Carnival of Wealth, Snowflake Edition

Snowflake

 

This is the Mormon temple, the most noteworthy piece of architecture in Snowflake, Arizona, population 6000. Snowflake is 5600′ above sea level, and temperatures get down to the mid-20s in winter, thus it’s reasonable to assume that the town is named after the type of precipitation.

Except it isn’t. It’s named after its founders, Erastus Snow and William Jordan Flake. Count that as the mind-blowingest fact we’ve learned recently. And kudos to Mr. Flake for not insisting on top billing.

Justin McCurry at Root of Good steps into the top spot this week, where he explains how to reduce your auto expenses. Justin’s a recent and welcome addition to the CoW, largely because he doesn’t write obvious and repetitive dross. Over the years, we’ve received enough submissions with titles like “Auto Costs on the Cheap” that we know what they’re going to say before we read them. Carpool. Shop for inexpensive gas. Combine errands into one trip. Change your oil per the service manual recommendations. The kind of obtuse pap that Trent Hamm has made a living repeating. Justin digs deeper, first suggesting that you buy a car that’s good enough to last for 13+ years. Or in his family’s case, 2 such cars. We’ll also second Justin’s recommendation that you can save hundreds of dollars just by researching YouTube for step-by-step guides to intermediate vehicle repairs. Take it from us, you don’t need a pro to replace your alternator and serpentine belt. Well, depending on what kind of car you drive and how difficult it is to access certain components.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, which is the only explanation for following up Justin’s post with this one from Natalie and the unfortunately titled Debt & The Girl.

I am just another twenty-something girl struggling to navigate through the endless parade of bills that is all too common for most Americans. I have student loans, a mortgage, credit cards, and other priorities that I am trying to stay on top of

We’ve never, ever seen that sentiment before. Sister, maybe you shouldn’t be submitting to a carnival operated by a blog that considers debt bloggers to be slightly worse than child molesters. Both groups offer similar excuses: They just can’t help themselves. They have an addiction. They know what the right thing to do is, yet they don’t. Those hairless prepubescent buttocks are just too tempting.

Natalie, the CoW exists for one reason: to entertain our readers. Indulging you and your indebted sisters is of no interest to us. Nor is citing your 1st-person whining about your circumstances, unless it’s so we can goof on it:

I was one of those people who loved to spend. I would be more than happy to buy up the latest clothes in the department store as long as I could look trendy to my friends. The worst of this was when I was in college and I had constant barrage of pretty girls showing off their shiny purses in my classes. It made me feel foolish and insignificant compared to everyone else who I assumed were rolling in cash. A part of me knew this wasn’t the case but it hurt just the same. I became depressed and this only served to give me more motivation to spend and then spend some more.

Then by all means, create a blog and tell everyone about your mistakes. That’s a fantastic, original idea that no one before you had ever thought of. (Note: see Debt & the Girl’s blogroll, a compendium of indistinguishable debt blogs, most of which we’ve already had our fun with on this site.)

These blogs wouldn’t be so awful if the proprietors were more realistic and better at self-assessment. If Natalie’s About Me page began with “I was an idiot. Do the exact opposite of what I did and you should be OK”, we would have eased up on the gas. And in case you thought we were being sexist by referring to Natalie and her “sisters”:

[T]he credit card companies get really angry when you don’t send them a payment. They get VERY angry. Almost every one of the envelopes had contained a nasty letter saying that I was overdue on my payments and were now considering taking legal action against me. I think I cried for like twenty minutes as I had no idea what to do.

Emotional, jealous, easily manipulated. Yes, let’s elect one of you President one day. We can’t wait for the headline: “Putin Returns Home Triumphant After Driving Natalie To Tears/’He Was Really Mean,’ Says Inconsolable Commander-in-Chief”.

After what seemed like an eternity, I picked myself up from the tile floor

I am woman, hear me roar. Fearless, fabulous female. It’s not that we want to sound so misogynistic, but could you please stop giving us all this ammunition?

Also, the credit card companies don’t get “really angry”. They’re used to deadbeats like you. It’s a business. You stole from them, and they want their money back. The nerve. Natalie claims that she eventually paid all her credit card debt off, but that’s not the point. The point is that we’ve heard this story 463,282 times before. Go bore someone else with it. (Obligatory note: This isn’t personal. Stop sending us rotten posts.)

Barbara Friedberg doesn’t gaze at her navel, at least not in the figurative sense. She’s too busy teaching people how to build wealth instead of crying about how Visa and MasterCard refuse to validate her as a person. This week, the 2nd installment in her so-far-excellent series about how to create an investment portfolio that diversifies among asset classes.

Fresh off his PowerPoint presentation at the personal finance blogger convention in St. Louis comes Jason at Hull Financial Planning, who recently had an unpleasant encounter with a devotee of assets-under-management fee-based financial planning. Jason’s interlocutor justified his business model because he factored in the price of software. Seriously. Jason also dispels that there’s a linear relationship between assets under management and time necessary to manage those assets.

We learned a new word today, “spruiker”, courtesy of new submitter Colin Williams at Humble Investors. It’s Australian for blowhard, or tout. Colin explains the Rule of 72.

Harry Campbell at Your PF Pro is a AAA member.

The only way we’ll excuse any personal finance blogger from making the cents/sense pun is if that blogger is a decorated combat veteran. The rest of you can consult your thesauri and come up with something original. Jeff Rose at Good Financial Cents (groan) passes. The infantryman and certified financial planner wrote a book, which Paula Pant at Afford Anything reviewed and is giving away a signed copy of. Also, Jeff can deadlift what appears to be 3 times his weight.

Then again, Sandi Martin could change the name of her blog from Spring Personal Finance to Common Cents, My 2 Sense Worth, or The Centsory Deprivation Tank and we’d still feature her stuff. This week Sandi finishes her 2-part rant on how expense ratios don’t tell you enough about the true price of the mutual fund you’re buying a piece of. Or as Sandi delicately puts it:

You’re not an idiot for investing in mutual funds, although I’m sure you’ve been made to feel that way if you’ve ever lurked around on the internet before. You are an idiot if you continue to pay the cost blindly and never once think about what you’re getting in return.

Dividend Growth Investor reminds us of one of the most underappreciated reasons for failing to build a decent portfolio, one as bad as poor advice, insufficient preparation, and innumeracy combined: inertia. Long-term compounding doesn’t work when you restrict yourself to doing it over a short term. That’s science.

What if there were an airline whose base prices included only seat rental, and that charged a separate fee for everything beyond that? You can call it nickel-and-diming if you want, or you can save money by forgoing all the ancillary charges. Cameron Daniels at DQYDJ.net introduces us to the phenomenon that is Spirit Airlines.

And we’re done. Oh wait. Download the Stacking Benjamins podcast. Yeah, we’re on there. See you tomorrow.

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