Carnival of Wealth, Nice Guy Edition


Ladies like them non-threatening, and nothing says non-threatening like a scarf.


Lately we’ve been chided for our attitude. It appears we routinely hurt some people’s feelings with the Carnival of Wealth. Those people aren’t all female, but they certainly exhibit the traits. That being said, most of our distaff readers seem to like us. And we all know all the fellas do. But for the benefit of the easily offended, this is the Nice Guy Edition of the Carnival of Wealth. If we can’t say anything nice, we won’t say anything at all.

The Carnival of Wealth is a weekly collection of personal finance blog posts. You can submit your post here, but we’d prefer it if you just read. If you are going to submit, don’t forget to read the submission guidelines, which no one ever does. Especially not this week, when we’re pitching on only 5 days’ rest. In the words of Mills Lane, “LA GA I OE!”

We’re wondering if Financial god plans on running for office. We’d vote for him, and that we live in a different country is just a technicality.

Minimum wage laws raise unemployment, that’s unmistakable. What we didn’t know was how badly they do in some instances. An increase in the minimum wage, mandated by Washington, has torn an irreparable hole in the American Samoan economy. Find out how big in this brilliant post.

LaTisha at Young Adult Finances says that if you’re indeed a young adult, part of the fun of adulthood is doing your taxes. Use TurboTax if you hate spending money, a tax preparer at H&R Block if you love it. Better yet, derive most of your income through capital gains and hire a professional. Costs more, but worth it. Make sense? Maybe not yet. But it will.

If you’re not quite there yet, Jason at Work Save Live explains the difference between deductions and credits. Handy to know if you plan to avoid being audited.

We thought Luke at Learn Bonds was being sarcastic when he said

Stocks were up big today. All three major stock indexes were (sic) rose between 0.96 percent and 1.51 percent. The DOW had a triple digit gain rising 123 points. Is the economy recovering? YES!

Unfortunately, he wasn’t. We touched on this on Friday. Relax.

Daniel at Sweating the Big Stuff wonders whether a high health insurance premium is better than a high deductible. This will all be moot in a couple of years anyway, when the federal government starts giving it to us “free”.

Laura Edgar at Nerd Wallet lists the 10 highest-earning online savings accounts. “High-yield” is a relative term here. #7 on the list is from EverBank, which pays .76%. And you have to maintain a $5000 balance with that account, or pay $9 a month. To earn $3.17 a month. Good thing Ben Bernanke is still keeping interest rates so low, and the economy is thus bouncing back as strongly as it is. <cough>criminal<cough>

Hear, hear. If you really want to earn money in a de facto “savings” account, forget about parking 5 large with EverBank and put it somewhere else. Anywhere else, except with Uncle Sam. Phil Taylor at PT Money says you’re just lazy if you like getting a tax refund every year, and he’s right. Pay yourself first, indeed.

Jeremy Waller at Personal Finance Whiz is the guy who missed the Super Bowl because he didn’t “care about either of the teams”, which apparently is a prerequisite for watching pro football crown its world champion. That, or the late February 2012 clubhouse leader for “line that if we didn’t identify the sex of the writer, you’d swear came from a lady.” Anyhow, Jeremy’s back with an exposition on the different kinds of financial risk that exist. No, they aren’t all the same.

Your humble blogger used to sit on the board of directors of a Canadian mining company, and assures you that few industries are as exciting. And few bloggers know as much about it as Mich at Beating the Index. There’s one particular driller that’s caught his eye, and his money.

A Blinkin at Funancials asks if your perception clouds the value of things. It does, and he illustrates his discovery with a couple of examples.

Is this a “lost decade” in stocks? Dividend Growth Investor says no, because stocks were valued way too high to begin with – Dow components going for 27 times earnings, etc. He lists a bunch of companies with consistent (and consistently increasing) dividends, hopefully a few of which can make your portfolio do magical things.

Οδυσσέας Παπαδημητρίου at Wallet Blog is one of the few people who can write about how to choose a credit card without making it sound like he’s in anyone’s back pocket. He compares no-balance transfer fee cards this week, which you shouldn’t need anyway, because you don’t have a balance, because you pay your bills on time, right? This is easy.

Liana at Card Hub wondered how credit card issuers process chargebacks. Her information is solid, despite her summarizing it in the most cumbersome pair of 6-column charts ever created.

In a recent post, John at Married With Debt tipped us off that he’s part of Tim Ferriss’s (of The 4-Hour Work Week fame) cult. How did we know this? Because John said he’s started reading Stoic philosophers, and the only other non-academic alive who admits to reading the Stoics is Mr. Ferriss. This week John is a little more blatant in his hero-worship of the confirmed bachelor lifestyle design maven with the piercing gaze and fondness for man-purses.

Aloysa at My Broken Coin arrived in Salt Lake from Lithuania 12 years ago with barely any money and even less English. But you’d never guess that English is her 3rd language by reading her posts. This week she lists 50 Things No One Told (Her) About The United States. Many are what you’d expect, but #30 depressed us to no end.

Eddie at Finance Fox tried to negotiate his way to lower car insurance rates. Eddie’s lucky enough to live in Ontario, a province with an actual car insurance market.

What do you mean? What province doesn’t have a car insurance market? 

British Columbia, at least. In the 1970s the provincial government – Canada’s first socialist one – decided that the insurance companies were profiting off the backs of the downtrodden. The government took over, created a single-payer system, and if you want a new paint job in Vancouver, all you have to do is scratch your car and say that someone vandalized you. Hey, it’s free! Who cares where the money comes from, we’ve got legal pot to smoke.

The Ultimate Juggle’s Indian remote assistant spent 2 minutes defecating out a post about how shopping online is good for the environment because…well, do you know why? It’s because you don’t have to get in your car and burn fossil fuels to shop online. There’s also a link to some British company that sells voucher codes. Make sure you click on it, so The Ultimate Juggle can afford a more expensive Indian remote assistant who doesn’t write in such a stilted manner.

(sigh) It’s happening. We knew it would soon enough. Best laid plans, etc.

Wayne at Young Family Finance farmed out his post too, tasking his Indian remote assistant with the following assignment: write 6 paragraphs on the most overdone topic in personal finance, i.e., creating an emergency fund. Spelling doesn’t count, just write something. The more sections you break it into, the better. See how ridiculous you can make it: tell people to give blood – literally, give blood – as a way to sequester some cash. No one’s actually going to do this, of course – if you need money for your blood, your emergency has already started. Also, use “individual” instead of “person”. It’ll give the post a pretentious, scholarly kick that using plain English never does.

Don’t consciously spend. Don’t consciously invest. Just do whatever. That seems to be the underlying message from Amanda L Grossman at Frugal Confessions, who recommends that you

accept where you are in life.

Which makes us wonder why she submitted to the CoW. Why expend the effort to get a few more readers? Why didn’t she just accept where she was in life, i.e. not scheduled to appear in this week’s edition? Unclear.

Accepting where you are in life. It’s what made America great, and what continues to propel the human species forward.

An obese fortune teller named Erin Pavlina used to submit every week. She’d write about auras, crystals, past lives…basically anything but personal finance. Not only that, her posts were weeks, sometimes months old. But she can’t compare to Tushar at Free Small Business Resource, who actually had so little respect for you that he sent us a post that’s 3 years and 3 months old.

Even better, his submission consists of nothing but a cut-and-paste of someone else’s work from The New York Times. The December 2, 2008 New York Times.

The vein is starting to throb. Yes, it’s throbbing. Face turning purple. In the words of Phil Hendrie via Lloyd Bonafied, “Alright, that tears it.”

Here’s what we hear every day, so much so that we finally created a CoW around its theme:
“Why can’t you be nice? Why do you always have to be so negative?”

THIS IS WHY. Because 3 times a week, we write entertaining, actionable, informative, not unfunny, grammatically sound, well-researched, lengthy posts that explore personal finance and its countless subtopics. Sure, our attitude is awful, but our content, value and honesty are beyond reproach.

And then some worthless jackball tries to foist this crap on us. Someone whom we’ve foolishly given space to in the past. And for what? A plagiarist who can’t even stay in the right decade. Damn you, Tushar, for taking a perfectly good Nice Guy CoW and turning it into the Carnival of Appropriation of Antiques. Any deviance from the previously considered nice-guy path will now be laid squarely at your feet.

But at least Tushar’s theft is of something non-monetary. For actual literal theft, we go to the presumably able-bodied Jeffrey Trull at Money Spruce, who collected food stamps last year.

You’re calling the guy a “thief” for being poor? God, you really are a monster. 

There is no earthly excuse for a healthy person collecting food stamps. Rob a bank instead. At least that takes some guts.

It’s the utter nonchalance of it that gets us. Jeffrey remarks in his submission that he doesn’t think it’s right that millionaires can theoretically game the system and get food stamps of their own if their incomes are low enough. Maybe it isn’t right, but who is he to be the one complaining about it? 

Where’s the shame? Why isn’t there any? Adam Carolla, who would make an awesome 3rd-party presidential candidate, has noticed the phenomenon of people who suck at the public teat being the ones who complain the loudest about the teat’s dryness and inability to produce more milk. The ones who pay taxes don’t complain at all, at least nowhere near as forcefully as the ones on the receiving end of all that largesse.

Just read the comments on the post. It gets worse. Fellow CoW submittees are collecting food stamps too, and it isn’t to their liking, either. Simple Island Living didn’t submit the post, but she incurs collateral damage for commenting on it:

The only reason I qualify for state health is because I am pregnant and my son is a minor. If those weren’t the case, I would be shelling out $800 a month for healthcare for the two of us.

The one thing I do disagree with you about is the use of food stamps for organic food. When it comes down to it, getting organic milk for my son is extremely important for me because he is 19 months old. When a child is that young, if it is possible to get milk that is free of hormones it is, to me, one of our higher priorities. It’s just that their bodies are so fragile and while he’s so young, we want him to be as hormone and pesticide free as possible.

Apart from that, if you’re talking millionaires who are on food stamps and getting their organic truffle oil, well then, perhaps a touch of reality would be good for them.

If these aren’t the end times, they’re never coming. Apparently beggars can be choosers, and that choice involves organic milk.

She lives in Hawai’i, where organic milk costs NINE DOLLARS A GALLON. That’s not an exaggeration. And for most of the rest of us, who actually work for a living and don’t believe it’s our fellow man’s job to take care of us, organic milk and the organic truffle oil she decries are two symptoms of the same disease. Nor were our bones compromised from a childhood of drinking non-organic milk. Nor did we buy into the ludicrousness of the loaded adjective “organic”, which means “comes from living things.” You know, like cows.

Oh, and did you catch that she’s pregnant? Of course you did, and of course she is. Because when you’re collecting food stamps, that’s a great time to spread your legs open and take on another kid. Then again, why not? It’s not like her out-of-pocket expenses are going to be big. Collecting taxpayer money while pouring liquid gold down her children’s throats will give her more free time to blog about personal finance. Jesus Mary & Joseph.

Let’s not lose sight here. A guy who spent a year on food stamps is blogging about personal finance. Is this what we’ve degenerated into? Maybe there’s a lifelong smoker in a hospice somewhere who just got a lung removed and can blog about health and fitness. Sure, we’ll run it. Why not? It’s the Carnival of Wealth! Anything goes! If your experience is the exact opposite of what a prudent, conscientious person would have done, all the better! We’ll mix it up a little bit, show the other side for a change!

We’re so not done. Do we even need to mention that he’s got a master’s degree? Of course he does! Because an education is the most important thing in the world, and the more time you spend in school, the greater your earning power! With only a bachelor’s, he couldn’t have afforded the -$154 a month he was taking in food stamps. And if he’d only had a high school diploma? God, he’d be destitute.

Wait, he was destitute with all that edjumacation. He’s also a national service volunteer, which means we’re taking care of him on both sides. We didn’t retain anything about student loans, but would anyone like to wager that he left college with zero debt?

Read those last few paragraphs and give us one good reason why this country should have any right to call itself an economic titan. Our healthy, educated, articulate 20-somethings are sitting on their posteriors with their hands out, collecting money placed there under force of law by the productive, taxpaying members of society. Leaving the former group to, again, write about personal finance. He could write about any other topic in the universe and it’d make more sense.

I have been attracted to the topic of personal finance by my desire to improve my spending and savings habits.

Yes, and it shows.

Some of you are going to complain, saying that we tore someone apart for no good reason. We have plenty of reason, illustrated above. Also, read this before you comment.

A “nice guy” CoW. Like socialism, a bad idea in theory that worked even worse in practice. See you next week. runs on the Genesis Framework

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