It’s 2 hours to our (self-imposed) deadline. Let’s see if we can get this out on time and still make it readable. We’ll start with our usual filibuster/welcome: Greetings, and behold a brand new Carnival of Wealth. Every Monday morning, after we’ve spent a week scouring the internet, we bring you said week’s least boring personal finance blog posts. Actually the submitters come to us, but whatever. Shall we get started? We’d better, the clock is ticking:
A Dutch entry? That’s what .nl is the country code for, right? Stefan at Skuzet has a tetralogy on the discount model of evaluating assets. This is about as uplifting as a page from a corporate finance textbook, but we’ll take its tasty exotic flavor. As best we can tell, the English translation of “skuzet” is “skuzet”.
A post from a site called TherapeuticReiki.com? Come on, we’re trying to rush though this. The submitter writes:
After doing all that financial analysis and planning, doing your marketing, social media, and reading that latest self-help book for business, here is finally something FUN you can do, that well, actually works. Works for me. Try it: make a crystal grid and charge your crystals with your intentions for abundance.
And a sample:
The Emerald is the Queen of the Heart with deep connections to Gaia (the sprit [sic] of the Earth) and several of the Archangels.
Oh, for Pete’s sake. Even better, the post is 4 years old. The writer’s crystal grid is almost old enough to attend preschool. And you’re not going to believe this, but it’s a woman.
How about a post from someone relevant and on-topic? Roger the Amateur Financier says that having money, particularly gaining lots of money quickly, can sometimes cause problems if you don’t know how to handle it.
Roger seems like a nice fellow, so we’ll let him down easy. You should spend as much time wondering about rich people’s problems as rich people spend wondering about your problems. Roger admits to tons of credit card and student loan debt – problems we’ve never, ever, seen any other personal finance bloggers mention – and emphasizes his post’s point by quoting 2 of the most permissive and clueless personal finance bloggers in existence, Finance Fox and Financial Samurai. Both of whom agree that yes, it’s better to earn money slowly than quickly.
Because why not eat as many meals as possible out of an oblong box with a Kraft® logo on it? The longer you live with a frayed carpet and a beat-up Toyota Tercel from another century, the more you’ll appreciate what you do have when you eventually get it. The perfect scenario would be to save and deny yourself until your 99th birthday, finally cash out, indulge yourself for one glorious hour and then die.
No offense, but even the recommended, tempered version of this is several steps beyond nonsensical. And it illustrates why, as we’ve said before, poor people are poor largely because they choose to be.
One thing we harp on here is to examine every transaction from the other party’s perspective. That goes for buying, but it also goes for selling whatever it is you sell – your time, your expertise, etc. If you get rich, it means people chose to buy lots of what you’re selling and you kept lots of that after expenses. This is something to embrace, not to lament.
Who gives a flying one about Paris Hilton? So she didn’t earn her money and seems to enjoy squandering it. Why is this important to anyone else? Look, you’ll eventually get to witness her schadenfreude, but is that really going to be that satisfying? Wouldn’t you rather build your own wealth while not caring if she lives or dies? No, not if you can lather up in a nice big steam bath of self-pity and justification.
Wait, we’re not done. This is the mindset that plagues far too many people: thinking small. Not to mention, having immature hangups about money. Is there anything else good in this world that people bemoan having too much of? Too many loving family members. Too healthy children. Too tasty a steak dinner. But God forbid you amass more money than an unimaginative person would know what to do with.
The American school system is renowned for producing illiterates, some of whom even go on to fancy their words worthy of presenting to the world at large. But never fear, we’re not the only country to churn out people with a hazy command of their native tongue. Savvy Scot brings his heterodox spelling and grammar to the CoW with a piece on how some enterprising Brits are selling authentic Olympic torches on eBay for huge prices. Each person who actually carries a torch can opt to buy it for £295, which is £200 less than cost. (And to think that every Olympiad loses money. Who’d ever guess that? The citizens of Chicago should thank the heavens that Rio de Janeiro got stuck with the 2016 games.)
Anyhow, the torch bearers are turning around and hawking the torches for giant profits. £150,300 for a “momento”? (sic) That’s not just the buyer’s asking price, either. Some idiot actually bid that much.
Blogging 101 requires its pupils to be pusillanimous and not have opinions, so Savvy asks whether it’s “morally OK” to cash in like this. Again, let’s all think small and apologize for obtaining money through means other than theft. We don’t deserve it. Someone else should have it. Profit is bad, even at the personal level. Enjoy your rainy island, kids.
Or as the brilliant Dave at 6400 Personal Finance puts it,
Building wealth is about offense.
God, that’s pithy. Read it again. He continues:
It’s fundamentally easy to play financial defense: work at a job that pays you a decent wage, spend less than you earn, pay your credit card bill in full and on time, and contribute to your 401(k) and IRA. If Americans could just manage to accomplish those four things we would have a completely different societal relationship with money. Unfortunately there are idiots among us and they are legion so such wishes are futile.
It’s like Dave’s collating and typing our most profound financial thoughts, the ones that even we refrain from sharing on a blog that has enough enemies as it is.
Which works both ways. We touted the American Express Blue Cash as the best all-purpose credit card in our book, and it remains at or near the top. Dave wanted to know if his USAA credit card was a rip (it was), if the Military Star Rewards MasterCard was better (it is), and if there’s anything still better out there (see above). Most people would stop there and then choose whichever card had the most appealing advertising campaign. Dave does things differently:
How about crunching the numbers and getting the answer that way instead of tossing words around to solve a 5th-grade math problem?
Dave is 20-something. He’s our early favorite for the 2042 presidential election, unless you know someone better.
Free Money Finance doesn’t apologize for his wealth, either. He reviews a personal finance classic that he’d never read before, Your Money or Your Life. We haven’t read it either, but FMF’s review (Part I of II) makes it sound tantalizing.
The steadfast and headstrong Liana Arnold at CardHub continues her exposé of the Durbin Amendment, the U.S. Senate’s intervention into private debit card markets. To summarize, because a bunch of irresponsible morons couldn’t keep their credit card debt in check, the rest of us got punished when Congress rammed through a law that limited the amount that banks can charge for each debit transaction (“swipe fees”).
You’ll never guess what happened. With politicians hampering banks’ ability to make money on debit card transactions, those banks responded by increasing checking account fees, eliminating debit card rewards programs, and encouraging us to use (unregulated) credit cards and prepaid cards instead. Everybody loses! But it gave a superannuated Illinois senator a chance to claim that he was doing something for the poor, which is far more important than increasing the flow of capital.
Another entry from the Hub family this week. Ross Garner at WalletHub (CardHub’s sassy younger sister) tells us to stop whining about the high cost of medical care (a legitimate gripe, by the way) and embrace telemedicine. Maryland just became the 14th state to require that insurers cover virtual doctor visits. Hopefully we’ll one day reach a place where Congress no longer forbids insurers from operating in one state and having clients in another.
This is the future Jules Verne envisioned. Never mind 60,000-mile trips under the sea, M. Verne dreamed of a day when he could use his smartphone at ATMs. That is, if he hadn’t died 75 years before the latter was introduced. Odysseas Papadimitriou at Wallet Blog tells the story of NCR, the erstwhile National Cash Register and likely maker of the most recent ATM you used. The company’s developed a smartphone app that lets you withdraw money without a card. Odysseas is observant enough to ask what good such an app is, and gives a convincing answer.
Dividend Growth Investor discusses his dividend crossover point, the mark where his dividend income equals his expenses. In other words, where he can now rely on dividend income for his financial independence. He’s not there yet, but it’s in view. See how he’s getting there, and how you can too.
A URL loaded with hyphens is a sign of a likely link farm, but this post from Habeeb at BestDividend-Paying-Mutual-Funds at least has some content to it. It’s drier than Zsa Zsa Gabor eating beef jerky, but you can plow through it if whatever work you have sitting at your desk is particularly unappealing. As to why they didn’t include a hyphen between “best” and “dividend”, ask Habeeb.
Teacher Man at My University Money made it through college without knowing the difference between average and marginal tax rates. Now that he does, he explains how understanding your estimated marginal tax rate can make it far easier for you to plan your financial future. Mitt Romney pays what seems like a small effective income tax rate for one reason – he’s smart enough to take advantage of a complex system created specifically to screw wage earners while benefiting people who derive income via other means.
We take it back. There are Brits who can write. His apostrophed plurals notwithstanding, CoW rookie Ash at Sterling Effort has a merciless opinion of people who loaded up on Facebook stock (and people who did the same on Groupon stock, and whoever at News Corp told Rupert Murdoch, “It’s called MySpace. All the kids are on it. It’s gold, and for $580 million it can be ours.”) If you think Facebook’s majority shareholder gives a damn about you and your retirement,
Zuckerberg decided to spend the entire year’s profits on (Instagram,) a company that has never turned a profit and doesn’t have a clear way of producing any kind of return.
Opinions, data, and disdain for the stupid. Welcome aboard, Sterling Effort.
Paula Pant at Afford Anything clearly thinks she’s superior to us, or she’d deign to hold court at her permanently reserved CoW table more often. She is superior to us, that’s not the point. Greater Atlanta’s Favorite Nepali-American Personal Finance Blogger is back and better than ever, demonstrating the foolishness of justifying sunk costs – throwing bad money after worse, if you will. Read her, she’s wonderful.
Jill at My Dollar Plan goes to, by her estimation, 3-4 weddings a year. Which sounds slightly less appealing than having 3-4 reconstructive knee surgeries a year. It made her think about who’ll handle the finances when she theoretically gets married – her future husband and his big masculine brain, or Jill herself. Jill knows enough that she knows she wants to be in charge, which is wonderful but should be unremarkable. Ceding control of your finances to someone else – your boss, your government, your spouse – is juvenile. Literally. It’s what kids do. Grow up and take control. Buy our book if you have no clue where to start (link at the very bottom of the CoW.)
Credit Card Chaser was kind enough to run a guest post of ours when we were just starting out, so it’s only fair that we return the favor. Mac Hildebrand has common-sense, implementable tips for small business owners trying to make things work. “Buy assets, sell liabilities” applies here, too. Don’t commit yourself to larger borrowing costs than you can handle. Be a technology whore, it’ll save you in the long run. And true to his blog’s name, exploit the rewards that credit card companies offer and that dumb (i.e., most) cardholders end up paying for over and over again.
Ang Lloyd at 2012 Taxes tells you what to ask for in a small-business accountant. Particularly helpful if you live in Australia.
Ted Jenkin at Your Smart Money Moves opens by telling us that
There is an old saying that history has a way of repeating itself.
Like we’re supposed to tell our homosexual high school friends, it gets better. Ted explains risk vs. timeframe, diversification, and other exciting topics rendered even more exciting by Ted’s use of a tiny font.
Finally, PKamp3 at DQYDJ.net buried the lede. He mentioned that he got dropped by his car insurer (Progressive) when he attempted to make them his home insurer. Why?
Because of this truculent, bloodthirsty monster, that’s why:
PKamp3 (and his American Staffordshire terrier) went with Farmers instead. Thanks again, idiot pit bull owners with your cans of Full Throttle and Xtreme Couture t-shirts, for getting every dog who looks like yours blacklisted. Nice going.
And that’s it. A new post Wednesday, another new one Friday, an Anti-Tip of the Day everyday, another CoW a week from today, plus we’re on Investopedia and ProBlogger and all sorts of other places – Forbes, Yahoo! Finance, Speakers Corner in Hyde Park, etc. Basically we’re a one-stop content machine. See you then. Get our feed here. And as long as you’re clicking links, buy our book.