Carnival of Wealth, Valentine’s Day Edition

Another Carnival of Wealth? This is getting to be a habit. Here’s our usual Monday goodness, with a caveat. Next week, we’re guest hosting another blog carnival, the Totally Money Carnival. (Unless the gal who runs it yanks it from us 3 days before it’s supposed to go live, like a certain previous blog carnival host did after we’d agreed to take the reins. But we’re all adults here, right?)

That means the next Carnival of Wealth will run February 22. A Wednesday. The following week, it’ll be on Monday as always. Deadline remains the same.

Two fun facts, keeping with the theme:

-St. Valentine is the patron saint of beekeepers.
-The Eastern Orthodox church celebrates Valentine’s Day on July 30, which makes sense, because FTD doesn’t jack up their prices then.

The Carnival of Wealth is a weekly roundup of personal finance blog posts. Submit yours here. READ THE FREAKING SUBMISSION GUIDELINES. Otherwise, just read the Carnival. On with the show.

Financial god leads off this week, sporting a fancy new logo treatment that includes a drawing of what appears to be Emperor Wu. Fg talks about how the media and some politicians have commandeered and vilified the word “capitalism” to suit their goals, taking our monetary system along for the ride. If you have something I want and I have something you want, and we exchange them, whether zero, one or both of the things being exchanged are money, that’s capitalism. Distort that – i.e., have a third party put controls on the exchange, under force of law – and you’re on the road to economic chaos.

“Junk bonds” have a bad rap, and a bad name. They’re not junk, and they’re not necessarily bonds. They offer high yields, and like any high-yield investment, they come with high risks. Dan at the aptly named High Yield Edge explains how to invest in them.

A few weeks ago we wrote about how just because you can divide one quantity by another, that doesn’t mean that you should. Free Money Finance has ratios galore in this week’s post, as he wonders whether your liquid assets match up significantly with respect to your monthly expenses, your retirement savings to your yearly income, et al.

Time for a crazy post, this one from Jeremy Biberdorf at Modest Money. It’s about how Walmart and Starbucks are “anti-competitive”, the former because it undercuts competitors (the very definition of “competitive”), the latter because it does the exact opposite. (Got that? Because we didn’t.)

Mr. Biberdorf is yet another one of the myriad people to remark about how expensive Starbucks makes its products. Which are non-essential, and which you can live quite happily without buying, which he doesn’t mention. Biberdorf manages to equate Starbucks with drug dealers, but stops short of calling Walmart a bunch of pederasts. He writes “think about how the aggressive (Starbucks) marketing may be suckering you in.” Yes, because where you choose to spend your money isn’t really a choice, it’s a command from the elders in the coffee-industrial complex.

We’re thinking Teacher Man at My University Money must be a Howard Stern fan, one inspired by sidekick Robin Quivers’s recent avowal to no longer “emasculate” her coworkers. Teacher Man wonders whether people are serious when they claim that men feel inadequate when they make less money than their wives.

Guys, the power to earn money is gender-neutral. Don’t feel emasculated if she makes more money than you. Feel emasculated if she can lift more weight than you, or knows more about home repair than you do. And if you’ve ever pushed a stroller or worn one of those papoose deals, you’ve already lost.

(Steve at 2010Tax.org submitted a post. We’d run it if he’d put it on 2012Tax.org, another domain that he owns. Why it appears on the former, or why the former is still being updated, we don’t know.)

Paul Vachon, a/k/a The Frugal Toad, thinks you should eat a snack before grocery shopping. Okay, fine, but what if you’re fat and you spend too much? Then what, smart guy?

Amanda L Grossman at Frugal Confessions thinks you should save money by saving money. Zero out your entertainment budget, clean out your pantry before buying groceries, etc. The best part about this post is Amanda repeating yet another sob story from the plus-size Financial Retard of the Month emeritus at So Over Debt “who had to miss work once because she did not have enough gas money for the commute.” Of course she did. (NB: Technically, Amanda L didn’t call her a plus-size Financial Retard of the Month emeritus. She was thinking it, though.)

(Post rejected because the author clearly spent less time on it than we would have spent recapping it.)

Ah, somebody good. Darwin’s Money points out that Dow component Pfizer has lowered its profit expectations thanks to a problematically stronger dollar. A weak dollar (relative to other currencies, not to its historical self) is wonderful for companies that sell a lot of their products overseas. Unfortunately, the president who tells the American people that he wants to pursue a “weak-dollar policy” has yet to be born.

You don’t know what’s in your 401(k), do you? Of course you should, and Don at Money Smart Guides gives you an even more compelling reason to: tax law changes that could well lead to your company making wholesale changes in its 401(k) investments.

Only 8? That’s the number of financial behaviors that irk Kevin McKee at Thousandaire. All of them are dead-on, and if you know someone who exhibits behavior #1, you have permission from us to kick that person as hard as you can in the reproductive organs.

Congratulations to Eddie at Finance Fox for hiring a proofreader. Some stuff is still slipping through, but not as much as before. Eddie tells you how to get a free credit report. From his post, we learned that Experian doesn’t have a presence in Canada; only Equifax and TransUnion. The United States doesn’t have Swiss Chalet, so everything evens out.

Will that proofreader please give Corey at 20s Finances a call? Until then, Corey recommends that you buy secondhand furniture on Craig’s List. Or get new stuff at IKEA.

Jim Wang at Bargaineering explains the difference between hard and soft credit checks. The former can impact your score. The latter hardly mean a thing.

Jeremy Waller at Personal Finance Whiz thinks you should buy health insurance. Jeremy is a big user of health insurance, his wife having just cranked out a couple of kids to the tune of almost $40,000. Of course, in a couple of years’ time you might not have a choice in the matter. If you’re American, that is. A nominally free people.

Melissa Batai at Personal Finance Journey is either masochistic or oblivious. Very few personal finance bloggers outside of Control Your Cash have any original ideas, and she’s perpetuated that by deciding to follow the herd and use Dave Ramsey’s idiotic snowball method of reducing debt. Hey, it’s easy to explain (for him) and it gives debtors the illusion of thinking they’re doing themselves good. Melissa thinks you can raise little bits of money by:

  • selling stuff around your house
  • getting a part-time job.

We included those suggestions because if you were in such a situation, selling your junk and taking another job never, ever, would have crossed your mind. Did we mention Melissa has a master’s degree?

Tim Ferriss talked about reading Stoic philosophers, therefore every blogger who fancies himself a life coach has taken to reading the Stoics, too. Including John at Married With Debt. John has recently taken to farming out his posts, but he wrote this one in which he gives people tips for what to do when they get fired. At no point does he suggest starting a business and taking a gamble. Of course not. Like most people, he’d rather be defensive. (It’s cool, he’s not going to read this and we’re not attacking him personally anyway.)

But come on. Check out this excerpt:

INSTANT MONEY SAVERS IN CASE OF JOB LOSS:

  • Cancel unneeded subscriptions (magazines, wine of the month, gym, cable, home phone)

  • Cancel childcare

  • Cancel planned vacations or purchases you’ve been saving for

  • Sell items on Craigslist, eBay, or have a yard sale

  • Sell an unneeded vehicle

  • Downgrade vehicle insurance

  • Move children to public school

  • Rent a spare room out if you have one

  • Sell your house

  • Donate plasma or “other” fluids

  • Max out credit cards (if you need to eat, this should be an option)

  • Radically downsize grocery budget

  • Sell stocks, precious metals and other equities (might want to wait on this)

  • Tap your 401k or retirement (it’s an emergency, remember)

This advice, like most in the personal finance blogging world, comes in two categories:

  • glaringly obvious
  • unhelpful.

If you lose your income, obviously you’re going to think about cutting expenses. John thinks you might resign yourself to selling illegal drugs, get sentenced to 30 years with no possibility of parole, and then around year 14 think, “Damn! Why didn’t I take my children out of that private school? I could have had a few thousand bucks without committing a federal crime. Can I have a do-over?”

Sell an asset (your house). Incur gigantic debts with huge interest rates by maxing out your credit cards. Masturbate into a cup. Yeah, all of those are fantastic. John, would it kill you to self-edit your every thought? John also gave us this prevarication:

people who would generally not have to fear job loss are waking up each day wondering, am I next? This includes teachers, firefighters, police officers, government workers

Find us a government worker or firefighter who’s been fired recently. Government is the only growth industry in this awful economy. And to get fired from your position as a cop…well, we’d say you’d have to kill an innocent civilian but we live in Las Vegas, where the local cops treat everyone the way the LAPD treats black people.

So yeah, that’s our bizarro Post of the Week.

At least John doesn’t suggest getting a master’s degree, which is foolishness writ large unless you’re majoring in something worthwhile. Jeffrey at Money Spruce has multiple engineering degrees, and even he isn’t getting full value out of them.

(Post rejected because the author simply recapped what she spent money on this month. On the 19th, she went out with a friend for sushi. Let’s see if we can’t find a slot for that on the Who-Gives-A-Sh*t Channel.)

If you want to guarantee yourself a permanent place in the CoW, either write something horrible or something really good. Mich at Beating the Index has chosen the latter. Mich has a niche – Canadian resource stocks – and he knows his stuff. This week he regales us with a fish story about Aroway Energy and a couple of other promising stocks.

If you’re not quite ready for Mich, check out Your Finances Simplified with a primer for investing in stocks. Hey, we all have to start somewhere.

Shawanda Greene at You Have More Than You Think is simultaneously raw, hilarious and insightful with this week’s post in which she compares herself to a honey badger (an actual honey badger, not Tyrann Mathieu) and suggests that you do the same if you’re serious about reaching your financial goals. Note: This post is rated PG.

A Blinkin at Funancials clearly wrote this week’s post on a dare.

“I can tie anything into the financial markets. Any topic. Give me one.”
“Uh, farming.”
“Pfft. Give me a hard one.”
“Okay. How about…snowboarding?”
“Done. Watch me.”

Read it. It’s funny and relevant.

Need more useless advice? Jester at The Ultimate Juggle can help. Kiss ass and keep an eye out for open positions so you can get a raise. Our favorite line?

A general rule of thumb is that with more responsibilities, you will have a higher income.

Thanks.

Bob at Christian PF has found some places that’ll let you file your state taxes for free. He means “free”, not “for free”, but we get his point. Of course, if you lived in Nevada you wouldn’t have that problem in the first place.

Daniel at Sweating the Big Stuff points out that the Federal Reserve has admitted they won’t be raising interest rates anytime soon. Not this year, not next year. Daniel thinks that this isn’t necessarily a good idea if you want to get a mortgage. We don’t necessarily agree, and not surprisingly, Daniel inspired a lively debate in his comments section. An intelligent debate, too. A respectful one. No one compared anyone else to Hitler.

Luke Bonds (sure) at Learn Bonds writes about the 4 types of bond the U.S. government issues. Well, “Luke’s” Indian remote assistant did. After a couple of Kalyani Black Labels, we’re guessing.

Dividend Ninja thinks that an undervalued bond market means that this could be a great time to strike. He recommends that you look at more than yields (dividends, duh) before jumping into bonds. This is a comprehensive post – in fact, it’s the first of 2 parts. Read slowly and purposefully. And…we’re done.

Not too bad, huh? We’ll give that CoW a 7. Join us next WEDNESDAY. ’til then.

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