Howdy, everyone. I’m writing to you from my sleeper compartment aboard Amtrak’s Empire Builder train, which runs from Chicago to Portland. Chris Guillebeau and I have been traveling westward for 24 hours now, and have passed through Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota. We’re now entering Montana (our train is behind schedule), and have another day or so left to ride. It’s fun, and surprisingly productive.

Chris is using this trip to launch his Empire Building Kit, which is designed to help motivated people build a “lifestyle business” — as a photographer, a personal trainer, a web designer, a dog walker, whatever — by taking a small step everyday. I’m using the trip to work on PR for Your Money: The Missing Manual (I’ve spent most of the time writing guest posts for other blogs).

I’ve also had time to look at some of the stories you folks have sent me, such as:

First of all, you folks know I’m a fan of setting financial goals. It’s one of the cornerstones of my financial philosophy. Squawkfox has put together a nice post that explains how to set financial goals, which includes three handy spreadsheets for goal-setting.

31 Days to a Better Grocery BudgetNext, Money Saving Mom is challenging her readers to stop making excuses and start saving. She says she’s tired of complaints that about why people can’t cut their spending at the grocery store, so she’s started a new series: 31 days to a better grocery budget. If you struggle to keep your food spending in check, you may want to check this out.

Over at The Simple Dollar, Trent has a great post about the mythology of spending and mental anchors. “If you spend all of your time comparing the major things in your life to others based on their cost or their perceived value,” he writes, “you’re saying that what others want is more important to you than what you want. Never let any important choice in your life be governed by what others want.”

Finally, Adrian sent me this ESPN story about how pro-basketball player Antoine Walker went broke: “Walker’s lavish spending was legendary, even by NBA standards. He had closets full of custom-tailored suits. His driveway was a showroom for Benzes, Bentleys and Hummers. He never did quite appreciate just how much they depreciate.” I’ve written before about the lifestyles of the rich and stupid. I used to mock folks who made millions and lost it all. I’m more sympathetic now, because I understand how easy it is to blow through money if you don’t have any sort of financial education.

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