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The Simple Dollar



Financial talk for the rest of us



Last Build Date: Sat, 27 May 2017 15:55:46 +0000

 



No One Owes You Anything

Sat, 27 May 2017 14:00:49 +0000

I recently ran across a letter written by the writer, investment advisor, and politician Harry Browne. It was a letter intended for his nine-year-old daughter and was published as part of his syndicated newspaper column. I want to share it in its entirety: * * * It’s Christmas and I have the usual problem of deciding what to give you. I know you might enjoy many things — books, games, clothes. But I’m very selfish. I want to give you ...

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Best Rewards Credit Cards of 2017

Fri, 26 May 2017 17:33:12 +0000

If you’re a homebody who’s into family stay-cations, a credit card that focuses on travel rewards just doesn’t fit. Likewise, a cash back card with no travel rewards isn’t an ideal match for frequent flyers. Choosing a credit card with a rewards structure that aligns with your spending habits will ensure your rewards stack up quickly. You’ll also want to carefully consider redemption options. Do you want to earn rewards you can redeem for free travel? Is cash back more ...

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How to Celebrate Personal Success Without Breaking the Bank

Fri, 26 May 2017 14:00:09 +0000

Personal success often translates into a time for celebration. You just got a promotion at work. You just got a great new job. You just got engaged. You found out you’re expecting a child. You paid off your car. You paid off your house. You sold your house. There are lots of reasons that life offers us for a celebration of some kind or another. However, celebration often translates into expense in the modern world. When we think of celebrating ...

The post How to Celebrate Personal Success Without Breaking the Bank appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




The First Steps for Enjoying Four Frugal Hobbies

Thu, 25 May 2017 14:00:26 +0000

Long time readers of The Simple Dollar know that I have a number of hobbies that I’m quite passionate about, most of which are actually pretty cheap if you make smart choices regarding them. Because I wear my hobbies on my sleeve so much, I get pretty frequent emails and Facebook messages from readers asking about how they can get started in those hobbies, too. So, today, I thought I’d share some steps for how to dip your toes in ...

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I Had a Workplace Relationship Implode – Here Are Six Ways It Could Have Been Avoided

Thu, 25 May 2017 12:00:54 +0000

Workplace conflict is inevitable, but it’s not always bad. In this way, it’s much like a marriage. As legendary British anthropologist Gregory Bateson put it: “Too little conflict, and the marriage is dull. Too much, and it’s toxic.” That same notion can be applied to workplace relationships. An office without debates or conflict is a place where no one is pushing forward new ideas. But, if everyone is cutthroat, and people are taking their laptops into the bathroom stall so ...

The post I Had a Workplace Relationship Implode – Here Are Six Ways It Could Have Been Avoided appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




Choose the Life You Want. Your Wallet Will Thank You.

Wed, 24 May 2017 14:00:43 +0000

Whenever I see a headline like that, I can’t help but think that it’s drenched in positive thinking. Then, I look at a day like yesterday. Yesterday, I didn’t really feel like working. At all. The motivation to write was nonexistent. I didn’t feel inspired and the words were simply not coming out. So, I got up and headed over to Ledges State Park. I packed a backpack with a lunch, a full water bottle, some bug spray, and a ...

The post Choose the Life You Want. Your Wallet Will Thank You. appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




Here’s My Secret to Saving Money on Quality Clothes

Wed, 24 May 2017 10:00:12 +0000

While I was once willing to do just about anything to save money, I’ve learned that some savings strategies work better than others over time. For example, buying the “cheapest” small appliances usually means having to buy them again in a few short years. Ask me how many times I purchased a $17 coffeemaker from Walmart to figure that one out. The same can be said for clothes. I don’t know how many cheap new outfits I bought from Kohl’s ...

The post Here’s My Secret to Saving Money on Quality Clothes appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




What to Do When Saving Anything Meaningful for Retirement Seems Impossible

Tue, 23 May 2017 14:00:03 +0000

Frank is a reader of The Simple Dollar who has messaged me on Facebook a few times. He has a solid job working for the state and makes about $42,000 a year. He is married and has three children. However, Frank’s wife is pretty ill. She has multiple sclerosis and is now wheelchair bound. It is very difficult for Frank’s wife to do many household chores, either. Frank’s time, then, is eaten up by taking care of his job and ...

The post What to Do When Saving Anything Meaningful for Retirement Seems Impossible appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




About to Buy a House? Put Your Credit on Lockdown

Tue, 23 May 2017 10:00:00 +0000

Buying a house can be both an exciting and simultaneously stressful experience. One reason the home buying process tends to be so stressful for many consumers — besides the fact that it’s probably the biggest purchase you’ll ever make — is the rigorous qualification process involved in getting approved for a mortgage. If you’re preparing for a mortgage application, it is important to understand that qualifying for a home loan is a very different process than when you apply for most other ...

The post About to Buy a House? Put Your Credit on Lockdown appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




Questions About Avocado Toast, Paper Shredders, Hiking, Job Searching, and More!

Mon, 22 May 2017 14:00:10 +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. The inevitable “avocado toast” question 2. Small balance for credit score? 3. Exact recipe for laundry soap 4. Destroying documents without paper shredder 5. Inactive credit cards 6. Selling a car 7. Frustrated with job search 8. Handling an old 401(k) 9. Credit card with positive balance 10. ...

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Give Your Home an Outdoor Makeover on the Cheap

Mon, 22 May 2017 10:00:17 +0000

If you believe everything you read in the Lowe’s or Home Depot mailer, you probably think you need a new grill, decorative stones leading to your glamorous garden shed, and protective paint on the floor of your garage. And you absolutely need amazing new flowers in new pots with new spring colors, along with a new layer of mulch, new decorative rock, and a wind chime for good measure. While all of these purchases can absolutely improve your home’s look this spring, ...

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19 Things I Always Buy at the Dollar Store

Sun, 21 May 2017 12:00:14 +0000

While everyone has their own savings strategies when it comes to groceries and household goods, I tend to take the easy route. Instead of driving from store to store to snag deals, I do almost all of my shopping at Kroger. My friendly neighborhood supermarket may not always have the lowest prices, but they usually do. Plus, shopping at just one store helps me save something more important than money – time. Yet, I always make one more shopping trip each ...

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Course Corrections

Sat, 20 May 2017 14:00:13 +0000

About a week ago, I was listening to a wonderful friend of mine, Heidi, talking about Amelia Earhart. Out of the blue, right in the midst of those thoughts, she burst into song, singing part of this song a cappella: The lyrics of this song, Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight, go something like this, depending on the version: A ship out on the ocean, just a speck against the sky, Amelia Earhart flying that sad day; With her partner, Captain Noonan, ...

The post Course Corrections appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




The ‘Repeat Players’

Fri, 19 May 2017 14:00:18 +0000

Once a week, I go to a community board game night for several hours. There’s usually about 20 people in attendance with a healthy mix of ages, backgrounds, genders, and game tastes, and there are usually about 10 regulars that consistently show up every week. One of the big challenges of this group has been that when people get new games, they tend to want to get them to the table. If someone receives an interesting new game for their birthday or ...

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Putting Frugality in Context of a Busy Modern Life

Thu, 18 May 2017 14:00:50 +0000

Springtime is incredibly busy around our home. Our children each participate in a spring sport of their choosing (if they want to). They’re also finishing out their school year, which means a number of school activities are on the docket. We usually have family members that come to visit at some point during the month. Sarah’s usually finishing out a teaching year and is also finishing out her masters program. I’m usually trying to get some extra work done so ...

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Seven Reasons to Love the House You Have

Thu, 18 May 2017 12:00:41 +0000

With spring in full swing and summer on its way, people are busy sprucing up their home’s outdoor areas. Perhaps you’ve cleaned out your garage, laid down some mulch, or attempted to repair winter damage to your lawn. Whatever hard work you’ve done, you’ll soon be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor – that is, if you can ignore what your neighbors are up to. According to Housingwire Magazine, 40% of all U.S. home sales take place during May, ...

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The Ant, the Grasshopper, and the Child

Wed, 17 May 2017 14:00:11 +0000

When I was a kid, my parents had a few relatives and friends that were pretty big spenders. I had a cousin who always had the latest everything – if a new hot video game had just come out, you could rest assured that he had it. There was a friend of my father who collected trading cards and had a collection that blew away my own meager stacks. One particular friend seemed to always be driving a new car. ...

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How to Choose the Best Health Savings Account

Wed, 17 May 2017 10:00:56 +0000

Ever since the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), Americans have shown a renewed interest in health savings accounts, or HSAs. These versatile, tax-advantaged savings accounts were created for individuals and families with high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) with the goal of helping them save money to cover their own medical bills. If your health plan helps you qualify for an HSA, you gain several important benefits. For starters, the money you invest in an health savings ...

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A Simple Guide to Getting Maximum Value from Your Credit Cards

Tue, 16 May 2017 14:00:28 +0000

Sometimes, the simplest questions are just perfect. How do people even use credit cards without messing everything up? A reader we’ll call Jean sent that to me at the start of a question for the reader mailbag. Afterwards, Jean offered up a pretty typical story of credit card use: relying on it for purchases, gently inflating one’s lifestyle, losing track of what’s actually going onto the card, and suddenly facing big bills. Jean isn’t alone. In America, 38.1% of households ...

The post A Simple Guide to Getting Maximum Value from Your Credit Cards appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




When Is It Safe to Close a Credit Card?

Tue, 16 May 2017 10:00:00 +0000

You work hard to maintain good credit scores, but the truth is that even one seemingly innocent mistake has the potential to undo your efforts. Credit mistakes like late payments, collection accounts, or maxing out your credit cards can quickly turn your previously impressive credit scores into something much less attractive. That means higher interest rates on future loans, which can add up to thousands of extra dollars paid in interest. Closing old credit card accounts is another credit blunder ...

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