Carnival of Wealth, miserable cold edition

The Midway in the Pacific isn’t as dismal as this one

 

So, what shivering part of the Northern Hemisphere are you reading this from? Have you resorted to making a fire out of seldom-used furniture yet? It’s sunny and 80º here at our undisclosed location, a perfect situation for a) rubbing it in your faces and b) presenting the latest installment of the Carnival of Wealth. Again, these are personal finance posts from the genre’s most prominent bloggers, arranged in handy mini-paragraph form. Get readin’.

Remember the good old days, when every time you bought something with a credit card, you gave a minimum-wage clerk your credit card number and a copy of your signature? Boomer and Echo do, and argue that security has since gotten worse. They regale us with the tales of prospective tenant Amy Adams and theft victim Bill Brown, the least plausible pseudonyms we’ve ever heard. Tune in next week to see how Carmine Cappuccio, Don DeLillo and Edna Everage combat identity theft.

Marjorie Rochon at CardHub tells us that there are a few things you can count on every non-denominational holiday season that alienates neither Jews nor Muslims Christmas: time off from school; an overweight, bearded out-of-towner breaking into numerous houses in the neighborhood via chimney; eating too much; and gift cards. Learn how to handle that last one.

Some people pride themselves on not shopping at Walmart, as if low prices are somehow gauche. Odysseas Papadimitriou of Wallet Blog is not one of them. He bought a loved one an electronic Walmart gift card for Black Friday, because nothing shows you care like cash equivalents do. You’d think delivery of an electronic card would be simple, but for Odysseas it was anything but. For a company whose logistical prowess is world-renowned, Walmart dropped the ball this time.

We hadn’t heard from Jim Wang at Bargaineering for a while, but he’s back with a post on credit scores and how they impact the interest rates you might pay. Until Fair, Isaac & Co. make the credit score formula available to the public, we’ll have to keep guessing as to what makes a good score.

The recondite Paula Pant at Afford-Anything brings it again. Go to her blog, now, and subscribe to her feed.

Here’s why she’s good. She wrote about wealth vs. happiness this week, and unlike the 805,394,217 other people who have written on this topic, she doesn’t offer up some pablum about how money can’t buy you happiness, be thankful for what you have, no dollar amount can compare to the smile on a little child’s face, etc., etc. Instead, happiness is correlated with…well, if we don’t tell you here it’ll force you to click on the link and read her post.

Aloysa at My Broken Coin claims that “the best things in life should not cost you a thing.” But they do. Or, as a former Control Your Cash Man of the Year put it:

 

Turning 180º, you can’t accuse Daniel of Sweating the Big Stuff of breaking out clichés. He argues that doing what you love for a living could be a bad thing.

At Control Your Cash, we’ve distilled the secret to wealth into two sentences: Buy Assets. Sell Liabilities. Do that often enough and you can’t help but build wealth. Free Money Finance did the same thing, with different (but equally valid) sentences. Check his version out here.

Tim Fraticelli at Christian PF thinks it’s possible to negotiate without losing your soul, or your shirt. We’d add “determine what the other party wants” to his list of 4 tips.

Suba at Wealth Informatics thinks Christmas gifts are a waste of time and money. She’s right, and we write basically the same post every year, but hers has way prettier graphs.

This week’s Trent Hamm Memorial* Obvious Sentence Award goes to Kevin McKee at Thousandaire:

My mother has four siblings (my aunts and uncles). 

Thanks, Ace. Anyhow, Kevin hits on one of our favorite topics this week: whether entrepreneurs have it better than corporate employees do.

Darwin’s Money comes with something so depressing, we almost didn’t want to run it. We wanted to fly to his house and give him a hug. He and a partner bought a rental unit, dotted all their j’s and crossed their x’s, then had their parade rained on by a zealous (and we’re thinking, extortionate) insurance company.

Time for our in-depth deconstruction of the week. Our victim is Hank at Money Q&A, who offers advice in “Four Places to Find Great Stocks To Invest In” that swings between curious and horrible.

I routinely can look on my desk and the desks of my coworkers to find the products of great, quality companies to invest in.

Hank also thinks you should look for investing ideas from your kids’ toys, your kitchen, and the mall, which is not only a careless way to write a post, but insane. This is Barbra Streisand’s investing strategy. (She once said, “We go to Starbucks every day, so I bought Starbucks stock.”) Hands up, every GM vehicle owner who bought GM stock in 2009. Here’s Hank’s best line:

Have you seen the explosion of True Religion jeans? If you had, then you would have been in on one of the great growth stocks of the past year or so.

Really?

Yes, TRLG’s stock has risen 50% in the last year, so you can add Hank to the list of retroactive stock market millionaires. But does he think we should buy the stock today? It trades at 19 times earnings. The company lost $44 million (on revenues of $364 million) last year. And in a recession, $300 douchebag jeans are among the first things people cut out of their budgets.

Corey at Money Reasons goes confessional this week, acknowledging that his wealth plan might not be unassailable. He’s got at least a couple of backup plans ready to go, and an irrational fear of being defrauded by someone like Bernie Madoff. (If someone like Bernie Madoff has even partial control over your money, you’re already rich.)

Alright, back to the horror. Miranda at Financial Highway has 4 ideas for earning extra income, all of which are impractical and none of which any sane person will ever try. Wait, didn’t we goof on this submission already? Yes, we did. She sent it in 2 months ago, and we tore it to shreds that time. If she wants to come back for more, who are we to deny her masochistic fantasies? Anyhow, her idiotic suggestions:

1. Offer to deliver pizza, sodas and cookies to college students between the hours of 10 pm and 3 am. Yes, because the kind of students who are awake to eat junk food in the middle of the night are rich enough that they’ll pay someone else to bring it to them.

2. Scrapbooking for other ladies. As Miranda puts it,

They can bring over their photos, and you can put them together, in an attractive and memorable presentation.

We average only half a vagina between us, but we thought the whole purpose of scrapbooking was to immerse yourself in an activity while your husband’s at work and your kids are compromising your sanity. Are we at the point where we’re now farming out hobbies? Why not hire someone to golf or fish for you while you’re at it?

3., and this is the most ridiculous one of all:

(Y)ou can purchase portable toilets that can be rented out. Instead of just renting them out, though, you can make them a little bit nicer. Clean them up. Add air fresheners, include nice soap and lotion, fluffy hand towels, and decorate the inside. These nicer portable toilets could be rented out for upscale outdoor events like weddings, company parties and special receptions.  

A free copy of Control Your Cash: Making Money Make Sense to the first person who can show us evidence of a portable toilet whose purveyor lined the inside with decorations and “fluffy hand towels.” (Miranda: “You see? That’s my point. No one else is doing it! The market is all yours!”)

Portable toilets run about $800 apiece. To do this you’d need to buy multiple ones, and you’d need somewhere to store them. And a way to transport them. And…oh, for God’s sake, we could write another 326-page book just on what’s wrong with this idea.

Let Miranda’s post serve as a warning: if you’re going to submit to the Carnival of Wealth, step your game up. Merely writing the first thing that pops into your head will either get you rejected (if you’re lucky), or will get you published as an example of everything we’re not looking for.

That might be the single worst piece of advice we’ve ever seen. To truly grasp the absurdity of her post, don’t just read our summary. You really need to behold it in its original splendor.

And once again, thanks for letting us put this together. Let’s do it again next week, y’all.

 

*No, he’s not dead. But he is overweight.

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