The red star is on Control Your Cash world headquarters. Until a few months ago, the nearest Chick-Fil-A was in Flagstaff, Arizona, 250 miles away. This paucity of Chick-Fil-As, absurdly, in the Southern U.S. Chicken-Eating Belt. But even the Flagstaff Chick-Fil-A came with an asterisk, because said location is merely a kiosk in the Northern Arizona University food court and not a full-service, standalone restaurant. The nearest one of those was somewhere in California.
Until fate and franchising smiled on us, and Chick-Fil-A opened just up the road in St. George, Utah. Which cuts 100 miles off the trip to Flagstaff, but still makes getting the Chargrilled Chicken Club sandwich an all-day activity. Assuming that day isn’t a Sunday. Meanwhile, you people in Atlanta can rot in hell.
So can whoever invented socialized medicine, with its endless waits for some forms of treatment and its stifling of innovation. (Believe us, we’ve been there.) In the U.S. we’ve adopted only a proto-version of it, a version that Jason at Hull Financial Planning criticizes for an underreported reason: when all you think about is that small per-visit co-pay, it’s harder to make rational decisions about your health care. Because you don’t know how much it really costs, duh. In short, Jason argues that overinsuring oneself is a greater risk than underinsuring in The New America, so go with the cheapest state-mandated plan you can get away with. Also, put down the cigarettes. You’re an idiot.
Anton Ivanov at Dreams Cash True joins the agglomeration this week. First of all, what is that? Is “Cash” supposed to be a verb there, like “cashing in”? Or is it a noun, following up another noun? If it is, then what the hell is “True”? Anton’s post raises considerably fewer questions than his blog’s name does, given that the former contains the same personal finance advice we’ve already seen 85,343,227 times:
pick a career path that allows you to earn as much as possible during your lifetime.
When did adults all start writing like unimaginative 5-year-olds? It happened so suddenly that we barely noticed:
A million dollar net worth is still considered a significant accomplishment and is sure to make you feel good, along with impressing your friends!
He’s right. That latter one is the only reason we got into this. If you’re not going to be ostentatious and vocal about your wealth, you might as well live in a tar paper shack on the Wind River Reservation. But wait, Anton. Don’t I need an account that serves no purpose whatsoever?
Protect[…] your wealth with an emergency fund
There we go. It just wouldn’t be a derivative blog without a recommendation to do that. (If you missed it, here’s our take on emergency funds.)
How about a good post instead? And by good we mean “bleak”. PKamp3 at DQYDJ.net couldn’t let the unveiling of our national surveillance state pass without clarifying the matter with some of his patented charts. Did you know that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approves 99.96% of the requests it gets (from its sole petitioner, the U.S. government) for physical or electronic surveillance? If you discount the modifications, the rulings where the court says “Yes, but…”, the percentage dwindles all the way down to 97.5.
(No, the post has nothing to do with personal finance. Write as well as PKamp3 does and we’ll grant you a waiver too.)
Congratulations to Pauline Paquin of Reach Financial Independence, who crossed another psychological item off the list by paying cash for her Guatemalan villa (and the 90 acres it sits on.) A bank can’t foreclose on a piece of property that it has no lien on. Instead, Pauline and her boyfriend can sleep with the peace of mind that comes from living with one fewer creditor. Although the giant tropical scorpions might still keep them awake at night.
Timothy Mobley, of the eponymous blog, wants you to buy universal life insurance and preferably from him. He couches it as telling the IRS to go to hell upon your retirement, but there’s more to universal life insurance than that. It’s essentially a vehicle for rich people who are stuck in an uncomfortable bracket. Beyond a certain threshold, your premia go to investments that can earn money tax-free. But they have to be approved by your insurer, i.e. Tim. And in the example he cites, the investor takes money out of his IRA and puts it in his universal life policy.
Doesn’t that mean he has to pay taxes on it?
Yes, but Timothy solves that by having him borrow money. And the switch only works if you can guarantee annual returns above a certain, optimistic level. Still, this CoW newcomer isn’t bad if only for a chance to dive into its vast archives.
Gary at Gajizmo writes about where you should live to maximize the tradeoffs on taxes, climate, etc. It would have been a helpful post if he’d sliced away sentences such as:
[E]very place has some new culinary options you’ll want to explore. Therefore, your dining options should be considered
You’ve already heard us whine over the passive voice and use of the flyweight word “consider”. Let’s add the overuse and misuse of “options”. It doesn’t make you sound smarter, Jim. Also, thanks for pointing out that different parts of the country have different cuisines. This revelation came after the only useful part of the post, in which Gary details relative tax rates and provides a link to a more comprehensive breakdown. He also mentions that if you enjoy your family (some people do, for some reason), you should live close to them. Also,
Those with aging parents or relatives who need to be cared for might also want to live close to them, thus saving money on hiring a caretaker to provide them company in their ailing state.
On second thought, forget our misguided compliment. This post is awful.
Megan Russell at Marotta On Money (she used to be Megan Marotta, before becoming Mr. Russell’s chattel) joins Trent Hamm on the exclusive list of people who measure their dishwasher usage to the nearest penny. Although she’s a way better writer than Trent, if similarly obsessive. Her accompanying chart distinguishes between hand washing and “efficient” hand washing, and claims that the former costs 59 times as much as the latter. We’ll let her explain it.
Real, actionable data! From Michael at Dividend Growth Investing & Retirement, who fundamentally analyzes Suncor, the Calgary-based oil and gas company with huge revenue numbers and weak return on equity. Try to ignore that he starts by working backwards, showing us what Suncor’s done over the last decade. More importantly, Suncor’s increased its dividend in each of those years. How much of Michael’s figuring is investment grade, and how much of it is dividing one quantity into another just for the hell of it (dividend growth per [earnings per share growth]?), is yours to decide. But his work is voluminous and his mistakes are nonexistent.
Darwin’s Money translated a Cornell professor’s findings about restaurant tipping. It takes a professional intellectual to determine that:
- large-breasted waitresses get more than their less contoured sisters do
- women tip men better and vice versa
- drawing a smiley face on the check helps, unless you’re a guy, in which case you shouldn’t be doing it anyway
And one finding that really does refute logic; service really isn’t a criterion.
It seems he’s right. Your CYC principals tip in a narrow range. We hate to say it, but in our experience an attentive yet unobtrusive, attractive server earns only a few percentage points more than does an apathetic server who disappears at the wrong times. In the meantime, here’s an idea: don’t spend so many years waiting on tables that you can create sufficient data points for such a study. And if a party of Canadians comes in, or worse yet, Brits, slip a couple of dollars to the hostess so that she’ll seat the newcomers in someone else’s section. Trust us, it’ll be worth it.
Lynn at Wallet Blog has some lawn care advice for the non-Manhattanites reading today. If you have a lawn, and want to fire your lawn care company so you can save a few bucks, heed her advice. Especially the part about overwatering. The part about chipping in to share a communal lawnmower with your neighbors is something you can probably ignore, though.
The economy’s looking up! How do we know? Because people are letting their credit card balances build again! No wait, that’s the exact opposite. Perception trumping reality. That dreadful news comes from Liana Arnold at Card Hub, whose annual credit card debt study proves once again that we never learn a damn thing. If you’re one of the people keeping our per capita credit card debt as high as Liana says it is, then it’s not as if advice from a strident voice on the internet is going to make a difference. But here it is anyway. Read Liana’s recommendations, stop spending as if the mathematical operations of addition and subtraction somehow don’t apply to you, and forget about the emergency fund. Just pay your bills on time and eliminate as much of your credit card debt as possible as quickly as possible, given that you were dumb enough to have incurred it in the first place.
Thanks again. Same time tomorrow or thereabouts.
REGRETTABLE ADDENDUM: A last-minute submission from Girl Meets…(wait for it) Debt. As we’ve said before–and unfortunately, we’re forced to repeat ourselves often–as a rule any blog with “Debt” in the title is going to be awful. Let’s see what the titular girl has for us:
Learning how to look fabulous on a frugal budget sounds challenging – but not impossible! Here are some simple tips to looking trendy on a not so trendy budget…
We thought we made it clear to this submitter 7 months ago that there are more appropriate fora than this one for that kind of foolishness. We’re trying to entertain our readers and maybe teach y’all something, not bore you into unconsciousness with an indiscriminate series of links. So, putting as much effort into our synopsis of Girl Meets Debt’s submission as she put into the submission itself, here’s what we said back in September:
Oh, for Christ’s sake. The thought process of our newest entrant, Girl Meets Debt:
OMG, I have a great idea for a blog! I’m going to talk about how I used to spend money, but now I’m trying to save it! I’ll call myself a “shopaholic” too, because our society has become stupefied to the point that the only words we now understand are portmanteaux. I still believe “shopaholic” is cute and funny though, and if you think most women overuse the word “cute”, well, get a load of me!
No way! A personal finance blogger with credit card debt ($13,000) and student loan debt ($45,000)? That never happens! Someone with so cuttingly original a story must have a correspondingly original blog, mustn’t she?
They say that the first step towards “recovery” is admitting you have a problem. It is actually very intimidating, yet liberating at the same time to say (or write!) that I have a debt problem. I’m ready to be proactive and tackle this debt on. This girl is ready to start acting like a financially responsible adult. It’s about time too since I will be turning 30 sooner than I would like to think!
Ladies with a string of debt and a story to tell, leave us alone. (Guys too.) No one cares, and even if anyone did, Control Your Cash readers expect better than to have their busy days polluted by this relentless 1st-person self-aggrandizing flotsam that you’ve chosen to share with us. Are we making ourselves clear? Or should we be more, what’s the word, repetitive?
The Girl Meets Debt lady is so certain that she’ll pay off her debt. She even used all caps to accentuate that point. There’s no plan, nor is there any record of even starting on this task, just a general statement that she’d like to – no, will – be debt-free one day. Which is hard enough to take seriously, given that we’ve seen this a trillion times before, but especially so considering that she did a follow-up post about her pretty, pretty hair. Swear to God.
And women wonder why men think they’re dumb. (Sorry, gals. Most of the time, with most of you, that’s what guys are thinking. They’re usually smart enough to internalize it, though.) But yeah, let’s elect one of you President one day.
God, what a fecal stain of a post. It’s not the insipidity of it that bothers us, so much as how stinkingly tiresome it is. Who goes to the trouble of writing that post, or creating that blog, without stopping to think “Maybe this has been done before”? Fortunately though, the author equipped her post with icons that’ll let you share it with all your friends on Pinterest, Shareaholic, Tumblr et al. That the author thinks that between now and the end of the universe a solitary soul will share this post on Tumblr shows the kind of winning naïveté we’ve come to expect from our dippier contributors.
At least, the $45,000 in student loans was so she could become an aeronautical engineer.
Ha! Of course not. She’s a teacher. With 2 bachelor’s degrees, for some reason. College (or considering she’s Canadian, “university”): priceless because it’s priceless, and don’t you dare think otherwise. College might be about challenging assumptions, but the uber-assumption that college is a financial force multiplier no matter what must never be questioned.
The worst part is that all the attention we’re paying to this Newtown school massacre of a post means we’re taking away valuable time from showcasing other posts. We see PKamp3 at DQYDJ.net submitted again this week. His work is always concise, articulate, provocative, and funny, but here we are not paying his post its proper due while instead thinking of more unvarnished things to say about the verbal cat vomit that fell in our inbox in the form of this post from Girl Meets Debt.
No, wait. There’s something still worse. We already parodied this chick, 5 months before she wrote her post. Find something less demanding than financial blogging, Sister. Cosmetology school, perhaps. Wait, it’s a little late for that. Either way, if there isn’t a UN High Commission on Unreadable CoW Submissions, well, what exactly are our dues going toward? If we could go back in time, “killing Hitler” is now #2 on our to-do list. Seeing that Girl Meets Debt was never allowed access to a computer has moved to the top spot.