Carnival of Wealth, Explanatory Edition

The red bar should probably go in front of the word, otherwise it looks like we're encouraging whining

 

Welcome back to another rousing edition of the only personal finance blog carnival worth reading, the Carnival of Wealth. Why should you read it? Well, you’re already here anyway – it seems pointless to get this far and not finish. Second, you get a cross-section of posts from around the personal finance, there’s that word again, blogosphere. Hate it, but it fits.

And you get exciting commentary that makes you want to read each post in sequence, keep the Carnival open in a browser tab, and then come back to where you left off so you can go to the next one on the list and repeat.

But aren’t you the people who say mean things? 

It’s not personal. It never is, except with that one succubus. We also say exceedingly complimentary things, too, but no one seems to remember that.

If you have a personal finance blog and want to submit to next week’s CoW, click here. Again, having a personal finance blog is a necessary condition. Read the requirements on that link. If your blog is about your low-fat dessert recipes (Tiramisu, so yummy!), and you’re foolish enough to submit, we reserve the right to goof on you.

Or if you just want to read, read. Deep breath. Here goes:

We start with A Blinkin of Funancials, with the provocatively titled “CDs Are For Hypocrites”. See? He says mean things too! He calls people hypocrites! And losers! A’s argument is that unless you know we’re going to have deflation, any CDs you buy are probably going to lose money. Real rates of return are lower than you think. A has a (sobering) chart and everything.

Amanda L Grossman is the Yngwie J. Malmsteen of personal finance bloggers. This week, the woman behind Frugal Confessions remarks that her health insurer now charges higher premia to smokers than to non-smokers.

Wait. There was an insurer that wasn’t doing that already? How is that possible? 

Her insurer not only punishes the unhealthy, it rewards the healthy. Ms. Grossman appears hale in her picture, and credits her diet and exercise habits with earning her points from her insurer. Points that she redeemed for…cartons of Marlboros Light! (No. Click the link to find out what she did with the points.)

Mich at Beating the Index seems awfully confident in her ability to forecast, and is convinced that 2012 will be dismal for the stock price of NAL Energy. For those of you on the good side of the border, that’s a company that produces natural gas in Western Canada and trades on the Toronto Exchange, although you wouldn’t know it from looking at their website. The stock’s already down 9% on the year, and we’ll debate the claim that Beating the Index is in “a writing style the lay investor can easily understand”, but the post has plenty of merit. Read it. Slowly.

Last week, attitudinizer and extraordinarily sensitive person Suze Orman affixed her name to a gigantic ripoff of a prepaid debit card. Not a ripoff compared to, say, General Motors’ receiving alms from the taxpayers, but relative to other methods of spending your own money. Here’s what we had to say about Suze’s ridiculous card then, and it’s only gotten worse for the sensibly coiffed darling of daytime TV. Stephen Vanderpool at Nerd Wallet piles on, listing the usurious fees Suze’s card charges. And, because Nerd Wallet is constructive, the post includes healthy alternatives.

The first blogger Orman threw a punch at in defense of her useless card was Phil Taylor at PT Money. Fresh off his 12th-round TKO victory, Phil is back with a piece on the new limits from traditional and Roth IRAs in 2012. Except the new limits are the old limits, because the Fed has determined that inflation no longer exists. That’s why everything you buy costs exactly the same as it did a year ago.

Time for some comic relief? Newlyweds on a Budget is becoming this year’s Erin Pavlina. NoaB features the tribulations of the most generic blogger in existence – Erika, who loves to write about her husband, her marriage, her struggles with finances, and her inability to lose weight. In this post, she tells us how she plans to lose 10 pounds in 3 months. How her obesity is of value to the rest of us, or has anything to do with personal finance, is unclear.

10 pounds in 3 months? Whoa, dial it down a notch, sister. We don’t want you turning into a Sudanese refugee. Best line of the whole post: “I don’t eat salad.” Seriously, she said that. And underlined “don’t”. People love this commiserating nonsense, so her post has dozens of comments on it.

Melissa Batai at Personal Finance Journey doesn’t like to do housework. Her husband’s tens of thousands of dollars in debt from receiving a Ph.D. anyway, so what’s a few more bucks for a housekeeper? (To say nothing of the person she doubtless paid to submit to the CoW.) Ms. Batai is a former Control Your Cash Financial Retard of the Month (September 2011), so we couldn’t very well not run her post.

Three pieces of detritus in a row? Please, God, no. LaTisha Styles at Young Adult Finances breaks the streak in this post that clearly explains what a portfolio is to the uninitiated. Subject matter a little basic? So what? We all have to start somewhere. No one comes out of the womb knowing what a convertible debenture is.

Iraq combat vet Hank Coleman at Money Q&A thinks you should buy a house, a sentiment we second. Also, there’s some awesomely subtle product placement in Get up to 4 offers at LendingTree.com his post.

Kyle Taylor at The Penny Hoarder takes the opposite stance. Kyle, we’re sure you’re a nice guy, but please put away the point that says “you could find higher returns with lower capital requirements by looking elsewhere.” It’s blunt and you’ll hurt yourself. We’ll say it again: it doesn’t matter that stocks, bonds, or metals (descriptions too inclusive to have any meaning in this context) offer higher returns than a house. You still need a place to live. The only fair “investment” to compare home ownership to is renting. “A house or T-bills?” is an unanswerable question.

Already filed for bankruptcy? Congratulations, your financial life is over! Unfortunately, your physical life isn’t, and you’re going to need money. Your Finances Simplified lets us know the best way to close the barn door after that particular horse gets out.

What makes America so special? Football, porn, and our new status as one of the few countries in the world whose debt exceeds its annual gross domestic product. We can keep borrowing and printing money, making that ratio even worse, and probably will. Darwin’s Money has some strategies for seeing your way through hyperinflation, his faith in our elected officials being justifiably non-existent.

(Note: Every American reading this, if you really want to reclaim this country and help get its finances under control, throw your support behind the one presidential candidate who takes fiscal and monetary policy seriously.)

Corey at 20s Finances thinks financing a car is a bad idea. It’s not that simple, but if you already paid cash you can read this and it’ll reinforce whatever you told yourself then.

Echo of Boomer & argues that instead of whining about the fees those rapacious corporations charge you, doesn’t it make more sense to own them and be on the other side of the table? He mentions banks and utilities in particular, with a funny anecdote about how to make money off companies you hate.

What’s the most you should pay for a stock? Yes, it depends: on variables that the legendary Benjamin Graham put in a formula created to answer that very question. John at Buy Stocks Online Info gives us the details. Square root of (book value x annual earnings), divided by the share price and multiplied by a constant.

Good news! Shaun Fowler at Smart Family Finance is in the market for an editor. Applicant must be able to translate passages such as “Not only was he one of the largest lottery payouts with $314 million. He is also squandered those winnings

Huh? The hell was that? Somewhere, there’s an elementary school that owes someone’s parents an apology and a refund.

(Again, not personal. Hate the sin, not the sinner.)

Detecting a theme, the unflappable Eddie at Finance Fox submitted yet again. That’s 3, maybe 4 consecutive weeks now. e.e. cummings wrote concrete poems that flowed better than this post, but the gist of it is that you shouldn’t finance investments that offer smaller rates of return than what the credit card companies are making off your revolving consumer debt. Pay the cards off first.

Or not. Teacher Man at My University Money asks and answers the eternal question: pay off debt fast, or build assets? Great line: “Debt doesn’t kill people, people who irresponsibly use debt kill people.” This submission is funny enough that we thought maybe it was a guest post from Nelson at Financial Uproar, until the part 3 paragraphs in where the author refers to a girlfriend.

The mysterious Aloysa at My Broken Coin is sick of hearing about frugality, or at least frugality for its own sake. Because she’s Baltic, we’ll take her at her word and stay an inch or two out of kicking distance. (The most accurate ethnic stereotype in existence is the one that says that Eastern European women don’t suffer fools very well.) That doesn’t mean she is also squandered any lottery winnings, but that she’ll drink that latte and not feel guilty over it.

Daniel at Sweating the Big Stuff cites a study that claims that tax evasion cost the United States $337 billion last year. That’s more than $2000 per taxpayer, which seems unfeasible, but he’s earned the right to throw dubious numbers at us.

(Speaking of dubious, Daniel, level with us. Did you seriously flip an HP TouchPad for a $100 net gain on eBay and report it on your taxes?)

What are your goals for 2012? Jeffrey at Money Spruce has none. Not that he’s not ambitious, he just thinks that attaching a finite objective to a fixed period is a waste of time. His logic is pretty convincing, too.

Another CoW rookie is Colin Williams at Humble Savers. If you enjoy bullet points, live in Australia, and are in the market for a financial planner, Colin has a handy checklist to help you find one.

Did we talk about this before? We’re sure we did, but can’t find it in the archives. Unclaimed property from your state’s treasurer. Worked for us, and worked for Kevin McKee at Thousandaire. He discovered he was owed a few dollars, enough to buy an iPad case.

Robert at Entrepreneurship Life delineates the differences between being an employee, and being an independent contractor. If you value freedom, self-determination, or any of those other God-given attributes that separate us from oxen and other beasts of burden, the latter is infinitely better than the former. And it’s the first step toward entrepreneurship, which is the only way for most of us to build true lasting wealth.

Forest Parks at Frugal Zeitgeist says that Tuesday is the best day to buy airline tickets. So if your grandmother dies on a Wednesday morning, tell them to keep the body on ice.

Bob at Christian PF tells us how to create a budget. The post includes a video, in case you hate reading. Bob’s wife Linda enters at the :44 mark. Bob is playing miles out of his league.

Should we start doing a Post of the Week? We’re thinking about it. Nothing formal, just a way to draw attention to the one submission that we found the most thoughtful. This week, that’d be from W at Off Road Finance. It’s called “Additive vs. Multiplicative Thinking About Money”, and the pentasyllabic word in the title already caused most people to skip to the next paragraph. If you’re going to read any post in this week’s Carnival, read Erika’s one about losing barely detectable amounts of weight over long periods. But then read W’s post, which breaks down yet another difference in mindset between the wealthy and the merely aspiring.

Entering the home stretch…Madison du Paix at My Dollar Plan tells the inspirational story of Joe, who used credit cards to pay off his mortgage and saved thousands in the process.

But credit cards charge higher rates than home lenders do! How is that possible? 

Because every credit card in existence charges 0%, at least for a certain length of time. All you have to do is pay attention, read the agreement, be disciplined, and not overextend yourself. Like Joe did. BOOM! Housing crisis solved in one sentence. Now give us a hard one.

Got dang, another good one. Which is unfortunate, because the bad ones are fun to write about. This is from Paula Pant at Afford-Anything. Mlle. Pant asks if collective wisdom can apply to investing. For instance, if you ask 20 people how many marbles are in a jar, the average guess will be reasonably accurate. The same principle doesn’t necessarily work in the markets, and there are scientific reasons why.

Let’s end on a high note, shall we? Thanks again for reading. Another CoW next Monday, and another fresh new post in 48 hours.

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