The Best of the Best in Money and Personal Finance #13 (Anniversary Edition)

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Welcome to the 13th edition of The Best of the Best in Money and Personal Finance, where every featured post is an Editor’s Pick!

This carnival is officially one year old today, and I want to thank all of you who have bothered to drop in the first Sunday of every month for this little exercise of mine in fun and frivolity.   When I started this carnival I really didn’t know what to expect, but I have been very pleasantly surprised!

Over the past year, over 1300 articles have been submitted to the Best of the Best carnival, of which almost 160 have been featured.

If you go back through my carnival archive, it is interesting to see the evolution of the Best of the Best carnival not only in its presentation but also in the participation.   The first one received 36 entries and I was absolutely ecstatic.   Today, the carnival routinely gets over 100 legitimate entries each month – 125 or more if you count spam and off-topic submissions – which is really really cool!

Of course, what I don’t like about this carnival is having to narrow down all of the great posts that are submitted every month down to somewhere between ten and 14 articles.   It is by far the toughest part of the job.     It is a real struggle for me at times because it is inevitable that for every great article you see featured, there are others that justifiably could have made it too but didn’t.

Speaking of great articles, the selections for this anniversary edition of the Best of the Best were based upon those bloggers that correctly guessed the number of times Patrick Ryan from CashMoneyLife has been featured in the Best of the Best carnival:

The correct answer:   Seven.   Yep.   Pretty dang impressive considering Ryan hasn’t paid me one thin dime.

Close behind (and also refusing to provide me with any type of honorarium) is The Investor from Monevator, who has shown up in this space five times.

Six others have been featured four times: Nickel (Five Cent Nickel), David (Money Ning), Jeff Rose (Good Financial Cents), Darwin (Darwin’s Finance), Mike Piper (The Oblivious Investor) and one other guy who scored his fourth appearance in the Best of the Best this month (you’ll see who it is in just a bit).

Hey, here’s another fun fact.   For the month of March I received 122 qualifying articles for consideration, excluding the prodigious amount of spam, and other flotsam and jetsam that I typically receive every month.

As always, it was a pleasure reading everyone’s submittals again – and rest assured I do read every last one of them.   Thank you all for contributing and if you didn’t make it this month, please try again next month!

Here now, in no particular order, are the best of the best in money and personal finance for March 2010:

BWL presents How To Enjoy Your Job (When You Don’t Like It) posted at Christian Personal Finance saying, “At the mention of work, some cringe. You may picture yourself arising early on a Monday morning only to drag yourself to another monotonous day at the widget factory. Work is sometimes painful, for sure. But what if we were able to change our perspective on this activity that occupies so much of our time? Is that possible? “

We start off this edition of the Best of the Best with an article by John Frainee, who writes for the The Christian Dollar.   At least I’m pretty sure John wrote it.   The credit at the beginning of the article introducing him as the guest writer was so small I really struggled to read it.   How small was it, Len? Well, let’s just say I’ve seen larger fine print on cell phone contracts.   It was so darn small I ended up calling my neighbor, Mr. Mike, to see if I could borrow his electron microscope, but he wasn’t home.   That forced me to try and read it by leaning over the desk with my head about two inches from the monitor.   Like I said, I think I got it but in the process I strained my left eyeball – and my back too.   Don’t worry though, the rest of the article is not only one of the best of the month – it’s also depicted in a larger font.

FMF presents Making the Most of Your Most Valuable Financial Asset posted at Free Money Finance saying, “Your income is your most valuable financial asset and what you do (or don’t do) with it can mean MILLIONS of dollars to you over the course of your lifetime. Be sure you manage it well… “

Here’s an eye-opener for you.   According to FMF, If you want to get paid more, you need to deliver more to your employer.   Why is that so important?   As FMF shows, for somebody starting their career at a modest salary of even $20,000 per year, averaging even few percent extra each raise period could mean the difference of several million dollars over your lifetime.   Since you put it that way, FMF, I guess I’ll have to start shortening up my coffee breaks.

Thursday Bram presents 10 Ways to Eliminate Student Loans (Beyond Paying Them Off) posted at Money Ning.

Is it just me, or could Thursday Bram quite possibly be the coolest name of all time?   While you’re thinking about that, check out this awesome article by Thursday that gives those of you considering student loans some options for paying off your debt in lieu of money.

Kevin F presents Piggybacking Credit: A Good Idea? posted at CreditShout.

Then there’s Kevin F.     Even though the name “Kevin F.” isn’t anywhere near as exciting as “Thursday Bram,” I’m overlooking that because he has put together what I think is a very informative piece on piggybacking credit, which is a way to help family members, especially college-age children, establish a credit history.     But as Kevin F. points out – come to think of it now, he really does need a sexier nom de plume – there are a few big questions you need to consider first.   Otherwise, you may be doing more harm than good.   I better move on.   If I type “Kevin F.” one more time, I’ll find myself suffering from a severe case of ennui.

Silicon Valley Blogger presents How To Get Your First Credit Card posted at The Digerati Life saying, “If you’re interested in getting a credit card, here are some tips for first time cardholders.”

For you young adults that got punked by parents who decided not to piggyback you, you’re just going to have to hunker down and find your own initial credit card.   Lucky for you, my gal the Silicon Valley Blogger wrote an article this month with tips on exactly how to do that.

Craig Ford presents How To Help Teens Deal With Spending and Consumerism posted at Money Help For Christians saying, “The key to financial health is establishing a solid financial foundation. This post helps parents help their teens address spending issues.”

I tried people, I really did.   Knowing that this would be Craig’s fourth consecutive carnival selection – while writing for two separate blogs – I tried to find a way NOT to include this post in the Best of the Best carnival.   But in the end I just couldn’t deny this excellent article on the effects of consumerism and spending on teenagers.

Abigail presents Can You Afford to Have Ethics While You’re in Debt? posted at I Pick Up Pennies.

Abigail was featured in the very first Best of the Best carnival last April and here she is again with a very thought-provoking post that asks if some conscientious objectors out there would be so, um, conscientious if they had a little less money in their bank accounts.   It’s a good question.   I suspect many wouldn’t.   I guess it depends on what you’re boycotting.   I know I refuse to eat spinach and brussel sprouts unless the Honeybee can prove that they were grown organically by Amazon jungle aborigines and certified by the Rainforest Alliance.   Nobody can accuse me of lacking scruples.

Barb Friedberg presents Get Rich While you Sleep with the Magic of Compounding posted at Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance saying, “Len -This may be the most important personal finance concept there is. Time in the market trumps specific investment every time!! Check out this post and see in black & white how it works!!! On another note, I LOVE YOUR SITE!! I appreciate your humor, maturity & educational background as well as your approach.”

I know what you are thinking, people – and I take serious offense that such a thought would ever cross your mind.   I mean really.   (But just for the record: No, I am not so gullible to believe that compounding is actually due to some kind of magic.   That’s what you were thinking, right?)

Joe Plemon presents Is Buying a New Car For Zero Percent Interest Loan a Good Idea? posted at Personal Finance By The Book saying, “Zero percent financing sounds like a sweet deal. But, when buying a new car, is it?”

I am one of those dweebs that is not impressed with cars.   Not one iota.   It makes no difference to me if you are driving a ’63 Rambler or a brand new Maybach Landaulet.     In fact, that many people consider the automobile as some sort of a status symbol simply remains lost on me.   For example, I drive a ’97 Honda Civic – although I could easily afford almost any car my heart desired.   On the other hand, I also know there are plenty of people driving around in Infinities, Mercedes, Escalades, BMW’s, you name it – and struggling every month to make the payments.     Oh, by the way, in this article Joe shares with us why you might want to reconsider buying a new car if you are being tempted by a no-interest loan.

Miss Bankrupt presents Fake Uggs are Bad for Your Feet posted at Miss Bankrupt.

Did you know those short ankle style Ugg boots can run upwards of $150?   I think that is utterly outrageous!   Unfortunately Ugg knockoffs can actually lead to deformities and back pain in less than six months.   I mean, sheesh.   My Dad used to buy knockoff Rolex’s in Mexico that looked genuine from afar and still kept decent time.   What happened to the good ol’ days when knockoffs were made with quality and pride by master craftsmen – under the threat of Federal prosecution no less?   Has our society really declined that badly?   Can’t anybody make decent fakes anymore?   Thank God Miss Bankrupt is here to share with us a few imitation items that she absolutely swears by – and I mean that in a good way.

Patty Pedersen presents What Will It Take for Google Shares to Return to an All-Time High? posted at AlphaProfit MoneyMatters – Investing Blog saying, “Google’s dominance of the Internet has translated into ample gains for Google shareholders since the IPO. Now, a few chinks are appearing in Google’s armor. What lies ahead for GOOG stock?”

Perhaps you missed it, but Facebook recently displaced Google as the most visited website in the United States.   Meanwhile, Micorsoft’s Bing search engine is gaining traction and they are planning to merge with Yahoo!   The pressure is definitely on.   The question, as Sam suggests in this brief but intriguing analysis, is whether Google and its stock will be able to rise to the challenge.

Mr. Credit Card presents What To Do Before And After Chargeback posted at Ask Mr. Credit Card’s Blog.

In this short article, Jason notes that the chargeback is the most powerful tool in your arsenal as a credit card holder.   Jason goes on to explain why most merchants shudder when they hear the word and will do everything in their power to make things right when a customer threatens to use it.   In fact, the chargeback is kind of like Dirty Harry’s .44 Magnum: when merchants see it they usually end up having to ask themselves if they feel lucky.   Punks!

The Writer presents Buying a Home Part III: Will it Ever End? posted at The Writer’s Coin. saying “Part III of our ‘harrowing’ search to buy our first place. We were being very careful, but were we too careful?”

Well, Writer, considering it’s been almost two years and you still haven’t found anything…   Nah.     At McDonald’s I’ve been behind people in line who have taken that long trying to decide whether to order the Big Mac or a Filet ‘o Fish.

And although the Writer’s search for a home may never end, the March edition of the Best of the Best in Money and Personal Finance has reached its conclusion…

Thank you everyone for reading!     And thank you for all the great support over the past year.   This carnival would not exist without your terrific articles.   :-)

Please send your entries for the April 2010 edition of the Best of the Best in Money and Personal Finance using our carnival submission form. For more information, check out our carnival index page.

As a friendly reminder, please please please stick to the carnival guidelines. I receive several excellent articles every month that have to be disqualified because they were posted in the wrong month.

Submissions for the next carnival should include only posts written during the month of March 2010.

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