Carnival of Wealth, Mad Jack Churchill Edition


Now this is the face of a man who just loves killing himself some Nazis.

Now this is the face of a man who just loves killing Nazis.


Presenting the only World War II soldier confirmed to have killed an enemy with an arrow.

When the Krauts invaded Poland, Lt-Col Churchill reenlisted at the age of 34. He’d left the British Army years earlier, the peace of the 1930s unsuited to the mindset of a guy whose first name was “Mad.” He’d go into combat armed with a longbow and a claymore. Again, this was WWII, not the Crusades. It’s not as if Browning rifles hadn’t been invented. Mad Jack would fight his enemies with centuries-old weapons just for the fun of it. He carried bagpipes and grenades, simultaneously. These days, that’s part of a Halloween costume. For Mad Jack it was another day at the office.

He fought the Axis forces in Germany, Italy, and what is now Croatia. He escaped a concentration camp, forced his way out of SS control, walked 90 miles to freedom and then, instead of taking well-deserved leave, went to Burma to fight Japanese. Weeks later, when he heard the news about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he uttered the single greatest quote we’ve ever heard:

If it wasn’t for those bloody Yanks, we could have kept the war going another 10 years.

Jack died in 1996. Still, don’t piss him off.

Jason at Hull Financial Planning fought in Bosnia with an M16, but could probably have wrought havoc with stones and a sling. As it is, he’s the only person we know who can quote Ted DiBiase and Donatella Versace in consecutive weeks. This week Jason explains the Peltzman Effect, and how it applies to your retirement savings.

PKamp3 at knows how we feel about emergency funds, but also knows to put inert money to good use. He explains how using a Health Savings Account for contingencies and unexpected expenses makes more sense than the mindless method of putting thousands of dollars in a negligible-interest savings account. We’d explain why, but that would defeat the purpose of having you read his brilliant (ho hum, as usual) article.

Well, how about that. The illiterate guy who runs This, That and the MBA is back. This is an actual passage written by someone claiming to be a postgraduate degree-holder. You should read it aloud for the full effect. Not if there are other people in the room, though, the reason for which will soon be obvious:

Loans are always misunderstand as a mechanism for help in poor financial status. However, truth is different that is almost all wealthy investors repeatedly utilize loans to help themselves become wealthier.

Great stuff, Christopher. Thanks for dragging down the level of discourse in a way that few submitters can.

Benjamin Graham said that dividends are the investor’s secret weapon. Nelson Smith at Financial Uproar says that Benjamin Graham is dead and buried. Who doesn’t like dividends? Nelson, and his reasons for eschewing dividend growth stocks make a lot of sense. And intuitively, why would a company weaken its cash position by giving part of the store away? (Short answer: Because the managers control enough of the company that they can reward themselves from its coffers.) Graham’s mentee, Warren Buffett, has never paid a dividend in his decades at the helm of Berkshire Hathaway; which, by the way, last traded at $183,860. Dividends are awesome if you’re an opportunistic investor, maybe less so if you’re trying to build a lasting company. Nelson would prefer to invest in the latter.

We’re probably the only personal finance site that’s never read Michael Lewis’s The Big Short, and that primarily because his previous effort Moneyball was such a pile of tailings. Yes, it was critically acclaimed and influential, whatever. The thing needed an editor like Chris Christie needs a personal trainer. That people can call Malcolm Gladwell a hack on a planet that Michael Lewis inhabits makes no sense. Anyhow, Harry Campbell at Your PF Pro did read The Big Short 4 years after its release, and has our sympathies. His review of the book is probably better than the book itself is.

A couple of years ago we explained how currency arbitrage can open up unexplored parts of the world to a savvy traveler. Justin at Root of Good not only agrees, but explains in great detail (with charts and everything) which country’s currencies have lost value against the greenback over the past year and are thus worth a visit. While Justin waits for the euro to lose value against the U.S. dollar (NB: Keep waiting), much of an entire hemisphere is on sale for him and his family. This is a welcome post, one that shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand just for a single solitary sorry “chilly/Chile” pun. In some respects, the man had no choice.

Thanks again for reading. This is where we tell you to read us on Investopedia and listen to us on the Stacking Benjamins podcast. The end.

Carnival of Wealth, Women Are Insane Edition


A woman was shot at Oscar Pistorius's house, so he called a paramedic.

A woman was shot at Oscar Pistorius’s house, so he called a paramedic.


This is Leah Malan, teen girlfriend of legless and soulless South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius. You read that right. His current girlfriend. You might remember her predecessor from a couple of years ago, who died when Pistorius oh for God’s sake no one can be stupid enough to believe this, can they? innocently mistook her for an intruder and did the reasonable thing by emptying an entire magazine into her abdomen and chest. 

Pistorius is shaping up to be a South African version of Phil Spector – not only uxoricidal, but offering repeated documented evidence that he has an open disdain for gun safety. And yet, he’s dated at least 3 consecutive attractive women, 2 of those age-inappropriate. (Here’s the girl he dumped for Reeva Steenkamp. The former was 17 at the time.) Yet he continues to pull.

“So you’re single? How did your last relationship end?”
“Don’t you read the news? I shot and killed her. But don’t worry, it was an accident.”

Even if it really was an accident, could you imagine that conversation taking place in your life? Here we have a nubbed guy who at the very least, even if he is the object of the most improbable of misunderstandings, is facing life in prison and international scorn. But on the other hand, he’s famous!

And yet women complain that they make 77¢ on the dollar. That’s still too high.

Ladies, you should be happy that super-competent Jason at Hull Financial Planning is out of the workforce, otherwise that wage discrepancy would be even higher. Jason went into business on his own, after a career as the ultimate employee: a soldier. (“Being in the army is great. They take all the guesswork out of life.” – Sgt. William Fontaine de la Tour Dauterive.) Jason puts to bed once and for all the notion that entrepreneurs like himself are risk-takers, balanced precipitously on the tightrope of perceived freedom while the alligator pit of reality sits below. Jason explains why he sold his company, how serendipitously the offer seemed to arrive, and ties it all together with a quote from Ted DiBiase père.

Please tell us you read about the 18-year-old brat in New Jersey who’s suing her parents for not paying for her college education. If you read only the headlines, she’s living with a friend while the friend’s attorney father files the suit. The girl is also coming as close to accusing her father of molesting her as she can without coming out and saying it, referring to him as “inappropriately affectionate.”

Have you seen her? Her name is Rachel Canning, and she’s not hard to look at. (Not as hot as her mom, though.) If Rachel hasn’t yet figured out how to get someone than her own father to buy her things, she never will. Joe Saul-Sehy at The Free Financial Advisor has plenty to say about her plight.

Andrew at 101 Centavos is one of our favorite submitters for several reasons, one of which is that he refuses to write obvious and trite garbage. This week he tells us which job interview questions not to ask. In the hands of almost any other blogger, that would mean stuff like “Can I leave early if I feel like it?” and “Do you test for heroin?” Andrew explains why seemingly innocuous questions such as “What’s this company’s management style?” and “How do I advance?” are just as stupid.

We live in a world of unfathomable variety. It was only a couple of generations ago, at least for some of us, that having a third set of clothes was a luxury. You had your work outfit and your Sunday best, and that was that. Our grandparents ate hardtack for breakfast or went without. These days, there are 10 varieties of chocolate Pop-Tart®. Not 10 varieties of Pop-Tart®, 10 varieties of just the chocolate ones. Yet some people can’t figure out why they’re barely staying afloat when bounty abounds. Here’s a paragraph from the amazing Pauline Paquin at Reach Financial Independence that we wish we had stolen to use as the introduction to our book:

It is getting a little too obvious that major companies want you to stay at your job for 45 years or more, and will put everything in place for you not to leave. So does the government. They want you to be good soldiers and keep paying income taxes. You have to be really strong to escape the system.

Yeah, but there’s a foosball table! And Birthday Edition Chocolate Vanilla Crème Pop-Tarts® in the break room!

Don’t read Pauline’s article and then end up missing the point. You don’t have to sweat over a hot stove for hours to feed yourself anymore, and can instead just indirectly devote mere minutes of cubicle-sitting to the task, but you need to understand the ramifications of that. Time remains money. You can use that newfound time, time that your ancestors never dreamed of, to make your life easier if you want. Or you can get on the treadmill of superfluous consumerism and end up a functional slave.

PKamp3 at is probably smarter than you. That’s why he can advocate dollar-cost averaging for even the dumbest among us. If you started monthly dollar-cost averaging your way through the NASDAQ at the worst possible time (March 2000, just before the crash in which it lost 3/4 of its value and has yet to recover), how would you be doing today? The answer will blow your mind.

Some bim named Kari Shea at SRE Connect (it stands for Shea Real Estate) thinks that not only are you dying to hear what the National Association of Home Builders thinks about the Senate ‘s new flood insurance bill, but that you’d rather read their press release on her site instead of theirs. If you really do care, here’s the original. Kari just reposted it verbatim for some reason, instead of spending that time showing houses.

That’s probably enough. It was probably enough a paragraph ago, but we never know when to quit. Listen to us on Joe Saul-Sehy’s Stacking Benjamins podcast, read us on Investopedia, check back here tomorrow. See yez.

Carnival of Wealth, Love Edition

Pictured, l. to r.: Unidentified carnival barker, P. McCartney, unidentified rabbi, R. Starr

L. to r.: Unidentified carnival barker, P. McCartney, unidentified rabbi, R. Starr


That’s not the emotion, but rather the italicized Love, the Beatles-inspired Cirque du Soleil show. Which we saw last week, despite it being a Cirque du Soleil production and therefore gayer than pink Skittles®. But the music made it tolerable, and that brings us to our weekly astonishing fact.

There are 214 songs that the Beatles both wrote and recorded. (There are several dozen others that they recorded but didn’t write, or wrote for other artists, or wrote and performed live but never committed to vinyl.) They did this in 7 years. That’s a song every 12 days. And don’t forget, they were making movies during that time. And playing scores of concerts. They performed 231 shows in 1963 alone, which is not only not a typo, it flies in the face of reason. Through all the LSD use, all the junkets to Rishikesh, all the women John Lennon beat the stuffing out of, they still managed to write more than one song every couple of weeks. The overwhelming majority of these songs weren’t exactly disposable, forgettable, or simple, either. Nor did the Beatles have Pro Tools. It defies both description and plausibility. Meanwhile, it’s all we can do to write 3 posts a week without musical accompaniment.

So here it is. The only blog carnival worth a damn, the Carnival of Wealth. Where quantity is of little consequence.

Wellllll…look who’s come crawling back. Or just crawling, really. Why, it’s Vanessa’s Money. Little Miss “I’ll never submit to the Carnival of Wealth, I have my reasons.” Here, look at the insouciance:


A big CYC welcome to the kind of submitter we always have room for here: a 20-something chick who writes about something other than how far in debt she is and what her significant other is studying in grad school. Vanessa does have some debt on her personal balance sheet, but it’s the good kind. The means-to-a-tangible-financial-end kind. She has that Québécoise habit of using spaces instead of commas in numerals with more than 3 digits, but aside from that trifling point her post is nails. Vanessa is the only personal finance blogger we’ve ever seen who took out student loans and then lived below her means and invested the loans, instead of buying trips to Cancún. What college kid is resourceful enough to see student loans as free capital? Only one that we know of.

Now that we’ve got the Prodigal Daughter’s post out of the way, we welcome Jason at Hull Financial Planning yet again. Here’s a Zen koan of a subheading for you:

Are we creating an emergency by not investing our emergency fund?

You people who insist on creating emergency funds, even when you have credit card debt and student loan debt incurring interest, always seem to see that emergency fund as inert. Static. Something that just sits there until Fortune smiles on you in the form of a meteorite crashing through your roof. Now, the universe has finally given you justification for creating that emergency fund, and withdrawing from it. Rejoice!

Let’s examine this like something other than idiots. If teenage Vanessa can figure out that a wad of cash can be used to grow itself, why can’t adult you do the same thing with an emergency fund? That’s what the late Senator William Roth invented his IRAs for. Or if you’re Canadian, what Jim Flaherty invented TFSAs for.

Believe it or not, we’d prefer to run a scorn-free CoW every week. The problem is the lousy submissions. But starting off a Carnival of Wealth with Vanessa, Jason, and Paula Pant at Afford Anything makes it difficult to say anything impertinent. Paula saves a ton of her money, a higher ratio than you probably think possible, but that isn’t enough. She has a knack for using Aristotelian reasoning in ways we’d never have thought of ourselves:

“savings” is deferred spending[…]
But spending later won’t get you closer to financial freedom.

Tell that to the huddled masses, please. Oh wait, that’s what we’re doing right here. Paula explains what you need to do beyond deferring spending in order to build wealth. The answer is hiding in plain sight.

Good Lord. Have we finally scared off every last incompetent personal finance blogger? Are we left with nothing but gravy? Cameron Daniels at has an adjustable-rate mortgage, something we rail against, yet manages to make it work. He pays his bills as late as possible, which might mean little in the short run but it does cultivate a habit of not letting other entities enjoy his money interest-free. (Why do you think TV offers always say “Allow 4-6 weeks for delivery” once they get your payment?) Cameron also shifts effortlessly between homonyms in this post without making a mistake.

Justin at Root of Good is experiencing a more interesting retirement than he might have initially expected. His stock investments took a $60,000 pounding in a matter of mere weeks, but Justin isn’t panicking. Those stocks have decades to rebound.

Andrew at 101 Centavos asks what’s looking more and more like a rhetorical question: Is the Keystone XL pipeline ever going to get built? Fun facts: You probably didn’t know this, but the thing is already mostly in operation. There’s only one phase that’s the sticking point, and it’s supposed to go through some of the sparsest land in the lower 48. But among other issues, the Koch Brothers might benefit from it, so Phase 4 is therefore bad. (This is how knee-jerk environmentalists phrase things, isn’t it? Are we doing this right?)

Finally, how about some Pauline Paquin at Make Money Your Way? Oui, s’il vous plaît. If we ever did a feature called Mastermind of the Month, she’d be permanently in the running. Pauline has led a life that our (F)RotM honorees can’t even conceive of, let alone live. Pauline has visited 70 countries (including a motorcycle trip from Norway to Morocco), quit full employment years ago before it forever captured her soul, runs multiple blogs and is now living on the beach in Guatemala. But as far as we know, at no point did she say, “You know what? I need some direction. Why don’t I go back to college, it’s easy and I know where everything is.” Or “I’ve been dreaming of a $75,000 destination wedding since I was a little girl and nothing is going to stand in my way.” Fortunes are made every day. Pauline is making hers as we speak. What are you doing? 

And…a pop-up to the pitcher for the 27th out. We no longer have to worry about jinxing it. We finally did it. A perfect CoW. Not a dud anywhere. You can thank the submitters for making this worth everyone’s while.

Then you can thank us for making it possible. Check us out on Investopedia, and if you were ever going to download the Stacking Benjamins podcast, you should make it this week. We nailed it on there, too. Every week, in fact. And every day here. New Anti-Tip of the Day every day, new posts Wednesday and Friday, and another one of these Monday. Thanks again.