The Control Your Cash Mailbag, Part II of II

You missed Wednesday’s Part I? Here it is.

Continuing where we left off, here are more questions from confused CYC readers. Get your questions in to info at Control Your Cash dot com.

Free to make. Expensive to keep up.

 

Dear CYC:

I’m 31, my husband’s 33, and we’ve decided that we’d finally like to start a family. However, wouldn’t you know it, he just got laid off from his $42,000-a-year job. I don’t really have a question, just a couple of statements. Thanks. Love your blog!

Sincerely,
Katii in Des Moines

Dear Katii:

You do understand that children cost money, right? Regardless of the countless non-monetary benefits they bring to your life (sleepless nights, filthy undergarments, permanent supervision, constant screaming for attention, the potential for physical catastrophe at every turn), they come with a financial obligation that’s impossible to ignore or cut corners on.

So yes, get pregnant as soon as possible. Maybe you’ll be blessed with twins. As for secondary concerns like your cash flow having dwindled to zero, you can worry about those later. Besides, there are always credit cards: most people don’t come anywhere near their spending limits. That’s thousands of untapped dollars, right at your disposal. Knock yourself out.

Dear CYC:

I started at my job 3 years ago (district representative, golf and tennis equipment sales) and have yet to see a promotion. My figures are consistently in the top 40% of the company. I thought I’d be a regional manager by now, but I’m still waiting. It’s almost like they’re daring me to look elsewhere, where my talents will be more appreciated. In August I asked my boss about a promotion and/or pay increase. He hasn’t gotten back to me. Should I leave him another message, or should I try the HR manager instead?

Sincerely,
“The Chadder” in El Cajon

Dear The Chadder:

You mean your boss didn’t rush to you to say “What we can do to keep you happy, and keep you here?”? If he needed something from you – a sales report, receipts from your last business trip, a status update on your new intern – he’d ask for it instead of waiting for you to volunteer it. That he’s not doing the same thing with your salary increase request should tell you something. Maybe you can’t figure out that by “something”, we mean “he doesn’t want to give you more money.”

And why should he? You think you deserve it, but what leverage do you have? Your boss can either pay you what he’s paying you now, or pay you more, but either way he still has you as an employee. So he has no incentive to choose the latter.

Your choices are not only greater than you think, but different than you think. Forget about memorizing his lunch schedule so you can catch him in the hallway for a salary discussion. You’re going to have to do one of the following:

Line up another job and threaten to walk (this is the least good idea, because it’ll put you in the same position, just with a different company.)
Venture out on your own. Spend $500 registering with your state governing body and incorporate. But as what? A sports equipment wholesaler? Something completely unrelated to your current gig? We don’t know all the details of your situation, but right now you’re at the mercy of someone whose job description includes trying to pay you as little as possible. You need to be at the mercy of yourself.
All that money you spend on liabilities, rather than assets, is keeping your options limited. There are people who spend hundreds of dollars a month on alcohol and other entertainment expenses. A little discipline exacted over a short period can turn that money from a negative into a positive. Instead of going out with the fellas or buying a gaming system, earmark your spare cash for a down payment on some real estate, a residence, or maybe part of a commercial building. Find a realtor to find you a renter. Get the latter to indirectly make your mortgage payments. Invest the surplus if any, and take the tax deduction. You just need to think beyond putters and ball retrievers.

Sorry, we just don’t have the stomach for a Part III. Next month.

This article is featured in the following carnivals:

**The Carnival of Financial Camaraderie #8**

**The Festival of Frugality**

There’s never enough Carnival of Wealth to go around

This has little to do with personal finance, but this Wednesday the singer for the greatest rock and roll band of all time turns 64. Many happy returns, Brian.

We never get tired of hosting this. You should never get tired of reading it. Why? Because when the greatest personal finance bloggers in the world (and by extension, of all time) submit their stuff to one convenient location, it’s our duty to present it in an easily digestible fashion. So here it is. This week’s greatest. Digest away.

The tough thing about being chronically sarcastic is that some people can’t tell when you’re being sincere. When we say that Shawanda Greene at You Have More Than You Think is one of our new favorites, we mean it. (How can we prove it? For starters, read her. She can spell and punctuate.) This week she referees a dialogue between someone who thinks poor people have it too good in this country (which they do), and someone who thinks they don’t.

Dan at ETF Base is another solid contributor with the credentials to back up his claims. If you think an exchange-traded gold fund is the way to prosperity, he recommends you think again.

Should you file your taxes as a single person? As a married person? As a married person filing as a single person? As a widower who’s so overjoyed that he’s now single that he doesn’t care what his marginal rate is? Mark Roberts at TaxBrackets.org has your answer.

4 consecutive worthwhile contributions? Not to jinx it, but this can’t last. Neal Frankle at Wealth Pilgrim wants to know if you’re asking, “Should I pay off my mortgage?” Lots of folks are. Interest rates are so low that many wonder if it doesn’t make more sense to go the other way and borrow more instead.

(Your website disclaimer starts with “I am just a girl in debt” and your post is about your favorite Christmas movies? Yes, by all means, let’s put you on top of the pile. Good Lord.) Damn. Thanks for ruining the streak.

An investment that pays 9%? Monthly? Darwin’s Money found it, and says you can too.

Merchants need to maximize profit just like the rest of us, and if card issuers decide to take bigger chunks of each transaction, there’s little for a shopkeeper to do but set minima for card purchases. Amanda at My Dollar Plan has the details.

There’s no rule that says we can’t run a post specifically to debunk it. Daniela at Stretcher thinks that paying your mortgage with a credit card is a bad idea. She claims that doing so means you “may” get charged fees (you won’t, if you stay within your limit) and you’ll pay two sets of interest charges (one to the mortgagor, one to the card issuer) if you don’t pay your bill on time. To which our response is, pay your bill on time. Wasn’t that easy?

Journalistically trained Miranda Marquit is all over the personal finance blogs, and we can’t get enough of her curious advice. This week at Financial Highway she suggests some businesses you can start, businesses that she herself wouldn’t touch in a million years. Our favorite is

[Y]ou can purchase portable toilets that can be rented out. Instead of just renting them out, though, you can make them a little bit nicer. Clean them up. Add air fresheners, include nice soap and lotion, fluffy hand towels, and decorate the inside. These nicer portable toilets could be rented out for upscale outdoor events like weddings, company parties and special receptions.

Like most of our submitters, she’s serious (sigh). It’s going to be a long carnival…

The rest of you are playing checkers while Mike Piper at The Oblivious Investor is playing some kind of futuristic space chess. He wants to know why, if we can send probes outside of the solar system, brokerage houses can’t automatically balance our portfolios?

Boomer of Boomer & Echo argues, convincingly, that you should treat your marriage like a business. Which makes far more sense than treating your business like a marriage. (Offering to take your boss on a retreat where the two of you can “rekindle the fire” almost never works.)

Chris Tecmire at Christian Personal Finance claims that he and his wife spend $1.67 per person per day on food. Learn how you too can lead a life devoid of protein.

We’d love to see Tim at Nerd Wallet‘s wallet, because it must stretch from here to Alpha Centauri with all the credit cards he endorses. This week, we get his 10 (ten!) favorites.

Still, he can’t beat this week’s Infomercial Masquerading As A Blog Post, which comes from Jacob at My Personal Finance Journey. He likes Zecco and thinks you should too.

Short carnival this week. Even more dross than usual, or it would have been longer. Thanks again for joining us. Same time, next week.

Yakezie Carnival

When in doubt, a puppy licking a kitten is our favored default image

Without further ado, and with great fanfare (alright, maybe there’s slightly more ado), Control Your Cash is proud to host the Yakezie Carnival for the first time. Apparently Yakezie management saw what we’ve done with previous carnivals yet wasn’t thwarted. Thanks to the esteemed Sam at Yakezie for letting us host, and again, these are actual submissions from actual Yakezie members:

Julie Mayfield at The Family CEO Blog recently discovered Groupon (you know, the folks who were offered $6 billion for their startup and let the opportunity slip away) – only Julie found an inventive way to take even greater advantage of Groupon’s extraordinary deals.

Speaking of deals, Glen Craig at Parenting Family Money introduces us to something called Amazon Mom. If you’ve managed to successfully lie on your back and reproduce – or are caring for the loinfruit of someone who has – Amazon has found a way for you to buy diapers, wipes, and other disgusting items without even thinking about it.

Jacob A. Irwin at My Personal Finance Journey laments something that we here at Control Your Cash can certainly get behind – people who have no concept of taking responsibility for their own actions. But hey, if you don’t read it, it’s probably someone else’s fault.

Now here’s a comment we can sink our teeth into – Don at Money Reasons explains how paying off your mortgage is like getting income from a second job. A second job that doesn’t require you to kiss up to a boss, stay late or come in on weekends.

We’re not even close to done. Last week’s host, Dr. Dean at The Millionaire Nurse Blog, reminds us that if you think your government has an interest in you saving and spending wisely and conservatively, well, you’re living in the wrong country.

Looking to drive 85 miles or so at a stretch, never carry any cargo, and only be able to access your vehicle at certain times? If you’re tired of the always-on convenience of a gasoline-powered internal combustion engine and the ability to travel long distances, check out the best hybrid vehicles at Sustainable Personal Finance. They come complete with government incentives, because state-of-the-art products traditionally have trouble making it in the marketplace without artificial market stimulation.

Crystal at Budgeting In the Fun Stuff has tax tips for big savings this week. Have you found all your deductions and credits? No? Then read and reread this post.

Familiar with silver pairs trading? How about gold pairs? Dan P at ETF Base has a comprehensive, well-researched post that isn’t for the neophyte, but could pay handsome dividends to those willing to take the time.

Penny Saver at The Saved Quarter claims you can buy gift cards for less than face value. Really? Really. See her detailed explanation here.

If you don’t regularly read Len Penzo, you’re missing something. Actually, you’re missing lots. This week the indefatigable Mr. Penzo pours water on the ridiculous practice of paying attention to which gas stations in your area charge the least. Because when the neighborhood station charges $3.459 a gallon and the one across town charges $3.429, you’d need to have a 1,000-gallon tank or so to save enough for the cheaper station to be worth your while.

If you’re 19 years old and reading this, TIME IS RUNNING OUT. Seriously. David Mateer at Money in the 20s reminds you that it’s never too early to start investing – and as his blog’s title indicates, your 20s are as good a time as any. What you’re lacking in earning power at that age, you’re more than making up for by being able to exploit the magic of compound interest.

Then, once you’ve earned enough money from your investments, you can spend $495 of it for the privilege of spending your own money with the VISA black card. Free From Broke points out the costs and benefits of using VISA’s answer to the American Express Centurion card. If you really, really like eating peanuts in airport lounges, the black card might be for you.

Another company that takes a cut for doing absolutely nothing of value is Coinstar. Justin Weinger at Money Is The Root used to gladly pay Coinstar’s 9.8% “convenience” fee, then got religion. Folks, and by folks we mean ladies, instead of letting your coin collection grow to the point where it can’t fit in a Sparkletts 5-gallon bottle, use those coins for their intended purpose.

Kay Lynn Akers at Bucksome Boomer was minding her own business one day when her friends started getting poorly spelled solicitations for money from “her”. Yes, she got hacked. Find out how to avoid that unpleasantness with some handy tips (also, don’t use “123456″ for a password. Criminals are craftier than you think.)

Penultimately, Krant Cents reminds you that retirement probably isn’t going to take care of itself. Run the numbers now instead of living under a bridge later.

And last but not least, here’s one of our own, now on its 3rd recycle, reminding you that relying on charts to invest in the stock market is a sucker’s game.

Next week, Jason at Live Real Now hosts the carnival. Thanks again for coming.