Category Archives: Fast Reads

Nine Strategies for Fixing Common Budget Problems

Budgets are an amazing tool for getting a clear picture of your financial situation and for planning for the future. They make it possible to see, in one overall place, the exact state of your monthly spending. You know where every dime is going. You know why every dime is going there. You can also see exactly where your financial situation is headed if you stick to that budget.

Sarah and I used a very tight budget during the first few years of our financial turnaround. It provided us with a very specific plan for how we should spend our money, how much we could put towards debt every month, and so on. Along with our debt repayment plan, our budget paved the way to debt freedom.

We still budget, but it’s not as tight as it once was. Mostly, we use it as a guideline and as a way to model our expenses and savings into the future.

Questions on Expensive Cars, Airbnb, Cheap Meals, Dollar Stores, and More!

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. Handling old collection
2. Interesting experience with generic aspirin
3. Good books about financial independence
4. Dealing with a pay cut
5. Too tired to enjoy it?
6. Expensive cars
7. Devaluing of the dollar
8. Is it hopeless?
9. Product “downsizing”
10. Airbnb and vacation
11. Dollar stores aren’t always cheap
12. Meals for less than $ 2
13. Saving old magazines
14. Shame on you!
15. Cheap puzzles

One thing I’ve noticed with my own long-term goals is that, once the fire is lit, I’m good at maintaining motivation, but it almost always takes an external push to start that boulder rolling down the hill.

At any given time, I can list several changes I want to make in my life, but without a good external motivator to push me over the edge, I usually won’t get started on a change.

Don’t be afraid to deal with “weak links”

Underperforming workers can drag down your whole organization, so it’s important to identify, to better train, and sometimes  -More

SmartBrief on Leadership

Books with Impact: How to Win Friends and Influence People

The “Books with Impact” series takes a deeper look at specific books that have had a profound impact on my financial, professional, and personal growth by extracting specific points of advice from those books and looking at how I’ve applied them in my life with successful results.

In the past on The Simple Dollar, I wrote some “book club” series where I walked through several of my favorite personal finance, career, and personal growth books in great detail over a series of posts. You should check them out; here are links to each of those “book club” series:

Your Money or Your Life
The Total Money Makeover
Getting Things Done
Making It All Work
Born to Buy

Wasted Time and Your Real Hourly Wage

One of my favorite personal finance concepts is that of the “real hourly wage.” It was an idea I picked up from Your Money or Your Life and it’s well worth understanding, so let’s walk through it again before we move on.

Your Real Hourly Wage

Most of us can easily calculate our hourly wage. We just sit down, add up how many hours we worked in a given year, and divided our salary by that number. For example, let’s say someone makes $ 50,000 a year and works 40 hours a week for 50 weeks a year. Forty hours a week times fifty weeks a year makes for 2,000 hours per year, so if we divide $ 50,000 by that, we get an hourly wage of $ 25 per hour.

Eleven Things I Wish I Understood About Personal Finance Before Starting Out

Not too many years ago, I was a fresh college graduate who was lucky enough to get a job straight out of college during the 2001-2002 economic downturn. I was also primed to make a whole bunch of financial mistakes that, frankly, still negatively affect my life a decade later and will likely have ramifications for the rest of my life.

I wish I could have done things differently, but that’s water under the bridge now. There’s nothing I can do to change the many ways that I messed up back then.

Instead, what I can do is focus on today. I have three children who are growing up faster than I can sometimes believe. I have a surprisingly large audience of readers at this website.

The power of togetherness

Experimental subjects spend 48% longer working on tasks when they were told they’re working “together” with unseen others, re -More

SmartBrief on Leadership