Carnival of Wealth, Just Another Day Edition

Suckers all

Suckers all


Local TV news departments of America, we’ve got a great and original idea for you: Send a reporter down to the main post office tonight to interview people who are mailing in their tax returns at the last minute. We’ve got a similar idea for the day after Thanksgiving, but details on that one will have to wait.

If you’re one of the many who are indeed mailing in their returns today, 2 things:

  • They have this thing called e-file now. It uses computers.
  • Don’t think you got one over on the IRS by waiting this long. Check your pay stubs throughout the year and notice the difference between gross and net if you don’t believe us.

Instead, set up an LLC or an S corporation, pay yourself a nominal reasonable salary, and let your profits pass through so they can be taxed as capital gains instead of ordinary income. If only part of this makes sense, buy our book. Now onto the CoW:

Nobody knows the Canadian energy markets like Mich at Beating the Index does, or at least no CoW submitter knows them like he does. This week he analyzes Spyglass: a company wrought forth from a tripartite merger, one that’s already paying a dividend despite engaging in a costly PR battle with one shareholder that owned a smaller chunk of the company than Jay-Z does of the Brooklyn Nets. With that problem behind them, Spyglass management is ready to built on its gas and oil operations throughout Alberta and surrounding provinces.

Our latest man-crush here at CYC is Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of Antifragile and other works. We like him because he’s not only eloquent and detailed, but because he has a rabid intolerance for fools and frauds. Also, he’s that rare college professor who first made a shipload of money in the private sector instead of sauntering his way through academia.

Taleb’s main argument is that there are certain drastic phenomena that by definition you can’t anticipate, thus you have to make yourself as robust as you can against them. If we’re reading him correctly, we shouldn’t have an airline industry that’s susceptible to catastrophe at the hands of Muslim terrorists, coupled with an outmoded hijacking defense strategy that recommended ceding to the attackers’ demands so that no one gets hurt. And if thousands of people end up dying, precipitating a trillion-dollar war, maybe you shouldn’t have prohibited the airline captains from carrying guns in the first place.

Taleb didn’t submit to the CoW (we wish), but noted wag Jason at Hull Financial Planning did. He doesn’t dispel Taleb’s arguments, but rather explains that his contrarian market philosophy involves more than just waiting for outliers to appear.

3 consecutive good submissions to lead off the CoW? Come on. That’s never happened before. Andrew at 101 Centavos avails us of the news nugget that the United States is the fattest country in the world. No wait, it’s Mexico. (Well, they do have Manuel Uribe.) Hold on: upon further review, it’s Nauru.

A note about any authoritative UN proclamation about national predilections. Whomever’s sampling the data:

  1. has an agenda
  2. thinks “social science” is not oxymoronic.

Nauru has barely 9,000 people, so maybe the World Health Organization indeed measured them all. But they certainly didn’t measure 112 million Mexicans, nor 300 million Americans, nor a representative sample. Anyway, the fat leaderboard is weighted heavily (hey-oh!) toward South Pacific islanders, in case you thought a diet of taro paste and Spam® was healthy. Some of the commenters took the easy way out and blamed America and the availability of cheap and nutritionally dubious food. Others might wonder what a nation expects when it rewards obesity. Why do fat people in wheelchairs get better parking spaces than the able-bodied? Shouldn’t we put the former in the worst spaces, force them to burn a calorie or two? The way it stands now, we’re just exacerbating the problem.

Don’t sit there all high and mighty, Canada. Not without reinforced chair legs, anyway. You’re in the top 25 in the same survey. Canadian Budget Binder gives us his take on what it means to be retired, why plenty of people continue working when they don’t need to, and why his parents are afraid of the toaster and think the Roomba® is an instrument of Satan.

Bitcoins sound great in theory – a currency that Ben Bernanke and Jack Lew can’t ruin. Darwin’s Money thinks the benefits don’t compare to the risks of intangibility. “The dumbest investment ever,” in case you thought Darwin was one of those people who likes to temper his opinions. Darwin also has something to say about people who buy Bitcoins because of what doing so represents. It’s similar to what we had to say about the Facebook IPO suckers:

[T]here’s nothing that bothers me more than people “making a statement” with their investments.

(Post rejected because it came from a site called “” Guys, come on.)

We’re a little thin this week (unlike those corpulent Nauruans, amirite?) so we welcome a rookie: Glen Stephenson of the horrifyingly titled Monster Piggy Bank. Another in that exhausting line of first-person confessional posts: here’s what I want to do with my life but haven’t yet, here’s my debt load, I handicapped myself by having a kid but I’m still holding onto my dreams of traveling the world, etc., etc.

Our sitting CYC Woman of the Year regards time as something you buy, whereas Glen has the opposite tack: “The most obvious thing that I am sacrificing for money is my time”. We’ve never had a face-to-face conversation with either, but we’re confident in guessing which one leads the more rewarding life. On the other hand, Glen’s grammar is a jewel.

Glen Craig at Free From Broke points out that well over 99% of Americans didn’t declare bankruptcy. For the rest of you – and do you mind if we refer to you as “the 1%”? – Glen explains that bankruptcy will leave your credit rating a bloody and bruised mess, crying in the shower and wondering what time the rape crisis center opens.

“If not completely satisfied, see us for a full refund.” Sounds great in theory, but are you really going to mail your proof of purchase to Del Monte because your can of cling peaches was a little cloying? Okay, how about a $150 hotel stay? Now you’re talking. Harry Campbell at Your PF Pro ran into a bitchy desk clerk at the Hilton Garden Inn in Albany and ultimately got satisfied.

The remarkable Dividend Growth Investor steps aside from general dividend stocks this week and instead breaks down a specific kind of dividend-paying vehicle: real estate investment trusts. We’ve touched on REITs before, but Div does so in greater detail with 3 specific examples. Does he invest in them himself? Read the article. We’re not going to spoil the ending.

What with cooking, cleaning, sewing, and talking-about-your-feelings jobs evaporating throughout the economy, it’s getting harder for a gal to make a buck. Fortunately, CoW newcomer Bryan at Gajizmo has dusted off the same tired factoids (women make 19% less than men do, women make less than men do coming out of college and what they studied along the way isn’t important, etc.) before listing 5 occupations in which women can do just fine. #2 on his list is Chief Executive Officer, and there’s a picture of Marissa Meyer. So there you have it, gals: get a job as as the CEO of Yahoo! It’ll be so much more lucrative than that sales position you were thinking of taking.

Jamie’s Money Advice is the only personal finance blog we’ve ever seen whose contact page provides a mailing address. This week Jamie uses his Rutgers MBA to explain how interest works. But not, alas, how paragraph spacing works.

Lynn at Wallet Blog says there are pros and cons to home warranties. For her, one of the “cons” was failing to read the agreement, which meant she paid a contractor a $100 deductible only to find out that the work she wanted done wasn’t covered. Reading is hard!

PKamp3 at got in just under the threshold. His latest research includes 2 stark findings. First, spending on cigarettes is relatively inelastic to income, although such spending does decrease past a certain point. Second, the more you make, the more you spend on booze. (In raw dollars, that is. Obviously, winos spend a greater ratio of their income on alcohol than hedge fund managers do.) The CYC household percentages for both? 0 and 0. Yes, we’re better than you. But we’d love to see where we stack up when PKamp3 does a similar chart for spending on unimproved real estate.

Finally, Charles Davis at Wallet Hub explains what title insurance is and why you’re insane (and possibly violating the law) if you own a home yet don’t have it.

That’ll do it. See you tomorrow for more fun and adventures. runs on the Genesis Framework

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