The Best of the Best in Money and Personal Finance #8

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Welcome to the eighth edition of The Best of the Best in Money and Personal Finance, where every featured post is an Editor’s Pick!   The top selections for this edition of the carnival were based upon those who came closest to guessing the number of paperweights I got in my trick-or-treat bag last night when I was out trolling for Halloween candy in my lame costume.

The correct answer: 1

Of course, the Honeybee continues to insist that my brand new paperweight is just “a dumb rock.”

Sheesh – some people can be so cynical.

Speaking of Halloween treats, here’s one you can really chew on:   For the month of October I received 108 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 submissions again.   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 October 2009:

PT presents Relying Too Much on “Future You”, posted at PT Money.

Brilliant!   If I was stranded on a desert island and I could only take 10 personal finance articles with me, this would be one of them.   Pithy and entertaining – not an easy trick.   I only wish I had written this article before PT did.   “Hold on, Len!   You just said these posts were in no particular order.” You’re right – I lied.   (But only for this one!)

Darwin presents Family Money — Fairness vs. Favoritism in Gifting, Wills and More, posted at Darwin’s Finance, saying, “This article considers the controversial topic of “fairness” vs. “favoritism” in family money matters such as wills and gifting.”

When it comes to determining how your estate should be split up between your children, are there instances when favoritism applies such that some kids are given a bigger piece of the pie?   In this excellent article, Darwin lays out three unique scenarios for us to consider the question.   As I noted in my comments to Darwin, I think the answer is simple – fairness should rule.   Check out his article and see what you think.

Peak Personal Finance presents Lending Money to Friends and Family, posted at Peak Personal Finance, saying, “Loaning money to friends or family can raise a lot of tough issues.”

I’ll say!   In a related article, Miranda Marquit gives us some things to consider before we lend money to our friends and family.   Personally, I am of the mindset that you should never loan money to your friends and family unless you are willing to accept you will never see the money again.   One of the more interesting nuggets Miranda shares is that the United States government requires people to charge a minimum interest rate when they loan money to anyone, including family members.   Heh.   In the future I’m sure we’ll all be following that little IRS regulation to the letter of the law.   Yes-siree-bob.

Amanda L. Grossman presents Selling a Timeshare to the Wall, posted at Frugal Confessions, saying, “When a salesman attempts to pressure you into purchasing something, it is best to step away from the situation. Timeshares, like any large financial decisions, should involve researching, weighing the pros and cons, and running the numbers to make sure that it fits in with your budget, your goals, and your finances. This article details my own experience with a timeshare sales pitch.”

You’re traveling through another dimension.   A dimension, not only of sight and sound, but of mind.   A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination.   Meet Amanda L. Grossman.   Financial blogger and timeshare sales neophyte.   Today, our heroine has decided to accept an invitation to listen to a “short” timeshare sales pitch in exchange for the promise of free cash, big screen televisions, dream vacations and even a chance at a $49,000 BMW.   Unfortunately for Amanda, in order to realize her dreams, she will first be forced to live a nightmare straight out of Timeshare Hell.   Respectfully submitted for your approval by this fine-print aficionado, here… in The Personal Finance Twilight Zone.

Ashley presents Rodney Anderson Pioneers the Medical Debt Relief Act, posted at SpendOnLife, saying this is, “A re-cap of my interview with Rodney Anderson. Rodney is the driving force behind the Medical Debt Relief Act and is funding the movement through his own pocketbook.”

Meanwhile, back here on planet Earth, there is a bill winding its way through the halls of Congress known as the Medical Debt Relief Act.   This is not related in any way to Obamacare legislation.   In fact, I believe this bipartisan bill is worthwhile and deserves our full support.   The Medical Debt Relief Act promises to improve health care by removing medical collection accounts from credit reports once they are paid in full.   If passed, the bill will result in an instant improvement to the credit scores of millions of Americans.   Read Ashley’s excellent recap for more information.

FMF presents How Much is a Good Commute Worth?, posted at Free Money Finance, saying, “A classic case of time versus money.”

In roughly seven weeks, my employer will be moving to a new city.   Unfortunately for me, that means my current 17-mile, 25-minute, pleasant commute will become a 38-mile, hour-long headache – assuming there are no traffic snarls.   If I had to guess right now I’d say a good commute is worth at least $20,000 to me, but ask me again around March of next year and I will be able to give you a more definitive answer.   If things get too bad on the road, maybe I’ll just ditch the car and start walking to work everyday.   😉

Mike Piper presents Roth IRA Withdrawal Rules, posted at The Oblivious Investor, saying, “A flowchart designed to answer a tricky question: How are Roth IRA withdrawals taxed?”

Mike has put together an excellent review of Roth IRA and Roth IRA college savings distributions.   The article also includes a very easy to understand flowchart to help you determine whether or not distributions of earnings will be subject to income taxes and/or penalties.   I thought Mike did a great job of taking something fairly complicated and making it more understandable.

FIRE Finance presents The Witch of Wall Street – Henrietta “Hetty” Green, posted at FIRE Finance, saying, “Over the last couple of years folks have become increasingly cautious about spending. For good reasons that is – losing employment, sinking portfolios, negative house equities and the list goes on.   Frugality is in – bigtime!   Suddenly, we, Americans have become frugal.”

Halloween is now over, but before I leave it for good, here is a very interesting – and tragic – horror story I think you will enjoy regarding a lady who took extreme frugality to an extreme.     Hey, wait a minute… that didn’t sound quite right, but I think you know what I mean.

Retirement Savior presents Going Broke During Retirement is Not an Option!, posted at Retirement Savior, saying, “While you should invest for the long run, know that during a 40 year career, investment returns may not be enough to live on. So save more than you need, because running out of money is not an option.”

If you asked me to sum up this excellent article in exactly 23 words, it would be this:   A comfortable retirement is your responsibility alone, so take the bull by the horns and start doing something about it now – or else you may end up broke!   “Uh, Len, that’s 28 words.” Okay, then try this:   A comfortable retirement is your responsibility alone, so take the bull by the horns and start doing something about it now – or else!

BWL presents Is the 401k a Bad Idea?, posted at Christian Personal Finance, saying, “Time Magazine says that the 401k should be retired. This article is a look at whether they are right or wrong…”

Is the 401(k) really a bad idea?   Nobody seemed to think so when the stock markets were riding high and people were disappointed if they were getting annual returns of “only” 12%.     But now the markets have tanked and suddenly Time asks us to consider why a plan that was perfectly fine a decade ago has suddenly become “a bad idea.”   Please.   As I commented to Bob after reading his excellent article, there is nothing wrong with the 401(k) program — it works well for folks who are personally responsible.   Maintaining a 401(k) account is not rocket science: for most people it requires little more than adjusting fund balances and managing contribution amounts every few months.

Jeff Rose presents Term Life Insurance Vs. Cash Value Life Insurance: What Is the Difference?, posted at Good Financial Cents, saying, “Term and cash value are the two main categories of life insurance. The best choice for your circumstances is likely to depend on how much you are willing to pay for premiums and how long you believe you will need the insurance.”

I believe anybody with a family should strongly consider buying life insurance to protect their loved ones from the financial hardships that could result in the event of a unforeseen tragedy.   This is a nice, easy, and informative read by Jeff explaining the two primary types of life insurance.   I consider this post essential reading for anybody considering buying life insurance, as well as those who already have it but aren’t certain they have the right policy for their particular life circumstances.

Patrick presents Do You Know How Much Interest You Are Paying Each Month?,   posted at Cash Money Life, saying, “Do you know how much interest you are paying on your loans each month and how much of your payment goes toward reducing the principle? The amount may just surprise you!”

As a matter of fact I do know how much interest I pay every month: $475.14 – and dropping.   That’s entirely mortgage interest.     In less than eight years, God willing, that number will be zero.   Nice article, Patrick! :-)

Tom presents 10 Money Management Tips For Expectant Parents, posted at The Canadian Finance Blog, saying, “With a baby on the way, who has time for saving? If you are considering the financial ramifications of your baby and how best to prepare, here are some tips, both short and long-term, which can help you cope.”

Here’s a newsflash for many of you out there: kids cost money.   A lot of it.     Studies show it can cost anywhere between $125,000 and $250,000 to raise one child to the age of 18, depending on the parents’ before-tax income.     This nifty article lays out 10 tips to help new moms and dads prepare.

And with that the October edition of the Best of the Best in Money and Personal Finance is officially over!

Please send your entries for the November 2009 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.   Once again, I received several excellent articles that had 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 November 2009.

Hey! If you liked this article, please be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed!


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    Thanks for including my article, Len! My interest is a little higher than that, and also just mortgage interest. I don’t think it will be paid off in 8 years though because my wife and I will probably upgrade to a larger house now that we have a child (currently living in a 2 bedroom). But it will be worth it! :)

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    Wow, Len. Thanks, man. I’m honored to be included and to be the editor’s pick. Nice job putting this together. I can tell you out a lot of time into it. Tipd!

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    @Darwin: Thanks for your awesome article!

    @Patrick: Now that my work is moving further away from my home I’d like to find a new place too, but the tax implications of moving probably make that a non-starter. I agree, two bedrooms is a bit small when you have a baby.

    @PT: Thanks again for the great article. I forgot to mention that I loved the Back to the Future photo too! :-)

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    Len, thanks for all of your efforts introducing and supporting other bloggers. I’ve been adding bloggers I meet via your roundups to my blog roll and following them on a twitter. Great way to find out about new blogs.

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