(Financial) Retard of the Month. Already? Yes.

Goes perfectly with a board game


There’s still a measurable chunk of 2012 left, but we have a Man of the Year to name and a Carnival of Wealth to host, so here we are on what the Commonwealthers call Boxing Day. With a new (F)RotM.

We couldn’t keep him down for long. History’s dominant (Financial) Retard of the Month saw that a couple of upstarts had temporarily usurped his crown, and has returned with a vengeance, stomping on every pretender in his path and leaving their jellied remains coagulating on the ground. Sorry to ruin the ending for you, but Trent Hamm at The Simple Dollar has done it again.

It’s hard to pick just one, but our favorite feature on The Simple Dollar is his frequent “Reader Mailbags”. These consist entirely of questions seeking counsel, which are obviously formulated by the author but nevertheless passed off as legitimate. This isn’t necessarily Mr. Hamm’s fault, as every question posed to every advice column in the history of the universe has been fake. But his stunning lack of creativity (as evidenced by his awful website) shines its brightest in these laughable questions.

My wife and I had satellite radio in our car for several years. We really liked the commercial-free radio, but we decided it cost too much and cut the service. Regular radio is terrible as it’s loaded down with ads. Any suggestions on a cheap alternative?
– Rodney

What would a normal person recommend here? (Please, suspend disbelief for the rest of today’s post and assume that Rodney is a real person and not a construct of Trent Hamm’s elephantine head.) You’d tell Rodney to use Pandora. Or Rhapsody. Or Last.fm, or something. But not Trent. He suggests that Rodney go back in time:

One option is to take your CD collection, convert them (sic) to mp3 on your computer, and use an inexpensive mp3 player to play them through the stereo in your car. That would be the option I would use.

Classic Trent, in that he considers time to be free and infinite. If you own enough music, converting CDs to mp3s is an interminable pain, which we all know because we’ve all done it already. Most of us did it several years ago, even before digital media supplanted physical as the delivery system of choice for music. Trent, however, plays by different rules. While converting a collection of decent size to mp3 takes hours upon hours, that means little to a man who would rather burn an evening shopping for the composite parts of toothpaste and mixing up a batch than just buying a tube of Crest.

Here’s the next line, with nothing omitted between it and the previous one:

You could also play CDs if your car has a CD player, assuming you have any CDs.

If we had ham, we could have ham and eggs, if we had eggs. (Also, wasn’t the previous paragraph the time to have questioned whether “Rodney” owns CDs? But we digress. It’s impossible to lambaste the haphazard cesspool of drivel that is The Simple Dollar in a linear fashion. You attack at the points of weakness, wherever and whenever they are. And they’re everywhere.)

“Honey, what’s this thin slot in the car stereo, right above the radio buttons?”

“CD player.”

“See what?”

“You put CDs in it. You know those CDs you own? That’s where they go, if you want to hear them.”

Please let the story that Trent sold his blog for a million dollars be an urban legend. Please let the story that Trent sold his blog for a million dollars be an urban legend. Please let the story that Trent sold his blog for a million dollars be an urban legend.

Ah, where were we? Of course. Deconstructing this dilation and curettage of a personal finance blog. Trent continues:

There are a lot of options for commercial free audio on the cheap if you think outside the box a bit.

USING THE CD PLAYER THAT COMES WITH THE CAR, TO PLAY YOUR CDs IN, IS “THINK(ING) OUTSIDE THE BOX”? Trent should do a post in which he types the exact same keystrokes in the same order, but on a Dvorak keyboard. It couldn’t be worse and wouldn’t make less sense than any of the balderdash that makes it through his current QWERTY setup.

Also, we can add “options” to his list of favorite words that Trent overuses to the point that they’ve lost all meaning. The current power rankings:

  1. Simply
  2. Wonderful
  3. Options

The late Steven Covey wrote about the importance of striking a balance between preparation and execution. What he meant was, while the person who attempts to succeed professionally without any training is going to fail, it’s easy to ignore the flip side of the equation: too much preparation can be as fatal as too little. Just ask the overeducated and indebted college graduates polluting our society.

Trent’s not an indebted college graduate, at least not anymore, but damn does he love to plan things. If half the fun for most of us is in the journey, not the destination, then for Trent the fun breakdown is as follows:

Destination                           0%
Journey                                  4%
Planning the journey         96%

From earlier this month, a post titled “Do Your Own Travel Planning”:

When Sarah and I were talking about our honeymoon in 2003, we were a little intimidated by setting up our travel plans. It was the first major trip either one of us had taken where we would be responsible for all of the planning, and it seemed like a ton of confusing work.

Where was said honeymoon, Trent?

We went on a wonderful honeymoon to England when we were first married

  1. Wonderful. Of course it was.
  2. When did you go on the honeymoon? Oh, when you were first married. Thanks.
  3. Freaking England. A country where the Hamms know the language, and to where flights from America are plentiful. International travel to England is like international cuisine at Panda Express. Technically it qualifies, but come on. This seriously intimidated Hamm & Wife. You really can’t take the cornfield out of the boy, can you?

For our tenth anniversary, Sarah and I are planning a trip to Norway. Sarah’s family ancestry is heavily Norwegian, so a big reason we want to go there is to find her ancestral villages and possibly look up a few distant relatives.

We could use a travel agency to plan this trip, but instead Sarah and I have been carefully studying many different internet sites and books as we plan our trip.

There are 9 things to make fun of in that paragraph, not the least of which is Trent’s new fascination with superfluous words that derive from “ancestor”, but let’s start with an easy one.

Stephen King: “The adverb is not your friend.”

Trent Hamm: “The adverb is my friend, my lover, my boss, my mentor, my patriarch, my pastor, the girl I see on the side, and my rock in a sea of madness when I’m feeling blue. I love adverbs more than I love butter, and I love butter a lot.” The man has a gift for wordiness that mere mortals can only stare agape at.

                             We’re going to Norway and booking everything ourselves.

How difficult was that?

If you have a trip that you’d like to take, planning it yourself really isn’t that hard. There are many resources that will help you with planning your flights and planning your hotel stays and finding things to do in the area. All you have to do is start with a Google search and you’ll soon find yourself with tons of resources.

He’s slipping. The old Trent would have explained how a Google search works.

Remember, the more time you spend planning a trip, the better you’ll understand what’s available and the better the trip will match what you want out of it.

Therefore, the ultimate trip would be one for which you spent 24 hours a day reading Lonely Planet books, followed by 4 seconds of actual travel. Which still wouldn’t be enough to get you out of the nonentity that is Huxley, Iowa. This is the same mental patient who wrote “How We Plan For A Summer Vacation”, in which he explains his strategy of mandating a designated “peak experience” and “end experience” for every sojourn, no matter how pedestrian. Literally pedestrian – that’s the same post in which he brags about walking around collecting bricks, rocks and used baseballs.

Norway. May Trent Hamm eat some lutefisk that was soaked in too much lye.

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