Updated on 09.17.14

My 25 Favorite Articles of the Past Year

Trent Hamm

Today is the two year anniversary of the launch of The Simple Dollar. Last year, to celebrate the site’s one year anniversary, I selected my twenty five favorite articles of the first year of the site. I thought I’d continue that tradition by selecting my twenty five favorite articles from the second year of the site. These aren’t necessarily the best articles of the last year (though many of them are), merely the ones I enjoyed writing the most and also generated interesting discussion. Enjoy!

1. Homemade Bread: Cheap, Delicious, Healthy, and Easier Than You Think

This is a handy visual guide to making homemade bread – I focused on making it seem as easy as possible. I tend to really enjoy these “photo diary” kind of posts because they let me step outside the box a little bit and do something different.

2. 52 Books, 52 Weeks: The Top Ten

Early on with The Simple Dollar, I made a concerted effort to read and review a personal finance each week for a year. Here’s the top ten of all of those books (along with a ranked list of the other 42 books I read).

3. Seven Ways To Get Books For Free (Or Close To It)

These are the tactics I use to keep up with my reading. I rarely have any problem getting and reading any book I want when I use these tactics in concert with one another.

4. Organization 101: A Visual Guide to How I Manage the Information in My Life

I did this visual guide because, for a time, I was not only managing The Simple Dollar, but also working a full-time job and focusing on being a good parent to two young children and a good husband to my wonderful wife. That took some juggling, indeed.

5. Everything You Ever Really Needed to Know About Personal Finance on the Back of Five Business Cards

This is perhaps the slickest and most concise summary of sound, basic personal finance that I’ve assembled. In fact, it’s the backbone of the speech I give at speaking engagements – really, not much matters beyond those five business cards.

6. Does Peer Pressure Keep Us From Succeeding?

It’s often surprising, when you step back and look at it, how much influence we allow the people around us to have in the choices of our day to day lives. Do many of those choices lead us to failure?

7. Heroes, Role Models, and Mentors: Finding People to Believe In

My hero is Warren Buffett. He lives frugally, invests better than anyone, and has given most of his wealth to worthy causes.

8. When Is Frugality Stealing?

I really liked the discussion generated here, mostly due to my comment that I consider it okay to take notes from books.

9. Wallet Hacking: Six Tactics for Modifying Your Wallet to Minimize Your Spending and Maximize Your Time

I liked this one because it took a different look at something most of us think of as utterly commonplace.

10. Defeating Superman Syndrome: How to Progress Beyond the “Need” to Be the Financial Hero

This was something that took me a long time to overcome. I used to have a very strong tendency to want to always pick up the tab. It took some serious self-evaluation to realize it was only hurting me.

11. “Freegans,” Dumpster Diving, and the Limits of Frugality

There are certain lines I won’t cross when it comes to saving money. Dumpster diving for food for my kids? That’s well across that line.

12. Making Your Own Laundry Detergent: A Detailed Visual Guide

This is another fun “picture diary” post. Interestingly, I need to make another batch of this stuff very soon, as my current batch just ran out.

13. Hyundai’s “Dollars and Sense” Ads: My Take

If you’re attempting to palm yourself off as a “personal finance guru,” I’m not sure that this is really a good way to do that.

14. An Interview With Amy Dacyczyn, The Author of The Tightwad Gazette

My telephone conversation with Amy was one of the best experiences I’ve had since starting The Simple Dollar. It was truly fun.

15. The Essential Bookshelf: The Only Eight Books I’ve Kept (After Hundreds of Reviews)

I need to update this one a bit – I now have a few more books on my shelves that I’ve kept since writing this one. Most notably: I finally came across a free copy of Never Eat Alone.

16. Seven Ideas for Preparing Food at Home Cheaply with Minimal Space and Resources

Food preparation need not be expensive, and this pretty much sums up how to do it on the cheap. You can do most of this stuff in a dorm room.

17. Ceiling Fan Hacks: Save Big on Energy Use

Similar to the wallet post, I love looking at alternative ways to use things that seem intimately familiar and boring. The switch-flipping is just a great idea here.

18. A Clever Trick for Automatically Finding Deals You Want at Amazon

This is a great way to use the Google homepage to automatically search Amazon for great deals on stuff of interest to you. I actually have this on my iGoogle homepage and utilize it every day.

19. Seven Websites That Saved Me Money in the Last Week

I thought this to be a strong illustration of how the internet directly saves me money in an average week. I continue to use these sites (and several others).

20. Overcoming a Habit of Lying to Yourself About Money

It’s often hard to create a personal economic turnaround if you’re continually feeding yourself a giant money myth about your current financial status. Here’s how to break through.

21. A Frugal Guide to the Iowa State Fair (or Any Similar County or State Fair)

This is another fun photo diary. I truly love attending the Iowa State Fair each year – it’s one of the high points of the summer for me.

22. Everything’s So Easy for Pauline: Thoughts on Luck, Fate, Money, and Life

This is my single favorite post I’ve ever written. Something about it just clicks with me.

23. The Aldi Question: Does One Bad Experience Spoil the Soup?

This turned into one of my favorite discussions that has ever appeared on the site. I stick with my premise, though: a bad experience at a store can make you never want to shop there again at any price.

24. A Visual Guide to Saving Money with a Baby

This is yet another photo diary, this time showing off some of the cost-saving measures we use with our own kids.

25. The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself

Here’s a strong reasoning as to why panic in the face of a financial downturn (like the one we’re in) is foolish. Be patient and avoid the fear.

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  1. Trent,
    Thanks for running down your favorites. There are few that i missed, but also some of my favorites as well – especially the “Making Your Own Laundry Detergent” post.

  2. Lori VZ says:

    CONGRATULATIONS on 2 years! I read your site EVERYDAY!

  3. Wow, congragulations on building such a useful and popular blog in just 2 short years. Nice list of favorites, some definitely deserve a re-read.

  4. MrsMoney says:

    I love the bread recipe!! I also vote for the making your own laundry detergent, that one is amazing as well!

  5. Frugal Dad says:

    Congratulations on reaching your two-year anniversary–that’s like ten years in “blog-years.” I remember many of these articles, and enjoyed reading through them again. Here’s to another successful two years!

  6. Movingonup! says:

    Happy Anniversary! Wow. Two years! Next… the book.

  7. Ro says:

    Congrats on two years! Keep up the good work!

  8. Trent, great job. Congratulations on reaching this anniversary. You have provided us a wealth of information for saving money. I especially like your site because you work very hard to be objective and unbiased, even though you have strong opinions on a subject.

    I know you’ve taken a lot of arrows from narrow-minded readers, yet you remain positive and never really rehash their histrionics. Thank you for all of your personal sharing which lends so much credibility to your posts. I hope you continue this fine blog…and make a $million along the way.

  9. Jen says:

    Happy anniversary. Here’s hoping you celebrate many more. :-)

  10. Ian P. says:

    Thanks for those. I’m kind of new to this site, so I missed the bread article the first time around. I’m going to make some bread tonight! With two school ages kids, we go through almost two loaves per week (usually three sandwiches per day at least). It would be great to make two loaves and have bread for the week. Plus you house must smell amazing!

  11. Simple Sapien says:


    Thanks for two years of quality posts. The Simple Dollar was one of the first blogs I ever got into. Your blogs was one of the ones that inspired me to start my own as well! Keep up the amazing posting. The Simple Dollar is an incredibly valuable resource.

    – Jack Rugile
    Simple Sapien

  12. andrew says:

    Awesome! Congrats on the two years, and here’s to another two!

  13. Bryce says:

    Happy birthday!

  14. onaclov says:

    I ABSOLUTELY Love the Feed Sifter tip, you can use it on other sites too, I have been looking for a 1 tb Hard drive for cheap so I can just set newegg’s daily deals RSS feed to this and only see the 1tb until they get to a point I like!!!!

    I just have to come up with a “Christmas list” I probably should have been working on it a long time ago but to late, I’ll at least have a headstart for next year

  15. Deborah Johnson says:


    Congratulations on two years of The Simple Dollar. I found the site earlier this year through MSN, and it’s quickly become one of my favorites.

    Thanks for the tips on how to find books and the book recommendations.

    Deborah Johnson
    A Writer’s Voice: http://litchick73.blogspot.com/

  16. Lola says:

    Trent, congratulations on your blog’s birthday! Thanks for all the articles.

  17. Tori says:

    Happy second birthday to The Simple Dollar! Trent, you have been an immense help to me and my pocketbook.

  18. Nate says:

    Gratz Trent! I have truly enjoyed reading your blog for the past two years! I’m so glad I stumbled upon it(which was a random incident) Your blog is my ‘gateway drug’ into blogs. HA! I remember most of these articles, and have tried the bread recipe(my family loves it)

    Thanks for everything, and keep up the good work!


  19. Happy Anniversary, I love the site and check it read it daily.

  20. Aya @ thrive says:

    Congrats :)
    And on to year three…

  21. Angelsong says:

    The Simple Dollar is one of a handful of carefully selected blogs I read daily. Cheers to you on reaching your second anniversary, and thanks so much for all the information you share. I like the 25 favorites post so much I put it on StumbleUpon.

  22. ranga says:

    Congrats Trent! Keep up the great work.

    And, thanks for the list. I am going to re-read several of those articles; although I am a TSD-regular for the past 1.5 years or so :-)
    I think it was lifehacker which led me to TSD.

    Best Wishes.

  23. Karen Taylor says:

    Congrats and keep up the good work!

  24. Sarah says:

    Happy anniversary, Trent!

  25. Brandon says:

    I’ve been reading for over a year and I keep coming back. Congrats on 2 years, now give us some more book details!

  26. Nathan says:

    congrats Trent! great job!

  27. That’s great. Two years of such interesting content. I really don’t know how you do it.

    I started my first blog a month ago and I am only now realizing how hard it would be to have a blog that was updated so often and so well! Plus, you have so many active readers. Wow.


  28. Kevin says:

    Happy birthday, TSD. I’ve been reading a few months now and can honestly say I’ve probably taken something useful from every post.

  29. Paul says:

    My favorite, and the one I use all the time, is the bread post. Thanks Trent!

  30. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Book details are forthcoming. I’m working with my publisher. I PROMISE you it will be out before Christmas and likely available in your local bookstore, and that the price point is cheap enough that it might be the perfect gift for any small gift exchanges you might be doing. Be patient, my friends…

  31. Amit says:

    Hearty Congratulations Trent.

    You really are doing a wonderful job. I am so much addicted to your blog that if i miss it reading in office, then the moment i reach home i turn up my laptop and read it.

    The best thing of your blog is “It really simple”.

    Amit (India)

  32. Matt says:

    Trent. Congratulations on the anniversary. I am a great fan of your blog and a regular visitor.

  33. Trent –
    Congrats on 2 years and thanks for the list! I always enjoy having a recommended reading list from my favorite places to read!

  34. Patrick says:

    Congrats on two years, Trent! You’ve certainly put in the work to make this site and your book a success! :)

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