March’s (Financial) Retard of the Month


Trent Hamm bought the horns and codpiece at a yard sale. And used a Groupon.

Trent Hamm bought the horns and codpiece at a yard sale. And used a Groupon.


Trent Hamm, stop being the Antichrist.

Readers, think about what you love most in the world. Sex? Beer? Malasadas? However strong you think your affection for it is, whatever it may be, your love will never compare to the animalistic lust that Trent Hamm has for adverbs.


Every damn one of those adverbs is unnecessary, particularly Trent’s ultimate go-to word: “simply”.

Referring to the old computer he plans on getting rid of:

it’s likely time to replace it, which means that I’m starting the replacement process.

It’s not that he repeats himself, although he does (oh GOD does he) but that he’s too lazy and/or illiterate to even consult a thesaurus.

The worst part of this late-term abortion or early-term post-natal infanticide of a website is his “Reader Mailbags”, which are as fake as anything Ronaiah Tuiasosopo ever concocted on a late-night chat session with a lonely and dull-witted All-American linebacker.

That’s not a big deal – all forms of publicized reader correspondence are fake – but at least most advice columnists go to the trouble of giving their ersatz letter-writers problems that the columnists themselves don’t have. Not Trent. If it doesn’t deal with potluck dinners, board games, or finding 500 uses for a single penny, our boy’s not interested. Just look at this crap:

Q4: Leftover standby
Whenever we have leftovers of pretty much anything that’s not already a dish, I usually just chop it up, mix it with pasta sauce, and serve it as “spaghetti surprise.” This works for pretty much any kind of vegetables or meats that you have left over from a dish. We have this probably once a week and we actually kind of look forward to it because it’s a little different each time. – Keiko

We actually do this, too. We tend to save every single scrap of leftover vegetables for several different purposes, and this is one of them.
In just the last few months, I recall mixing leftover beans with pasta sauce for a meal, mixing broccoli and cauliflower with pasta sauce, and mixing leftover butternut squash with pasta sauce. I know we’ve done eggplant, too, in the fairly recent past.
Like you, we’ve found it to be kind of fun because it almost always makes an interesting and distinct meal.

”Q4”? Doesn’t the “Q” stand for “question”? Where the hell was the question? This was just an observation, the equivalent of writing “Sure is a nice day here in Sioux City. Not much else to report” to Dear Abby.

Furthermore, the structure has Trent’s 23EEEEE footprints all over it. “Keiko” used “pretty much” twice in 3 lines, which even the laziest advice-seeker wouldn’t bother doing. And again with the adverbs. “Usually”, “probably”, “actually” (another Trent crutch, although not quite as overused as “simply”), all of which are unnecessary.

We’re criticizing his limited vocabulary not because Control Your Cash is a site that focuses on English usage, but rather because Trent’s shallowness betrays him as a dishonest hack of the 1st order. Here’s another example, from the same mailbag:

Q6: Frugal solitaire activities

My job leaves me with a great deal of solitaire time. Not only do I live in a very low population area, my job is on a very weird schedule, leaving me out of sync with the few people that are in the area. I don’t like watching television much. What sorts of frugal solitaire activities can I engage in? – Eric

There are lots of things you can do. Read. Get yourself into shape. Play solitaire card games, board games, or computer games. Teach yourself a new skill you’ve always wanted to learn. Make something, and if you don’t know how, teach yourself an artistic or creative skill.
Boredom doesn’t have anything to do with whether there’s something to do or not. There’s always something to do. Boredom has to do with the person who’s bored and the choices they’re making.
There are times when I really envy the kind of position you’re in. Part of me would love to occasionally have a solitaire week or so where all I had to do was my basic work and I could spend the rest of my time catching up on personal projects.

The “letter-writer” has confused the word “solitaire” with “solitary”, a distinction that most 10-year-olds should be able to make. Fine, “Eric” is a little slow, whatever.

But then Trent makes the exact same mistake in the response. This is laziness on a whole new soporific level.

In all seriousness, we think we’ve figured out Trent’s M.O. for his useless advice columns. We know the man has zero imagination, as evidenced by his repeated references to potluck dinners and board games as the only activities of choice throughout The Simple Dollar. (Use the custom search feature on his site to see how often he uses each of those terms.) Therefore he must farm out this duty to someone trustable and easy to keep tabs on: his wife. We’d bet that he asks her to come up with 10 questions every week. Once she does, he gives them the final coat of polish that only a professional writer can apply – i.e., dropping in a surfeit of adverbs (and the word “frugal”, which we’ll get to in a minute), and editing the questions haphazardly.

Wait, we were so consumed with Trent’s atrocious form that we never got around to tearing apart his content. Just read his response to “Eric”. Is there anything in there that isn’t obvious, and did “Eric” need to consult a stranger instead of figuring the answer out on his own?

It’s the inelegant phrasing that gets us every time and keeps us coming back for more of Trent’s awfulness. “What sorts of frugal solitaire (sic) activities can I engage in?”

Who talks like that? Wouldn’t you say, “What can I do?”, or “What’s there for me to do?” Only stilted Trent “engages in activities.” And no one but Trent would reduce his poor imaginary friend’s search to activities that are “frugal.”

There’s another activity beyond the potluck dinners and the board games. Trent’s 3rd-favorite is reducing the size of his DVD collection. You think we’re joking. We are not. He’s mentioned it 153 times.

How is that even possible? How does the following thought never, not once, enter his corn-fed size 8¾ head?

“Hmmm…haven’t I written about this before? Haven’t I written about it 152 times before?”

Q10: Paring down a collection

I’ve finally decided to pare down my DVD collection (1,000 strong) to a total of 100 DVDs, then adopt a “one in, one out” approach with the remaining discs. My challenge is figuring out how to pare all of these down. How do I even go about it?

This is all from a single Reader Mailbag, by the way. But the apex of stupidity, the quintessential awful Trent Hamm Reader Mailbag question, comes from a “reader” named “Monica”, earlier in this particular collection. It’s going to require an extensive breakdown. Let us:

Q9: Family vacation property

My family is composed of my parents, their six kids, and one current and probably several future children of the third generation.

Even the worst ESL student in the country doesn’t string words together this messily. You couldn’t find a more confusing way to say that your parents are together and that you have 5 siblings, one of whom has a kid.

We love getting everyone together, but are scattered throughout the country, and our parents’ house was bursting with the eight of us growing up and is now overflowing on the rare occasion we’re able to get everyone in town.

So the house is uninhabitable because it now has one more person – presumably a toddler  – than it did when you were all living there long-term?

Over the past decade, we’ve been using graduations as a great excuse to rent a house for a week

Yes, having one extra person around – a minor, no less – seems like an excellent reason for ditching your parents’ place, which is free to stay at, so that you can spend money renting a house. Trent, where did you lose your way? Aren’t you the cat who advocated not opening your oven door because you’ll waste 2¢?

and get everyone together in that town.

Here’s another trademarked Trent maneuver – going to bizarre lengths to keep his “letter-writers’” backgrounds as grey as possible. What’s the danger in saying Bemidji or Glens Falls or Apalachicola instead of “that town”? Will we forever compromise the identity of “Monica”? Well, we do know that we can narrow down the set of Monicas to the subset of Monicas with 5 siblings and one niece or nephew. Excuse us, Monicas with 5 siblings and “one current and probably several future children of the third generation.”

We’re starting to feel like David Kaczynski must have when he read Industrial Society And Its Future and deduced that its author was his brother, the Unabomber. Another Trentism is the insistence on saying “children” instead of “kids”. We’re not sure why he’s so formal, but he can’t seem to help himself. Continuing…

We’d like to continue to come together, and have been trying to craft a long-term solution to this problem.

More clumsy phrasing, but heck…how often do 9-member families “scattered throughout the country” get together, anyway? This family is doing it far more than most.

What we’ve been half-planning on is buying land as a group, parceling it up, and developing it for vacationing in

Yeah, but how?

as we see fit.

Ah. NO ONE does the superfluous coda to a sentence quite like Trent.

The idea is that we’d have a nice place to get together that could accommodate everyone and that we could form an identity with over decades and generations.

“Form an identity with”? It’s a piece of land, not a first edition copy of The Settlers of Catan. (Joke about Trent’s proclivity for board games, for those of you who are just skimming this article, which we wouldn’t blame you for.)

Sounds nice, eh?

If you’re looking for validation from Trent, you need to keep looking.

Family, enough space for personal retreat, and the outdoors.We all have slightly different ideas for what our priorities would be, and so we’re starting to sort through those in conversation and email.

From the superfluous end of a sentence to the superfluous middle of an unending paragraph. So 8 adults want to do something in common, and their opinions are not completely uniform? Also, they’re using methods of communication to get their points across? Two methods, no less? What a wacky family.

Some possible issues are the predicted future income disparity and how that would affect people’s shares, issues with shared resources, and what happens if someone doesn’t pay their taxes, wants to opt out, or doesn’t want to take part at all. It’s probable that much of this will be put down in contracts.

Nothing is used like the passive voice is by Trent. Rather than have a sentence be propelled forward by active words, getting bogged down in dull and unmoving prose is much preferred by him. Your eyes cannot be taken off the screen, can they?

I think we’re on the right path in terms of being aware of some of the concerns, but I wanted to run the idea past you and see what you generally thought about the idea.

We don’t know if Trent does this consciously, or if it even matters at this point. Unnecessary adverbs, repetition of the same phrase twice in one sentence, and – shifting back to the content side – Trent’s relentless belief that no human since the Delphic Oracle has had more answers on more topics than he.

Do you have any resources, or know of families that have arranged as a group to do something similar?

Families with 6 adult children who live in different places, plus both parents, who’ve decided en masse to buy land? Sure, who doesn’t know anyone like that?


Finally, the end. Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Look at that monstrosity. A 301-word question.

How about this instead? Again, keep in mind that we’re cleaning up the work of a deluded man’s imaginary letter-writer:

“My 5 siblings and I all love to get together with my parents, except we’re now all scattered throughout the country and can’t do it as often as we’d like. So we’re thinking of buying a piece of land – all of us. What’s the best way to set it up?”

You’re right, that’s terrible. Way too concise. Now for the answer:

I know of one family that did something similar to this,

Oh, you stinking liar. That’s more convenient than Lennay Kekua’s FaceTime never ever working, and Manti Te’o being content staring at a black screen. (No more Manti Te’o jokes in this post, we swear. We’re already at capacity.) We’d be content staring at a black screen ourselves right now, but we’re in this far and might as well finish our demolition of this awful, awful site created by this awful, awful man.

but what they ended up doing is having one family just own the land and hold family reunions on that land.

But Monica’s is just one family, is it not? So confused.

People would come there to camp or park RVs a few times a year. I’ve heard that the family passes the hat each year to pay for a large “bunkhouse” type of cabin

You “heard” this? The Mystery Clan’s cabin-renting method is a topic of interest in Greater Metro Huxley, Iowa? “Hey Jeb, word has it the Joneses leased out the old Smith place, ya know. They did it by soliciting donations among themselves. Also, they rented a large ‘bunkhouse’ type of cabin.” That might be the most exciting news to hit Story County since The Rabid Locust Plague of 1933, or the time that the Governor ran out of gas just off Route 210 on his way to Winterset.

with just a big main room and a bunch of bedrooms, but they’ve not put together enough money to build such a thing.

I do think you’re on the right path for this, given what you want to do in the end. You’re right, though – your problem comes with situations where individuals can’t hold up their end of the bargain.
The only purchase you’d really need to make together, though, is the piece of land. I would suggest buying an appropriate piece, then breaking it up into individually-deeded pieces. You’d likely want to talk to a bank about the best way to handle that process. Then, if one person can’t hold up their end of the bargain, that piece either goes on the market or one of the other family members buys it.


It’s called tenancy-in-common vs. joint tenancy, and why don’t you stick to things you know about, like how to empty out your Hefty kitchen bag, turn it inside out and use it again? Or telling women that they’re wasting money by spending as much as $4 on a swimsuit?

His advice is inane. His creativity is nonexistent. He’s fat (which doesn’t stop him from giving workout advice, but we’ll hit the preposterousness of that another time.) And yet 93,238 people subscribe to his twice-daily word dumps via Feedburner. That’s not proof of God’s non-existence, but rather proof that His sense of humor is impenetrable to limited human minds. runs on the Genesis Framework

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