Carnival of Wealth, Cockroach and Cat Edition

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We frequent this little Italian joint on a side street in downtown Lahaina, replete with street seating. A neighborhood cat is always out there, politely waiting for table scraps, whom the restaurant has more or less adopted.

The proprietor is a Mexican dude with a middling-to-poor command of English. We asked him,
“So what’s the cat’s name?”
“Oh, we call her Mehitabel.”
Huh? This cook/cashier/server who runs an unprepossessing little hole-in-the-wall 3000 miles from home in a foreign country is a big Don Marquis fan? Jaws on the ground.
Okay, Mehitabel it is. She ate out of our hands as usual, knowing a soft touch when she sees one. Still, the guy named the cat freaking Mehitabel. A lull in the dinner rush, and then an attempt to find out more about this arcanely named cat:
“Is there an Archy, too?”
¿Eh?
“Archy and Mehitabel.”
“Yes, Mehitabel.”
“So what made you name her ‘Mehitabel?'”
“It’s her favorite food. She always eat Mehitabel.”
He was saying “meatball”.

Mark Hanna at Debt, Dividends & Diversions bought a new refrigerator. (Is that adjective superfluous? Do people buy old refrigerators?) Which doesn’t sound like it would justify a blog post, except that Mark calculated how many kilowatt-hours said fridge would consume over its life, and how long it would take to break even on its purchase price. Of course, he had to factor in the $20 he spent on a power meter that gauges the electricity consumption of a single appliance. This analysis is somewhat Hammian, but at least Mark recognizes that.

In addition to being autonomous, entrepreneurial, inspirational, funny, and frighteningly intelligent, Pauline Paquin of Reach Financial Independence is trilingual. Actually, quintilingual – English, French and Spanish fluently, a couple of undisclosed languages not as well. Pauline explains how multiple fluency is more than just a party trick or a way to embarrass monolingual people who think you can’t understand them; she’s used her proficiency to make herself wealthier.

Andrew from 101 Centavos had better not take any more half-year sabbaticals without clearing it with us first. More brilliance, this time in the form of an analysis of old-school direct-sales cosmetics company Avon vs. multi-level marketing upstart Nu Skin. We can’t figure out how the latter is still a viable business model, nor can we figure out Andrew’s genius:

The post is mostly about how Avon should have hired a salesperson rather than an engineer for its new CEO (who happens to be a lady), but touches on the stratospheric rise of Nu Skin’s stock price. The very next trading day after Andrew wrote the post (January 14), Nu Skin began cascading. Like, 44% in 2 days:

Nu Skin

The Chinese government accused Nu Skin of false advertising. Essentially, Beijing thought that a pyramid scheme operator was using some sort of…tetrahedral business model. This being America, a class-action suit came next. Andrew noted that few investors had been selling Nu Skin short. Those investors are now shopping for yachts and solid-gold patio furniture.

You guys are so mean, you never have anything nice to say about anyone. Did you read our summary of the last couple of submissions?

Somebody named Kali Hawlk (no, not “Hawk”) guest posts at Your PF Pro this week. She seems to have it together, having graduated college with a meaningless degree but managing to carry zero student or credit card debt while owning a house. Kali’s not big on spelling nor grammar, and has that annoying habit of using “gift” as a verb, but we can get with her sentiment regarding weddings:

You could spend something like 25 bucks to apply for a marriage license, or you could spend 25 thousand bucks and legally end up with the same result.

Kali spared a few expenses on her own wedding, but admits she could have spared more. BONUS: Comments from other ladies (and a couple of sensitive beta males) offering sympathy for the tragedy of Kali’s expensive professional photographer ruining the shoot. At least now Kali knows to use a friend with a camera to take photos at her next wedding.

(Guy who submits every week from the site 2008Taxes.org? We’d be much more inclined to run your stuff if you contemporized your site’s title a little.)

CoW mainstay and friend of the program Paula Pant at Afford Anything only looks infallible. This week she confesses to what was probably the worst financial decision of her life, one that cost her a staggering $3.60 hour of her time. (Paula measures these expenses in time, not money, as you probably should.) It might have been dumb, but as Paula points out, people make financial mistakes thousands of times greater than that every day. Even worse, they justify them. At least Paula realized after a minute that she screwed up, however minimally.

A new submitter, Brian Fourman at Luke 1428. We Googled it (sorry for not committing the complete King James version to memory, we’re not Protestants) and found this:

For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it?

So far, so good. Brian can write, although we cringe at the topic of his debut submission: technical analysis, a/k/a trying to divine wisdom out of stock charts. Brian even admits that the positive 70-year record of the S&P 500 might continue for the next 70 years, or might not. Buy assets, sell liabilities, take past performance with great reservations.

Bryan Chau at Success Pen Pal reviewed a movie.

Two more and then we’ll call it a carnival. In his previous life, Justin at Root of Good helped build a billion-dollar, 20-mile toll road that requires long-term maintenance. Applying the same truths to his house, Justin annualized the costs that would maintain the house’s totality of features. And then factored those costs into his retirement budget because a) he should and 2) being retired, Justin has a lot of time on his hands. (Also, Justin’s dishwasher will last more than 8 years if he rinses every item and uses those high-efficiency pods.)

Last but never least, Jason at Hull Financial Planning goes full debunker this week. Don’t complain about inflation – a little of it is vital to the economy (see Chapter II of Control Your Cash: Making Money Make Sense.) Don’t cut expenses when you can increase revenue. Time is money (see Pant, Paula.) And 2 more truisms that we’d repeat here, but you’d be better off going to the original source.

We’ll be back tomorrow. The CoW will be back Monday. Check us out here and here. Thanks for coming.

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