If it’s Monday, it must be the CoW. The Carnival of Wealth, an agglomeration of personal finance blog posts from across the cosmos.
There are other weekly roundups. What’s so great about yours?
Have you seen the other ones? Here’s a competing carnival that features 80 submissions this week. Are you going to read every capsule? Of course you aren’t. No one is. Not even the carnival host. He just copied the submission summaries word-for-word and added a couple of paragraphs at the start and end. That carnival’s not only unreadable, it’s unread. Each submitter just searches the post for his or her own contribution, then leaves a comment saying “Thanks for including me”, and the fundamental objective of engaging readers is sacrificed to the false god of link love. Control Your Cash doesn’t play like that. We try to keep you entertained and informed. Imagine that. Our method isn’t for everyone, and neither our readers nor us would have it any other way. Shall we begin?
Does Madison DuPaix at My Dollar Plan really carry all the credit cards she recommends? This week she’s applying for 12 cards so she can earn herself a bunch of airline miles and related sign-up bonuses. Don’t worry, Ms. DuPaix does mention that she cancels these cards before the annual fees kick in. She also mentions that she’s carried some of these cards several times. Hey, if Delta and American Express are dumb enough to keep giving Madison miles and get nothing in return, good for her. Keeping track of all these cards seems like a lot of work, but if the rewards weren’t worth it, she wouldn’t be doing it.
Tim Fraticelli at Personal Finance By The Book wins this week’s verbosity award. Extremely long story short, he discusses whether you should create a will or a living trust. His conclusion is…inconclusive. Also, it was helpful of him to explain what a will is, seeing as we all arrived here from Sirius β the other day and aren’t familiar with such earthly customs. This post is a literary example of Wadsworth’s Constant in action.
Life Insurance Quotes is a commercial site, but whatever. They discuss the same topic the previous submitter did, but in more gripping prose. (Reason #5 for getting a will? “You could end up brain dead.”)
(Post rejected because it was in the Neutral Zone. Awful, but not distinctive enough that it’s worth goofing on.)
John Kiernan at Wallet Blog is gold, as usual. He writes about the confounding practice of car rental companies levying surcharges – sometimes as large as 1,567% – to drivers who don’t pay tolls.
Which is unfair and illegal, because often those drivers don’t even have an opportunity to pay said tolls. Drive through a checkpoint on a cashless toll road, and there’s no basket for you to dump your coins into. Instead, the transportation authority will bill the car’s owner; i.e., the rental company. Which gets charged $3 or whatever, and passes the expenses onto you – plus as much as $50 for processing. Here’s the major culprit, and here’s its co-conspirator, the ominously named Violation Management Services. The latter are the ones tasked with tacking on the obscene fees. Just doing their superiors’ bidding, they’re the Rudolf Hess to Fox Rent-A-Car’s Hitler. Get a load of this line from the “About Us” page on Violation Management’s horribly written website:
We provid(e) results that promote customer satisfaction for our client and their customers.
Never mind the redundantly redundant use of “customer(s)”, nor the singular/plural confusion, what renter is going to have their satisfaction promoted by being stuck with a $50 surcharge for a $3 toll? May Violation Management’s CEO and the illiterate lackey who scribbled together that unreadable site both get the hantavirus, hopefully from each other.
Barb Friedberg has a new e-book about investing.
What’s the antonym of “retard”? Whatever it is, we nominate Dave of Dividends For The Long Run Blog for next month’s honors. This week he illustrates the foolhardiness of getting excited about dividend yields for their own sake. If you focus on dividend yields, rather than consistent raw dividends (or perhaps, you know, appreciation), you’re cheering for fractions. More to the point, you’re cheering for high numerators or low denominators. A large dividend relative to stock price often means instability. Apple spent 3 decades with a constant dividend yield of 0, and on balance, few of its investors are complaining.
Knowledge for its own sake from Edward Webber at TaxFix, who gives us a primer on income tax rates in the United Kingdom for 2012. Bonus: the post contains a picture of a £10 note, with a smiling Queen Elizabeth on it.
Queen Elizabeth gets our vote for most underrated person on the planet. Which seems impossible, seeing as she’s also the most famous person on the planet, but hear us out. Yes, she was born into the very archetype of wealth and privilege, but (in ascending order of notability):
- She and Prince Philip have stayed married for 64 years, or 11,787 times longer than Britney Spears and that guy.
- Her Majesty might have some loony family members, but her reign (indeed, her entire life) has been free of scandal.
- She’s in perfect health, and if she hangs on for another 12 years, which would make her 98 (and this is someone whose mother lived to be 101), she’ll pass Louis XIV as the longest-reigning monarch in European history.
- She’s a World War II veteran. And she didn’t have some frou-frou occupation specialty befitting a princess, like nurse’s assistant who folds towels and fills up the occasional syringe. She was a freaking tank mechanic. At the age of 19. We wonder how many of her loyal subjects know how to change the oil on their Vauxhall Corsas.
47% of you are carrying credit card debt? Well, certainly not 47% of you, but 47% of Americans en masse. Tim at Nerd Wallet exposes the depth and breadth of our collective indebtedness. Believe it or not, our cumulative credit card debt has decreased in the last couple of years – both the raw totals and the per capita numbers.
But that’s nothing to be proud of. It’s mostly chargeoffs – credit card issuers giving up on the deadest of beats. Also, Tim outlines the historic shift in the makeup of that debt. Student loan balances are now larger than credit card balances! U! S! A! U! S! A! Yeah, but you need an education because an investment in your fut…oh, put a sock in us. Small consolation that we predicted this scenario years ago.
Dividend Growth Investor tells the stories of 3 of the most successful dividend investors of all time. Warren Buffett and 2 ladies, none of whom were ostentatious but all of whom understood patience and consistency.
From the lovely Liana Arnold at CardHub comes news that could serve as the last paragraph in Groupon’s upcoming eulogy. Capital One, purveyor of some of the most annoying commercials and most voluminous junk mail of all time, has started offering daily deals along with its monthly statements. Now, cardholders barely have to breathe and blink to take advantage of short-term retail sales. It’s stuff you’d probably buy anyway, cheaper.
(Karl Marrion at Wise Stock Buyer asks, rhetorically, if you should use stock-picking software. Also, the poor guy only has 15 Twitter followers, one of which is another account of his. Follow him, out of pity if nothing else.)
(Post rejected for CHILD TAX CREDIT its embarrassing use of CHILD TAX CREDIT search engine optimization “copywriting”, which is CHILD TAX CREDIT almost a perfect CHILD TAX CREDIT oxymoron.)
That paragraph flowed as smoothly as the rejected post. Also, CHILD TAX CREDIT.
Finally, this week’s most provocative post is from W of Off Road Finance. Heck, it might be the most provocative post we’ve ever run. Part manifesto, part dystopian prophecy, it’s a call-to-arms to secure your finances by not investing. Like, not at all.
I don’t want my family’s prosperity to be tied to stock or bond prices, the value of my home, the employment situation, the performance of rental properties etc.
Which sounds like it wouldn’t leave a whole lot, but W has a strategy in place. This post is labeled “Part I”, and you won’t want to wait to see what’s coming next.