Carnival of Wealth, Only 14 Shopping Days ‘Til Christmas Edition


Whatever the fabulous Lauren Graham got paid for licking that disgusting man’s ear, it wasn’t enough


Buying stuff for Christmas is ludicrous, as we point out every year, but if you do insist on buying gifts, here’s the first of what will be several discreet but annoying plugs for our book in today’s CoW. (Also available on Kindle, of course.)

The CoW. It stands for Carnival of Wealth. It’s personal finance blog posts, ranging from the sublime to the unreadable. A lot of entries this week, so let’s get started:

Gripping writer, Certified Financial Planner® and relentless if obsessive champion of the mentally substandard Roger Wohlner at The Chicago Financial Planner says you should roll your 401(k) over to an IRA when switching jobs. Read the word “option”, do a shot. Also, performing repetitive actions with no payoff is surely a sign of some sort of cognitive dysfunction, isn’t it?

(UPDATE, 9:28 a.m. PST: He’s still not done.)

Do most personal finance bloggers get paid by the word? It’s amazing how many sites (or if you prefer, “site options”) need an editor. If wordiness is your thing, the 2nd half of this double shot of verbosity comes from Harry Campbell at Your PF Pro. He lives in San Diego, recently used a car-sharing service, and has exciting adventures to share with us.

Big Cajun Man at Canajun Finances reminds you that credit card balance interest doesn’t take vacations. (Or as they call it north of the border, “holidays”.) He spent at least 2 minutes writing the post, the least you can do is read it.

A new entrant? A new acronymic entrant, no less. ACYCWTTAOST. (That’s “A Control Your Cash welcome to The Art of Simple Trading.”) TAOST joins us in the middle of their series on trading rules, starting with #5: “Become a Loser”. Some of you are already there and presumably waiting for #6. Seriously though, TAOST suggests that winning leads to complacency more than losing does. We learn from our mistakes. To quote Charlie Brown, “…that makes me the smartest person in the world.”

Speaking of acronyms, the ingenious PKamp3 at reminds us of something most of our masters in Washington have yet to figure out: wealth ≠ income. A tax on the latter does not necessarily impact the former. Even that overrated and hypocritical multibillionaire Warren Buffet* calls for a higher income tax for no better reason than to accede to perceptions. (As Rush Limbaugh pointed out, Buffett isn’t calling for any kind of wealth tax. Any idea why?)

Ken Faulkenberry at AAAMP Blog is the kind of guy we would want dictating our nation’s tax policy. This week our fellow small-government acolyte explains what sustainable competitive advantages are and how important they are when looking for companies to invest in.

We like investing. We like kittens. Do they go together, or will this be like combining sex with sriracha sauce? Let’s find out with this post from Megan Russell at Marotta on Money, an old CoW entrant with a new site. The post is less about kittens than it is about minimizing capital gains taxes, and we swear to God if we hear someone use “gift” as a verb one more time we might have to drown a couple of kittens to illustrate our anger, but this post stands on its own.

(Post rejected because it came with the following “tease”, written by its author:

One financial topic covered on virtually every personal finance blog is how to save money at the grocery store. That makes complete sense since it is where we spent a good chunk of our money each month.

In other words, “I’m going to write about something that I acknowledge has been run into the ground.” That’s great work.)

Somebody good? How about a sequence of good posts? Starting with Andrew at 101 Centavos, who demonstrates in undeniable detail what we’ve been railing about in general terms since the day we started this blog: your education needs to pencil out. Or even more fundamentally, you can make good money without spending 4+ unproductive years in a classroom. As usual his post is gilded from title to closing sentence, but this excerpt got the biggest share of our attention:

Harvard University’s graduates are earning less than those from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology after a decade-long commodity bull market created shortages of workers as well as minerals. 

Harvard grads make about $54K/year (when they get an offer), while bright-eyed future geologists come out with almost $57K.

“It doesn’t seem to be too hard to get a job in mining,” said Jaymie Trask, a 22-year-old chemical-engineering major who was offered a post paying more than $60,000 a year at Freeport- McMoRan (FCX) Copper & Gold Inc. “If you work hard in school for four or five years, you’re pretty much set.”

When your high school senior daughter talks about going to Mount Holyoke to “learn” drama, print out Andrew’s post, soak it in wet concrete, let it dry and hit her on the head with it until she realizes the error of her adolescent ways.

Ooh…look who’s in his 2nd week of repentance after months of steadfast refusal to join the CoW party! Joe at Timeless Finance has realized the error of his ways, and brings us yet another brilliant post (complete with a GIF of Vince McMahon at his McMahoniest.) Some seriously indebted and overeducated (see previous entry) dingbat – December’s (Financial) Retard of the Month frontrunner, in fact – took time out from questioning other people’s fiscal decisions to obtain a credit card with a $700 annual fee. Not only is she an imbecile, but the 50 and counting comments below the post reinforce why.

So mandating that Americans buy health insurance, coupled with letting 11-year-old tax cuts expire, is going to damage the economy? Wow, it’s not as if anyone with a rudimentary understanding of economics couldn’t see that coming. (“Rudimentary” is something the chief executive aspires to.) Don at My Dollar Plan explains how to find a soft patch of mahonia shrubs to land on when we all go over the fiscal cliff, and how to avoid the jumping cholla cacti. God, what a depressing topic. And it’s not as if we couldn’t have avoided this. But yeah, Ron Paul was the crazy one.

How about more gold? Even if she couldn’t write, and she can (magnificently), Paula Pant at Afford Anything would still serve as a superb example of what to do with your money and how starting with ordinary means means nothing. The peripatetic Paula vowed to hold off globetrotting for 2012 and instead invest. Not just invest, but invest every penny she made. She’s 3 weeks away from finishing her task, and presumably 22 days away from visiting Iceland or Gabon or St. Helena or somewhere.

You want to learn about money, but you don’t know where to start? Financial professional Neal Frankle at Wealth Pilgrim recommends you go slowly. Don’t read every financial blog out there, because the rush of information will overwhelm you. (That, and 99% of them are detritus.) Neal recommends you spend no more than 15 minutes a day reading blogs, maybe an hour a day reading personal finance books (here’s one to get you started), and no time at all staring at your feet and waiting for the Earth to turn.

Darwin at Darwin’s Money has lice, in a manner of speaking. And thinks “lice” is singular, but we’ve done enough remedial grammar instruction today.

Fun fact for American readers: How many banks are there in Canada? 5. Teacher Man at Young & Thrifty knows that there are advantages to a system with few players and little overextension. Canada’s conservative banks have been buying up distressed U.S. assets, too. And not a moment too soon. (Do a little research and find out what the acronyms stand for in TD Ameritrade and BMO Harris.) We Americans should have given Canada’s Big 5 the charred remnants of Goldman Sachs and Lehman for pennies on the loonie when we had the chance.

Michael at Financial Ramblings reminds you that if you’re looking to invest in dividend stocks, the date (or frequency) of payment should be the least of your concerns. Some people believe that a quarterly 2¢ dividend is better than an annual 8¢ one, for some reason.

Odysseas Papadimitriou at Card Hub makes some staggering credit predictions for the coming year. The fiscal cliff won’t splatter us all? Square and Isis won’t completely supplant whipping out our trusty MasterCards? We agree with most of his predictions, and have our fingers crossed on the one about credit becoming more available.

A few weeks back, John at Wallet Blog introduced us to the concept of credit card companies forcing binding arbitration on cardholders. (Again, read your agreement.) This week, John explains how we’re at the point where the courts or Congress might have to get involved. Agreeing to arbitration not only means ceding your class-action rights, but putting your fate in the hands of an arbitrator whose “impartiality” is best contained within quotation marks.

Finally, Charles at Wallet Hub teaches you how to buy a house. It’s basically Chapter VII of our book, distilled into a handful of helpful paragraphs. (You see? This is the concision we’ve been begging for from our wordier submitters.)

That’s all we got. Check us out on Investopedia, and we’ll see you back here tomorrow.

*Everyone else misspells it, what makes us so special? runs on the Genesis Framework

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