Thanks for reading the greatest blog carnival of its kind, the Carnival of Wealth. That’s not autohype, either. It’s science. Try sifting through another interminable edition of the godawful Yakezie Carnival if you don’t believe us.
This week, the CoW comes to you live from Montrose County, Colorado, home to one of the least appreciated national parks in the system. Black Canyon of the Gunnison was made a national park in 1999, part of the new class of parks that inflated the country’s total to a bloated 58.
Most of the newer parks are garbage. That is, they don’t have the grandeur of their earlier counterparts. In 2003 the Department of the Interior drew a border around 41 square miles of South Carolina swamp and called it a park. Go to Yellowstone, Zion or Denali and there’s no question that you’re somewhere remarkable and spectacular. Go to Cuyahoga Valley National Park (founded 2000) and you’ll think, “How far away are we from that river that caught fire?” Cuyahoga Valley is the only national park to contain a toxic waste dump and a demolished NBA arena. That’s not a joke. Then again, in northeast Ohio’s defense it’s hard to find a plot of land there that doesn’t include something rusting, festering, or decaying.
But Black Canyon of the Gunnison, they got right. The park isn’t big, but it’s stunning. Its most salient feature is its namesake, which for much of its course is twice as deep as it is wide. 2700′ down, and a quarter-mile from north rim to south. Best of all, it takes some effort to get to.
As always, this is a collection of a week’s worth of personal finance blog posts from around the world. Enjoy:
We’ll make fun of the awful submissions later. Let’s start with somebody good. Paula Pant at Afford-Anything reminds us that you shouldn’t let either inflation or mankind’s fascination with the base-10 numerical system fool you into thinking that a $100,000 annual salary or $1 million net worth means what it used to.
W at Off Road Finance is on our short list of bloggers whose blogs we look forward to reading every week, and not for any unintentional comedic value. This time he asks why, if our national debt has quintupled, is inflation stable and gold’s surface tension starting to max out? Believe it or not, there’s a logical answer. It’s the same answer to “How can T-bills pay negative real returns, yet people still buy them?”
And we’ll assume that he added this out of pure sarcasm, which we appreciate:
If there’s one thing the financial blogsphere knows, it’s that debt is bad.
Sure it does.
Speaking of inflation, Cameron at DQYDJ.net says that inflation isn’t just a good thing, it’s a wonderful thing. In moderation, of course. Cameron’s co-writers disagree, but if there’s a hole in his argument, we couldn’t find it.
From Liana Arnold at CardHub comes another intriguing post, this one on the best prepaid cards for various instances (kid’s allowance, alternative check cashing, etc.) We’ll pretend that she didn’t recommend Suze Orman’s awful card.
Sweet Mary Mother of God, Joseph, and all the saints and angels. Jon Rhodes is back with another URL that has nothing to do with personal finance. Last week we emailed him, telling him that his submissions on bass fishing and home dressmaking were wasting everyone’s time. He acknowledged that in his response, then not 48 hours later sent us one from his new site, HypnoBusters.com. It’s about how to quit smoking. Tard.
Do we have any old people who read Control Your Cash? If you’re out there, set your font size to 36-point and get a load of John Kiernan’s latest at Wallet Blog. To summarize, with every marble you lose, you’re losing concomitant control of your finances, too. John thinks you should be forced to put less into your 401(k) and more into Social Security, because you’re too simple for hands-on management. We’re paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of it.
Dave at Financial Conflict Coach says that 90% of all conflict is caused by…we were going to guess “not reading the agreement correctly”, but that’s only a subset of the correct answer. Which is “expectations not being met”. Thinking about it, he’s right. The solution? Lower your standards! (We’re kidding. He has a different, more practical solution.)
(Thank you, InsuranceQuotes.org, for a post about 8 questions to ask your doctor [none of them even remotely related to finance.] Does anyone read the submission guidelines? Here they are, yet again.)
Last week we wrote the following:
Steve Zussino at Grocery Alerts is nothing if not quixotic. Week after week he sends us off-topic and pointless posts, which we tear up and down, and yet he keeps submitting. (And clearly doesn’t bother reading the CoW, nor even the weekly emails we send saying that we accepted his submission, so we might as well continue.) That chick from Newlyweds on a Budget holds the current CoW record, submitting 6 consecutive pieces of doggerel before finally pulling out, but her mark is in serious jeopardy after we received this submission about the supermarket items most often stolen.
Sure enough, he submitted again this week. No one ever said that being self-aware was a requisite for submitting.
How much further can we take this? In the prior week’s post we made fun of his papoose. Should we start accusing him of crimes against children, just to see if he’ll still submit? Alright, we’ll save that for next week. In the meantime here’s more off-topic tripe, this piece about how to save money at some theme park in Toronto. Why Steve Zussino cares so little about the 99.4% of you who don’t live in southern Ontario is something only he can answer. And just for the record, that’s 5 consecutive swings-and-misses from him. One more ties the record.
Free Money Finance thinks you should use smart power strips and cancel your subscription to Redbook. (“5 Tasty Salads To Freshen Up Your Summertime Table!”)
As Dan at High Yield Edge points out, certificate of deposit rates are awful. Or at least the traditional ones offered by lending institutions are. But not the ones offered by other major corporations. They’re called floating rate demand notes, and they’re issued by companies such as General Electric, Caterpillar and Ford. If you’re wondering how these are better than corporate bonds, Dan has the details.
Here’s another piece of homespun sage advice that people take at face value, for some reason. “Beat the market.” Dave from 6400 Personal Finance explains that if your portfolio loses 19% while the market loses 20%, congratulations. You beat the market. Here at CYC we embrace the mantra “It is not enough that I succeed, others must fail”, but don’t ignore the first clause in that sentence. As Dave points out in his famously delicate fashion:
I could give a damn about how your investments did this week.
Indeed. Dave’s not an investment advisor, so why should he? But the point he’s making is that you’re supposed to do well in absolute terms, not relative ones. Rankings mean nothing, and wealth isn’t graded on a curve.
Greg Field at Nerd Wallet lists some of the best credit unions to stash your money in, and the requirements for joining each. They include the Detroit Metropolitan Credit Union, open to:
anyone employed by the City of Detroit, as well as anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Wayne, Oakland or Macomb counties.
If that’s you, you have our sympathies.
Guess what? You can’t build wealth without researching your investments. Well, you can, but that’s leaving an awful lot to chance. Dividend Growth Investor doesn’t screw around. He spends 15-20 hours researching each of the 30 securities that he owns at a given time. Yeah, this is comprehensive if not necessarily “hard” work. DGI’s prose can be dry, but this passage illustrates his point beautifully:
I would much rather spend the time I spend on my investments, than pay 0.5% annually of my net worth to an investment adviser, while I feel clueless about my financial situation.
(Post rejected because it used the word “needs” as a noun. We’ve rejected posts for way less than that.)
We all have our pet peeves – irrational hatreds of seemingly unimportant bugbears that other people don’t mind that much. For one of the CYC principals, it’s the music of Train. For the other, it’s hotel bedcovers (mustn’t touch them.) And for Darwin’s Money, it’s pharmaceutical sales representatives’ remuneration packages. A bunch of sales reps demanded overtime, for some reason the case went to the Supreme Court, and got shot down 5-4. Darwin sees it as comeuppance.
(Okay, here’s another pet peeve of ours, which has mutated into something larger. Post rejected because the author made the “cents/sense” pun yet again. His site’s logo proclaims that it’s “Making Cents of Personal Finance.” We’re done. Any more exploitation of the cents/sense homonym gets you disqualified, no matter how good your post is. We had to take a stand.)
Finally, JT of Money Mamba offers a great guest post at Boomer & Echo. He maintains that professional fund managers don’t have a monopoly on finding value. Quite the contrary, in fact. Many fund managers miss out on underpublicized, promising stocks because those managers’ primary objective isn’t to build wealth, it’s to keep their jobs. Too many unfamiliar stocks in a professionally managed portfolio means too much “risk”. Risk, in the sense of “none of my colleagues are doing this”. Homer Simpson: “I can’t wear a pink shirt to work. I’m not popular enough to be different.” JT argues that the bigger a company is, the more likely that it’s priced rationally. Outperformance can only come from greater risk.
Alright, one more. We were somewhat lean this week, what with the scaring submitters off every week with our candor and high expectations, so here’s one we know is good. From the CYC archives, our manifesto.