Carnival of Wealth, Duct Tape and Paper Clip Edition

 

Kissing you where it hurts

 

We’ll spare you the details, but if today’s CoW seems a little sparse it’s because we had technical difficulties that we managed to overcome with little time to spare. This on the heels of the only CoW we’ve ever done where every single post was a good one, which is doubly ironic because that CoW followed the one in which we consciously decided to be nice and it went up in flames. God is obviously telling us to be true to ourselves.

As always, these are actual submissions from actual personal finance bloggers. If you want to submit, email us. But we’d prefer it if you just read. Let’s get crazy:

Liana at CardHub sent us a delightful note this week, so she gets to open up with a post about what credit cards to use overseas.

Jeffrey Strain guest posts at The Frugal Toad, where he lists 11 ways you can save money on your next ski trip. Timely, seeing as winter ends next week. Jeffrey thinks that if you borrow equipment and pack your own food instead of eating in a lodge, you’ll save money. Which you will, and if you didn’t know that before Jeffrey pointed it out you probably shouldn’t be propelling yourself down a hill at highway speeds. Again, we needed space to fill this week.

You’re darn right we’re going to include one of ours this week, especially since so many people left emails and tweets (instead of comments, which we no longer do) telling us how great it was. A review of a 140-year-old book by P.T. Barnum.

“People fear public speaking more than they do death.” “Your body is 98% (or whatever) water.” “Gambling is a tax on poor people.” Man, those aphorisms are so pithy, too. A shame that they’re all lies. PKamp3 at DQYDJ debunks that last one, proving that the higher your income, the more likely it is that you’ll claim gambling winnings on your tax return. He’s got charts and everything.

Could his study be unintentionally biased? Perhaps, if poor people aren’t claiming winnings on their taxes. (If you don’t know, when you win over a certain amount in a casino you can’t escape the taxes. And if you didn’t know that, kudos to you.) Or maybe richer people can afford to gamble in regulated places like casinos, whereas a sufficiently poor person in Iowa can’t afford to fly to Vegas to lose money. WARNING: The comments on this post are depressing. For instance:

chances of winning the lottery are less than 1%.  Chances at roulette is at best 50%.  Chances at poker are higher than 50%.

Let’s break that down. Yes, “chances of winning the lottery are” technically less than 1%. But that’s so misleading as to be unhelpful. It’s like saying that the sun is more than 1000 miles from the Earth.

Some of you are reading that and saying, “So what? The sun is more than 1000 miles from the Earth. What’s your point?” The point is that the chance of a random American living in San Diego is less than 1%, as is the chance of that same person being killed by a meteor. That doesn’t make the two possibilities equal, or anywhere near equal.

Also, the chance of winning at roulette is never better than 47.4%.

(Those same people are now saying, “47.4%, 50%, close enough. You’re splitting hairs.”)

We so aren’t. A game that gives you a 50% chance of winning (and that pays double your money) doesn’t exist, at least not in a casino. If it did, they wouldn’t offer it, because the house wouldn’t make any money. It’d break even, as would you. Go ask a candidate who won 47.4% of the vote in a 2-person election if that’s close enough to 50.*

And “Chances at poker are higher than 50%?” Where?

Also, this comment:

The Powerball will always be the best investment in the world.  I still think throwing $2 into a lottery is just about the best decision anyone can make.  Even if the odds are against you, a tiny $2 ticket every few months for the chance at $200+ million is a great deal.  I mean, without the lottery few people would ever have any exposure to really high-value opportunities.

The commenter was serious. At least we think he was. Here, read this.

Alright, back to the real world. Dividend Growth Investor explains how you can’t live off dividend income until said income exceeds your expenses. Also, helpful explanations of what Procter & Gamble, Chevron, Philip Morris and PepsiCo (“engages in the manufacture, marketing, and sale of foods, snacks, and carbonated and non-carbonated beverages”) do.

Peggy Hill Karen Bryan at Help Me To Save opens with “In my opinion, the fifties are a very important time for women’s financial planning” and it just gets better from there. (Reference lost on anyone who never saw King of the Hill. By the way, the show’s first 9 years were great. Everything after that was garbage.)

Whoever said “neither a borrower nor a lender be” had no imagination, no ambition, and probably died in squalor. You almost have to borrow money to build wealth, unless you have an unusually well-paying job. Boomer and Echo understand that, and this week they explain how getting indebted to invest is a bad thing if you don’t do your homework only.**

Mich at Beating the Index returns with a submission on offshore drilling. As the prices of oil and its distillates rise, it makes more economic sense to drill in hard-to-reach places. Like the ocean floor. Mich lists some companies that might show promise over the next investing cycle.

If you hate commas you’ll love Brandon Crombar’s post at Shared Financial Success in which he tells you how he made lots of money on eBay and how you can too if you just follow his advice which includes not setting a reserve price and also ending your sales on Sunday not to mention opening bidding at low levels like 99¢.

Colin Williams at Humble Savers opens by telling us that “Frequent Flyer miles programs can be difficult to understand”, and if you think that’s true, you should see his post that attempts to simplify them.

If you’ve got a British Petroleum*** credit card, John Kiernan at Wallet Blog recommends you find something better. BP’s card used to give somewhat easily calculable rewards. Now, the company is obfuscating its rewards program and reducing rewards by almost one-third across the board.

Finally, Paula Pant at Afford-Anything summarizes what we’re here for and why we’re doing this, as well as anybody could. The richer you are, the more options you have. People who say “money isn’t everything” are saying “I’d like less choice in my life.”

That actually wasn’t so short after all. A couple of diatribes, and it’s as if nothing ever changed. Join us next week for another exciting rendition of the Carnival of Wealth, along with updates every Wednesday and Friday on how to improve your finances, and daily Anti-Tips. See you then.

*Yes, we’re aware that George W. Bush won less of the popular vote in 2000 than Al Gore did. The United States presidential election isn’t a standard election. It’s 50 simultaneous elections, each weighted for population and then added. Civics 101. Thank you. 

**That sentence reads awkwardly because of the “only”, but that’s the one place it has to go to convey the intended meaning.

***The name is officially “BP”. Whatever. Sorry, but a 2-letter acronym doesn’t distinguish the company enough. “BP” could mean Bell’s palsy, boiling point, binge & purge, etc. The folks at British Petroleum are awfully confident if they think they can somehow commandeer that digraph for themselves. 

In fact, Wikipedia tells us that employees of Bletchley Park, the United Kingdom’s main cryptography center during World War II, referred to their workplace as “BP” so that outsiders would assume they were talking about British Petroleum. In other words, British Petroleum management knows that the “BP” moniker is ambiguous yet insists on using it. That and the Gulf of Mexico. 

 

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