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The Simple Dollar



Financial talk for the rest of us



Last Build Date: Fri, 20 Jan 2017 14:30:10 +0000

 



The Key to Financial Success Is Being Accountable to Yourself

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 14:00:05 +0000

Over the years, I’ve written about literally thousands of tactics for spending less money, earning more money, and putting that extra money to work to eliminate debt, build an emergency fund, save for retirement, or succeed at other goals. At a glance, most of those tactics seem really, well, simple. It’s not really rocket science to realize that making coffee at home is going to cost less than buying it at Starbucks, or that grocery shopping with a grocery list ...

The post The Key to Financial Success Is Being Accountable to Yourself appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




31 Days to Financial Independence (Day 23): Investing for Retirement

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 14:00:04 +0000

“31 Days to Financial Independence” is an ongoing series that appears every Thursday on The Simple Dollar. You might want to start this series from the beginning! Last time, we put a capstone on our discussions of how to spend less money and how to earn more money by looking at how they come together to form a “gap” between your income and your spending. That “gap” is a very powerful tool. You can use that gap to pay off ...

The post 31 Days to Financial Independence (Day 23): Investing for Retirement appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




Three Paths to Quit Your Job This Year

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 10:00:00 +0000

Dream jobs don’t just fall into your lap; you have to go out and grab them. Sometimes, that means making bold moves, like quitting your job without knowing exactly where you’re going next, or starting your own business. But bold doesn’t mean foolhardy. To make a big change and see positive results, you need to prepare before you take the leap. As you might’ve guessed, the first step is financial. “The larger the emergency fund you can build up, the ...

The post Three Paths to Quit Your Job This Year appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




How (and Why) to Write a Career Plan

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 14:00:32 +0000

Last Friday, I published an article entitled Does Spending Pennies to Make Dollars Really Make Sense? In it, I made the case that spending money for convenience to save time really only makes sense if you use it effectively to make more money in your career or your entrepreneurial plans. One particular paragraph stood out to a couple of readers, though: The same thing is true if you’re trying to launch a strong career. Often, the early stages of a ...

The post How (and Why) to Write a Career Plan appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




A Frugal Wedding Adventure: The Planning Phase

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 10:00:44 +0000

I recently got engaged. I managed to stay frugal throughout the entire process. The ring did not set me back three months’ salary. I got a reasonably priced ring made from a small operation in Chicago that uses reclaimed wood to make beautiful jewelry. It confused my family, who was baffled by its lack of diamonds, but it delighted my fiancee. I proposed to her on a hike, not at a five-star restaurant. All in all, the proposal process fit our ...

The post A Frugal Wedding Adventure: The Planning Phase appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




Using Mini-Games for Financial and Personal Improvement

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 14:00:09 +0000

Let me tell you three little stories about myself from the last few months. * * * I was invited to a party with about 25 other people in attendance, all of them roughly my age. I knew about four of them prior to this party; the other 20 or so were strangers. After being greeted by the host, I was largely left to my own means, so I did what introverts usually do in that situation: I tried to sink into ...

The post Using Mini-Games for Financial and Personal Improvement appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




A 12-Month Plan to Raise Your Credit Score in 2017

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 10:00:00 +0000

Are you ready to finally gain control of your credit scores in the new year? Working to improve your credit is an admirable resolution, and a very wise use of your time and energy. And it’s more than simply scoring points in some kind of game. There are real financial benefits to boosting your credit score from, say, 670 to 800. So, let’s get started: Here’s a 12-month game plan to lift your credit score this year. January – March Check Your ...

The post A 12-Month Plan to Raise Your Credit Score in 2017 appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




Questions About 401(k) Fees, Razors, Camping with Kids, and More!

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 14:00:49 +0000

What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to summaries of five or fewer words. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. 401(k) fees and other options 2. Personal finance book recommendations 3. Roth IRA, 401(k), and taxes 4. Learn how to program cheaply 5. National park camping with kids 6. Saving for a reward 7. Evernote and encryption 8. Belt buying advice 9. When to toss a razor 10. ...

The post Questions About 401(k) Fees, Razors, Camping with Kids, and More! appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




When Credit Card Rewards Become Dangerous

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 10:00:33 +0000

As a credit card rewards expert and frequent traveler, I like to stay on top of the changes in the rewards industry. As part of the process, I belong to several online travel forums where people connect to share trip ideas and rewards strategies. Most of the time, these forums are fun. But sometimes, they show that there’s another side to credit card rewards most people never see – a dangerous side. Where smart rewards enthusiasts use credit card rewards ...

The post When Credit Card Rewards Become Dangerous appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




Seven Ways to Save Money As a Landlord

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 12:00:45 +0000

Around a decade ago, my husband and I bought our first rental property. We weren’t entirely sure what we were doing, but we were determined to learn the ropes along the way. And that’s exactly what we did; through experience, trial, and error, we came up with a rental strategy that made sense – at least for us. Just this month, we paid the final payment on one of our properties – a three-bedroom brick ranch in Greenfield, Ind. Suddenly, ...

The post Seven Ways to Save Money As a Landlord appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




Frugality, Freedom, and Peace

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 14:00:27 +0000

A few days ago, my oldest son flushed the toilet on the main floor. When he did that, two things happened. First, the chain attaching the lever to the flapper became disconnected and the chain fell straight down under the flapper, so when the tank emptied, the flapper didn’t fall back in place. In other words, this meant that the toilet kept running, trickling a steady stream of water into the tank. Second, the toilet became blocked. You can guess ...

The post Frugality, Freedom, and Peace appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




Does ‘Spending Pennies to Make Dollars’ Really Make Sense?

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 14:00:12 +0000

You come home from work. There’s a big pile of laundry that needs to be sorted and washed. You also need to make dinner. You have dreams of using evenings to start building a business, but with tasks like this (and many other things) interfering with that plan constantly, it’s very hard to get a business rolling. What do you do? Well, you could just leave the laundry and eat the absolute simplest meal you can possibly prepare, then get cracking ...

The post Does ‘Spending Pennies to Make Dollars’ Really Make Sense? appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




31 Days to Financial Independence (Day 22): Using ‘the Gap’ and Avoiding Lifestyle Inflation

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 14:00:04 +0000

“31 Days to Financial Independence” is an ongoing series that appears every Thursday on The Simple Dollar. You might want to start this series from the beginning! Last time, we finished up our series of discussions on strategies for increasing your income with a look at starting a side business and dabbling in entrepreneurship. Today, we’re going to step back from that perspective and see how an increase in income intersects smartly with frugality. Let’s assume that you’re a person ...

The post 31 Days to Financial Independence (Day 22): Using ‘the Gap’ and Avoiding Lifestyle Inflation appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




Four Things a Hiring Manager Could Find Out About You

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 10:00:00 +0000

Few of us love looking for a new job. In addition to the stress of worrying about making a good impression, and the financial pressure of negotiating a fair salary, there’s the fact that interviewing can leave you feeling pretty exposed. The hiring manager learns an awful lot about you during the process – and not all of it is stuff you necessarily want them to know. Depending on where you live and what the employer’s individual policies are, that ...

The post Four Things a Hiring Manager Could Find Out About You appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




How to Plan a Great, Low-Cost Valentine’s Day Surprise

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 14:00:26 +0000

Some of you are going to see the topic of this article, check the calendar, and be completely confused. Valentine’s Day? That’s more than a month away! Why write about it now? The reason I’m writing about it now is because, with sentimental holidays like Valentine’s Day, some prep work can help you create a very low-cost gift that’s incredibly meaningful for your partner. Why? Time is almost always the most valuable ingredient in a great, thoughtful, meaningful gift. When ...

The post How to Plan a Great, Low-Cost Valentine’s Day Surprise appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




Can the GM BuyPower Card Help You Save on a New Car?

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 10:00:17 +0000

We’ve all heard of earning cash back, airfare, and hotel stays with credit card rewards, but what about a new car? The GM BuyPower card won’t let you earn new car per se, but it does let you save up rewards to make a hefty down payment. How? By rewarding you for every dollar you spend. If you’re a GM enthusiast who is always trading up, this card probably sounds like a good deal. Like anything else, however, the devil ...

The post Can the GM BuyPower Card Help You Save on a New Car? appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




Finding the Line Between Frugality and Deprivation

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 14:00:34 +0000

Frugality is a spectacular tool for immediately seeing positive financial results in your life. Whenever you find ways to get most of the same value in your life for a lower price, or you find a different avenue completely to fulfill your needs and wants without the same sticker impact, you’re managing to still enjoy life while spending less than you have before. There’s a catch, though. At some point, you’re going to cross a line where the frugal strategy ...

The post Finding the Line Between Frugality and Deprivation appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




Questions About Matching Funds, Light Bulbs, Library Book Sales, and More!

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 14:00:38 +0000

What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to summaries of five or fewer words. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. Roth IRA for down payment? 2. Employer matching funds question 3. Buying short term 4. Free light bulbs cost-effective? 5. Finding quality clothes 6. Goal rewards and financial success 7. “52 week money challenge” question 8. Library book sale strategy 9. Why Roth IRA? 10. Old photo albums ...

The post Questions About Matching Funds, Light Bulbs, Library Book Sales, and More! appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




Everything You Need to Know About Expense Ratios

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 10:00:00 +0000

If you want better investment returns, one of the smartest things you can do is find lower-cost investments. Not only are smaller fees a good predictor of future returns (the smaller the better), but cost is one of the few investment variables that’s directly within your control. You can’t control the markets, but you can control how much you pay for the privilege of investing in them. And while there are a number of potential fees to watch out for, ...

The post Everything You Need to Know About Expense Ratios appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




Why Meal Delivery Services Are a Waste of Money

Sun, 08 Jan 2017 12:00:22 +0000

Imagine having every imaginable ingredient for a delectable dinner delivered directly to your doorstep, perfectly pre-portioned. Once your box arrives in the mail, every component of the perfect dish is there – meat for your main course, spices that make the meal flavorful, and even the fresh vegetables required to bring your dish to life. But you’re not on your own here, either. On top of the best and freshest ingredients possible, you receive a recipe with step-by-step instructions — pictures and everything. ...

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