Carnival of Wealth, Civic Lockdown Edition

If you haven't got a backbone, a ribbon will do

If you haven’t got a backbone, a ribbon will do

 

“Strong” in this context means “kept in terror by a single teenager.” It’s fun to recite platitudes, and sing a 17,565-voice a cappella version of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” especially when elected representatives and their muscle are busy clamping down on citizens’ freedoms. How does a Carnival sound?

Batting leadoff is the remarkable Jason of Hull Financial Planning, who reminds us that plotting an Erik & Lyle Menendez on your parents just isn’t worth it.

Kevin Mulligan at Free From Broke says you should automate your finances, but still keep an eye on them.

The prolific Michael at Kitces.com says that canceling your whole life or universal life insurance policy is stupid. Is it as stupid as buying said policy in the first place? Tough call. Michael’s argument is that such policies give you a good internal rate of return.

From Dividend Growth Investor, a confession. Every time he says there’s more to dividend investing than yield, he gets pushback. Not coincidentally, that pushback always comes from old people. One more time, and this is something you should have learned when your 2nd-grade teacher introduced you to division. A large fraction, e.g. one representing dividend yield, can mean a large numerator. It can also mean a small denominator.

Investors who make a mistake and get lucky are actually much worse off than investors who make a mistake and pay for it.

Indeed.

Lynn at Wallet Blog lists ways to save money on groceries, methods that go beyond couponing. Christ, we just used “coupon” as a verb. You should probably find another carnival, one written by somebody literate. Fortunately, this computer’s spell check doesn’t recognize “couponing”. Nor does it recognize “miniscule,” which we thought was an oversight but it turns out we’d been misspelling it all these years. It’s actually “minuscule,” as contrasted with “majuscule.” Now you know.

Are we filibustering? Of course we are, it’s a sparse CoW this week. Lynn’s filibustering too. She says you should shop around, and peppers her post with laughably bogus quotes:

The average person made 2.2 weekly trips to the store in 2012, up from 1.7 in 2011, according to the Food Marketing Institute.

Folks, this is what’s called innumeracy. A superlative that sounds suspicious on the surface, and cannot possibly be true. They’re talking about “the average person,” and issuing declarations about his grocery-buying habits that border on the insane.

Here we have two numbers each ratiocinated to a single decimal place. Understand that “2.2″ here doesn’t mean exactly 2⅕. It means a range of anywhere from 2.15 to 2.25, rounded to the nearest tenth. Same deal with 1.7, which can mean anywhere from 1.65 to 1.75. So by the most conservative interpretation possible, the Food Marketing Institute argues that the average person went to the grocery store 23% more often (2.15/1.75) in 2011 than in 2010. Possibly as much as 36%.

Grocery buying is far too unchanging an activity for its frequency to jump that much in one year. Use the reciprocals of the Food Marketing Institute’s numbers, and they say that as a nation we’d each gone from shopping for groceries once every 4.1 days to once every 3.1 days. Over the course of one year. If you were doing this, you’d notice. You’d notice to the exclusion of everything else in your life. It’s a lie. Americans obviously don’t make exactly as many grocery trips per capita in one year as they do in the next, but we’d be willing to bet that the national average didn’t differ by  one part in a million, let alone one part in 3. Also, Lynn wants you to buy in bulk and look at the price tags. Fantastic.

[Post rejected because it's 11 months old. We're thin this week, but we're not desperate.]

Harry Campbell at Your PF Pro says that if your portfolio consists of nothing but stocks (and/or commodities, options, and mortgage-backed securities), you’re asking for trouble. Instead, diversify with some bonds. Less return, less risk. Bonds are the perfect investment for the dull and unimaginative.

Peter J. Buscemi hasn’t come around since the CoW in which he killed 5 hookers, so it’s up to Edgar at Degrees & Debt to be our new obligatory schlimazel submitter. Edgar wants you to work from home, and how can you say no when he phrases his ideas so stirringly?

Another category of part time jobs from home are based on affiliate marketing, social media marketing, eBay or Amazon marketing or even digital marketing. You can do all these tasks on a part time basis and if you see huge success and able to maintain the income then you can adopt the profession on regular and permanent basis. This is how many individuals start their self employed lives. By starting part time you maintain your full time job stability until the supplement income surpasses your full time job.

Let’s read that one sentence again.

You can do all these tasks on a part time basis and if you see huge success and able to maintain the income then you can adopt the profession on regular and permanent basis.

Read it aloud, get the full effect. Then read Edgar’s bio, in which he claims he’s working on his master’s degree. Yes, that’s what America needs. More time in the classroom will maintain our nation’s status as an economic juggernaut.

We don’t ask for much, submitters. Just no garbage. Wait, maybe that is asking for too much.

PKamp3 at DQYDJ.net saves our bacon yet again. He presents the latest in his series of calculators, this one measuring gold prices over the last 40-odd years – since Richard Nixon permitted the public buying and selling of gold. Yes, from the 1930s until the early 1970s selling gold was as illegal as selling cocaine is today.

We’ll never quote Tony Robbins again, but one thing that resounded with us from Awaken The Giant Within was his axiom that Quality always costs less. Andrew at 101 Centavos got 4 bids on a landscaping job, went with the most expensive one without batting an eye, and slept happily that night.

On Friday we wrote about a guy who visited Guatemala. Pauline Paquin at Reach Financial Independence did too, and decided to stay. And to raise some cattle, for good measure. She turned a modest profit when she sold 50 head at market, largely because she knew her numbers going in instead of hoping for the best. Why can’t everyone be as diligent as Pauline?

Last-second addition from newcomer Albena Neyra at Bobby Finance. How financial statements work, for the unfamiliar.

An easily digestible piece from Bryan Chau at Success Pen Pal on the different types of business entities: sole proprietorship, partnership, et al. If you’re serious, get an LLC and have it taxed like an S corporation.

Finally, Michael at Financial Ramblings returns after a brief hiatus and explains the concept of chained consumer price index. To “chain” the CPI means to take substitution effects into account. If the price of tile flooring goes up, but the result is that everyone switches to linoleum instead, should that really count as that drastic of a price increase if it doesn’t really impact anyone’s ability to buy flooring? Michael thinks that the chained CPI will reduce cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security, tax brackets, etc., and let the federal government tax us more by the most insidious of means. Bad times!

And on that note, that’s it. New stuff tomorrow. And every day. Thanks for reading, as always.

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