Carnival of Wealth, Misunderstood Edition

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Hey y’all! Welcome back to everyone’s favorite personal finance site, Control Your Cash. These indignant gals (they’re usually gals) have their proverbial panties in a bunch over this. Also, see Linda for chicken health update. Misguided commenters courtesy of 101 Centavos, which will doubtless make an appearance later in today’s Carnival of Wealth. Shall we? We shall:

Let’s give the ladies what they came for. Out of the gate, the intrepid and relentless Peter J. Buscemi at FourQuadrant brings more of his insufferable business-school verbiage written with functional contempt for his, and by extension our, readers. If you think that’s harsh, give us a better description of this plodding and toneless excerpt:

The unique selling proposition is a promise of value to be delivered, and a belief from the customer that that value will be experienced. In order to develop an effective value proposition, it’s important to review and analyze the benefits, costs and value that an organization can deliver to its customers and prospective customers both within and outside of the organization.

A pragmatic approach is to make a list of differentiators to be ranked and prioritized. Next, the task is to list competitors and then score the company and its competitors. While it is important to score high, it’s important to understand how much of a difference there is between the company and its competitors, and whether those differences are important to prospects or customers. Once this differentiation has been established and the key differentiators identified, the team can begin to develop language to talk about them.

On and on and on it goes. Yo, Peter J.: The above is not a worthwhile blog post, nor a portion of same. It’s a soulless, withering agglomeration of words posing as (useless) business advice. Also, in your other life, when you cut-and-paste verbal gruel like this and place it on a PowerPoint slide, no one is paying attention. Yes, their eyes are technically open, but that’s because they don’t want to get fired. They just want the meeting to end, as if their vapid expressions and constant fidgeting didn’t tip you off.

Peter J. has now submitted 5 weeks in a row, receives an email from us every Monday informing him that the CoW just went live, never acknowledges the email (which means he never reads the CoW), yet still comes back for more and worse abuse every week. You half-expect to hear a cop say, “We can’t do anything if you’re not willing to press charges. But if it were me, I’d leave.” If Peter J. were smart he would take his kids, run to the nearest safe house and file a protective order against us, but what can we say? Some people are masochists.

We’re also generous with the compliments here at CYC, but no one ever mentions that. The brilliant PKamp3 at DQYDJ.net tells you why you shouldn’t pay off your mortgage. To quote PKamp3, “I stole this article from Finance Fox. He argued convincingly about opportunity costs, liquidity concerns, and transaction fees, so I ripped it verbatim.” (If you’ve ever read Finance Fox’s hard-to-find original stuff, you know why PKamp3′s estimation of Finance Fox’s subject matter is funny.)

Unemployment is high. The national deficit passed joke status several orders of magnitude ago. Is the record bull market, or the recent record zenith, legit? Darwin’s Money says yes, and explains why.

The always comprehensive Dividend Growth Investor is frank and objective enough to admit that there are certain dividend-paying stocks that he wishes he owned, but doesn’t. You’ve never heard of some of the underlying companies, and we aren’t the first people to point out that bargains often lie among the obscure.

CYC Woman of the Year (Again with the compliments. It’s almost like we’re trying to make up for some shortcoming) Paula Pant at Afford Anything exposes a truth that most of her contemporaries would never dare acknowledge: budgeting is tedium.

You don’t need to line-item your sunglasses, moisturizing cream, and that time you ran to the grocery store to pick up some broccoli. Let’s face it, you were never going to line-item those purchases, anyway. And you read financial blogs! If you’re not going to do it, who will?

She’s freaking awesome.

Kristen at My Dollar Plan is also unlike the majority of her personal finance blogging sistren* in that she dispenses actionable, pointed advice. Do you want to know how to claim health expenses on your taxes? Kristen shows you how. You have barely a month to get on this, so get on this. Unless you’re self-employed, but we already know how that goes. Bonus: Kristen points out that you can claim drug and alcohol abuse treatments! And to think that there are people who say addiction is a bad thing.

The early days of the CoW were fun. Tons of lousy submitters to make fun of. Then Jason at Hull Financial Planning and his ilk had to ruin things by bringing us intelligent, relevant content every week. A few more like him, and our alleged “snark” will die of starvation. This week Jason discusses the notion of an “apocalypse fund”, and whether you should cash out at your first opportunity. (Answer: It depends. But probably.)

We’re hesitant to welcome any site that has the word “debt” in the title, just because it probably means more first-person lamentations about what it’s like to be overeducated and undercompensated, but Edgar at Degrees & Debt seems like an amiable fellow.

Sigh. We did some digging on his site. He’s a quarter million in the hole, barely half of which is his mortgage. 5 student loans. Saddest of all, on his main page he asks you for a job:

Hire me for:

  • Writing/Contributing/Blogging/Commenting
  • Social Media Marketing/Management (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.)
  • Review/Editing
  • Virtual Assistant Tasks (ex: Blog Carnival Submission, research, data entry, etc.)
  • Career Coaching/Resume Building/Online Image Consulting/Interview Prep

Career coaching? It’s true what George Bernard Shaw said – those that can’t do, teach. Or in this case, attempt to coach your career. Take advice from someone who not only doesn’t have his own stuff together, but who uses that as his selling point. But yeah, hire him to manage your Pinterest account. Don’t ladies play on Pinterest for fun anyway? Isn’t that like hiring someone to golf for you? (Also, Ed? Don’t offer to edit people’s work when…well, let’s just say our own editing services are not for sale. You couldn’t afford us.)

That must be what those skirts commenting on 101 Centavos were talking about. Speaking of which, that site’s ever-erudite Andrew introduces us to business development companies. These pass-through entities are to small-to-medium businesses what REITs are to real estate. Of course, in this case the underlying investment is riskier…which means payouts are correspondingly higher. And tax-friendly. (Well, tax-unfriendly. Unfriendly to taxes. Friendly to the avoidance of taxes.)

From John Kiernan at Card Hub,

Roughly 12 of the 20 million people who attend college each year borrow money to do so

If only. Imagine a world in which 11,999,988 students saved for their educations instead of indebting themselves. John interviewed 4 extremely subjective “experts” whose titles indicate that they each happen to have an incentive to ensure as many students as possible take out loans. They concluded that you should be able to discharge your student loans when you inevitably declare bankruptcy, there should be straight-up forgiveness (to avoid lawsuits), that lenders market loans too “aggressively” (you recall how borrowers are incapable of being diligent and saying “no”), and that the federal government (i.e., us) should just cut every student borrower a big fat check covering everything. Given who submitted this, consider this the most disappointing post the CoW has ever run.

Few people live life on their own terms quite like Pauline Paquin at Reach Financial Independence does. Sure, everyone claims to, but Pauline actually does so. She has a staff at her disposal, and a gorgeous house of her own design, right on the ocean, in a place with a perfect climate. Sounds out of reach for ordinary people, right?

Nonsense. The French native is ordinary people, in that she didn’t come from money. She just traded off to get the things she wants. She has to deal with scorpions. She’s 9 hours away from the nearest comprehensive care hospital. She lives in Guatemala, one of the most violent and corrupt nations on Earth. (Although, Pauline stresses, her home is far from the pit of iniquity that is Guatemala City.) Pauline graduated college in the black, which already distinguishes her.

I made some concessions on the distance to Europe, the critters, etc. because otherwise I would still be miserable in an office

(Boldface, italics, and underlining ours, and we share the sentiment, too.) The next post we read from Pauline in which she complains about her lot in life and how external forces are plotting against her will be the first. Attitude really is everything, or at least a lot of it.

Despite what some opportunistic politicians will tell you, nobody, or virtually nobody, tries to feed a family on minimum wage. Michael at Financial Ramblings runs the easily obtainable numbers and demonstrates that fact.

Katrina Lamb of Jemstep is a Chartered Financial Analyst, yet still has time to contribute to a blog. This week she shows you how to tell if you’re holding the right equity funds. Katrina believes you should look at price-earnings ratio, then divide it by projected growth and look at that. Future performance is a predictor of future results, or so one would think.

Tongue lodged comfortably in her cheek, Lynn B. Johnson at Wallet Blog explains how to survive the spartan sequester – the .3% reduction in the projected growth in the federal budget. Those heartless Republicans, starving the poor and pushing the old out onto ice floes to get eaten by musk oxen.

Oh wait, she’s serious.

If you belong to a gym, consider letting your membership lapse (or pay a small fee to keep it alive without being an active member), and run laps around your local school’s track, instead.

sell your excess stuff on eBay

Move your social activities to your home. For example, having a beer at home is a lot less expensive than hitting the bars.

 

 

Also, it’s a surer indication that you’re a loser who drinks at home. Lynn doesn’t suggest quitting drinking, which would save a hell of a lot more money than “consider(ing) letting your (gym membership) lapse” would, but that’s another post in itself.

join Freecycle

The CYC principals attempted this recently. Freecycle is crap. We had a 2005 Sanyo TV, in excellent condition, that we couldn’t sell for $45 on eBay or Craig’s List and that even the Salvation Army turned down. (“Sorry, no pre-2007 TVs.”) So we tried Freecycle. We found a single item posted for giveaway in the previous 2 months: some guy would let you have some trees on his property if you dug them up and hauled them away yourself. In other words, he wanted free landscaping. Someone else wanted a Kindle Fire, retail price $159.

Harry Campbell at Your PF Pro admits that he usually ends up losing money when he buys individual stocks rather than mutual funds. He’s hesitant to spend more than a single percentage point of his wealth on individual stocks, because

[T]he stock market is a zero sum game so for every winner there is also a loser.

Harry’s an aerospace engineer, and knows far better than to say that. (If stocks were a zero-sum game, the price levels would never fluctuate, let alone rise over time. Also, there’d be no point in buying mutual funds either.) He also knows better than to act on a tip he heard in a bar. (Come on? Really? Your latest investment came as the result of a cliché?) Yet he did and doubled his money. So you should play roulette then, too. (Little-known fact: Black wins 70% of the time**.)

See you tomorrow. Oh, check us out in Nevada Magazine, too. And Investopedia.

*Female equivalent of “brethren”, at least according to OxfordDictionaries.com.

**Of course not. Don’t be stupid.

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