The Simple Dollar
The first time I calculated our family’s combined net worth, it was negative. And it hurt.
At that time, we lived in an apartment. Our only significant assets were our two cars, which we had loans on. We also had student loans, plus ample credit card debt.
When you add up those assets and subtract those debts … you don’t get a happy result.
A lot of people freshly out of college face this same difficulty, though, and it’s disheartening. If you think about your situation in the world and realize that if you sold off every single possession you own and you’d still be in debt, it feels hopeless. ( Continue… )
I hear every single day from readers who want to know exactly how I’ve made money with The Simple Dollar or how they can make money doing a similar thing, whether it’s starting a blog or posting Youtube videos or writing ebooks.
I’m going to spell all of this out in detail so that the reality of it is as clear as possible.
First of all, the only way to make money consistently online is to produce a lot of content on a very consistent basis. There’s really no other way to do it with any consistency. Sure, someone might throw a video up on Youtube only to see it go viral and get passed around like crazy, but that type of phenomenon is often completely unexpected and heavily based on luck.
The only way to make it work consistently is to produce content every day – or at least several times a week – and do it over and over and over again. You have to treat it like a second job. ( Continue… )
I was fascinated by this recent discussion at Lifehacker about whether brown-bagging your lunch is really much of a money saver. There were enough good points made on both sides that it really made me question whether or not brown-bagging really is a money saver.
After thinking through the question and running the numbers on quite a few different scenarios, I’ve concluded that, yes, brown bagging can save you money consistently if you do it right.
Let’s walk through the discussion step-by-step.
First of all, brown bag lunches aren’t free. No matter what, when you consume food, it has a cost. The entire argument for brown-bagging your lunch isn’t that it’s free, but that the cost is lower than buying your lunch at a restuarant.
So, to establish whether a brown bag lunch is cheaper, you have to compare the cost of that meal to the cost of eating other lunch options.
If you’re brown-bagging it and bringing something from home to eat, it usually falls into one of three categories.
You’re bringing leftovers. You’ve bagged up a portion of your meal from last night and bringing that to work. In this case, the cost of your meal is the total cost of last night’s dinner divided by the number of meals you got out of it. So, if last night’s dinner covered dinner for your four family members plus your lunch today, then you divide the total cost by five to get the cost of your leftover lunch. ( Continue… )
You want it. You can’t stop thinking about it. You must have it.
You keep visiting websites about it. You find it for sale online and your finger hovers over the button. You see it in a store and you almost can’t tear yourself away from picking it up and holding it in your hands.
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Whatever that item is, you crave it. You want it so bad you can almost taste it. ( Continue… )
The other day, I stopped at a gas station with my children in tow.
Ordinarily, this would be a simple visit – I’d gas up, pay at the pump, jump back in, and we’d be on the road again.
That day, though, my youngest one announced very loudly that he had to go to the potty now. ( Continue… )
Setting and pushing toward goals has been an incredibly positive and powerful part of my life over the last several years. Goal-setting and progress toward goals helped me build The Simple Dollar, helped me get out of debt, and helped me build a successful marriage and a strong connection to my children. It helped me write two books, take on leadership positions in the community, and build a wonderful group of friends that I value and rely on.
That type of perspective makes goal-setting sound like an unbeatable approach to life, but, just like anything else, it’s really easy to mis-use goals.
The easiest way to misuse them? You have so many goals that you’re not really able to move forward on any of them.
If I were to sit down and list out every goal I dream of achieving at some point in my life, I could fill up bookswith those goals.
If I were to designate all of those goals as active goals, I would never achieve any of them because of the sheer effort needed to make all of them happen at once. I would be spending so much time figuring out the next step on so many projects that I’d never move forward on any of them.
My solution is simple. If I have a goal I would like to achieve in the future, I simply write it down as a “someday” project. I have a really long list of those goals and projects.
Most of the time, I have ten or so different ongoing projects and goals. This is just about the perfect number for me. ( Continue… )
Beth wrote in with a great question:
“I have thought for months about going into the HR office and signing up for the 401(k) plan but I don’t even know what I should say when I go there. What should I ask about so that I don’t feel like an idiot?“
Based on lots of reader emails, I think this fear of seeming “like an idiot” keeps a lot of people from making the simple but vital move to simply sign up for a 401(k) plan. They read about it, but they’re overwhelmed by the details, and they don’t want to seem “dumb” when they go in and sign up for a plan.
Here’s how you can do it without seeming foolish. Just go to your human resource office and tell them that you’d like to sign up for their 401(k) plan, then fill out the forms that they give you.
Here are four key questions you might want to consider asking. ( Continue… )
One of the biggest criticisms levied at The Simple Dollar – and pretty much every other personal finance site out there – is that the advice shared on it is really obvious.
Spend less than you earn. At its core, that’s really what it all boils down to, after all.
There’s a problem with that, though. If personal finance advice is so obvious, why are 76% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck? Why does the average American household owe more than $7,000 on their credit cards?
The reason is simple: personal finance advice might be simple, but it’s rather hard to implement.
Why? There are a lot of reasons. Here are some of the key ones. ( Continue… )
Every single one of us makes mistakes.
We sleep in too late. We forget to call someone. We spend more money than we should. We eat a ridiculously unhealthy meal. We don’t put in full effort at work. We forget an appointment.
Whenever I make a significant mistake, two things happen. First, I have to deal with the consequences of the mistake. I have to make things right, in other words. Second, I look for ways so that I don’t have to repeat that mistake. ( Continue… )
Welcome to the latest installment in my “ultimate guide” series, where I attempt to lay out all of the things you need to know and consider when making a purchasing decision or a personal finance move. You can check out the “Ultimate Guide” archives for a full selection of these guides.
Today, we’re taking a look at selecting a financial planner. Hiring the right financial planner can be a very daunting task, with a sea of titles and acronyms out there and many advisors clouding the water with clever marketing. Not only that, financial advice is some of the most crucial advice that we receive, as it is often crucial to the planning of our future.
How do we know if we’re hiring a good one? One can never be sure, but here’s how you can navigate the waters and figure out if you need an advisor and, if so, how to find one that’s right for you.
Advisor? Or planner? Let’s settle this issue right off the bat. First, anyone can call themselves a “financial planner” or a “financial advisor.” Those terms are generic and can be used by anyone who wants to. ( Continue… )