The Simple Dollar

Simple, applicable personal finance advice for the modern world.

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The Fight and the Results

Almost every self-improvement goal, whether it’s straightening out your finances or losing weight or getting yourself fit or earning a challenging degree or getting a black belt, comes down to two elements: the fight and the results. The fight is the journey to get there. It’s the work you put in. It’s the struggle against internal signals telling you to quit and encouraging you to be lazy. […]

Some Thoughts on Leverage and Retirement

James writes in: Do you have any opinions on people leveraging their retirement savings in their 20s and early 30s? You use your retirement savings to buy lots of stocks and other investments on margin, moving all of the risk to the early part of your career. […]

The Minimal Day: Rethinking the Little Things You Do Every Day

As I see it, there are two different modes of frugality. One mode is the big action, the one where you do one thing and it saves you a lot of money going forward. I’m talking about things like cancelling a bill or moving to a more cost-effective place to live or making a big energy improvement to your home or switching to a far more fuel efficient car or ditching a car entirely. […]

A DACA Recipient’s Guide to Overcoming Financial Barriers

If you’re a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, also known as a DREAMer, you might face some unique financial barriers. Getting approved for a personal loan, buying a home, or paying for college can be trickier when banks and lenders don’t classify you as a permanent resident. But DREAMers still have plenty of options if you know where to look and what to ask. […]

Calculating the Real Annual Savings of Our Warehouse Club Membership

Sarah and I have been longtime members of Sam’s Club, the only warehouse club within reasonable distance of our home. Since our membership renewal last September, I’ve been keeping careful track of how much money the membership has actually saved us with a pocket notebook devoted to this purpose that I keep in our van, and here are the results, broken down by category. […]

Refining an Internal Yardstick for Fulfillment

This article is something of a sequel to an article I wrote four years ago, Developing an Internal Yardstick for Fulfillment. In that article, I discussed the idea of such an internal yardstick, a concept that I originally discovered in the wonderful book Your Money or Your Life. […]

Questions About Medical Bills, Motivation, Life Insurance, Soap, and More!

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. Handling medical bills 2. Motivation for any self-improvement 3. Hanging onto whole life insurance 4. Tablet energy use and savings 5. How retirement funds are distributed 6. Getting Things Done workbook 7. […]

My “Five Books” for Financial and Life Improvement

In last week’s Dozen Pieces of Inspiration, I made a reference to the website Five Books, where people in various fields recommend five books related to that field. Since then, I’ve been tossing around that very idea in my head over and over again. […]

When Do You Need Life Insurance?

When I graduated from college, a thoughtful relative of mine gave me a letter she had typed out on her computer. […]

The Challenge of Seeing Progress

Monica writes in (with a bit of editing and a link added so you can jump straight to the article she’s mentioning): I’m in the “boring middle” that you wrote about the other day. Been trying to articulate what I’m struggling with and I think it’s that I don’t see any progress. It’s just a day in and day out grind toward my goal of retiring early. […]