Carnival of Wealth, pre-Super Bowl Edition

Miami. Why would they hold the Super Bowl here when they can hold it in gorgeous, sunny Indianapolis?

We’ll get to the Carnival in a minute. First this.

New England opened as a field goal favorite. Is that too low? New England was the #1 seed, the Giants the #6 seed. The latter barely qualified for the playoffs, doing so in the final game of the season.

Or is 3 points too high? The Giants did win in New England, 24-20 back in Week 9.

A prognosticating friend likes New England minus the points. His rationale? “Always take the Croat in a revenge game. Always.” He’s referring to Patriots coach Bill Belichick, a man known to circumvent sportsmanship when the circumstances warrant it. Our friend is an Irishman who married into a Croatian family. His advice prompted us to look at how many of the previous Super Bowls were revenge games. (He’s probably talking about the Patriots seeking revenge over Super Bowl XLII, rather than this year’s regular season game, but whatever.) There have been 12 Super Bowls that were rematches of regular-season games. The team that won the regular-season game went 5-7:

2007 New England 38, New York Giants 35 (last game of season)
2001 St. Louis 24, New England 17
1999 Tennessee 24, St. Louis 21
1994 San Francisco 38, San Diego 15
1993 Buffalo 13, Dallas 10 (Week 2, final week of Emmitt Smith’s infamous holdout)
1990 Buffalo 17, New York Giants 13
1986 New York Giants 19, Denver 16
1985 Chicago 20, New England 7
1983 Washington 37, Los Angeles Raiders 35
1981 San Francisco 21, Cincinnati 3
1980 Philadelphia 10, Oakland 7
1977 Dallas 14, Denver 6

Do what you will with that. We didn’t bother researching which of the 20th century teams had Croats playing a significant role.

Oh yeah, the Carnival. Of Wealth. A compendium of personal finance blog posts from the past week, some good, some awful, some way off topic. If you have a personal finance blog and want to join in the festivities, submit here. Otherwise, just read. Let’s get it on.

 

We’ll start by getting that middle category out of the way first. This is the 4th consecutive week that we’ve goofed on the submission from Erika at Newlyweds on a Budget, each one of which has been more derivative than the previous one. Please, tell everyone a first-person story about how you plan to get out of debt, because 48 trillion other people haven’t done that already. Fortunately, Erika is not without humor. The humor is unintentional, but still:

The Debt

Erika Amex: $285.67
Citi Card: $2,128.41
Student Loan #1: $9,101.51
Student Loan #2: $11,432.70
Student Loan #3: $2,050.00

So apparently there is a third student loan (0% interest) that I completely forgot about it (sic) until I was sent a bill in the mail. Great.

Here’s a rule with zero exceptions: people who “completely forg(e)t about” $2050 debts, to say nothing of the $23,000 in debts they do know about, should stick to writing about handicrafts or how to cook gluten-free or something.

How about something good and actionable? Stephen Vanderpool at Nerd Wallet to the rescue. Learn how to improve your FICO score with his post on which credit cards to get. It’s kind of an infomercial, but his suggestions are sound. Best of all, Stephen’s one of the few writers who can write about credit cards without mentioning the least important criterion for getting a card: its interest rate. We’ve said it before; interest rates are irrelevant, because if you read the agreement and pay by the deadline like a responsible person, your interest rate is 0 regardless of which card you choose. The phrase “interest rate” appears only incidentally in this post.

Two consecutive good posts? What did we to do deserve this? Daniel at Sweating the Big Stuff is back with a post on the IRS’s amnesty program for people with money in offshore accounts. Keep in mind that Daniel is the guy who flipped a sale on eBay, netted $100, and reported it on his taxes. We’re not sure if he does the same thing with pizza coupons, but we do know that Daniel can probably breathe easily if he ever gets audited.

Three consecutive good posts? We’re now officially in the black with this week’s edition. Mich at Beating the Index is a sophomore entrant with a focus on Canadian resource companies. This week, she* discusses the investment potential of Hyperion Exploration, an oil and gas company with operations in Alberta and British Columbia.

If, on the other hand, you’d rather set your money on fire, Hank at Money Q&A has the answer. Hank went on Kickstarter to invest in an unsigned South Carolinian rock and roll outfit. Investing in a bookstore seems like it’d be a better investment, but Hank paid $15 and got a digital download of the band’s CD (marginal cost to the band, 0). Hank says it’s no skin off him because he would have bought the CD anyway, which is the same rationalization everyone who will place a losing Super Bowl bet will make. “It’s just a few bucks.”

Seriously? That’s how bands attempt to earn a living in 2012? The days of Mo Ostin going to the Starwood to scout out Van Halen with contract in hand are long gone.

The American Express Centurion card was almost mythological for years, and the urban legends surrounding its use were hilarious. “You can buy an intercontinental ballistic missile with it! My cousin’s friend’s dad has one!” Then, VISA adorably came out with its copycat black card (with the helpful phrase “Black Card” written on it.) John Kiernan at Wallet Blog explains the difference and which card is better, if you’re the kind of multimillionaire who enjoys reading personal finance blogs.

John at Buy Stocks Online Info is meticulously recording his dividend income every month this year. Find out where he made money, which dividend stocks he plans to invest in for the rest of the year, and his reasons for doing so.

Kyle at The Penny Hoarder has some choice words for the late-night TV hawkers who show you how to buy a house with “no money down” (excluding the $360 they demand for their information.) This post includes the word “ergophobia”, which is magnificent.

“Math is hard!” No, it isn’t, at least not the 4th-grade level that Paula Pant of Afford-Anything recommends you master before you start looking at ways to generate passive income. You need to know whether your new investment’s cash flow will be positive before committing resources to it. Determining the answer involves nothing more complex than division. You remember division, right? Multiplication’s tricky pal?

There are still some people out there who are so dumb, they think that moving from one tax bracket to a higher one will decrease your take-home pay. They confuse marginal tax rates with effective tax rates, and you have to be really committed to ignorance to neither know nor appreciate the difference. Jill at My Dollar Plan shows us what tax brackets are, how they work, at what levels they kick in, and how increasing your taxable income will never decrease your income after taxes.

Certified Financial Planner Jeff Rose used to be a CoW mainstay. Then he disappeared. We hope it wasn’t something we said, even though what we’ve said has ended up costing us many a weaker contributor (or as we like to think of it, culling the herd.) Jeff has returned this week, guest posting on PT Money with a discussion of penalties and taxes you should consider before paying emergency expenses out of a 401(k).

Barbara Friedberg is investing conservatively, and has the detailed list of inflation hedges to prove it. See how she compares CDs, government bonds and treasury inflation-protected securities before deciding where to put her scratch.

Dan at High Yield Edge returns this week. We’ll let him describe his contribution:
“Looking for international exposure AND high yield? Well, you’re in luck! This review of multiple international bond ETFs may be just what you’re looking for.”

Fresh off his video appearance last week, Bob at Christian PF is back with another one. His wife Linda doesn’t make an appearance this time, however, leaving us with nothing but Bob’s swarthy, masculine countenance on a plain background. Oh, and recommendations for home-based businesses.

Did you know there are Canadians who retire and still choose to live in Canada? Boomer & Echo explain how these frozen old people can use shelters, specifically the Tax Free Savings Account, to keep themselves from shivering on a grate atop the Yonge Street subway line.

The redoubtable Jim Wang at Bargaineering returns after a long sabbatical (from the CoW, not from blogging.) This week he introduces us to Credit Karma, a site that promises legitimately free access to your credit scores. Is Credit Karma a scam? Jim has the well-researched answer.

Don at Money Smart Guides pulls out an old chestnut, the “how do you define wealth?” post. A mansion is bad, because you wouldn’t use all the rooms. A Lamborghini is bad, because you might scratch it. Winning the lottery is bad, because money is the root of all evil, or something. Plus the taxes, don’tcha know.

Folks, here’s a tip: relish the money. Every honest dollar you make is the result of benefiting the world by some amount; moving assets from lower-valued to higher-valued uses. Stop apologizing. And if you can afford something nice, how about looking at its myriad benefits instead of any drawbacks? Do you think Larry Ellison regrets one square inch of the giant house he lives in? Of course not, he earned it and doesn’t complain about how big it is. That’s the difference between the rich and the merely aspirational, right there.

Hey, genius. Yeah, you with the bachelor’s degree, who was smart enough to sit at a desk and write papers for 4 years but not smart enough to get hired afterwards. Are you seriously thinking of incurring even more debt and getting a master’s? Maybe you’re right, and the real world will either go away or be less intimidating the longer you stay in school. So yeah, go for it. Your parents can’t keep that cot ready for you in the basement forever, because sooner or later they’re going to die. Teacher Man at My University Money illustrates the diminishing returns of higher education.

A CoW rookie this week is the modestly titled Financial god with what we thought was a parody, but isn’t. There’s a company that wants to put ships in international waters, just outside Silicon Valley, and load them up with educated Chinese and Indians. Seriously. Fg writes about the impact this could have on a once-dynamic economy overburdened with regulation and with an unsavory penchant for keeping the right kind of immigrants out.

We’ll say it again, or let Darwin’s Money do it for us. Prices are low. Mortgage rates are low. Quit screwing around and buy a freaking house already.

Kevin McKee at Thousandaire decided that his custom-made budget spreadsheet is too much work, and he’s probably right. So he switched to Mint.com and thinks you should, too.

Todd Tresidder of Financial Mentor subtitles his site as “Financial Freedom For Smart People”. We’ll admit we didn’t read this 8000-word mastodon in its entirety, but the parts we scanned were well-formatted and grammatically sound. To quote Todd, “the 4% rule (with respect to safe withdrawal rates in retirement) is a myth.  Valuations matter.” The man’s not screwing around. Read him.

Finally, our Post of the Week.

We were wondering what had happened to Shawanda Greene of You Have More Than You Think, who hadn’t submitted in forever. Turned out she was planning her exit strategy. From a 6-digit job that came complete with an iPhone, iPad, cupcakes, wine tastings, an ergonomic chair, and a 7-minute commute.

Why? She wanted more. Self-determination, which is nigh impossible when you’re in the employ of someone else. Read this and be inspired.

Thanks again for coming. New post Wednesday, new CoW next week.

*”Mich” is short for Michelle, right? Or perhaps Mich is a French-Canadian man, Michel. But we’ve never heard of anyone using “Mich” as a truncation of Michel before.

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