Carnival of Wealth, Memorial Day Edition

memorial-day

 

If you see a veteran today…do what you’d normally do. Today isn’t to acknowledge those who’ve served our country and are still here, any more than usual. That’s what November 11 is for. We figured this was obvious, but it’s worth mentioning again: Even though Memorial Day now largely means barbecues and other hedonistic activities, its purpose is to honor dead soldiers. And sailors, airmen and Marines.

 

Has Dividend Growth Investor ever had the top spot before? Not as far as we can remember, and we’re too lazy to check the archives. This week he informs us that Clorox has raised its dividend every year since the United States reinstated the death penalty. (That was the most telling significant event we could locate from 1977.) Heck, we didn’t even know Clorox was a company in its own right, figuring it was just a brand owned by Procter & Gamble or somebody.

Pauline Paquin of Reach Financial Independence will eventually be richer than all of us. Well, all of you, anyway. Pauline is that rare investor who actually does her due diligence before dropping money somewhere, instead of just crossing her fingers and hoping that things break her way. The universe helps those who help themselves, and Pauline helped herself by reading the contract on an investment that ended up not panning out all that well for her. By ensuring she was insured, she drastically reduced her potential losses. And she never would have made all the successful investments she’s enjoyed if she didn’t have the aggressive mindset that inevitably results in a few duds along the way.

Kit’-sees? Kit’-sis? Who the hell knows? Michael at Kitces.com hopefully does, seeing as it’s his last name. (Or as our Canadian friends say, “surname.” Michael is not Canadian.) If you’re unlucky enough to live in one of the 20 states with an estate tax, Michael has the trust for you.

Glen Craig at Free From Broke thinks you need an emergency fund that covers 6 months of expenses. We think 0 months ought to cover it. Agree to disagree.

Amanda L. Grossman at My Dollar Plan reminds us, starkly, that the rules have changed and that diligence and responsibility are for suckers. You probably know that Cyprus received a bailout earlier this year. But do you know where the money came from? Most of it came from taxpayers in the remaining European Union countries, but €13 billion came from Cypriot taxpayers. Which there only a few hundred thousand of, by the way. How do you confiscate $15,000 or so from each Cypriot adult? That’s easy. Punish saving. Just flat-out steal up to 10% of some people’s bank accounts. But that could never happen in the United States, because…well, the same way we would never submit citizens to unreasonable searches and seizures every time they board a plane.

New submitter? Sure. Rowan Wellington joins us from The Skilled Investor, one of those sites that features an avant-garde layout from the halcyon days of GeoCities. This article is short, and if Rowan had an editor it’d be even shorter. He wants you to buy his CD and/or his book(s).

Peripatetic financial planner Neal Frankle of Wealth Pilgrim returns after another of his hiati, and there’s nothing we love more than a blog post title that doubles as a rhetorical question. Should You Buy A Bigger House? Yes. But read Neal’s explanation and counterargument first.

We’re thin this week, long weekend and all that, so Jon Haver at Pay My Student Loans made the cut. Indebting yourself for a degree that will almost certainly never pay for itself is an awful idea, but no one’s listening to the modestly affluent people with modest educations. Who cares what we think?

[I]f you owe $100k on your school loans…you may want consider (sic) doubling up on payments to decrease interest and lower investment funds until the loan is paid to a manageable amount.

Huh? We think he said that if you’re dumb enough to start your working life $100,000 in the hole, you should pay your debt off as quickly as you can. He used the unambiguous word “consider,” and even tempered that with “you may,” so you know Jon means business. Or you could just go to a trade school and start earning money out of the gate, but where’s the fun in that?

Wait, that was too dismissive. We need to critique that quote a little more. You don’t get to invest until your net worth is up to zero. Because you’re a college student (or recent graduate) who knows nothing. In fact, you don’t even know that you’ve incurred a debt that comes with an interest rate that’s going to make it exceedingly difficult for you to ever get ahead. And yet you want to get down on Zynga stock? Or maybe buy some silver from Rosland Capital? You’re even dumber than we thought.

Remember Todd R. Tresidder? The longest-winded contributor in CoW history is back in book review form. On another site. Wealthy Turtle, where Mike Collins has chosen to review Todd R.’s new book, How Much Money Do I Need To Retire? Todd R.’s book has 89 reviews on Amazon, and they presumably can’t all be from his friends and family members.

Holy crap. Some chick wrote 1900 words on her sparsely stocked fridge. No joke. Or an extremely layered meta-joke, one or the other. Her name is Krista Maroni, she shares a byline with her husband Jon, and their site is called 2-Copper-Coins.

Fun fact about an empty fridge: produce will actually last longer when it has more ‘breathing room.’

There is nothing fun about that fact, and its status as a fact is dubious. Krista/Jon is/are your typical frugality blogger, only a little more obsessive than most:

Studies have shown a well organized fridge makes the food in it look more appetizing, making it more likely you will eat what you have.

Whenever someone tries to sound authoritative by starting a sentence with “Studies have shown,” it reminds us of Initech auditor Bob Slydell:

"Studies have statistically shown that there's less chance of an incident if you (fire people) at the end of the week."

“Studies have statistically shown that there’s less chance of an incident if you (fire people) at the end of the week.”

 

Studies have shown that exposing people to Krista’s fridge minutiae correlates positively with frequency of violent crime. After reading this, we now know more about this woman’s fridge than our own:

We stock up on basmati rice (we obsess over chicken tikka masala, but even in an ordinary recipe, basmati’s the best).

Jon is a champion left-over-eater. Seriously. He never even heats anything up.

I’m a bit pickier. I’m not a fan of bread items that sit in the fridge over night.

[W]e swing by Ray’s produce stand (a local place) on our way home and grab 2-3 types of vegetables, and one or two types of fruit max.

That’s just 4 representative samples. She goes on and on. Krista also reminded us of another crutch that unreadable writers use, right up there with liberal use of the word “experience” and the ever-loving gratuitous phrase “moving forward.” It’s adding the word “option” to anything. Her fridge also includes “a couple frozen meal options” and “wonderful fruit options,” and how those differ from frozen meals and fruit respectively we have no idea.

At press time 3 other lonely women (and one sad man) had left comments on that post, so maybe we missed something along the way, and writing about what’s in your fridge is now faddish. People listen to dubstep these days, so what the hell do we know? A look through Krista & Husband’s archives shows that they think Dave Ramsey is mean to people. Dave freaking Ramsey is too mean. In other words, don’t expect to see them submitting to the CoW again anytime soon.

Wait, we’re not done. We’re almost done, but there’s yet more nonsense to avail you of. 2-Copper-Cents and its authors love to talk about how they live and encourage readers to live “responsibly” and “generously,” which prompted us to continue excavating. Anyone who self-consciously attaches positive modifiers to his or her own activities is almost certainly living in a glass house. So we entered the word “debt” in the search box and found out that the happy couple has $25,000 of it. But that doesn’t stop them from dispensing financial advice, such as a post entitled “How to Form a Budget.” Contrast that with Pauline Paquin, who doesn’t yammer about how noble and holy her actions are. She’s too busy building wealth to bother.

Does it ever end? Most personal finance bloggers have 2 passions: a) being broke, and II) offering advice that they themselves would never follow. Don’t hire a fat personal trainer, don’t go to a doctor who smokes and drinks, and save yourself the counsel of an indebted couple. “Well-meaning” means nothing.

And now a company that wants to buy your annuity for pennies on the dollar. If you’re learning how to form a budget from someone with negative money, why not? Do whatever the folks at Quote Me A Price tell you to.

Did you catch last week’s Carnival of Wealth? It was awesome top to bottom. Read it again, and pine with us as we wonder what went wrong in just one week. The glorious Paula Pant of Afford Anything was there a week ago and joins us again, raising the average while simultaneously provoking thought and inspiring us. Paula says not to be swayed by people who got successful doing something risky. Buying a Powerball ticket is a brilliant financial decision, if you happen to win. Living beneath your means while putting extraneous cash into revenue-producing assets is a less sexy but far safer way of trying to get rich. Your money should make money. Run the numbers before you start. None of this is hard, yet few do it. Paula is one of the few.

Harry Campbell at Your PF Pro won’t admit it, but he was so obviously the kid who had Monday’s homework done on Friday evening. He’s always first to submit every week, and this week he begins a helpful series on how to create a no-fee Roth IRA via Lending Club. Harry’s even self-aware enough to know that his post was running long (slightly longer than today’s CoW, still shorter than that refrigerator contents post) so he separated it into 2 parts.

(Sorry, guy who submitted a post about the life of John D. Rockefeller. Your post was bad, but not so bad that we could make fun of it. It just contained the standard misspellings and mispunctuations, nothing interesting. If you’re going to fall, fall hard.)

Edward Webber at TaxFix tells his British readers how much they can earn without having to pay federal taxes. Looking at Edward’s charts, it’s good to know that the United States doesn’t have the only byzantine and perverse tax schedule in the civilized world.

We insist on doing delayed gratification here at Control Your Cash, which means that Jason at Hull Financial Planning often ends up in the caboose position. We open the submissions, banging through the weak ones and interspersing them throughout the CoW while leaving Jason’s unopened until the end, knowing it’ll be money. Looking in our inbox, it’s like eating a boldfaced dessert after suffering through one uninspired regular-font course after another. So here’s Jason’s latest, this one a dispatch to combat veterans.

We never would have suspected this, or even thought about it, but Jason informs us that soldiers who have seen battlefield horror firsthand are among the most conservative of investors. We’ll leave it to the Cornell academics and retired officers (like Jason) to discern the reasons for that, but if you happen to be a combat veteran and aren’t getting the returns you like,

  1. Thank you for your service. That’s the standard gesture from civilians to the military, but it only begins to cover our particular gratitude. You went miles beyond. 
  2. Talk to Jason. Or one of the other veteran financial professionals whom he recommends. 

And thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.

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