, I’d really like a second one.

    But if figure out that it won’t add extra value to the site, don’t do it just for the sake of popularity, I know you can find a better use for that space.

  45. leslie says:

    I never read the book review so I won’t miss it. I do enjoy the mailbag but I think that there is no need for 2 mailbags in a week. There must be third option…

  46. Anna says:

    Vote for second mailbag, with frugal recipes and other topics included.

    Susie #28 — I use potato water all the time to bake bread. It makes excellent bread. Try it and see. You can’t lose by experimenting.

  47. guinness416 says:

    If you do two mailbags, please don’t split them between money-related and “general”. The general interest questions are okay when buried in financial ones, but doing one of those a week with your opinions on TV shows and politics would be quite self-indulgent. Just my opinion.

    If you’re taking suggestions: I like the commenters’ opinions and insights a lot, and would love to see a post rounding up some of the best comments of the week or their responses to one question or interviewing one of your readers weekly or something.

    I liked the book review fine, but maybe reviewing selected chapters would please people more than doing every single page of the book?

  48. butterandjelly213 says:

    I vote for the frugal recipe idea noted in previous comments. I’ve greatly enjoyed the articles where food-related frugality is shared. Perhaps there could be themes (Irish recipes in March and the like) or short series (such as a step by step on making wine or beer spread over a couple of weeks).

    I do enjoy the mailbag articles but agree that two per week might not work very well.

    I did not like the book club articles, though I do enjoy the book reviews. The book club seemed very drawn out, which it was, since it was a ~20 chapter book with one chapter discussed each week, making it last for ~20 weeks. Perhaps my love of reading clouds my judgment but 20 weeks to read a single book seems a little far-fetched.

  49. Mark B. says:

    Don’t do a 2nd mailbag, it would just saturate the idea.

    However, I also think the book club was much too detailed and was of little value to 95% of your readers.

    *How about doing a “Friday Review” where you review either a book, a magazine (Consumer Reports???), a software package, etc.

    *Or maybe even a “Readers Best Comments” where you highlight the best few comments from the past week. Sort of an “Editorial” post so to speak.

  50. Erick says:

    I agree. I always skip your book reviews.

  51. Mister E says:

    I’m not really a fan of the book reviews but I don’t think another mailbag is a great idea either. One mailbag per week is kind of interesting but I think it could be overdone pretty quickly.

  52. RJ W says:

    Second mailbag must include more Lost predictions.

    I also look forward to your book reviews, and wish you had more.

  53. lisa says:

    I love Reader Mailbag. Mark B’s idea for a “Readers Best Comments” sounds great, too.

  54. devin oxman says:

    Hello Trent,
    While I didn’t find the advice offered in “the intelligent invester” applicable to my own financial situation, I would point out that in my opinion the range and different styles of content is one of the many strengths of your blog. From your response to reader questions, personal anecdotes, reviews, and various other types of articles serve to provide a multifaceted perspective. While I certainly enjoy the reader mailbag, one a week keeps the format fresh and not overused. Again, even though the last book you reviewed was not my cup of tea, it has provided strong incentive for me to dive into financial texts which are relevant to me simply by the example you set. I would be sorry to see the diversity of your blog shrink. Anyway, continue the great work

  55. Joe says:

    I think it is a good idea – I usually read your book reviews but rarely follow the book club. I would definitely read another mailbag entry.

  56. friend says:

    The book club would be fine, if you would just get through the books faster. The chapter-by-chapter slog is excruciating (and I don’t even read it). More books, faster.

    I second the thought that you need a new feature or theme to perk up one day a week. The mailbags are pretty random, and I have the impression they are filler for days when you can’t think of wht to write. The interesting parts are on finance. I don’t care what you think about what’s on “Lost.”

    It is hard for anybody to come up with something interesting to write seven days a week. I sure couldn’t, and I admire you for trying. But two mailbags! That would be scraping the bottom of the barrel.

  57. Catherine says:

    Mailbags are possibly my favorite posts of the week, so bring it on! I would read a few paragraphs of the book club posts, but never the whole thing and I was not “reading along”.

    The mailbag posts are appealing because they address a lot of different topics and your answers are short and to the point.

  58. Karen M says:

    I didn’t read along with the book review, but thought it was an interesting idea. However, the book was soooo long! Maybe if, at some time in the future, you found a book you wanted to break up into “chucks” rather than chapters, that might work better with most people’s attention spans.

    As for the second mailbag idea, I only read the questions that pertained to finance. The personal questions about Lost, historical events, and fears just don’t do anything for me. If there were two posts that skewed more “personal” than “personal finance” I would probably start to only come to this site once a week or so. You have mentioned you are on Facebook. Perhaps those personal questions could be addressed via wall posts on that site.

    Possibly, you could go down to just one posting a day. I seem to miss many when you post more than one a day.

  59. Elisabeth says:

    I like the mailbags, but you are essentially saying “Should I stop posting on Friday, and double the length of the mailbags?” Because whether you post them on Friday or Monday doesn’t really make a difference.

    I think the reason people like the mailbags so much is because you’ve stopped responding to comments, so it is the only chance people get for you to respond to them.

  60. SteveJ says:

    I love the mailbags, but I would miss the book club review. I wonder if there’s a way to make them more interactive, maybe see if a couple fellow bloggers will do the same book with you? I’m not a blogger, but I would be willing to try something like that out. An actual bookclub podcast could be kinda cool too, though logistics might be a nightmare, and I honestly don’t bother with too many podcasts. I don’t agree that you have to go through them quicker, you already do many book reviews, and those are often necessarily dense. Would it be worthwhile to journal or document the process of following a concept from a PF or DIY book? Something like a weekly journal of trying out GTD or whatever the new fad is this year? Say do something new every 4-12 weeks?

    I also like the idea of rotating something new in there, like a cooking feature or other. It can be WildCard Friday or some such marketing genius.

    Do you feel like you have a significant volume of reader questions to do two mailbags with? I like the variety, I think the most interesting part of blogs is that they don’t have to be on-topic all the time. I also feel that questions in the comments are starting to repeat as your readership grows. It’s not fair to exclude them, but you know people will complain if you repeat things.

    And if the mailbags = mailing it in, feel free, 12 posts a week is still a tremendous number.

  61. Jesse says:

    Could you offer your book reviews just once a month? Review the entire book, not just a section at a time? Maybe the first or last Friday of the month? As it stands, I don’t think I’ve ever read one of your reviews.

    I would rather see a completely new topic than another mailbag. Aside from the fact that you’ll just be diluting the current mailbag, the non-financial questions just start to feel a little too close to “celebrity worship”. I love you blog, but I couldn’t care less about your opinion on Lost or your plan for the weekend.

    Here’s an idea, how about offering a debate/dialog between you and another financial blogger about given topics? I would love to see a well thought-out argument both for and against a particular financial strategy, tool, or whatever.

  62. robina says:

    I lovelove the mailbag posts; however, I’m also cautious that it could end up being too much. I didn’t read the Intelligent Investor posts (n/a to me), though I’m sure some found them useful.
    Perhaps a second mailbag full of reader tips would be nice! Some people without their own blog have some handy tips that they put in the comments, and as an RSS reader, I never see those. Showcasing them on a Friday post would both help the rest of us and thank the reader who gave the tip for supplying such information. :)

  63. Bobbi says:

    I love the mailbag but I like the book club review too. I agree with Jeff. Do the 2nd mailbag and at the bottom mention the books…or…just do both! :)

  64. Ro says:

    I love the mailbags but do not want to see another one each week. I enjoy book reviews but not the book club. I like the idea of frugal recipe Fridays, that sounds like fun.

  65. Evita says:

    Mailbags are fun but once a week is enough. I love all your book reviews. Please keep the book club!

  66. Susan says:


    I’ve been reading your blog for some time now and I hope you get the message that I’ve been hearing loud and clear for a while: readers feel like you’re ignoring them because you so rarely respond to them anymore. It really seems to bother many of them quite a bit.

    I vote for a second mailbag.

  67. Hallie says:

    Yay, I love reader mailbag Mondays!!!

  68. Melody says:

    I like the idea of featuring good comments, rather than answering more questions. I click here when I think the comments might be interesting, but I read these in my email which doesn’t show comments.
    The frugal cooking sounds good, also. I like to try out new recipies when I can so I would find that worthwhile provided you didn’t assume everyone in the world has a full set of kitchen gear! :-) (I just got a food processor over Christmas)

  69. Candi says:

    Mailbag please! I stopped reading your write ups about the intelligent investor quite awhile back and for the most part I am not interested in any long book reviews. I can just go read the book quicker than the review. I do, however, enjoy the mailbag and would like to see more covered.

  70. Adengappa says:

    Book reviews are very useful; not the chapter-wise reviews.
    a 2nd mail-bag would be very useful indeed. However, you need to take care not to become a ‘financial agony-aunt’ type.


  71. Adengappa says:

    As many others have told, it would be very useful to aggregate the comments-with-tips as an article every week.
    You could have a system where readers can do a up/down on the comments, so that the good/useful comments stay at the top always.

  72. Melinda says:

    Two reader mailbags per week would be wonderful! I love reading your mailbag entries!

  73. cgbascom says:

    I enjoy the mailbag. I don’t have a TV set (I don’t get network TV where I live and will not pay for satellite), but I don’t mind the update on LOST. Especially since Terry O’Quinn graduated from our local school. Sorry, I’m bragging. I do like the idea of other readers telling about how they are doing, so that could be an option. But, I too, think that 2 mailbags a week may be too much.

  74. princess_peas says:

    Whilst the reader mailbag is nice, it isn’t the best thing about the site imho.

    I actually really enjoyed the feeling of the bookclub when it first began, because it provides more detail than a standard review – so far I haven’t read any of the books you recommend, although I will, but the book club suggestion means some of that information gets taken in without me actually reading the book (you read a lot of books!). It stands out, because ome of the other book reviews run together in my head. But, even I have come to think that this particular book is dragging on a bit to long! I don’t see anything wrong with the format itself, although you may like to be a little less rigid in terms of putting similar chapters together into chunks. Although if it is supposed to be read-along (not really the impression I have been getting, sorry if I missed something) then this won’t work.
    And, all the detail from the posts is good to have as a reference. If I’m ever in the situation where I need to be making investents, I know I will dig out all of these posts from the bookclub and have another look at them, even if they are beginning to get a bit boring now.

    But in terms of other suggestions, I like the recipe sharing idea but not as much as the other ones, although there is probably a good market for it on this blog. I really like the idea of posting the best from the comments, or opening it up for specific tips from readers. Perhaps, each week you could mention a specific senario, either one you’ve personally encountered, or hypothetical ones (hypothetical ones can obviously cover a wider range of topics) and open up the discussion from there. That would give it structure. You could even summarise the best from the previous week’s and then present the new senario. My personal oppinion is that this may be better if it is turned over to the readers first, and you then base your oppinion off what is said there – just so that it doesn’t get catty. But there is room to experiment!

    Only you know the volume of questions you are getting for the reader mailbag. If there genuinely are already plenty of questions getting asked, enough for two posts per week as it currently stands, then obviouly a second post (or a longer post) will be a good idea. Although I always had the impression you’d vary the length of the mailbag depending upon the questions recieved.

    But thanks for asking our oppinions!

  75. kgh says:

    Yes please do another reader mailbag!!!

  76. Dale says:

    yes, please add the second mailbag. I also think that the time when most people learn the most is seeing what questions their peers have, and having those questions answered.

  77. ben says:

    Yep, add the 2nd mailbag

  78. SP says:

    I think you have a lot of great commenters, and to highlight some of that might be interesting. (I rarely comments, so I don’t mean myself). I’m not sure of the best way to do this though.

    I like “ask the readers” feature, but that would be straight copy of GRS, so… I also like the recipe idea.

    I don’t really care for a 2nd mailbag, even though I enjoy the (non-LOST related) ones now. :)

  79. mes says:

    I never read the book reviews, but they don’t annoy me like they apparently do other people. I simply don’t click on them. While I enjoy the mailbag, I think adding a second one would be too much of a good thing. I sort of like the weekly recipe idea, or some other feature that isn’t a repeat of what you already do on Mondays.

  80. Mol says:

    I love the mailbags, but have a slight problem with them. There have become so many of them that I cannot easily find the questions that I know had been asked before. Is it possible to divvy the questions into subcategories or something and allocate that mailbag or just the questions to your main categories? =)

  81. sara says:

    yah, do a recipe or another how-to on fridays, or something else- I love the mailbag but think it wouldn’t be as great and unique if you did it twice a week.

  82. Ryan says:

    I love the reader mail but I also like book reviews. I am torn. I would love the best of both worlds. You could do a reader mailbag with a small book review.

  83. Jan says:

    Book club! I don’t have enough time to read much, your summaries help me a lot!

  84. Roger says:

    I do like the idea of a second mailbag. I think that Jen’s comment (#7) about having one mailbag for financial questions and another for personal or other ‘off-topic’ questions makes a good deal of sense. That way, you can avoid the sensation of ‘oh, another Mailbag’, at least to some extent.

    If you do decide to go with another book club selection, I think you should try to get through the material a bit more quickly. Covering one chapter a week makes things drag on; getting through two-four chapters a week (depending on the length and depth of the material) will help to speed things along.

  85. I vote for a reader mailbag every day!!!!!


  86. j-squared says:

    Please, please don’t do another mailbag. I think the idea was worthwhile at first, but they’ve become so watered down and inane that I’ve just stopped visiting the site for most of Monday.

    Frankly, I’m more interested in another “roundup” of links than I am in hearing about whether you think the volcano in Yellowstone is going to erupt. No offense, it’s just not the right arena if you want to keep your blog robust.

  87. Sunshine says:

    I thoroughly enjoy your reader mailbags and don’t think they’ve been watered down. They’re pretty interesting. However, I do understand the concern that they will become watered down if you do them 2x per week. If you do decide to do another – which I support! – perhaps you could reduce the number of questions in each mailbag. Also, and while a lot of people might not agree with this, you might include some more controversial subjects, as long as they’re not too controversial (that is up to you, though). Those seem to generate some good discussion, inspite of a few people telling you to not do that.

    Whatever you do do, I agree with dropping the book club. I was extremely interested in the club for YMOYL, but that’s because I really liked the book. I don’t read most of the book club posts, but I do at least skim the reviews.

    Good luck with what you decide.

  88. Sunshine says:

    I thoroughly enjoy your reader mailbags and don’t think they’ve been watered down. They’re pretty interesting. However, I do understand the concern that they will become watered down if you do them 2x per week. If you do decide to do another – which I support! – perhaps you could reduce the number of questions in each mailbag. Also, and while a lot of people might not agree with this, you might include some more controversial subjects, as long as they’re not too controversial (that is up to you, though). Those seem to generate some good discussion, inspite of a few people telling you to not do that.

    Whatever you do, I agree with dropping the book club. I was extremely interested in the club for YMOYL, but that’s because I really liked the book. I don’t read most of the book club posts, but I do at least skim the reviews.

    Good luck with what you decide.

  89. Sunshine says:

    Oh shoot, sorry for the double posting!

  90. I’d love another mailbag.

    But, as someone else mentioned, a cooking thing, like Friday’s Frugal Recipe, would be great, too.

  91. Jessica says:

    I like the idea of a second mailbag, but I want to chime in with the comment of one being general and one being PF. I find that I read the mailbag with more anticipation when I’ve submitted a question but I get disappointed when it take (what feels like) many weeks to get to it.

    I also like the idea of a recipe of the week.

  92. reulte says:

    I like mailbag — it’s a good combination of ideas, opinions and advice. I really don’t like the reviews spread over that much time — I do like my reviews all at once. I can barely lay a book down once I’ve started reading it so waiting for next chapter is pure torture! Of course, once you finish the long review, I do dig right in and read it.

    I also like the idea of recipes (with photos!), or an in-depth view of a single frugal tip and how to tweak it or how it does/doesn’t work for you but might for someone in different circumstances and elucidate those circumstances, or maybe an in-depth calculation (such as 9% vs 18% on credit card, or cost of making vs buying laundry soap – which you’ve already done).

    Oh – last night I made chicken stock in the crock-pot! Second time I’ve used the slow cooker in 6 years – can you believe I was scared to use the thing? With your unknowning encouragement (I looked through some of your past blogs) I’ve decided to use it a lot more.

  93. Michael says:

    Maybe a wild card Friday is the best option? So many great ideas have been thrown out here, why limit yourself to one option for Fridays. One week frugal recipes, another week a book review, after that a friday of extra links, or maybe something entirely unrelated. For instance, what’s the best way for a person who lives alone to shop for fruit/veggies & keep them fresh? Is buying small quantities best, or is bulk best? There’s a need for the single person’s guide to cheap living! :)

  94. dariaclone says:

    What about doing an “ask the reader” or addressing a reader question at length? I don’t think I’d do a second identical column.

  95. mtn girl says:

    Rather than another mailbag how about a posting that combines several of the suggestions other readers have made. You could call it “Frugal Friday” and it could include a recipe, a question for readers along the lines of “How do you save money on (topic of the week)”and perhaps, since we will soon be moving into spring include tips on frugal gardening. It is not too early to be thinking about gardening, because if someone wants to plant tomatoes and peppers this year that they started from seed they will need to start those seeds in March in order for the plants to be ready to plant in May.

    Personally, I have learned a great deal not only from Trent’s postings but from many of the comments that are left on this site and would welcome reading ideas from other readers guided by whatever topic/angle Trent chooses.

  96. Veer says:

    I don’t like another mailbag idea.

    I would vote for the bookclub.

  97. friend says:

    Remember when you posted your homemade bread recipe, with pictures? That was so practical, so useful. Maybe combining recipes, how-tos and photos in some way once a week. It would involve a little more planning and not just be off-the-cuff.

    FWIW, I think the weakest part of the blog is when you do a roundup of links. That’s just lazy.

  98. I’ve got a question or two. Among your predictions for the year was your feeling that the stock market had found its bottom and that the Dow would not fall below 8000 this year. As of this writing it’s below 7500, and if it weren’t for bad news, there wouldn’t be much news at all as far as the economy goes. Has your outlook changed? Are you rethinking any of your other predictions?

  99. J Brown says:

    If you do another MB, make it a theme of the month. Do not redo another general MB. I very much like the book reviews and suggestions. I have never visited my library as much as I do since reading your blog. The down side is that I think many other of your readers live in my area, since most books are checked out!

    In the end, some change is a good idea. Worse case, try it for a few weeks and take another vote. However, as a compsci major, you need to more scientific about this voting process.

  100. Suzie says:

    Yes to the second reader mailbag!

  101. Carmen says:

    Neither. Is that an option? I’m not a fan of the book reviews and find the Reader Mailbags of less relevance as time goes on too. So I’d prefer more articles.:)

  102. Carrick says:

    I guess I’m one of the few who don’t like the Reader Mailbag. It’s one of the only types of entries I regularly skip over. I don’t really care about people’s particular circumstances, but rather more about general principles and application.

  103. Robin says:

    I really like the book club. And while I also like the reader mailbag, I don’t want to lose the book club.

  104. Kyle P. says:

    My vote goes for the additional Reader Mailbag.

  105. Nate says:

    Sorry, but I think your blurb on the Paradox of Thrift is just plain wrong. It’s simple economics. If demand goes down, suppliers sell less goods, prices go down, suppliers make less money, unemployment increases, demand goes down further, the cycle continues. It creates a deflationary spiral. Just look at what happened in Japan. (check out the article currently featured on the International Herald Tribune website). Sure banks will have more money to lend but there will be less demand from suppliers for loans because there is less demand for products. We all need to realize that our spending decisions, in the aggregate, do have a real and significant impact on the economy.

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