The Simple Dollar

Simple, applicable personal finance advice for the modern world.

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Latest Posts from The Simple Dollar (page 5)

10 Strategies for Handling the Stress of a Financial Crisis

Living with financial stress can feel like you’re climbing up a down escalator, but there’s no time to waste: Devise a plan, and start taking steps to turn that plan into reality. Photo: Dennis Skley When that moment comes when you realize that you need to make major changes in your life, it’s incredibly stressful. […]

The State of American Credit Card Debt in 2015

The average American household owes $7,281 in credit card debt — and that average includes families with no debt at all. Photo: Frankie Leon Americans continue to dig a deeper hole when it comes to credit card debt. […]

20 Ways to Make a Great Birthday for Your Child When Money Is Tight

 Home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s often free kid’s workshops, where your child can build and take home a toy or other project. Photo: Home Depot via Twitter One of the most difficult experiences when you’re a parent is not having enough money to make your children’s special days feel very special at all. […]

How Betterment Won My Retirement Account

Earlier this year, I began writing a series chronicling my decision to roll over my old 401(k) into a new IRA with an automated investment advisor such as Personal Capital, Betterment, or Wealthfront. Since my old account was worth more than $85,000 at the time, this decision wasn’t one I took lightly. […]

Questions About Firewood, Costco, Picnics, Homebrewing, and More!

Trying to decide on a warehouse store membership? If all else is equal, choose the one with a gas station. Photo: Robert Neff What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five-word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. Lost without urgency 2. Spending money isn’t bad 3. Non-sandwich picnic ideas 4. Why retire early? 5. […]

The Cost of Raising a Child (and the Baby Checklist You Really Need)

Worried about the cost of raising a child? You don’t need half of the so-called ‘essentials’ in Babies ‘R’ Us. What you do need is good health insurance, a feasible childcare plan, essentials like a crib and diapers — and a lot of love. Photo: David J. Laporte If you just assumed that having children must be an expensive proposition, last year’s “Cost of Raising a Child” report from the U.S. […]

Five Cheap Vacations to Take This Summer

Dozens of wineries cascade down the shores of New York’s beautiful — and affordable — Finger Lakes region, and the wine is surprisingly excellent. Photo: Atwater Winery via Facebook Summer’s here, and you deserve a vacation. The problem is, can you afford one? We’re here to help. […]

The Decision Spiral

Most of us are pretty familiar with the concept of a downward spiral of decisions. When we make a bad choice, it puts us in a slightly weaker spot, where our options aren’t as good as they once were. Here’s a good example: you choose to spend $100 on an expensive meal for yourself and an old friend that you don’t see very often. […]

Finding Happiness for Free

For a couple of weeks, jot down what you’re doing every half hour or so, and how you feel at the time. Then look for patterns to find what truly makes you happy. You might discover some incredibly inexpensive ways to add more joy to your life. […]

Will Mortgage Rates Go Up if the Fed Raises Interest Rates?

Conventional wisdom holds that when the Federal Reserve starts to ratchet up interest rates, maybe as early as September, mortgage rates will follow suit. But is that true? By Peter Miller There’s a widespread view that if the Fed ultimately raises interest levels then mortgage rates will also rise. […]