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The Simple Dollar



Financial talk for the rest of us



Last Build Date: Fri, 23 Jun 2017 18:45:32 +0000

 



Some Thoughts on the Choices We Make When Decorating Our Homes

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 14:00:13 +0000

I was recently made aware of a fascinating business called Books by the Foot. This business buys bulk books from publishers and libraries and other sources that might otherwise just throw them away and then sells them by the foot for people who want to create the visual appearance of having a giant library of books. In some cases, this does make sense – a person making a film or a theatrical production might want this very kind of prop ...

The post Some Thoughts on the Choices We Make When Decorating Our Homes appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




18 Clever Ways to Make Frugality a Highly Social Endeavor

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 14:55:36 +0000

It’s easiest to be frugal when you’re flying solo. When all you have to think about is yourself and your own internal demands, it’s easier to make frugal choices. Often, the desire to be social or the desire to keep up with social demands can really eat into our finances, because the financial cost of things like going out with friends and eating out with friends add up really quickly. Because of that, many people who dabble in frugality tend ...

The post 18 Clever Ways to Make Frugality a Highly Social Endeavor appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




Should You Use Plastiq to Pay Your Mortgage and Other Bills With a Credit Card?

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 10:00:04 +0000

If you love credit card rewards and spend your free time pursuing points and miles, you already know the secret to outsized rewards: The more bills you can charge to your rewards credit card (and pay off right away), the more points and miles you’ll earn over time. Personally, I pay every possible bill I can with credit – expenses like car insurance, health insurance premiums, groceries, gas, and internet service. Over time, even small purchases can add up to ...

The post Should You Use Plastiq to Pay Your Mortgage and Other Bills With a Credit Card? appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




10 Smart Ways to Use Leftover Pasta (Smart Staple Strategies #3)

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 14:00:16 +0000

For the next few weeks, we’re going to talk about some smart strategies for using leftover staple foods – things like rice, beans, pasta, and so on. Here’s what you do when you cook a bit too much and don’t know what to do with the rest! It’s tricky to cook the right amount of pasta for a meal. Because you want to make sure that you have enough pasta, it’s very, very easy to cook too much pasta, often ...

The post 10 Smart Ways to Use Leftover Pasta (Smart Staple Strategies #3) appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




Why I Finally Broke Down and Bought Travel Insurance

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 10:00:51 +0000

When you travel as often as I do, you get used to unexpected expenses throwing your budget out of whack. You can plan ahead all you want, but when your kid needs an $8 pack of children’s Tylenol from the airport gift shop, you buy it. Either that, or you’ll cram your carry-on luggage so full you’re forced to check the bag. Or, you’ll forget to pack snacks. You may even make it all the way to Mexico without sunglasses, meaning ...

The post Why I Finally Broke Down and Bought Travel Insurance appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




How to Identify (and Take Advantage of) ‘Loss Leaders’ in Grocery and Department Store Flyers

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 14:00:49 +0000

Almost every department and grocery store chain in America produces a weekly flyer describing the sales of the week in the store. The stores do this because it works – good prices get customers in the store spending money, and when they’re in there, they often buy lots of items as they’re buying other groceries, too. In order to really entice customers and get them in the door, stores will regularly promote really steep sales on specific items, sometimes even ...

The post How to Identify (and Take Advantage of) ‘Loss Leaders’ in Grocery and Department Store Flyers appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




Five Perks of Having Good Credit

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 10:00:00 +0000

When it comes to your credit scores, the higher they climb, the better. But you probably already knew that. Of course, you may be able to get by with bad credit. But bad credit makes life a lot more difficult, and certainly a lot more expensive than it needs to be. There are a number of perks to having good credit – here are five of the biggest. Perk No. 1: Lower Interest Rates and Better Terms Let’s start with ...

The post Five Perks of Having Good Credit appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




Questions About Travel Guides, Trusts, Unwanted Hobby Items, Summer Reading and More!

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 14:00:51 +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. Entrepreneurship versus raises 2. Harassment at work about finances 3. Pulling plug on internet service 4. Travel guides worthwhile? 5. Motivating yourself for better habits 6. Irrevocable or revocable trust? 7. First steps before potential divorce 8. Gifting unwanted hobby stuff 9. Thoughtful gifts for kids 10. Discarding ...

The post Questions About Travel Guides, Trusts, Unwanted Hobby Items, Summer Reading and More! appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




How to Deal With Huge Medical Bills

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 10:00:16 +0000

A report from the American Journal of Medicine shared some sad statistics about the state of American medical care and medical bankruptcies: A 2009 study revealed that 62.1% of U.S. bankruptcies had a medical cause that year. That figure is in stark contrast to 1981, when only 8% of bankruptcies listed medical debt as a root cause. Some good news may be on the way, however. Consumer Reports revealed that personal bankruptcies dropped 50% from 2010 to 2016, presumably due to ...

The post How to Deal With Huge Medical Bills appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




Five Ways to Get the Most Bang for Your Buck from a Small Garden

Sun, 18 Jun 2017 14:00:21 +0000

Living in New York City, I’m often disappointed in the quality of produce offered at the supermarkets. It’s not uncommon for carrots to wilt within a day, or for spinach to quickly turn into green mush even when it’s kept in the refrigerator’s “crisper” drawer. (Is anyone else certain that this has literally no effect on any produce put into it?) For the prices we pay, it’s a pretty demoralizing vegetable situation. That being the case, I often dream of ...

The post Five Ways to Get the Most Bang for Your Buck from a Small Garden appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




A Beginner’s Guide to Hiking and Nature Walking at Minimal Cost

Sat, 17 Jun 2017 14:00:06 +0000

About two years ago, I wrote a pretty well received article on how to get started with eight great frugal hobbies. I had a lot of fun writing the article because it gave me a chance to talk about some of my own hobbies and how someone might get started in them at minimal cost. Over the ensuing two years, I’ve seen occasional follow-up questions from readers that (I think) were inspired by this article. People asked deeper questions about ...

The post A Beginner’s Guide to Hiking and Nature Walking at Minimal Cost appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




How Cognitive Loading Undermines Your Good Financial Decisions

Fri, 16 Jun 2017 14:00:56 +0000

One of the earliest posts on The Simple Dollar was centered around a trip to the grocery store that I took with my then-one year old son. The focus of the post was on comparing prices on various items and using the actual cost per serving to decide what to buy, as well as making sure you were actually looking at all the options. Here, take a look. When I look at that post, other than being struck by the ...

The post How Cognitive Loading Undermines Your Good Financial Decisions appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




The ‘One Bag Challenge’: What I Learned by Living Out of a Single Duffel Bag

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 14:00:18 +0000

A few months ago, I spent some time reading about people who are essentially “digital nomads,” meaning that they live their lives with a very small number of possessions and essentially work anywhere they happen to be. I started down this rabbit hole by reading this article by James Altucher about minimalism, which started with this: “I have one bag of clothes, one backpack with a computer, iPad, and phone. I have zero other possessions.” Essentially, Altucher lives out of ...

The post The ‘One Bag Challenge’: What I Learned by Living Out of a Single Duffel Bag appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




10 Smart Ways to Use Leftover Beans (Smart Staple Strategies #2)

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 14:00:02 +0000

For the next few weeks, we’re going to talk about some smart strategies for using leftover staple foods – things like rice, beans, pasta, and so on. Here’s what you do when you cook a bit too much and don’t know what to do with the rest! Personally, beans are my number one staple food. I love so many different kinds of foods that utilize beans, from 13 bean soup to bean burritos, from lentil casserole to “chili.” Beans go so ...

The post 10 Smart Ways to Use Leftover Beans (Smart Staple Strategies #2) appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




Five Ways to Save on Your Summer RV Rental

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 10:00:07 +0000

Summertime is perfect for packing up the family and hitting the open road. And whether you want to camp or simply travel in style, renting an RV (recreational vehicle) adds features to a vacation that you just can’t get anywhere else. Like a portable “tiny house,” most RVs feature ample room for sleeping, full or partial kitchens, and space for games and fun. If you’re going to traverse the country, doing so in an RV is a lot more comfortable than, say, cramming ...

The post Five Ways to Save on Your Summer RV Rental appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




20 Gift Ideas for That Frugal Person in Your Life

Tue, 13 Jun 2017 14:00:48 +0000

One of the most popular articles I’ve ever written, at least as judged by the reader feedback I’ve received, is Holiday Gift Ideas for the Frugal People in Your Life, which featured a list of somewhat generalized gift ideas for frugal people that they have to buy gifts for. Obviously, the list wasn’t so much intended for frugal people, but for people who have to buy gifts for frugal people, and my intent was to write it as a frugal ...

The post 20 Gift Ideas for That Frugal Person in Your Life appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




Should You Use a Personal Loan to Pay Off Credit Card Debt?

Tue, 13 Jun 2017 10:00:00 +0000

Drowning underneath a pile of expensive credit card debt? Don’t have the cash to write a big check to pay it off? Are the maxed-out cards killing your FICO and VantageScore credit scores? If so, you’re certainly not alone. Nationally, total credit card debt climbed to over $1 trillion last year, according to the Nilson Report. It’s no secret that excessive credit card debt often foreshadows serious financial problems. In fact, if you currently owe more on your credit cards ...

The post Should You Use a Personal Loan to Pay Off Credit Card Debt? appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




Questions About Skills, Boredom, Coffee, Target Retirement Funds, Overdue Bills and More!

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 13:00:38 +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. Picking right target retirement fund 2. Teaching yourself a new skill 3. Giving away money after death 4. Thoughts on Massdrop 5. Overcoming frugality boredom 6. How to negotiate overdue bills 7. Going out of business sales? 8. Cold brew coffee questions 9. Awkward workplace conversations and dynamic ...

The post Questions About Skills, Boredom, Coffee, Target Retirement Funds, Overdue Bills and More! appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




When and How to Use Your Roth IRA as an Emergency Fund

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 10:00:00 +0000

In an ideal world, you’d always have enough money to put toward all of your goals without making any sacrifices or compromises. But that’s not usually the reality. Most of the time you’re working with a limited amount of money, trying to decide whether you should be putting it toward this goal or that goal. For example, you may know that building an emergency fund is an important part of creating financial security. You may also know that it’s important ...

The post When and How to Use Your Roth IRA as an Emergency Fund appeared first on The Simple Dollar.




Home Buyers, Beware: Wire Fraud Is on the Rise

Sun, 11 Jun 2017 12:00:59 +0000

Imagine you’re getting ready to close on your first home. You receive the closing paperwork and take special care to ensure all the details are correct. But, on the way to the bank, something funny happens – you receive alternate instructions on where to transfer your down payment. You call your realtor and title company to confirm these details, but never hear back from the title company. You do talk to your realtor, but she doesn’t set off any alarms. Running out ...

The post Home Buyers, Beware: Wire Fraud Is on the Rise appeared first on The Simple Dollar.