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Welcome to the tenth edition of The Best of the Best in Money and Personal Finance, where every featured post is an Editor’s Pick!
You’ll have to excuse my surly mood this month but, you see, my office recently moved “down the road a bit” (that’s what the company press release said when they first announced the move) and as a result my daily commute just got longer, if only by “a bit.”
For me, the driving distance increased from 17 miles to 38. So I guess we can safely say that just as there are 512 drams in a gallon, and four pecks in a bushel, there must also be 21 miles in “a bit.”
In Southern California, how far one lives from work has a big impact on the percentage of household income devoted to transportation and whether or not the kids will be capable of accurately recognizing their fathers in a crowd.
So far my kids still seem to remember who I am but it’s possible I could be working at that new location for many years and so, as far as I am concerned, the jury is still out.
In honor of my longer commute that was expanded by just “a bit,” the top selections for this edition of the carnival were based upon who came closest to guessing the number of additional minutes I now get to spend in the car each month going to work and coming home.
The correct answer: 2,453,593 (Okay, it ain’t quite that bad, but it sure seems like it.)
Don’t make me stop the car: For the month of December I received 99 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 December 2009:
BWL presents How I Escaped The Rat Race posted at Christian Personal Finance, saying, “A look at how I escaped the Corporate Rat Race and now work from home with a job I love!”
In honor of my new crappy commute, I’ll start this edition of the Best of the Best with an absolutely terrific article from Bob that tells how he broke away from the corporate grind. This is the third article of this type I have read over the past couple months and, I’ve got to tell you, the more of these articles I read, the more I want to leave my very well-paying corporate gig too. There is some really great advice here that has got me seriously evaluating my options. Now I only need to look into implementing some of it. (And boss, if you’re reading this, don’t believe anything I just said. Nobody – and I mean nobody – takes anything I say seriously here.)
Matt Jabs presents Credit Card Debt Reduction How To Handbook posted at Debt Free Adventure! saying “Right or wrong, at the end of the day there are a lot of people in credit card debt who want out… and they want out NOW. This post is written for those people! Consider this article your “How To Handbook” for credit card debt reduction…”
Speaking of rat races, Matt has put together a very handy dandy handbook for people who find themselves in another type of grind – the relentless financial pounding experienced by those who find themselves being slowly consumed by revolving debt. Matt gives some really good advice that I guarantee will go a long way to helping people in such an unfortunate predicament.
Steven and Debra presents What Does Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke Share in Common with Hitler and Stalin? posted at The END TIMES Hoax.
I think I originally saw this question offered as the $32,000 query on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. For the record, the poor contestant chose: “D. Prefers martinis shaken (not stirred).” What a maroon. Doesn’t everybody know that shaking martinis bruises the gin? Surely Stalin and Hitler knew that. Too bad that contestant didn’t have Steven and Debra on his “phone a friend” list because they absolutely nailed this one.
Control your Cash presents The Single Dumbest Industry in the Universe. posted at Control Your Cash, saying “Keno anyone?”
Speaking of maroons… I thought the single dumbest “industry” in the universe was the Fed with its continued lax monetary policies, but hey, that’s just me. McFarlane makes a great case arguing that it’s anybody who tries to make money gambling – especially those who play Keno. Check out this very entertaining and informative article on why Las Vegas loves Keno.
Mr. Moneybags presents Are You an Investor or a Speculator? posted at Mr. Moneybags, saying “This article goes over the difference between the personality types that end up picking up trash off of the street for spare change versus the ones that bathe in solid gold bathtubs.”
Then again, in this fun post, Mr. Moneybags – who is never afraid to call a spade a spade – argues that the real imbeciles are those who fail to see the difference between investing and speculating. Do you? Of course you do.
Jim presents Why Dividends Stocks Rock posted at Bargaineering.
Meanwhile, Jim put together a nifty little article on the benefits of having dividend stocks in your portfolio. Check it out and see if you don’t agree that the benefits of investing in companies that offer dividends outweigh the drawbacks.
Darwin presents How I Saved 44% on my Comcast Bill-Chat Transcript ($1104 per Year) posted at Darwin’s Finance, saying “Want to save 40% or more on your Comcast or other provider bill? Here’s a step by step chat session transcript outlining exactly how to negotiate massive discounts from service providers.”
Hey, isn’t surreptitiously recording phone calls illegal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia? Ah, who cares! Thankfully, Darwin (not his real name, officers), and his decision to become a scofflaw in the name of consumer advocacy is great news for the rest of us looking for tips to save a little money on our utility bills. Vigilante personal finance – I like it!
Wisebread presents Living Cheaply for the Long Term posted at Wisebread.
People who don’t bother investing and/or saving for retirement will definitely want to read this post. As Phillip Brewer notes in the article, “Living cheaply for the long term sometimes involves spending more money now with an eye toward long-term savings.” For example, spending a little more up front on items such as weather stripping and insulation can save you money over the long term with respect to energy costs. If you’re the miserly type, you’ll be happy to know that most of the strategies and best practices Phillip provides don’t cost a dime.
MoneyNing presents 10 Reasons to Have a Library Card posted at Money Ning, saying “The library is still one the best ways to spend your time. Here are 10 reasons why you want a library card.”
I haven’t had a library card since 1982, but after reading Michelle’s article I’m definitely going to reconsider getting one. I just need to verify that there is a statute of limitations on overdue library book fines because I’ve had a copy of Pooh Gets Stuck (talk about an unfortunate book title) checked out since I was six years old. Otherwise it would probably take me ten years to recoup the money I’d save taking advantage of all my library’s free services, like Wi-Fi.
FIRE Finance presents Americans Living Without Bank Accounts? posted at FIRE Finance, saying “Last weekend we were wondering how many Americans live without bank accounts. Our first thought was not many. Curious to know the facts we started researching on the web. We were stunned to find that 17 million Americans have no bank accounts! And 18% of the rest of the population that do have bank accounts use non-traditional banking services like pawn shops and payday lenders.”
I used to think the only people who didn’t have bank accounts were those trying to avoid taxes and illegal immigrants without bogus social security numbers. Looks like I was wrong. One thing that kind of got my goat in the article was a reminder of how US government agencies still love to break up demographics along racial lines, as the FDIC did when reporting “underbanked” households. Why? I’m of Italian descent and the Honeybee is Hispanic; I wonder what the FDIC considers my household to be, not to mention my kids’ households when they become adults? It’s time the US government ceased with these ridiculous categorizations and began considering all of its citizens to be red-blooded Americans. Sorry – I’ll get off my soap box now.
Smac20 presents Top 10 Questions to Ask your Investment Advisor posted at Investing in Canada – TSX Personal Finance, saying “The Questions you need to ask your Investment Adviser to find out if they should be managing your money or if you should fire them.”
Here is one of the best posts I have seen regarding important questions you should ask prospective investment advisers to determine if they are truly skilled and knowledgeable. Wow, really? Just how many posts on this topic have you seen, Len? Well, this is the first – but it’s a good one. Honest!
Jae Jun presents How to Create an Online Investment Tracking Spreadsheet posted at Old School Value, saying “Use this free stock tracking spreadsheet or learn how to create your own dynamic online portfolio tracking spreadsheet that is always up to date. You can now view it anywhere, anytime.”
For those who have already interviewed their potential investment advisers and determined that they are all incompetent boobs, you probably want to make sure you have the best tools available to track the status of your investments. Lucky for us, Jae wrote a great article that shows us how to create our very own portfolio tracking spreadsheet.
Craig Ford presents 3 Financial Villains Who Broke Free from the Disease of Greed posted at Money Help For Christians, saying “Even though Christmas is done there is still a need to break free from greed.”
No, Craig is definitely NOT talking about Bernanke, Stalin and Hitler here. But he does show how Ebenezer Scrooge, the Grinch, and Silas Marner were offered an opportunity for redemption thanks to the season of Christmas – not to mention several lessons we can all learn from each of them. Before you say goodbye to Christmas, check out Craig’s article.
Patrick presents Tax Tips for Children and Newborns posted at Cash Money Life.
Finally, a while back Patrick was blessed with the birth of a beautiful daughter. In honor of that event, here is Patrick’s excellent article highlighting ways we can all take advantage of the tax breaks that our little cherubs provide for us.
And with that the December edition of the Best of the Best in Money and Personal Finance is officially over! Happy New Year to everyone!
Please send your entries for the January 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 January 2010.