Carnival of Wealth, Ode to Joy Edition

"Fine, here's my g.d. autograph. You're not a collector, are you?"


Vienna, 188 years ago today. Ludwig van Beethoven “drops” his latest, and ultimately his last, the Symphony No. 9 in D minor. If this isn’t the greatest piece of music ever written, it’s definitely in the top 7. Beethoven himself conducted the premiere, marking his first on-stage appearance in 12 years. The audience was speechless when he began, and remained so throughout the performance.

If you read methodically enough, and click on every link, today’s Carnival of Wealth should take you 66 minutes to get through. So go back to the top and start again, but not before clicking this link. The words and the music will sync perfectly, far better than The Wizard of Oz and The Dark Side of the Moon do. (Ode to Joy starts at 46:00 if you can’t wait.)

Ah yes, the Carnival of Wealth. A week’s worth of personal finance blog posts, distilled for your pleasure. Entrants submit here. Now let’s get started, the 2nd movement is about to begin:

We love heresy here at Control Your Cash. Not the sedevacantism kind of heresy, but something a little more on-topic. Ken Faulkenberry of AAAMP Blog thinks strategic asset allocation – that is, concentrating on the investor’s objectives rather than the opportunities available – is bunk. The man earned an MBA from USC; read it.

Madison Du Paix of My Dollar Plan recently refinanced Chez Du Paix, and is now applying for credit cards “to make some money!” 12 of them, no less. She claims she’ll earn $1,525 in signup bonuses, which wasn’t clear from the provided links. The only bonuses we found were for rewards, not cash, and were contingent on how much money you spent. Also, some of these cards came with giant annual fees, as high as $175 (albeit waived for the 1st year).

This deserves a more critical eye. 1st, these links are all sponsored, which a diligent blogger would have mentioned. 2nd, they include such juvenile sales pitches as

No annual fee for the 1st year – a $95 value!

We’ve talked about anchoring on this site before, but come on. That’d be like us saying, “We could set up a $40 monthly paywall on Control Your Cash, but we didn’t. You just made $480 this year!”

Another card Ms. Du Paix touts as offering a “$250 cash back bonus” really offers a $100 bonus, plus another $150 if you spend $5000 in your 1st 3 months.

It’s easy to manipulate numbers to take advantage of the innumerate, and the folks at Chase know this. Get a credit card with no annual fee and cash rewards (or rewards for items that you already buy, and don’t have to change your behavior to accumulate.) You can’t make a legitimate $1,525 from filling out credit card applications. Maybe in Shangri-La you can, but not here.

Are dividends the Cabbage Patch Kids of the early ’10s? Boomer and Echo look at some major Canadian corporations that have recently increased dividends, and try to determine whom those stocks are suitable for.

Free Money Finance lists 30 simple steps you can take to overhaul your finances. Yes, because people in need of financial overhauls are notorious for following directions, especially 30 at a time. Well, maybe if they receive said steps in pairs. This week, steps 1 and 2.

A new submitter this week, Curtez Riggs (USA, Ret.) of Life After the Army. He asks why so many returning soldiers have such awful credit, then gives a 1st-person account of how easily it can happen. If you’re a civilian, you can get some use out of this post. If you’re in the military, you can really get some use out of it. Read now.

Scott at the hopefully titled One Smart Dollar thinks there are certain items (paint sprayers) you should rent, while others (lawn mowers) you should buy. His litmus test?

A good rule of thumb is to look at the item.

How about that. What he means is, figure out how often you’re going to use it. He’s right. Home Depot and Lowe’s let you rent big-ticket items, and you’re crazy if you need one for a single big job and decide to buy the item outright.

Shawanda Greene of You Have More Than You Think is back from a long absence (2 whole CoWs or so) with a magnificent post about – well, we’ll let her describe it:

As a single, currently childless, woman, it bugs me that motherhood is a lifestyle choice that warrants special treatment in the workplace. It just ain’t right.

Congratulations, you spread your legs and got inseminated. Even better, you made the world incrementally louder, whinier, and more indulgent. Here, enjoy these perks that the zero-impact members of society don’t get to enjoy.

Also on our list of irregularly appearing yet noteworthy contributors is Nelson Smith of Financial Uproar, who writes about whole life insurance. Like us, he treats this useless product with the contempt it deserves. How contemptible is whole life insurance (and the people who sell it)?

uglier than Rosie O’Donnell making out with Ellen DeGeneres

No argument here, and one great thing about us disabling comments a few weeks ago is that no one can tell us that Ellen DeGeneres is actually quite beautiful and we shouldn’t be so closed-minded.

Mich at Beating the Index returns with a vengeance, offering his usual amalgam of deep research and practical advice regarding Canadian natural resource companies. This week he breaks down Arcan Resources. It’s an oil company whose stock Mich finds attractive, if you’re willing to wait for it to spend the next year resolving debt issues.

J.P. at Novel Investor gives us a refresher course on bonds, and how their prices and yields are more or less inverses of each other.

Go the search box and type “university” or “education”. It’s one of our biggest peeves here at Control Your Cash, the idea that the math works out on a heavily financed degree in a useless field. Teacher Man at My University Money references the latest incident of entitled brats whining about the unfairness life has thrown them; the Quebec student “strike”. (Don’t you have to be employed to be striking?) Basically, students who already pay low out-of-pocket tuition that’s heavily financed by taxpayers are whining about a $325 annual increase. Look at the pictures of the protesters, and you won’t find a civil engineering or chemistry major in the bunch.

For a different if not opposite perspective, W at Off Road Finance is a computer science major who’s actually gone to the trouble of determining how much colleges spend on what they provide, and what those colleges offer in return to their customers. W’s right – too many consumers of higher education ask “What do I want?”, and don’t ask “How much will it cost?” or “Will I be getting my money’s worth?” Imagine doing that with any other commodity.

The brilliant Mike Piper at Oblivious Investor writes about a 4-letter acronym you’ve likely never heard of – the SIPC. It’s the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, and it has your back if you get screwed by a crooked broker.

James at Short Road to Retirement reviews a book, Michael Dever’s Jackass Investing. The author debunks a number of myths, and the ones James references are spot-on. Is the book worth it? Beats us, we didn’t read it. But there’s a link to a free copy.

Stephen at Nerd Wallet lists the 5 most common investing mistakes. The 1st 4 are indeed common, but the last one caught our eye: “Investing too early”.

Huh? Isn’t earlier unequivocally better? Not if you don’t know what you’re doing. And as the author points out,

There’s no sense in beginning construction on an investment portfolio if you’re $10k in the hole.

It’s amazing how many people – hell, how many CoW submitters – don’t know that. Forget about your “emergency fund”, or even your 401(k), when you’re drowning in debt. Get up to sea level first.

By far our most verbose contributor is Todd R. Tresidder of Financial Mentor, who banged out 5235 words on paying off your mortgage early. How did he do it? Repetition, plus he repeated himself, saying the same things over and over again, multiple times. Here’s our one-paragraph summary:

Add a set amount to your payment each month, with explicit instruction that it’s to go to the principal (mentioned in detail in The Greatest Personal Finance Book Ever Written.) Failing that, pay biweekly, or refinance, or shorten your term, or – and this is awesome – move to a cheaper house.

Given how long his post is, we’re impressed Todd R. found time to quietly contemplate life while sitting in a casual pose by a stream.

Liana Arnold at CardHub shares the details of Living Social’s affinity credit card. Her bottom line (which she got to considerably more quickly than our previous entrant)? Stay away unless you’re a Living Social addict. And if you’re a Living Social addict, there’s a world beyond coupons. Embrace it. (That’s our editorializing, not Liana’s.)

Kids, are you looking forward to making money this summer? Well, John Kiernan at Wallet Blog shows you how government can suck the fun out of it. Learn about withholding limits, tip reporting, and the endless fun of filling out W-4s. It only gets better as you get older.

So we’ve decided that maybe the most entertaining/educational post of the week should go last from now on. We’ll probably forget this by next week. But for now, PKamp3 at declares, “Asking people to divide themselves into categories before determining the best style of investing for them – this can only go well!” He’s only semi-joking, but he does force you to think about how much of your mindset is emotional and how much is driven by cold calculation. Plus PKamp3 references the enigmatic Rob Bennett, whom we ran a guest post from a while back.

Wait. Sorry, PKamp3, but you’ve been usurped at the last second. The horrifying and otherwise largely indescribable Wizard Corpse has returned, asking the seemingly relevant question, “How was you (sic) Ipad (sic) made?” Seriously, this post and its site are worth stopping and staring open-mouthed at.

We leave you on that note. Come back tomorrow for another Anti-Tip of the Day, Wednesday for another original post, Friday for yet another, Monday for another CoW, and check us out on ProBlogger and Investopedia. Godspeed. runs on the Genesis Framework

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