My 25 Favorite Articles of the Past Year

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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